The Great Barrier Island is the fourth largest island of New Zealand and sits approximately sixty miles from Auckland, New Zealand's largest city. Great Barrier Island New Zealand was named by Captain Cook because of the natural barrier that the island forms between the Gulf and the Pacific Ocean. The New Zealand Island has a population of 850 people who make their living by farming or working in the tourism industry, by conducting tours of the Great Barrier Island and working in hotels and bed and breakfasts.
The New Zealand Island is full of fun attractions and activities, including hiking, bird watching, and soaking in hot springs. Great Barrier Island has dozens of hot springs that occur naturally due to the earth's thermal activity. One popular activity is hiking along the easy-grade walking trail that extends across the Kaitoke Stream and follows the edge of the Kaitoke Swamp, leading to the Kaitoke Hot Springs. Taking an outdoor bath in the sulphurous Kaitoke Hot Springs on Great Barrier Island is a good way to soothe your muscles after the hike. The trail is also wheelchair accessible. Even though the hike isn't as long and famous as Milford Track, it provides a great workout as well as interesting scenery.
You won't want to miss Mount Hobson, the highest point on the Great Barrier Island New Zealand. Walking on the boardwalks and trails will reveal views of the Hauraki Gulf and the Mercury Islands. Mount Hobson is also a primary nesting site of a rare bird called the black petrel. The trails are wide and well groomed, making the walk accessible for hikers of all ability levels.
Biking is a very popular activity on Great Barrier Island. The two main bike routes designated by the Department of Conservation are the Whangaparapara on the west coast and Harataonga Road on the east coast. Both of these trails weave through carefully preserved land with an abundance of wildlife and beautiful water views. Another popular option for more advanced bikers is the two hour White Cliffs loop and the forty-five minute Medlands Beach Track. Both of these bike routes can get quite slippery after it rains, so be sure to wear proper shoes!
The island can be accessed by ferry or you can take a quick thirty minute flight on a number of airlines departing from Auckland, including Great Barrier Airlines, Mountain Air, and Island Air. Weather can be quite unpredictable on the Great Barrier Island New Zealand, so keep in mind that flight delays and cancellations are frequent. Be sure to check with your airline ahead of time to see if your flight is operating on time. Once you get to the island, there are several rental car companies available as well as private buses for New Zealand Island tours.
For people who love hiking and nature activities, the Great Barrier Island is a must-see on any New Zealand vacation.