World famous in New Zealand: Glenfern Sanctuary, the best part of Aotea Great Barrier Island


In 1992 the late Tony Bouzaid embarked on an inspiring bird restoration project on Aotea Great Barrier Island, which he had enjoyed as a teenager but which has since fallen silent.

He bought 83 acres on the Kotuku Peninsula at the north end of the island and began to eradicate the rats, mice, pigs and wild cats.

He made great progress in 2008 when he built a sturdy, two-kilometer, predator-proof fence over the headland and was able to concentrate on eliminating the predators it contained. It was a great and never-ending job, but satisfying, and while he is no longer there to enjoy the fruits of his labor, he has seen his sanctuary, now a regional park run by a charitable foundation with the Returning to fruition came the birds, native skinks and kauri trees.

CONTINUE READING:
* Great Barrier Island: Come to visit, stay for a lifetime
* Great Kiwi Road Trips: Great Barrier Island
* New Zealand‘s dark heavenly sanctuaries are places of interest that are well worth traveling to

There is a great view of Port Fitzroy from the Loop Track vantage point.

Glenfern Conservation Area

There is a great view of Port Fitzroy from the Loop Track vantage point.

Why go?

Because you’ve come all the way to the Great Barrier and you can’t miss one of the best spots. There’s a two-kilometer loop trail to explore, and the slower you go the better – you might even spot the giant, endemic chevron skink.

The babbling of the brook is almost drowned out by the singing of birds as you walk through lush bush that is partly virgin and partly regenerated.

Kākā are loud and inquisitive residents of Glenfern.

Glenfern Conservation Area

Kākā are loud and inquisitive residents of Glenfern.

You steadily ascend to the vantage point with its expansive views of the Hauraki Gulf, its scattered islands, and the distant mainland, but it’s hard not to be distracted by T-swings, screeching kākā and kererÅ« on stable dives.

A highlight is the swing bridge and ladder to the top of a 600-year-old kauri to look through its branches over the now green and bird-loving peninsula. Overnight visitors can enjoy a colorful sunset and then a starry glow at this Dark Sky Sanctuary.

Climb to the top of an ancient cowrie.

Glenfern Conservation Area

Climb to the top of an ancient cowrie.

Insider tip

While there is plenty to enjoy during the day, a nightly visit offers a completely different experience of spotting wētā, fireflies and eels, hooting ruru / moreporks and listening to melodic whistling kākā.

The loop track takes you through pristine and regenerating bush.

Glenfern Conservation Area

The loop track takes you through pristine and regenerating bush.

You can take a guided tour to see all of this and stay at the sanctuary in the historic 1901 Fitzroy House or the cozy Glenfern Cottage. There is a wharf and moorings if you are arriving by private boat.

On the way / nearby

Swim, surf or fish. Visit Claris for local art and great coffee and great food. Choose a hiking trail, long or short. Or just bathe in the Kaitoke Hot Springs – as natural as they come.

Fitzroy House and Glenfern Cottage offer comfortable and historic accommodations.

Glenfern Conservation Area

Fitzroy House and Glenfern Cottage offer comfortable and historic accommodations.

How much?

You can get to Aotea Great Barrier on a 4.5-hour Sealink ferry, by air, or by private boat. Entry to the sanctuary is free. The solar-powered Fitzroy House, which sleeps up to 10, costs $ 800 a night and the Glenfern Cottage (six people) costs $ 250. Bring your own food and drink. All accommodation costs are used to maintain the sanctuary.

Glenfern has New Zealand's largest population of the rare pāteke (brown teal).

Glenfern Conservation Area

Glenfern has New Zealand’s largest population of the rare pāteke (brown teal).

Best travel time

Spring and summer are great for bird life, especially the rare black petrels that only nest here. The sanctuary is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in winter and until 6 p.m. in summer. See: glenfern.org.nz

Stay safe: New Zealand is currently subject to Covid-19 restrictions. Face-covering is mandatory on all flights and public transport. In some places, according to the traffic light system, a vaccination certificate and a vaccination exemption can be requested. Follow the instructions at covid19.govt.nz.


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