This section is dedicated to take away all your "I wish someone had told me that before I went!" experiences. This way, you are better prepared for what to expect, what not to expect and can spend less time settling in, and more time making new friends in your chosen hostel. We share our insider knowledge of tips, tricks and important things to look out for in Great Barrier Island. To help you make friends with Great Barrier Island before you visit, we've included a few helpful and fun things you should know about the area. Enjoy!
Nearly 100km from Auckland, yet still in the Hauraki Gulf, Great Barrier Island is New Zealand’s fourth largest island in the main chain (behind the North, South, and Stewart Islands. The Great Barrier Island is well known for its secluded bays that have some of the best scuba diving in New Zealand.
There are several ways to get to Great Barrier Island. The first is flying from Auckland on a regional jet to Okiwi, which takes a little more than half an hour. The second is by passenger ferry from Auckland. This takes about five hours. Once you’re on the island, you either need to hire a car or arrange shuttle transfers between your destinations.
Great Barrier Island only has a few towns, and you can find a hostel or two in each place. These hostels are traditional backpacker hostels and most of them have a big outdoor space since you’re on a (mostly) tropical island. You may find quite a few “long-termers” here, backpackers who work for accommodation and have a job in town. Be sure to book before heading to the island, especially in the summer; you don’t want to get out here and not have a hostel to stay in on a busy weekend!
The west side of the island is secluded and protected from the harsh South Pacific waters; this is where you’ll find excellent scuba diving and snorkelling. The east side has long white beaches, pounding surf (perfect for surfing!), and high cliffs with outstanding views. Inland, there are kilometres of hiking trails, networking their way across the island. You’ll see a variety of native birds and wildlife, walk through dense native bush, and be rewarded with hidden hot springs or incredible views over the island and the Hauraki Gulf from the summit of Hirakimata. If you would like to camp, check with the New Zealand Department of Conservation about available huts and campsites.
Written by local enthusiast for Great Barrier Island hostelsJakob Lombardi