Is­land time

The is­lands of the Hau­raki Gulf are glo­ri­ous in ev­ery sea­son – and thanks to a network of fer­ries, wa­ter taxis and guided tours, many of them are ac­ces­si­ble even if you don’t have a boat. Here are nine ex­cel­lent out­ings to plan now.

Paper Boy - - Front Page - TEXT CATHER­INE SMITH

Ran­gi­toto Is­land

It’s pretty much a re­quire­ment of cit­i­zen­ship for Auck­lan­ders to make the hot and rocky hike to Ran­gi­toto’s summit. And there’s no ex­cuse for not do­ing so, with reg­u­lar fer­ries stop­ping at Ran­gi­toto and ad­join­ing Mo­tu­tapu Is­land. The Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion camp­site at Home Bay on Mo­tu­tapu is pretty ba­sic (no show­ers, but there are flush­ing loos), but that’s how we like it. Make a mag­i­cal evening of it with a guided kayak tour to the is­land, then hike to the summit for sun­set views of the city, eat a bar­be­cue din­ner, and pad­dle back as the city lights sparkle across the har­bour. Vintage buffs should time their visit to check out Bach 38 Mu­seum, and am­ble along the coast to see some 1920s gems still in use.

An Auckland icon Kawau Is­land

Yes, you’ll need to drive through the hell that is the Wark­worth-matakana Road in­ter­sec­tion, but you’ll for­get all that as you slip off right to Sand­spit wharf and catch one of the fre­quent Kawau Cruises or wa­ter taxis to Kawau Is­land. Think of it as Wai­heke 40 years ago. Most jet­ties be­long to pri­vate baches and you can find ones to rent on Book­abach. Join the daily mail run cruise that cir­cuits the is­land and stop by the his­toric Man­sion House for tea and views of those much-pho­tographed peacocks and wal­la­bies. Flex­i­ble wa­ter taxis give you time for burg­ers and beer at Bon Ac­cord Bar & Bistro at the Kawau Boat­ing Club, where there’s a great gar­den bar and a lo­cal or a boatie with a great yarn. You could make it a fancy weekend at the boathouse-style lodg­ing and din­ing at The Beach House in Vi­vian Bay, or if you can rus­tle up 49 friends (or up to 60 at peak sea­son) you can share the old-school camp­ing de­lights of Camp Bent­zon.

Great Bar­rier Is­land

You can dodge the Pon­sonby-by-the-sea that Med­lands Beach and sur­rounds have be­come, and dig into the old-school char­ac­ter of the Bar­rier. Hardy types take the five-hour car ferry: the bonus is watch­ing the crew load­ing trail­ers and cars to the cen­time­tre, and the dou­ble bonus is spot­ting pods of play­ful dol­phins that might ac­com­pany you over. The al­ter­na­tive: An easy flight (get­ting to the air­port can take longer than the flight it­self) is less than $100 each way. Once you’re there, there are shut­tles and tours, but for com­plete free­dom, rent a car. Ac­com­mo­da­tion ranges from cold-tap camp­grounds to $1000-a-night lodges, and the cafes are small-town friendly. The Cur­ragh Ir­ish Pub is leg­endary, as are the Kaitoke Hot Springs, and there are walks and hikes aplenty. Our favourite: The Wairarapa Graves tracks, fea­tur­ing the pret­ti­est gravesite in Auckland built for vic­tims of the 1894 SS Wairarapa ship­wreck. Com­plete with picket fence, it sums up the sto­ries (and leg­ends) of the Bar­rier.

Rakino Is­land

The tiny hol­i­day com­mu­nity of Rakino, just east of Mo­tu­tapu, feels like a hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion in the 1930s and 40s: Fewer than 80 baches with a hand­ful for rent, com­pletely off-grid, tracks and paths to gor­geous clear beaches and only three kilo­me­tres of road. In sum­mer, the reg­u­lar Be­laire ferry is timed for a sweet weekend day trip (leav­ing the city at 10am, back at the end of the af­ter­noon). Beaches are within a short walk of the Sandy Bay jetty – you can walk around to the rick­ety pier where Gover­nor Ge­orge Grey first es­tab­lished him­self, or up and over the hills to the other bays.

