Great Barrier Island has seen a number of different cultural influences over the years, but the 19th century saw European settlers move in and deplete the island of its precious gold and kauri timber, as well as a thriving whaling industry. But these days, 60% of the island and all of the surrounding waters are protected by the Department of Conservation, so you'll be able to discover some amazing native wildlife while you're here.
The Whangaparapara area of the island is now a treasure trove for history buffs as it's the home of an old ore crushing battery from the mining days of the late 1800s. The remains of the Kauri Timber Company Mill and New Zealand's last whaling station are also here, so make sure you check those out.
You'll have plenty of opportunities to go snorkelling, diving, kayaking and fishing while you're here and the Glenfern Sanctuary is a must-visit for nature lovers but even non-tree-huggers will be left in awe of the 400 year old kauri tree found here.
To ride some of New Zealand's best waves, grab a board and hit up the Medlands, Whangapoua, Kaitoke and Awana beaches.
In the colder months, you can take the one hour walk past the Kaitoke Stream and have a dip in the picture-perfect Kaitoke Hot Springs, which are 100% natural apart from a nearby picnic table.
If you're a keen bushwalker and the Kaitoke track just wasn't long enough for you, you might like tramping along the three hour Palmer's Track through Windy Canyon or the Aotea Track up to the summit of Mt Hobson, which takes two or three days. All in all, there are about 100km of walking tracks on the island, just waiting to be discovered.
Although the island is relatively small and remote, there are plenty of fantastic restaurants and cafes where you can sit down for a good feed. Great Barrier Island is particularly well-known for its deliciously fresh mussels and if you're here in January don't miss the annual Port FitzRoy Mussel Fest.
To get here, grab one of these cheap flights to Auckland and then take the two and a half hour ferry trip to the island. But make sure that you book your ferry tickets well in advance because the ferry schedule is seasonal and you don't want to wait until it's too late. You should also think about booking a hire car ahead of time if you're not planning on using a tour company to get around once you arrive. If you'd like to spend a few days in Auckland before heading over to the island, check out our great range of Auckland hotels.
Secluded beaches, beautiful bushland, amazing wildlife and yummy seafood – wot more could you want in a holiday? Book your Great Barrier Island accommodation with us now and enjoy every moment of your getaway in this beautiful part of New Zealand.
Hotels in Great Barrier Island start at NZ$995 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.