Great Barrier Island is the
jewel in the Hauraki Gulf. 90
km off the coast of Auckland at the tip of Coromandel Peninsular, it is
the 4th largest island in New Zealand and covers 285 km²
(40km long and 20 km wide). Great
Barrier Island has no possums, no mustelids (stoats, ferrets &
weasels), no hedgehogs, deer and Wallaby and as a such it is a special
place with some of the rarest animals in the world, Black Petrel, Brown
Teal, Chevron Skink and Hochstetters frog.
There are approx 900 permanent residents with 3 main residential
areas – Port FitzRoy in the north, Claris in the centre and Tryphena
in the south. This is a
simple place to live with no reticulated power, but it is a place that
is unique and special that cannot fail to touch you in some way.
Great Barrier Island is the
greens of the native bush, and the blues of crystal clear water with
long white sandy surf beaches, rock fishing spots, hot pools to laze in,
and safe anchorages the reds of Pohutukawa flowering in the summer.
You wake up in the morning to the whistle of the Kaka as they fly
overhead, the song of the Tui as they feed on the Flax nectar and the
fantail, native pigeons and kingfisher as they go about their daily
business. As you drive
through the island you will see our rare and very endangered Brown Teal
in the streams and along the edge of the sea in Tryphena.
On the east coast surf beaches you may see the tiny dotterel
guarding it’s nest or the oystercatchers running with their beak to
the ground as they try to entice you away from their nests. At night you
may hear the call of the tiny fairy penguin as it nests under houses or
under logs in the bush sounding like a ghost in the night. If you are
very lucky you may hear the Ke ke ke ke….call of the Black Petrel as
it flies home to its nest in the hills on the island.
Awana is a popular swimming and
surfing beach (non patrolled), situated on the east coast of Great
Barrier Island approx. 15 minutes from Claris Airfield and Claris
Complex (nearest shops) and approx. 40 minutes from Port FitzRoy
shop. It is an important nesting area for our rare and endangered
Brown Teal and Dotterel with Oystercatchers and Fairy Penguins also
nesting in the area. (Dogs need to be well controlled and are not
allowed on the beach without a lead.)
If you look carefully, you can be assured of seeing some, if not
all, of these birds on or around the Awana area.
The area is close to a number of good walking tracks and there is
a Department of Conservation campground at the northern end of the
beach. There is a small
cluster of holiday homes near the beach.
Fishing is good around the rocks at both ends of the beach.
Medlands is the most popular
swimming and surfing beach (non patrolled) on the east coast of Great
Barrier Island and is situated approx. 15 minutes from Claris airfield
and Business centre and approx. 15 minutes from Tryphena.
In the summer Dotterel and Oystercatchers nest on the foreshore
and Brown Teal can be seen on or around the river at the southern end of
the beach and in the swamp areas. There
are no shops but there are good toilets and a telephone box at the car
park in the middle of the beach. There
is a children’s playground on Sandhills road (southern end).
Memory rock is in the middle of the beach and is a good fishing
spot and there is a natural swimming pool in the rocks on the seaward
side. Holiday houses span
the beach behind the sand dunes the length of the beach and in the
summer a crowd on Medlands is still only about 30 people.
Kaitoke Beach is the longest
white sandy surf and swimming beach (non patrolled)on Great Barrier
Island. Access onto the
beach is from Ocean View Road and also at the southern end of the beach. Around the rocks on the southern end of beach is a wonderful
rock pool known as the “Mermaid pool” where people can swim.
There is good fishing and diving from the rocks and at low tide
you can walk onto the island just off the beach.
Dotterel and Oystercatchers nest on the foreshore and Brown Teal
can be seen in the rivers at both ends of the beach.
It is imperative that people keep their dogs on leads on this
beach. The river at the
northern end of the beach is great for Kayaking with kayaks being
available for rent near the Kaitoke swamp bridge.
Situated on the south west coast
of Great Barrier Island, Tryphena harbour is the main population area on
the island. There are two
beautiful white safe sandy tidal beaches (Gooseberry Flat and Mulberry
Grove). These two beaches are great for families with small children.
The facilities in the area are excellent with two grocery shops –
Stonewall Store and Mulberry Grove Store, post office, gift shop, Wild
Rose Cafe, laundromat, hire cars, gas supplies, an Irish pub, Backpackers,
Bed and Breakfasts, motel, and self contained accommodation, a pottery
Shoal Bay, wood working studio and gallery at Schooner Bay, Barrier
Social Club, Tennis court, Hall, and Primary school. The main wharf for
the island is situated at the southern end of the harbour and there is
safe anchorage at Shoal Bay near the wharf. Petrol can be purchased at
the Mulberry Grove Store and liquor can be purchased at Mulberry Grove
and Stonewall Store.
Port FitzRoy harbour is a large
sheltered harbour popular with boaties.
There are a number of large mussel farms and at the wharf water
and petrol are available. During
the summer there is a local burger bar at the wharf. The
Port FitzRoy Store is situated just up the hill from the wharf where you
can purchase alcohol, stamps and groceries.
There is a travel centre, library and the local health team have
a clinic every Wednesday at the nurses cottage.
The Port FitzRoy Boating club is further up the hill from the
shop and is open for meals. The
population is small in this area and many people are very isolated so
travel to the wharf by boat for supplies, schooling, etc..
Claris is situated in the centre
of the Island approx 10 kilometers from the Tryphena wharf and is the
main service centre for the island.
The Claris airfield is here and the Auckland City Council island
office can be found near the airport.
There is a health centre with doctor and nurses, community
worker, museum, art gallery, dentist, chemist, laundromat, petrol, café, bottle shop, tyre
bay, garage and grocery shop in this area.
The police station is just up the road from the main business
centre. There is a social
club and a 9 hole golf club on the road to Whangaparapara and the Thai
restaurant is on the Port FitzRoy and Awana road (turn
left at the “Crossroads”).
in the middle of the island on the west coast of the island
Whangaparapara has a very small population and is considered relatively
isolated by the locals. There
is a lodge with a small shop, wharf and where you can purchase petrol. The harbour is sheltered from most winds and this area is one
of the entrances to the Natural Forest area of Hirakimata (Mt. Hobson)
and the hot springs. On the
road to Whangaparapara you will pass the old stamping battery from the
gold mining days, the main entrance to the hot springs and at the top of
the road the track to Te Ahumata (White Cliffs).
Fishing is good in this harbour from most points but you will
need to ask permission to get to the various spots by asking a local.
Blind Bay is situated 6 kms from
Claris on the Okupu Road (turn left at the “cross roads”). There is access to the beach at the bottom of the hill and
the wharf is at the very end of the road which goes around the bay.
To the left of the bay there is a nice walk around the foreshore
to a vineyard and at the top of the hill before your go down towards the
beach there is a track that takes you to Te Ahumata (White Cliffs)
Blind Bay is a main residential area.
There are no shops.