43 people found this article useful

10 Islands in New Zealand Every Backpacker Has to Explore

BackpackerGuide.NZ

Explore the islands in New Zealand!

New Zealand is known for its two mainland islands, the North Island and the South Island. However, did you know there are hundreds more islands off the coast of New Zealand? It might just be for this reason why getting out on the water is such a huge part of Kiwi life. There’s so much to explore in New Zealand’s waters. So what island in New Zealand do you need to check out?!

While some islands have a little population of people of their own, other islands are more likely to be the home of New Zealand’s native wildlife. If seeing the fascinating birdlife is part of your New Zealand bucket list, then exploring these islands is where you will get your best chance. Even if it’s not on your bucket list, you don’t know until you have tried, and we suggest you try!

The islands we have listed below are all reachable by boats and flights operating on the mainland. And once you have explored every island of New Zealand, take a trip to one of the nearby tropical islands in the South Pacific.

Working Holiday New Zealand

1. Kapiti Island

This huge island off the Kapiti Coast is a wildlife hot spot. The emblematic kaka parrot is playful and will not hesitate to steal your lunch, while the rare spotted kiwi can be seen at night in the wild if you know where to look. For more about Kapiti Coast and Kapiti Island, check out our 10 Reasons Why an Escape to Kapiti is a Great Idea.

Location: Kapiti, Wellington, North Island
Tony on Flickr

2. Stewart Island

“New Zealand’s third island”, as Stewart Island is often referred to, is an underrated spot for backpackers in New Zealand. The island is 80% national park and home to one of the Great Walks, the Rakiura Track. Stewart Island is one of the best places in the country to spot a famous kiwi bird in the wild.

Location: Access is via ferry from Bluff, Southland, South Island.
BackpackerGuide.NZ

3. White island

The huge active marine volcano is a iconic sight in New Zealand. Visitors are taken by helicopter or boat to explore the crater, the remains of its sulphur factory, and its prehistoric history. It is also a popular dive location too. The island is definitely a must-do when visiting or working in Whakatane or Bay of Plenty area.

Location: Off the coast of Whakatane, Bay of Plenty, North Island.
BackpackerGuide.NZ

4. Great Barrier Island

One of the jewels of the Auckland Huraki Gulf, Great Barrier Island features golden sand beaches, natural hot pools, rugged peaks, thick forest and a variety of wildlife. The island has become more popular each year amongst travellers, especially because you can see most of the island’s highlights on the multi-day Aotea Track.

Location: Auckland Hauraki Gulf, Auckland, North Island
BackpackerGuide.NZ

5. Ulva Island

This island, just off the coast of Stewart Island, shows what is possible without predators. The result is an abundance of native New Zealand species no longer hunted by introduced predators. See the likes of weka, kaka, kakariki, tui, bellbirds, wood pigeons, fantail, saddleback, rifleman, Stewart Island robin and more! There may be even a chance to glimpse the Stewart Island brown kiwi.

Location: Access via water taxi from Halfmoon Bay or Golden Bay, Stewart Island.
BackpackerGuide.NZ

6. Poor Knights Islands

Located on the Tutukaka coast, the Poor Knights Islands are world renowned for its diving options. The most popular one is a shipwreck dive where you can explore two sunk navy ships, the Waikato and the Tui. When diving to and through the wrecks you will be able to explore the guns, the control areas, the engine room and much more.

Location: Off the Tutukaka Coast, Northland, North Island. Access is by boat from many different ports in Northland and the Bay of Islands, including Leigh, Whangarei and Tutukaka.
BackpackerGuide.nZ

7. D’Urville Island

Lodged in the quiet Marborough Sounds, D’Urville Island (or Rangitoto ki te Tonga in Maori) is a slice of heaven. Featuring campsites, resorts, hiking trails, mountain biking tracks and fishing opportunities, it is the best place to unwind and reflect of your New Zealand gap year. Look for WWOOFing opportunities on the island to stay at low cost. Learn more about visiting D’Urville Island in our French Pass and D’Urville Island – Guide for Backpackers.

Location: Marlborough Sounds, off the north coast of the South Island.
BackpackerGuide.nZ

8. Rangitoto Island

Auckland’s most popular volcano is an island of its own. Lava fields, lava caves, a crater, wildlife and stunning 360-degree views of the Hauraki Gulf can all be experienced on a day hike. Catch the ferry from Auckland Central early morning to save money, pack some food and water, then enjoy this volcanic island. You will not regret it! Check out our full guide to Rangitoto Island.

Location: Access is a 25-minute ferry from downtown Auckland, North Island.
BackpackerGuide.NZ

9. Chatham islands

We challenge you to make it this far off the beaten track! Located about 800km from New Zealand’s main islands, the Chatham Islands are know as New Zealand’s fourth populated island. The islands are home to only 600 New Zealanders but compensate with a huge wildlife population of seals, dolphins and many bird species. Also check out its famous basalt columns and tree carvings.

Location: 800km east of New Zealand between Wellington, North Island, and Christchurch, South Island.
Ville Miettinen on Wikipedia

10. Urupukapuka Island

The island is the largest of the 144 islands that make up the Bay of Islands. As it is one of the most popular islands too, it features three equipped camping grounds so you can extend your stay in paradise. Three things to do here: kayak on crystal clear waters, swim in Otehei Bay, and walk the archaeological track.

Location: Access is via water taxi at Paihia and Russell, Bay of Islands, North Island.
BackpackerGuide.NZ

Working Holiday Insurance
Was this article useful? Useful Useless
Help other travellers, share this article now:
Pin
XE - Money Transfer

Most Popular Videos

Qualmark
Hostel Tips

What a Qualmark Rating Means

What is a Qualmark rating? On accommodation, transport, activities and other services: [...]

Backapckerguide.nz
South Island Cities

Accommodation Guide to Christchurch City Centre

WHERE TO FIND CHEAP ACCOMMODATION IN Christchurch CITY CENTRAL. Christchurch is a [...]

Like us on Facebook
Hot on Backpacker Guide
Natural Attractions
macronix on Flickr

20 Crazy Rock Formations in New Zealand

You thought rocks were boring? Think Again! If you hadn’t noticed, landscapes […]

Natural Attractions
karlnorling on Flickr

10 Largest Lakes in New Zealand

Spoiler alert: most of them are on the South Island. In New […]

North Island
BackpackerGuide.NZ

5 Auckland Road Trips You Can’t Miss

Take an Auckland road trip! Sailing, surfing and city life: that’s generally […]

We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. This includes personalizing content and advertising. To learn more, click here. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.
I accept

Menu