January 4, 2006
Base X Backpacker in Auckland, NZ:
The past few days have been magnificent! Yesterday we found ourselves taking a ferry across the bay here in Auckland to the island of Rangitoto, the first volcano of many to come. As soon as we reached the island, Dr. Shiba opened the academic portion of the course with the first lecture at the bottom of the volcano. As we sat under the shade of a nearby shelter, Dr. Shiba loaded our minds with information such as Tectonic Theory, A’a lava, and the history of Rangitoto. After the lecture, the class began the ascent with the shared hope of summitting the volcano as it traversed over the rucked lava flows we had just learned about. However, before we reached the summit it was necessary that we take a break and listen to Dr. Workman as he began to tell us about the savage volcano – ballistic projectiles, fire fountains, lava flows, all in a day’s lecture. Upon reaching the summit, the view was spectacular and quite worth the hike. From the top we had a clear view of the city of Auckland as well as other volcanically formed islands throughout the Auckland Harbor.
Finally on our descent from the top, we couldn’t help but stop along the way to spelunk through the lava caves formed from the last eruption 600 years ago. Crawling on all fours, we made our way through the darkness eventually reaching places in the caves with ceilings over four meters tall, all carved out as Basaltic lava flowed down the mountain burning holes through the rocks along the way.