What's up DOC - Hauraki Gulf islands - 2 May
Great Barrier Island - Aotea
Has over 100 km of walking tracks, with options to suit all ages
and range of experience. The "premiere" track is the Hot Springs
Track, recently upgraded to wheelchair standard. This track is
about an hour one way, and a favourite with families. There are hot
pools at the end of the walk, popular bathing all year round. The
track skirts the Kaitoke wetlands, which are an area of ecological
importance, especially for birdlife such as marsh crakes, fernbirds
Birdlife on Barrier is quite special and a real attraction for visitors. Kaka, kereru and banded rails are frequently seen on tracks across the island and in some of the campgrounds as well. The absence of possums and any mustelids is a reason for the seeming abundance of many bird species. Important shorebirds including the NZ dotterel nest on many of the long and uncrowded white sandy beaches that are a great visitor attraction on the island's east coast.
The rugged mountainous interior of GBI provides a number of more challenging walks and tramps, with at least 4 tracks leading to the summit of Mt Hirakimata or Mt Hobson. The summit area of Mt Hirakimata provides the best view of the island, but is also important as the breeding area for black petrel, whose current population is estimated at about 4000 birds. The walk from Windy Canyon to the summit of Mt Hirakimata is the most scenic and easiest of the summit routes, passing through the spectacular Windy Canyon on its way. This route also passes through remnant unlogged kauri forest, with some spectacular forest giants to be seen. Tomtits are sometimes seen in the summit area.
Private conservation groups on GBI have been active in ecological restoration projects across the island, and successful predator (rat and feral cat) control has allowed the successful release of north island robins at Windy Hill Rosalie Bay Catchment Trust in the south of the island, and at Glenfern in the north of the island.
Walks on Great Barrier Island http://www.doc.govt.nz/templates/ActivitiesSummary.aspx?id=34311
Marine Reserve - NZ's first to be created
Cape Rodney to Okakari Point Marine Reserve, best known as Goat Island, popular destination for those that want to view a huge variety of marine life up close. Also has a short walk suitable for families, good coastal views.
Spanning from Cape Rodney to Okakari Point, the reserve includes the waters around Goat Island and is also known as Goat Island or Leigh marine reserve.
The University of Auckland's marine laboratory is based at the reserve. Now that fishing has stopped, studies can be made into the way a marine ecosystem functions in its natural state.
This research helps us to use the reserve as a yardstick for judging the impact of our activities elsewhere. For this reason please be careful around any scientific equipment you may come across in the reserve.
Under the water
The best way to experience the reserve and its inhabitants is to get into the water with them. Those with a mask and snorkel can explore the rocks close to shore while divers can visit deeper areas further out.
Cape Rodney-Okakari Marine Reserve offers some of the best snorkelling and scuba diving opportunities close to Auckland.
On the shore
In most shallow areas of the reserve, particularly from the main beach, you will see many varieties of fish and shellfish. People should not feed the fish as this changes their behaviour and makes them difficult to study. At low tide you can explore the rocky shore. If you turn over boulders to look underneath or pick up animals, make sure you place them back carefully afterwards otherwise the creatures may die.
The nearest boat launching ramp to the marine reserve is in Leigh Cove, just below the township of Leigh. Boaties are welcome to navigate and anchor carefully in the reserve. Extra caution may be needed in some areas because of the number of divers and swimmers. Do not exceed five knots within 200 metres of the shore or a dive flag, or within 30 metres of any other boat or person in the water.
During popular times, snorkel hire and a glass-bottom boat operate from the reserve, weather permitting.