Cute, tiny and off-grid A stone’s throw away Pollen Is­land

Strictly speak­ing, it’s in the up­per Waitem­atā Har­bour rather than the Gulf, but this ma­rine re­serve sort of counts as the clos­est is­land to the city. Cy­clists on the north­west­ern mo­tor­way will recog­nise this wee slip, ac­cessed around Tra­h­erne Is­land on the south­ern side of the mo­tor­way, edged by Rose­bank Penin­sula and Water­view. At mid-high tide you can pot­ter down from the re­serves on side roads off Great North Road and there’s kayak or dinghy ac­cess off the boat slip at Walker Road in Point Che­va­lier. Bird­watch­ers can spot gulls, terns, god­wits, sand­pipers and oys­ter­catch­ers mak­ing the most of the shell­fish in the tidal es­tu­ary.

Wai­heke Is­land

Since the dawn of The Oys­ter Inn and the love lav­ished by Mon­o­cle mag­a­zine, Wai­heke has been on the top of ev­ery cool vis­i­tor list. There’s noth­ing wrong with eat­ing, drink­ing wine, or loung­ing on a beach, but if you want a more ac­tive view of the is­land, take a guided kayak trip from Oneroa Beach to explore sea caves, rock gar­dens and bits of the coast­line that you’d only see if you had a mil­lion­aire buddy with a beach house. You can hike off-road to Palm Beach, bus back to the ferry or stop on the way for some wellde­served eats. There are guided ecow­alks, or the adrenalin-and-eco combo of the zi­pline.

Twenty-two years on from Once Were War­riors, an­other im­por­tant film is tack­ling the sub­ject of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. One Thou­sand Ropes (open­ing 23 March), di­rec­tor Tusi Ta­masese’s im­pres­sive fol­low-up to The Or­a­tor, fea­tures a central char­ac­ter named Ilisa, a preg­nant young woman who re­turns to live with her es­tranged fa­ther, Maea, af­ter se­vere beat­ings by her boyfriend.

Ilisa is pow­er­fully played by Samoan New Zealan­der Frankie Adams. The 23-year-old came to na­tional promi­nence seven years ago play­ing Ula Levi on Shortland Street, but she’s deftly avoided any post-shorty curse. Along with TV roles in the Aus­tralian series Went­worth and US sci-fi drama The Ex­panse, Adams is gar­ner­ing ac­claim for her cin­e­matic debut af­ter One Thou­sand Ropes’ Ber­lin Film Fes­ti­val pre­miere last month.

Right Do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is one of A Thou­sand Ropes’ pow­er­ful, im­por­tant themes.

FRANKIE ADAMS When I read the script, it made me feel ner­vous and ex­cited. It’s a big re­spon­si­bil­ity. I have re­ally close fam­ily and friends who have been through sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences. I spoke to them about it, be­cause I wanted to hear their opinion, and they were all re­ally open and lovely about it, be­cause they knew they wanted the story to be told too. Although a lot of women – and po­ten­tially men – have been through sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences, a lot of them come out with this un­de­ni­able strength from over­com­ing a re­la­tion­ship like that, and they’re ac­tu­ally okay with let­ting that story be told, and for peo­ple to be dis­cussing it. It’s not an easy thing to bring up at all, but with a film ev­ery­one can dis­cuss it with a bit more ease be­cause it’s al­ready put up there for them.

Above right Adams says when she read the script of One Thou­sand Ropes, she felt the role was a big re­spon­si­bil­ity and wanted to play it with truth and jus­tice for the women she was rep­re­sent­ing.

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