Welcome To Great Barrier Island; Accident, Orcas, Dolphins & more

—Just a note. Sorry for the late update, but I’m having great difficulties picking up a signal for my mobile Internet. —

It is 0700 in the morning and I am on my way via ferry to Great Barrier Island, taking the rest of my belongings to my new home. Relocation started on the 24th of June; the plan was to pack two cars, take them over, build a weather-proof shed, put all my stuff into it, build a case for the batteries and home-made 12 V generator, get the mobile Internet going, install a fire-place and start boarding up the rundown and abandoned A-Frame that stands on the house site. Well, this was the plan, and here is what really happened.

Check-in at the ferry in Auckland’s (Wynyard Wharf) was scheduled for 0600 last Friday and we got up at 0500, since the cars were fully laden inside and on top and we needed to drive slowly. Gary’s car didn’t start, so we quickly jump-started it and drove off. Neither of us was able to see the mirror or look through the window on the passenger site, as I had managed to pack the entire area. Not a good idea; some lane changing and coming into intersections ended up being more intuitive than anything else. We arrived safe, sound and in time at the ferry terminal and checked-in for a 5 hour sail. It was dark, cold and yeah early in the morning. Neither of us had much sleep. The sail was comfortable, we watched Prince of Persia in the movie room and spent the rest of the time making plans and reading on-board magazines.

Tight packing I
Tight Packing II
Leaving downtown Auckland
Rangitoto, a young volcano in the Hauraki Gulf

We arrived at Trypnena at around noon and headed straight to my new home. It is a 5 km drive from the wharf to the start of the drive-way (a ROW = right of way), which winds uphill for 1.5 km. It has been raining heavily lately and as a result some parts of the drive-way are muddy. The last 50 m to my site is quite steep and I managed to get stuck. I had to back up and give it another go with more momentum (or as some say: I had to gun it). To make a long ordeal short, I unpacked the car, gunned it up, watched how Gary got stuck – his car was so full, that it was impossible for him to reverse since his exhaust was kissing the road. Did I mention that it started raining heavily while we were trying to solve the problem at hand and had unloaded the cars to make them lighter. Well, it was raining…
I grabed))) a rope from my neighbour and pulled Gary’s car up. Finally, we made it to the house site. It took us 2.5 hours for this 7 km drive. Yeeehah!

30 m to go, but stuck
No sea views today...

It was 1400 o’clock and I was driving down the steep bit to fetch my gear that was scattered around. On the third trip down, I was reversing up the steep bit of the drive-way and got off course. I felt something was not quite right and before I could hit the breaks, KAAAWOOOOM. I scraped along a tree trunk and managed to dent nearly all panels on the passenger side. Bad timing too, 50 more cm and I would have only hit the bank with the rear bumper. Not a good feeling I can tell you. And yes, it also looked bad and was bad. I just ruined my car, standing in the rain and looking at the mess I created. What can you do at the end of the day, it was an accident, I was tired and not paying enough attention and I sincerely hope that this expensive lesson will teach me to always be patient and careful. It is sad, but it is only a car. My take-home-lesson is: Always pay attention to what you are doing! Next time I might harm myself… This is easier said than done! So yeah, after a couple of minutes of shouting and feeling the burn, I put it aside and we went on to building the shed.

The rear bumper is okay.

You gotta imagine it pouring down like mad for 10 minutes, then fine, then pouring etc. Pretty much, every time something wasn’t under cover it rained. Every time you needed something, it was not near… We gave our best with the shed for 3 hours until it was dark, but didn’t really get far. The problem was that the instructions were of poor reading quality and many things just didn’t add up. All parts were labelled, but some were not mentioned, and it appeared that we didn’t have all the parts in the right quantity. Very annoying, I can tell you. We were wet, cold, exhausted, hungry, annoyed, frustrated, it was dark and we still believed that we are doing something wrong as we couldn’t follow the given instructions. We gave up, drove to our friends, where we had a beer, a couple of laughs and a good night’s sleep. It was a memorable night for me. All my gear was scattered outside under tarpaulins, my car was severely damaged; can we manage to build that shed? I was lying in bed thinking of tomorrow.

Jonah accompanied us the next morning – like Gary he is experienced with building and fixing things. I recall Gary saying: “Good, let’s put yesterday behind us. With Jonah we’ll have that shed up in no time”. Yeah, right! It turned out that the instructions were for a much bigger shed and that we had to drill every hole since nothing matched up. Did I mention that my recently acquired drill ran out of juice after 10 minutes? Let’s be fair each battery lasted 10 minutes. I had two. While the battery charge indicator denoted 80%, the drill simply had no juice. We worked for a solid 8 hours – fortunately, Gary’s drill worked all day -, one coffee break, no food and had the shed up just after dark (with a couple of spare pieces and some minor unfinished work). It rained and gusted heavily during the night and I was very glad to see the shed still standing the next day and my belongings being dry. But yeah, at the end of the day, we only managed – with help – to put the shed up and nothing else. So much for the initial and ambitious plan.

The shed is up, measuring 3.5 x 2.5 m2

I appreciate Gary’s and Jonah’s help very much. Without them I would have had all my things still under tarpaulins. Thanks boys!

We sailed back on Sunday. On Monday I made a successful claim with my insurance, went to Mitre 10 with my drill set, upgraded for a Makita LXZ package and packed the car and boat.

Today is going to be another mission. The car is full, the boat is full. My cat is with me this time, he has never been in a cage or locked in since I owe him. Therefore, he is very concerned and afraid. Poor bugger. I hope he won’t run away or get lost and not find his way back to his new home. He is a top cat and besides being a friend, he’ll let the rats know to avoid my place. The mood is very good. I’m happy and albeit being annoyed at times, I am enjoying the challenges. After all, living on a remote and rugged island means that you will have to be patient and smart. You will encounter difficulties and I will have to understand that this is all part of it. These challenges are at least of worthy nature; it is not that long ago where I sat in an office conducting – to say the very least – questionable, uninteresting research and dealing with computer and bad management issues.

To round it off, here some pictures of dolphins and the ferry. We sighted the orcas on Sunday while waiting to embark onto the ferry. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take a picture of the baby orca. Its dorsal fin was almost entirely bitten off (I hear that male orcas sometimes hurt their young ones.). I just sighted these (bottle nose?) dolphins a few moments ago on this trip to Great Barrier Island. Quite spectacular and regular visitors on journeys to the Barrier. Believe me, it is different watching them on your own – sometimes only 10 feet away from the rocks -, as opposed to sitting on a vessel that takes tourists and charges you a lot of money. I’ve seen regularly schools of orcas, bottle nose dolphins, seals, penguins and of course fish whilst sitting on a rock and catching a feed.

The Island Navigator Auckland. Sealink's ferry to Great Barrier IslandOrcas in Tryphena harbour
Orcas in Tryphena harbour
Leaving Tryphena; here is a good spot for fishing off the rocks
Visiting dolphins

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