Sheer rock faces on Windy Canyon

Image: Andris Apse | ©


Windy Canyon is a popular walk on Great Barrier Island, offering spectacular views. You can then continue on Palmers Track to the summit of Mt Hobson (Hirakimata).

Track overview

3.3 km

Walking and tramping

15 min | 3 hr one way Easy: Walking track

Dog access

Dogs with a DOC permit for recreational hunting or management purposes only
  • Stop kauri dieback and protect kauri
    • Kauri dieback disease is spread through soil.
    • Scrub soil off shoes and gear and check it's all removed before you go.
    • Use a cleaning station when you enter and leave.
    • Always stay on the track.

    How you can help save kauri

  • Check you are pest-free

    Check, clean, and seal your gear to ensure you don't bring pests, soil, and seeds.

    See island biosecurity requirements.

About this track


This is the shortest and easiest of the three paths to the summit.

Windy Canyon

Time: 15 min one way

The climbs numerous steps through the sheer rock faces of Windy Canyon. There are splendid views of Okiwi Basin and Whangapoua Beach and estuary to the north, and Kaitoke and Medlands beaches to the east.

Palmer's Track

Time: 3 hr one way

The track follows the ridge offering constantly changing vistas in every direction before climbing steeply to the summit, traversing steep inclines via an impressive system of steps and stairways. Healthy examples of the endemic plant prostrate kānuka can be seen among regenerating forest. On the ridge still stands the ‘wooden horse’, a sturdy H-frame used for winching logs from the eastern slopes up and over the saddle, before sending them plummeting down the other side on their way to the sea.

Mt Hobson (Hirakimata) is the site of several rare species. It is the favoured choice of the tomtit, black petrel and recently re-introduced North Island robin, and is frequented by kākāriki and kākā. The beautiful endemic Great Barrier tree daisy and tiny sun dews like it here as well.

Getting there

The track begins at the top of Whangapoua Hill on Aotea Road.

Nature and conservation

Nearing the summit, the track leads into mature forest where logging was too difficult and fires on the lower slopes did not reach. Remnants of an ancient and precious conifer forest, rimu, Kirk’s pine, pink pine and kauri, can be seen here.

Keep an eye out for black petrel. Once widespread on the North Island, breeding colonies of these large, burrow-nesting seabirds are now confined to Great Barrier Island Aotea and Hauturu / Little Barrier Island. The main colony on Great Barrier Island Aotea breeds on the slopes of Mt Hobson (Hirakimata) between October and May each year. Mature birds spend months at sea flying as far as South America and only return to the island to breed. Watch out for them on the road at night.

Know before you go

Keep to the tracks to avoid damaging rare native plants and disturbing black petrels.


Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 9 379 6476
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Address:   Shop2, Shed 19, Princes Wharf
137 Princes Wharf
Auckland 1010
Postal Address:   PO Box 105 469
Auckland City 1143
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