Great Barrier Island

Hauraki Gulf and Islands

Great Barrier Island, Auckland
View from Great Barrier Island, Hauraki Gulf & Islands
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Great Barrier Island is a place of rugged beauty and untouched wilderness. From tramping through native forest to sea kayaking around the coves and inlets of the island’s coast, there are endless ways to explore this adventurer’s paradise.

Great Barrier Island highlights

Great Barrier Island Waterfall | Visit Great Barrier

​​Top picks

Follow the trail
Take one of the many walking tracks through pristine native bush, from short walks to the multi-day Aotea Track.

Ride the waves
Go swimming or surfing at spectacular surf beaches, including stunning Medlands Beach. Great Barrier Island offers some of the best surfing and boogie boarding in New Zealand.

Dive into nature
Discover the island’s native wildlife, with excellent bird watching, snorkelling and dive spots. The protected forest, clean waters and conservation efforts have allowed wildlife to thrive.

Fish for your dinner
Charter a fishing boat or join a heli-fishing tour to find the best fishing spots around the island. If fishing’s not for you, explore the island’s beautiful bays by kayak.

Bathe in the hot pools
Enjoy the 1-hour walk to soak in the natural hot pools at Kaitoke Hot Springs. Soak up the scenery too and feel the stress melt away.

Great Barrier Island, Auckland | Auckland Beaches

Why visit?

Great Barrier Island is one of the most tranquil and unspoilt places you’ll ever find. Discover the island’s golden beaches, crystal-clear waters and vast native forests – on Great Barrier Island, nature is king.

Escape to the Hauraki Gulf’s largest and most remote island by scenic flight or ferry. The walking and tramping here are superb, with forest trails leading you to secluded hot springs, swimming holes, waterfalls and old kauri dams. Get out on the water too, with surfing, swimming, kayaking, snorkelling, diving and fishing.

<p>More than 60 per cent of Great Barrier Island is administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC). The Department of Conservation exists to conserve New Zealand's natural and historic heritage for all to enjoy, now and in the future. All plants, animals and historic features on conservation lands are protected. Wildlife and marine mammals are fully protected everywhere. No dogs or other animals are allowed on conservation lands. People may camp only where permitted. </p> <p><strong>Department of Conservation Notice</strong></p><p>Kauri dieback disease has been found on Great Barrier Island. Find out how you can help stop its spread <a href="http://www.kauridieback.co.nz"target="_blank">here</a>.</p>  <p><strong>Rubbish and recycling</strong></p><p> To help maintain the island's natural beauty, visitors are asked to dispose of all rubbish carefully. A rubbish barge is located in Port FitzRoy Harbour (for the convenience of boat owners) through the summer months to Easter. Household refuse and recyclables can be dropped off at transfer points clearly visible at roadside locations. <a href="http://aucklandnz.com/downloads/gb-waste.pdf"target="_blank">Find out more</a><br/><br/> <a href="http://aucklandnz.com/downloads/boaties.pdf"target="_blank">Boaties Brochure</a>   </p>

More information about Great Barrier Island

Great Barrier Island Conservation

More than 60 per cent of Great Barrier Island is administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC). The Department of Conservation exists to conserve New Zealand's natural and historic heritage for all to enjoy, now and in the future. All plants, animals and historic features on conservation lands are protected. Wildlife and marine mammals are fully protected everywhere. No dogs or other animals are allowed on conservation lands. People may camp only where permitted.

Department of Conservation Notice

Kauri dieback disease has been found on Great Barrier Island. Find out how you can help stop its spread here.

Rubbish and recycling

To help maintain the island's natural beauty, visitors are asked to dispose of all rubbish carefully. A rubbish barge is located in Port FitzRoy Harbour (for the convenience of boat owners) through the summer months to Easter. Household refuse and recyclables can be dropped off at transfer points clearly visible at roadside locations. Find out more

Boaties Brochure

Great Barrier Island History

The name Great Barrier' stems from its sighting by Captain James Cook in 1769. He quickly recognised the role the island played in sheltering the waters of the Hauraki Gulf.

Great Barrier Island (Aotea) has a rich history dating back to the initial settlement of New Zealand by the East Polynesian ancestors of today's Māori population. From the 1840s the island's natural resources attracted European settlement and a number of 'boom and bust' industries that exploited the island's forest, minerals and the migrating whales.

