When last we wrote we were on our way south to Whanganui for Katia & Brett's wedding. We had a lovely time, staying a lodge with all the out of town friends and family. A large number of people had made the trip over from England and Canada. Katia was radiant, Brett was handsome, and a wonderful time was had by all. We even got to enjoy a paddleboard session on the Wanganui River. On returning to Opua ( unfortunately without Colin's dad who elected to conserve his energy and stay on the farm ) we decided to take TabbyCat to some as yet unexplored areas of Northlands.
Armed with a well worn copy of Pickmere's Atlas (one man's 50 year labor of love detailing this area of NZ's coastline ), kindly lent to us by Simon of SilverSpray, we headed North. First stop was Mahinepua Bay, where we spent a couple of days, and enjoyed a walk out to the headland. During the walk we met 'Judy" a spry grandmother with a passion for hiking who was down for the day from Whangaroa. She told us about the trails in Whangaroa and invited us to drop in at her home if we made it up there. From Mahinepua we had a lovely sail past Stevenson's Island, with the boat gliding along as if it was on rails, arriving in Rere Bay, Whangaroa Harbour just in time for sunset. Rere Bay has got to be one of the most secure and delightful anchorages in New Zealand. We enjoyed it so much that we spent nearly a week there, paddle boarding up the Wairakau Canyon as far as the swimming hole, which necessitated a number of portages, much to the amusement of the hikers watching from the trail alongside. We also hiked the trail to the same spot, and decided that paddle boarding was much easier! We also ascended the "Duke's Nose" via a very steep path and scramble up the rock face assisted by chains, for dramatic views over the harbour and out to sea. However, the highlight was undoubtedly Colin's successful endeavor at fishing from the boat's rear step armed soley with a short handled net. Baitfish were using TabbyCat as a hiding place, schooling into balls, seemingly acting as one in order to escape the attacks of numerous large Kawhai . In their feeding frenzy, the Kawhai repeatedly ran into the hull, until the sea was covered in a carpet of shining fish scales. Much to our delight and amusement, Colin netted one of them as it chased a smaller fish past the stern. After she stopped laughing, Susan managed to fillet it and get it into a pan with butter and breadcrumbs, where it made a delightful supper.
From Rere we moved over to Waitapu Bay, behind the town of Whangaroa. After walking into town one evening along the road, we took the easy route the next day by using the dinghy. Leaving the dinghy at the marina, we ascended St Paul's rock, which rises 638 feet above the town, and provides a truly dramatic 360 degree view of the surrounding countryside. On our way back, we dropped in on Judy and her husband Shaun, and enjoyed a cuppa tea and a pleasant visit. Sean had sailed to NZ in a 100 year old boat in the early 70's, before the days of GPS and electronic charts, so he knew a thing or two about sailing!
Unfortunately all good things come to an end, and it was time for us to head back to Opua. We did so via the Cavalli Islands and enjoyed a couple of days in Waiiti Bay at the south end of Motukananui. We circumnavigated the island in the dinghy, checking out the sea arches & caves along the way, and also completed the trip across the island on one of the ubiquitous Kiwi hiking trails.
We are now back in Opua. Last night we had Greg, our former crew from Rarotonga to NZ & his wife, Ingrid over for happy hour and dinner, along with long time local Opua friends, Ted & Karen of Sequester.
We are expecting to leave tomorrow (Friday) mid day for Raivavae in the Austral Islands, some 2,200 nm ENE of here. We'll let you know enroute how the trip goes.
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