Hauraki Gulf Islands, Auckland Overview

The Hauraki Gulf Islands is a cluster of islands spread out across the Hauraki Gulf from Auckland to Coromandel Peninsula. Nature’s gifts to New Zealand, these islands have diverse flora and fauna providing habitat for some of the rarest species of birds, reptiles and plants on the planet. There are over 50 islands ranging from large landscapes with habitation, to almost-barren islands that have little more than rocks on them. Each of these islands offers diverse experiences and can be categorized into recreational, conservation and historical experiences. From kayaking, trekking and horse-riding to food and wine tasting, bird watching and sunbathing on the beach, there’s something to suit everyone’s interests.

The Hauraki Gulf in conjunction with the islands is called as the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. These islands are almost pest-free and many measures are taken by the DOC (Department of Conservation) to keep them that way. Auckland is known as the doorstep to the Hauraki Gulf and all islands can be accessed from Auckland through ferry services. The Hauraki Gulf islands are a geological marvel as these islands have rich and diverse geological features. From old volcanic terrains, lava caves and hot springs to vineyards and horse tracks, the differences in their landscapes are spectacular. Some of these islands are just a few minutes away from Auckland and make for exciting day trips and even a few overnight trips.

An aerial view of Waiheke island of the Hauraki Gulf

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Some of the Most Popular Islands of Hauraki Gulf

aerial beach view of waiheke island of hauraki gulf

1. Waiheke Island
This island is the most convenient to reach and is only about 40 minutes away from Auckland mainland wharf. It is known as New Zealand’s ‘island of wine’, housing more than 30 boutique vineyards. There are award-winning restaurants with world-class food and wine for visitors to indulge in. Bring something back with you from the local gift shops, clothing stores and jewellery stores. The Ostend market is open from 8:30 AM -12:30 PM. The pristine beaches of the island attract many tourists as these beaches make the best spots to relax and to sip on cocktails at the beach-side cafes and bars.
Waiheke island

2. Rangitoto Island
The island is a great exploration spot with 600-year-old volcanic terrain and lava caves. It makes for an adventurous day of trekking and cave exploring. The island is a popular picnic spot too. Some of the beaches on the island have historical significance. Rangitoto Island is only a 25-minute ferry journey from Auckland mainland.
Rangitoto Island

3. Tiritiri Matangi Island
A wildlife bird sanctuary with over 80 species of birds, Tiritiri Matangi Island is a must visit for bird watchers and nature lovers. It’s a conservation project which provides habitation for the endemic species of birds and plants to thrive. This island is solely for day trips and camping is not allowed. The ferry timings are 9 AM and 3:30 PM
Tiritiri Matangi Island

4. Rotoroa Island
Just a 75-minute ferry ride away from Auckland, Rotoroa Island is a beautiful destination of beaches and historical buildings. Discover the fascinating history of the island by visiting an old jail house, school house and a museum centre which tells the story of Rotoroa Island as a former rehabilitation centre. The island has a cemetery with a spectacular view of the Hauraki Gulf. There is overnight accommodation available here.
Rotorua Island

5. Motutapu Island
Being one of the oldest islands of the Gulf, Motutapu is of great Maori historical significance. It is connected to Rangitoto by a causeway and is just a 35-minute ferry ride away from Auckland. Perfect spot for camping since it has lush rolling hills and multiple walking tracks.

How To Reach Hauraki Gulf Islands

Auckland is known as the doorstep to the Hauraki Gulf and all the islands are accessible through Auckland mainland by ferry.

Service Provider: Fullers360 ferry services
Where to Book From: Online bookings of the ferry tickets are available at their official website
Ticket Price: NZD 30 to NZD 100 (depending on distance to island and whether its a half-day, full-day, or overnight experience)

The islands are also accessible through Devonport. Private boats can also be taken to the gulf islands keeping in mind a few instructions depending on the island.

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