Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand

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Rangitoto Island is a volcanic island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland, New Zealand. The 5.5 km wide island is an iconic and widely visible landmark of Auckland with its distinctive symmetrical shield volcano cone rising 260 metres (850 ft) high over the Hauraki Gulf.

Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand
Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand

Rangitoto is the most recent and the largest (2311 hectares) of the approximately 50 volcanoes of the Auckland volcanic field. It is separated from the mainland of Auckland's North Shore by the Rangitoto Channel. Since World War II it has been linked by a causeway to the much older, non-volcanic Motutapu Island.

Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand

Rangitoto is Maori for 'Bloody Sky', with the name coming from the full phrase Nga Rangi-i-totongia-a Tama-te-kapua ('The days of the bleeding of Tama-te-kapua'). Tama-te-kapua was the captain of the Arawa waka (canoe) and was badly wounded on the island, at a (lost) battle with the Tainui iwi (tribe) at Islington Bay.

Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand
Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand

Rangitoto was formed by a series of eruptions between 550 and 600 years ago. The eruptions occurred in two episodes, 10-50 yrs apart, and are thought to have lasted for several years during the later shield-forming episode. The first episode erupted most of the volcanic ash that mantles Motutapu Island next door, and produced the lower, northern, scoria cone. The second episode built most of Rangitoto erupting all the lava flows and main scoria cone at the apex.

Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand
Rangitoto Island, Auckland, New Zealand

In 2013, scientists said new studies showed Rangitoto had been much more active in the past than previously thought, suggesting it had been active on and off for around 1000 years before the final eruptions around 550 years ago. Civil Defence officials said the discovery didn't make living in Auckland any more dangerous, but did change their view of how an evacuation might proceed.

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