Great Barrier Island is two thirds owned by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC). As a result there are many well maintained and easily accessible walks throughout the Island.
The best for first time visitors in my opinion is the Mt Hobson (Hirakimata) walk. Accessible via the Kaiaraara walking track which runs from Port Fitzroy up and over the summit, and down to an exit via Windy Canyon or to the hot pools, exiting near Claris. There is a DOC hut located near the summit, the Mount Heel Hut. The hut is equipped with a kitchen, pots and pans, and a composting toilet. The views from the hut especially around sunset are stunning! This is a great overnight walk, but is achievable in one day depending on your fitness level. Bear in mind that there in a steep climb on a lot of stairs (over 1000!) and you will need to have a good degree of fitness to complete this. My advice would be to start from Windy Canyon and finish in Port Fitzroy, leaving the hot pools walk for another day.
My favourite walk, however, is the Harataonga. This is a gentle coastal walkway, is easily accessible for most people, and the views are stunning. There are many photo opportunities and if you’re really fit, you could even try running it! The DOC recommendation says that this will take between four and five hours to complete one way – it’s about 11.5 kms one way excluding the loop track. At about the 6km mark there’s a beautiful spot to have lunch. So strap on your day pack, take lots of water and some sandwiches, and head out to see the beautiful east coast of the island.
The hot pools are not to be missed on the island. The natural hot spring runs from it’s source to the Kaitoke Wetlands. The track is an easy walk and accessible for visitors of all fitness levels – you can even wheel a push chair to the hot pools. The walk will take approximately 45 minutes. Once at the hot pools there is a picnic table and a composting toilet nearby. The pools can be very hot depending on the last rainfall so do be careful! Never put your head under the water.
From Orama you can walk to Nimaru (Onewherō) Bay. A 40-50min walk to a beautiful sandy bay. The track from Orama starts off quite steep until you get to the top gate above the paddocks. Once at the top heading into the regenerating manuka forest the track evens out. Nimaru is signposted off to the left. If you continue up to the top of the track you’ll reach the lookout – unmissable if you’re staying with us! Beautiful views from the top. My advice: head to the lookout to catch the setting sun after spending the day at Nimaru Bay. You wont regret the extra effort on your way back to Orama.