Great Barrier Island is situated in the outer Hauraki Gulf, and enjoys a wonderful climate in spring through to autumn, although the winter leaves the Island very windswept. The Island is the largest offshore island of the North Island, and is named so because it gives protection to the Gulf.
It is also home to a huge amount of wildlife, including rare species of plant, animal and bird, such as the tui, brown teal duck, wood pigeon, and the occassional wild pig!
The history of the Island is varied and interesting. The majority of the history involves logging and mining - in 1892, gold was found at Te Ahumata, and the gold rush started. A stamping battery was built especially for this, the former site of which can be visited today, as can some of the entrances to the mines.
Then, in 1909, kauri logging started, and was used to build many of the properties in the Auckland area. To save time, the kauri were logged at the top of the hills, and then dams were built in the river, the logs piled up in the dam, and then the gates released so that the logs floated downstream and to the harbour, ready for transportation to Auckland.
Miners Head, at the north of the Island, was the scene of New Zealands' worst maritime disaster to date, when S.S. Wairarapa hit the cliff face and killed 121 people. The graveyard marks the spot, and can be walked to from the main road.
Another unique attraction is Pigeon Grams! In 1898, Aucklands' first Pigeon Gram was sent from Great Barrier Island, as an early form of airmail. If you go to Port Fitzroy today, you can send a letter by Pigeon Gram from the Island office, to the Auckland office, and it is then forwarded by modern airmail to any international destination (and you get a special Pigeon Gram stamp!).
All in all, Great Barrier Island has so much to offer, and the ever so friendly locals make the Island even better and welcoming.