New Zealand, the land of the Hobbits, is not only famous for the natural wonders on the main islands. The country’s coastline boasts gulfs that boast hundreds of smaller volcanic islands. Hauraki Gulf is one such location right by the buzzing metropole Auckland. Among the islands in the Gulf, Rakino Island is perhaps the most secluded despite being visible from Auckland.
Imagine an island with only 21 inhabitants. There are no bars, no restaurants, not even a grocery store; you would almost think that you are in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. It sounds like a gloomy place to be, but it is one of the most refreshing places on earth. Interestingly enough, Rakino Island is only a 5-minute helicopter ride from Auckland.
You might ask what makes the island so exceptional. Keep reading to find out.
About The Island
The discovery of the island dates back to 1862 when Sir George Grey purchased the island while he was the governor of New Zealand. Over the next few decades, the island remained underdeveloped because of the New Zealand Wars, although it served as a prison for the war prisoners for a short while.
From the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, the island was the private property of the Sanford family, who were running a commercial fishing fleet. The family then passed the island on Dr. Maxwell Rickard, a clinical psychologist who wanted to build a rehab center.
Its touristic potential and the spectacular birdlife it boasted came into recognition after the 80s. Since then, the government has tried its best to preserve the island’s flora and fauna. When you set foot, you will notice that the construction material contains renewable resources.
The unique vegetation contains a combination of native plants like pohutukawa and non-indigenous plants introduced here over the past decades. As a result, a lot of rare bird species came by to settle down and build nests. These include bellbirds, spotless crake, banded rail, and kakariki. To preserve the lives of these endangered species, the island community cleared Rakino of mammals that could cause damage, such as mice, rats, and ferrets.
Rakino Island has an area of 1.5 square kilometers, with only two bays with public access. Because of its rugged terrain, transportation within the island is difficult.
You will first need to fly into Auckland to reach this lovely oasis in the backyard of the city. Auckland is a central location in New Zealand that you can easily reach from all around the world via Cathay Pacific. Click here for more information about the flights.
The ferries to Rakino Island depart from Auckland Pier and take 45 minutes to 1 hour one way. The ferry transfer is a limited-service that operates only four times a day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday-Sunday. The ferries will arrive at the quay in the southern tip of Sandy Bay. Some of the holiday houses on the island are only accessible by helicopter or a boat taxi, that’s why you need to arrange your transfer with the host before arrival.
There are a few quaint holiday houses you can book on Airbnb, but if you want a luxurious stay, your only option is Hurakai Lodge.
The private lodge runs on a self-sustainable principle by using solar power for electricity and collecting rainwater. It is one of the leading examples in New Zealand that provides uninterrupted comfort and luxury without damaging the environment.
With only five double king suites, the amenities at Hurakai Lodge are as exclusive as it can get. Fewer guests mean that you will get customized service from the qualified staff members, including a personal chef cooking only for you.
The rooms are divided into two sections. Three suites in the Waiheke Wing overlook Waiheke Island, while the two in the Tiri Wing face Auckland. There are two additional rooms if you need to bring your staff and personal assistants. Each room comes with a queen-size bed, indoor and outdoor showers, WI-FI, large flat TV, a kitchen, and a fireplace.
Outside the rooms, you will have access to a library full of books, movies, and board games, a restaurant, spa facilities, and a large swimming pool overlooking the ocean.
Although the lodge accommodates a maximum of ten people, it can still host celebrations and special events. There is a pavilion large enough for 120 people, which is ideal for weddings, graduation ceremonies, corporate functions, and conferences. Because the lounge has sliding walls, you can book the venue during any season.
Although Hurakia Lodge is not accessible by ferry, the lodge will arrange a helicopter ride from your location in Auckland, which the accommodation rate includes.
Things To Do On Rakino Island
Despite looking uncivilized and abandoned, Rakino Island offers plenty of outdoor activities that will keep you occupied for days.
Among the islands in the Hauraki Gulf, Rakino has the best water quality with great potential for water sports and marine excursions. Sea kayaking and fishing are two popular activities, where you will paddle around the island to visit the pristine bays nestled between dramatic cliffs.
Another option is to sail off further into the ocean. Every year in November, the island population undergoes a sharp increase thanks to the sailing contest America’s Cup. With prior arrangement, you can even join one of the teams and witness this exciting event from the sailor’s perspective.
Marine life is also worth exploring, as there are hundreds of rare fish species and 22 marine mammals. You can join the sailing tours to get a closer look at the humpback whales and dolphins.
For a more romantic afternoon, you can hop into the helicopter for a scenic flight. Hovering over Rakino, you will feel mesmerized by the rugged terrain.
To spend time outdoors at your own pace, you can go on your little adventure by taking one of the several hiking trails. There are also more challenging trails for mountain biking. All you need to is rent a bike at the pier.
Another advantage of Rakino Island is its proximity to more popular islands like Waiheke. Regardless of where you are staying, you can easily arrange day trips to the island to either try the unrivaled quality of its local wines or to participate in extreme sports like zip-lining.
If you got fed up with typical tourist spots swarming with curious people, you can’t find a more secluded place than Rakino Island. It is one of the most exceptional examples of how we can conserve nature on an island a few kilometers from a populous metropole. It can cost a lot of money to get here, but the rewarding experiences will be worth every penny.
Is Rakino Island pet-friendly?
Pets are absolutely welcome here. You can walk with your dogs without a leash at most of the beaches. The exceptions are Piha Beach, North Piha Beach, and the parks around 61 Marine Parade, where the dogs need to be on-leash.