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Mention that you are spending a night in the DoC house at Cape Brett Lighthouse and you will be greeted with a look of either admiration or pity. The 7 or so hour trek out there is an outstanding coastal walk, but certainly not for the fainthearted or for someone looking for an easy ride…. and an easy ride is precisely what you can have, if you book the water taxi to take you out there and back!
There was a group of 8 of us in total so for the princely sum of $45 per person each way, we were transported from Russell wharf to the landing at Cape Brett. With us, were all the essentials for a great weekend away.
One of the joys of being ferried out by boat is that you can not only carry your sleeping bag and personal necessities in your backpack, but with help from your mates, you can lug a couple of chilly-bins full of good food, beer and wine relatively quickly up the short hike up the hill to the DoC cottage. I was warned it was quite a steep hike, but really it wasn’t a big deal, about 15 minutes all up, up being the operative word. But once there the DoC hut was a pleasant surprise in terms of facilities and comfort and at $12 per person a night a bargain! Formerly one of the Lighthouse keeper’s home, it is well appointed, well maintained with plenty of equipment for cooking our evening feast.
Inside the DoC cottage there are some fantastic books and pictures that share the lifestyle of people living at the settlement and you get a real feel of the hardships some of them had to endure. Life wasn't always easy but there were certainly compensations.
We explored the area and managed to locate the site of the original Whim, a horse drawn wheel, now hidden in the undergrowth, that hauled the original lighthouse components up the cliff so it could be built in the first place. Once back at the cottage we absorbed stunning views, punctured only by tourism operators bringing people visiting the Hole in the Rock by boat or helicopter. And then it was blissfully quiet again. But the best bit was sitting there as the sun started to go down, with a glass of Chardonnay in hand, a delicious Thai chicken curry simmering on the stove and yummy desert in the chilly bin... while the walkers arrived in dribs and drabs tending to their blisters.Yes we were a bit smug and the walkers had the moral high ground, but we had our creature comforts!
Then in the morning after a hearty breakfast, our water taxi arrived as planned shortly before midday to take us back home. So if you you are short on time, don't want the effort of the hike out on the track, you can still get to enjoy the sheer beauty of this amazing spot.
To book the DoC hut, visit their online booking system.
Come sailing in the Bay of Islands on Northland’s iconic tall ship! Become part of the crew, help sail the ship or relax & enjoy the day. Operated by a charitable trust with profits supporting youth sail training programmes.