MACAU: Magical Charm
AUSTRALIA, TA: Hobart’s Half Dozen Treasures
USA, NM: Santa Fe – Downtown Retreat & Mountain Ranch Resort
PERU: Lake Sandoval, Amazonia: Mundos Intocados – Untouched Worlds.
AUSTRALIA, SA: Hopping Across to Kangaroo Island
USA, WY: The Legend of Buffalo Bill
AUSTRALIA, SA: Dishing It Out In South Australia
USA, NV: Top 10 Las Vegas Travel Tips
KIWI: Stewart Island's Natural Beauty
KIWI: Tuatapere Hump Ridge Track - Stairway to Heaven
KIWI: Sitting on the DOC of the Bay - A Campervan in the Coromandel
HONG KONG: Top Ten Must See Attractions
MACAU: A Macanese Affair to Remember
USA, Rockies: A Most Excellent Adventure - RV Trip Part 2
USA, Rockies: A Most Excellent Adventure - RV Trip Part 1
KIWI: Top 10 Kiwi Coastal Department of Conservation Campsites
KIWI: South by Southwest Auckland
AUSTRALIA, QLD: Campervan Adventures on the Great Tropical Drive
HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s Adventurous Atributes
KIWI: Top 10 Adventure Activities to Experience in Auckland
KIWI: The Gems and Jewels of the Tutukaka Coast
AUSTRALIA, NSW: A South Coast & Southern Highlands Tasting Seduction
USA, WY: Unadulterated Wilderness - Yellowstone National Park
USA, SD: Famous Faces in Great Places
USA, MT: Montana’s Forgotten Ghost Towns
UAE: Abu Dhabi - More Than A Flight of Fancy
WESTERN SAMOA: In the Footsteps of Robert Louis Stephenson
TONGA: Vava’u Island Group
KIWI: Unpack, Inhale and Unwind – Breathing Easy on Auckland’s West Coast
KIWI: Waiheke Island – Paradise Found
USA, ID: Sun Valley Lodge, Ketchum
USA, ID: A Big City with a Small Town Heart
SOUTH KOREA: Temple Tourism Where Silence is Golden
AUSTRALIA, TAS: Hobart’s Half Dozen Treasures
AUSTRALIA, TAS: A Taste and a Tipple in Tassie
KIWI: Conjuring Up Some Matakana Magic
FIJI: Cavorting on the Coral Coast
USA, CA: Jamaica Bay Inn, Marina Del Rey
NEPAL: Kartwheeling in Kathmandu
KIWI: Going With The Flow - A Day on the Dart River
NEPAL: Eat Pray Hike – Life on a Himalayan Trail Part 2.
NEPAL: Eat Pray Hike – Life on a Himalayan Trail Part 1.
SINGAPORE: Capella Hotel, Sensosa Island
USA, HI: Hairpin Highway to Hana and Beyond
KIWI: Matakauri Lodge, Queenstown
ENGLAND: Haunted by Heathcliff - Yorkshire's Bronte Country
USA, CA: Handlery Union Square Hotel, San Francisco
KIWI: This Restless Land – Hiking the Tongariro Crossing & Mt. Ruapehu
KIWI: On My Bike - Mountain Biking and the Queenstown Bike Festival
ENGLAND: Mark it in Your Calendar – Visit Skipton, Yorkshire
SCOTLAND: A Scottish Highland Fling
REPUBLIC of IRELAND: Wrestling Wrasse on the Beara Peninsula
REPUBLIC of IRELAND: 48 Hours in Cork
ENGLAND: The Land of Romans, Myths and Medieval Castles
SCOTLAND: 48 Hours in Edinburgh
WALES: Wandering North Wales
USA, CA: In Yountville Pushing the Epicurean Envelope
ENGLAND: On The Trail of Lancashire’s Pendle Witches
THAILAND: Sky High in Bustling Bangkok
TAHITI: Lazy Hazy Days of Winter - Tahitii and Moorea
AUSTRALIA, QLD: In Seventh Heaven
VENEZUELA: Where Angels Dared To Tread
NORFOLK ISLAND: Isle of Exiles
NEW CALEDONIA: Flavours of New Caledonia
KIWI: The Wonder Country - Campervan Ventures in Southland
MALAYSIA, Sabah Borneo: In The Land of the Red Ape
AUSTRALIA, QLD: Taste of the Tropics

KIWI: Island’s in the Gulf

The jewels in the crown of Auckland lie only a short distance from the heart of downtown out in the Hauraki Gulf. Take a day out on the water and discover some of the most beautiful islands in the whole of New Zealand

AUTHOR and PHOTOGRAPHER: ©Shane Boocock 2013


Motutapu Island – Recreation, Solitude and Tranquil

This weekend destination is well known to Aucklanders and a great bonus for gulf island visitors this summer. The island is home to farmland, World War II gun emplacements, a network of scenic walking tracks linking historic and natural places of interest on Motutapu that also connect via a causeway to additional tracks on Rangitoto with spectacular views of the Hauraki Gulf.


Motutapu, which means ‘sacred island,’ is part of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, a recreation reserve administered by the Department of Conservation. The island is one of the earliest known Maori settlement sites in the Auckland region, and before the eruption of Rangitoto, Motutapu (Te Motutapu a Taikehu) had been the home of Maori for several generations.


There are plenty of reasons to visit this little gem of an island out in the gulf including the old historic Reid Homestead that has been restored and turned into a visitor centre. There’s an old WWll gun emplacement site as well as 300 or more Maori archaeological sites, including one where the footprints of humans and a dog have been preserved in a layer of volcanic ash.


