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Great Barrier Island (often referred to as The Barrier), at 285 square kilometres (110 sq mi), is the sixth-largest island in New Zealand after i) the South Island, ii) the North Island, iii) Stewart Island/Rakiura, iv) Chatham Island, and v) Auckland Island.
It is situated 100 kilometres (62 mi) to the north-east of central Auckland in the outer Hauraki Gulf and comes under the local authority of Auckland Council.
The remote island was initially exploited for its minerals and kauri trees and had minimal agriculture. It is now inhabited by a small population of 852 people, mostly making a living out of farming and tourism. The majority of the diverse environments of the island (around 60% of the total area) is administered as nature reserve by the Department of Conservation.
Captain Cook had named the island Great Barrier Island for the barrier it forms between the Hauraki Gulf and the open sea. With a maximum length (north-south) of some 43 kilometres (27 mi), The Barrier and Coromandel Peninsula (directly to its south) protect the gulf from the storms of the Pacific Ocean to the east. Consequently, the island boasts highly contrasting coastal environments.
The eastern coast comprises long, clear beaches, windswept sand-dunes, and heavy surf. The western coast, sheltered and calm, is home to hundreds of tiny, secluded bays which offer some of the best diving and boating in the country. The inland holds several large and biologically diverse wetlands, along with rugged hill country (bush or heath in the more exposed heights), as well as old-growth and regenerating kauri forests. Note that despite its name, Great Barrier Island is not a sandbar barrier which is often defined as the correct use of the term.
Great Barrier is free of some of the more troublesome introduced pests that plague the native ecosystems of other parts of New Zealand, thus being a relative haven for native bird and plant populations. Rare animals found on the island include Brown Teal ducks, Black Petrel seabirds and North Island Kākā parrots.
Cruise ships can tender ashore.
Contact your shipping agent for more information.
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