On a fine day the Coromandel Peninsula is clearly visible from Auckland and if you look further north you can see the high points of a large island just beyond the horizon. Great Barrier was named by Captain Cook as its shelter makes the Hauraki Gulf the maritime playground of Auckland, and while many Aucklanders know of it very few have visited it. It is New Zealand's fourth largest island and although close to New Zealand's largest city it is still a remote and wild place.
Since March this year we have been undertaking a project for the Great Barrier Local Board to work with the island's community to develop an ecological vision for the future of the island. You can learn more about this project at www.gbiecologyvision.nz. Its forest is possum free and the island also has no stoats, ferrets or weasels. As a result many species that are very rare on the mainland can be easily seen on Great Barrier including kaka and brown teal.
The first phase of this exciting project has now been completed and we returned to the Barrier over the weekend to present the report to the community. On a beautifully fine early spring day the island's rugged mountainous spine and its sweeping sandy beaches are magnificent. Although the island doesn't have some of the amenities taken for granted in the rest or New Zealand, like reticulated electricity, you can get a great coffee, some magnificent local art and the chance to meet some authentic kiwi islanders. If Great Barrier isn't on your bucket list, it should be.