For visitors wishing to stay overnight on the island there is a DOC campsite at Home BayThe ferry service departs every second Sunday from the Auckland Downtown Ferry Terminal to Home Bay on Motutapu Island. Departures: Auckland 9.15am, Devonport 9.25am, Returns 3.30pm.


Rangitoto Island – Majestic, Treasured and Stunning

Sitting majestically just off the Auckland’s coast, this 600 year old volcano boasts a unique landscape of rugged lava crops, lush native bush and sandy coves. Walk to the top for spectacular 360-degree views of Auckland and the Hauraki Gulf islands, or hop on board their Volcanic Explorer road train tour for a guided island experience.


The recommended walk to the summit takes about an hour at an easy pace. Lookouts along the way provide some stunning views as you climb, and you can do a detour to explore the lava caves. Other tracks that skirt the coastline are sign-posted from the wharf. These walks vary in length and difficulty, so plan your visit in advance and make sure you leave enough time to return to the ferry wharf.


Length of ferry journey is approx 25 minutes from the Auckland Downtown Ferry Terminal. Allow at least 4-5 hours.


Waiheke Island – Wine, Dine and Wander

This stunning island just off the Auckland coast boasts 92 square kilometers of beautiful beaches, vineyards, olive groves, native bush and laid back seaside villages. It’s a great day out from Auckland as well as a superb holiday destination or a weekend getaway.


A good way to make the most of a day trip is to combine your ferry ticket with a number of great value island tours from wine tasting to sculpture and artist gallery visits.


With over 30 vineyards on the island, Waiheke offers visitors excellent opportunities for wine tasting (as well as first class vineyard restaurants). Most vineyard tours visit the leading vineyards on the island and sometimes include return ferry travel.


Waiheke has several beautiful beaches, but the best ones for swimming are at Oneroa or at Onetangi, which is a 20-minute bus ride away. Buses meet all ferries and Fullers offer an All Day Bus Pass, which is a cost effective way to get around.


Waiheke's coastline boasts many beautiful walks with stunning views of the surrounding islands and the Coromandel. Discover sandy beaches, native bush and historic sites along the many scenic walkways. Two walks start right at the ferry terminal - just follow the coast left or right as you leave the wharf and follow the yellow and green signs.


The journey from Auckland to Matiatia Bay is approximately 40 minutes (some ferries go via Devonport which makes the journey slightly longer).


Sealink Ferries also offer daily passenger and car ferry service from Halfmoon Bay to Kennedy Point that on average takes about one hour each way. They also offer a Friday only service from Auckland’s Wynyard Wharf to Kennedy Point that takes about 45 minutes.


Allow at least a full day to explore the island.  For more information about the walkways, art galleries, restaurants and vineyards pick up a leaflet at i-Sites or the Waiheke Ferry Terminal.



Rotoroa Island – An Arts, Heritage And Conservation Park

For over 100 years, Rotoroa Island has been an island apart, off-limits to all but a few souls isolated there for alcohol and drug rehabilitation in the care of the Salvation Army. Today, Rotoroa is accessible to everyone as the Hauraki Gulf's newest conservation estate. And a new partnership with Auckland Zoo announced in December 2012, means that Rotoroa is now set to continue its legacy of recovery and renewal, by establishing a wildlife sanctuary on the island.

Explore the heart of the island's old community, including the jail, chapel and cemetery. Visit the island's award-winning museum and exhibition centre and its display on Rotoroa's fascinating history. Swim or picnic at one of four beautiful sandy beaches, explore walking trails among regenerating bush or stroll to the Chris Booth sculpture on the island's southern headland. There are also three holiday homes for rent and shared hostel accommodation.


Rotoroa Island is just over an hour from downtown Auckland. Sailings with 360 Discovery Cruises operate Friday night, Saturday and Sunday sailings. Summer mid-week sailings recommence mid-October.


Great Barrier Island – Remote, Tranquil and Untouched

Situated in the Hauraki Gulf about 4.5 hours car-ferry ride from Auckland, Great Barrier Island is one of New Zealand's best kept secrets. Sparsely populated with large areas of rugged, unspoilt natural beauty, it's a place to really get away from it all.


Activities: Hiking, mountain biking, diving, surfing and fishing are all popular adventure activities on the island. Beautiful walking tracks through native forests lead to secluded natural hot springs and pristine white sandy beaches. The more enthusiastic trampers can head for the beckoning summit of Hirakimata (Mount Hobson) rising 627 metres above the sea, with its spectacular 360-degree views.


Fullers Ferry services to the Great Barrier Island are seasonal and are usually scheduled over holiday periods: Labour Weekend (end of October), Christmas, New Year, early January and during the Easter holidays. The services run to and from the two main port of Tryphena. Sealink Ferries also offer passenger and car ferry services year-round. Two airlines service Great Barrier Island as well from Auckland Airport and Auckland’s North Shore. Advance reservations are necessary.


Allow at least a few days and up to a week to visit Great Barrier Island to enjoy the maximum benefits this outstanding location offers.





With the exception of Waiheke and Great Barrier (which have range of campgrounds, backpackers, motels and lodges to suit all budgets) most islands have no facilities so take plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, togs/bathers, snacks/lunch/dinner and sturdy walking shoes as certain tracks are quite rugged. A torch may also be useful if you are planning a camping vacation. The last opportunity to buy food or drink is usually on the ferry services.


For information on other island’s in the gulf such as Motuihe Island, Brown’s Island, Tiritiri Matangi Island, Moturoa and Kawaui Islands visit:



Visit the following websites for further departure information, timetables and prices:


Fullers Ferries:


Sealink Ferries:


360 Discovery Cruises:


Explore Group Ferries:



There are two airlines that service Great Barrier Island: Great Barrier Airlines at and Fly My Sky Airlines at

If you would like to read this article in full or licence it for your own publication, please click here to contact Shane.