Great Barrier Island vacation rentals
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Your guide to Great Barrier Island
All About Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier Island is located just off the North Island of New Zealand, around 55 miles from Auckland. It’s the largest of the Hauraki Gulf Islands, but you’d never know that by its population: more than half of the island is a nature reserve and only 1,000 people live here, spread across a handful of small towns and settlements in off-the-grid homes powered by solar and wind energy. This environmentally sustainable lifestyle contributes to the island’s classification as a Dark Sky Sanctuary, which means you can expect crystal-clear stargazing here.
The island’s lush green landscapes, sparkling white-sand beaches, untouched wetlands, and natural hot springs are ripe for exploration. Hirakimata (Mount Hobson) is a popular hiking spot, as its 2,000-foot peak offers panoramic views. Great Barrier Island is situated in New Zealand’s only National Marine Park, which makes for excellent diving and snorkelling conditions too.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Great Barrier Island?
Auckland has relatively moderate weather all year round, so there is no bad time to secure your Great Barrier Island vacation rentals. The summer months of December through March tend to be hot and sunny, with picture-perfect weather for hiking or hitting the beach. This is a very popular time to visit, especially during the school holidays, so book plane or ferry tickets well in advance. Spring (September through December) and fall (March through June) are great times to visit, as they are usually quieter, but you can still count on good weather. During the winter, it can get damp and chilly, so make sure you pack a few extra layers. It’s always smart to bring high-SPF sunscreen when traveling in New Zealand.
What are the top things to do in Great Barrier Island?
Kaitoke Hot Springs
Kaitoke Hot Springs in the center of the island are natural rock pools of geothermal water surrounded by umbrella ferns — they’ve been left unadorned, with the exception of a nearby picnic table. The springs are a gentle 45-minute walk from the closest road, following an ancient shoreline and winding through kanuka forests where you may view spotless crakes and fernbirds.
Hirakimata (Mount Hobson)
Hirakimata (Mount Hobson) is the highest point on Great Barrier Island, and its peak offers sweeping views of Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula. It is accessible via a three-hour hiking trail that passes otherworldly rock formations and leads through the famous Windy Canyon, which features sheer rock faces covered in lush vegetation.
As one of the island’s most popular beaches, Medlands Beach is a great spot for swimming, stargazing, and surfing thanks to its exposed beach break. The curves of the Sugarloaf headlands create an idyllic scene here with powdery sand, rolling grass-covered dunes, and cerulean waters.