Away from the New Zealand Main Great Barrier Island First Anchorage
Post Gita we leave the Main (land) for
Great Barrier Island
‘Self-Evacuate’ (sounds like a meteorological enema doesn’t it) is a term that has been used as advice to folk to leave their homes in the path of Gita for a safe haven before the storm arrived. Six thousand found themselves trapped in Golden Bay on the north-west coast of the South Island by massive landslips and barges are having to be employed to ferry them out and food supplies into the area. You certainly get some weather here.
For us on Zoonie the fridge man came and now we have the sweet sound of it turning itself on for two minutes in every ten and then silence. The verdict, it was over-gassed and the higher the gas pressure the higher the temperature in the fridge, which is why apart from it not turning off it didn’t seem to be doing its job either!
The day after this pleasing event Zoonie left Whangarei Marina, refuelled in Marsden Marina, where we cleared in to NZ 16 months ago, turned left at number 9 starboard hand buoy and anchored for the night in Urquarts Bay near Bream Head ready for an early start the next morning. It was the 22nd February 2018.
Kaiarara Bay 36’11’S 175’22’E
The anchor went down at 17.30 under the soulful wooded gaze of Mount Hobson after a pleasant motor sail with light winds lasting 10 hours. The chartplotter showed a hardware fault with the AIS which will have to be fixed.
We waited with Zoonie for the urge to go ashore and explore to become sufficiently strong and overcome the pleasure of just sitting at anchor once more. The wind blew and the sun shone to give us plenty of electricity.
Two pretty little chestnut Brown Teal ducks came alongside and were so tame I wondered if they had been bred in captivity as they are nationally endangered. I read somewhere that there is an abundance of birdlife on Great Barrier but what we noted was the variety and not an abundance of any particular type apart from fantails, gannets crashing into the water and sacred kingfishers. The little teals’ predators are skuas who lie in wait for them to come ashore and then attack them. So mean.
25th February. Mt Hobson, Hirakimata the Sacred Mountain to the Maoris, at
627 metres here we come. I still haven’t discovered who ‘Hobson’ was. Mercifully the day was cloudy and the ground dry. The path was good and well maintained and standing on the stout bridges let us imagine the route of the mighty kauris as they tumbled noisily downstream, their lives over. The remnants of two of the kauri dams remain. They are horizontal stringer dams and although the one in the photograph was rebuilt in 1998 a weather bomb hit the island in 2014 and what you see now is all that is left.
We met three energetic Auckland ladies at the dam who were doing the popular Aotea 3 day hike. Such a remote and beautiful place for the exploration by city dwellers just a short flight away is a real gift and these ladies thoroughly appreciated it.
The water would build up behind the dams, elevating the trunks from the uneven riverbed and hundreds of folk used to gather to watch as the spring was pulled from the trap door and with terrifying thunder and ground vibration the load would be released. What a spectacle!
Regular climbs to the Parihaka lookout back in Whangarei had kept us reasonably fit for this 7km climb up and down, across slips and finally up hundreds (someone counted 2600) of wooden steps as steep as a step ladder to the tiny wooden platform on top from where we had fantastic 360’ views from the blue south pacific ocean in the east to the Hauraki Gulf, from the northern tip of the Coromandel to the Poor Knights in the north, of snorkelling with Charly and Tom memories.
A charming French couple who had moored alongside us in Whangarei and anchored nearby here joined us as we sat dangling our legs over the edge of the wooden platform and ate our lunch.
The raucous cry of the brown parrot, the kaka, that tuneful call of the tui and the frantic twitter of fantails filled the lush re-growth of bush as we returned downwards.
Some kauris remain, maybe too hard to harvest and of course the young ones back then that weren’t worth felling have grown since. Also back in the 70’s and 80’s when the island was home to many hippy communes, 150,000 kauri seedlings were planted but we have yet to find them. How will they do with the kauri die-back disease that is decimating the few remaining groves?
I rowed back to Zoonie as the outboard motor has decided to squirt its fuel from the top of the carburettor in protest at being asked to work. We swam around Zoonie to refresh ourselves and spent the next day communing with the teals while languishing on board in the smug knowledge that another mount had been conquered.