After our successful tours around the
Hauraki Gulf with our previous visitors we decided to do the same with our
friend Chris Ball who came to New Zealand via a few days in Hong Kong. We met at
the car park like marina close to Auckland city centre.
The weather was perfect and we had a
successful trip out to Waiheke Island and then onto Coromandel. En route we were
overtaken by this wing-sailed vessel doing about twice the speed of the 10 knot
We believe this is a small version of
the catamaran that New Zealand are building for the next America's
Chris gradually recovered from his
jet lag. Then we had a day in Coromandel, walking up through the attractive town
with many well preserved buildings to Driving Creek where there is a wonderful
narrow gauge railway.
Started by a potter in the 1970s to
extract clay from the local hillside, the railway gradually extended especially
after the bank manager had told the owner that he had to make some money to pay
for his loans, hence the railway was opened to the public.
The narrow guage railway climbs
steadily up the steep hillside using a variety of techniques including a double
decker bridge and a number of zig zags where thedriver has to walk to the other
end of the train to reverse up the next section of line.
Chris at the top of the hill with its
magnificent view overlooking the Hauraki Gulf.
Unfortunately this was to be the last
day of reliable weather. We had intended to continue on to Great Barrier Island
again but the forecast was so poor we diverted to Kawau. The rain and wind came
as forecast but we had a secure anchorage in Mansion House Bay. We had
sufficient dry weather to have a good walk and another tour of the interesting
house, complete with its 6 massive kauri pillars which were cut locally, sent to
the UK for turning and then returned all the way back to Kawau for the adornment
of the drawing room.
We sailed across to the river that
flows up to Warkworth and gradually explored up as far as we could in Gryphon 2
before anchoring. The following morning was sunny and we had a good 50 minute
run up to Warkworth in the dinghy but by the time we returned the wind had begun
to increase again, blowing hard against the incoming tide and kicking up a nasty
steep sea that got us very wet with waves coming right over the top, Chris did a
good job at bailing out. The weather forecast was again dire so we left earlier
than we had intended for the safety and security of Gulf Harbour. It was as well
we did because the next day, and for a number of days after Chris left us, the
wind blew continuously at near gale force. The weather was so bad that on the
morning that Chris left us the Auckland ferry was replaced by a bus! A
frustrating few days that ended what was otherwise a very enjoyable visit....
although it did'nt do much for the skipper's hair.
Just like home!
Our time with Chris enabled us to
catch up on home news which was great but what we learnt of the current National
situation has left us with little enthusiasm for good old UK at the moment.
Let's hope that things can only get better.