Great Barrier Island Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by John195123
  • Things to Do
    by John195123
  • Things to Do
    by John195123

Most Recent Things to Do in Great Barrier Island

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    Walking

    by Dodo22 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Kaiaraara Bay view
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    With most of the island run by the Department of Conservation, there is a lot of "wilderness" to travel through, and once at the top, some wonderful views. There is an excellent number of tracks across most of the island, the heads of which are accessible either by road, or by water. Don't leave the island without climbing up to a ridge on a fine day.

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    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking

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    Mussel Festival

    by Dodo22 Updated Jan 17, 2011

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    If you are going to be on Great Barrier Island in January the Great Fitzroy Mussel Fest is not to be missed. I believe that it is New Zealand's only mussel festival and is held around 10 January. Port Fitzroy mussels are harvested fresh from the sea and are cooked in a variety of ways from hot off the barbecue to seafood chowder and smoked or even fritters. Washed down with a cold beer this is an experience not to be missed. (don't worry you don't have to bring your own - someone else has done the hardwork for you). There is always a band and stalls where you can spend your hard earned money.

    If you are making your own way from Auckland you can come in by ferry or plane and there are a number of buses or private transport that will take you to Fitzroy. If sailing in, get in early for an anchorage not too far away and then row or motor in on the trusty dinghy.

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    Waterfall Walk

    by Dodo22 Written Jan 17, 2011

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    Another walk, this time an easy one, is up to the waterfall. Mostly flat, there is some walking across rocks on a couple of the stream crossings. There are a number of water holes for swimming on the way up, otherwise save yourself for the main pool. We were here this Jan 2011 and there hadn't been much rain so the waterfall was a shadow of its former self. Access to the walk is from Forestry Bay just across the road from the DOC office.

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    Cool off

    by Dodo22 Updated Jan 17, 2011

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    You must try some of the walks on Great Barrier, a number are accessible from the various bays around Port Fitzroy, a very sheltered part of the island on the western coast which is protected from the elements by Kaikoura Island.

    If its a hot day and you don't feel like a walk uphill, explore some of the streams - lots of nikau palms in some areas

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    • Hiking and Walking

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    Take a Bath

    by Dodo22 Updated Jan 17, 2011

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    Inside the bathhouse
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    A real favourite with boaties, particularly yachties who don't have much water to carry around for showers, is to stop off at Smokehouse Bay and have a bath. The bathwater is heated by a stove which you feed with wood you have chopped yourself (its considered bad form to use the wood and not replace it). Nothing better to start or finish the day.

    The other alternative is the outside shower with a beatiful view.

    Related to:
    • Fishing
    • Sailing and Boating

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    Walk/Climb to the Kauri Dam

    by Dodo22 Updated Jan 17, 2011

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    One of the more worthwhile walks is up to the well preserved remains of one of the Kauri Dams. It is approximately a two hour walk (depending on fitness) from the Kaiaraara Track and a bit longer if you enter from Bush’s Beach. We anchored in the bay and took our dinghy to the beach and walked from there. At Bushes Beach there is the remains of a “lawn” a picnic table and a long drop toilet. It is also possible to join the track from Port Fitzroy and I believe to come down from Windy Canyon and Mt HObson.

    The Department of Conservation (DOC) have over the last few years spend a lot of time repairing and improving the track and its suitable for most ages and levels of fitness and they have put in quite a few steps on the steeper bits and bridges over some of the streams. I recommend walking sandals or shoes, but not jandals as I saw some people wearing.

    Kauri driving dams were built by loggers to drive large quantities of kauri logs downstream. This allowed access to areas that were too remote and steep to remove logs by other means. Because the Kauri forests were usually well inland and there was no easy way to get the logs to the sea the logs were dragged to a convenient stream bed with steep sides and a Kauri Dam was constructed of wood with a "trapdoor" near the bottom large enough for the logs to pass through. It sometimes took up to 2 years before the dam was full enough with both water and logs to be able to be released and drive the logs downstream to the bay where they were held back by log booms, before being taken to the mills.

    Over the years the lower dam has been falling apart, but DOC have been doing restoration work to try and preserve this piece of history.

    The dam was huge and you can get some idea of the size by the people sitting on the rocks below.

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    • Hiking and Walking

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    Bathtime

    by Dodo22 Updated Feb 5, 2008

    A real favourite with boaties, particularly yachties who don't have much water to carry around for showers, is to stop off at Smokehouse Bay and have a bath. The bathwater is heated by a stove which you feed with wood you have chopped yourself (its considered bad form to use the wood and not replace it). Nothing better to start or finish the day.

    After a storm a few years ago the place has been rebuilt and now features a brand new bathhouse plus an outside shower. Great for washing off that salt and sweat after your walk up to the Kauri dams.

    Related to:
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Beaches
    • Fishing

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    Ghost Bay

    by allikat Updated Jan 8, 2006

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    Sunset over a busy Ghost Bay
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    Ghost Bay is a popular spot that boats and yachts aim for for the night, as it is generally calm and quiet. A gently curving bay, the pohutakawa trees reach down to the high tide mark. The bush is home to lots of bird life, and so my early morning swim was to the sound of kingfishers, bellbirds and tuis. I'm not sure about the naming of the place, but I'm pretty sure there aren't any ghosts there! If there are, they are peaceful ones.

