New Zealand Islands worth exploring

11 January 2018 | snap news by Patrick

You may have heard of our two main islands, but New Zealand has lots of other wee guys clinging around the coast that are equally – if not more so (controversial, we know) – fun, relaxing and exciting to explore.

In the spirit of island adventures and secret-ish getaways, Snap has compiled the following list of island adventures for those seeking exploration off the mainland(s)…

Great Barrier Island

If you like getting off the grid to a rugged island paradise, Great Barrier is the New Zealand island for you.

Take your car across on the car ferry that departs downtown Auckland (so downtown you can literally have a coffee in Wynyard Quarter as you wait for the boat to be loaded) and enjoy a four hour journey through the scenic Hauraki Gulf.

While it is only 90km from Auckland (a 30-minute flight if you’re going to be like that), it really does feel like another world – which is probably why the island’s tourism catchphrase is, “A world of its own”…


The island is three-quarters conservation park and has a few houses scattered around the beaches.

Most of these are completely self sufficient – with their own water reserves and often solar powered, making it a very cool place to get off the grid and soak in the natural surrounds.

Stewart Island

Right down the bottom of the South Island is an island named Stewart.

Stewart is accessible via boat or plane, and is renowned for its untouched land and seascapes – which in turn provide ample opportunity for walking, boating, diving, kayaking, hunting – or simply relaxing and taking it all in.

A whopping 85% of the island is comprised of the Rakiura National Park – ensuring the natural surrounds are preserved for Stewarts occupants and visitors for generation to come.

Stewart is actually the country’s third largest island, but only has about 300 permanent human residents – and thousands and thousands of native flora, fauna and wildlife ones.

Waiheke Island

A 30-minute ferry from Auckland (and you can take the car) – Waiheke Island feels like a tropical destination far away from any city.

Endless bays and beaches, beautiful coastal hikes and more wineries than you could list in one blog post – this really is a New Zealand must do.

Having a car on the island is ideal so you can tour from one end to the other, visit all the beaches and stop in at a few cellar doors.

Think delicious cafes, fish and chips on the beach and some of the coolest beachfront, hilltop and forest hideaways are available to stay in – and you’re on the right track.


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While the wineries give it a high brow feel, you will be perfectly at home there relaxing on the grass in sandals as you enjoy whatever you choose to fill your glass.

There are also activities galore – including boating, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and water activities – or even clay bird shooting, archery and bike hire.

Waiheke is more than worth the tour, trust us.

Tiritiri Matangi Island

This wildlife sanctuary is one of New Zealand’s most important and exciting conservation projects – making it one of the most pristine and beautiful locations you might be lucky enough to island hop to.

Just 30km north of central Auckland and 4km from the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, 120 years of farming to 1994 saw the 220-hectare stipped of 94% of its native bush.

Not cool.

Thankfully, some pretty cool people – all volunteers – planted about 300,000 native trees since then, and now the Island is now 60% forested.

The remaining 40%? Grassland for species preferring open habitat. You’ll see amazing bird life when you visit here – as well as golden beaches, turquoise blue water and impressie coastlines.


Late afternoon swim at Hobbs Beach #tiritirimatangi

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Kapiti Island

Can you say you came to Kiwi-land if you didn’t see a Kiwi? We are not so sure, so think you should take your chances with an overnight Kiwi-spotting adventure to Kapiti Island.

Off the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington, the island not only casts a stunning silhouette from the mainland – it is home to peaceful adventures.


Hidden hut on an island was home for the night

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Full of hikes and treks – including an impressive swing bridge – the island also has nature reserves and hidden hutts.

Tourism providers like Kapiti Island Nature Tours will take guests to the island for the night for a Kiwi finding adventure.

Sleep in a hutt and have meals prepared by a chef during your two full day stay on the island, which is home to more than 1200 little spotted Kiwi.