Motutapo Island is about 8.3 miles long and located near Narrow Neck, New Zealand. The trail is great for hiking and normally takes a ... more »half day.
This was a nice 20 km (11 mile) hike (according to my GPS tracker) from Rangitoto Ferry Wharf to the Motutapo trig (for ship navigation) on a 121 meter hill. I didn't start the EveryTrail tracker until I was halfway to Motutapo but the track starts and ends at the ferry wharf and is 11 miles and 5 hours long not the 8.3 miles and 4 hours long EveryTrail shows.
This is an easy trail if you go inland on the road and avoid the coastal trail which is over rough lava and has limited ocean views anyway. Plus, it takes an hour longer than the inland track and ends up at the same place. Since 90 percent of the people who take the ferry do so to hike to the top of Rangitoto and go no further, the track to Motutapo is not crowded except for some occasional backpackers going to Home Bay, which has a campsite, and a few four-wheel drive conservation trucks.
The ferry cost is $27 round trip and takes 20 minutes. You can save $7 by booking on-line or $11 by taking the 7:30 AM ferry from Auckland harbor on weekends or holidays. The ferry comes back at 3:00 PM during the week or 4:00 PM weekends and holidays (last trip). For the lazy (or the smart!) there's a narrated tractor ride that goes around the volcano and stops near the top that costs $59 including the price of the ferry ride. Great bargain for those with young kids or the older crowd as the Rangitoto summit route is steep and straight up, with little or no switchbacks.
After a leisurely two-hour walk on the inland road, made a lunch stop at Islington Wharf (where both tracks go) which is very scenic and has public restrooms. Even a slow 2.2 mph pace was enough to beat the vigorous backpackers who started at the same time and took the longer and rougher coastal route. It took another hour to get across the grassy, hilly, and pleasant lower part of Motutapo (even stopping to chat for a few minutes with a passing farmer) to the trig for nice views of Home Bay.
Motutapo is much prettier than Rangitoto so it was well worth the 5 hour total round trip. There are gates to walk through and close behind you on Motutapo to keep in the very sociable cows. Don't be surprised if they walk over to say hi. In New Zealand even the cows are friendly! less «