Don’t let the name mislead you: There are no hurdles around New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island. Just fly over the Hauraki Gulf’s sapphire-blue waters, and you’ll find yourself in a cozy beach town where Auckland’s manic bustle is supplanted by an unhurried pace. Homes are few and well hidden in the bush, and no power grid lights the quiet roads. Explore Great Barrier Island, known as Aotea (Maori for “white cloud”), by trekking across a spider web of walking trails, and marvel at why barely 1,500 souls make their homes on this 110-square-mile island.
Stay at Great Barrier Lodge on the less-visited west coast, where the only obstacles you’ll face are the effort necessary to unfold a chair or to paddle about in Whangaparapara harbor. For some of the best New Zealand- sourced and South Pacific-inspired cuisine, dine alfresco in the courtyard at Earthsong Lodge; the lobster is drawn from the local waters, and vegetables, such as baby beetroot and tomatoes, come from their own garden. Visit Great Barrier Island in the off-season, during the U.S. summer, and you’ll have this nearly empty land largely to yourself. Now that’s something truly great. greatbarriernz.com