back to nature on Great Barrier Island - New Zealand

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

While home in New Zealand earlier this year we decided to take some real 'time out', and spent a few days on Great Barrier Island (also fondly known as The Barrier).

Living in London, my hubby and I never get any down time. Between work, travel, gym and catching up with friends we're lucky to get even one evening at home together per week. So The Barrier was a shock to the senses! No electricity, no toilet (we had to dig a hole), and a single hose from the stream for water meant we were well and truly back to nature. And we only had each others company.

But it was worth giving up these luxuries - even my iPhone. We had an amazing time....

view from our plane as we near The Barrier

The Barrier is New Zealand's sixth largest island, and is situated about 90km north east of Auckland. To get there you can either take a 2-4 hour ferry ride, or fly in a tiny 6-person plane, which takes about 35 bumpy minutes, and is the option we opted for. It's not a very big island either - 285 square kms, and has a population of 850 (taken from the 2006 census).

So when you get there, there's not really a lot of people to socialise with. Luckily peace and quiet was exactly what we were after. First things first - upon landing we picked up our dodgy rental car and headed for the closest beach.

path to the beach - oruawharo bay...

...and not another soul to be seen...

...our very own white-sand beach

And then on to our cabins. My hubby co-owns some land on The Barrier with his sister and dad, and they've recently built some small cabins for when the family decides to visit. One is 'the kitchen' cabin - and has a wooden table and a small BBQ cooker set up, the other is 'the sleeping' cabin.

To get to the cabins we had to hike through native New Zealand bush - so we could only bring what we could carry, including our food, gas and drinking water.

the cabins

view of the sea from the cabins - a tiny spot of water a 30 minute walk away

native New Zealand fern

Joe making guacamole as the sun begins to set


While in New Zealand we also indulged in kiwi beverages. Ahhhhh Macs Gold with a view.

And so, we spent our days walking around the island, enjoying some classic NZ scenery and spotting wildlife.

walking down to the beach from our cabins

the sea water is crystal clear

a blue penguin washed up on the beach. 

Thankfully we saw lots of live birds too, including Kaka, Tui, Oyster Catcher, Waxeye and Pukeko - I just wasn't fast enough with my camera. 

If you want to find out more about The Barrier's bird life here's a great photo gallery.

One of my favourite pics from this holiday. I have a huge print of it hanging in our lounge.

keeping our beer cold in the stream

Kumara! NZ sweet potato - one of my favourite kiwi foods

dinner by candlelight :)

washed up starfish...

...and a washed up puffer fish

camp fire (I was even organised enough to pack marshmallows)

On our last day we spotted Brown Teal ducks, also known as Pakete. These ducks are listed as critically endangered and are the fourth rarest dabbling duck in the world. It's believed that there's now only about 500 left in New Zealand and the NZ Department of Conservation is working hard to improve this number. I was pretty excited! They are super cute!

last pick before jumping on a plane back to the mainland

If you want to know more about The Barrier, it's wildlife and community, here are a few good websites:

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  1. This looks amazing! Wouldn't want to live like that all the time but what an incredible way to get away from it all for a while.