How to get to Great Barrier Island
Good Heavens operate on remote Great Barrier Island. This beautiful island is also known as Aotea. Because it's and island, it can be reached by a plane or ferry from Auckland, New Zealand. It's location, at a distance of 88km northeast of Auckland means that getting here is part of the adventure! To enjoy a Dark Sky Experience, you need to stay overnight on the island. We recommend you stay here for at least 2 nights. But the longer you can stay, the better. This gives you more chance of a clear night. And we need a clear sky to see the stars.
If you think two nights is too long, think again. If you like nature, this is the place for you. There is so much exploring to do here, on Aotea Great Barrier Island. This is because half the island is a conservation park. But in addition there are many stunning beaches to explore. And fortunately for us, half the park is after dark.
The fastest way to get to Aotea is to fly. And flights to Great Barrier Island leave from Auckland Domestic Airport. Conveniently, this is within walking distance or a short shuttle ride from Auckland International Airport. These scenic flights over the Hauraki Gulf take around half an hour. In short, these 15 seater planes provide an excellent jet experience on your way to your stargazing tour. Barrier Air also have charter flight options available.
Our main ferry service sails 3 times a week in winter. Fortunately, it sails 5-7 times a week the middle of summer. Sealink is the main ferry operator and a ferry crossing takes around 4.5 hours. This sailing over the Hauraki Gulf is beautiful and allows you to truly unwind. However, when it’s windy, it can be like a roller coaster ride. Another great thing about this sailing is that there is a good chance that you will see dolphins. Or whales!
Transport on Great Barrier Island
Good Heavens do not provide transport to our stargazing experiences. So unless you are staying at Medlands Beach, you will have to find a way of getting there.
There is no public transport on the island. But, there is a People and Post service once a day. This service runs from the south to the north of the island and back. As it operates during the day, it is not suitable to get to your Dark Sky Experience. Fortunately there are other options to get to your stargazing experience at Medlands Beach.
We recommend renting a car. A rental car will not only take you to your stargazing experience, but to the rest of the island as well. Remember that the island is fifty kilometers long. And in this pristine natural environment, there is plenty to explore. It may also be possible to book a night time shuttle. Please feel free to check-in with us about this option and operators currently offering this service. But if you prefer to have your own wheels, our last recommendation is to rent a Motu e-scooter. Seagar at Motu Bikes rents out e-scooters that are charged by solar panels, so that you can come and look at the stars on a bike charged by the sun!
In addition to coming to Medlands Beach, it is also possible to book a Private Dark Sky Experience. If you do this, we will come to you, either at your accommodation, or a suitable place close by. The added bonus is that you will have us to yourself.
Consider booking a night time shuttle to join our tours. Please check out this website for your options, or send us an email to check out who is currently offering this service.
Renting a car with one of our local companies is a great option. This is especially true if you want to see more of the island than just the stars. If you choose a 4WD version, you'll be able to travel down gravel roads and see the remotest parts of our island.
Where to stay on Great Barrier Island for a group experience
There are many different types of accommodation to choose from on our island. Many of these accommodations are at Medlands Beach, which is where our group experience take place. So for this experience, the below is recommended accommodation close-by:
Medlands Sanctuary is a peaceful home, nestled in a scenic valley. It's surrounded by native bush and just a short walk or drive from the stunning Medlands beach. A great place with welcoming hosts.
Medlands Beach Lodge
Medlands Beach Lodge is a premium bed and breakfast right at Medlands Beach. It's located on the same road and within easy walking distance from Good Heavens' group location. in additions, it only a stone's throw from the beach.
Medlands Beach Backpackers and Villas offers great value and friendly accommodation. It's overlooks the beach and is only minutes away. That's why we recommend it for backpackers, independent travellers, couples, families and groups.
WaiOra Beach Retreat
WaiOra Beach Retreat offers homely comfort. It is located in the sand dunes of Medlands beach and has a peaceful rural outlook and attractive gardens. In addition, it offers various types of accommodation: Homestay style B&B, Holiday home or a self-contained Garden Chalet.
Package Olive Grove
Good Heavens are one of very few companies in the world to offer a stargazing experience by the sea. If you are after a stargazing package our friends at Go Great Barrier offer this at the Olive Grove. This place is within easy walking distance to your stargazing experience.
Inn Keepers Lodge
The Innkeeper's Lodge is ideally located beside Stonewall Village and across the road from beautiful Pah Beach in Tryphena Harbour. It's part of the Currach Irish pub and just a short drive over the hill from Medlands.
Where to stay on Great Barrier Island for a private experience
If you choose a Heavens Above Private Dark Sky Experience, we come to you. Or if the property you are staying at does not have uninterrupted views of the sky, we may find a location close to your accommodation, if possible. If there is no suitable location close to your accommodation, we will usually ask you to come to Medlands Beach with your group.
The following places have great views of the sky and/or great viewing decks. They are therefore suitable for private stargazing experiences:
XSPOT is a super comfortable self-contained apartment for just the two of you. It offers VIP views over the Hauraki Gulf and at the stars. In winter, XSPOT offers private stargazing experiences at a reduced rate. This is subject to availability, check on booking.
175 East is a group of three houses, rented separately or together for your larger group. These houses are overlooking stunning Medlands Beach. They are located at just 10 minutes on foot from our group stargazing site. But if you are keen for a private experience this property is suitable, too.
Right on the water's edge at Tryphena, Sunset Waterfront Lodge is great accommodation for a group of friends or family. Good Heavens offer a private experience in close proximity to this accommodation which has super friendly hosts.
Other activities on Great Barrier Island
If you like nature there is so much to do on Aotea Great Barrier Island. The island's varied landscape provides virtually endless options to explore. Below are a few examples. Also check our destination website for more ideas.
Learn the art of slowing down while you enjoy sensory immersion in nature. This is what Vicky from Wellbeing wanders offers as she takes you for a walk based on the practice of Shinrin-yoku. This is the Japanese wellbeing practise of Forest Bathing. www.naturebathing.nz
Hooked on Barrier
Hooked On Barrier offers sightseeing and fishing trips and charters for a full or half day. They provide plenty of opportunity to take in the daytime breathtaking views and pristine waters of Great Barrier Island. The team also have sublime local knowledge and you can expect great hosting. This should be all you need for an amazing day out on the water.