How to Visit Great Barrier Island While Touring New Zealand

Medlands Beach Great Barriers Island New Zealand

Visit Pristine Eco Gem, Great Barrier Island While Touring New Zealand

If you’re visiting New Zealand’s North Island, a visit to the spectacular and unspoilt Great Barrier Island is a must.  The Island offers fantastic walking trails, abundant wildlife, great surfing, snorkeling and diving, relaxing hot springs, and famous golden sand beaches.

Medlands Beach Great Barriers Island New Zealand

Great Barrier Island lies a bit offshore from the North Island of New Zealand and along with the Coromandel Peninsula helps protect helps protect it from major storms.  Visiting the island is like stepping back in time to wild and undeveloped natural landscapes.  It is a pace that tourism has barely touched.  The island offers vastly contrasting landscapes from farms, wetlands, rugged hills, to long stretches of unspoilt beaches and hundreds of secluded and sheltered bays.

Kaitoke Hot Springs Great Barrier Island NZ

While the distance from Auckland to Great Barrier Island is just 90-km, life on the island is a world apart from the bustling city. This helpful guide details all the transport options available to get visitors from Auckland to an unforgettable experience on Great Barrier Island.

Car Ferry

The journey on the car ferry offers spectacular views across the Hauraki Gulf and its many Islands. The Sealink Auckland to Great Barrier Island ferry leaves from the SeaLink-Wynyard Wharf Ferry Terminal on Brigham Street, near the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre. The cruise on the Island Navigator across to Tryphena is comfortable with a licensed café where you can enjoy hot and cold food and beverages, two lounge areas, a kids play area, as well as two movie theatres. On the vehicle deck, you can relax on the bench seats, which run the entire length of the vessel and provide the perfect place to spot whales, orcas, dolphins and seabirds along the way. The trip is so enjoyable that the Auckland to Great Barrier Island travel time of 4 ½ hours tends to pass quickly, especially when the weather is at its best.

The Sealink ferry to Great Barrier Island from Auckland sails for Tryphena on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday at 8am and leaves for the return trip at 3pm. Due to high demand during peak seasons, it is advisable to book your journey in advance. There are no ferries on Mondays or Saturdays, and the Wednesday ferry docks at Port Fitzroy on the Great Barrier Island.  The schedule changes on long weekends and public holidays, so be sure to check the sailing times before travelling, and fares may also be higher at these times.


Auckland to Great Barrier Island flights are also available. The flight takes 30-35-minutes in a light 6-10 seater plane and gives spectacular views of the islands and the Hauraki Gulf. Check out the Great Barrier Airlines timetable to find which of the 42 weekly flights would be most convenient for you. Barrier Air Flights leave from the domestic terminal of Auckland airport, or from North Shore (Postman’s Road, Dairy Flat), and both arrive at Claris. Fly My Sky offer 3 –flights daily, and 4 on Friday, and they also offer charter flights, all leaving from the domestic terminal of Auckland Airport.

Transport on Great Barrier Island

If you decide to take one of the Great Barrier Island flights remember that there is no public transport system on the island. Shuttle buses and tour operators are available, and rental cars can be hired from a range of Great Barrier Island rental car providers.

A great option that allows visitors to get the most out of their time on the island is to pick up a car rental in Auckland and catch the Sealink car ferry. This allows for both a spectacular cruise in the Hauraki Gulf, and an opportunity to explore the Island’s many attractions, like Windy Canyon and Port Fitzroy Harbour.

Mount Hobson Great Barrier Island New Zealand

Follow the one main road through old-fashioned villages, over rugged mountain ranges, though picture-perfect farmland, and along spectacular stretches of coastline. Enjoy some impressive Department of Conservation walking and tramping tracks and observe the rich and varied wildlife on the island. You will be surprised at just how much there is to see, so don’t miss the many galleries, potteries and museums and really make the most of your destination Great Barrier experience.

Image Source:
Medlands Beach:  By Uploader. (Self-photographed) [Public domain], via Wikimedia
Kaitoke Hot Springs:  Dept of Conservation via Flickr
Mount Hobson:  By Ingolfson at English Wikipedia




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