16 November 2014 Opua, New Zealand
It was a lovely day - this New Zealand weather certainly changes quickly. We went out for a day trip in a car with “Flow”, “Laragh” and Joe from “Cygnus”. Karen acted as tour guide and took us to the local attractions including the farmers market at Kerikeri, the Stone Store which is the oldest stone building in New Zealand, some waterfalls and our day was (of course) finished off with a visit to the Hundertwasser toilet.
We also visited the Puketi Forest Preserve, which is an ancient forest of Kauri trees, some of which are over 1000 years old. These huge trees are a kind of pine and produce a resin called Kauri Gum, which was used by the Mauris to start fires and later by the Europeans to make varnish and linoleum. Originally, the gum was found as hard deposits in the ground, but later as supplies reduced, the Europeans started to cut the trees to make them bleed gum. Unfortunately, this allowed disease into the tree and the remaining kauri trees are now protected.
The “All Points Rally” kicked off tonight with a party. There was a jam session with about eight people playing, so it was very raucous. There were some really good players, so I'm glad that I left my guitar on board - they would have completely overwhelmed me.
17 November 2014 Opua, New Zealand
I spent most of morning agonising over buying a new radar and a chart plotter system. It’s one of the major purchases on my long list and I’ve just found out that the chart plotter that I want is on special offer until the end of November. I asked for a quote from Cater Marine (one of the chandlers here in Opua) and compared the prices to those offered by Defender in the USA. The prices here are 15-20% higher, even though we don’t have to pay any sales tax.
I took my figures into Cater Marine and chatted to Glen (the Managing Director) about his high prices. He rang the Raymarine distributor here in New Zealand and told them that I was going to import stuff from the states unless they could give me a better price. After a bit of discussion, I’ve sent Glen an email including a quote from Defender and we’ll see what Raymarine will do.
We’re getting a bit weary of the Rally now - it’s time to leave. Some people just love the way that everything is organised and want to take part in all of the activities, but the presence of all these people is making me keen to leave. Perhaps I really am a misanthrope.
The weather forecast looks to be good from tomorrow until the 23rd, so we’re planning to leave tomorrow and sail 40 miles north to Whangaroa. Rod and Mary from “Sheer Tenacity” came for dinner and we had another good night lubricated with plenty of wine.
18 November 2014 Opua to Rere Bay , Whangaroa, New Zealand
I ran around in the morning sorting out a few things and we finally escaped the marina by nine o’clock. We had a slow sail out of Opua Harbour with the wind behind us, but after we rounded Nine-pin Island, the wind kept veering 45 degrees, so we gave up and motor-sailed to the Cavalli Islands.
We sailed into Matauri Bay just across from Great Cavalli Island, but there was quite a swell coming in from the north, so we decided to keep on going all the way to Whangaroa Harbour. We had a few more attempts at sailing in the fluky winds, but not for very long.
The approach to Whangaroa Harbour is very impressive with steep sided cliffs and, once inside, the sea was very flat. We went into Rere Bay, which is a lovely anchorage surrounded by rock pinnacles and we were the only boat in there apart from a strange looking house boat anchored a long way from us.
19 November 2014 Rere Bay , Whangaroa, New Zealand
We had FOG this morning - the first that we’ve seen since Maine, two years ago - I was so excited.
By mid-morning the mist had cleared, so we packed some sandwiches and water into our small rucksacks and headed out to tackle the Duke's Nose, which is a fun little hike up to the top of a nearby rock pinnacle. It only took us 30 minutes to get up there, but there’s a steep scramble with a chain to hold onto, which added interest. There’s a fabulous view of the bay from the top.
We were soon back down by the sea shore, so we decided to do some of the Riverside trail. As usual, we couldn't bring ourselves to turn around, so we ended up walking all the way to Totara North, which is a small community spread out along the main road on the other side of a big ridge. We chatted to a local guy who pointed us in the direction of a pub where we had a great plate of fish and chips.
It was a long, forty minute grind back up a gravel road to the start of the trail and then a pleasant walk back to boat, where we found that “Flow” and Laragh” had arrived in the anchorage. Glenys made a big Beef and Pork Chili and we invited “Flow” and “Laragh” over. After dinner, they wanted to have a look at our movie projector and settled down to watch the Hunger Games - there was no way that they were going to budge until the end…
20 November 2014 Rere Bay, Whangaroa, New Zealand
It was another nice day, so we went up the Duke’s Nose again with “Laragh” and “Flow”. I took a rope along and belayed Karen up a couple of the tricky sections - first time that I’ve used a Munter Hitch for a long time.
In the afternoon, we chilled out and recovered from the shock of two hikes in two days. We were all invited to “Laragh” for dinner.
21 November 2014 Rere Bay to Okura Bay, Whangaroa, New Zealand
We had another lovely sunny day, so we all motored around to Okura Bay, which is in Totara North where we walked a couple of days ago. It’s a pleasant bay with good holding in 4 metres of water. There are a lot of small sailing boats on moorings and a dock with a couple of commercial fishing boats alongside. Interestingly, the New Zealanders don’t say “dock” they say “wharf”, which sounds very old fashioned to my British ears.
Along with “Flow” and “Laragh”, we went for a walk along the road and ended in the same pub where we had fish and chips again, but this time with a couple of beers. After indulging in alcohol at lunch time, we dozed the afternoon away and went to “Flow” for dinner. We took along our instruments and, with David & Katrina, played music until nearly midnight.