Great Barrier Island – Kayaking section Saturday 14 Feb to Sunday 22 Feb
If you think that Great Barrier Island is another playground for Aucklanders, think again. It is an amazingly unspoilt bush-
Our party of eleven arrived there late Saturday morning after a 30 minute flight from Auckland. We proceeded to the local shop to stock up with gear and food which couldn’t be taken on our flight. Then it was into a rental van and we drove over to Port Fitzroy on the west coast, stopping en route to tramp up into Windy Canyon.
At Port Fitzroy we were into the shops again mainly to load up on beverages, then over the hill to our accommodation at Karaka Bay. Good swimming there too. Next morning we were introduced to our kayaks, and a couple of hours was spent learning how to pack in all requirements for the next few days, including drinking water (which is notoriously unreliable on the Island). Then we were away paddling, not too bad in the bays, but out to sea a bit of swell, and then a headwind slowed us up, so we were greatly relieved to reach our campsite at Miners Bay.
Next morning we paddled north, rounding the northern tip and then out to small islands called the Needles, then we turned round and headed south again, stopping at the occasional beach or inlet for a rest and refreshment. A short sharp squall got us nicely wet en route, but generally conditions weren’t too bad as we headed towards our campsite on Kaikoura Island. A long day that was, over 30 km. Kaikoura Island is a pest-
An early morning start next morning to catch the high tide, and we paddled up a nearby inlet, through mangroves and up a tidal river until we could go no further. Lovely still quiet conditions as the dawn was emerging. Back to our camp, which we dismantled, and then by ways and means back to Karaka Bay at lunchtime where we returned the kayaks after 5 very enjoyable days of paddling. Then off to do some serious tramping.
The flight from Auckland to Great Barrier Island on Saturday was clear and calm, providing an overview of the coastline and forested interior that would be our focus for exploration over the week ahead.
The interesting rental vehicle and trailer were soon loaded with all our luggage and we set off for Port Fitzroy via Aotea Road. A brief burst down the Tramline Track was followed by a longer walk to view Windy Canyon, a stunning natural landscape of rocky outcrops and bush covered ranges. A very comfortable night at the Christian Camp in Karaka Bay prepared us for the next few days on and close to the waves.
At the completion of five days kayaking the group returned to Karaka Bay and after unloading all our gear from the kayaks began the rather steep climb up out of the Bay following a very impressive predator fence line over to Fitzroy -
Next morning we followed the river initially then climbed up on to the ridge via the South Fork Track now the main route up to Mt Heale Hut with its expansive views of the Huaraki Gulf. A further 45 minute climb brought us up to the top of Mount Hobson the highest point on the Island at 621 metres. The many steps have been constructed to protect the Black Petrel’s breeding habitat and give relatively easy access to the top. After watching the sunset from the Hut Deck some of the group ventured out back along the Mt Hobson Track in search of the Black Petrels returning to their burrows on the Island for the night, and were very fortunate to come across one on the track. Cat Traps have been constructed at various points along the track in an attempt to reduce predator risk to the Petrels vulnerable burrows.
Leaving the heights we descended via a section of the Peach Tree and Tramline Tracks to the Kaitoke Springs for a well-
We continued to explore the Island where road access allowed -
Well Done Judy -
Harataonga Coastal Walkway
Harataonga Campsite, Overtons Beach
Kaiaaraara Track (although no longer via the Kauri Dams)
Kaitoke Hot Springs
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