Fodor's Expert Review Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier Island known, also as Aotea, is the largest in the gulf with a population of around 1,100, and is mostly agricultural. It's popular with surfers—particularly Awana Beach and the population swells in summer as the boating crowd moves in mooring in its many sheltered bays. Motuihe Island, a popular swimming and picnic spot, was a prisoner-of-war camp during World War I and the scene of a daring escape: Count Felix Von Luckner, known as the Sea Devil, commandeered the camp commander's boat and got as far as the Kermadec Islands before being recaptured. Access is by ferry, air, or yacht.