One of the less well known gems of New Zealand, only 40 minutes flight from Auckland, but feels a world away. Great Barrier Island is effectively the Coromandel Peninsula (they used to be attached) but with almost no people (~800 residents). It has beaches, walks, scenery, fishing, and diving on a par with Auckland’s favourite holiday destination, but outside of peak summer time you’re likely to have the island to yourself. The Barrier is a special place.
The Aotea Track is a 2-3 day walk around the centre of the island, but the highlights can be covered in half a day walking through the Windy Canyon along Palmers Track, and up Mt Hobson for views of the entire island and beyond to Little Barrier Island.
The island is full of history, from the extensive kauri logging that removed vast swathes of native forest (much since regrown) to the remains of a whaling station at Whangaparapara.
There are some epic beaches on the Barrier, including Whangapoua Beach (with a grave site for those who lost their lives on the SS Wairarapa), Medland Beach, Oruawharo Bay, Awana Beach and Blind Bay.
The Hot Springs are a beautiful place to relax.
Port Fitzroy is home to the smallest library I’ve seen.
This car may have been here a while…
Dangerous rock falls…
The Santa’s Day Parade during the first weekend in December is a highlight, particularly if you like giant inflatable rats and graphic driver safety advertising.