The Ngati Rehua, hapu of Ngati Wai, who live on the island today trace their association back over many centuries. Evidence of this long history is seen at the island's many archaeological sites, which are generally found in coastal locations.

Early industry

Gold and silver were discovered in the 1890s and numerous shafts and adits are located in the Okupu / Whangaparapara area. Remains of the 1899 Oreville stamping (ore crushing) battery at Whangaparapara are an impressive reminder of the mining area, with its massive stone walls above and below the road.

Great Barrier's kauri forests were logged with increasing intensity from the mid 19th to the mid 20th century. Kauri driving dams were erected to drive large quantities of kauri downstream. One of the island's best known historic landmarks is the Kaiaraara main dam on the Kaiaraara Stream below Mt Hobson.

Another reminder of the logging days are the ruins of the Kauri Timber Company sawmill at Whangaparapara where some of the walking tracks follow the early tramlines used by the logging industry. The remains of New Zealand's last established whaling station can also be seen here.

Great Barrier Island Activities

Great Barrier Island has a wonderful range of activities and natural attractions. There’s a variety of walking tracks to discover the stunning terrain, or try some of the many fun outdoor activities on offer.

Great Barrier Island’s remoteness and rugged beauty make the island the ideal place for a true escape. The island can be a relaxing haven to read a book and put your feet up while listening to native birds, or for the adventurous the untamed landscape is perfect for exploration. While the quiet is part of what makes The Barrier so appealing, if you're looking for more structured Great Barrier Island activities, there are a range of local island companies that can accommodate your interests.

Walking, tramping and mountain biking
With more than 100 kilometres of well-maintained walking tracks offering spectacular sightseeing amid canyons, valleys, native forest, mountains and coastline, walking is a wonderful way to discover the island’s untouched wilderness. There’s everything from short walks such as the popular Kaitoke Hot Springs Track, to challenging tramping tracks through the steep interior of the island. There are also impressive mountain biking tracks for all levels - another adventurous way to see much of the island.

Water sports and activities
Great Barrier Island is a fantastic destination for boating and sailing, and kayaking is also one of the best ways to discover the natural beauty of the island's coves, bays, inlets and wildlife. The sweeping white beaches on the island’s east coast offer excellent surfing and boogie boarding.

Great Barrier Island is renowned for its superb fishing spots, whether you're surfcasting from the coast or relaxing on a boat – you can even splash out on a heli-fishing adventure. It’s also a haven for casual divers and snorkellers, with some of the most varied scuba diving in New Zealand.

Art
Creating art is a favourite pastime for many locals and you can find their artworks in restaurants, cafés and studios across the island. Most artists work from home and allow visitors to view their work by prior arrangement, a rare opportunity for art lovers.

Explore this magnificent island at your own pace or get an insider’s look at the island on one of the many guided nature, walking and sightseeing tours – it’s a great way to learn about the island and get to know the friendly locals.

 

  • How do I get to Great Barrier Island?

    ​As the island is geographically isolated, there are some important things to keep in mind when preparing to travel there to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip. If you are from out of Auckland, organise your transport to Great Barrier Island before you organise your transport to Auckland. The transport to and from Great Barrier Island is regular but seasonal and the frequency choices are limited.

    Flights
    Great Barrier Island is a 35-minute flight away by light plane. The main airfield on the island is at Claris. Fly My Sky departs several times a day from Auckland Airport. Great Barrier Airlines operates daily out of Auckland Airport and Dairy Flat on Auckland’s North Shore.   

    Ferry
    It's a leisurely 2 ½-hour ferry ride from Auckland with Fullers passenger-only ferry services. These seasonal sailings operate through December and January plus long summer weekends, which commence at Labour weekend.

    Cars can be taken to Great Barrier on SeaLink's Eco Islander ferry, which takes approximately 4 ½ hours and operates all year round. Passengers travelling without vehicles can also take this service. These ferries to the island arrive at Tryphena.

  • How long does it take to get there?

    ​The trip to Great Barrier Island is around 35 minutes by light plane, 2 ½ hours by passenger-only ferry (which is seasonal) and 4 ½ hours on the year-round car and passenger ferry.

  • Can I take my car to the island?

    Cars can be taken to Great Barrier on SeaLink's Eco Islander ferry, which takes approximately 4 ½ hours and operates all year round. Passengers travelling without vehicles can also take this service. These ferries to the island arrive at Tryphena.​

  • How do I get around?

