We've been cruising here on Great Barrier Island, about 40 miles off the main NZ coast for nearly 2 weeks, and it truly does live up to it's name and reputation. What a GREAT place it is!!! Reminds us of our old stomping grounds in the North American Pacific NW, Washington's San Juan Islands and British Columbia's Gulf Islands. Lots of beautiful coves and sweet little bays to explore, well protected from the ocean swells. Lush and green ashore, as the heavily logged kauri forests are starting to rejuvenate, especially on the northern half of the 27 mile long island. The island is home to less than 1000 folks, and offers a laid back lifestyle changed little over the past century or so. Lots of birdlife here, including several species unique to the island and/or New Zealand.
We sailed here (mostly motored, actually, in very light summer air) from Whangarei, not really knowing what to expect in what the locals call "silly season", these summer weeks starting before Christmas and running well into January. This is the time of year when seemingly every Kiwi with a boat, of ANY type, size, or condition, wants to be out on the water. Kind of like the USA's July 4th and Labor Day weekends lasting for 6 weeks!!! And in New Zealand, with the most boat owners per capita in the world, this means that, well, let's just say you can't expect to get anchorages to yourself!
|Radar image in one very crowded anchorage. Many arrived after this photo was taken!|
GBI, or "the Barrier" as it's known by locals, is a terrific place for hiking, with many miles of well maintained DOC (Department of Conservation) trails criss crossing the main island, as well as the outlying smaller islands around GBI.
|New Zealaand is Hobbit country!!|
|Graham checks out a new dinghy!|
|Lots of caves demanded exploration. (Photo courtesy s/v Maunie)|
Hirakimata (Mt Hobson)
One fine day we couldn't resist climbing up Hirakimata. The hike up to the 2037 ft high point of GBI is a good workout, and has amazing 360 degree views from the summit. Starting at our dinghy landing spot at Bush's Beach in Kaiarara Bay, the trails passed through low scrub forests as they worked up the valley. We passed two DOC huts along the way, each with a capacity of about 25 people (we only saw 5 other people on the trail the entire day). Along the river the trail was badly
washed out, as the island was hit hard by major flooding and land slides in June, 2014.
|Our anchorage is the bay in the center. Kaikura Island, that we kayaked around, is the large island just above (not the one in the distance, Little Barrier Island)|
|BRAVO is the sailboat anchored just right of center|
|North end of Great Barrier Island. Slides were all from the June 2014 storm.|
|It be summer down under!!!|
|Kaitoke hot springs|
|A funky little museum spoke to AK's inner geek.|
Finally, as promised, here are some Christmas day pix. BTW, we do post some stuff just on Facebook from time to time, so if you haven't friended us there, you may want to. Don't worry, just occasional posts!
|White Christmas, New Zealand style.....sleet and hail in the cockpit a few days before xmas day.|
Did a couple of fun hikes on Christmas Day.....one to Whangarei Falls, another up to Bream Head.....
|Friends we met on the trail to the falls.....definitely had this whole Christmas spirit thing down!!!|
|HAPPY NEW YEARS, from the BRAVO crew!!!|