Disconnect and Recharge on Great Barrier Island

Experience the island like a local, take a walk, see the stars, and disconnect from the big city life

Day One

A quick tour of the cultural and local sights

Start your journey from Hamer Street, Wynyard Quarter with a coffee and snack from our onboard café and a good book. Then sit back and relax on your 4-hour journey to paradise.

Keep an eye out for dolphins and whales though as they often make an appearance on the journey to Great Barrier Island.

The Island Navigator should arrive into Tryphena at around 1 pm and before leaving the area, stopping by Paddles and Saddles is a must do.

Just around the corner from the main Tryphena centre, you'll find Paddles and Saddles - Tryphena House. Not only do they offer accommodation, but also hire out a range of equipment to make your stay on the Barrier unforgettable. Their equipment for hire includes Kayaks, Paddleboards, Fishing Kayaks & Fishing Gear and Snorkelling gear, Electric Bikes (fuelled only by solar energy) and Scooters - advance booking required.

Once you've had your quick thrill, start heading towards Kaitoke Beach and Claris. On the way, we recommend checking in to your accommodation at Kaitoke or Medlands Beach, at Medlands Beach Lodge, Medlands Beach Backpackers or an Airbnb.

Once you've dropped your bags off, we suggest heading to Claris for a touch of art and history. The art gallery is full of local artists' work, and crafts for you to purchase as a souvenir for your stay. Stop in at the Milk, Honey, and Grain Museum - trust us - it's definitely worth a visit and entry is a koha donation.

To wrap up your first day on the Barrier, pack a picnic dinner and watch the sun go down off Medlands Beach. Or, if the weather is not in favour of outdoor dining, check out alternative dining options in the area here.

Art Gallery in Claris - Great Barrier Island

Day Two

A little history and a lot of fresh air

Whangaparapara Reserve - Great Barrier Island

Whangaparapara is your next stop on the west coast of the island. This is the port SeaLink arrives into to supply fuel to the Island and is a stunning piece of coastline. It is also the starting point for easy to challenging DOC tracks along with mountain biking routes. Bring your mountain bike with your car, but remember to ensure it's clean and dirt free to help reduce the spread of Kauri Dieback

Prior to arriving on the island, we recommend booking a night at Mt Heale Hut as this would be a beautiful half day walk (approximately 3.5 hours) on your second day on Great Barrier. Remember to bring a camera as Mt Heale has spectacular views of Little Barrier Island and the Hauraki Gulf.

History or mining buff? Visit the 1899 Oreville stamping (ore crushing) battery on your way to the Whangaparapara coast. It's a great reminder of one of the many industries Great Barrier has contributed to over the years. 

If you take the round trip walk, Great Barrier Lodge is a fantastic place to stay with meal options as well. 

Day Three

Surf, sand, and stars

This your beach day! Great Barrier has some of the best beaches that we've seen and they cater to all kinds of needs.

There's the picturesque picnic beach at Gooseberry Flats, your best surfing beach at Medlands and Whangapoua and just the beach to pass the time away at Awana Beach.

Bring a picnic and enjoy the sea breeze from both east and west coasts of Great Barrier Island.

Plan ahead for tonight - you'll want to experience the best that the island has to offer. Great Barrier Island is one of only two island dark sky sanctuaries in the world. Good Heavens will take you through the stars, which constellations are present in the night sky and how to read the stars like an explorer.

Sit back and enjoy a hot chocolate (or tea) and snuggle down with your blanket for an evening like no other with the stars. (Tip: book your dark skies evening for 'Day Three', but remember to schedule an alternate day as your rain date just in case).

Awana Bay Surf Beach

Day Four

Your nature day amongst the birds and trees

Glenfern Sanctuary - Great Barrier Island

It's time to get amongst the natural wildlife that can be found on Great Barrier Island.

Come and walk or stay at Glenfern Sanctuary, just near Port Fitzroy. They are a regional park committed to providing a safe habitat for threatened wildlife. Take the Glenfern Loop Track, if you're wanting a shorter, family-friendly, walk through this breathtaking scenery.

They're open free to the public daily to explore this natural paradise. They offer guided daytime and nighttime tours so you can learn about the work they do and the species they're working to protect.

Book to stay in the historic homes so you can spend your holiday listening to the birds and swimming off their private wharf.

End your day at Port Fitzroy Boat Club and enjoy the scenery around you while you dine at the only local tavern in the North Barrier. Alternatively, head back into Claris to enjoy an early evening bite to eat

Day Five

Relax on the green and set sail for home

Today is the day to take some more 'you' time and hit the golf course. Great Barrier Island Golf Club is open 7 days a week with an honesty box system, and with just 9 holes, you'll be able to easily squeeze it in before your sailing home. So pack those golf clubs in the boot to enjoy the course at your leisure. If you need to hire clubs on non-club days, give Tom a call on 09 4290 531.

Stop at My Fat Puku as well for some sustenance at Claris. They have great brunch options, good coffee and offer gluten-free options too. 

Remember to arrive at least an hour prior to your ferry departure. Have a chat to your other ferry trippers to discover maybe something more about the island that you could look forward to for next trip to Great Barrier Island!


Find these locations on our interactive Google Map:

interactive map button

Share your road trip with us as well - tag #sealinknzroadtrip with your amazing photos and any tips you've found useful on your journey.

My Fat Puku Breakfast - Great Barrier Island

Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee our suggested businesses, particularly restaurants and other eateries, will be open every day. Please remember to ring and check or book prior to your arrival.