Wwoofing Mad on the Great Barrier Island!
Wwoofing on Great Barrier Island!!… Where do I start?!
Well… I was in Auckland after the Rugby World Cup debating what I was going to do next. I was on Gumtree one afternoon and saw an add from a guy who needed a Wwoofer to help out at his home on this place called Great Barrier Island. His add sounded pretty cool and I thought I’d give him a ring so I did and he sold the idea to me. I agreed I’d go over and help out there as soon as I could so I booked a taxi for 5am the next morning so I could catch the only ferry of the day at 6am.
I woke up around 4:30am head breakfast and went to wait for my taxi outside. And guess what? It didn’t come. So I ran into the house, phoned the company and was told it would be better to ring another company. A car came and I ask the driver if he could get me to the Ferry in time, he assured me he could so I jumped in and we set off. Halfway up the road he asked me which way he had to go!! I hadn’t been to the port before so I had as much as an idea as him! Using my pigeons instinct I directed him towards the port but he was driving like a pansy! Cars were overtaking us left, right and centre he was going soo slow!! We got to the port and there the ferry was… leaving the harbour!!! Agghh! I paid $50 for the stupid taxi and got out. I walked around the harbour and Auckland with my bags at 6am for about 2 hours figuring out what to do. I ended up going and checking into a hostel so I could get myself to the ferry the next morning.
I got the ferry the next day and the 5+hour crossing was amazing! Saw a whale and some stunning views. Anyway I got there and off the boat to find a port consisting of a shed and a phone booth and no one there waiting for me! I didn’t have any phone signal and forgot to get the address of the place I was going to stay! Nightmare! I found a taxi driver who was hanging around and asked to use his phone to ring the Wwoofing guy. He answered and said he was back on the main land in Auckland doing some business!! I was like whaaaaaaa????!!! Luckily his wife was on the island and the taxi driver was cool and found out the way to his house, I got dropped off up some dirt track and went to the house and met the wife who was not expecting me at all!
They lived on top of a hill covered in forest, over-looking two bays on the island! It was amazing! They put me up in their little summer house which had a double bed, 2 bunk beds, a sink and a wood burner. It was pretty cool!! They had 5 kids, a load of pigs and piglets, chickens, a potato patch and vegy gardens. The first day I was thrown in straight away, I dug up some potatoes, picked spinach and had to chase the pigs out of the vegy garden. That night I met 3 of the kids and had to baby-sit them. They went from 3years old to 10years old. 4 girls and 1 boy. They kind of ran riot but were ok with me thankfully!
The next day the wife told me that the husband had gone to hospital and wouldn’t be out for a few days because he got a sea urchin in his foot! That meant that I had a bit more to do than I had expected. The next few days consisted of driving 4x4’s around to do random jobs, putting an electric fence up for a new pig pen, baby sitting the kids because it was the mum’s 40th! Making a load of beds because they had 10 fishermen coming to stay, washing loads of dishes, taking the kids trick’or’treating, planting vegy’s and loads more! I did have some time to chill now and again which was good, I went to the beach and chilled out in their house. They made food for me every meal time and it was amazing! Fresh veg and freshly hunted meat!
When the husband came back from hospital a few days later it got a bit easier. I mowed and strimmed the gardens in the morning then we would do something cool in the afternoon. We went diving for scallops the first day. He had never done a diving course and had these dodgy tanks, mine didn’t even work properly so I free-dived instead! We got some scallops for breakfast the next morning which were amazing! He would wake up, cook a massive breakfast, crack a bottle of beer or Woodstock open then just do random jobs around the house and garden. He lived the life big time! He took me out again to dive for cray-fish, he got one huge one and again we had that the next day and it tasted sooo good! His mate would bring boar and fish that he had hunted around for him to have so I cooked a boar’s leg in their outside wood-oven! It was amazing the way they lived, just went into their garden to make sure they had enough food to eat and then go hunting or fishing every now and again to stock the freezer! On my last day he took me out on their fishing boat, the sea was soooo rough it was crazy but he wanted to catch something so we stayed out. I got a decent red snapper but annoyingly his 7 year old daughter caught a massive one on the electric rod! He would ask me to do random jobs on the boat and tie stuff up that I had no clue about but I think I managed to blag it! We didn’t sink anyway!
Helping looking after 5 kids for over a week was pretty tiring, hats off to all the parents out there I don’t know how you do it! I booked a bus tour back on the main land so after 11 days I had to leave the Great Barrier. It was an amazing experience probably one of the best I have had so far and I was really lucky to have that chance! I didn’t expect the trip home to be as an experience as the last few days but it was probably the most random trip I’ve ever made!…
I got up in the morning all packed and went to see what the plan was before I left. The guy needed some quick jobs done so I didn’t get the chance to have breakfast. We jumped in the 4x4 and had to take a boat to his mates house the other side of the island. On the way back we went down to a boat landing and un-loaded my bags. He told me to jump into a little rowing boat with my bags and row over the harbour to this fishing boat that he knew the captain of and ask if I could get a sail over to Auckland!! I started rowing over in this little boat that was barely big enough for me and my bags and got over to the fishing boat. I bumped into the side and the guys came to see who it was. They were pretty cool and let me on. I got introduced to the skipper and he had 1 arm!! That made me a bit apprehensive but he agreed to take me over to Auckland for free. Little did I know that I would end up “driving” the boat at least half of the way!! We got going and then he fell to sleep! The guy I had stayed with on the island had also jumped on and he started to steer but he was drinking and ended up having a few to many, it was really rough sea but that wasn’t the reason for him stumbling around! So anyway I ended up at the wheel. I have never been in rougher sea’s and not really steered a boat that big before! The waves were crashing up and over the boat it was nuts! The first time I got the wheel I nearly turned the boat in a full circle and the waves were smashing against the side! After getting put back on course I got the hang of it and sailed for a few hours. There were 5 fishermen on the boat and they were all pretty cool, they got a bbq going and let me have a load of chicken and cheese and crackers which was awesome! We got into Auckland about 6 hours later, I helped them unload the boat and then left them to get a ferry to the city harbour.
It was a crazy week and a half that I will never forget! I learnt a lot and did a lot of things I definitely would not have done if I was just travelling! It was a great experience and really interesting to see how different people live. I would highly recommend that anyone going away should do a little bit of Wwoofing!!