With a seemingly endless number of different tracks and trails, Great Barrier Island is a haven for walkers and hikers looking for a workout and an adventure. Whether you’re more of a solo roamer or looking for a bit of company and direction, a hardened veteran of hiking or a just looking to immerse yourself in a spot of Aotearoa’s beautiful wildlife, Great Barrier Island has something for you to sink your feet into. Here’s our recommendations for some of the highlight tracks on the island:
Te Ahumata Track
Starting off with something fairly light, the Te Ahumata Track takes hikers along on old miners road (the mountain was once a popular area for prospectors, and many still believe the mountain is rich for gold mining) to the 400m high summit of Te Ahumata, a mountain famous for its visually distinctive ‘white cliffs’. With not a particularly grueling or challenging terrain and only roughly just over an hours’ worth of walking to reach the summit, this track is perfect for anyone looking to get a bit of a sweat on. On dry days, you can also venture off the main track and detour to the top of the cliffs if you’re after a better view. While not the tallest peak on the island, the summit of Te Ahumata does offer a pretty nice 360° panoramic view of the island that makes the walk well worth it.
Possibly the most physically demanding track on the island, the Tramline track is an 8km steep, challenging track that knives through the middle of the island and that pays off with one of the islands true delights on the way. After working the leg muscles trekking up the mostly unmaintained track hills, this route takes walkers to the hidden gem that is the Awana Falls, a beautiful waterfall and what many consider to be one of the best swimming spots on the island. Another benefit of this track is that its central location means it connects through to several other tracks, meaning you can always jump onto a new track depending on what kind of length and incline you want out of your days walking.
Harataonga Coastal Walkway
Why spend all your time in trees when you can enjoy the beautiful Great Barrier Island coastline? The Harataonga Coastal Walk is a roughly 3-4 hour one way track that takes hikers along a section of the islands’ Eastern coastline, providing some spectacular views of Great Barriers beaches and the Pacific Ocean. A relatively flat track that leads walkers in and out of valley’s bountiful with native flora and birdlife, this track is terrific for those looking for a full day’s walking that isn’t going to turn their legs to jelly. Bear in mind, however, the track is one way, so unless you’re going to walk the four hours back the other way, have a plan in mind as to how you’re going to get back.
If you’ve got the time and really want to get the full scope of all the tramping the island has to offer, the Aotea track is really you’re only option. The 25km track is a multi-day excursion which gives you the full experience of Great Barrier Island’s fantastic forests and wetland wildlife. With two huts dotted at different points on the track (which can be booked on the DOC website) to break up your journey, the Aotea track takes you from the beautiful Kaitoke Hot Springs, past the rock faces of the Windy Canyon, up to the summit of Hirakimata/Mount Hobson, along the aforementioned Tramline Track and past the Awana Falls, finishing in coastal town of Whangaparapara. It takes a bit of mahi, but Aotea track gives the Kiwi hikers everything they could want out of a forest tramping experience.
Header image: Aotea Track by Todd Eyre