Great Barrier Island is approximately 15km (9 1/3 miles) wide and 30km (19 miles) long, with Mount Hobson (621m/2,037 ft.) rising in the center. The island landscape is rugged, and much of it is inaccessible by road. The west coast is characterized by steep, forested ranges that run down to the sea; the east coast offers sweeping, white-sand beaches and rolling hills. The main areas of settlement are Port Fitzroy in the north; Claris, Whangaparapara, and Okupu in the center; and Tryphena in the south. Good roads connect them all. Claris and Tryphena are the main villages, though neither is much more than a few shops, cafes, a pub, and a post office. Port Fitzroy boasts one store, a dive station, and a boat club. There are no banks or ATMs on the island (although many businesses accept credit cards). Be prepared to pay more for basic supplies than you would on the mainland.
The Great Barrier Island Information Centre, Main Road outside Claris Airfield (tel. 09/429-0767; www.greatbarrierisland.co.nz), is open daily from 7am to 8pm in the summer and 8am to 7pm in the winter. Auckland i-SITE Visitor Centres also supply some Great Barrier Island information at www.greatbarrier.aucklandnz.com.
In January, the Port Fitzroy Mussel Fest (tel. 09/429-0072) provides stalls, entertainment, and as many succulent mussels as you can eat. The annual Santa Parade, in December at the Claris Sports Club, has a legendary reputation for fun.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.