    The pohutakawa tree is also known as New Zealands native Christmas tree, as its red bottle brush type blooms appear around Christmas time. This was the 3rd year I have been fortunate enough to visit at this time, although this year the blossoms were not so prolific for some reason.

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    Port Fitzroy Mussell Fest

    by allikat Updated Jan 7, 2006

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    Be there!

    Port Fitzroy hosts an annual celebration of the mussell. There are a number of mussell farms around the Barrier, and this is a great opportunity to experience them in different ways, fresh from the water.
    The mussels on offer are the large, succulent Greenlip Mussel, and the waters around Gt Barrier are clean and clear, which makes for very tasty mussels!
    The Mussel Fest is usually held in the early part of January each year. The most recent one was held on January 7th 2006

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    • Sailing and Boating
    • Festivals
    • Food and Dining

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    'Smoke and Soak at Websters Wonderland'!!!

    by allikat Updated Jan 7, 2006

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    The bath-house that was

    Kindly provided by the late Eric Webster (so the sign says) are the excellent goodwill facilities at Smokehouse Bay. Smokehouses to smoke your fish (you just bring the wood - there is usually a supply but it is considered polite to replace what you use), a bath-house with a firebox to heat the water, ('rustic', shall we say...!) barbeques etc. There are even some old mangles and a washing line or two for those who have been afloat long enough to need to do some laundry! A favourite with yachties and boaties, and a place with a really friendly atmosphere. Not to mention a great tree swing!

    UPDATE 2006 ~ We visited for New Year 05/06 and found that a recent landslip has obliterated most of the facilities at Smokehouse Bay :-( Caused by heavy rain, the mud has destroyed the smokehouse and most of the bath house. All the barbeques are gone, although the mangles and washing line are still there. As is the tree swing, although you'd scrape your butt on the mud if you took a turn. I believe a working bee is being organised sometime soon to clear the site and rebuild the smokehouse - as this is such a pouplar spot with visiting boats it wouldn't surprise me to hear there are many willing volunteers. I will keep you posted.

    Related to:
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    • Budget Travel

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    Porpoises, dolphins and whales.

    by allikat Updated Sep 11, 2005

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    Splash!
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    The waters around Great Barrier are a great place to watch porpoises and dolphins feed and play, and further out, there are whales and orcas.
    During my last trip to the barrier, we were lucky enough to see so much marine wildlife, and enjoyed a school of dolphins playing around our boat for a good half an hour. They were so playful, and it was great the way they reacted to our voices. Then another boat went by, and they went off to investigate, jumping out of the water and splashing with their tails as they went. We were also lucky enough to see a pod of pilot whales and a couple of orcas, as well as more dolphins and porpoises and lots of sea birds.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Whale Watching
    • Sailing and Boating

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    Heavenly long drop.

    by allikat Updated Sep 11, 2005

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    soft, strong and incredibly long!
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    I had honestly never heard of a 'long drop' before I came to New Zealand! Basically, it's a toilet, above ground it probably resembles your average loo (although this isn't guaranteed!), below ground, it is simply a 'long drop' and nothing more.

    I've encountered one or two, but the one at Fitzroy Harbour wins top prize for cleanliness accompanied by a gentle breeze.....

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    Native bush.

    by allikat Updated Sep 11, 2005

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    Tree palm

    Over 80% of Great Barrier island is covered in native bush, so you can't really miss it. It;s a great idea to take a bush walk - the Department of Conservation maintain a number of good tracks, varying from short 20 minute trails to more serious day long hikes. We got caught in a heavy downpour on our walk - but when the sun came out and the steam began rising from the bush, the smell was gorgeous! And the sound of birds singing in the bush is really magical.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Sailing and Boating

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    Sven and Barrier Gold

    by allikat Updated Sep 11, 2005

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    Svens empire!

    Sven has lived on the Barrier for 48 years, and now runs Barrier Gold, where he harvests the oil from Kanuka, a hardwood endemic to New Zealand. The oil comes from the leaves and has a pleasant and distinctive aroma, more subtle than the familiar tea tree - just crush the leaves in your hand to experience this He is a real character, and will give a very informative tour of his down-to-earth distillery, for which there is no charge. The essential oil, balms, honeys etc are on sale for very reasonable prices, and there is no pressure to buy. Kanuka Oil is excellent for bites, stings, bruises and much more. I always keep a small jar handy and if you are prone to mozzie bites (as I am) he now makes an excellent natural repellant.

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    • Sailing and Boating

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    A haven for wild life.

    by allikat Updated Sep 11, 2005

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    A Brown Teal

    Gt Barrier is pretty much unspoilt (if you discount the old timber trade which sadly removed most of the giant Kauri trees back in the 19th century), and there are few roads or people. It shelters a number of rare species, such as New Zealands rarest lizard, and a number of birds, such as the Brown Teal (shown here in Fitzroy Harbour).

    Related to:
    • Sailing and Boating
    • Beaches
    • Birdwatching

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Great Barrier Island Things to Do

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