Roughing it on Great Barrier Island for New Year

Tryphena Travel Blog

 › entry 16 of 52 › view all entries

Little Plane


The plane from Auckland to Great Barrier was so small it could have come out of a cracker. Passenger's climb onboard with a small step up from the ground, ducking to avoid getting skulled by the wings. Inside it's like an old VW campervan. No room for a centre isle. I sit on my seat and can touch either side of the plane by just holding out my arms - not even full stretch! Everyone on board wears ear protectors because it’s so loud. woo-hoo! I want one.


The ride across the water was magical. We cruised along below the clouds and above the sea, which gave a duplicitous feeling of being both free and trapped at the same time. We were low enough over the water to be able to see formations of gulls scanning the sea for food & occasionally the water was broken by the emerging shape of a sea mammals: Dolphin? Shark? The beauty of nature had me transfixed & I rode pressing my nose & forehead to the shaky window the whole way over.


Once landed I was still utterly enamoured with the plane and ran around it taking photos from every angle, apologising to the pilot who was trying to unload, ‘sorry but it’s just so dinky!!’ I was too preoccupied to notice Fireman Paul watching me, so felt quite embarrassed when he came over & greeted me with ‘Got enough pictures there Little Miss Nikon?

Ginger Spins at the Sulphur Springs


Paul & I stayed at the Department of Conservation hut, just north of Port Fitzroy. The hut is a 40 minute hike from the road, which itself is the furthest-most point of a gravel track. Once we’d dropped off my rucksack (& I’d started to come to terms with the reality of having let myself in for 'Roughing it' on a grand scale), we headed back across the island to spend the evening relaxing in the natural hot springs somewhere near Claris.


The path to the springs meanders through thick low-lying terrain that I can only describe as being Jurassic Parkish. In the half-light it was quite fantastical. Once at the springs we stripped down to our togs (Kiwi for swimming kit) and lounged hippo-like in the hot water drinking ginger beer. After about 40 mins I got up and immediately felt very wobbly. The extended walks, ginger bubbles, sulphur smell and hot steam made a cruel combination & I thought I was feeling positivley vomitous. After sitting with my head between my knees for another 40 minutes, whilst mosquitoes feasted on my clammy flesh, I was right enough to begin the 1 hour 30 hike back to the hut in the dark.


Yay! gotta love the great outdoors :)


Countdown to 2007 (please excuse the bullet points, i'm having spacing issues)

  • What’s the time now? Paul asks
  • Five past Eleven. Fifty five minutes to go.
  • Paul turns back to his solitaire & me to my book, but I can’t read ‘cos all I can hear is bbzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt, bbzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt. I grab a gossip magazine & roll it up tight. Britney grins from the front cover. Hey Britters, finally found some use for you.
  • THWACK! Dead mosquito.
  • THWACK! Another dead mosquito.
  • Heee-eey, Groans Paul.
  • What!
  • Chill out.
  • No! THWACK!
  • I start stalking the room, Britney poised. Swooping over-arm swing: THWACK-THWACK!
  • Awww, Eeehhh?!. More whining from Paul.
  • Will you stop?
  • No! why should I? Little buggers deserve to die.. More stalking
  • What have they ever done to you?
  • Bitten me! Made me itch, Spread malaria!! Totally useless! need to die!
  • ….THWACK!
  • Your karma’s going to be fucked up because of this.
  • Don’t care. Having fun.
  • Silence
  • Bbzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt. THWACK!
  • STOP IT! You won’t get them all.
  • Yes I will! Must be a finite number, how many?, how many do you reckon are in here?
  • (sighing) At least a hundred
  • Great! Then we’re already down to about 90.
  • THWACK! 89
  • THWACK! 88
  • You’ve totally lost it. You’ve got cabin fever.
  • Shut up or I’ll set Britney on you
  • THWACK! 87
  • So what time is it now?

Close to Death In Tryphena


On my penultimate day on Great barrier, Paul & I made the hearty trudge from north to south of the island. Because Paul’s a rather exceptional hitcher not much actual walking was done in the end, but it still took us the good part of a day to reach Tryphena.


