Our Current Position

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Walks, Hola and a Pub!

We’ve been doing quite a few walks since the last blog. Last Saturday we went ashore at Bush Beach in Kaiarara Bay and set off on the Kaiarara bush trail. This turned out to be a bit more arduous than we had envisaged, with a lot of up and down hills, climbing over fallen trees and slipping around on the mud. It didn't help that Pat’s advice to Debi was that she wouldn’t need her hiking boots and would be fine in sandals! Wrong! She spent a lot of the first part of the walk sliding around as she tried to descend some very steep muddy slopes. After dropping down into the adjacent bay we then had a massive climb back out to eventually hit what is known as Forest Road which is a dirt track and a little easier walking. This road then seemed to go on forever, often in what seemed like completely the wrong direction. We were very poorly equipped with no map, no food and had visions of spending the night huddled in a hut somewhere. However, things eventually came right and 5.5 hours and 18k later we were safely back on X-Pat.

At least the sandals were useful for wading through the rivers
Fantastic views back to the bay once we had climbed to Forest Rd.
Sunday was spent recovering from our exertion and preparing for the remains of Cyclone Hola. We put out extra chain (a total of 70m) to make sure that we were secure, lashed down everything that we could on deck and put up our dodger to give us a bit of protection from the heavy rain. Then we waited. Monday came and the bad weather arrived exactly as forecast, with winds out in the channel rising to 45 knots. We were nicely tucked away and saw a maximum of 27 knots. Then in the afternoon it started to rain and rain and rain. We’re not sure how many mm we had but the bay turned a tea colour from all of the sediment washing down of the hills. Branches and other debris was sweeping past us as we swayed around at anchor. In the evening the wind got up again and was gusting 60 knots out in the channel. We were thankful to be hiding in the harbour.

The bay turned tea colour from the sediment

On Tuesday the wind moved around to the west and so we were a bit exposed and decided to move around to Stony Bay which was more sheltered from the west. We had a nice quiet night there after all the excitement of Hola. Debi had a swim and Pat went and did a beach clean up on a very stony beach, finding lots of micro plastics. The island here is made of volcanic debris known as breccia. The hard pieces of volcanic rock are in a matrix of softer material which is eroded by the action of the sea and leads to a very stony beach!

Andesitic Breccia at Stony Bay

X-Pat and Double Trouble at anchor in Stony Bay

From Stony Bay we moved a few miles around the corner to Warrens Bay to join friends. We had a few drinks on X-Pat on Wednesday night with Jo and Rob (Double Trouble), Karen and Mike (True Companions) and Linda and James (Sol). They are all sailing catamarans and we think we convinced them not to change to a monohull after they were all squeezed into our tiny cockpit, which got gradually chillier as the sun went down. Still it was nice to get together, before we all set off in different directions again.

On Thursday it was time to blow away the cobwebs and head off for another walk, this time with walking boots. We did the Warren’s/Bridle track which took us to some lovely waterfalls and then followed this with a walk through a lovely area known as Glenfern Sanctuary. The area was purchased by Tony Bouzaid over 20 years ago and had been extensively logged and farmed. He decided that he wanted to try to return the area to more native bush, to see the return of many of the birds and other wildlife that he remembered from his childhood. Over 10,000 trees have been planted over those 20 years and a big pest eradication programme has been undertaken which has included fencing the whole area. It’s certainly a beautiful area to walk through and very well set out for visitors to enjoy and understand a bit about the work.
Warrens Track along the river bed

Waterfall and Hiking boots
The birdlife is certainly impressive here though many of them are very elusive. In contrast to most birds here the Fantail’s are very inquisitive. If you stand still on the paths they will come very close to take a look at you. These birds are a common native in New Zealand and are one of the few forest birds to have thrived as a result of forest clearance, which has resulted in the creation of forest edge and scrub habitats which they like. 

The ever inquisitive Fantail
600 year old Kauri's
We have also seen a few Brown Teal or Pateke as they are known locally. This rare endemic duck was once widespread throughout New Zealand but is now largely confined to Great Barrier Island and the east coast of Northland between the Bay of Islands and Tutukaka. Their population decline is believed to have been due to predation from cats and dogs, the drainage of lowland habitat and the harvesting of birds prior to their protection. The population is now recovering due to conservation efforts such as those at Glenfern and is currently estimated to be between 2000-2500. What a privilege to see a pair of these ducks with a duckling!

The Brown Teal or Pateke with duckling

The view from Sunset Rock at Glenfern Sanctuary. X-Pat is at anchor in the distance

After all that walking it was time for refreshment and so we headed off to the Boat Club which overlooks Port Fitzroy. Having been on a fish and vegetable diet for the last three weeks, Pat was encouraged to see “Pie of the Day” at the top of the menu which he duly ordered. It turned out to be fish pie!  With the exception of buying some milk and cheese in Port Fitzroy we haven’t had to shop since our last major provisioning trip which was done in Tauranga, three weeks ago. Debi has done a great job on the planning and cooking front and we have now been meat free for three weeks! Supplies are beginning to get low now though, so a major shop is planned in the next few days.

Yesterday we left the shelter of Port Fitzroy Harbour and started heading back south again. There was very little wind and so we motor sailed down to Whangaparapara which is another lovely sheltered natural harbour, nestled into the hills. We anchored in the ominously named Graveyard Bay. Despite the name we had a very quiet night, Pat was up early and had a great view of the night sky, with Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Pluto all visible. we have also been visited here by Blue Penguins which are a common native here. They are the smallest penguin and have been swimming around X-Pat calling to each other. We suspect that they have been nesting on the nearby beach or in the scrubland behind the beach. The water is clear enough to be able to see them ‘flying’ underwater, which is spectacular to watch.

We had planned another walk today but the weather has deteriorated and so we have been reduced to doing a trip to the recycling facility on the wharf and a sort walk up the road. 

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