1. Browns Island / Motukorea
As there is no ferry access to this small island, Browns Island / Motukorea is well and truly off the beaten track. It also holds one of the best-preserved volcanic cones in Auckland, especially as it is thought to have erupted 10-20,000 years ago. A good landing spot is Crater Bay, as the rest of the island is tidal and rocky.
2. Rangitoto Island
This 600-year-old volcano is awash with native bush and birdlife. Hike through lava fields to get to the summit with some awesome views of the city skyline and Hauraki Gulf. You can even delve into some lava caves. Try a sunset kayak tour to experience the island at it’s quietest while watching the beautiful sunset. Kayaking takes about 2 hours between the mainland and Rangitoto Island.
Check out our complete guide to Rangitoto Island.
3. Motutapu Island
Connecting to Rangitoto Island, Motutapu Island is a complete contrast to Rangitoto with its own gems to explore. Hike around the island for incredible coastal views. Allow about 3 hours to kayak from the mainland to Home Bay on Motutapu.Turn your trip into an overnight stay by making use of the campsite. There’s nothing like waking up to the sound of the sea gently rolling into shore.
Check out our the complete guide to Motutapu Island.
4. Motuihe Island
A 2h30min kayaking journey can bring you to Motuihe Island. Land on Wharf Bay and begin exploring! Go swimming or relax on one of the beautifulbeaches, or even camp the night at the DoC campsite. Listen out for the native bird species, which have been released onto the island as part of a conservation project.
5. Tiritiri Matangi Island
This pest-free island is a wildlife sanctuary, which rewards you with numerous walks through pristineforest. Keep an eye out for tui, saddleback and bellbird. If you are lucky, you can even see little blue penguins and takahe. For experienced kayakers or those with a guide, start from Whangaparaoa Peninsula for this 1-hour trip over to Tiritiri Matangi. A good landing beach is Hobbs Beach. Get your ferry ticket to Tiritiri Matangi Island here.
6. Kawau Island
Just off the coast of the Warkworth area, experienced kayakers can paddle from Snells Beach to Kawau Island known for its mansion house and exotic gardens, which are open to the public. There are also a few short easy walks to explore the vegetated areas.
7. Moturoa Island
Sometimes we just want to camp on a small island. That’s actually not too much to ask with Moturoa Island just off the coast of Mahurangi. It takes about 1h30mins to kayak over from the mainland. Make use of the campsite while listening to the sounds of the North Island brown kiwi at night.
8. Goat Island
Ok, so you don’t exactly need a kayak to get to this island, but kayak hire is available to explore further than you might go if you were just to snorkel. Goat Island Marine Reserve is New Zealand’s original marine reserve packed with fish, and even attracts a few dolphins and orcas.Goat Island is part of the Matakana Coast, which has heaps of other attractions worth discovering as we show in our article. Find out more about Goat Island in 5 Fun Things to Do at Goat Island Marine Reserve.
9. Waiheke Island
The most popular island on the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island can certainly be kayaked to from Motutapu Island and Motutihe Island. As the island itself is well-inhabited, it has kayak hire on the island, so you can even start your water exploration from there. Head to9 Glorious Things to Do on Waiheke Islandfor inspiration on what to do there.
10. Herald Island
This isn’t exactly a difficult one to get to. In fact, you can get there by car. Herald Island is a small inhabited island near Hobsonville. Although it’s not quite the tranquillity you might find in the other islands, it is still possible to kayak to and from.