90km north east of Auckland, to the north of the Coromandel Peninsula, you will find the tranquil wilderness of Great Barrier Island, a world away from the busyness of city life.
Take your choice of ferry or flight to the island and you will find an altered pace of life – dial up internet, minimal cell phone coverage, and a fluctuating power supply make for an authentic experience of life in the slow lane!
Trampers and kayakers can enjoy the native forest and many sea coves and inlets, and a two hour walk to the the highest point, Mount Hobson or Hirakimata, offers spectacular views across the island and surrounding areas. DOC has created a large number of walking tracks through the island, some which are also open for mountain biking.
The less adventurous will enjoy the comfort of a wide range of accommodation. From $23-a-night Backpackers to luxury, five-star Lodges, sporting names like Stray Possum, Earthsong, Tipi and Bob’s, Runaway Lodge, Pigeon and The Tui, you can’t help but feel there is something special here for everyone.
The 285 km2 island is the sixth-largest island in New Zealand. It is a safe home for endangered native birds, as it is virtually free of predators. The Awana Catchment Trust manages the wildlife in this area, which is a designated ecologically significant site. Rare birds include Brown Teal, New Zealand Dotterel, Kaka and Oyster Catchers, while whales, tropical reef fish, sea-snakes, turtles and manta rays live in the waters surrounding the island.
The island’s rich history also includes Kauri logging, a whaling station and two significant shipwrecks, the SS Wairarapa and the SS Wiltshire. The semi-collapsed shafts of some of New Zealand’s earliest mines remain in the bushland where copper, silver and gold were mined.
There are airfields at Claris (Great Barrier Aerodrome) and Okiwi. Great Barrier Airlines and Fly My Sky (formerly Mountain Air) operate services from Auckland Airport, and North Shore Aerodrome. Air Discovery also operate a service from Tauranga and Waiheke Island, and Sunair from Whitianga. Flight time is approximately 35 minutes from Auckland.
There are two ferry services to Great Barrier Island. Fullers operate a fast ferry service over the summer and at long weekends. The Fullers ferry takes around two hours to Tryphena. SeaLink operates the Island Navigator, a passenger, car and freight ferry, operating from Wynyard Wharf in Auckland city to Tryphena (several times weekly) and Port Fitzroy every Tuesday. Sailing time is approximately four and a half hours.