“Make it a long weekend and stay a few nights at Great Barrier Island. You’ve got amazing beaches, great fishing, surfing, snorkelling and some really beautiful walking tracks through the native forest.”
Sir John Kirwan
Head out on the Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari, leaving daily from the Viaduct Harbour. Around 25 per cent of all known dolphin and whale species have visited the Hauraki Gulf – get up close to these amazing marine mammals in their natural habitat. The eco-tour has consistently won TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence, including in 2017.
Motuihe Island’s thin strip of land and beautiful beaches can be reached by select ferries. The island was once a quarantine station and World War II naval training base; now it’s a popular destination for boaties, nature lovers and anyone looking for a secluded escape without going too far from home. There are some great walks, as well as a camping ground.
Head to the top of Rangitoto Island on the Fullers 4WD road train. The guided tour takes you close to the summit, then it’s just a short walk to the top for superb 360-degree views. Along the way, tour commentary gives you an insight into the island’s past.
In the wake of our recent win, set sail on a former America’s Cup racing yacht, departing daily from the Viaduct Harbour. Join a two-hour sail or a three-hour match race – take the helm and help on the grinders or sit back and enjoy the views and fresh sea air.
Great Barrier Island has recently been designated an International Dark Sky Sanctuary, the first island in the world to receive this status. Head over for a night of spectacular stargazing thanks to the island’s minimal light pollution – it helps having no street lights.
Ever thought about volunteering on one of the islands? The Department of Conservation and a number of community organisations run regular expeditions and you can join a one-day (or longer) expedition helping with planting, beach clean ups or maintenance. These are popular so book in advance.