Rangitoto is the youngest of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf, it is the largest, most recent and least modified volcano of the Auckland Volcanic Field. It forms a near symmetrical cone at the entrance to the Waitemata Harbour. With little warning, Rangitoto emerged from the sea around 700 years ago in a series of volcanic explosions. At the time of the violent eruptions Maori were living nearby on Motutapu Island, where large amounts of rock and ash soon smothered the island. When the eruptions finally ceased, lava in the base of the cone cooled and shrank. Sometimes lava caves form when hot lava drains out from inside, there are about seven known lava caves on Rangitoto, some of which are sign-posted and worth a visit. Rangitoto is an icon of Auckland City and is situated about 8 km northeast of Auckland and connected to Motutapu Island by a causeway, Rangitoto is a large island of 2311 hectares with a wonderful volcanic landscape that supports over 200 species of moss, plants and trees including the largest Pohutukawa forest in the world. Rangitoto's name has been translated to mean the day the blood of Tamatekapua was shed, relating to a major Maori battle at Islington Bay about 1350. It was purchased by the Crown in 1854, set aside as a recreation reserve in 1890 and for over 30 years the island's volcanic scoria was quarried and shipped to Auckland. There are some 10 or so short and long walks around the island and from the summit there are magnificent views of the Hauraki Gulf, the Waitemata Harbour and Auckland City.