Things to do in Great Barrier Island

Top Things to Do in Great Barrier Island

Things to Do in Great Barrier Island

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What travellers are saying

  • Kikki
    Auckland, New Zealand361 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    We stayed in the cottage and it was lovely. It's not posh but has everything you need for a very comfortable stay. The views are amazing. The birdlife is unbelievable. There are walks outside your front steps. It is just a few metres to the jetty to cool off on a hot day o to fish or watch the eagle rays feed.
    Our hosts were so hospitable, generous and helpful. They are full of local knowledge and advice.
    The Glenfern house (we didn't stay in but had a look around) was AMAZING and huge. That would be an awesome place to stay for a larger group.
    This place is so cheap to stay in and Great Barrier Island is a must-do for tourists and New Zealanders. Yes, it is costly to travel here but it is worth every penny and more!
    Written 7 January 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • nzp0ppy
    New Zealand26,055 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    We got dropped off at the start of the walkway to windy canyon. we walked windy canyon, mt hobson, mt heale hut down to kaitoke hot springs and out in a day.
    it was 16km, over 1600 steep stairs up, and the same down the other side. and 850 metres of elevation.

    It rained the whole time, so we had no views but we felt it was an excellent way to spend a wet day - it wasnt about the views for us - it was the walk and beautiful forest. We stopped at Mt Heale hut for lunch and kaitoke hot springs for a swim. walking time it took us just over 4 hours.

    i recommend a hiking pole as it can get slippery coming down and in the stairs. im not a fan of stairs but i found them fine.

    we left our car at the kaitoke end so after the hot springs it was difficult to walk the last 30-40 minutes - but it was all flat and easy.
    Written 8 December 2023
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • SA0000001
    Turangi, New Zealand8 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A fantastic 2 or 3-day tramp (hike) for the reasonably fit. We've just done this, mid-Winter, as a fairly out-of-shape 54-yr-old with an 11-yr-old novice (though very fit!) tramper, and had an amazing time. We did it "in reverse", which seems to be what most people do: start at Whangaparapara Rd, along Tramline Track and Forest Road to Kaiaraara Hut (day 1); then up 627m Hirakimata (Mt Hobson) and down to Mt Heale Hut (day 2); then out via Kaitoke hot pools (day 3).

