A un­for­get­table trip to 'The Bar­rier'

A trip to Great Bar­rier Is­land is good for the soul.

Go Travel New Zealand - - Auckland -

"Mike, came over the PA Sys­tem and pointed out a pod of whales be­low us. Mike even made a few turns to al­low us to snap some pho­tos."

We had been look­ing for­ward to our two-week hol­i­day in New Zealand to cel­e­brate our 15-year an­niver­sary for around six months. Af­ter trawl­ing the in­ter­net, many calls to travel agen­cies and sev­eral con­ver­sa­tions with close friends who had spent time in New Zealand, we had our itin­er­ary by-and­large mapped out. The por­tion of our trip which we were most look­ing for­ward to, and cer­tainly de­liv­ered be­yond our ex­pec­ta­tions, was our three-day stay on the beau­ti­ful Great Bar­rier Is­land. Our trans­port of choice was Bar­rier Air’s new Cessna Grand Car­a­van fly­ing from Auck­land In­ter­na­tional Air­port. The air­craft was fit­ted with a very smart leather in­te­rior, was quiet and ri­valled the air­craft used by much big­ger air­lines in terms of com­fort – a rare feat for a lo­cal air­line. A bub­bly young lady called Brooke checked us in at Auck­land and helped us with some last minute es­sen­tial “Bar­rier” tips. We boarded our air­craft and set off over the stun­ning turquoises of the Hau­raki Gulf for our 25-minute flight. Just as the Coro­man­del Penin­sula was pass­ing by the right-hand side of the air­craft our pilot, Mike, came over the PA Sys­tem and pointed out a pod of whales be­low us. Mike even made a few turns to al­low us to snap some pho­tos. We also saw a group of huge manta rays swim­ming North to warmer wa­ters. The flight would have been worth tak­ing sim­ply as a scenic tour. Once we ar­rived on Great Bar­rier Is­land, we headed off to our ac­com­mo­da­tion at Tril­lium

Lodge. Lynda and Jo met us at the lodge and in­stantly made us feel wel­come. We were shown to the Tryphena Suite which had an en­suite and small pri­vate deck. We were blown away with the moun­tain and ocean views from our suite. We spent the rest of our first day tour­ing the is­land, check­ing out lo­cal cafes and eater­ies, the art gallery, and watch­ing the surfers on the wa­ter at Okiwi on the north­ern side of the Is­land. At night, we en­joyed a drink on our pri­vate deck in awe of what is known to be “the best stargaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in New Zealand”, made pos­si­ble by the strik­ing lack of light po­lu­tion. The next day we em­barked on a tour of the is­land with Steve from Go Great Bar­rier. We hopped on board Steve’s im­pres­sive trike, af­fec­tion­ately known as “Crazy­horse” and headed north through Med­lands and Claris to the Kaitoke hot springs. These nat­u­ral hot springs are on the edge of the Kaitoke wet­lands and are at the end of a 40-minute level bush walk that me­an­ders through lus­cious nikau groves and over board­walks and bridges. At a pre-ar­ranged time, Steve picked us up back at the be­gin­ning of the walk then it was off to grab some lunch at the My Fat Puku Cafe. Af­ter lunch, we headed to the Kaitoke Creek for a pad­dle down to the north­ern end of Kaitoke beach for a swim and beach walk. Our fi­nal day ex­plor­ing this is­land par­adise in­cluded walk­ing the tracks and

trails man­aged by the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion. The high­light was reach­ing the sum­mit of Mount Hob­son af­ter a stun­ning four-hour walk through na­tive New Zealand bush where we en­coun­tered a rich abun­dance of na­tive New Zealand wildlife and birds. Our trip to Great Bar­rier Is­land and, in par­tic­u­lar, the way we were wel­comed by the lo­cals left us re­vi­tal­ized. “The Bar­rier” is just plain good for the soul. We had been drawn to “The Bar­rier” by its eco-friendly and free-spir­ited rep­u­ta­tion. While we had to ad­just slightly to the off-grid na­ture of the is­land, no es­sen­tial com­fort was gone with­out. Our flight back to Auck­land with Bar­rier Air de­parted Claris Air­port in the early evening. The dis­ap­point­ment at not hav­ing spent

long enough en­joy­ing Great Bar­rier Is­land was quickly put to the back of my mind, when, notic­ing my in­ter­est in air­craft, our pilot (Garry this time) of­fered to let me sit up the front with him. That flight was the best way I could think of to end what was a re­mark­able ex­pe­ri­ence. We plan to re­turn to Great Bar­rier Is­land this Sum­mer and can­not wait to try our hand at some of the best fish­ing in New Zealand and walk sev­eral of the other con­ser­va­tion trails. Who knows, maybe a hol­i­day home on “The Bar­rier” is on the cards?

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