Discover Great Barrier Island

Explore what makes Great Barrier Island so special

Great Barrier (Aotea) - The ideal getaway destination

Cruise with the passenger and vehicle ferry and leave big-city stress behind and get ‘off the grid’.

Set in the waters of the Hauraki Gulf, Great Barrier Island offers the ideal escape from everyday stresses that come with living in a big city. With its 100+ kilometres of walking tracks, you can explore its rugged landscape and breathtaking scenery. 

If you love the water, discover stunning beaches, go for a surf or dive, have a go at fishing, or give kayaking or paddle boarding a go. And if you prefer to stay on land, go mountain biking, hiking, ride on a trike or visit artists at their studios - all this is on the menu at 'The Barrier’. We recommend you plan and organise your trip before you arrive to get the most out of your time on the island.

The island is ‘off the grid’, powered by generators, solar or wind power, rather than mains power. Locals cook with gas and mobile coverage is limited, so expect no street lights or regular public transport. Take your torch, your sense of adventure, a good book and turn off your mobile devices for the perfect retreat.

Get ready to enjoy a break from your everyday life, hit the beach, relax and watch the sunset in paradise! Download your digital copy of the Great Barrier Island Visitor Guide here.

"I love the barrier and taking the car over on the ferry is a magical ride out. So much to see and other passengers to chat to. Staff are friendly. The anticipation builds to what is always a great holiday" B. Lyon

Great Barrier Island East coast beach view

What to do on Great Barrier Island

Great Barrier Island really is all about the outdoors, the outdoors and the outdoors!

You'll find plenty of options for tours and transport on the island.  The best island highlights are set apart, so transport is essential.  You'll encounter some narrow, windy and unsealed roads as you travel around the island.

If you're looking for good surf then you have come to the right place. There are three main surf beaches on the East coast of Great Barrier: Medlands, Whangapoua and Awana.

There are plenty of good surfcasting spots on Great Barrier, but if you're after the real whoppers, your best bet is to go big game fishing on the east coast of the island. Talk to the local experts and head out on a fishing charter — they'll be sure to show you all the best spots. 

We saw 3 pods of dolphins during our 4 days on the island. The pod had a little baby and were with the boat for over an hour meaning everyone on the boat got a good look. 

Read more about Anna's experiences around Great Barrier Island here.

Kayaking is one of the best ways to discover the island's natural beauty. We recommend you experience one of the great walks, hikes or mountain bike trails. Windy Canyon lookout with its spectacular views is a highlight of the Windy Canyon, one of the island's popular walks. 

Hear the sea whisper in the background, look up at the stars and let a passionate Good Heavens guide illuminate you on some of the magical things visible in the beautiful night sky of this Dark Sky Sanctuary.

The island is a popular diving location because of the abundance of sea life and also the shipwrecks that can be explored.

Learn more

Great Barrier Island local resident surfing at Medlands beach

Getting around the island

A vehicle on 'The Barrier' is the best way to get around.

Taking your own car gives you the flexibility to cruise around the Barrier at your own pace.  The main road is sealed; however, some of the side roads have a gravel surface and some require a 4wd vehicle.

If you prefer to keep your car clean at home in the garage, you can rent a vehicle and arrange for it to meet you at Tryphena Wharf upon your arrival. This does mean that you will need to handle all your baggage at the terminal and wharf. Making a booking in advance is a must to ensure there will be one available for you when you arrive.

If you would rather be a passenger than a driver, book a shuttle to your accommodation and a tour of the island's best spots with one of the locals. 

"They have the best beaches, hiking and biking tracks, locals are friendly and — with a map and some research — many fascinating metalled side roads to explore." Read about the full Great Barrier Island experience by Paul Charman here.

Go Great Barrier Island - Tours

With over 27 years' experience in this unique island paradise, the crew at Go Great Barrier Island Tours really know their way around! Providing quality island tours and excursions for couples, families and larger travel groups is evidently their passion and pleasure. Go Great Barrier Island Tours specialise in customising tours to suit the interests and fitness levels of visitors. All tours come with a friendly and informative commentary that will give you a great insight into the Barrier lifestyle both past and present. Let the knowledgeable staff show you the very best of Great Barrier Island!

Drive yourself around Great Barrier Island when you take your car on SeaLink ferry

Island facilities

Most general services can be found on the island.

On the island, you will find all the facilities you would expect when travelling, including:

  • General stores
  • Petrol station 
  • Medical Centre/Pharmacy 
  • Car rental, shuttles and taxis
  • Public toilets 
  • Accommodation
  • Ferry wharves at Tryphena and Port Fitzroy
  • Claris Airfield 
  • Visitor Information Centre

Plan your trip

More information about your journey