Banks Peninsula was initially called Banks Island by Captain Cook when he circumnavigated New Zealand back in the 1770’s. When you are out at sea it is easy to see why, as the Port Hills and Mt Herbert rise high above the very flat Canterbury Plains, making it look like the Peninsula is sitting it out at sea.
The Peninsula was actually formed millions of years ago by two volcanoes, which blew up in a spectacular explosion, blowing the sides of the volcano apart and letting the sea come in. The big harbour at the top is Lyttelton where Wildwood lives, and the bottom large harbour is Akaroa where my Dad lives.
This explosion created the fantastic cruising grounds that we love to play in. There are heaps of little bays, harbours and inlets to explore and you are more than likely to have the whole place to yourself!
A recent long weekend was a perfect excuse for us to head away on Wildwood and take Andrew around to Port Levy for the first time.
The Friday was horrible and stormy, but with the forecast predicting the weather to improve, we decided to head out anyway. We launched Puff our bigger inflatable and risked life and limb getting from Puff on to Wildwood who was dancing around on her mooring in the Southerly waves.
We loaded on a weekends worth of food and wine and headed over to Diamond Harbour tucked away from the wind and waves and fell fast asleep.
The next morning the wind had gone, the sun was out and the water was glassy calm. We made breakfast and a cup of coffee as we motored the 5 nautical miles out of the harbour to the heads.
The sea was still flat calm as we reached the heads, giving us the perfect opportunity to explore some of the more exposed little bays which can be difficult to get in to when there is any kind of swell. We skirted round the people fishing on boats around Beacon Rock and headed for the sea caves.
I stayed on Wildwood while Andrew took Puff to explore the caves. The biggest one has two entries and is large enough for a speedboat to go inside. The colours inside are amazing!
It was a stunning day, so while Andrew was cruising around on Puff, I was relaxing on Wildwood in the sun enjoying the view out over the twinkling ocean, 50 shades of blue.
After having a good look around, we decided to head back towards Port Levy. We were joined by a pod of friendly dolphins who followed us all the way up the harbour. These tiny Hectors dolphins are only found in this part of the world, and they loved cruising along on the bow as we slowly cruised along in the light breeze.
We picked up the club mooring and were joined by our friends Matt & Nancy and their girls on Siward and Helen and Mike on Eastern Jade who anchored nearby.
We had a lovely dinner and drank wine and danced in the cockpit to Neil Diamond of all people! I am not a big Neil Diamond fan, but I am prepared to make exceptions every now and then.
The next day was just as stunning. We were visited by Helen and her sister on Eastern Jade who had run out of gas and couldn’t make a coffee! So after we lent them a gas bottle we pumped up the Stand Up Paddleboards and cruised around the bay exploring the shoreline.
We came back via Siward for a cup of coffee and then took Puff for a ride ashore to explore onshore. We had seen some interesting sculptures on the hill overlooking the bay and we were keen to go and see what they were.
Clambering up the hill we looked back and admired Wildwood sitting peacefully in the bay surrounded by the turquoise coloured ocean.
Negotiating the electric fences, we eventually made it to the beautiful sculptures overlooking their beautiful bay.
Then, all too soon we realised that it was Sunday afternoon already. Time to head back home to get ready for another week of work. Port Levy is a mere 10 nautical miles from the busy city of Christchurch, but it might as well be a whole world away. We felt like we had been on holiday for ages.
We came home via Little Port Cooper, and had a late lunch on the club mooring there, rafted up with Jane and Keith and their son on Sagacious. The harbour was full of yachts enjoying the lovely day.
Life needs more long weekends like this!