Last weekend a couple of Mozillians --- David Baron and Jean-Yves Avenard --- plus myself and my children flew to Great Barrier Island for the weekend. Great Barrier is in the outer Hauraki Gulf, not far from Auckland; it takes about 30 minutes to fly there from Auckland Airport in a very small plane. The kids and I camped on Friday night at "The Green" campsite at Whangaparapara, while David and Jean-Yves stayed at Great Barrier Lodge nearby. On Saturday we did the Aotea Track in clockwise direction, heading up the west side of the hills past Maungapiko, then turning east along the South Fork Track to Mt Heale Hut for the night. (The usual continuation past Kaiaraara Hut along the Kaiaraara track had been washed out by storms last year, and we saw evidence of storm damage in the form of slips almost everywhere we went.) Even the South Fork Track had been partially rerouted along the bed of the Kaiaraara Stream. We were the only people at Mt Heale Hut and had a good rest after a reasonably taxing walk. But inspired by Jean-Yves, we found the energy to do a side trip to Mt Hobson --- the highest point on the island --- before sunset.
On Sunday we walked south out of the hills to the Kaitoke hot strings and had a dip in the hot, sulphurous water --- very soothing. Then along the road to Claris and a well-earned lunch at the "Claris, Texas" cafe. We still had lots of time to kill before our flight so we dropped our bags at the airport (I use the term loosely) and walked out to Kaitoke Beach. A few of us swam there, carefully, since the surf felt very treacherous.
I'd never been tramping overnight at the Barrier before and really enjoyed this trip. There aren't many weekend-sized hut tramps near Auckland, so this is a great option if you don't mind paying to fly out there. The flight itself is a lot of fun.