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A Fun Travel Guide to Exploring Auckland's Hauraki Gulf

  • Monday 23rd December 2019

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Did you know Lonely Planet has named Auckland harbour and the Hauraki Gulf as the best experience in New Zealand? Dazzling waters, emerald islands and countless water activities – all so close to the city! Locals know it and visitors will too, soon enough. Here’s a quick travel guide.


Introducing the Hauraki Gulf

Island hopping is a favourite pastime for many locals. Within the Hauraki Gulf, you can climb Auckland’s youngest volcano on Rangitoto Island, sample award-winning wineries on Waiheke and explore the lovely beaches of Rotoroa Island.


Tiritiri Matangi Island, known locally as ‘Tiri,’ is a conservation success story. Thanks to volunteers and the Department of Conservation, the island eradicated all introduced pests to the island. Around 300,000 native trees were planted here between 1984-1994 – now it’s a beautiful open-air wildlife sanctuary.


How to Get Around

Choose a half-day or full-day adventure, voyaging across the sea with Fullers Ferries. It’s a trusted ferry network that transports millions of residents and travellers each year. Check out Fullers Ferries’ entire list of Hauraki Gulf destinations, timetables and costs.


Unmissable Sights

Tiri is a special place; for a full-day adventure, Tiri is your go-to. If you’re a nature lover, come see and hear native birds. There are many rare and endangered species, like the Kokako and Little Spotted Kiwis. See if you can spot cute Little Blue Penguins by the shores too. Embark on one of the many lush walking tracks of varying lengths. It’s even possible to stroll around the whole island in only four hours! You’ll pass 800 to 1000-year-old pohutukawa trees, with their beautiful crimson flowers blooming in the summertime. Care for a picnic and swim? Head to Hobbs Beach, an unspoiled haven.


Get on the water with Fergs Kayaks

Fergs Kayaks are located on Tamaki Drive, just 2 minutes from the aquarium and offer a range of kayaking tours to let you venture out onto the Hauraki Gulf, including the 6hr Rangitoto Volcano Sunset Kayak Adventure, or their Browns Island Adventure. They also offer a wide range of top quality watersports equipment for rent or to buy, including paddleboards and sit-on kayaks, so get out on the water with New Zealand’s water sports specialist and discover the best of the Hauraki Gulf.


Now Delve Under the Sea

Discover the sea animals that call the Hauraki Gulf home. Located by the Gulf, and only 10 minutes from downtown Auckland, SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s is a world-class aquarium and conservation centre. With so much to see and do here, it’s a fun and educational experience for all ages.


There are 10 themed habitat zones to explore. Get up close to majestic King and Gentoo penguins at Antarctic Ice Adventure. Brave the slimy, spongy and spiky with your hands at Tidal Touch Pools. Walk under some of the world’s biggest aquarium sharks at Shark Tunnel. Enchanting jellyfishes, king crabs, colourful coral species, huge stingrays – and New Zealand’s own dinosaur! There are hundreds of species to discover.


Rescue a Turtle

Did you know, out of 7 sea turtle species, 5 of them are found in New Zealand’s coasts? SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s is New Zealand’s only Turtle Rescue Centre. Using state-of-the-art technology, you can digitally experience the hard work it takes to rescue a turtle; from an emergency call, right through to release. You can even meet some of the beloved rescued turtles.


Travel Tip

Refuel at SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s cafe, where you’ll get some incredibly unique views of the stunning Hauraki Gulf. Plus, for huge savings, be sure to book your tickets online.