South to Nelson 41:15.6S, 173:16.9E

Serenity of Swanwick
Phil and Sarah Tadd
Wed 1 Dec 2021 02:17

At last we had the right conditions forecast for going south, a ridge over the North Island gave us southerly winds to take us up to Cape Reinga and then predominately northerly winds down the Tasman and into Nelson.
We didn’t want to go round Cape Reinga until Wednesday morning so first sailed up to the Karikari peninsular and anchored off a long white beach. Very quiet, no other boats around just a few buildings ashore. We tried to walk over to Maitai cove for a bit of exercise but the path goes through a campsite which was very definitely closed, due to Covid, with chains and padlocks barring entry. The walk along the beach was good though and up through acres of wild geraniums, the sand was hot enough to burn your feet.

The beach at Karikari

The area between the green bushes and the beach was covered in wild geraniums, too late for them to be in bloom. That must be stunning.
Next a short sail to Huahora harbour where we could top up with diesel to ensure our tank and all cans were full.

Houahora Harbour at high water, the best time to manoeuvre as there are a lot of shallows

The jetty at Pukenui in Huahora is being rebuilt so the only access ashore was at the coastguard slipway, steep and slippery.

Why go north to go south? From Bay of Islands to the top of South Island  it is shorter in distance to go round the top and you also miss the regular gales that blow into Cook Straight. The possible down side is that there is no good Harbour to stop in between Huahora and Nelson and no protected anchorage’s either on that west coast.
We had been given good local knowledge from a professional fisherman who regularly works these waters and if we go round North Cape at low water then we have the tide with us all the way across the top and part way down the west coast, 9hrs of tidal flow with us. Also it is possible to anchor either in Tom Bowling Bay or Spirits Bay right at the top of North Island.
Low water Wednesday was at 05.30 so we left Huahora at high water Tuesday and made our way north and round North Cape into Tom Bowling Bay to anchor for the night, a lonely rolly anchorage. First light Wednesday we were off, passing 2.5 miles off Cape Reinga to avoid the tide rips and over-falls then outside the Pandora Bank dodging Crayfish pot markers on the way.

Cape Rienga, the point from which the spirits of the Maori dead leave New Zealand
Back into passage mode for this trip standing regular watches, something we haven’t had to do since coming down from Fiji two years ago, was good for us. Spending two years only doing day sailing has been too easy on us. There was the threat of bad weather from a frontal trough moving up the South Island and we hoped to reach Nelson before it arrived so we actually had to motor for 48 hours to keep moving in variable and very light winds starting the engine whenever our speed was staying below 3 knots. The front slowed down and gradually faded away but better safe than sorry.

On a couple of days a pair of these magnificent birds were to be seen skimming the waves. Mollymawk’s, a small albatross.

The approach to Nelson from Farewell Spit, 40 miles across Tasman Bay, gave us the worst conditions of the whole trip, with forecast W 20 knots becoming Variable 10 and NW 15 knot south of Separation Point. We actually had NW gusting up to 30 knots almost dead behind us until a few miles off Nelson Harbour entry and we had to reef the sails right down to keep control.
We are now moored up in Nelson Marina within walking distance of the city centre. As we will be here for a week we have hired a car to get out into the countryside and to help with shopping! Yesterday we walked up to the Centre of New Zealand monument and we managed to book Covid boosters for today, pretty good as they only started giving them Monday! Now we will enjoy Nelson and make plans to explore Golden Bay and the Marlborough Sounds.

Centre of New Zealand monument on Botanical Hill, this was the central point for the first geodetic survey of New Zealand in the 1870’s (a survey which takes into account the curvature of the earth).


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