How to get to Aotea Great Barrier Island

I live on Great Barrier Island: New Zealand’s hidden gem. Lying 90 kilometres off the east coast of Auckland, it boasts some of New Zealand’s most beautiful and pristine beaches, best nature walks, incredible scenery, and some of the best examples of sustainable living in the country. One of the most common questions I’m asked is: how do I get there? There are several transport options, all of which vary in price and length of journey. Here are some options to get you off the mainland and experience this beautiful Island 1000 people call home.


By far my favourite way of getting to the Island. Stress free and quick the trip via one of Great Barrier’s air carriers takes 30 minutes. This is the fastest option to get to the Barrier. Both airlines leave from the regional terminal in Auckland Airport and land into the airstrip in Claris which is in the middle of the Island. The scenery and views from the plane are second to none - this is definitely a great start to your Great Barrier experience!

As you depart Auckland you will have views of the Auckland CBD and the harbours along the East coast of Auckland. You will also fly over Rangitoto Island and Waiheke Island. On your left will be the Coromandel peninsular. On your right you will see Little Barrier Island and you can see virtually the entire Great Barrier Island. On a clear day this is a beautiful flight. Flights range in price from $69, and you can book via either of the airline’s websites.


If you don’t fancy a ride in a small plane, if flying isn’t really your thing or if you’d like to bring a car there is a ferry option. The time varies between 2.5 - 4.5 hours, depending on the ferry you take. I’ve never had a disruption from weather as they tend to be relatively rare. In fair weather the journey is relaxing and the ferries have a small cinema onboard (free), and all amenities you would expect: downstairs seating area, small cafe and above deck seating for fresh air and photo opportunities. If you bring a car you can stay in it during the cruise - handy if you’ve got your laptop full of movies and a comfy seat!

Prices range depending on your configuration, from approximately $80 for a walk-on passenger to around $300 for a passenger and car. If you don’t want to bring a vehicle there are car rental options on-island. For sailing timetable including winter timetables see

Charter Boat / Fishing Charter

There are several companies who offer charter boat and fishing charter services from Auckland to great barrier depending on the size of your group. Larger groups can use a company such as Amada Tours, who can take up to 70 people at a time. This is a good option for tour groups or corporate guests.

Great Barrier offers some of the best sea fishing in New Zealand. Having a small Island population the good spots are seldom crowded, and if fishing is your thing, then a company such as Ultimate Charters offer packages including accommodation, along with the fishing experience itself. You can also book a fishing charter on the island when you’re here through Hooked on Barrier.

Sail or Motor

If you own your own boat, then you’re only 2.5 hours away from this pristine spot! Around the island there are many sheltered coves for mooring overnight, many with swing moorings to rent / borrow. Where I live, at Orama Oasis in Karaka Bay, we have two moorings available to rent for $25 per night. This includes access to the Orama facilities. If the moorings are taken or unavailable, we have plenty of space in the bay for boats to anchor up. The bay is sheltered and the Orama facilities can be used on a pay-as-you-go basis. For more information check out our website:

Charter Flight

There are several companies to consider if you’re bring a group of 8 - 10 people to the island, and you’d enjoy the luxury of your own plane for the journey. Prices start from around $200 per person. If you’re coming to visit us here in the North of the island, you can have the plane land at the Okiwi airstrip. - Christian Aviation - Auckland Seaplanes

By Phil Knowles