Auckland Island Hopping. Photo by Fullers Group Ltd/Auckland Tourism

Auckland Island Hopping

Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Park covers 1.2 million hectares of coast and is dotted with more than 50 islands. So what better way to fill in a visit to NZ’s biggest city than with some Auckland island hopping?

Rangitoto Island

Arguably Auckland’s most iconic island, Rangitoto is the largest and youngest of the region’s volcanoes. Just a short ferry ride from downtown Auckland, it’s popular with day-trippers, who come to see the spectacular views from the summit. The island is ​home to the world’s largest pohutukawa forest.

You see the sights on foot or take a guided 4WD tour to the summit for breathtaking 360-degree views. The walk from Rangitoto to neighbouring Motutapu Island is particularly stunning.

If a day isn’t long enough, neighbouring island Motutapu has a basic beach-side campsite and a lodge. There is no accommodation on Rangitoto.

Rangitoto Island from Narrow Neck Beach. Photo by Deanna Gallagher

Rangitoto Island from Narrow Neck Beach. Photo by Deanna Gallagher

Auckland City from Rangitoto Island. Photo by adam fletcher.

Auckland City from Rangitoto Island. Photo by adam fletcher

Rangitoto dock. Photo by Jason Pratt

Rangitoto dock. Photo by Jason Pratt

Rangitoto from above. Photo by Phillip Capper

Rangitoto from above. Photo by Phillip Capper

McKenzie Bay lighthouse, Rangitoto Island. Photo by itravelNZ®

McKenzie Bay lighthouse, Rangitoto Island. Photo by itravelNZ®

Sunset over Rangitoto Island. Photo by Chris Gregory

Sunset over Rangitoto Island. Photo by Chris Gregory

 

Tiritiri Matangi Island

Tiri is a wildlife sanctuary home to many of New Zealand’s rarest native bird species. You’ll love the chance to see these and endemic birds including the little spotted kiwi, kaka, grey warbler and North Island robin.

It may be best known for its birds, but ‘Tiri’ is home to other kinds of wildlife, too. Gecko, skin, tuatara and weta, to name a few. It also boasts New Zealand’s oldest working lighthouse.

This place is one of the most successful conservation projects in the world and a great destination for nature lovers.

Tiritiri Matangi Island. Photo by itravelNZ®

Tiritiri Matangi Island. Photo by itravelNZ®

Takahe on Tiritiri Matangi. Photo by Richard Ashurst

Takahe on Tiritiri Matangi. Photo by Richard Ashurst

Tui on Tiritiri Matangi. Photo by Richard Ashurst

Tui on Tiritiri Matangi. Photo by Richard Ashurst

Tiritiri Matangi. Photo by Claire Gribbin

Tiritiri Matangi. Photo by Claire Gribbin

 

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island is the ultimate island retreat. A sign telling you you’re on ‘island time’ greets you off the ferry and it’s right – life is relaxed here.

The jewel of the Hauraki Gulf is full of charming attractions. Sample award-winning wines at any of the 30 boutique vineyards, enjoy fine dining and take in the island’s stunning scenery. Enjoy the relaxed pace as you stroll around quirky craft shops and art galleries.

If you’re visiting in summer, stunning beaches lend themselves to a range of aquatic activities. Swimming, kayaking, fishing… you name it, it’s here.

Waiheke is just a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland but a world away. Stay for a day or longer. You’re always welcome.

Aerial view of Waiheke Island on a beautiful clear day. Photo by Fullers Group Ltd/Auckland Tourism

Aerial view of Waiheke on a beautiful clear day. Photo by Fullers Group Ltd/Auckland Tourism

Waiheke Island. Photo by Susan Hardin

Waiheke Island. Photo by Susan Hardin

Waiheke Island. Photo by Jodie Wilson

Waiheke Island. Photo by Jodie Wilson

Waiheke Bay. Photo by Susan Hardin

Waiheke Bay. Photo by Susan Hardin

 

Great Barrier Island

If you’re in search of a real outdoor experience, you’ll find it on Great Barrier. This island is renowned for its remoteness and rugged beauty. Discover secluded natural hot springs and historic kauri dams, kayak off the many beaches or treat yourself to a scenic heli-fishing flight.

Great Barrier is a three-hour ferry trip from Auckland, or a half-hour by plane, and gives visitors a chance to really get away from it all. Here the roads are unsealed and there are no traffic lights. There are only a few shops, no banks, and power comes from a generator or alternative systems.

Things happen on ‘Barrier time’. If you’re coming here for a bit of peace and quiet, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

View of Great Barrier Island. Photo by Phillip Capper

View of Great Barrier Island. Photo by Phillip Capper

Great Barrier Island. Photo by studio tdes

Great Barrier Island. Photo by studio tdes

 

Kawau Island

Kawau Island is one of the larger islands in the Hauraki Gulf and is roughly 45km north of Auckland. The climate is sub-tropical, with the majority of the Island covered in bush. A highlight is an historic mansion house; this iconic attraction was where Sir George Grey, one of New Zealand’s most influential and political figures, lived in the 1800s. It boasts exotic gardens and an impressive collective of antique furnishings and is open to the public every day.

Kawau Island is also the site of one of New Zealand’s earliest mining ventures. Remnants of its copper mining past can be explored using the network of tracks through the Kawau Island Historic Reserve.

If you’re into walking – and that’s the best way to explore out here – there are tracks of varying lengths that take in Kawau Island’s historic features. Many are suitable for families.

Kawau Island Yacht Club. Photo by Colin McCormick

Kawau Island Yacht Club. Photo by Colin McCormick

Kawau Island. Photo by Phillip Capper

Kawau Island. Photo by Phillip Capper

Kawau Island Yacht Club. Photo by Colin McCormick

Kawau Island Yacht Club. Photo by Colin McCormick

 

Rotoroa Island

In 2011, Rotoroa opened to the public for the first time in 100 years. Anyone can now visit this fascinating island, just an hour by ferry from downtown Auckland.

On Rotoroa you can swim or picnic at one of four sandy beaches, explore walking trails among regenerating bush or tour heritage buildings including the original school house and jail.

Wildlife on the island is a growing attraction; the Rotoroa Island Trust and Auckland Zoo are working together to establish a wildlife sanctuary on the island. This project will see more than 20 species of native animal introduced there over the next 10 years.

Three holiday homes are available for rent on the island, and there’s also shared hostel accommodation.

Rotorua Island. Photo by Rotoroa Island Trust/Auckland Tourism

Rotorua Island. Photo by Rotoroa Island Trust/Auckland Tourism

Rotorua Island. Photo by Rotoroa Island Trust/Auckland Tourism

Rotorua Island. Photo by Rotoroa Island Trust/Auckland Tourism

Rotorua Island. Photo by Rotoroa Island Trust/Auckland Tourism

Rotorua Island. Photo by Rotoroa Island Trust/Auckland Tourism

Rotorua Island. Photo by Rotoroa Island Trust/Auckland Tourism

Rotorua Island. Photo by Rotoroa Island Trust/Auckland Tourism

 

Photo by Fullers Group Ltd/Auckland Tourism

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