Explore Great Barrier Island
As the warmer months draw closer, backpackers can head to Great Barrier Island’s sunny shores to experience its rich range of outdoor pursuits including tramping, surfing, snorkelling, and fishing.
Great Barrier’s walks and tramps beckon visitors to Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, with more than 20 tracks of varying degrees of difficulty on offer in the nature reserve.
Great Barrier Island is the sixth largest Island in New Zealand at 285km2, and is situated off the north- eastern shore of central Auckland, home to about 800 permanent residents. Its picturesque shores shield a wide range of endangered species including the chevron skink (Niho Taniwha), now found only on Great Barrier.
The island’s walking opportunities range from short day tramps to more difficult tracks popular with mountain bikers.
The two most popular walks on the island take hikers to the natural Hot Springs and Windy Canyon. There are varying points of access to the sites depending on fitness level. Mt Hobson (Hirakimata) is Great Barrier’s highest point, 621m above sea level, and it can be traversed via a walking track that is two hours to the summit. Ten minutes into the walk, hikers meet the Windy Canyon, accessed up a 100-step staircase. On the way down, walkers can join the Tramline Track and take a dip in the thermal Hot Springs before an easy 40min descent, completing the whole excursion in five to six hours.
Visitors to Great Barrier Island can also pay for guided expeditions such as the Glenfern Sanctuary walk, which begins in an all-terrain army vehicle and reaches its high point as they clamber over a suspension bridge and into the crown of a 600-year-old kauri tree. A gentle walk across nine bridges across a stream finishes off the walk.
Warren’s Track is a gentle graded 30min climbing track, through a kauri plantation to a waterfall, under which there are pools deep enough for swimming. Bridle Track is an easier hike beginning by the Port FitzRoy Department of Conservation area office. The Old Lady Track comprises a 90min round-trip around Port FitzRoy harbour, taking hikers up a steep track up to a harbour view lookout point.
The Outdoor Pursuits Club situates Hillary guides on Great Barrier Island, who can take visitors on a variety of bush adventures including abseiling and canyon trips. Scale the Three Kings, a natural crag overlooking Port Abercrombie, kayak or snorkel with the experienced guides.
Those people preferring to tramp on their own itinerary can contact the Department of Conservation (DOC) to register the trip.
Great Barrier Island can be accessed by ferry. Sealink offers a charter boat service, book online at
PHOTO: Tryphena is an ideal location to explore the beauty of Great Barrier Island