Visiting the Huaraki Gulf Islands of Auckland

April 22, 2023 4:07 pm23 commentsViews: 117

How big is the Hauraki Gulf?
What does Hauraki mean?

Auckland has a great diversity of landscapes within its boundaries, and the Huarkai Gulf islands are often thought to be the jewel in the crown.

Visiting the Huaraki Gulf Islands of Auckland

Each island has its own unique characteristic, whether that’s a predator-free wildlife sanctuary where rare endangered native New Zealand birds and other creatures can be seen in the wild, being Auckland’s most recent volcanic cone, having a wide range of vineyards or being highly eco-powered with unspoilt landscapes.

Visiting the Huaraki Gulf Islands – Rangitoto – the Volcanic Island

Rangitoto is the volcanic island. Rangitoto came into existence less than 700 years ago, and is Auckland’s newest, if dormant, volcano. Fullers Ferrys run day trips to Rangitoto from Auckland and Devonport on a daily basis. Cost $35NZ ($24US) return. Beware the last ferry is often early – even in summer! There are a number of walks on the island, but the most popular one goes direct to the summit crater, round the rim, then detours back via the lava tunnels to the harbour.

Visiting the Huaraki Gulf Islands – Tiritiri Matangi – the Wildlife Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island is the wildlife island. Run by the Department of Conservation (DOC) as a scientific reserve, the island is a real conservation project success. According to DOC, the island has been rat-free since 1993 and was reforested by a large volunteer-based program between mid 1980s and mid1990s.

This has allowed the island to become an open sanctuary for endangered New Zealand birds and animals such as the North Island saddleback, North Island robin, little spotted kiwi, little blue penguin and tuatara (a rare reptile unrelated to all other living reptiles).

360 Discovery run ferries daily between Wed and Sun, but with a limit of 150 places a day can get booked up in advance in summer. Guided tours are run by the Tiritiri supporters group – at $5NZ ($3US) this is a remarkably affordable way to learn a lot about the island and its creatures in a short time.

Visiting the Huaraki Gulf Islands – Waiheke – the Vineyard Island

Waiheke Island is a wine-lovers island. With more than 30 vineyards, this could be the ultimate vineyard crawl! Ferries run roughly every hour from morning to evening throughout the week, take 35-50 mins and cost $32NZ ($25US) return. Fullers have also just started to run a very useful vineyard hopper bus – which takes visitors directly to Kennedy Point, Goldwater Estate, Mudbrick, Jurassic Range and Cable bay vineyards. Stops at Oneroa vilage and Goldwater Estate also allow transfer to other vineyards via public bus, and a one-day $15NZ ($10US) pass is valid on other buses.

Visiting the Huaraki Gulf Islands – Great Barrier – the Eco-Powered Hideaway Island

Great Barrier Island is a wonderful slice of paradise set apart from many of the trappings of modern living. It is one of the few places where dark really means dark – there is no street lighting so visitors should bring a torch. As Dave, a fellow traveller to Auckland who had just returned from 5 days there commented, “If someone was coming to Auckland for a week, this is where I’d tell them to go. Nowhere else is so chilled out and natural”.

The Huaraki Gulf is one of Auckland’s major outdoors attractions, other articles by the same author give more information on outdoors places to see with a short stay in Auckland, Auckland’s 50k cycle route, and the Auckland coast-to-coast walk.


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