May 12, 2022 / Gins
Exploring Great Barrier Island
Exploring Great Barrier Island
When Andi Ross, Master Distiller behind Island Gin describes Great Barrier Island as being like a “lost world”, she means it in the best way possible. With unrivalled sights to explore and a sizeable distance from mainland New Zealand, it really is like stepping into a dreamscape.
Crafting gin in paradise

Less than a thousand people are lucky enough to call Great Barrier Island home, despite the island being a sprawling 285 square kilometres in size. With most of the residents making their living in either farming or tourism, many describe a visit as being like jumping back in time.

Laid-back, communal and home to one of the world’s best gins. What more could you want from your next holiday destination?

“Arriving by plane on Barrier Air is an adventure,” Andi laughs. “It’s magical if you love flying in a 12-seater plane for the 30-minute trip across the Hauraki Gulf. On approach to Claris Airport, you are greeted with magnificent views of Kaitoke Beach.

Andi lives for the island’s spectacular sunrises and sunsets, and there’s plenty to keep holidaymakers happy beyond simply relaxing to the sounds of nature.

“Dolphins cruise past our beach in the warmer months, and if you’re lucky you may catch a glimpse of whales on the other side of the island near Tryphena. Our local beach is Medlands, which can become a huge stormy sea or turn into a flat mill pond.”

Medlands Beach’s two kilometres of white sandy coastline is dotted with bures (huts) made of local bamboo and palm fronds for the rooves. “This is where we like to unwind at the end of the distilling day – gin cocktail in hand, watching the sunset and the rare and protected dotterel birds as they stamp their tiny feet on the pristine sands.”

Carol Comer Photography
Great Barrier Island Wildlife captured by @carolcomer
Protecting the island through sustainable practices

The majesty of Great Barrier Island is never lost on Andi. She and the other island residents understand how crucial it is to protect the natural beauty that surrounds them, which is why Island Gin is constantly evolving to become more sustainable.

“Wherever possible, we try to limit plastic. The tamper seal on our bottles, for example, is paper. Our six-pack boxes are made from recycled cardboard, as are our individual gift boxes.

“We used local wood and carpenters from the island to make our distilling table, instead of buying one from the mainland. Our spent botanicals are taken to the local refuse centre and broken down into compost. Island Gin’s bottling machine is also 100% solar powered.

“Finally, we encourage reuse of our empty Island Gin bottles. The local Irish pub uses them on their tables as water vessels. Other people use them as vases and olive oil containers.”

The future looks bright for Island Gin, and Andi wants to make sure her home on Great Barrier Island has a bright future too.

Navy Strength Island Gin, Original Island Gin and Chocolate Gin
Your very own ‘bach’ pad

When Andi sets her mind to something, success inevitably follows. And she’s nothing if not an entrepreneur who knows how to create something people love. In addition to her phenomenal Island Gin, she also owns a bach, which guests can stay at while on the island.

A ‘bach’ is an iconic part of New Zealand’s lifestyle and culture, symbolising a humble abode close to nature. Andi’s bach is a two-person cottage that she describes as “simple” but is a testament to her creative nature.

“It became my first experimental lab where I spent hours playing around with making Island Gin,” she says.

That ‘lab’ is now a popular accommodation spot that has even been featured in New Zealand’s HOME Magazine (Summer edition Dec 2021/Jan 2022).

“Now you can stay in this beautiful little bach, which has been recently renovated, and enjoy the special addition of an architecturally designed ‘folly’ overlooking the wetlands on Medlands Beach.”

After you’ve set down your gear and enjoyed the sights, smells and sounds of nature up-close, you can head down to the distillery in Kaitoke that’s just 15 minutes away.

If you are keen to check out Andi’s stunning bach, make an enquiry about booking a stay:

The Bach Medlands Beach
Your very own ‘bach’ pad overlooking Medlands Beach, Great Barrier Island. Barrier Air flight_credit @carolcomerphotography
By Gin Society

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