    ​Once on the island, a network of roads connects the main settlements. Great Barrier Travel and Go Great Barrier Island Passenger Travel both offer a comprehensive range of passenger transport.

    Transfer services and rental vehicles are all readily available but should be pre-booked. Great Barrier Buses operates a daily service between Tryphena and Port FitzRoy all year, as well as scheduled services in the southern part of the island. Please contact one of our i-SITE Visitor Information Centres for further information.

  • What kind of accommodation is there?

    ​Great Barrier Island has a range of accommodation available to suit all tastes. Demand for accommodation on the island during the main summer holiday period is high, so be sure to book in advance. Camping is permitted only in designated camping grounds.

    When selecting your choice of accommodation, please be aware of the distances to services – for example, if you stay at Medlands you will need some form of transport to get groceries and to dine out.

     Find Great Barrier Island accommodation

  • Do I need to pre-book my accommodation?

    ​Yes. Demand for accommodation on the island during the main summer holiday period is high. Because of the island’s remote location it is advisable to book in advance whatever time of year you are visiting.

  • How can I plan my trip to Great Barrier Island?

    ​Plan your trip in advance at one of our i-SITE Visitor Information Centres or call 0800 AUCKLAND (0800 282 552).

  • Can I use EFTPOS and credit cards on the island?

    ​As there are no banks or ATMs on the island, it is recommended that you take cash over with you. New Zealand EFTPOS and credit card facilities are available at most commercial outlets.

  • Where can I get cash out?

    ​There are no ATMs on the island, so you should take cash with you. New Zealand EFTPOS and credit card facilities are available at most commercial outlets.

     

  • Can I bring my dog?

    ​If you bring your dog to the island, don't forget to carry proof of registration and always check first with your accommodation provider. Dogs are prohibited on all Department of Conservation (DOC) public conservation land.

    Dogs must always be on a lead except for designated Dog Exercise Areas. 

  • What kind of water and power utilities are available?

    Great Barrier Island has no reticulated power, water supply or sewage system. It is powered by alternative energy systems, mostly by generator or solar. As power can be limited, please check with your accommodation hosts whether you will be able to use any electrical appliances you may want to bring on holiday with you. There is no street lighting so it is advisable that you bring at least one torch with you.​

  • What should I do in an emergency or if I need medical assistance?

    In the event of an emergency call 111 (for police and fire). For medical emergencies, call (09) 429 0356.​

  • Can I light a fire on the island?

    There is a complete ban on fires during the summer months. 

     Fire is a serious danger on the island and permits are required for all outdoor fires, with the exception of gas barbecues. Fireworks require a permit, flares must not be let off except in an emergency and cigarette butts must be fully extinguished and disposed of safely. To report all fires, call 111. ​

  • What kind of fuel is available?

    ​Petrol and diesel are available at Port FitzRoy Wharf, Whangaparapara Wharf, Tryphena and Claris. There are no facilities for vehicles which require CNG or LPG.

  • Is there internet access on the island?

    Internet access on the island is limited. Some accommodation providers have internet available for guests only. Free internet access and wireless is available at the Auckland Council Library, located in Claris. Public internet and wireless is available at the Claris Centre. There is Vodafone coverage at Port FitzRoy with a 3G cellsite on Kaikoura Island. ​

  • Is there mobile phone coverage on the island?

    ​Mobile phone coverage on the island is limited to the western beaches such as Tryphena and Okupu and some high points/ridges along the road. There is Vodafone coverage at Port FitzRoy with a 3G cellsite on Kaikoura Island. 

    Card phones can be found at the main settlements around the island. It is a toll call from Great Barrier Island to other parts of Auckland.

  • Are there public telephones?

    ​Card phones can be found at the main settlements around the island. It is a toll call from Great Barrier Island to other parts of Auckland.

  • What should I do with my rubbish?

    To help maintain the island's natural beauty, please carefully dispose of all rubbish. Household refuse and recyclables can be dropped off at transfer points clearly visible at roadside locations. A rubbish barge is located in Port FitzRoy Harbour (for the convenience of boat owners) through the summer months to Easter. ​

  • Where can I get general supplies on the island?

    General stores are located at Port FitzRoy, Whangaparapara Reserve, Claris, Pa Beach and Mulberry Grove, Tryphena. ​