Nature and conservation
Great Barrier is one of the last great wilderness areas of the Auckland region. In the island's centre, spectacular bluffs and ridges rise to the highest peak, Hirakimata or Mount Hobson, at 621 m. To the west, forest covered ranges meet the coast, a maze of bays, islands and indented fiords. The eastern coastline has sweeping white sands and surf beaches, often backed by tidal creeks and wetlands.
Hirakimata and other high points in the centre of the island are the main nesting area for black petrel in New Zealand. Over 60% of New Zealand's entire pateke or brown teal population live on the island. Many of these small brown ducks frequent the wetlands of the Whangapoua estuary.
This is also one of only a few offshore island groups containing spotless crake and fern bird. It is a stronghold for North Island kaka and banded rail. There are over 13 species of lizard, including the rarest skink in the region - the chevron skink.
Great Barrier Island lies 100 km northeast of downtown Auckland on the outer edge of the Hauraki Gulf.
Several companies service the island by sea and air. Taxis and car rentals are available on the island. At peak holiday times, buses run unscheduled trips to all campsites on the island from Shoal Bay Wharf, Tryphena Harbour.
Know before you go
Looking after the island
You can help ensure the long term success of keeping pests off this island and preventing reinvasion. Before you leave the mainland or travel between islands in the Hauraki Gulf:
- Check your boat or kayak and gear for rats, mice, Argentine ants, rainbow skinks, soil and seeds.
- Clean footwear, clothing and gear of soil and seeds – weeds are a significant problem on the island.
- Pack luggage and all food you are bringing to the island in pest-proof containers – not in open bags/boxes/containers or plastic bags.
- Leave your dog and other pets at home – they pose a risk to the native species on this island.
- Read the Treasure Islands biosecurity information.
Other ways you can help look after Great Barrier Island/Aotea
Fire is one of the biggest threats to the island. Permits are required for all open fires. In dry periods, all outside fires may be prohibited. Campers are advised to bring gas cookers or liquid fuel.
Don't disturb threatened birds like the black petrel, brown teal, NZ dotterel and banded rail. Watch them from a distance. Report any disturbances to the Department of Conservation.
Keep to formed tracks at all times.
Do not disturb or remove any artefacts or other historic remains.
Use the rubbish bins and recycling facilities provided. If you are using tracks and backcountry huts, carry out your rubbish.
Kauri dieback has been found on the island. Footware cleaning procedures may be required for access to some areas.
Non-compliance with these conditions may result in prosecution.
Fires on Hauraki Gulf islands
There is a total fire ban on islands in the Hauraki Gulf (with the exceptions of Waiheke, Great Barrier, Kawau and Rakino, where you can light a fire if you have a permit). Check the current Hauraki Gulf fire conditions.
Working together to protect the Hauraki Gulf
From small beginnings mighty things can grow, and from small beginnings mighty things can go. A single spark can be devastating to Auckland's treasured islands—and everything that lives there. If you see a fire call 111.
Pick up the guidebook, maps, brochures and your hut tickets at the DOC Visitor Centre before you depart for Great Barrier Island.
Department of Conservation staff are on 24 hour duty at Great Barrier campsites during the peak holiday period.