Kaitoke Beach, Auckland
By Scott Venning
Windy Canyon Track, Auckland
By Scott Venning
Great Barrier Island, Auckland
Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier Island is the largest and most seaward of the Hauraki Gulf islands in Auckland region. For thousands of years it has sheltered Auckland's harbour from the relentless swells of the Pacific Ocean, creating a boating paradise.
The eastern shore of Great Barrier Island faces the ocean with high cliffs and long white surf beaches; the western side offers deep sheltered harbours and calm sandy bays.
More than 60 per cent of the island's 285 square kilometres is public land administered by the Department of Conservation. The native forest is laced with beautiful walking tracks, which lead to secluded natural hot springs and an historic Kauri dam. These wilderness areas, foreshores and estuaries are home to several unique plant and bird species. Rising 627 metres above the sea, Hirakimata (Mount Hobson) beckons the hiker with the promise of incredible 360 degree views.
Great Barrier Island is a popular destination for diving, fishing, surfing, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking and camping. Accommodation options range from tent sites to luxury eco lodges.
Tryphena is the largest settlement on the island and is situated on the west coast. Home to a number of picturesque family-friendly beaches, dolphins are often spotted here close to the shoreline.
A number of events are held on the island every year, including the delicious Great FitzRoy Mussel Fest, which celebrates the mouth-watering mussels the area is known for. There's also the Wharf2Wharf Marathon sporting event where athletes walk, run or cycle across the island, and the Great Barrier 'Spectacular by Nature' Garden Tour, which showcases the island's stunning residential gardens.
Other settlements include Whangaparapara and Tryphena on the western side; Claris on the eastern side. The 90 kilometre journey from Auckland city takes about 3. 5 hours by fast ferry or you can catch a 30 minute flight.
Content courtesy of Tourism NZ