Sailing around New Zealand

Emily is sailing solo around New Zealand on her 32 foot yacht Honey, from Lyttelton south down the east coast, around the bottom of Stewart Island, up the west coast of the South and North Islands and down the east coast back to Lyttelton. The whole adventure is expected to take 3 months. This blog will provide updates as I travel (when I have mobile reception to upload).

Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Beautiful Bay of Islands (25th February - 1st March)

The morning of 25th February dawned another beautiful hot sunny day, and a calm one. I upped anchor at 10am for the short sail to Doves Bay, where the Kerikeri Cruising Club and marina is located. With no wind, there was no sailing only motoring – Honey and I motored outside of Urupukapuka, Waewaetorea and Okahu Islands, passing several boats that were fishing along the way, and tied up at the floater at Doves Bay soon after 1pm. Tim arrived soon afterwards, armed with groceries picked up in Kerikeri but no bag – Air New Zealand had not transferred the bag onto his second flight, but had promised to deliver it out to Doves Bay after the next flight. We had a few hours wait in Doves Bay – not too bad with the stunning views from the cruising club. By the time the bags were duly delivered we were running out of daylight, and motored a short distance to Wharengaere Bay in Te Puna Inlet, dropping anchor with shelter from the prevailing northerly in the inlet.

View from Kerikeri Cruising Club

On Sunday, a light easterly had picked up and we motor sailed out from Te Puna Inlet, through Kent Passage and onto Russell. It was a very hot day and once we anchored and went ashore, we grabbed lunch and icecreams sheltering under trees along the beachfront before wandering around the historic picturesque town. Russell is a beautiful little town, although very touristy, with several ferries running constantly, between Russell and Paihia, and on out to the islands. In the afternoon, with an easterly still blowing we motored out to Roberton Island, the closest of the main islands that make up the Bay. We dropped anchor in the large cove on the southern side, and jumped in for a very welcome swim to cool off, followed by a trip ashore. Inshore from the cove, the land is low-lying with the east and west sides of the island joined by a narrow strip of sand with two lagoons, partially open to the north – when we dived in we found the water in the lagoons to be a little cooler than we expected.

Roberton Island and the cove we stopped at is clearly a popular spot and the following morning two charter boats loaded with passengers arrived, one a particularly unseaworthy-looking vessel. With crowds amassing on the shore we decided to forego our walk on the island, and instead upped anchor and motored the short distance to Waipao Bay on Moturua Island. A much quieter spot with only a catamaran already anchored in the bay, we went ashore for a stretch of the legs. A small DOC team were on the island, having finished checking and resetting traps for rats and stoats. They were accompanied by a DOC dog handler and her two dogs, trained to locate stoats and rats – none having been found today. It was a beautiful hot and sunny day, and although the island is not huge, the DOC walking track looped around the whole island and we certainly welcomed the swim when we got back to the beach where Honey was anchored. We opted to stay put and spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing, reading and swimming.

Tuesday 28th February dawned the same as the previous few days – very hot, sunny and with a light easterly blowing. We motored onto Urupukapuka Island, the largest of the islands in the Bay, dropping anchor tucked up in the northern corner of Paradise Bay. Another stunning spot, with a long sandy beach, and walking tracks connecting the bay with the ridge and other bays on the island. We walked up the track to the ridgeline, with beautiful views out towards Cape Brett and back in towards the centre of the Bay of Islands, and on to Otehei Bay. Otehei Bay is a popular tourist destination, forming a stop for many of the charter boat cruises and tours. It has a cafe and bar, so an opportunity for Tim to get his coffee fix and for some icecreams. There is also an island conservation centre, which provides details on the history of the Island and the conservation efforts “Project Island Song” to successfully rid the Eastern Bay of Islands of pests – stoats, rats, possums and feral cats. Urupukapuka Island was once almost entirely farmed, and while there is still some farming on the island with grassy exposed ridgelines, it is now largely covered in regenerated bush assisted by a significant planting effort. After walking back to Paradise Bay, the remainder of the afternoon was similar to the previous day – relaxing on the beach, swimming, reading and more swimming. I realised it is now a whole four weeks that I have spent up along the beautiful Northland coastline.

View from Urupukapuka ridgeline

Beautiful Paradise Bay with Honey in the background
The first day of Autumn showed no sign of the end of summer, another lovely hot and sunny day. We motored in the inflatable around to Otehei Bay, the bay being particularly shallow with only high tide suited for a keel boat to enter. More coffees, icecreams and a swim in the beautiful clear water and we headed back to Honey in Paradise Bay. Tim's short holiday was coming to an end, and we raised the anchor and motor sailed out from Urupukapuka Bay, passing Waewaetorea and Okahu Islands on our right, Motukiekie Island on our left, heading back towards Doves Bay. With the winds a light easterly and a 1m swell running behind us, we sailed via the Black Rocks located off the eastern end and northern side of Moturoa Island. The Black Rocks are interesting and unique rock formations, black in colour with steep sides plunging almost vertically to the seabed. They are of volcanic origin, having been formed from basalt lava flows around 1.2 million years ago. Tied up again at the Doves Bay floater, I bid Tim farewell with promises that I would start a concerted effort to head south. It was a fantastic few days, and we both felt fully refreshed and rejuvenated after a wonderful few days of relaxing in the Bay of Islands.

The Black Rocks
Now I needed to turn my head (and Honey) to sailing south to the Auckland area – I was due to meet up with Viki and Naomi on Saturday morning, both of them flying up from Christchurch to spend the weekend with me and Honey at Waiheke Island. Soon after I had bought Honey, five years ago, we had had a girls long weekend at Waiheke Island to welcome Honey, so it was fitting for Viki and Naomi to come up and join me again. After I readied Honey for her sail south, I set out from Doves Bay marina, not planning to go far with the last of the daylight. We motor sailed back through Kent Passage and into Te Rawhiti Inlet, the passage to the south of the islands that Tim and I had visited the previous few days. Shortly after sunset I dropped anchor in Omakiwi Cove, a sheltered bay on the mainland, south of Urupukapuka Island, and turned in for an early night so I could be away the following day at first light.

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