With Auckland being one of the only cities that you can jump on a boat and be on an island within 30 minutes, it’s something we really should be taking advantage of.
With its rich sailing history, there is no reason we should not be sailing around the Hauraki Gulf and making sure Auckland lives up to its reputation.
So, gather your friends, take a couple of ferry rides around the islands, or even better, find someone with a boat to help you explore. And, if you still need convincing, here are the reasons why you need to visit the Hauraki Gulf.
Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier Island is the biggest islands in the Hauraki Gulf, with some of the best surf spots and white sand beaches around the Medlands. If you’re up for an adventure, then take your mountain bike over with you because there are plenty of trails to be explored. In summer, take the car ferry and camp on the ocean side, where you can catch some early morning waves as well as some big ones at the best fishing spots. If you’re more of a hiker, there’s the famous Kauri trail walk to do.
Wineries On Waiheke
When Lonely Planet ranked Waiheke Island the fifth best region in the world, tourists started to take notice—and it’s with good reason that this island gets a good wrap. Known for its plentiful wineries, it’s much too difficult to just choose one for the day. We recommend booking in a winery tour to try a few.
Camping On Motutapu Island
Motutapu Island is one of the oldest islands in the Hauraki Gulf, which previously served as a base during WWII. The island also hosts an outdoor education camp for those wanting to do something a bit more exciting. Our favourite part is setting up camp looking out towards the big city lights of Auckland.
Explore Rotoroa Island
What used to be closed to the public, previously serving as an alcohol and drug rehabilitation island, is now accessible to the public as anarts, heritage and conservative estate. A day trip will be filled with activities including the award-winning museum, walking trails, a sculpture trail and heritage buildings including the school house and jail.
Birdlife Sanctuary On Tiriti Matangi Island
Known for its native wildlife and protection of endangered birds, Tiritiri Matangi is one island for a wildlife lesson. It’s also home of the Takahe, the flightless bird that has clung to existence. Birdwatchers come from all over the world to check out the infamous birdlife—so now you’ve got no excuse not to have visited.
Have A History Lesson On Kawau Island
Kawau Island is reputable for being a jewel in the Hauraki Gulf, with crystal clear waters and historic buildings. The infamous Mansion House resides on Kawau Island, previously owned by former mayor, Andrew Farmer. The mansion is a two-storey, thirty-bedroom guest house, and is now a hot spot for boaties and visitors to the island. If you’re lucky enough to visit by private boat you can explore broken islands surrounding Kawau.
Hike Up Rangitoto Island
This is a given for tourists visiting, but we guarantee most Aucklanders are yet to walk to the top, despite most of us looking at it every single day. Make it happen—catch a ferry to Rangitoto, pack a picnic and hike up the darn thing.
Go Whale Watching
Take a day trip on a 4.5-hour nature cruise, where you will be playing eye spy for whales and dolphins. The cruise works with universities and conservation groups who conduct research aboard, so who knows, you may even learn a thing or two.
Motuihe Island is a quick 30-minute ferry ride from Auckland CBD, and is known to have some of the best sandy beaches in the Hauraki Gulf. With rock pools, clear waters and sheltered anchorage spots for boats, the island is popular for visitors. There are also restoration guided walks on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Sunday of each calendar month. There’s even a café open over the summer months so you can cool off with an ice cream.
You will find a lot of permanent residency on Rakino Island, with it being a hotspot for boatie holiday-goers. It’s definitely one of the islands that is better accessed by private boat, with plenty of bays to anchor off and a better chance at finding a secluded beach to yourself. It’s also renowned for its fishing channel between Rakino and Motutapu so you can catch some dinner for the fam.
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Image credit: Arcturus