Thursday, March 12, 2015

New Zealand: Volcanoes, Sharks, and Cyclones...Oh My!

On Wednesday morning (which was actually Tuesday around lunchtime for most of you), we woke up to this lovely sunrise over Auckland.    We oohed and ahed over it and marveled at the sun's daily journey around the world.  
Shortly after that bit of gorgeousness to start the day,  we split off into two groups--the boys on an exciting ocean fishing voyage and the girls  volcano hiking adventure.  

Glen and the boys took the car and only got a little lost (arriving over an hour late to their charter), while us girls walked to the harbor and caught a ferry to Rangitoto Island! 

Auckland sits over a geologic hot spot and is dotted with over 50 volcanic cones within a few miles.   Most of them only ever erupt once and geologists anticipate that any future volcanic activity in the area will likely not originate from an existing volcano, but will be a new one that just pops up wherever the next hot spot happens to be.   

Last erupting about 600-years ago, Rangitoto Volcano is the newest of all the volcanoes near Auckland.  The entire island was formed when a crack in the seabed opened up and lava started flowing upward, and eventually erupting into a full blown volcano.  

Hardened lava is  the bedrock here and every plant that grows is popping out of solid rock.  

It was a challenging uphill hike that took us over an hour...

but it was well worth the view we got from the top when we did arrive! 

We had a lot of complaining going on during the upwards part of the hike, but everyone was all smiles once we got to the top.  

We enjoyed the views from every angle...

…then hiked on a little further to walk through a lava cave.

Lava caves (aka lava tubes) are formed when the lava flows and part of it cools and forms a hard crust as it is exposed to the air, while lava still flows freely underneath.  The cave here on Rangitoto are almost like a tunnel and we decided to walk all the way through one of them.    It was dark and very rough going, but there was a little natural "skylight" that let in just enough light to make it through without getting injured.

 Afterwards, we slipped and slid our way down the volcano and back to the ferry.   It was definitely a New Zealand adventure we won't soon forget! 

Meanwhile out on the ocean, the boys were having a heyday!   They caught loads of fish between them!

...including this albacore tuna that Adam caught ...

and this 6-1/2 foot mako shark that Spencer reeled in!   

Yes, that's real.  And yes, these pictures completely freak me out.    

And I'm trying not to freak out yet, but there is potentially very large cyclone heading this way this weekend.  Cyclone Pam is expected to become a category 5 storm tomorrow and if it hits New Zealand, will be the largest storm in recorded history to ever hit NZ.   But if the track changes it may stay east and miss us completely.    

We can do sharks and volcanoes, but gigantic cyclones are one New Zealand adventure we could do without! 



Matthew K said...

I will pray for no cyclone! I love reading about your adventures!

alexandra said...

Absolutely amazing. And ditto on the praying for no cyclone. There are some adventures best missed!

For some reason, some of the pics that you post don't come through (most likely a security-induced problem on my end, not on yours) so I can't see the pic of the Mako shark. I'm totally intrigued!

Charlene said...

Beautiful views and great pictures!! My boys would of loved catching a shark too!

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