About Great Barrier Island (Te Motu o Aotea)
The remoteness of this little-known island is one of its main attractions, along with the beautiful naturally, regenerating bush, the often times deserted wild surf beaches and moody deep anchorage bays. Te Motu o Aotea is the Maori name for Great Barrier Island – and known as Aotea, translating to mean ‘white cloud’. Captain Cook gave the island its English name in 1769, noting it provided a natural barrier to the Hauraki Gulf, from the swells that come in from the Pacific Ocean. The island is approximately 90 kilometres north-east of Auckland and is the largest island off the North Island coast.
Due to its isolation, ‘the Barrier’, as it is also commonly referred to by many, is relatively pest free, allowing for a healthy eco-system and bird-life in comparison with other areas on the ‘main islands’. The Kaitoke wetland is ranked as a site of special significance, and after an easy 40 minute walk along the edge of the wetland, a creek with natural hot springs is revealed. Our bays are visited regularly by resident pods of dolphins, stingrays, penguins and transient orcas. The island is made up of many types – there are many colourful, eccentric individuals, old-time hippies, young families wanting to raise their children in a supportive, grassroots environment, a population made up of many nationalities (how do people find their way here? – I love to hear their stories!), and people wanting to be far from the madding crowd (I think that is where I fit in!).
Life on the Barrier can be challenging. There is no reticulated power, water or sewerage – power is provided by solar power, wind generation and back up fuelled generators; water is collected off roofs or pumped from streams and sewerage is…well we have no large-scale sewerage treatment plants. We all live connected to the seasons and moon cycles….growing our own food, catching our seafood and wild food. We do have shops, cafes, clubs and restaurants. Even mobile phone service has improved recently….but is not available island-wide, so expect to be off-line for some of your visit….mmmm are you up for the challenge?!
Access to the island is by air or sea. There are two airlines (Barrier Air / Fly My Sky) flying from Auckland Airport with flights taking about 30 minutes – although sometimes longer when the pilot diverts the flight to follow pods of whales and dolphins! Other entry points are from Whitianga (Coromandel Peninsula) and Tauranga (Bay of Plenty) with Sunair. Another option, flying from Auckland, is to depart from Ardmore Airport, south of the city, with Sunair. For a slower trip to the island you can arrive by water. SeaLink provides a car and passenger ferry service which leaves from downtown Auckland, taking about 4 ½ hours. That’s one way to get up close to a dolphin experience if you’re lucky!
For more information about what to expect when you visit this hidden gem click here.
When I first came to Aotea on a tramping (kiwi for hiking) holiday I asked Debbie, the local travel advisor, what the island was like – the reply was “the island is like New Zealand was 20 years ago”. Ohhh, I’m about to enter a time warp! That was exactly what it was like. It has changed 13 years on, but it is still a unique place with a wonderful, warm and welcoming community.
Have you been thinking something has to change? Not sure what to do, where to turn, but you know….something has to change. Come and join me for an inspirational yoga experience and the opportunity to connect with the spirituality of this magical island.
Please use the contact form on the bottom of this page to register your interest for Ebb and Flow Yoga Retreats, Workshops and general enquiries.