Great Barrier Island/Aotea
Located in the Auckland region
IntroductionAotea Conservation Park has the only multi-day wilderness walk in the Auckland region, boasting two DOC huts and numerous campsites.
The Aotea Conservation Park on Great Barrier Island/Aotea spreads over more than 12,000 hectares and offers multiple walking tracks for novice and experienced walkers. It's the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts and families.
Discover beautiful beaches, a wide variety of native birds and animals as well as the famous Kaitoke Hot Springs.
Take an easy 30 minute scenic flight, or a daily ferry to this island, rich with Māori heritage and numerous archaeological sites.
Find things to do and places to stay Great Barrier Island/Aotea
Many of the birds on Great Barrier are rare or extinct on the mainland. They can be secretive and require patience to spot.
- Brown teal/pateke, found in most streams and wetland areas, particularly in the north of the island.
- Banded rail/moho pereru, New Zealand dotterel/tūturiwhatu and kākā, regularly seen around the island's beaches and forest edges.
- Black petrel/taiko nest at the summit of Great Barrier's mountains. If you stay in the Mt Heale hut during the summer months, you may hear them returning to their burrows at night.
Keep a 5 metre distance from birds when bird watching.
Great Barrier is a fantastic destination for boating and sailing. The island has seven boat ramps, all on the west coast, and many sheltered coves and bays which make great anchorages.
Great Barrier is one of the most diverse diving spots in the Auckland region and also has excellent visibility. Features include:
- huge underwater rock formations
- seaweed forests, and
- a mixture of sub-tropical and temperate marine species.
Dive bottles can be filled in Port Fitzroy and Claris. Dive tours are available from the mainland.
You can fish off the rocks or the beach anywhere round the island’s coastline. Great Barrier Island is also a popular destination for fishing charters from Auckland or the Coromandel.
You can kayak around Great Barrier. Kayaking is one of the best ways to see the island's many of bays and coves. You might also see some marine life around the island, including whales, dolphins and penguins. The west coast often has more sheltered weather conditions for kayaking.
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.
Find authorised transport operators to this island.
DOC staff are on 24 hour duty at Great Barrier campsites during the peak holiday period.
Rules for the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park
- Fires and portable barbeques are not allowed except on the permanent barbeque provided onsite.
- Take your rubbish with you – there are no rubbish bins.
- Some activities such as weddings need a permit.
- No camping unless at a designated campsite.
These are part of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park by-laws. Read the full by-laws.
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 pāteke 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.