Opua, Bay of Islands, 35:18.76S 174:07.57E
We lifted out for two weeks and stayed eleven, jobs were added, we suffered a rainfall greater than Wales and a once in 500 year storm. 5 boats were blown over in a neighbouring boatyard.
We made some friends with other boatyard residents (18 people had been in the lockdown boatyard bubble there). Good laughs with other residents helped the time slip away while the jobs continued apace.
Whangarei is an old Maori settlement, its full title is Whangarei Terenga Paraoa which means the swimming place of the whales. Whangarei is the largest city in Northland. With a current population of circa 60k it is an industrial but pretty town with the river and its tributary running through the centre. The local services were perfect for our needs, the anchor was re-galvanised, the prop re-balanced, steel and welding rods readily available, and an elusive radiator cap was sourced.
My own retail needs were just a pair of regular wellington boots (gummies) as with each rainfall there was a lake around Blue Hound. I also rescued a bike from a dumpster, which had plenty of use, especially along the well landscaped river path into town, which is interspersed with placards of local Maori history.
Apart from all our hard work, (no sub-contracting on this boat!) we had two welcome breaks.
1. Birthday weekend
A treat from my daughters, 2 nights away at Te Huia, a beautifully situated holiday bach (pronounced ‘batch’ ) in the hills to the east of Whangarei. White cotton sheets, a big bath and fluffy white towels, they know their mother! And wonderful views out to the Poor Knights Islands to boot!
2. A week's car hire
Apart from some heavier boat shopping with the car, we had one night away and made several day trips visiting the surrounding area.
The Kauri Museum – Matakohe
A fascinating museum outlining the Kauri Timber industry in the early 1900, felling these enormous trees for the timber, floating them down mountain streams, rafting them to Auckland. Lots of machinery and old pictures with plenty of dialogue. Phil thoroughly enjoyed the visit.
The Waipoua Forest – West Coast
We stopped to view Tane Mahuta (Lord of the Forest), a giant Kauri, now protected and with a charming guard standing by. The tree is probably 3000 years old, with a girth of 15 metres, and still growing.
Baylys Beach is the gateway to Ripiro Beach, New Zealand’s longest driveable beach. This 100km long beach is backed by high, golden sand dunes and is the site of many shipwrecks, including a three-masted, 36 gun French man o'war. Many of the salvaged shipwreck relics are now on display in the Dargaville Museum and a commemoration plaque has been erected as a lookout on the road down to Baylys Beach.
We climbed to the top of the cliff – at Phil’s instigation (how strange) - and were surprised by the wonderful, unexpected view.
Night Away – Hokianga River
North of the Waipoua Forest we stayed the night in Opononi, which is a small settlement at the entrance of the Hokianga river. On arrival Phil thought I had booked a portacabin (small!), but inside was well organised, comfortable and with the promised view of the river.
We also visited Rawene. The historic town has a legacy of heritage buildings from the early 1800's, and is New Zealand's third oldest European settlement. It also has Simply Fun, a shop and puzzle museum with many thousands of puzzles. I bought a magnetic Backgammon set for the boat and I'm teaching Phil to play - with plenty of arguments about the rules and reference to our book of games.
Just north of the town, these are tourist attraction (what were we doing there?) and they were well worth it!
We re-launched on 8 September and after a few days transitioning from sh*tshape to shipshape we started working our way north towards the Bay of Islands. It’s great to be moving again!
Cheers for now! (I added the bottle…)