Whanga Here, Whanga There, Whanga Whanga Everywhere (now at 35:44.38S 174:20.24E)
We seem to have been Whanging around North Island for the last few weeks. First there was Whangaparapara on Great Barrier Island – see previous post – then Whangaparaoa and now we’re in Whangarei. Yes, there were some intermediate stops too. For those who don’t know Maori pronunciation (we didn’t at first) then Whanga is pronounced ‘fanga’ with a hard ‘g’.
Oneroa Bay, Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island is the second largest island in the Hauraki Gulf, (92 sq km with pop. 8k) and only 21km from central Auckland, with many ferry services. Hence we discovered a very popular island for Aucklanders on foot or by boat.
Oneroa Bay is a wide open bay with a sandy bottom and a wide beach. Our first night was a little rolly, but with a change of forecast we decided to settle in for a few days, moving to anchor closer to the beach, we were the only yacht so we chose our spot! Three hours later we were surrounded by 23 other boats, the Saturday exit from Auckland. My comment in the previous post that New Zealanders don’t sail in the winter was well wide of the mark.
After months of isolated anchorages we felt invaded, especially as the boats seemed to enjoy the challenge of 'how close can we get'. For Solent sailors it was shades of a summer Sunday in Newtown Creek, except here there was ample space for a 100 yachts! But then the New Zealanders are a friendly bunch [Ed – are you implying that those in Newtown Creek are not friendly?].
Ashore the few shops provided an opportunity for some upmarket retail therapy, and general stores which were more use to us!
As one of my quests in the UK is to visit Blackpool, Phil thought he'd solve this by finding an alternative, but it did mean he had to take a short walk, 1.5 km to the other side of the island. This Blackpool has no Tower or fairy lights but has a rather muddy beach and is a sanctuary for migrating Godwits (11,000 km in 9 days). So, I’ve now been to Blackpool!
There are many vineyards on Waiheke and I persuaded Phil to do another short walk to the nearest which was Cable Bay vineyard. It was beautifully situated on a hill with panoramic views across to Auckland. The company also has a vineyard on South Island which is better suited for some grape varieties. We tasted 4 wines, with tasting notes of bush honey, apricot, spicy orange zest....was there a grape somewhere?
Whangaparaoa Penisula. Gulf Harbour Marina
We spent a few days in Gulf Harbour Marina on
Penisula north of Auckland, a water and fuel stop and an
opportunity to catch
up with a friend, Pam Warner and her son Mark, from the Cape
We took a bus ride to a nearby shopping centre for some essentials, and a friendly hairdresser who cut our 'lockdown' locks!
On the Saturday night we enjoyed a meal at
Yogi’s Bar and Eatery. It was the night of the first major rugby
match in New Zealand
after lockdown – Chiefs V Highlanders – which Phil enjoyed on
Supposedly this is one of the best marinas in New Zealand and we were quite impressed. The rates were good too - NZ$40 a night (about £22) including water and electricity. However, it was quite a hike round from our berth (see red cross) to the office and chandlery. Time for the bicyles again!
After Gulf Harbour we headed north, with an
overnight stop in
North Cove, Kawau Island. The next day was a 30 ml leg to
Whangarei. We stopped
in Urquarts Bay (pic) overnight, before heading up river to
Whangarei and Haul Out
They say that Man plans and God laughs - 2020 has certainly been like that for us all. We finally committed to haul out and prepare for countries to open post Covid. It is 15nm from the open sea up the river to Whangarei. It's a port with an oil refinery near the entrance and commercial docks towards the town. The river is wide and shallow for the most part, offering lots of anchoring coves and then narrows, and separates into various tributaries. Blue Hound has a draft of 2.9 m so we needed to approach on the rising spring tide. The last narrow reach, called Snake Bend, has a chartered depth of 0.6m. Once again the bottom was soft and we pushed our way through 2 hrs before high water on a 2.5m spring tide.
The next pic shows our track past the commercial docks as recorded on the GPS. We had three GPS recievers in operation with 2 different charting systems, and they were all out of sync with the charts. Charting variations are not uncommon, and the pic shows the latest New Zealand charts!
Since the lift out we have spent the last week working on the hull in between the many rain showers. We could be here some time, so the bicycles are out! Phil is happy because it’s a major boating hub with all sorts of repair facilities and chandlers. Still, there are some parts we've had to order from the UK. The worklist seems to have expanded very suddenly!
Here's a pic from our perch in the yard:
The Bascule Bridge
There are 5 marinas in the river, two of them in the town just upriver of the bridge. It's a 10 min cycle ride to town for us. There's plenty of shopping here :-) and even a cinema - now open!
This post takes us as far as the 25 June, but there’s plenty
more excitement to come in the next instalment…
Here's hoping you are coping well with lockdown
frustration wherever you are!