We have just completed a road trip of the upper part of the North Island of New Zealand. We came across so many wonderful harbours along the way, we plan to explore more of this area once we get back to New Zealand on Anzac in a few years time!
The Bay Of Islands
This is a wonderful spot with Paihia being the main town and Opua is the local marina. There were lots of yachts here getting ready for the upcoming Pacific Season and Andrew and I were busy eyeing up the yachts and their set ups. Opua has a great marina and Customs etc is also based here. However there must be hundreds of wonderful cruising destinations around the Bay of Islands itself. Russell is a lovely town on the other side of the harbour and there looked to be a nice protected anchorage here.
We headed up to the Cavalli Islands which is about 20M north of Paihia and went for a dive on the Rainbow Warrior which was sunk by French Terrorists in 1985. It was a wonderful dive and something I will remember forever. The surrounding Islands had lots of great dives and anchorages, however there are lots of rocks awash and so I would suggest vigilance if you were cruising in this area.
Tutukaka is the gateway to the Poor Knights Islands – which is one of the top 10 dive sites in the world – and rightly so! The fish live was absolutely amazing and we did two days diving out there with two dives each day. One highlight was coming up in an air bubble inside an underwater cave. But the whole time I felt like I was swimming in a huge aquarium! It is well worth a visit if you are a diver.
The marina at Tutukaka is great and there is a nice restaurant – Snapper Rock and a grocery shop just around the corner. The channel is narrow but well marked and there were a couple of nice bays in the outer part that could be good anchoring spots.
Auckland boats a huge number of big marina’s and the sailing around the Hauraki Gulf and out to Waiheke Island is just spectacular. The Viaduct and Westhaven Marina is the best spot to visit for a variety of different chandleries and boat brokers, sail makers etc. It is well worth a visit.
There are a number of different bays in the Coromandel, however many of the harbours are accessed via rivers and tidal estuaries, so I would recommend getting a cruising guide or local knowledge before attempting to enter. We stayed in Hahei which was beautiful but quite exposed to any Easterly breezes. Hot Water Beach is a must do experience if you are in this part of the world. At low tide you can dig a hole in the sand and relax in the thermal waters that bubble up!
There is a big marina in Tauranga and also a nice protected anchorage tucked in behind Mt Maunganui. This would be a great place to stop on a trip down the East Coast of New Zealand. The town of Mt Maunganui has lots of shops and restaurants and a lovely surf beach on the other side of the peninsula. You must walk round and up the ‘Mount’ as that is what everyone does! It is a great spot and it looked like there were other nice bays and places to anchor within the harbour of Tauranga, however I think the depths can be changeable.
Overall we had a wonderful holiday, and whilst it was by road, we spent lots of time on and under the water and I look forward to coming back and cruising this part of the world some time soon. New Zealand is a great destination for people who are looking to avoid the Pacific hurricane season.