Great Barrier Island

Great Barrier Island

See Tonys article about what to do in Auckland. Great Barrier Island is the guardian of the gulf. As its name suggests, it shields the inner islands. Its eastern side takes a pounding from the Pacific, creating almost unmatched breaks on the surf beaches of Awana and Medlands. The western coast is more tranquil, with deep water harbours that provide a safe anchorage for yachts. Only 30 minutes from Auckland by air, Great Barrier as the kind of rugged, untouched beauty that appeals to adventurers and that is getting harder and harder to find on our planet. Take your tramping boots, because the magnificent forests are laced with well-formed roads and tracks that lead to secluded natural hot springs and historic Kauri dams. Unsurprisingly, wildlife flourishes here – the island is a haven for rare birds and lizards. round the coasts, it’s all about endless white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters that offer legendary fishing and diving experiences.

 Great Barrier Island New Zealand is the place to discover the nature-loving side of your character so take your tramping boots and your fishing gear. Great Barrier Island offers a natural beauty and close to nature experience which is just waiting for you to explore. Renowned for its remoteness and rugged beauty, the island is an increasingly popular holiday destination from Auckland. It also has a strong community spirit, focused on communities at Port Fitzroy, Whangaparapara, Claris, Okupu and Tryphena. Accessible by sea or air, Great Barrier Island, also known as Aotea, has a permanent population of around 500 and is only two hours from Auckland by ferry. The magnificent Kauri Forests are laced with walking tracks, which lead to secluded natural hot springs and historic Kauri dams.



Scenic Highlights

Awana Beach

Awana is a popular swimming and surfing beach (non patrolled), situated on the east coast of Great Barrier Island approx. 15 minutes from Claris Airfield and Claris Business centre (nearest shops) and approx. 40 minutes from Port FitzRoy shop. It is an important nesting area for our rare and endangered Brown Teal and Dotterel with Oystercatchers and Fairy Penguins also nesting in the area. If you look carefully, you can be assured of seeing some, if not all, of these birds on or around the Awana area.

Pack Track and Withey’s Walking Tracks

Both beautiful scenic walks. Starting from Whangaparapara, walk up the Tramline Track and above the remains of Whangaparapara Hut, turn left at the sign-post on to the Pack Track. The track rises up a ridge and down to Wairahi Stream, then carry on back to Whangaparapara along Witheys Track, which follows the stream.

Mount Hobson

Great Barrier’s highest point is 621 metres. On a clear day it offers spectacular views of the Mercury Islands to the Poor Knights, and the Hauraki Gulf. The summit is the principal nesting area for the rare Black Petrel. Visitors are asked to keep to the boardwalk at the summit, built to help protect Black Petrel nesting sites. There are a variety of tramping routes access Mt Hobson, Hirakimata, the most popular being from Windy Canyon to Kaiaraara, for a full-day walk.

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  • Discover the excellent fishing & swimming locations of Awana beach, Medlands beach, Kaitoke beach and many more
  • Visit Glenfern Sanctuary, a native plant, bird and animal sanctuary
  • Charter a boat and sail away the day fishing
  • Try your hand at beach fishing
  • Saddle up and discover many wonderful horse trails
  • The island provides great spots for diving and snorkeling
  • Play golf at Te Ahumata golf course which provides great views up to Hirikamata
  • Play golf at Kaitoke Links, an organic, natural, green friendly, nine hole golf course, one of only a few in the southern hemisphere.
  • Tramp to the summit of Mount Hobson
  • Relax at the Kaitoke natural hot springs
  • View the sights of Great Barrier by Kayak
  • Bike around the few but beautiful scenic biking tracks on the Island.
  • Take a tour through Young’s Museum where tangata whenua (local Maori) will guide you through.
  • Or just sit back, unwind and let the world pass you by in this unique little slice of South Pacific paradise!