Although many tourists may focus on what there is to see, do and experience in the heart of Auckland, the islands of the Hauraki Gulf, found in the waters just off the city’s shores, are well worth the time and effort to explore. Whether you only have a day to spare, or can enjoy an extended stay, you’re sure to find your own piece of island paradise.
Hauraki Gulf Islands New Zealand
Situated just a 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland, Waiheke Island is home to an abundance of vineyards, beaches and palate pleasing delights. Head to one of the island’s vineyards to sample fine wines direct from the cellar door, stop by one of the local art galleries to get a creative fix or sink your teeth into the unique flavours of New Zealand and beyond. Set within the sparkling waters of the Hauraki Gulf, there are plenty of opportunities to relax, unwind and spend time on one of island’s pristine beaches.
Boasting some of the Hauraki Gulf’s most beautiful beaches and scenic walks, Motuihe Island is a nature lover’s paradise. Feel grains of pristine white sand between your toes, dip your toes into sparkling waters, or pop your headphones in and set out on a walk along the island’s shores or through its rolling pastures. Keep an eye out for remnants of the island’s long and fascinating history, from its early settlement by Maori people through to its use as a quarantine station, prisoner of war camp and military training base.
A mere 30 kilometres from central Auckland, Tiritiri Matangi has become an important site for conservation in New Zealand. Through the work of volunteers, around 300,000 native trees have been planted on the island and introduced pests have been eradicated, providing the perfect conditions for species such as native bellbirds, stitchbirds, kokakos and little spotted kiwis to thrive. Take a walk along scenic tracks making their way inland or spend time admiring the stunning views offered by the island’s lighthouse.
Great Barrier Island
The largest of the Hauraki Gulf islands, Great Barrier Island is home to long white surf beaches, beautiful wilderness areas and the conditions ideal for a wide range of water sports. Spend your time on Great Barrier Island fishing, swimming, surfing, kayaking and diving, or make the most of dry land with a hike through patches of native forest, keeping an eye out for native plants and animals along the way. The island is the furthest from Auckland, taking 3 hours to reach by ferry or a half hour flight.