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We become a mobile village. We develop common jokes. We learn what we struggle with, and how to help each other. A journey is a special thing. It brings us out to see the world. It brings us in to know ourselves. It brings us together to grow.
We ferried from Auckland, New Zealand, 5 hours to “The Barrier”, as the locals call it. It’s the Hauraki Gulf’s outermost island, receiving the Pacific Ocean’s swell on its east side.
We started paddling up the west side, to build the team and see what we were capable of. We found some headwind, and raced a dropping tide to The Green campsite. On day 2, we landed early, played hockey with the cow patties to clear a beautiful campsite, and named it Cow Patty Heaven. Then we played the afternoon away along the edges of the Broken Islands as the wind and swell grew.
A windy morning followed a windy night and gave us the excuse to enjoy Heaven a little longer, hiking for cell reception, forecasts, and views. We relocated the kitchen into a charming little hollow in the trees. The afternoon let us glide away and up to Port Fitzroy where Fred the friendly endangered Pateke duck tried to help us wash dishes, even before we were finished eating.
Early in the trip we discovered that the most challenged of us on land was the most passionate about paddling close to rocks. In Fitzroy, we voted to brave the long muddy launch to have more time to play around those tempting rocks.
We explored up the west coast to Miners Head, from which we could see The Needles, the Barrier’s northern point. The forecast chased us back to Fitzroy, where some played in the building conditions, and we all took shelter in the kitchen hut (New Zealand knows how to make camping easy!). Many of us also took shelter in the convenient pre-mixed Gin & Tonics Tammy and Mike kept bringing from the nearby Fitzroy store.
For the grand finale, we shuttled to Harataonga campsite, on the east side, for some fun in the surf and swell. For more pix, see Barrier Photos 2017.