Sarah Weeks on Sunset Rock
     at Glenfern Sanctuary

     Barefoot                                ...
the outdoors. Their adventure activities       Barrier! The rear seat carries two            New Zealand and...
WHere TO eaT                                    and Air Discovery also
   Great Barrier Island offers a sele...
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Great Barrier Island


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Feature which appeared in December 2010/January 2011 issue of Travel Digest

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Great Barrier Island

  1. 1. GREAT BARRIER Sarah Weeks on Sunset Rock at Glenfern Sanctuary Barefoot Barrier Great Barrier Island or “The Barrier” as its fondly referred to, is just a short half-hour flight from Auckland. With the recent decision not to mine this remote, tranquil and untouched paradise; its flora, fauna and heritage will be preserved for future generations – and what a treasure it holds, discovers saraH WeeKs. WHaT TO see aND DO own adventure. Take your surfboard, eliminated the pests. However, ongoing The Pacific Islands are a popular mountain bike or kayak, or hire equipment rodent control is required to maintain this destination with unspoilt white sandy on the island. After a day’s activity, watch status. The sanctuary provides a safe beaches, but why fly three hours across the sun go down over the sea and reflect habitat for many endangered native the Pacific when you’ve got The Barrier on why you came - to escape the species including the black petrel and right on your doorstep! Sparsely pressures of a busy life! brown teal, also kaka and chevron skink populated with large areas of rugged, un- Glenfern Sanctuary at Port Fitzroy and the recently introduced North Island spoilt natural beauty, it’s a place to really makes for a great day trip and offers a rare robin. Tour guide Helena provides a get away from it all. Perched on the outer opportunity to experience native wildlife wealth of information on local flora edge of the Hauraki Gulf, The Barrier is on The Barrier. The sanctuary is part of and fauna and the stunning views from home to the original Pigeon Post and the 230ha Kotuku Peninsula in the north the top of the kauri tree are definitely steeped in history. Here you’ll discover and is the result of 20 years hard work with worth the climb! some of New Zealand’s most pristine over 10,000 native trees planted, an The Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor beaches and native bush. Its grandeur extensive track network and a swing Pursuits Centre is New Zealand’s leading encourages outdoor activity and with bridge which enables visitors to climb into outdoor education centre and runs more than 100km of walking tracks, great the crown of a 600-year-old kauri tree. courses from a few days to two years in surf beaches, tramping, diving, fishing, The construction of a predator proof length for young people and adults. kayaking and mountain biking fence across the peninsula in 2008 and a Their courses are all about personal opportunities, you can easily make your pest eradication programme in 2009 development through challenges in 20 December 2010 / January 2011, Travel DigesT
  2. 2. GREAT BARRIER the outdoors. Their adventure activities Barrier! The rear seat carries two New Zealand and despite the steep include rock climbing, mountaineering, passengers in comfort and style while you climb; the views are breathtaking and white-water kayaking, sea kayaking, enjoy the unobstructed view and wind-in- definitely worthwhile! A further climb canoeing, tramping, caving, sailing, the-face freedom that only a trike can will take you to Great Barrier’s highest coasteering and kayak surfing. During offer. Whether you prefer a sedate, point, Mt Hobson / Hirakimata at 621 our visit to The Barrier, we decide to relaxed cruise or an exhilarating blast, metres. On a clear day it offers join a group for a day of coasteering. you are in for a truly unique experience spectacular views of the Mercury Islands, Now you’re probably wondering what on their three-seater fun machine! Just Poor Knights and the Hauraki Gulf. this sport is (much like I was upon arrival) remember to cover up and wear After a good workout, it’s off to Mabey’s but it actually involves a combination of sunglasses as it can get quite chilly on family farm located alongside the swimming, climbing and jumping off the ride! picturesque Whangapoua Beach, on rocks! As well as taking on this fun- Bush and Beach offers a full day tour of the north east coast (subject to availability filled challenge, we explored inaccessible The Barrier, aptly named Auckland’s on this tour). We stop at a stream to places such as a partly submerged Untamed Island Tour. Although the tour feed monster-sized eels (trust me, they’re cave (not for the claustrophobic!) departs every day at 7.15am from Auckland big!) and see the world’s largest and discovered the sea life of the Domestic Airport, we decide to meet the population of Brown Teal, a friendly fascinating inter-tidal zone. Decked out tour on the island. After breakfast at a little duck on the verge of extinction. in wetsuit and life vest, our tour guide local cafe, the tour follows an easy half- Next up, a picnic lunch with fresh tells us Green Island (a short boat trip hour walk along gravelled tracks and vegetables and fruit all grown from Helen from the Port Fitzroy area) was made for boardwalks past giant Nikau palms and Mabey’s own garden! Helen provides a this action-filled sport, before rare native flora and fauna over unique wealth of knowledge of the area and the jumping off a five-metre rock into the wetlands to the Kaitoke natural thermal local people, having lived on the island for sea water! springs - the perfect place to relax and over 35 years and is a most gracious host. Now if you’re looking for something soothe your aching muscles after a big After lunch we take a tour along the a little different, why not take a tour with walk! The adventure continues with a beach, visiting the grave site of the 130 Crazyhorse Trike Tours and Joy Rides. climb to the top of Windy Canyon, a people who lost their lives in the Safe and secure on the back of spectacular walk around rocky outcrops shipwreck of the SS Wairarapa in 1894 - Crazyhorse, their Rewaco factory-built and past sheer cliffs coated with rata the third worst shipping disaster in New trike, it’s the ultimate way to see The vines. It’s not often you find a canyon in Zealand’s history. For great guided adventure Tours • Sailing • Sea Kayaking • Surf Kayaking • Rock Climbing • Coasteering • Bush Adventures Call us on 09 429 0762 Travel DigesT, December 2010 / January 2011 21
