Great Barrier Island is 90km North East of Central Auckland situated on the very edge of the Hauraki Gulf. It is an almost unspoilt area of wilderness with very few permanent residents and with that very few introduced pests. The only reason I even went to this island originally was for the Annual Mussel Festival at Port Fitzroy.
Now all I can say is WOW. I never expected Great Barrier Island to be so beautiful. I only spent one day on the island and I was infatuated by it. You do however have to make a real effort to get to Great Barrier Island and it's not a short trip.
It takes 2.30 hours on a ferry to get there from Auckland City and 2.30 hours to get back but actually my trip was quite pleasant. The food and drinks on board the ferry were reasonably priced and largely due to the weather on the day I travelled, the view across the water was stunning. My partner and I were even lucky enough to see a few pods of dolphins.
On arrival to Great Barrier Island's Port Fitzroy we were greeted by an almost eerie silence even though on that day the port was actually quite busy in comparison to most days. We then followed a small crowd which had accumulated by the port up a rustic tarmaced road. As we moved further up the road it became quite apparent why people who visit the island speak so highly of it. It was like being lost in the wilderness. Tall trees either side of the road and the loudest noises I've ever heard supposedly caused by huge numbers of insects known as cicada.
Great Barrier Island is also supposedly a refuge for wildlife due to the minimal numbers of people and pests introduced to the island. Myself and my partner were incredibly fortunate to see flocks of Kaka a supposedly rare parrot endemic to New Zealand, although you would never have thought it with the numbers we saw in one day.
The Annual Mussel Festival is definitely an event on Great Barrier Island, with gorgeous Green Lipped Mussels available any way you want them, accompanied by top live music and a great atmosphere.
We were also very fortunate on our day trip to Great Barrier Island to come across a walk near Port Fitzroy which was signposted as 'Lookout Rock'. We walked for about 30 minutes uphill through thick New Zealand rainforest and were eventually confronted by a huge rock face which we then proceeded to climb. When we reached the top we were greeted by the most incredible view. Literally my jaw hit the floor, it was the greatest view I've ever seen, no exaggeration and I've seen my fair share of natures wonders.
It was one of the best days I've ever had, not just in New Zealand, but in my life. I would strongly recommend visiting if you have the time. It really is no wonder that the BBC chose Great Barrier Island as the destination for 'Castaway', you really do feel like you are a Castaway. As for staying on the Island, I'm still looking at some options but I will most definitely make the trip to Great Barrier Island again soon.
Thanks to njcharters.com for image