The club trip to Great Barrier Island at Easter was nothing short of visually spectacular, with incredible views, amazing tracks, opportunities to swim in rivers, and beautiful beaches!
It all started bright and early on a calm Good Friday morning, with twenty of us meeting at pier 21 to meet our two very fast vessels from the Hauraki Express that took us to the island.
The trip over was awesome fun as we zoomed through the waves with seabirds all around us. We passed the car ferry with ease, and arrived on Great Barrier in two hours.
We were welcomed by stingrays that glided gracefully through the water by the wharf while we waited for the “barrier beasts”. (Those rental vans are are whole other story.)
We split into two groups when the rental vans arrived. The out party camped, and the home party stayed at Medlands Beach Backpackers & Villas.
The home-party lodgings worked out really well, with shared facilities and lots of resident native birds—definitely a bonus. Banded rails (they look like small weka, but not as cheeky and inquisitive), wood pigeons and kaka were constantly noshing on the fig and guava trees, and generally hanging out around our courtyard and rooms. Highlights were the rowdy, low fly-overs by nine kaka on Saturday morning and six on Sunday morning.
On Saturday morning the home party loaded into one of the vans, stopping for photos and to watch a surfing competition at a beach on the way to the volcanic rhyolite rock of Windy Canyon, and the highest point on the island, Mt Hobson. Although not that high at only 627 metres, there were 1000 steep steps up Mt Hobson to give the muscles a solid workout. The views through Windy Canyon and along the ridgeline up to Mt Hobson were absolutely superlative. Wow, just wow— 360-degree views!
After Mt Hobson, we were rewarded by a stunning swim at gorgeous Harataonga Beach on the way back to base.
With a full moon at its brightest on Saturday, we all headed down to the beach after dark to see the moon glowing absolutely gloriously.
On Sunday, another adventure on the western side of the island, Whangaparapara and Green Campsite, and a steep track up to an old logging area, then back down and along the Tramline Track—similar to the Incline Track in the Waitakeres but prettier. Some had an invigorating swim in the Kauri Falls swimming hole—and a few stream crossings.
Our destination was the Kaitoke Hot Springs Track, and we had a very soothing half-hour soak in the natural hot pools, with more banded rails moseying around.
We tore ourselves away from the relaxing hot pools to finish the track, skirting the wetlands back to our van.
On Monday, with only half the day to enjoy the island some more, half our group went to a bird sanctuary at Port Fitzroy and walk under the canopy of kauri.
The other half of the group walked down to Medlands Beach for a restorative beach yoga session, with the soothing sound of the waves caressing the foreshore beside us, and then swimming and walking afterwards. It was time to head back to catch our rapid charter boats home.
Our time on beautiful Great Barrier Island passed too quickly; we all wished we could have stayed longer to explore more.
A huge thank-you to organiser, Annika; drivers, Pete and Chris; Medlands for the home-party accommodation; and Hauraki Express boats for the very efficient and friendly service they provided. It wasn’t much over 1.5 hours back to Westhaven on the suitable tides.
If you’ve been thinking about coming out on a Sunday trip with the club but are unsure whether it’s for you, don’t hesitate any longer. You’re only a couple of steps away from joining in on one of our awesome away-trip experiences.