    Some key points that you won't find on the Department of Conservation website (if I'm allowed to mention their name by TripAdvisor), which the experienced won't need, but those unfamiliar with NZ tramping/this track might:
    1. You probably don't need a map, because it's all so well signposted, but I would *always* take one, not least so you can see where you are and also what you're looking at: you can buy them in NZ -- it's hard to find out where, but unfortunately TripAdvisor won't let me share that info. (the map you want is in the series "Topo50", called "Claris"). (You can't rely on having signal to look at online maps, of course.) Also make sure to take water purification tablets with you: you're better to boil the water, but if you can't, these are sadly necessary -- Giardia is everywhere, it seems. And hand sanitiser is a good idea, both for the huts and as you'll be using the handrails on the stairs up and down Hirakimata. (Other commonsense things, like an emergency reflective blanket, toilet paper, etc. are listed on the DOC web pages.)
    2. Parts of the track are incredibly well maintained (almost at "walk in the park" level), especially Kaiaraara Hut to Hirakimata (Mt Hobson) and Kaitoke Hot Springs to the road. For these parts, you could do the walk in cross trainers at any time of the year, even in the wet. Bear in mind, however, that there are *a lot* of stairs (especially up and down Hirakimata -- from the Upper Dam on the Kaiaraara Stream to the saddle between Hirakimata & Mt Heale), so it requires a good deal of stamina -- not for the unfit. The steepest stairs do mostly have handrails, which will save your knees quite a bit! The rest of the track is a little more weather-dependent: there are quite a few slippery bits coming down the Peach Tree Track from Mt Heale Hut, and one (small) stream crossing. This part of the track is also more exposed: I wouldn't choose to do it in heavy rain/strong wind if I could avoid it. Trainers are still okay in dry weather; otherwise, hiking shoes will be more likely to save your dignity. The same goes for some bits of the Tramline Track and Forest Road -- a metalled (stony) road with exposed clay in parts. Overall though, this felt like a "Great Walks" track in terms of the level of maintenance/ease of the paths and the excellent signposting. The one thing I really would take is a walking pole or two!
    3. The time estimates on the DOC pages either don't take account of breaks or are drawn up for fit 20-50-year olds. We added an hour or so to each leg of the journey with detours and breaks for snacks, lunch, etc. In Winter in particular, I would advise allowing at least an extra hour in your calculations -- and bear in mind that it gets dark in the forest far earlier than it does in the open.
    4. Both huts (which you need to book in advance, esp. in Summer) are well equipped with pots and pans, and both have gas burners -- you don't need to bring a portable stove or pots. You *will* need a torch/torches, as electric light is very limited -- head torch is best. Each hut has two sleeping cabins off the main kitchen/dining room, with an upper and lower platform and 5-7 vinyl-covered mattresses on each. As ever, if you want choice of "beds", arrive early. (We didn't need to worry, as mid-Winter during the week there was very low demand.)
    4. I see other people complain about the Forest Road as not a "proper" hike. We liked it because of all the bits off to the side to look at: the Aotea Falls (with a nice pool for a quick dip); Maungapiko, with its views of the Hogs Back; the magnificent stand of large-ish kauris (see photo); and the clear view in the distance of the route down from Hirakimata to Mt Heale Hut (we could even see the hut).
    5. For anyone taking kids: you might want to forewarn them that the toilets are all long drops... On the plus side (and again, very unusual for NZ tramping tracks), there are toilets (with toilet paper!) at various points not connected to huts: e.g. near the hot springs, and at the intersection of Kaiaraara Track and Coopers Castle Track.
    6. If you don't want to do overnight stays, can move fairly fast, and can manage more than 4-5 hours comfortably, there are various alternative routes that take you from road to road, and still over Hirakimata -- check the Topo map that is freely available online for routes: https://www.topomap.co.nz/NZTopoMap?v=2&ll=-36.212889,175.401964&z=14
    Written 30 June 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Jc
    4 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Always a delight to find a new wild hot pool.
    This one lies at the edge of an old coastal wetland. A natural hot stream. Not so private that you can do away with togs but then no real changing facilities.
    Loved it after the tramp.
    Written 12 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Hilde Hoven
    Great Barrier Island, New Zealand11 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    So beautiful yet so few people is the comment I hear quite often as a local, about Medlands Beach, and the island in general. As Aotea Great Barrier Island is an isolated island at the end of the world, we expect and hope that solitude will last. But even with double or triple the number of visitors we currently have, there's still more than enough space for everyone. Just come outside of the high season, from Xmas to mid Jan.
    Written 29 January 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Chrispy5311
    Auckland, New Zealand146 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Ridge line walk with views east, west and all around. Worth doing the whole track to get to walk among the magnificent gnarly old puriri
    Written 10 May 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • nzcowlady
    Auckland108 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Andi has (days ago) received her licence to hold tastings at her distillery and we were delighted to be tasting party #3. She has an amazingly professional tasting set up and we got to taste three of her lovely gins. Her knowledge of distilling and cocktails in general is vast and we loved sharing stories of special gin events we had been to around the world (back when we could leave the country!). And the gin itself is very special. Very glad our planned trip to Aotea (Great Barrier Island) was delayed by Covid until now and we got to meet Andi and taste her gin.
    Written 9 November 2020
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Jadeos
    Mornington Peninsula, Australia12 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Even before we arrived to the island Pete and Lucy were so helpful to chat to about hire on the island! But when we arrived they were above and beyond, welcoming my partner and I into their incredible paradise. We left with happy bellies from the best fish we’ve ever had, a new fishing addiction from the incredible expertise of Pete and with two new friends.

    I highly recommend Saddles and Paddles be the place you choose to stay or just to visit and hire a kayak, a scooter, and definitely go for a fish!!

    Thanks for making our trip the Barrier the best Pete and Lucy!!

    We can’t wait to come and back and hire scooters, check out the new moon baths and catch up again!
    Written 5 April 2019
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • wjw0102
    Singapore, Singapore1 contribution
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Deb leads a very fun and interesting tour. We highly recommend the island and the tour to anyone wishing to visit!
    Written 29 April 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • jaredhonore
    Auckland, New Zealand7 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Friendly host, brand new bikes, reasonable pricing, and an amazing island to explore at a slower pace, great fun!
    Written 15 January 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • kari h
    2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    An awesome day and even better result. Don't forget to take along a chilly bin or similar for your catch. Amazing weather, fun experience (including food and drink), and even educational. Thanks Skipper Will and Ebony
    Written 19 February 2024
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Becky O
    4 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    These guys are the absolute nuts! Their bikes are SOOOO much fun & absolutely the best way to get around the island by far!
    Written 3 December 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Dixie Normous
    1 contribution
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    wow, grandaddy christopher is really helpful in many different way, the old sure knows how to touch fish
    Written 15 June 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • arshia
    2 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Most beautiful and unique experience, knowing the stars as more than just specks of light in the night sky. Loved it would do it again
    Written 8 February 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
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