- Last updated: 11/07/2012
Not all of us have the luxury of being able to disappear on holiday for weeks this winter, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Within a stone’s throw (or short ferry ride) Aucklanders have a host of beautiful island retreats.
Furthest away but perhaps the most spectacular is the sub-tropical paradise of Great Barrier Island. You can reach the island by air from Auckland Airport or North Shore Airfield in about half an hour. Alternatively, the ferry from Wynyard Wharf downtown takes around four hours. It’s worth the trip though, for the stunning rainforests, white sand beaches, wildlife and activities – tramping, surfing, fishing, golfing, boating, kayaking to name but a few. You genuinely feel like you’ve gone on a tropical holiday when you head over to Great Barrier Island, not bad for an easy Auckland destination.
Much closer the beaches of Waiheke Island are also not to be missed and are a hugely popular destination for Aucklanders - especially during the warmer months. The island has numerous great beaches on all sides and is easily accessible from the city on a short 35 minute passenger ferry ride. A car ferry also departs from Half Moon bay which takes around 50 minutes.
Another popular yet somehow underrated island detination is Kawau. It's less populous and less built up than Waiheke, and therefore great for exploring and native bird watching. The island is home to quite a number of species including kiwi, weka, kereru and bellbird. The sheltered bay is a beautiful spot for swimming and mooring your yacht, if you're lucky enough to own one. Ferries to Kawau leave from Sandspit, north of Warkworth on a fairly regular basis and the journey takes less than an hour.
Editorial by Jooles Clements