Great Barrier Island

Last updated: January 28th, 2024


On Wednesday, April 5th, 2023 I took a ferry to Great Barrier Island. Over the course of 5 days, I hiked from Port Fitzroy to Tryphena Wharf. Due to the remoteness of the island and it being a holiday schedule, I brought all of my own food with me as well as a water filter.


I needed to park the van I had in Auckland while I was on the island and did so by leaving it at the Remuera Motor Lodge. Although it would have been cheaper to park in an overnight lot, too many reviews indicated break-ins occurring in downtown Auckland. Parking at a motor lodge made it easier once I returned to have a place to stay that had a shower.


The ferry, run by SeaLink, departed from Auckland at 8AM and docked at Port Fitzroy. For the return, I departed from Tryphena Wharf at 3PM. The total cost for 1 person without a car was $227.00 NZD.

Hiking/ Camping Schedule

Day 1:

I arrived at the Auckland ferry port early. It departed at 8AM. Along the way there were several dolphins alongside the boat. The ferry arrived at Port Fitzroy at 1:15PM, afterwards I started by hiking on Warren's and Bridle Track to a waterfall. I climed up the rocks and went for a dip in the water. From there, I hiked along a stream until reaching Akapoua Bay Campsite. Here I set up my tent.

Day 2:

Departing from Akapoua Bay Campsite at 7:43AM, I hiked backwards to the Old Lady Track and up to Old Lady Lookout. I made my way through an obscure track eventually ending up in someone's backyard. They were confused about my presence but I was trying to get to the road. They offered to drive me to the Whangapoua Campsite.

Shortly after arriving, it started raining heavily. No one was camping here and due to the intense rain, I set up my tent under the shelter at the campground.

I walked around the area while it was raining, to the beach. It was a low tide and I was able to get to the ocean.

At night I placed my food on a shelf in the shelter and during the night, an animal ripped open by food bag and ate some bread. It could have been worse.

Day 3:

At 7:34AM I departed Whangapoua Campsite and headed up the road towards the entrance of Windy Canyon on the Palmers Track. At 8:37AM I was in Windy Canyon. True to its name, it was windy and it was also raining. I continued to the summit of Mt. Hobson, arriving at 10:13AM.

I stopped at the Mt. Heale Hut ater 11AM and went inside to eat lunch. Afterwards, I continued down the Peach Tree Track to the Kaitoke Hot Spring, which was out of the way and down. Due to the direction of the hike, I left my gear under a tree at the intersection of the trail. At the hot spring, there was a path which had 3 staircases. I went to the very end and up until arriving at a warm pool which I went into to bathe. I also went into the other areas of the hot spring, one of which had a high temperature.

From here, I went backwards to the Tramline Track. At 2:44PM I encounted Kauri Falls, which I went into for a dip. Afterwards, I continued until I reached The Green Campsite at Whangaparapara Harbour then set up camp. My tent was set up by 3:43PM.

Day 4:

Departing from The Green Campsite at 7:41AM, I walked along a road until I reached Te Ahamata Track at 8:24AM. I reached the summit at 9:45AM and headed back. I continued along roads, walking along the side in the grass as best I could until reaching Kaitoke Beach at 12:08PM.

From here I walked to Aotea Brewing. Due to the laws, it was only possible to sample the beers they had or buy a take away bottle. I filled a glass bottle I had with the Solar Charged American Pale Ale the continued to Medlands Beach. Along the way, as it got steep, someone offered to drive me over the hill. It was probably better this way as the road was narrow and dangerous to walk on with cards coming.

Once at the beach, I continued to Medlands Beach Campsite where I set up my tent. Since it was low tide, I walked around the edge of Shakespeare Point, climbing on rocks. The waves were quite fast and I was splashed by a wave which made me feel unsafe as I almost was swept off the rocks. I retuned to the campsite from here.

Day 5:

I left Medlands Beach Campsite and headed onto Kowhai Valley Track towards Tryphena at 8:35AM. After a steep climb over the hills, I headed down a road. I arrived at a small beach outside the Mulberry Grove School at 10:31AM. After resting a bit, I continued towards Tryphena Wharf. I stopped at several points along the way which lead down to the water. I arrived at the pick up spot for the ferry at 11:45AM.

I waited under cover as it rained on and off until the ferry departed. The boat ride back was more choppy than the way there. The ferry arrived in Auckland after 7PM. From here I returned to my van at the motor lodge by Uber.


The path that I traveled was not part of any official trail. I hade to walk on roads and ended up hitchhiking at times. The intense rain was only tolerable because I able to set up my tent under a shelter. It is possible to drive a car here and bring it on the ferry but I booked too late for this and that is why I hiked.

The waterfalls, canyon, hot spring, mountain summit and beaches were all impressive. Seeing the island on foot and needing only water which I could filter was a unique way to experience the island. Island residents rely on solar power and diesel to live on the island.

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