We departed our berth at Bay of Island Marina on 20th January and had a very lazy one hour motor to the town of Russell where we dropped anchor. We visited Russell before Christmas by ferry, but we didn’t really have chance to look around and it also has a good pub! So we got the trusty dinghy inflated using our new electric pump and went for a nice walk around Russell and then up the hill to a famous flagpole. This was the scene of repeated disputes between the Maori and British in the early days, when the pole was repeatedly cut down by the Maori Chief or his men. They eventually cleared up the dispute after many years and the flag pole has been standing ever since
It was then down the hill for a well earned pint at the Duke of Marlborough hotel. We managed to say hello to Oliver Holmes who works at the hotel and is the son of one of our friends who climbed to Everest Base camp with us last year. Pat tried his hand at fishing off the back of the boat in the evening and was surprised to catch a few snapper. They were a bit small to keep and so were returned safely to grow a bit bigger.
On the 21st we departed Russell and motored through a fairly gloomy misty rainy day up to Patanui Bay in the western part of the Bay of Islands. It’s a nice spot but the weather was horrible so we stayed on board and read for the rest of the day. The next day was still a bit grey but at least dry initially. We inflated our new two person kayak (christmas present - thank you!) and set off on an adventure up Pukoura Inlet. This is a beautifully quiet inlet, lined with trees and the occasional house, usually with their own slipway or beach. All went well with the kayak and we managed about three miles without either of us throwing the other into the water! It then rained all afternoon, thankfully after we had returned to X-Pat.
|The inaugural trip in the Kayak|
On the 23rd we left the Bay of Islands and started heading south. We motored initially but then a bit of breeze developed and we had a nice sail towards and around Cape Brett. It was nice to get a view from the seaward side having walked there with Gwyn before Christmas. We then carried on to a beautiful natural harbour called Whangamumu, where we stayed for two nights. This was once used by the whaling industry and the remains of the slipway and the whale processing factory can still be seen here. We had a much needed walk up to a lookout, snorkelled, swam and Pat even managed to catch two snapper for supper. We also did a beach clean up and picked up 1.3kg of assorted plastic rubbish. This was mainly plastic packaging, clothes pegs (blown off visiting boats), bottle tops, straws and balloons. Many of these beaches we visit appear to be pristine, but they all have some plastic from somewhere.
On the 25th we left Whangamumu and had an easy motor down the coast to the a marine park known as Mimiwhangata. What fantastic names they have here. This is quite a big open bay with a 1.3km beach. The next day Debi decided to do a 5k run on the beach whilst Pat did another beach clean up. For such a long beach there was a surprisingly little plastic, only 0.4 kg. The snorkelling was also good here with lots of starfish, perch, snapper, a big eel and some nice kelp. We went across for supper on an adjacent boat called Bad Kitty, with Nina and Willy and ate Debi’s Aloo Gobi combined with Nina and Willy’s crayfish and snapper! They do a lot of diving and catch a lot of crayfish!
On the 26th we departed Mimiwhangata heading south again. Unfortunately the wind decided to turn to a southerly which made life difficult. We put in a good effort trying to tack down the coast, but progress was slow and we were at risk of missing the high tide to get into Tutakaka (another great name) marina. So in the end the motor went on. We are now in Tutukaka for a few days to re-provision but mainly to go diving on the Poor Knights islands on Tuesday. One disappointment is he lack of internet here, or at least the cost of it, so only one picture - sorry!