This coastal walk passes many remnants of human activity – boatsheds and baches near Rangitoto Wharf, old quarry sites, ruins of war time storage bases for mines, and Yankee Wharf built during World War II. Islington Bay is a popular for swimming, picnicking and as a yacht anchorage.
Note: Sections of this track are over broken lava fields and the footing is rough and uneven. Good foot wear is essential.
4.4km 2.5 hours (Source)
Everything I’d read before going to Rangitoto Island made it seem as though the 4.4km Coastal Track (shown in green on the map above) starts at the Rangitoto Wharf and ends at Islington Bay Wharf, but it doesn’t. The Coastal Track ends at Yankee Wharf and to reach Islington Bay Wharf you’ll then need to travel approximately 300 m up Yankee Wharf Road to join the Islington Bay Track for another 1km (Islington Bay Track then continues past the wharf to end at the Motutapu Causeway making it’s total distance 1.3km.)
So back to the beginning – the Coastal Track (to Yankee Wharf)
Upon landing on Rangitoto and heading up the jetty (which I might add is rather fancy) I expected to see some kind of sign pointing the way to various trails, but strangely for what I would imagine is an extremely popular tourist destination I couldn’t find one. I did however see signs pointing towards the summit walk (which I guess is what most people come to do) and I knew from research that the Coastal Track would be somewhere on my right after passing the track heading to the Summit.
It’s further from the wharf that I imagined it would be so don’t panic if it seems like you’ve been going some distance before finding it, I passed a cream colored “house” on the left and not long after that I found a small nondescript Coastal Track sign on my right that I nearly missed. If you continue along the road to a point where you can no longer see the water, you’ve gone too far.
I’m not sure what I really expected, but the coastal track is quite stunning especially at both ends (which hug the shoreline so you are afforded with panoramic views across the water) but even when the trail heads inland there is always something new to see. The habitat is constantly changing, one minute you’re in the middle of a lava field, the next you could swear you are in the middle of the Waitakere Ranges.
There is also these really cool spongey plant things along the way. I’m not a botanist so I have no idea what they are, but I do know their cool in a weird looking kind of way – don’t worry I didn’t touch them …
The surface underfoot also changes, it starts out with fine scree (which is lovely to run on I might add) then as you head inland you’ll come across everything from root strewn narrow trails to wide paths of lava boulders. It’s a rather technical trail but still quite runnable (you will need to concentrate) however I’d say that the sections with large slabs of slick rock underfoot would become quite slippery after any length of rain.
The trail undulates for the duration but there are no “hills” as such, which is probably the reason I found the majority of the trial runnable (if a little tentatively in places) .. 😉
I will say that if I had to chose between running along Islington Bay Road or running the Coastal Trail to get to (or from) Islington Bay Wharf I’d chose the trail even though it add about 30 minutes to the journey. They day I went the journey from Rangitoto to Islington Bay via the Coastal Track took me 1 hour and 32 minutes including the multitude of photo stops I made and the return journey (after tiki touring around Motutapu and dealing with “killer” cows) took a very hot and what seemed like a VERY long 56 minutes and a far chunk of that time was spent walking.
Oh and for the record (and to help with your planning) it took me 1 hour 10 minutes (including all photo stops) to traverse the length of the Coastal Trail (ending at Yankee Wharf).
I’ve uploaded a tonne of photos HERE.
Till next time
PS – If you want to go and check it out you’ll need to catch the Ferry unless you are uber adventurous and swim or SUP across from Mission Bay (which I know a number of people do).