Hauraki Gulf Cruises
Whale watching on Auckland Harbour
Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf has a year round population of bryde’s whales (a close relative of humpback whales). There are also bottlenose and common dolphins year round. Migrating humpback whales, pygmy blue whales and the occasional sperm whale. There are also frequent visits from Orca pods. Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari is not cheap but it is totally worth the money and more. If you’ve never seen a whale before it is an unforgettable experience. Do not miss this activity. Auckland Whale and Dolphin Safari leaves from Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour daily.
Gulf Eco Adventures
Explore the remotest and most pristine parts of Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf Marine Park with Gulf Eco Adventures. Visit distant islands, swim, snorkel, kayak and paddleboard with a chance of seeing whales and dolphins. This is a fabulous adventure for families taking you to islands you just can’t get to without having a large private boat.
See more in less time with a scenic flight over the Hauraki Gulf. Or book and Island hopping flight where you get to land on the water at some spectacular sheltered bays. If you’re in Auckland for a short time and want a trip you’ll never forget Auckland Seaplanes is for you they can show you the whole gulf and have you back to your Viaduct Hotel in time for dinner..
Hauraki Gulf Activities
If your fit try a sea kayak tour. It’s a fun way to visit many of Auckland’s Islands. Highly recommended is a sunset trip to Rangitoto where you paddle back at night towards the city lights. Don’t worry it’s a guided tour and they haven’t lost anyone yet. You can do this with either Fergs Kayaks or Auckland Sea Kayaks who also offer multi day island hopping tours. It’s a great way to get up close and personal with dolphins and if you’re really lucky orcas. Brown’s Island is a short paddle if you’re not that confident. If you are confident, Rangitoto is an easy day trip so is Motuihe, experienced paddlers can get to waiheke and back in a day but for the best experience camp overnight, on Motuihe, Waiheke, Moturoa, or Motutapu Island. If tent’s are not your thing try Rotoroa island where you can stay in either a hostel or rent one of 3 really nice houses.
Book yourself in on a fishing charter. There are plenty to choose from leaving from downtown Auckland for a day trip or an evening trip. You can pay the crew to fillet your fish for you and the charter boat usually includes all equipment and bait. This is a great way to get out on the harbour and catch a meal.
Hauraki Gulf Islands
Visit Waiheke Island
Visit for a day trip a weekend or a week. There’s plenty to see and do on Waiheke Island. Blessed with some of the worlds best wineries overlooking some the world’s best beaches Waiheke is a little piece of paradise. There’s regular buses or taxi’s to get around the island. Great restaurants, hiking, adventure and water based activities. Find all the best spots on Waiheke at Waiheke Local
Tiritiri Matangi Island
This island sanctuary is a home for many rare and endangered NZ native birds including Kiwi and Takahe. It’s a great day but involves a lot of walking. If you like nature this is an experience not to be missed. It’s a really nice ferry ride to the island with a chance of seeing both dolphins and orca which are frequent visitors around Tiri.
Kawau island was once home to Governor George Grey who, in the 1860s, built the iconic Mansion House. This is now open to the public for viewing. The island is great for swimming and bush walks. There are plenty of native birds, including wild kiwi. There are several boats available to take you to the island from Sandspit (an hours drive from any Auckland CBD hotel.) Or you can paddle there in a sea kayak if you’re an experienced kayaker. If kayaking make sure you paddle to the island on an outgoing tide and return on an incoming tide. There are no roads or cars so the only way to get around is boat or walking. There is accommodation on the island but you’ll need to book, there’s also a couple of cafes.
Rotoroa is beautiful. Located off the eastern end of Waiheke Island it’s much quieter and less busy. The island was once an addiction treatment centre. I can think of a better place to recover from a weekend of wine tasting. It’s great for a day trip but even better if you stay overnight. The island has 3 houses available for rent plus a small hostel. There’s no shops so bring your own food. What they do have is plenty of walking tracks, beaches with no people and native birds. You can often see kiwi at night. You can get there by Ferry, Kayak, helicopter, water taxi or Seaplane.
Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier is like Waiheke only the beaches are better and they grow weed not wine. It’s a relaxed culture a world away from Auckland. Great surf beaches and more beautiful than you can imagine. It’s a 5 hour ferry ride to get there so it’s worth going for at least 3 or 4 days. A sea plane will get you there quicker but I like the ferry. You can often see dolphins and occasionally whales. Accommodation on Great Barrier varies from camping to high end rental houses and lodges.
Kayak to Browns Island from Mission Bay or Buckland’s Beach. Climb the volcanic cone and have a picnic at the top. Watch the sunset then paddle back in the dark towards the city lights. It’s magic. Sometimes in late Summer there’s bioluminescence in the water.
Take the ferry to Motuihe Island & camp.
Motuihe Island is a 45 minute Ferry Ride or a 2 hour kayak from Mission Bay (with the tide). It has beautiful beaches and a camping ground with spectacular views of the Hauraki Gulf and the city lights. Great swimming beaches and plenty of trails to hike. This is good for a day trip in summer or camp for longer if you have time. This is a pest free island to be sure to check your bags before you visit. You’ll appreciate your 5 star hotel all the more after a weekend in a tent.
Go camping on Moturoa Island
Moturoa Island is a magical place. It’s a native bird sanctuary where you have a really good chance of seeing kiwi at night. There’s a campground that is really popular on summer weekends and one rental bach that is very basic. There is no ferry that regularly visits the island but you can hire a water taxi from Downtown Auckland or from Sandspit 50 minutes north of Auckland. You can also get there via seaplane. Once on the island there are no shops so bring everything you need for your stay. You can also paddle to the island in a kayak in 2-3 hours (each way) from Wenderholm regional park make sure you leave and return with the tide for a quick easy paddle. This is a popular camping holiday spot for small boat owners in NZ. Relax and spend your days swimming and fishing or walking the islands trails, then spend the night looking for Kiwi, ideally with a red light flashlight.
Visiting the Hauraki Gulf Islands
Many of the Hauraki Gulf Islands are sanctuary Islands, home to rare and endangered birds. As such you can’t take dogs – or other pets, to most of the islands. The main exceptions are Waiheke Island and Rakino Island. If visiting please check your bags, for any stow away rats, mice, or insects. And make sure you clean your shoes, we don’t want weed seeds to spread from the mainland. Please take a minute to watch the video and learn what you can and can’t do when visiting these beautiful Islands.