Visit incredible Great Barrier islands

Last Updated on January 14, 2024

Right next to the northern island of New Zealand (about 100 km northeast of the center of Auckland) Great Barrier islands are located. This is an amazing place lost in time. Perhaps New Zealand was like this about 50 years ago.

Once upon a time, it was part of the Coromandel Peninsula, and land drift steadily separated it from Oakland. But over time, the ocean covered land space, as well as the continents moved – and the picture changed.

Great Barrier Island Map


Now it is a completely isolated island that is not so easy to reach, and even more difficult to exist on it.

How to get to the Great Barrier islands?

There are only two (or even three) ways:

  1. Sealink ferry leaves from Auckland every day;
  2. There are daily flights from Auckland International Airport 5-6 times a day. In addition to the transportation of locals and tourists, they deliver food to the island. Oddly enough but to send anything by ferry to Great Barrier is more expensive. Usually, island residents promptly buy everything they need at a supermarket in Auckland, and then pay delivery of $ 8 per one large banana box with food.
  3. You can get your way: by boat, helicopter or something else.

Great Barrier Islands

Who lives on the island?

Basically, these are elderly people who decided to live here and a few years ago bought a house and moved to Great Barrier from Auckland and other New Zealand cities (by the way, real estate is quite expensive for such a lost place).

It is very calm, safe (even safer than in mainland New Zealand), beautiful and environmentally friendly.

You can farm or fish, thus provide yourself and your family, work in tourism or not work at all: o

On the island of Great Barrier, there are also young “kiwis” who simply fled from civilization (often escaped from problems). There are a lot of opportunities for outdoor activities: magnificent mountains, waterfalls, and springs – for those who love hiking.

Kiwi Great Barrier

On the west coast of the island, there are many places for diving, spearfishing and interesting little islands where you can swim or fly separately from the Great Barrier Island.

By the way, many come here just for spearfishing or just go boating with friends. Local residents must have at least one boat per family or family friends.

Islands in New Zealand

What do they look like?

Honestly, rather roughly looking, muscular and funny. Like all the islanders. Everyone knows each other and in the evenings they gather in home bars.

There are not many cafes and bars on the island, a maximum of 5 places for food and 1 bar for the whole island! Therefore, some families arrange home bars (well, that is not something at home but in a separate hall for everyone) where neighbors gather and watch football.

Here, everyone sticks together and participates in each other’s life – one island like a big family. There is not much entertainment in the evening, except sitting in a warm company.

Flying over Auckland – the unforgettable way to the island

Only two airlines fly from the city center to Great Barrier – Fly My Sky and Barrier Air.

The flight goes on a tiny airplane made for only 8 people. The pilot looked very tired, except for this he also drove us back. Is there only one pilot? Therefore, tired – fly 6 times a day back and forth. 🙂

Earphones are given out before the flight and the door is firmly locked. All the time in the air (which is half an hour) you can take photos and videos and enjoy the views.

We fly very low above the Earth: Auckland, the island of Waiheke and other small islands of the Hauraki Gulf quickly fly by.

From above, the island of Great Barrier looks creepy. But in fact, it is very similar to one of these tropical islands in the Pacific – Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands, Tahiti, or Moorea.

The air temperature is stable by as much as 4 degrees higher than in Auckland. But the island is only a hundred kilometers from the mainland.

Flight over Great Barrier

How expensive is the living and how to find food

Like anywhere in New Zealand, there are hostels, campgrounds, and more expensive places.

  • Bed in the hostel 40-45 NZD
  • Camping site 20-25 NZD
  • Car rental 60 NZD per day

As already mentioned, the food is hard to find. It is important to correctly guess the time because every cafe has its own schedule and on weekdays almost all places are closed.

On the island, there are 3 or 4 stores and 2 gas stations.

The main cities on the island:

Claris is where the airport is. It is in the center of the island. Nearby there is a gas station with a shop and a cafe.

Tryphena – the largest city on the island. It is located in the south of the island. There is even the only Irish bar Currach. And also concentrated most shops and food places.

Port Fitzroy – a lonely village in the west of the island. From here diving tours and boat trips, fishing, etc. are organized. There are 1 mini shop and a place where burgers are sometimes sold.

Barrier Islands

TOP-10 Must-See on Great Barrier islands

Mount Hirakamatu

This is the highest point on the island and the sacred mountain.

Three roads lead there:

  • Windy canyon: The path takes 3 hours in one direction, first goes through the canyon, goes around a couple of hills, and then rises steeply up the steps to the top of the mountain. You can go further because it is the only part of a single track which is designed for 3 days.
  • Hot Springs: You can start from the southern side of the mountains – there are several hot springs. And then the road rushes steeply upwards. This road will take a little longer – almost 4 hours one way.
  • Kaiaraara Track: This is another option on how to start the path to the sacred mountain. In this way, there are several remnants of buildings still in 1920! In general, this is interesting.

Windy Canyon

The most beautiful and original road is the first one. In addition, it is the shortest time. It is also less uplifting since at start there is a lot of driving to the top of the track on a windy mountain road

Hiking in New Zealand

Aotea Hike

This is a full 3-day hike through the mountains of the Great Barrier Island. It is a ring. It starts on Whangaparapara Road and ends there. The hike covers all of the above places, as well as a few more peaks. For example, Cooper’s Castle. Read more here.

Mountains in New Zealand

Port Fitzroy

I mentioned a bit about this place above. Great place in the bay with a bunch of islands around. It looks like Vancouver in the mini version. In the neighborhood, there are several paths through the jungle. For example, the Old Lady Track which overlooks the entire bay.

Views of New Zealand

To get to this village, you need to go about an hour and a half from the main airport of Claris. At the port Fitzroy road breaks. Then just walk along the coast.

In fact, many places on the Great Barrier Island cannot be reached at all – the pedestrian road is closed. And you can not drive at all. For example, the entire northern tip of the island is not accessible to tourists.

Hot springs

This is the most popular place – hot springs. It’s warm there and not far to go. These are three small lakes with hot hydrogen sulfide water. There is a half-hour road through the jungle.

What scares you is the fact that a bacterium lives in the water sources (as elsewhere in New Zealand) which can get into the head through the nose and cause meningitis. Therefore, it is not possible to lower the head under the water in no case.

Hot Springs

Whangapoua beach

The huge beach, located next to the island’s second airport, Okiwi. It is rarely used. The beach is located at a distance behind the bay that separates it from the airport. Beautiful waves for surfing in this place. In addition, it is protected from the road by a high coniferous forest.

Beaches of New Zealand

Nature New Zealand

Little bays in the south

The south of the island is less popular because there are not so many accessible roads for trekking, and the beaches are too difficult to reach. All tourists chose the mountains in the center of the island as well as magnificent beaches near the airport of Claris.

But in fact, it is in the southern secret bays where there are no people, only fish, and even stingrays.


The huge beach, camping and walking path for several kilometers along the coast – all this can be seen in the bay of Harataonga. From the campsite, the road goes north among the rocks. On the way that takes 4-5 hours, there are very small hidden beaches where there is absolutely no one.

New Zealand Nature

Beaches Claris

Not far from the airport there are several huge beaches, for example, Kaitoke Beach, Medlands Beach, Awana Bay. To walk along this beach, it may take 40 minutes or more.

Travel in New Zealand


This “large” city is located in the south. Here, you can find all the food places. There is one bar and 2-3 not so remarkable beaches. But the atmosphere of the city is pleasant, and furthermore, the road leads to the very south of the island where the lighthouse is located.

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