We know Aotea/Great Barrier Island is a destination like no other, which often means our visitors have lots of questions when booking their trip over to the island. Check out these frequently asked questions below to see if you can find the answer you are looking for.

If you’re still stuck, email info@dgbi.co.nz with your query. We will get back to you as soon as possible

General

It’s a good idea to bring some cash with you, to make the most of the small art gallery, one off market stalls and it can be generally handy to have. But it is not essential. Most operators and businesses have EFTPOS facilities to use your card and thesis now often preferred by businesses as there are no banks on the island, so they have to travel to Auckland to deposit it.

Not all places have credit card facilities or payWave, so please consider this.

There are around 1200 permanent residents on the island. Many more that have a part time residence here.

If you are a nature lover, you will find there is a bottomless list of activities and places to explore on the island. There are many natural wonders, Taonga, quirky art galleries and interesting people on the island.

Popular activities include walking (short and multiway hikes), swimming, fishing, diving, kayaking, star gazing in our dark sky sanctuary.

Popular spots include Kaitoke Natural Hot Springs, Windy Canyon, Medlands Mermaid Pools and so many other natural wonders.

Most adventures on the island are self guided and about going at your own pace. It’s good to have a rough itinerary but also good to see where the island takes you and be open to who you meet along the way.

You’ll also find some friendly local guided experiences if you’d like a bit more direction..

If you love exploring and the simple wonders in life, you will no doubt find that you’ll always be wanting to stay longer on the island.

We recommend staying for at very least 2 nights for your trip. The island is 90km from Auckland and can be logistically a little tight for day trips and you’ll miss out on seeing and experiencing most of the island.

It happens sometimes…

We are an island destination, which means we have our own isolated weather system and sometimes that means things don’t always go to plan.

Sometimes the Colville channel that sits between us and Auckland can get too rough for the ferry to sail, or foggy weather conditions, either, here on island or in Auckland means the planes can’t fly. This can mean being delayed for a few hours, or delaying your departure home by a day.

Visitors aren’t always prepared to get ‘stuck’, be we are a remote island community familiar with mishaps so our locals and operators are well versed in what to do when things don’t quite go to plan.

Here are our key recommendations:

Booking your holiday to Aotea/Great Barrier Island:

1. Purchase travel insurance that covers adverse weather events so you are covered if you have to pay out for extra accommodation and transport

2. Consider purchasing flexi tickets for any onward journeys to other areas of New Zealand or leaving a good period of time between flights. That way you won’t be forking out for more flights if your travel plans are disrupted.

When you find out your flight or ferry is cancelled (Get confirmation from your transport provider):

1. In the first instance we recommend you head back to your accommodation and transport provider and request  extend your booking. Chances are they will have been able to extend as their next customers may be grounded in Auckland.

2. Don’t panic! We know you probably have somewhere to be, most likely back at work, but it’s beyond your control, so embrace being stuck in paradise and enjoying some more island time.

Transport

We are located 90km off the coast of Auckland, and 20km off the coast of the Coromandel on the edge of the Hauraki Gulf – next stop Chile!
Check out our Guide to getting here page for information.

We don’t have a regular bus service all over the island or any other public transport.

However, People & Post offer a transport and freight service once a day, 6 days a week from Tryphena in the South, to Port Fitzroy in the North and back again. 

We have a few locally owned transport options available, from rental cars, electric Motu Bikes, small group tours and shuttles. Over the summer high season these are booked out well in advance, so best to get in quick to avoid disappointment! Have a look at our Tour and Transport options here.


Alternatively, hitch-hiking is perfectly safe and well used by tourists and locals alike. 

Accommodation

We have a range of accommodation options, from DoC Huts on multi day hikes, basic campgrounds, backpackers, private villas and lodges, family friendly baches, beachfront and bush cabins and luxury homes. Check out our accommodation page for further information.

Being off the grid means we generate our own power, which is enough for small gadgets like phones, electric razors, small USB charged torches etc. However, hair straighteners, hairdryers, rice cookers, electric kettles, toastie machines, blenders etc draw too much power and will ultimately result in a very hefty bill at the end of your stay! If in doubt please contact your accommodation provider to check what their individual power systems can manage. For more information on our off-grid lifestyle, have a look at our Off Grid Guide here.

There are two laundrettes on the island. One in Mulberry Grove Tryphena at Sunset Lodge and the other in Claris at the Claris services centre.

Sunset Lodge Laundromat – Open from 7am daily. Last wash/dry at 12:20pm for close at 1pm. A good number of washing machines and tumble driers.

Claris Service Centre Laundromat – Open from 8am daily. Last wash at 3pm, for close at 4pm.

There are cafes located close to both laundromats, enjoy a coffee while you wait for your laundry.

Eat & Drink

No, we have plenty of food options for you on island. With stores in Tryphena, Claris and Port Fitzroy to stock you up with snacks and food for self-catering, local eateries for dining out and catering for events.
If you are arriving on the island late in the evening, it pays to check opening times ahead of your arrival and bring a few things if there is nothing open. Have a look at our Eat & Drink page for details and business listings.

