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Waiheke Island is full of hidden treasures and unexpected delights, perfect for your next island road trip.
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Start your journey from Wynyard Wharf 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 1pm when it's a great time to check into your nearest accommodation provider such as Currach, Trillium Lodge, Tipi and Bobs Waterfront Lodge or Shoal Bay Estate to name a few.
Take a stroll on Gooseberry Flat Beach where the waters are crystal clear and wrap the day with a scrumptious dinner by sunset at Tipi and Bobs.
Just around the corner of Tryphena's main centre (even just a 25 minute walk away), you'll find Paddles and Saddles. 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.
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.
To wrap up your second 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.
Plan ahead for tonight - you'll want to experience the best that Great Barrier Island has to offer. Great Barrier 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 for 'Day Two', but have another day during your stay as the rain date just in case).
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 a few 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.
This is also the perfect day to start your three days 'off the grid' hiking experience! The Aotea Track will give you the widest range of beautiful views, native flora and fauna and a great combination of easy to challenging hikes. Start from the Kaitoke Hot Springs at Whangaparapara and head towards Mt Heale Hut, following the track and the guide here. This would be a beautiful half day walk (approximately 3.5 hours) on your third day on Great Barrier.
Prior to arriving on the island, we recommend booking a night at Mt Heale Hut and Kaiaraara Hut just in case they are fully booked and you'll need to bring more camping gear. Remember to bring your camera as Mt Heale has spectacular views of Little Barrier Island and the Hauraki Gulf.
Feeling like an additional challenge? Head up towards Mt Hobson summit, an additional 45 minutes from Mt Heale Hut, for more spectacular views.
We're still out in the Aotea Conservation Park today, starting from Mt Heale Hut and making your way towards Kaiaraara Hut. Here you'll find the DOC map and guide for this route.
If you didn't manage to trek towards Mt Hobson yesterday, it would be well worth your trip today (it's also the start of the route to your next hut as well). You'll start this route towards the Kaiaraara Hut with a steep 40-minute climb then either turn towards Mt Hobson or carry down the path towards the hut. This route will likely take approximately 3 hours.
You'll come across a variety of beautiful bridges, stairways and steep paths. When the land starts levelling out, you know you'll be close to your destination.
Remember to bring your camera and an additional battery charger for your phone as you'll find so many moments along this path you'll want to capture.
Today will be a much more relaxing hike than the previous two days. Your final destination will be the Kaitoke Hot Pools so it will all be well worth your three-day journey in the rugged outdoors of Great Barrier Island.
You'll see an impressive group of Kauri Trees on this route as well but be careful around these trees as Kauri Dieback is a very real threat at the moment in New Zealand. To find out more about this disease and how you can do your part to stop the spread of it, see more here.
Take the trek named 'Tramline Track North' (noted on the map just above the Hot Springs) to ensure you're well on your way to the Kaitoke Hot Springs and where you started your journey just two days prior.
We suggest spending your final night in the outdoors at The Green Campsite, also noted on the interactive map at the end of this page, once you've relaxed your journey away at the Hot Pools.
Still have some energy after your 3-day hike? There are even more mini treks around Whangaparapara and Port Fitzroy you can enjoy. The Old Mill Track is an easy 2-hour walk and begins near where you stayed overnight at The Green Campsite. Features on this walk include an old Kauri Timber Company Sawmill and Historic Steam Traction Engine.
Please note, some of the tracks in this area have been closed due to Kauri Dieback disease. We recommend checking the Department Of Conservation site prior to your arrival on Great Barrier Island.
Have a history or mining buff with you? Visit the 1899 Oreville stamping (ore crushing) battery on your way to or from the Whangaparapara coast. It's a great reminder of one of the many industries Great Barrier has contributed to over the years.
Stay in this area for one more night at the Great Barrier Lodge would be a fantastic place to end your hiking experience on the Barrier, they have great meal options as well.
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 and 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.
Your SeaLink ferry back to Wynyard Wharf in Auckland departs Tryphena (or Port Fitzroy every second Tuesday) mid-afternoon so we recommend getting up early and enjoying your last few hours on this island paradise.
Head into 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.
Pack another picnic and head out to Okupu Bay, stopping at the Blind Bay lookout (this view is stunning). The peacefulness to this side of the island is unmissable and though the road may be a little bumpy, we've found it to be very worth it.
On your way back to the ferry, don't forget to take those final snaps of the beautiful coastlines and rolling hills. Remember to arrive at least an hour prior to your ferry departure. Have a chat to your fellow ferry trippers to discover maybe something more about the island that you may have missed or tell them all about your epic eight-day adventure on Great Barrier Island!
Find these locations on Google Maps:
Share your road trip with us as well - tag #sealinknzroadtrip with your amazing photos and any tips you've found useful on your journey.
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.
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