Great Barrier Island Explorer: Expedition Cruising the Hauraki Gulf and Great Barrier Island

Great Barrier Island Explorer: Expedition Cruising the Hauraki Gulf and Great Barrier Island

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Explore New Zealand’s world-famous Great Barrier Island, Auckland’s subtropical wonderland, conservation park and haven for endangered species on this 5-day expedition of “The Barrier” as it’s known to the locals.

The first island in the world to be granted Dark Sky Sanctuary status in 2017, Great Barrier Island is a tranquil oasis surrounded by lush bush, incredible walking tracks, crystal clear water, golden beaches and is proudly off-grid with no mains electricity. Its eastern shore faces the ocean featuring spectacular high cliffs and long white surf beaches, while its western side harbours deep sheltered coves and calm sandy bays perfect for exploring by Zodiac and kayak.

Located in the Hauraki Gulf, 1.2 million hectares of scenic glittering ocean between Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula and home to five marine reserves and more than 50 islands. Hauraki Gulf is a veritable aquatic wonderland and lays claim to having some of the country’s most beautiful beaches and hidden coves.

The union of three channels, Colville, Cradock and Jellicoe, connect Hauraki Gulf with the Pacific Ocean putting it on the ‘whale super highway’ with almost a third of the world’s marine mammal species living in or visiting the marine park with Orca, Bryde’s Whales and Bottlenose and Common Dolphins regularly observed here. Below the surface, numerous conservation efforts are underway to help restore the balance to the Gulf which is still recovering from industrialised overfishing and the impacts of the surrounding farming.

Experience conservation success stories in action and explore remote, forgotten island paradises by foot, kayak and our luxurious expedition yacht Heritage Explorer on Great Barrier Island Explorer.

Trip Name
Great Barrier Island Explorer: Expedition Cruising the Hauraki Gulf and Great Barrier Island
Vessel Type: Expedition Yacht Length: 30 metres Passenger Capacity: 18 Built: 2004 New Zealand-built expedition yacht Heritage Explorer joins Heritage Expedition's small ship fleet creating new opportunities of discovery around the shores of New Zealand. Setting a new standard for discovery travel in New Zealand, Heritage Explorer combines the ultimate in comfort with unique itineraries and a personalised experience with a maximum of just 18 guests on board.Heritage Explorer is a 30-metre, 4-deck New Zealand flagged vessel built in 2004 by the renowned wooden boat building family Carey's Boatyard in Picton. It features a contemporary wood-finished interior, 10 well-appointed cabins across three decks, dining room boasting spectacular 180-degree panoramas and theatre capabilities; lounge and bar featuring a flight of inclusive regional New Zealand wines, beers and spirits; and a well-stocked local library. Outside, guests can enjoy plenty of covered space on the Bridge Deck, or ajourn to the Sun Deck perfect for wildlife spotting, sunrises and sunsets, or simply enjoying watch your voyage unfold. Kayaks and fishing equipment are available for use during the voyage, while two tenders allow for deeper exploration and the unforgettable wildlife encounters synonymous with all Heritage Expeditions adventures. As with as with our other vessels, Heritage Explorer will have an open bridge policy and a full commercial kitchen helmed by a talented chef focused on highlighting local produce and any guest catches of the day, as well as an enthusiastic and passionate expedition team, and will be shipped by a New Zealand captain and crew. The expedition yacht features state-of-the-art technology to provide a comfortable expedition with high performance dual Scania 653 horsepower engines, bow thrusters, fin stabilisers, full air-conditioning, sound attenuated twin generators and a hydraulic aft ramp, while a comprehensive navigation package ensures the ultimate Kiwi adventure awaits all guests. Accommodation Details Royal: Located on the Bridge Deck, our Master Suite features a spacious bedroom with a queen-sized bed, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, mirror and washbasin, private en suite, personal climate control, TV, PABX satellite telephone, window and French doors opening out on to the covered Bridge Deck.Salvin's: Located on the Lower Deck, Salvin's cabins have the option of either a double bed or two lower berths. Both feature ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a picture porthole. Wandering: Located on the Lower Deck, Wandering cabins feature one lower single berth, ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole. Buller's: Located on the Lower Deck, the Buller's cabin features one bunk (one upper and one lower berth), ample storage with wardrobe and drawers, TV, PABX satellite telephone, private en suite and a porthole.


Day 1 - Day 1: Auckland/Hauraki Gulf
Join Heritage Explorer, your home away from home, in Auckland this afternoon where your Captain and Expedition Leader will be waiting to welcome you on board (times will be confirmed with your voyage documents). When all are aboard, we will set sail from Auckland through the Hauraki Gulf to our anchorage on Great Barrier Island. During this time guests will benefit from being out on the deck as whales and dolphins are regularly seen in these waters. Arriving at Great Barrier Island Heritage Explorer will navigate to the sheltered waters of Port Fitzroy. Enjoy an evening of wining and dining under the stars and moonlight as we acquaint ourselves with our Captain, Expedition Leader, and other guests in preparation for our adventure.
Day 2 - Day 2: Great Barrier Island
From our sheltered anchorage in the magnificent harbour of Port Fitzroy, we have a full day dedicated to exploring Great Barrier Island. Existing entirely off grid through solar power and rainwater collection, 60 per cent of the island’s 285 kilometres is public land managed by the Department of Conservation where spectacular towering cliffs meet white surf beaches, wetlands, fiords and bays home to Spotless Crake, Fernbird, Brown Teal, Banded Rail, North Island Kaka and more than 13 species of lizard including the Chevron Skink. For the more active there are forest walks to explore, while those preferring to stay on, or near, the water there is the opportunity to take out the kayaks, join a Zodiac safari or simply soak in the serenity.
Day 3 - Day 3: Expedition Day
Today will be an expedition day where our Captain and Expedition Leader will maximise all opportunities for exploration and discovery. This could include exploring the more remote north coasts, Aiguillies Island or even Rakitu Island Scenic Reserve/Arid Island off the East Coast. With its fortress-like appearance, Rakitu, became a reserve in 1994 and pest free in 2018.
Day 4 - Day 4: Little Barrier & Tiritiri Matangi Island
Plan to rise early this morning to sail close by the renowned Little Barrier Island as we make our way to explore Tiritiri Matangi Island – one of the country’s most successful conservation projects. Once completely cleared of forest, the island has been revegetated and rejuvenated thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers planting around 300,000 native trees between 1984 and 1994. Now home to 11 species of threatened native birds in addition to more common species, be on the lookout for Saddleback, Kokako, Stitchbird, Brown Teal and Takahe among others. This evening enjoy a farewell dinner with your Captain and crew.
Day 5 - Day 5: Auckland
After breakfast and final farewells we head ashore at Auckland where we conclude our adventure. We recommend not booking any onwards travel until 12 noon this afternoon. Note: During our voyage, circumstances may make it necessary or desirable to deviate from the proposed itinerary. This can include weather and opportunities for making unplanned excursions. Your Expedition Leader will keep you fully informed. Voyages are planned and scheduled pending final regulatory approval.
Day 6 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type


    • Great Barrier Island
    • Little Barrier & Tiritiri Matangi Island