Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hot Springs, Kayaks and Another Irish Pub

Our second day in the Barrier was an action - packed one, as is to be expected when you only have 2 and a half days to see a place.

The first of the interesting things we did involved a long and arduous journey...across the road. The school Mum works at is literally across the road from her house and the piece of land it sits on connects down to the beach.

Mum had to work so we went over to make use of the school kayaks. Before we had much of a chance to get to the shed with the boats in it, we were met by a large group of local school children who were most interested in meeting us foreigners and were particularly intrigued that I was the son of their teacher.

While they were on their morning break, Beckett and I joined them in a game of soccer and some back and forth rugby goal - kicking which was enjoyed by everyone involved. After sufficiently hyping up the kids and sufficiently wearing ourselves out, they were ushered back inside for class and we finally got to taking one of the boats out.

The kayaks available were two person boats, so we each donned a life jacket, grabbed a paddle and launched ourselves into the sea after hobbling down barefoot over many a sharp stone to get there. We were probably only out there for half an hour before we turned around and came back in but I think it was enough to enjoy it without over - tiring ourselves.

It wasn't long after we got the boat back into the lock - up and the salt hosed off of our skin before Mum was done with her working day, so we soon had our local host again with another cool spot to show us.

The next must - see place for us was a natural hot spring off of one of the walking tracks. I can't remember how long the drive was to the start of the track but it was at most 30 - 40 minutes, and the track itself was an easy 20 minute trek to the pools.

We decided beforehand to pack a couple of cold drinks to take with us so when we got there we felt like we were living in absolute luxury. The pools at the time of our visit were about the same temperature as a standard spa pool and in the middle of native bushland are easily the top spot I've ever had the pleasure of hanging out with a cold beer in hand.

Much like spending time in a spa pool, it wasn't long before the heat became too much and we decided we'd had sufficient R & R time in the middle of nature. We packed up our gear, walked the 20 minutes or so back to the car and cruised back to Mum's thinking we'd made a pretty good day of it.

When we got back, Mum had one more plan for us. She took us out for dinner at the Irish pub just up the road from her house. I was slightly dumbfounded that an island so small had its own Irish pub and even more so when I was informed that in another part of the island there's a Thai restaurant as well. Quite the mix for such a small and relatively unpopulated spot.

We arrived at The Currach (name of the pub) and perused the menu for a bit before we decided to just get a sampler platter type thing with a little bit of everything on the menu along with a beer each. It was a neat little spot and the food was okay but I think the company really made the evening. It was the perfect way to cap off a good day, eating a shared meal together in a warm country pub environment.

There was quite a bit packed into our one full day on the island and I feel that we made the most of it. I'll re - cap real quick on some recommended spots when you visit The Barrier and I'll make some recommendations of a couple of places I didn't find room in this blog to write about.

Firstly, make sure you visit Medlands beach, it's an impressive spot and there's some great lookout spots in the surrounding area which you should stop at as you're driving past because they give a spectacular vantage point to look out over the island's coastline.

Definitely make sure you find out about the Hot Springs track and wear a swimsuit so you can have a dip in those, it's one of the coolest experiences I've ever had in my life. If you come in the peak summer season there are heaps of places to hire kayaks, surfboards and whatever gear you might need to make the best use of the island's beaches. I highly recommend kayaking around Tryphena if the opportunity presents itself.

There are a number of great artists of various mediums around the island and a fantastic gallery, so make a point of visiting the various studios around as well as the centralised gallery spaces.

There are also a number of great food places around and I can personally recommend The Burger Shack in Claris, The Hub in Port Fitzroy right next to where the boat comes in (both do spectacular burgers) or The Currach if you're after a nice place to have a beer. The Thai restaurant (which is called Angsana) is also a good spot if you're after ethnic food. They seem to open on a when they feel like it basis, which I guess is the general vibe of the whole island, so make sure you call them before you make the drive over there.

So there you have my top tips on things to do and see on G.B.I. which I think completes the list of nicknames the place goes by.

The next post is going to be about our trip back to Auckland leading into the first leg of our cross-country (or at least cross North Island) car trip back to Wellington.

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