Rakino Island is still part of New Zealand.

But Pat Withers' four grandchildren might be onto something when they lament leaving her cliff-top home on the 1.5sq km Hauraki Gulf haven, population 21.

"They've always loved coming here. When it gets to time to go they don't want to — they say 'We don't want to go back to New Zealand'."

Rakino Island might officially be part of the roughly 600 islands that make up our little corner of the South Pacific. But it's nothing like the country they know.

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Step off the ferry at Auckland's downtown ferry terminal and

Rakino Island