A summer holiday on Great Barrier Island!

I recently took my girlfriend to Great Barrier Island, a gem in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf. We fell in love with this amazing place and you will too.

It was a clear, sunny Thursday morning on SeaLink’s car ferry, the ‘Island Navigator’ as my girlfriend and I departed Auckland City, longing for 4 amazing days of relaxation on Great Barrier Island.


We had the pleasure of being escorted part of the way by a pod of dolphins! There were several dolphins on each side of the boat, guiding us playfully through the waters.

We took our car over with us (packed full of goodies) so upon arrival at Tryphena Harbour, we just drove off the ferry and were on our way, making sure that we waved to all oncoming traffic as is the norm on ‘The Barrier’.


There is a nice range of accommodation on Great Barrier Island, from backpackers to 5 star lodges, but this time round we decided to have a truly ‘off the grid’ experience and camped at Medland’s Beach Campgrounds. Actually you could probably call it ‘glamping’ (glamorous camping for the unenlightened) as our tent was massive and we bought over deck chairs, chilli bin, big blow-up mattress and absolutely everything else thanks to the car!

As you can probably guess, Medland’s Beach Campground is connected to the famous Medland’s Beach (my favourite beach in all of New Zealand). The photo below struggles to show it in all its massive glory, but you can see the little ‘island’ in the middle of it that we climbed at 5.30am to watch the sunrise the next day! Absolutely stunning.

Food & wine

There are some nice places to eat on the Island, but going with the ‘off the grid’ theme of our holiday we decided to make use of the perfectly distributed public BBQ’s! The photo above shows the dining table at Okupu/Blind Bay, a beautiful little beach on the West coast of the island. There’s nothing quite like barbequing steaks right on the beach, glass of wine in hand (or in our case camping mug!) watching the sunset with the calm waves lapping at the shore in front of you. The general consensus between us was that the photos don’t even come close to doing it justice...

Our time on this blissful island was almost up, we had had a marvellous few days of relaxing on some of the many amazing beaches that ‘The Barrier’ is famous for, so we decided to do something a little bit more energetic and check out the ‘Windy Canyon’ lookout.

Walking & hiking

Upon walking through the bush and up some DOC made staircases for about 10 minutes or so, we arrived at the lookout, which turned out to be a bit of an open clearing with a big rock on top that, once climbed, rewarded us with an amazing view of what seemed like the entire island.

There are many, many DOC maintained bushwalks all over the island ranging from the quick ‘Windy Canyon’ lookout walk to adventurous 6 hour hikes, encountering things like waterfalls and hot pools.

Unfortunately all good things come to an end and we arrived back in Auckland safe and sound, refreshed from our amazing holiday on ‘The Barrier’. The planning for our next adventure is already underway, including a hike to the top of Mount Hobson, the highest point on the island.

We will definitely be back again soon... perhaps make it an annual trip?

Mike Cockroft - Marketing Assistant at SeaLink Travel Group