  3. 3. GREAT BARRIER WHere TO eaT and Air Discovery also Great Barrier Island offers a selection of operate flights to The restaurants and cafés. Like most Barrier from Auckland, businesses on the island, opening hours Tauranga and Waiheke are seasonal and summer time will provide Island. the best range of eating options. For self- catering there are a number of stores to geTTiNg purchase supplies, but at a high cost! It is arOUND advisable to make a reservation and There is no public confirm the venue’s opening hours and transport on the island but check payment facilities as some shuttle buses can to take businesses are cash only. you to and from your My favourites are Cafe Motu in Okiwi accommodation and to all which has a relaxed and laid back feeling, walking tracks and serving up delicious healthy meals, Claris beaches. Tours of the Texas Cafe in a garden-like setting serving island can also be the best homemade pies on the island and arranged with local shuttle The Currach Irish Pub which serves dinner companies. The island and a pint at the end of the day. stretches north to south for some 40km and has an HOW TO geT THere area of 285sq km, more There’s two ways to get to Great Barrier than half the size of the Island - either by ferry or by flight. Both Auckland Metropolitan options have their pros and cons, it just area - this is why having depends on how much time you have your own car is handy! available for your trip. Rental cars are available Kaitoke Beach Fullers operates passenger ferries from for you to explore the Labour weekend through to Easter island at your own pace. weekend and take around two and a half GBI Rent A Car & Shuttle Buses hours one way (weather conditions provides car hire from $50 per day and permitting) and advance reservations are have a wide range of vehicles to necessary. However, if you’d like to take choose from including economical the car over (be warned, the roads are not fun tops, family station wagons, the same as on the mainland!). SeaLink convertibles, sports MX5s, wedding cars, Passenger and Car Ferry Service minibuses, people movers, 4x4s, utes and provides regular service to Great Barrier furniture trailers. Located on the main Island, running six days a week in summer road outside Claris Airport, they also and three days a week in winter and takes provide free pickup and delivery. You Crazyhorse Trike Tours and Joy Rides around four and a half hours (car booking don’t need a 4WD to get around the – the ultimate way to see The Barrier. are essential). Catching the ferry is a great island, but you may need one to get to opportunity to experience the sea breeze, your accommodation. Demand is high lodge provides three self-contained units. stunning scenery of the surrounding during peak times and so it is best to My family and I booked both the family islands of the Hauraki Gulf and if you take arrange transport before you arrive. unit featuring a master bedroom, separate your car, you can stock up on groceries - Other rental car companies operating bedroom with two bunks, living area with great if you’re planning on spending more on the island include Aotea Car Rentals fold-out couch, bathroom and kitchen than a few days on the island as the local and Medlands Rentals. facilities and the double unit featuring a prices can be quite expensive! master bedroom, loft with double couch, Great Barrier Airlines flew its first aCCOMMODaTiON bathroom and kitchen, adjacent to each scheduled service to Great Barrier Island During the summer period demand for other and found the facilities to be very back in 1983. Today they operate out of accommodation is high and often booked good. There is also a bunkroom unit Auckland, North Shore’s Dairy Flat, out well in advance and during the winter which features four bunks downstairs, a Whangarei, Whitianga and Matarangi. months some providers may close so you loft area with two single mattresses, a There is a fleet of nine aircraft including need to book in advance to avoid bathroom and small kitchenette. GBI Rent the Britten Norman Islander and Trislander disappointment. A Car & Shuttle Buses have recently which can seat between five and 15 people Located near Tryphena Wharf in the taken ownership of the lodge and have - definitely a snug fit and passengers can southern part of Great Barrier Island, plans to develop the property to include a even bring their dogs with them who sit on Aotea Lodge (previously known as campground. Most of the locals produce their laps! The flight is half an hour each Runaway Lodge) is perfect for families or their own renewable energy from solar way and is a great way to view The Barrier - couples. Set in a park-like garden setting power panels on their roof and also have a useful way to get your bearings and see and offering stunning scenery of the rainwater catchment systems for their how big this island actually is! Fly My Sky surrounding bush and mountains, the water supply. ✈ 22 December 2010 / January 2011, Travel DigesT