Gregor and I took a few days off over Easter and Anzac Day and spent a week on Great Barrier Island. It’s 4 hours on the ferry from Auckland to get there, and it felt like a very different place.
It’s a much slower pace of life, ideal for people who want a bit of an alternative lifestyle. And surfers, as the beaches and surf are great. Here are a few impressions.
Whangapoua Beach up North was absolutely awesome:
For the first few nights, our accommodation was on the West side of the island in Karaka Bay. The sunsets were very nice:
We spent a day doing the Harataonga Coastal Walkway which follows the West Coast with stunning views across Whangapoua Beach:
Here’s Gregor taking a break:
We then did the Aotea Track which is a tramping track along old logging tramways, and over Mt Hobson, the highest peak of the island with amazing views:
The bush was quite nice, too:
We finished the tramp with a long soak in the Kaitoke hot springs. They had just the right temperature, and are set in a little valley in the bush. We hung out there until dusk set in.
On the following day, we went for a walk in Windy Canyon. It’s got its name for a reason, as the wind funnel through some steep walls of rock and for a few minutes, it just felt like Wellington. And again the views were fantastic, this is towards North and Whangapoua Beach:
In the evening, we had fish & chips at the sports club. It turned out to be the best place for a fantastic view of the mountain ridges. So on the next morning, we went back to take a photo:
Here’s another stunning beach on the West Coast, in Medlands:
I wasn’t just impressed with the island though because of beaches, bush and hills. What I also really liked was the school bus shelters. These were all individually painted, here’s an example:
Some also had been painted on the inside by schoolchildren, which was quite cute.
Another thing worth mentioning is that they make excellent Manuka honey there. You can buy it off the beekeeper for a very decent price. As it happened, the beekeeper had just harvested some bananas and gave some to us. I hadn’t even known that bananas grow in NZ!
Bottom line is that Great Barrier Island makes an excellent week off in autumn. A week was just about right for us, as we could do everything we had wanted.For a longer holiday, I’d say you need to bring a book, or a surfboard. Or a boat to go fishing or explore the coast line.