Forever on the hunt for the perfect spot, David has discovered paradise in New Zealand!
Great Barrier Island sits in the outer Hauraki Gulf, off the North Island of New Zealand. It is 40km long and 15km at its widest point. It is sparsely populated and extremely rugged and beautiful, with many white sandy beaches along its shores. Most of the island is covered in native forest and bush. It is a safe place for rare plant and animal life to flourish as the island is protected by conservation regulations. The kaka (native parrot), native brown teal duck and chevron skink all survive there today thanks to the protected status of the island.
The moment you arrive you get that holiday feeling. Residents enjoy living in small villages, each with its own character and each with a gentle pace of life. Descendants of the first three families who arrived in 1860 are still farming there today. The subtropical climate produces macadamia nuts, bananas, limes, passionfruit, green-lipped mussels, cherimoya, olives and grapes.
The physical diversity of the island is amazing: native forests, craggy peaks, natural and dammed-up rivers and hot springs. Fishing, hiking, diving, golf and kayaking are just some of the ways you can amuse yourself.
Many people go to the island just for the walks, or as they are known on Barrier and in New Zealand in general, tramping trails. The most spectacular short walk is from Windy Canyon to Kirakimata. The trails are excellent and have marvellous views of spectacular rock outcrops and wind through scrubby bush and lush forests.
Heli-fishing is an exhilarating experience. Heletrans supplies rods, reels, tackle, bait, lunch and refreshments and take you to your fishing spot on a rocky ledge. The outlook is wonderful and you can often see dolphins and whales. Your pilot, who finds out where the best fishing is each day, will help by manning the net and setting up lunch if you wish.
When looking for somewhere to stay, there is no shortage of options. Luxurious houses and lodges, serviced accommodation, self-contained catering or non-catering houses, cottages and chalets, basic cabins, tent sites and caravans are all available.
Earthsong Lodge, perched on a hill above Tryphena Harbour, has views to the tip of Coromandel and Auckland. Trevor and Carol Rendle built the four luxurious but energy-efficient suites. Walls are adobe-style straw-bales covered with three coats of plaster which has a passive solar effect. Interior floors are eucalyptus, and joinery is made from oiled and waxed rimu retrieved from a demolished factory. Roofing is made from a French non-rust bitumen and paper product.
Access to Earthsong is by helicopter (they have their own landing pad) or by four-wheel drive.
Trevor's passion is preparing fine food and the lodge's emblem is a snail, representing the antithesis of fast food. They serve New Zealand wines and the fruits of the 200 olive trees they planted on the island. Carol is a qualified organoleptic taster, a tongue-twister for "she knows her oils".
At Earthlodge you can fish, golf, swim or scuba dive. Alternatively, you can just do nothing at all. The Barrier's natural hot water springs are a short drive away and a 40 minute easy stroll into the bush is a gentle stream.
Great Barrier still has a pigeon postal service. It was begun in 1897 by an enterprising newspaper journalist who filed reports from the island by pigeon to Auckland. The small beginnings spread to shopping lists, election results, mine claims and other important pieces of news. The arrival of the telegraph in 1908 grounded the pigeons, but the service was resurrected in 1993 as a novelty for visitors. The purchase of a pigeon pack will have a message flown to Auckland and forwarded from there by more conventional means. Believe it or not, the pigeons return home to Great Barrier via ferry!
90km east of Auckland in New Zealand
Earthsong accommodation costs around $390 a person per night. Breakfast, four course dinner and transfers are included.
Heletrans heli-fishing costs around $510 per person for a minimum of five people.
Qantas flies daily to Auckland with return economy airfares starting at $622 from Brisbane, $665 from Sydney, $718 from Melbourne, $980 from Adelaide, $1046 from Perth and $1295 from Darwin, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of recording but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
Tryphena, Great Barrier Island, NZ
Ph: 64 9 429 firstname.lastname@example.org
Box 300460 PO Albany New Zealand
Ph: 9 415 3550
Fax: 9 415 email@example.com
Qantas: 13 13 13