Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier Island is situated off New Zealand's east coast, out from Auckland. This large island is nearly 45 kilometres (28 miles) long and has a total landmass of 285 square kilometres, making it New Zealand's fourth largest landmass, of which nearly 70% is protected land. This, in conjunction with a low population of less than 1000 people, has helped to preserve the incredible natural environment and ecosystem of the Island.
Famous for amazing beaches and outstanding surfing, diving and boating, Great Barrier Island has a well deserved reputation as a top-notch yet accessible destination. You can travel here by catching a 30 minute flight from Auckland or a 4½ hour ferry from downtown Auckland. If you are visiting the Island we highly recommend talking your hiking boots as there are a fantastic network of trails and huts found on the Island that provide untouched native forests, incredible views and a host of other natural features.
Located only 20km from Auckland City, the captivating Waiheke Island is accessible by a 40 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland and provides a stunning landscape of rolling hills and picturesque beaches. One of the main attractions on the island are the fantastic range of wineries to be found, there are more than 25 in total including some of New Zealand's most prestigious such as Stonyridge and Mudbrick, Waiheke Island is a wine lovers dream!
There are a number of top notch accommodation options to be found and the reasonably priced ferries depart regularly from the Auckland City.
Rangitoto Island is the last and largest volcano formed from the Auckland volcanic field, created during a series of fiery eruptions only 600 years ago! The Island is heavily protected and hosts a stunning pest free environment that exists amongst New Zealand's largest Pohutukawa forest, one of our most iconic native trees.
It's a fantastic day trip to make from the city, most visitors hike to the 259m summit of the island to enjoy spectacular views of the city, Hauraki Gulf and the surrounding coastline. The walk takes around 2 hours return, there is also a neat side trip to some lava caves near the summit that formed during the islands creation, if you decide to hike to the summit be sure to take sun protection as there is limited tree cover near the summit!
A regular ferry service runs to the island from downtown Auckland, the journey takes around 25 minutes one way.
Waitakere Ranges Regional Park
The Waitakere Ranges run down the west coast of the Auckland Region and are well know for their lush native forests, striking waterfalls and captivating coastal views. There are a myriad of walkways throughout the ranges, unfortunately due to kauri dieback most of the forested areas of the Waitakere Ranges are closed to the public to protect the remaining kauri trees. The kauri tree is one of our most iconic native trees and is only found in the upper North Island.
Kauri dieback is a microscopic pathogen that infects the roots of kauri trees, it literally starves the trees to death and can be transported in an inactive stage through tiny particles of soil. By some estimates New Zealand may loose the majority of our kauri trees within the next few decades, therefore it means we must do all we can to protect the species, even if it means the unfortunate closure of some of our walking tracks.
However the Waitakere Ranges stretch all the way down to the West Coast where there are incredible beaches, coastal walks, waterfalls and surf to be found so it's still well worth visiting the area! Read more about Piha and Muriwai as some of our favourite spots, there are a number of tour operators that provide tours around the area.
Piha is a small seaside village located on Auckland's West Coast and is well known for it's wild west coast shoreline, stunning native forest and a towering waterfall. A number of short walks depart from the village, but please be sure to stick to the coastal tracks as the tracks that head inland to the Waitakere Ranges are closed due to kauri dieback. The beach is a popular surf spot and many people visit to enjoy a day on the picture perfect beach, if you decide to swim please take caution and swim between the lifeguard flags as our west coast is known for it's dangerous and unpredictable conditions.
Travelling to the beach takes about 50 minutes from Auckland City and is well signposted once you get close, there are also a number of fantastic tours that run to the area!
One of the favoured beaches of the Auckland west coast, Muriwai is a 50 kilometre captivating black sand beach, neighboured by the smaller Maori Bay. One of the more well know attractions is the seasonal gannet colony found on the headland between the two beaches, between August and March each year approximately 1,200 pairs of Australasian gannets nest here and raise their young. These gannets are one of the longest living sea birds and have a wingspan of up to 1.8m, so it is quite a sight to see thousands of them crammed in to a small area especially during breeding season when they become very protective of their nests!
Muriwai is also a popular destination for surfing and relaxing on the beach, Maori bay (right next to Muriwai) is an incredible spot that is surrounded by towering cliffs and small offshore islands and rocks. Either beach is a great choice if you want to witness an incredible sunset over the ocean! There is no public transport to Muriwai, so the best option is to rent a car or join a tour to the area, it takes just under an hour to reach Muriwai from Auckland City.
Orewa is a small coastal town located 30 minutes north of Auckland City, with a population of only 8,500 it's a popular holiday destination for locals and visitors alike. The white sandy beach is a great spot to unwind and relax, as well as being popular for kite surfers when the wind is up. The nearby Wenderholm Regional Park offers some fantastic walks with marvellous coastal views. The 8km Te Ara Tahuna cycle/walkway follows the shores of the estuary and is an excellent loop for those in the area. Great camping and camper van facilities can be found in the area so it's a popular way to explore Orewa.
Auckland is New Zealand's largest city both by population and geography, 1.4 million people live within the city limits - one third of our total population. The city is the main arrival point for visitors to New Zealand and is a great hub to travel from with regular domestic flights to the rest of the country, as well as a starting point for a number of fantastic tours.
It's many fascinating features include an active volcanic field with 48 seperate volcanoes, the 220 metre high Sky Tower, close proximity to dozens of islands in the Hauraki Gulf and marvellous west coast beaches. Some of our favourite beaches include Piha and Muriwai with it's year round Australasian gannet colony, both beaches are well known surfing spots. In the city some of the easily accessible volcanic peaks include Mount Victoria, One Tree Hill and Mount Eden, all of which provide outstanding views and are easily accessible by public transport.
Auckland also host a great number of fantastic bars, restaurants and Cafes - TripAdvisor is a great reference for checking out nearby places if you are struggling to choose. If you're a coffee fan then you're in for a treat - New Zealand, and Auckland in particular have more coffee roasters per capita than anywhere in the world, and arguably some of the best coffee worldwide!
What we recommend in and around Auckland:
• Tour the city, be sure not to miss the Sky Tower!
• Auckland harbour sailing
• West Coast day tours
• Visit Waiheke Island
A number of our tours depart from Auckland, this is near where we are based so it's also a perfect location for us to create a customised tour for you, whether it's a day tour or a multi-day adventure to travel a little further afield, we can help create your ultimate experience!