For New Year, I decided to head over to the Great Barrier Island with all the guys, and their friends I met in Dunedin. The Great Barrier is an island that is really an extension of the Coromandal peninsula geologically, and blocks the south pacific swells from hitting the city of Auckland, making it such a good harbor.
Great Barrier Location
Great Barrier Island Map
The Barrier is very isolated from the mainland of the North Island. All supplies must be ferried or flown in. This makes it a very rustic and rugged place since there is not much development on the island. This also makes the supplies on the island like petrol and food extremely expensive, so the idea is to take as much over with you as possible.
I had first tried to take my van over, but on the dates I was going the ferry was booked full, plus it is very expensive to take a car over. I booked my ferry about a month before New Years weekend. Of course plans changed as they do, and about 3 days before I left, Scotty asked me if I could take over the van, since one of the guys planning to take a car over opted to drive his boat to the island instead. After a bit of scrambling to change my ferry reservation, and putting the car spot in my name, we were all set to launch for an epic summer new year trip!
The day before our ferry ride, I headed up to north Auckland to the rally point where everyone that was going on the trip was meeting. The plan was for everyone to drop off their gear, so that I and the other truck going could load up the next day to catch our 6 pm ferry.
About half the gear laid out
Truck filled with piss (this is what NZ'ers call beer)
All went to plan, and by 4 pm the next day we where loaded and on our way to the ferry terminal.
Looking Back at Auckland from Ferry
5 hours later we arrived in Tryphena Harbor, the port on Great Barrier. It was 12 am and the road to the camp grounds at Medlands was windy and narrow. We drove into the campsite at 1 am, unloaded the van, set up tents in the dark, I got the van ready for bed, and we crashed out. The next week was one that I will never forget.
The communal area
In the morning we all went for a dip in the ocean. The water was still reasonably cold, and was a better wake up jolt than any coffee. The campsite had a shower, so afterward I rinsed off, which wasn’t any warmer. We made breakfast, helped set up a communal area at the campsite, and then a few of us headed out for a fish off the exposed low tide reef and the southern end of Medlands Beach. There was no surf to be had, which was a disappointment, as this is supposedly one of the best surfing spots in New Zealand. But it made for easy fishing.
Reef on Great Barrier Island
Reef and Mountains
First Crayfish Catch
After the fish, we headed up to another beach that was just a short drive over a hill called Kaitoke. If I had to draw my perfect surf spot I would have drawn this beach. It was amazing, but again there was no swell. We all just played in the beach break. I finally had a chance to bust out my waterproof camera casing and experimented with it in the water. I have a lot to learn…..first is how to avoid water drops on the lens cover.
First Mini Barrel Shot...with lots of drops
In The Line Up on a Small Day
These weird seaweed balls where rolling around the shore break, not sure what they are, but they are interesting.
The next day, we all headed further north to another beach to chill. Some of the boys went snorkeling and crayfish hunting (we call them rock lobster). I again took the camera out and played with it.
Surfing behind the tinny
On The Beach
This was the first time I have taken the underwater housing and my camera out on a snorkel. Still have to figure out some settings, and what I have to set before the camera goes in the housing. Pretty excited to get my diving certification and head to some tropical reefs and clear water.
This is Frasier, aka Bear Grylls, Diving for Crayfish
Frasier is digging into a hole looking for Crayfish. You can see there Antennae (feelers) sticking out of a hole in the rock. He then reaches in and snags them. There is a lot more to it than that, but we will keep it short.
Got one, but its too small
Just rip the weeds out with it.
This ones a keeper!
Diver and Fish
Fresh Eats! Boiling up some crayfish. In Mexico they boil then split the body in half and grill the meat the rest of the way, then serve with rice, beans. tortillas and butter. In New Zealand we boiled the cray in this case, then ate with butter and mayo, but I know they will often bake or fry the crayfish as well.
Mike Kibblewhite digging into a crayfish.
New Years night was a little fuzzy. We ended up catching a party bus to a local pub that was also a rugby club. There was an influx of people like us…new year tourists and locals. The club was rickety, and actually really reminded me of upstate New York where I grew up, around Sodus Point. Its weird how something can make you feel so comfortable like home so far away.
I ended up ushering in the new year laying on grassy sand dunes looking up at the most vivid, starlit sky. The nights here are amazing, and so clear. There are so many stars visible, and I realized that I am looking at a totally different section of space. It is an awesome sight. This summer time Christmas and New Years time is a pretty nice change, it really beats slugging around in the slush, wind and cold. I may need to make this a regular thing!
New Years day we all basically just hung out around the campsite and slept and where generally very lazy.
On the 2nd we drove further north, to a small bay. Some of the other guys drove the boat up and we spent the day taking shifts fishing and hanging out on the beach. We where the only ones there, and just swam, snorkeled and cooked the fresh catch.
Our Private Beach for the Day
Fresh Fish Again!
Another boat showed up towards the end of the day.
I left on the 3rd, got back to Auckland, and crashed at the flat that I first packed up at. It was such a great trip, but unfortunately there was absolutely no surf what so ever. I really want to head back when there is swell, so hopefully before March an east swell will hit. I can’t believe that I only have about 2 more months left in New Zealand, where has the time gone?