Auckland’s most iconic island is the volcanic cone of Rangitoto Island, just a short ferry ride away and home to the world’s largest pohutukawa forest. Explore by foot or take a guided 4WD tour to the summit for breathtaking 360-degree views. Tiritiri Matangi Island Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the most successful conservation projects in the world and a great destination for nature lovers. ‘Tiri’ is home to many of New Zealand’s rarest native bird species, as well as the country’s oldest working lighthouse.
The jewel of the Hauraki Gulf is Waiheke Island, a haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves, farm land and beaches. Sample award-winning wines at some of the 30 boutique vineyards and wineries, enjoy fine dining and take in the island’s stunning scenery.
Those keen to discover a ‘diamond in the rough’ can travel by light plane to Great Barrier Island, renowned for its remoteness and rugged beauty. Discover secluded natural hot springs and historic kauri dams or treat yourself to a scenic heli-fishing flight. Visit Kawau Island’s historic mansion house or check out Rotoroa Island, open to the public for the first time in 100 years and boasting beautiful beaches, walking trails, heritage buildings and a state-of-the-art exhibition centre that tells the story of the island’s unique history.
If you’re keen to get active, become part of the crew on an actual America’s Cup racing yacht, or try sea kayaking for a unique way to explore sandy bays and coves. You can even join an evening kayak tour, paddling out at sunset and returning underneath the stars.
For something more mellow, head out on a whale and dolphin safari to see these amazing creatures at play in the pristine waters, or finish your day relaxing harbour dinner cruise.