How I became a local celebrity overnight at Norfolk Island

For a small island in the south pacific with a population of less than 1500, Norfolk Island really delivers as a unique and quirky, but incredibly beautiful holiday destination. After telling friends I was taking a short escape to ‘N.I.’ I was generally met with surprise or un-sureness. “It’s the holiday destination of newly-weds and nearly-dead’s” some said. Boarding the plane from Auckland I quickly saw how the island might have developed such a reputation. Other than the air hostesses and the odd bald fellow – the plane was 33 rows deep with gray hair. I was the youngest passenger on the plane by at least 20 years of age.

It’s the holiday destination of newly-weds and nearly-dead’s

After touching down on the island I was greeted by a lovely woman named Sharon – the owner of the resort where I was staying. Norfolk Island is so small that they have no public transport or taxi services, so I would very much recommend getting yourself a small rental car. I was glad to have Sharon meet me at the airport as she give me a quick tour of Burnt Pine, the main shopping center on the island. She showed off a few of the better-known restaurants and cafes and highly recommended the local cinema where you could sink into a comfy sofa rather than a usual cinema seat to enjoy “not the newest – but some of the best films” that had made their way to the island. She then showed me to my room, gave me the keys to my car for the week and I was then ready to do nothing much at all for the next 7 days.

The locals suggested that the best way to shop was to “Hunt and Gather” because the island doesn’t import any produce at all. So if like me you show up to the supermarket at 4pm on a Sunday and they seem to be running low on fresh produce, a quick lap of the island stopping at several roadside stalls with honesty boxes will soon have your refrigerator stocked with locally grown goodness. A quirk you quickly learn is that every single person you pass while driving will wave. Something that took me by surprise at first but quickly became one of my favourite charms about the island.

87250029Despite it being the middle of winter, I still swam every day. After seeing the gorgeous Emily Bay and it’s crystal clear water, it was too hard to resist. The air temperature sat between 16˚C and 19˚C but the water felt warmer. The bay is protected by a double-reef, the water was quite still and safe. I stopped by Norfolk Land & Sea – a little shop in the main street where you can hire all things outdoors. I had always wanted to give Paddle boarding a go – so Jason the owner of the place said he’d drop a Paddle Board off for me down at the beach. I can’t think of a better place to have tried this out as the clear water below me kept no secret of the reef and some of the stunning tropical fish. As soon as I could I was back in the water with a snorkel. I felt no need to experience the glass bottom boat so many of the older tourists were, because with the aid of a pair of flippers I could dive toward the bottom of the reef less than 15 meters from the shore swim alongside schools of fish of every colour. A secret well kept by many of the locals.

87250014When not relaxing on the pristine sand under the pines, I was exploring the rocky cliffs that surround almost the entire island providing a spectacular setting for a sunset picnic overlooking the South Pacific Ocean. Every Thursday evening you can attend the local ‘Fish Fry’, a dining experience held on the cliff-tops. Where there is live music, cultural dancing, try some of the local fish, Trumpeter, as well as some Tahitian influenced salads and sides.

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For those of you more sports orientated than myself, there is a stunning golf course with an ocean outlook – or for the young at heart – there is a free of charge mini-golf course along side one of the most spectacularly stocked gift / toy stores that I’ve ever been set foot in.  Speaking of shopping it is hard to leave out the fact that Norfolk Island currently remains a tax haven – meaning there is no GST costs incurred on many of the retail purchases you will make there. You could tell that many tourists heading home were departing with new shoes and toy store bags stacked with Lego boxes – no doubt for their grandkids.

All in all, I was absolutely dumbfounded that nobody had raved about the natural beauty and friendliness of Norfolk Island. Being only a 90 minute flight away from Auckland I honestly can’t see why more people don’t have it on their ‘To Visit’ list. If the idea of traveling to an island where there are mainly elderly tourists sounds somewhat unappealing – remember that you will often be able to have a stunning beach to yourself. AND if you are under 35 you can almost guarantee you will also gain mild ‘local celebrity’ status for your time there. Everywhere I went, I was recognised as ‘that young tourist on the island’ at most meals I had out. On my last day I was even interviewed on their national radio station and that had just eventuated out of the fact that I was at least two decades junior to all the other tourists on the island at the time. @Norfolk.island follow me on Instragram now and even regrammed me.