Electron cyclotron resonance (ECR) reactive ion etch (RIE) was used to etch p-type GaN under a chlorine-based plasma. Rapid thermal annealing (RTA) and nitrogen plasma were used as post-RIE treatments to investigate the variation of Ni/Au contacts on p-GaN. RIE deteriorated the contact very much due to the induced nitrogen vacancies and damage on the p-GaN surface. The poor contact was improved by RTA treatment at 700°C for 3 min although the current-voltage curve was still nonlinear. The results from X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), atomic force microscopy, and grazing incidence X-ray diffraction measurements indicated that RTA at 700°C could reconstruct the ordered structure from the damaged p-GaN surface. Annealing at 500 or 900°C did not improve the contact due to the high oxygen content of the surface. ECR-N2 plasma treatment could scarcely improve the contact. XPS and photoluminescence analyses revealed that the nitrogen plasma treatment increased the number of nitrogen vacancies as well as the nitrogen content of a p-GaN surface. These nitrogen atoms did not form tight bonds with GaN, and easily escaped from the surface by annealing.