The Island we live on in the Hauraki Gulf is 60 acres (24 hectares) in size, with three sandy beaches. The highest point is just 50 metres above sea. To us, the island is the perfect size. I can walk around the inside of the whole island each morning in about 45 minutes. It’s a manageable size; not too big and not too small.
To walk around the outside of the island at low tide takes about an hour, and it takes me about the same time to slowly kayak around at high tide.
The Island is home to a resort that was built in the 60’s and closed in 2000, and includes a restaurant, conference centre, squash courts and gym, swimming pool and about 30 two and three bedroom chalets and another 30 studio units, plus staff quarters.
There is a large concrete jetty, with a hydraulic ramp, that works sometimes, but we always launch the Island boat from the beach.
In the early days the only Island vehicles were a quad bike (with no reverse); a rusting John Deere tractor and the aging ride-on lawn mower. Six years later there is a new ride-on lawn mower (with cup holders), a bigger aging tractor, and two jeeps, one with a tow bar. There is just one narrow tar sealed track from the bottom of the island to about mid-way. On the hill up to the workshop there is a blind corner and when I’m driving the jeep up this track I’m always nervous that Nigel could be tearing down in the opposite direction on the other jeep or lawnmower.
Rain water is captured from the various roofs of buildings at the bottom of the island, pumped into tanks and then pumped up the hill behind all the buildings to a large tank and then gravity fed back down.
Four aging solar panels and a wind turbine generate power for our unit. We use gas for cooking and hot water. When there are visitors the diesel generator is switched on and this powers up the ‘mains’ electricity, though only one oven can be used at a time.
There is no stock on the island, so all the grass is mowed, including the golf course at the far end of the island. There are a couple of areas of native bush, but otherwise the rest of the island is fairly accessible. I’m sure I’ve explored at least 90 percent of the Island and I’ve walked around it over a thousand times.
There is no ferry service to the Island, but there is an area for a helicopter to land. The nearest island with shops is about a ten minute boat ride away and then it’s a 45 minute drive over unsealed and sealed roads to reach the grocery store.
The Island has a rich and well documented history. (More about that later).