Get away from the rat race with a few days' stay on one of our beautiful islands, recommends Donna McIntyre.

There is no getting away from it. We are a nation of islands.

We tend not to think too much about our South and North as islands in everyday life, but on the smaller land masses when the eye is aware of being surrounded by water, you become acutely aware of the insular component.

Some small islands are more accessible than others, and some allow you stay overnight.

Here are a few of the most accessible where you can stay or camp.


Motuora Island

Eighty-hectare Motuora Island in the western Hauraki Gulf lies 6.2km southwest of Kawau Island and is great for a picnic or camping overnight.

There is no ferry service, however you can organise a water taxi from Sandspit Wharf or charter boat.

If you're experienced, you can paddle here in a kayak from the Mahurangi area. Campsite bookings are essential. Adults $6 per night, children $3 (under-5s free).

Total campground capacity is 75.

Urupukapuka Island

Urupukapuka Island is always a popular camping place in the height of summer as one of the largest islands in the Bay of Islands. It has been owned by the Department of Conservation since the 1970s, and is pest-free and brimming with native bush and wildlife, thanks to the hard work of Project Island Song. Access to the island is by ferry, water taxi or charter boat. Its three campsites offer 107 sites (around 250 people), and all have filtered tap drinking water, and toilets. Showers are available at the Cable Bay and Urupukapuka Bay campsites but not at Sunset Bay. None have cooking facilities. Cost is $10 per night for an adult, $5 for a child. You need to book, and online bookings for the peak summer period can be made from July.

Matakana Island

Lesser-known Matakana Island in the Bay of Plenty stretches from Bowentown to Mt Maunganui, protecting the entrance to the Tauranga harbour. Its long, sandy beach is popular with surfers. The island can be reached by water taxi from Mt Maunganui, and two marae are available for public to stay on. These are popular with schools, too, as well as catering for marae activities, so it pays to book.

Motuihe Island

Motuihe Island, in the Hauraki Gulf near Motutapu and Waiheke islands, measures about 179ha. You can get there by private boat, water taxi or if you are an experienced kayaker. The island is a recreation reserve controlled by DoC and administered by the Motuihe Trust. If coming by private boat, safe anchorages include Wharf Bay, Ocean Beach and Calypso Bay. Bookings are essential for camping on Motuihe; adults are $6 a night, children $3 and under-5s are free.

Rotoroa Island

Also in the Hauraki Gulf is Rotoroa, an 82ha island east of Waiheke, offering two types of accommodation: three self-contained holiday homes (sleeping 6, 7 and 13) plus a boutique hostel, the Superintendent's House, which sleeps 18 in bunk accommodation. Costs for the holiday homes start at $375 for four, the Super's House is $35 a person. You can get to the island by boat or ferry. All accommodation has kitchens with drinking water available, plus toilets. Guests need to take all food and beverages. The website has a live booking system, so it's easy to book.