Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Trillium Lodge on Aotea/Great Barrier Island

We awaken here to the opposite of this, a quiet so large it fills our open-window room, lingering there in the sweet air.

Can quiet have a sound?

On Great Barrier Island--Motu Aotea (white cloud) in Maori--just 62 miles northeast of Auckland,  absolute silence comes naturally. The entire island is off-grid, every structure generating its own power via wind, water turbines, solar panels, or diesel generator. About 900 people live here.

The nighttime sky is inky black here, the brilliant twinkling stars like nothing I've seen before. Homes, streets, and places like our lodge are lit sparingly, to draw minimally from the battery banks fed by solar panels. With virtually no night light at all, Great Barrier has surrendered the convenience of nighttime illumination to a designation as a Dark Sky Sanctuary, conferred by the International Dark Sky Association in 2017. Here are several others.

We're definitely going to try for a night sky tour, but honestly looking up at the sky on a clear night from any location is thrilling.

Trillium Lodge
We're staying at Trillium Lodge, run by the extraordinarily gracious Lynda and Joanne (and their husbands), sisters whose ancestors on the island go back to the 1800s. They purchased the lodge in 2014, but the story of how the lodge got started is worth a read. Most interesting to us was the fact that one of the the original owners was from Ontario (hence trillium, the flower). She wanted to recreate the log buildings she'd seen in British Columbia and, remarkably, the builders chosen to do this were Mennonites from Idaho (hi Camille!).

Eventually Caribou Creek Log Homes, from Idaho in U.S.A., highly successful family businesses that specialise in log construction using the “chinking” method were chosen to build the house.  Five men and their families (11 adults and 17 children) Mennonites from Idaho were brought to New Zealand to build the house, they were here for almost three months around 1997.
Local stone was used to build the surround and chimney for the huge log fire; rimu was used for the floors and cedar tongue and groove on the ceilings.  The only cutting tools used in the log construction were four chainsaws and a small discgrinder, a cosmetic tool to remove the more obvious tooth marks left by the saws.


 Breakfast is included in the tariff

Note the highly perfumed passionfruit at 12 o'clock, and also the ripe fig from their trees.
Trillium is located in Tryphena, at the southern end of Great Barrier Island. The scale of the services here is challenging to describe. The food stores are tiny, occasionally well stocked and then not. We're happy to enjoy a big breakfast and then forage the handful of restaurants later in the day for a second meal.

We're just getting to know this place, settling into its rhythms, which are distinctly laid back, local, and extremely friendly. On two occasions in any many days, people have just started talking to us. Last night after exploring the beach above, a man pulled over his car and asked if we were lost. Then ensued a lively conversation about his living here 40 years ago, leaving and raising a family, and returning to live out his years.

Excellent seafood chowder last night at the Irish Pub in Tryphena

We walked Medlands Beach today, restoring body and soul after our long journey (not my photo).

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