All of the local stores sell alcohol along and there is The Rocks bottle shop in Claris. Try our local options which are sustainable, zero waste and off-grid: Island Gin, and Aotea Brewing. After paying for extra freight on your flight it is often cheaper to just buy on the island.

Cellular Network

There isn’t island wide signal, but you will find that between Spark and Vodafone you’ll get signal around most of the major settlements including Tryphena, Medland’s, Claris, Okupu and Port FitzRoy. If you are walking the tracks it pays to make transport arrangements before you enter the Aotea Conservation Park as there is limited signal through the park.

We encourage people to take a digital holiday whilst they are on the island but appreciate that in this modern age there is always a necessity that requires the internet. Many accommodations have free Wi-fi available, check with your host. There is also free public Wi-fi available at the airport in Claris, the council service centre in Claris, the Claris store and Tryphena hall.

Many properties on the island now have Starlink WiFi. If you are coming to the island and need to connect to do work etc, we recommend asking your accommodation provider if their internet is appropriate for your needs.

Pets

Pet friendly accommodation is not advertised in many places and is often on an enquiry basis only. Some properties may list that their place is not dog friendly online but may be willing to accommodate your furry family member.

We recommend getting in touch with the individual accommodation providers to discuss whether you they can accommodate your pet.

Department of Conservation land dominates over 60% of Great Barrier. Dogs are prohibited on DoC land, including tracks, campgrounds, playgrounds, parks and sports surfaces. There are a few beach areas available for walking your dog controlled and on a leash, but these are limited due to Endangered Seabirds nesting in the sand dunes. You can find more information about pets on Great Barrier on our Dog Information page, along with the Ecology Vision website. 

There are many conservations projects on the island working towards eradicating feral cats, Although cats are not prohibited from the island, we strongly advise leaving your feline friend at home when yo come on holiday.

Should you bring your cat with you, please check out this link for details on how to responsibly manage your pet to protect Aotea’s precious wildlife and reduce the chances of your cat going missing during your stay.

Boats

There are currently restrictions on where you can anchor around most of the West coast harbours of Aotea due to the Exotic Caulerpa pest seaweed found in waters around the island.

Please check out the latest information, details and maps here

We also have a page showing private mooring rental options on the island.

Our prevailing wind is South Westerly, however Port Fitzroy, Whangaparapara, Blind Bay  and Shoal Bay on the West Coast and Medlands on the East Coast provide shelter throughout the year. Our local Forecast & Tides page can give you updated information on the weather closer to the time.

Water and fuel is available at both Port Fitzroy and Whangaparapara wharves. Fuel and water at Whangaparapara is available 24 hours and payment for fuel can be made via EFTPOS.

Aotea/Great Barrier Island is on a zero waste mission. There are no longer any public bins on the island. Learn more about how you can dispose of your waste here. If these options don’t work for you, you will need to take your waste home with you.

There are numerous places throughout the island to launch your boat, depending on its size and what kind of vehicle you have to launch it. You can find those details on our Boaties page.

Now that would be telling! We are one of the many islands of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park and our waters are at risk of overfishing. Know your limits and restrictions by checking out the Recreational Fishing regulations here, and take only what is needed for your dinner that night. There’s always another day for fishing! Help us replenish the breeding stock for future generations. You can learn more about the health of our fisheries on the NZ Geo Website, and the 2020 State of our Gulf report.

DOC Huts and Campgrounds

There is, but it is not accessible to the public. Instead the Visitor Information desk at the Claris airport should have the answers to most DoC related questions. They have many DoC resources available including track maps. If you have an urgent and specific DoC related enquiry, visit the Aotea/GBI DoC webpage or call 09 4290 044 

Both Mt Heale and Kaiaraara Hut are remarkably well equipped. Both have multiple gas burners and cooking equipment. 

No. If you are coming by plane the airlines do not allow you to bring gas canisters on the flight. However, you can pick up camping gas at the Claris store. Other visitors often leave full or half full gas canisters with us at the information centre, please enquire with us at the information desk, we may have one we can pass on. 

Yes unfortunately. But we have boot cleaning stations located at Claris Airport, Tryphena and Port Fitzroy wharves, and all the entrance points to the Aotea Conservation Park. Please make sure you spray and scrub your boots both when you go in and when you come out. For more information on Kauri Dieback, check out the DoC website.

Bookings are essential for both the campgrounds and the huts, particularly over Summer. Please book on the DoC website.

Backcountry passes and Hut tickets are not valid for the huts on Great Barrier, you will need to book these through the DoC website. DOC/NZMA campsite passes are valid at all DoC campsites on Great Barrier, please check for further terms on your pass confirmation or on the DoC website. If in doubt, contact them directly.

Based on real questions we have been asked…

There is no commercial gym on island. However, airport rentals run a community gym just opposite the art gallery, get in contact with owner Neal to find out more info.

You’ll be pleased to hear, oat milk has indeed made it to Great Barrier Island. We aren’t that behind.

Cafés and the grocery stores stock both normal and barista style oat milk. Rest assured you don’t need to use your luggage allowance for your oat milk or supply the barista with your supply when requesting your 1.65 shot, oat milk iced caramel latte.

Unfortunately there are no tanning parlours on the island just yet.