Once there we flopped down on the beach to catch the last of the day’s sun. Two things then happened consecutivley that made me feel very mortal. The first was that a pram fell out of the sky and missed me by an inch. I was too stunned to utter, but a nearby lady had screamed quite dramatically. A few moments later a couple of impish boys climbed down from the steep hill above, they politley apologised for nearly killing me & asked for their pram back.


Later, whilst Paul was off making a phone call, a solitary elderly man in blue swimming trucks slowly edged his way up the beach with the aid of a metal hospital walking stick. He stopped at a tree trunk just short of where I was sat, propped up his stick and with his arms outstretched for balance he shuffled stiffly towards the sea. My heartstrings pulled tight. After a minute he was only in up to his ankles. He kept going & the water reached his calves, then his knees. Nearly ten minutes had passed before the water was at his thighs. Still he pushed on until his shorts skimmed the surface. And then finally he bent low and begun to swim. I watched him swimming for a time before he stood up & begun the slow process all over again, heading falteringly back to the shore.


I don’t know that I can explain what it was this scene made me feel, but something about it was strong & powerful & sad. Unforgettable.


Shattered Globe (ponderings on the ferry back to Auckland)


Supposedly travelling the world will have the effect of making a person more open minded, tolerant and endowed with a healthy global perspective. I’ve noticed that in reality however, the more people go to other places, the more reasons they find to cast aspersions on any & every other group.


This is a collection of the passing comments I’ve heard since the adventure began. (Not my own opinions!!)


  • Godamn Germans everywhere you go.
  • Bloody Spaniards, too lazy to get anything done
  • French Polynesian! There’s no hope with a combination like that
  • My rule is never trust anyone you could blindfold with a shoelace.
  • Everyone knows European girls are sluts.
  • ‘JAFFAS’ means ‘Just another Fucking Aucklander’ you see the rest of New Zealand can’t stand us.
  • The Thing about the Canadians is that they are so nice it’s dull.
  • The Koreans have completely invaded the place.
  • Women on monthly period are not allowed inside to preserve the sanctity of the temple.
  • Everyone in LA is shallow & insincere
  • The Aussies are like the Americans, brash and obnoxious.
  • New Zealanders can’t take a joke. Sure they’re friendly enough but their only really happy when they’re drunk.
  • Up-their-own-arses Norwegians!
  • The African’s have just come down from the trees and will throw you in a pot.


And of course it’s not just Nationalities bitching at each other; it seems we’re not really happy until we’ve broken it down to a firm dislike of anybody who is anybody else:


With the British, it’s fairly clear that the Scots, Irish & Welsh all happily detest the English, (another quote: I’ve been to staying in Ireland; fantastic people, although they really hate you English don’t they?) but this is of no matter because the English are too busy secularising & hating themselves to notice: Northerners think Southerners are pussies; The Poor (chavs) get ridiculed by the (less poor) chav-nots . The dumber white people think everyone else is a terrorist. The young wealthy are busy stoking their noses with cocaine, fuelling a fragile sense of superiority. The old wealthy complain that there’s no 'Great' left in Great Britain and want to emigrate to New Zealand or Spain or Canada, despite the fact these places are apparently inhabited by drunks, lay-abouts & bores!


 And so it spins around. What a bunch of crazy-ass fools we must be ☺

mfmcp1982 says:
Love it!
Posted on: Apr 03, 2008
glennisnz says:
You say it all so well, and yes there are far too many generalizations made about other Nationals, travelling really does help that I have found.
I was sure I was colour biased...... until I made a good friend of a truely black man, and found I quickly forgot what colour he was and saw only the spirit inside, as he did on his side.
Posted on: Jan 25, 2008
Eric says:
Everyone in LA is shallow an insincere?'s more like 90% ;)

(Am I allowed to say that as an LA native? uh oh!)
Posted on: Jan 17, 2007
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photo by: Natasha