ZL1/AK-016 Rangitoto

by vk3arr

With a few hours before my flight, I took advantage of the gap to get out and activate Rangitoto Island (ZL1/AK-016).  This island is about 30 minutes offshore of Auckland, and, being a recently erupted volcano, qualifies for VOTA.  Joining me was one of colleagues in Auckland, Azam.

There is a semi-regular ferry service to the island from the Auckland Ferry Terminal, operated by Fullers – a return ticket at time of travelling was $30.  We took the 9:15am ferry to the island, arriving about 10 minutes to 10.  Along the way, we had the pleasure of nice calm conditions, and a display from the New Zealand Navy (pretty much all of it!)

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Leaving Auckland

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Auckland behind us

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Protector-class Patrol boat HMNZS Taupo

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Approaching Rangitoto

The island is a bit Dr. No, with lava flows making the island warmer than the surrounding areas (due to absorbing sunlight, not from liquid hot magma).  Carry water, as there isn’t much on the island.

The climb is straightforward, basically straight up, and well signposted, even if the sign posts don’t always make sense timewise (one said 40 minutes to summit…then the next one 10 minutes later said 40 minutes to the summit).  It took us about 45 minutes to reach the summit against an estimated 1 hour.

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The track is fine dust – abrasive, yet slippery on descent

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Rangitoto Wharf – the starting point

There are good views from the summit over Auckland harbour, and the summit has a viewing platform, a trig and a seating area that I set up in.

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The crater of the volcano – last erupted 1350

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Auckland from the top

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Azam at the top

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Summit panorama

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Me at the top

I was able to clamp the Buddistick to the railing out of the way of traffic, and set up a bit further away.  I tried to go on 40m first, but couldn’t get the antenna to tune.  It can be quite finicky down that low, and it was hard to elevate the counterpoise at that frequency.

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Summit Trig, Buddistick on railing on the right, counterpoise stretched along the railing

On 20m, the counterpoise was easily elevated, and I started there about 11am local (2200 UTC).  I worked ZL3CC first for an Andrew to Andrew contact, then Ron VK3AFW again.  Another Andrew 2 Andrew with VK2UH and then Paul qualified the summit for me off the back of his beam, talking as he rotated it and demonstrating to Azam the principle of a yagi.

 

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Calling CQ

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FT-857 @ 50 W, LiFePO4 battery, ATU

A couple of VK2s and VK5s filled the log – the VK5s being a bit harder to hear, before I switched to 10m after about 20 minutes.  I had no luck there, so moved to 15m, where I worked David ZL1UA on ground wave.  David hadn’t heard of SOTA before, so I filled him in, before hearing W7RV who’d been trying to chase me on 10m.  He was low down, but he didn’t seem to hear my calls back to him.

Ken VK3AKK rounded out 15m.  Ken examined me for my AOCP(A) a few years back, so it was good to make the distance.  17m yielded two heard contacts, VK3UH 31 both ways, and VK5BJE, but John wasn’t able to hear my reply, so the contact was unconfirmed.

At that point, we had to descend to make the 12:30 ferry.  A rapid descent of about 30 minutes and a slightly late ferry helped us out, and we made it back in Auckland in time to have lunch and head out to the airport.

I thoroughly recommend Rangitoto to any Auckland visitor.  You can do both Mt Eden and Rangitoto quickly – same day easily even, and you will get a ZL1 activation done quickly and with a nice walk.

 

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