Ex­plore the Bar­rier

Central Leader - - NEWS -

Take a step into the un­known this March with the first walking fes­ti­val on Great Bar­rier Is­land.

A group of 100 walk­ers will have the chance to take part in a three-day tour of the is­land with two to six-hour walks show­cas­ing breath­tak­ing views, hot pools and gold mines.

The fes­ti­val will high­light eight walking tracks, graded from easy to hard in­clud­ing gen­tle strolls around shel­tered bays and steep climbs.

With ex­pert guides on hand to give in­sights into the his­tory and na­ture of the is­land, walk­ers will get a good taste of what Great Bar­rier Is­land has to of­fer.

The fes­ti­val may not be a walk in the park for ev­ery­one so peo­ple must be fit to take on some of the more chal­leng­ing tracks.

Walk­ers wan­der­ing along Whanga­para­para Bay will stum­ble upon the south­ern hemi­sphere’s last whal­ing sta­tion and a ceme­tery where coffins are trans­ported in on boats.

The bay was once the place on the is­land where whales were landed, pro­cessed and packed off to the world.

Many of the is­land’s other trails are also steeped in his­tory with old roads and tracks once used for min­ing and forestry ac­cess. A walk among the tree tops of the Ko­tuku Penin­sula Sanc­tu­ary will lead walk­ers through na­tive for­est on a swing bridge through the canopy of a 400-year-old kauri tree.

Back at sea level, is­land lo­cals will re­gale walk­ers with the is­land’s set­tler his­tory on a 2km walk on Whangapoua Beach.

Take in the sea air, the views of Hi­raki­mata and Rak­itu Is­land and the site of one of the Bar­rier’s worst ship­wrecks.

Auck­land walk­ers can get to the re­mote is­land via a 30-minute trip by air or four-hour trip by sea. Book­ings should be made early to se­cure a place in the fes­ti­val and travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion. The event runs from April 12 to 14.

Pho­tos: AN­DRIS APSE

Scenic stroll: The Great Bar­rier Is­land Walking Fes­ti­val will take walk­ers in among the tree tops of the Ko­tuku Penin­sula Sanc­tu­ary.

Top track: The re­mote Great Bar­rier Is­land is moun­tain­ous in parts, pro­vid­ing walk­ers with both gen­tle and steep tracks.

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