The full name of Rangitoto Island is Nga Rangi-i-totongia-a Tama-te-kapua which translates to 'the days of the bleeding of Tama-te-kapua'. Which refers to the chief of the Arawa canoe who was badly wounded on the island.
It is straightforward to visit the island (as there are daily ferry trips) but staying overnight is prohibited. Thirty years ago, there were houses perched on the island's edge in a ring, but as these became uninhabited they were removed. A day trip allows a good walk to the summit, with stunning views of the harbour and city.
The island is volcanic and there is no natural water source so plants grow using only rainfall, yet the island is tree covered and also offers the chance to view some more unusual plants such as the kidney fern .
Linked by a coastal causeway is a much older island Motutapu, where it is possible to view the archeological remains of a civilisation caught in Rangitoto's eruptions.