Every year as soon as school finishes, I escape to Tiritirimatangi.
This is a time of reflection and an opportunity to recharge my batteries.
Each year is no different. Sometimes too, I escape at other term breaks.
Tiritirimatangi is an island just out of Auckland and is only accessible by the Tirikat boat.
I usually come by myself as I enjoy the solitude.
I also like to come out on a Sunday and return on a Wednesday as on Monday and Tuesdays no ferries come here so the island is nice and quiet.
Getting ready for the journey is always stressful as I pack and try to ensure I have my togs, snorkel gear, a lavalava, my bedding and decent walking shoes. I take enough food for 3 days and a little extra in case we need to stay longer. I try and keep plastic to a minimum and use old jam jars for storage instead. I pre cut all vegetables except for potatoes. I take clothes in layers. Eg, bike shorts, loose pants, singlet, t,shirt, long sleeve shirt. Rain jacket. I always take a sun hat. The stressful part being, have I got everything? Once on Tiri it’s not like I can pop down the road and pick up milk. We are talking isolation. I stay at the DOC accommodations which is really like glamping. They have bunks, solar electricity, running water, cooking gear, gas stoves and even a microwave. Devices can be charged and sockets are shared. 3G access is a bit naff, unless I climb the hill and balance on one leg with my arm stretched out.
Once leaving Auckland, the ferry travels for 50 minutes and stops at gulf harbour to pick up the next group. Then in another 15 mins we are there.
On arrival the ranger call all arrivals together for a quick debrief and gear is loaded onto the service trucks. Like I said, glamping. I walk straight to the accommodation and unpack my gear, have my lunch then head over to the other side to search out a quiet spot. Accommodation is primarily for staff and volunteer supporters. However if you are really lucky, you can score a spare bed. Don’t forget ear plugs, because you might end up with someone like me who snores.
I don’t want to share too much regarding the Island as the supporters of Tiri make money by selling maps and general information. It only costs a $1.00, so do buy one.
In the forest I sit and listen to forest sounds. I sit and listen to the birds calling each other and can identify most of them. I hear the wind passing between the tree branches and in the distant I can hear the waves of the sea as the tide changes. I love seeing the leaves of the trees move gentle in the breeze. If I find a warm spot, then it is a chance for a nana nap. Where else in the world could you do this and not worry about personal safety?
My favourite time of the day in the forest is early morning or early evening as the birds wake up or quieten down. The Tui are always the first up and are the last to sleep.
Sometimes I listen for the wing sounds of the birds and see if I have identified them correctly when they come to my view. My favourite wing sound is the Kereru as it whoomp whoomp past and sounds like a helicopter.
I have many favourite spots on the island and one is the bird baths on Wattle drive where I can sit and watch the Tui dart back and forth to chase of all the birds who try and sneak in for a splash. Every so often one gets in and I watch them having a cooling down session. I also like this part of Tiri because I have seen the Kokako here many times.
As I sit I identify the smells around me and generally it smells like compost. This is a good clean smell.
If I have woken early for the dawn chorus and as the forest quieten I usually make my way to the beach where I like to have an early morning swim in the area where the Tirikat docks. There I have seen sea horses feeding on seaweed early in the morning. Depending on the season, I love to float on my back and watch the kereru swoop from tree to tree. If I swim near the rocks, I watch the kakariki parrots chattering on the harakeke that grow along the shoreline. If it is December I can look up the shoreline and see the Pohutukawa trees in full flower and I know that summer has arrived. The holidays stretch out in front of me and I sigh blissfully, because I know how fast they pass.
I have met some interesting people while visiting Tiritirimatangi and most come for the solitude that the island gives. My favourite is when there is a researcher and often they are so excited to share their findings with a complete stranger. I also love finding old timers who have been there since the beginning and they always have fabulous stories. Generally though the usual clientele are Tiri supporters who have come across to help with island maintenance.
Every time I have visited I have managed to see kiwis at night and I always see the kokako.
I take the same paths and I swim in the same spots. Each visit is different to the last.
I visit the shop and spend a few hours but do not buy much. I just love to see the art work and to see if the local artists have really captured the life on a Tiri and generally they do.
Visiting Tiri allows me to reflect on my place on earth and after each visit I return home with renewed energy to remind others of leaving a legacy for future generations.
Do you have a favourite escape place? Where is it and why is it special? Do share and tag me.