Travelling to Great Barrier Island
Good Heavens operate on the beautiful and remote Great Barrier Island, accessible by a plane or ferry journey from Auckland, New Zealand. Lying 88km northeast of Auckland, getting here is part of the adventure! To enjoy a Dark Sky Experience, you will want (and need) to stay overnight. In fact, we recommend you stay at least 2 nights, to have more chance of a clear night and a successful experience. But you needn’t worry about getting bored as there is plenty of exploring to do on Great Barrier Island.
There are flights to Great Barrier Island from Auckland Domestic Airport, which is within walking distance or a short shuttle ride from Auckland International Airport. Airline operators are FlyMySky and Great Barrier Air, and their scenic flights over the Hauraki Gulf in 8 or 15 seater planes take around half an hour.
The ferry sails 3 times a week in winter and 5 times a week in the middle of summer. Sealink is the main ferry operator and a ferry crossing takes around 4.5 hours. The sailing through the Hauraki Gulf is beautiful and allows you to truly unwind, unless it’s windy, in which case it’s a bit of a roller coaster ride. On this sailing there is a good chance that you will see dolphins.
Transport on Great Barrier Island
There is one bus service a day, from the south to the north of the island and back. This service operates during the day and is not suitable for our Dark Sky Experiences. If you are coming on a Look Up and Get Lost Experience at Medlands beach, we recommend that you either rent a car, get a night time taxi with Tryphena Shuttles or book accommodation at Medlands beach.
The alternative is to book a Heavens Above Private Dark Sky Experience where we will come to you, either at your accommodation, or a suitable place close by. The added bonus is that you will have us to yourself.
Accommodation on Great Barrier Island
There are many different types of accommodation on Great Barrier Island. Our group Look Up and Get Lost Experience typically operates from Medlands Beach. So if this is your prefered experience, recommended accommodation is Medlands Beach Lodge or Medlands Beach Backpackers. There are many other places for rent at Medlands. Have a look on www.bookabach.co.nz.
If you choose a Heavens Above Private Dark Sky Experience, the following places have great views of the sky and/or have great viewing decks:
- Self-contained XSPOT which offers the Heavens Above Experience at a reduced rate to guests in winter.
- Trillium Lodge with fabulous views over Tryphena and the Southern Sky
- Mount Saint Paul Lodge looking out over Kaitoke
Why Great Barrier Island is special
- Off the grid: no reticulated power, water or gas. All households make their own power
- Many endangered bird species
- Virtually deserted, stunning beaches
- Many well-maintained walking tracks.
- Very few people, very few shops, quite a few art galleries. (950, 4, and a changing number, check at http://www.greatbarrierislandtourism.co.nz/thingstodo/art-for-arts-sake/). If you have dietary requirements, we recommend you bring your own provisions, though Stonewall Store in Tryphena does have a wide range of organic and gluten free products.
- It takes about 1.5 hrs to drive from one end of the island to the other. In winter, you could drive this whole distance without meeting another car.
- There is a lot of native bush and no large predators or snakes. It’s a fantastic place for safe adventures if you make sure you are well informed. The Department of Conservation website is a great place to start.
What to bring to Great Barrier
- A torch as there is no street lighting.
- Suitable, warm clothes. Our daytime temperatures range from 5-16 C in winter, and 16-30 C in summer. Evenings under the stars are often chilly, even during summer.
- Sturdy shoes.
- A hat and sunscreen, the sun shines bright in the Southern Hemisphere, especially from November – March.
- Swimwear – even in winter, the Kaitoke hot springs are always welcoming and warm. A lovely natural spa in the bush and a great spot for a picnic.
For more info, also check out the official Great Barrier website.