A Great Barrier island adventure
It's been nearly 20 years since I first visited Great Barrier Island. The good news is that not much has changed. Other than a few more miles of tar seal, the remoteness and individuality of this island stands strong.
Your first choice when heading on a barrier adventure is transport, weighing up travel time with your preference for small planes or sea travel. You can get there in 4.5 hours by ferry or 40 minutes by plane. We chose to fly.
If you strike a clear day the views from this low altitude are worth overcoming any fear of flying. You get a sense of the islands remote location amongst the beautiful Hauraki Gulf.
On arrival at Claris airport there is a super helpful lady who provides everything you need to know. We left laden with maps, guides and the keys to our 1987 rental wheels.
We only had 24 hours, but it turns out, on an island with barely any traffic you can achieve a lot in that time.
First stop, Whangaparapara, a small fishing inlet on the east coast. Here we got chatting to a local who invited us up the hill to view his 'work in progress' golf museum and mini-put course. Murray deserves a whole story to himself....
Next we headed to the northern community of Port Fitzroy where we had a legendary burger, entertained by a group of 40+ males on a 'boys weekend'. Let's just say they weren't shy when washing the salt off with the fishermans hose.
From here we headed west to the white sandy beach of Whangapoua. Imagine golden sands further than you care to walk, wild rare birds and sea as clear as glass. It said, 'swim in my waters, sunbathe on my sand, but beware, you may not want to leave'.
It was thirst that had us arrive at our Tryphena overnight digs in time for beer-o-clock. Staying at the pub is to be recommended. The food is excellent, rooms tidy, staff warm. It was 'Italian night' and the chef presented us with hand-rolled gnocchi and limoncello tiramisu.
Sunday was as misty as Saturday was sunny. Turns out Barrier is beautiful in all weather. The clouds hugged the hills and made it very easy to stay in bed soaking up the view.
We finished our adventure with a soak in the Kaitoke natural hot pools, an easy 30 minute walk through wetland bush.
If you haven't discovered this special island destination yet, I highly recommend it. Here are some tips for planning your stay:
Where to stay
The Carrach Irish Pub at Tryphena, or one of the many B&B's
How to get there
Where to eat
The Hub, at Port Fitzroy, for burgers
Check the Great Barrier Island Dine Out Guide for the most up-to-date information : )
What to do
Walk, swim, eat, drink, relax, repeat
Kaitoke Hot pools, Whangapoua Beach and Windy Canyon Lookout are all short easy adventures. For something more extreme check out the Great Barrier Island website
What to take
Casual gears, good walking shoes, camera, cash (no ATM's on the island) and a desire to explore and relax