23. Rarotonga/Mt Smart

I like to tell people about the time I went to Rarotonga and how I only stayed for 1 hour…

I would never have thought that there had been a volcano in the area of Mt Smart. I mean there’s a mountain… wait, why isn’t there a mountain? Oh, there used to be a mountain! Story of more of Auckland’s volcanoes than I care to admit.

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Rarotonga Mt Smart Stadium (Thanks Google)

So there once was a mountain here. A rather large one at that, the scoria cone standing 87 metres high. Now it’s a sports stadium but not just any sports stadium -there are some evidences of it’s volcanic past.

The early Maori settlers of the area brought the named Rarotonga, which means the lower South, with them from Hawaiki. European named the place Mt Smart for Lt Henry Dalton Smart who commanded NZ’s mounted police in the mid 1840’s

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Beasley Ave, where we first tried to park

I first aimed to park on Beasley Ave as it’s a no exit street and on the map it looked like the safest place to park but it wasn’t to be, so I ended up on Maurice rd around on the Western side.

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We started out from this rise on Maurice road

There on the side of the road, in front of a local business, is our first clue (or 2nd, if you count the rise in the road) that there might be a volcano in the vicinity. This rock was just sitting there, obviously propped up to make me take notice of it. What’s that hole in the rock? I don’t know. It didn’t seem to me man-made.

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The main entrance

Maybe I’ll come back here to watch a game or something and that will give me an excuse to properly get inside, but for now just my camera made it. Below is our second glimpse of a volcanic past: those pohutukawa trees are planted on a small ridge that was left of the lower, southern slopes.

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Inside the stadium, kind of

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People painting the field

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The other field, on the eastern side at the end of Beasley road

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Stonewalled

We exited into the end of Beasley road and followed this stone wall along until it dipped down to ground level where we saw a mysterious pathway into the woods. So of course we followed it…

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Enticing path that warranted further exploration

I’m glad we followed that path or we would’ve missed these huge slabs of volcanic rock. I’m not sure which volcano they originated from. That might sound silly since Rarotonga created 300 or so hectares of it’s own lava flow but it initially erupted through the edge of the lava flow from Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill).

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Look what we found…

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…slabs of volcanic rock just hiding out under the tree cover

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Quite a few puriri trees in the area

And, as we all should know, Puriri trees attract wood pigeons.

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Kereru -NZ Wood-pigeon

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Splat!

At some point there was a security fence blocking our progress so we had to pop back out to the road. We rounded the corner and were under no illusions that we were well and truly back in busy, industrialised Auckland.

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Avenue of pohutukawa lining the footpath to the South

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Hut in the South-Western corner, behind a scoria wall.

I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest, but there’s slightly more here than meets the eye, so I went away happy.

You’ve been viewing the best of my holiday snaps of our vacation in Rarotonga. 🙂 Maybe one day I’ll get to the real Island? I hope so.

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