Exploring the Hauraki

As with many busy cities, sometimes the best way to appreciate Auckland is to escape to its peripheries for a spell. Aucklanders are lucky in that they have the beautiful Hauraki on their doorstep whenever such an escape is needed. The Hauraki Gulf, a coastal feature which occupies an area of 400km², stretches around Auckland, the Hauraki Plains, the Coromandel, and Great Barrier Island, and the marine area that it carves out is dotted with innumerable beaches perfect for surfing and kayaking.

There’s a lot to see in the expansive Hauraki Gulf, which makes the numerous day trips that leave from Auckland’s downtown harbour a smart option for first-time visitors. Cruise around the islands of the Gulf with a tour guide and driver who knows the area inside-out, and who will do all the grunt work while you sail, fish, snorkel, and swim to your heart’s content.

So – what do you most want to see? Perhaps Waiheke Island is at the top of your list; as Auckland’s best-known surrounding island, Waiheke is just far enough away (a short 40-minute ferry ride) to allow you to feel indulgently isolated from the hustle and bustle of the city. Rangitoto Island is even closer to Auckland, barely a 25-minute ferry ride from the downtown area. Rangitoto is actually Auckland’s youngest volcano and occupies an important role in Maori culture. You can learn about the island’s cultural significance from Ngai Tai tribal guides, who will also introduce you to traditional Maori practices like weaving and food harvesting.

Waiheke Island

Shift into another period of New Zealand’s history with a visit to Kawau Island, which was bought in the mid-19th century by politician George Grey. Besides building an elaborate mansion (which still stands), Grey introduced exotic animals to the island, so don’t panic if you see a peacock or two roaming around! And if you’re truly animal-mad, Tiritiri Matangi Island will be your kryptonite. It’s a wildlife sanctuary from coast to coast, and as well as the innumerable bird species that you’ll sight on the island, there’s a quaint historical lighthouse for your viewing pleasure. Sound like heaven? We think so!

Tiritiri Matangi Island

For something even wilder, you might opt for Great Barrier Island, a barely-populated island in the Gulf which many flock to in search of stars. One of only three locations in the world to be classified a “Dark Sky Sanctuary”, Great Barrier’s night vistas stun everyone lucky enough to view them. Moreover, the island offers a myriad of walking tracks and even boasts natural thermal pools in the form of the Kaitoke Hot Springs. If you hire a rental car from either our Auckland Central or Auckland Airport rental car branches, you can also take your car over on the ferry service that sails multiple times a day from the Wynyard Quarter.

Great Barrier Island