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Flight to Great Barrier, Trip to Kaitoke Springs, Island cruise, Star gazing and a trip to the Milk, Honey and Grain museum.
It’s a wild, untamed and very special place with its own rules, and is a definite breath of fresh air for visitors. To top all this off, in 2017 Great Barrier Island became only one of three ‘Dark Sky’ sanctuaries in the world, with the very best darkness readings!
After home pick ups we take our mid-morning 30-minute flight from North Shore Airfield. We fly over Whangaparaoa Peninsula and the northern Hauraki Gulf islands, with views of Kawau Island and Coromandel Peninsula, till we arrive Claris Airport on Great Barrier Island. After disembarking we stop at the Claris Centre to check out the crafts and have lunch at the café. Then we travel to Tryphena, on the south coast. Tryphena is the main arrival point (by sea) and centre of the population on Great Barrier Island. Tryphena is split into three areas or bays; Shoal Bay, where the wharf is, Pa Beach and Mulberry Grove. The latter two are the main service areas with most of the shops in the Stonewall Complex in the heart of Tryphena. We settle into our home for the next four nights. Tonight we dine at Tipi and Bobs Restaurant with views overlooking the whole of Tryphena Harbour.
With this extra day we are able to drive to the entrance of the boardwalk track to Kaitoke Hot Springs. This is an optional 45-minute flat walk to the Kaitoke Springs where you can spend some time soaking your feet or more (good idea to be dressed for bathing before you get there). We retrace our steps to return to the bus and then drive down the hill into Whangaparapara Harbour to enjoy a leisurely lunch at Great Barrier Lodge, with stunning views out over the harbour. This afternoon we visit Sarah at Shoal Bay Pottery and venture down to Tryphena Wharf to see where most of the island’s goods arrive. From mid-afternoon, we are free to enjoy our beautiful beach surroundings. Tonight we dine at the lively Currach Irish Pub, written up as the social centre of the island. Built in a historic villa and specialising in great food, a fun atmosphere and great craic!
We are exploring the northern end of the island today, we begin with a drive back to Whangaparapara Harbour. Back in the early 1900s this harbour was a hive of activity with a huge wharf to cater to the logging industry and a whaling station near the entrance to the harbour. It’s here we board MV ‘Sundancer’ and Skipper Chris will bring the past to life as we cruise alongside the whaling station that morphed into a fish cannery and now is home to a delightful couple. We cruise through the entrance and out along the coast passing Bowling Alley Bay before entering the Broken Islands which leads us through Man O War Passage into the expansive FitzRoy Harbour. We view Smokehouse Bay (known to all Auckland Boaties and still a free facility that has just had a major overhaul) on our way to visit the good folk at Barrier Gold Honey. We pass Two Island Bay and travel alongside the protective Kaikoura Island and complete our cruise at the secluded and private Karaka Bay as guests of Orama Community for a plentiful lunch, with time for a wander around this unique complex. After lunch we are booked in at Glenfern Sanctuary offering us a rare opportunity to experience native wildlife on Great Barrier Island. The Sanctuary is part of 230ha Kotuku Peninsula in the North of Great Barrier Island between Port FitzRoy and Port Abercrombie and is the result of over 20 years hard work, planting 10,000 native trees, forming an extensive track network and constructing a predator proof fence across the peninsula in 2008, to eliminate pests. Our guide talks us through a presentation of what Glenfern is all about, before we go for a 4WD ride up to the top of Sunset Rock. Here we enjoy awesome views of the whole of the Port FitzRoy area from the memorial to the founder of Glenfern Sanctuary, Tony Bouzaid. We complete our visit with an easy 15-20 minute walk into the beginning of the Glenfern Track. Mid afternoon sees us tracking back down through the island, by SHIP n SHORE bus, with excellent views of Rakitu (Arid) Island. After driving through Okiwi we travel alongside Palmer, Kaitoki and Medlands Beaches and arrive Tryphena early evening. Dinner tonight is a local treat of Fish and Chips with Salad and Dessert, at the Mulberry Grove Cafe.
Today is spent closer to Tryphena, starting with a visit to Medlands Beach, learning of the pioneer families that scratched out an existence farming the land and fishing the seas. This is the most popular beach on the island, especially with the surfies, so we’ll have time for a swim for those keen to experience the clear refreshing waters on this magnificent east coast beach. In this area we will see some seriously expensive real estate before crossing to the western side of the island for a stop at Okupu Wharf in Blind Bay. This bay is now home to Great Barrier Radio which plays such a vital part in island maritime communication and emergency missions. We will have our VHF radio with us so you can hear the constant airwaves chatter between local vessels and the land based operator. We have Lunch at Pah Beach Café, before meeting Marion at The Elephant Gallery. Tonight we dine with the locals at the Barrier Social Club. After dark, we enjoy a night of wonder gazing through a magnificent telescope at Constellations, Planets, the Magellanic Clouds, the Moon or the Milky Way – Ron and I were pretty luke warm about this, but when we saw Pluto with three moons we were totally hooked! Take advantage of the best conditions in the world, right on our doorstep!
On our way to the airport we visit the Milk, Honey and Grain Museum before our return flight back to the North Shore. Shore Shuttles will be waiting to transfer us home.