Retreat to one of these islands within easy reach of the city.
Being one of the Hauraki Gulf's least urbanised islands - it still has no electricity or water - makes Rakino an insider secret. In summer its bays fill up with boaties, but there are regular water taxis and ferry sailings (now stopping at Stanley Bay for the summer). Basic baches, almost all with unspoiled views, can be rented via the usual rental websites for as little as $75, off peak.
Mostly privately owned, the 8km by 5km island is best known for Mansion House at Mansion House Bay, now part of an historic preserve.
The island has remained largely in private ownership except for around 10 per cent, which is owned by the Department of Conservation. There are charming walking tracks and picnic spots for daytrippers. Daily ferries and water taxis from Sandspit. Bach rentals start from $130, off peak. 07-12-2013 05:30:00
Kawau Water Taxis: 0800 111 616.
The newest island, re-opened to Aucklanders after years as a Salvation Army drying-out facility. The three groovily decorated baches have a minimum stay, and range from $490 to $850 a night, but since last summer the Superintendent's House has bunk accommodation from $35 a night (bring your own bedding, do your own cleaning). With pretty beaches, an interesting visitor centre and great walks, this is fast becoming a new favourite.
For ferries see 360discovery.co.nz.
4. Tiritiri Matangi
With its abundant birdlife and terrific volunteer programme, Tiritiri Matangi has always been popular with the conservation crowd. But the bunkhouse is open to any overnight visitors, not just volunteers (closed Monday, Tuesday). With shared living and bunkrooms as well as lots of interesting information about the conservancy programmes, this is one of the best $30 a night you can spend (children welcome, $20). With only 15 beds, it books out quickly, but some slots are still available through the summer.