While many places on Earth are famous for their natural wonders, Rangitoto Island near Auckland is mostly renowned for what it doesn't have! Namely, roads (apart from a winding stairway leading away from the shoreline and up to the remnants of a WWII naval fort offering a spectacular view of Auckland’s North Shore and of Rangitoto Channel that connects the mainland with the island), mammals and...people. To be precise, there are quite a few tourists in the morning but when the last ferry leaves for Auckland, Rangitoto turns into a phantom island as there are no locals. In fact, it's easier to list what IS on Rangitoto - and the list is extremely short. The living part of it consists of birds and invertebrates.
Lacking in so many respects, the island needed something extraordinary to make up for its deficiencies – so Nature itself had seemingly anticipated the problem and solved it in advance by making sure that Rangitoto’s very appearance would be a real blast. Or rather several blasts because it was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions, the first of them happening about 6000 years ago. As a result, even nowadays much of the island’s territory is covered with distinctive black rocks that provide next to no sustenance for plants. Yet the latter persevere, and their efforts bring about a number of shrubs and short trees that come in all hues of green, as well as in some shades of silver and yellow. The combination of colours might be not that uncommon on its own but, juxtaposed with millennia-old blackness of the rocks, it turns into an unending feast for the eyes and a rebellious painter’s dream.