Saturday, May 31, 2014

Aotearoa...Land of the Long White Cloud: Part I

Osprey sailing away from the Kingdom of Tonga.
The run from Tonga to Opua, New Zealand couldn't have been better.  The moment we left the channel heading out of Neiafu we caught some good wind and set the sails.  We thought that once we passed Tongatapu that the wind angle might change but lucky for us it didn't and we continued on a steady course heading southeast.  We kept this route for about 275 and only had to make a slight adjust when we neared Minerva Reefs in order to avoid a grounding on the mostly submerged reefs.

Approaching New Zealand.
From Minerva Reefs to Opua, New Zealand, we had excellent winds in the right direction allowing us to make a fast run towards the northern tip of New Zealand, approximately 800 miles south-southeast.  We had initially thought that the roughly 1100 mile passage would take about 11 to 12 days, but in the end we made the passage in 9.5 days. Considering other passages we had made, this was a fast passage, with Osprey screaming along at an average of about 6 knots.  Additionally, the seas were relatively calm with minimum swell which added our experiencing this passage as a good one overall.

Oldest stone building in New Zealand,
located in Kerikeri.
Opua, New Zealand, and the Bay of Islands, is the main entry point for this part of New Zealand.  After clearing into the country, we radioed the marina and pulled Osprey into her assigned slip.  It was great to catch up with friends who had arrived before us and within no time the crews of the many boats that had come to Opua were getting together and relating their stories of their passages from Tonga.  Richard and I and our friend Phil from s/v Sea Monkey drove a little bit further north one day to do a hike (Kiwis call hikes "treks") near the small town of Kerikeri.  The hike took us through thick forests, snaked along a small river, with several waterfalls along the way, and culminated at a much larger waterfall where other hikers were enjoying the cool waters and swimming at the base of the waterfall.  Even though it was December, it was pretty hot; December being the beginning of the Southern Hemisphere summer.

Urapukapuka Island in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

We spent a few days tied to the marina and then headed out into the Bay of Islands.  The Bay of Islands reminds me a little bit of the San Juan Islands in Washington State.  A scattering of islands in a picturesque bay, covered in emerald green grass, set among clear water and hiking trails.  We anchored in Otiao Bay on Urapukapuka Island next to our friends aboard s/v Nyon.  Kyra, Rick, Richard and I hiked the ridge of the island one day and spent the rest of the afternoon tossing the frisbee on the beach.  We could have stayed here forever.  A great swimming beach, beautiful scenery, and fantastic sunrises and sunsets made it hard to eventually pick up the hook.  But Auckland was calling and we needed to get going so we said goodbye to s/v Nyon and headed south.

Me and Richard, Thanksgiving 2013 on Osprey.
Our next port of call brought us to Tutukaka and another marina.  Richard and I spent Thanksgiving aboard Osprey, with Richard cooking a chicken with all the traditional Thanksgiving fixings.  We looked for a turkey but none were to be found.  We also couldn't find fresh cranberries so for the first time in many, many years, we had cranberry sauce out of a jar (also couldn't find canned cranberry sauce where the jellied condiment has ridges and slides all over the plate when you try to cut into it; this reminds me of my childhood).  From Tutukaka, we made a beeline for Auckland but the distance proved to be more than we anticipated and not wanting to do an overnight, we tucked into Bon Accord Harbour on Kawau Island.  We spent one night in Bon Accord Harbour and then headed out early the next morning for Auckland.

Sunset over Auckland as seen from the stern of Osprey
while at the Westhaven Marina
Upon entering the Hauraki Gulf, we caught our first glimpse of Auckland's impressive skyline with the Sky Tower being visible way before the rest of the city comes into view.  We brought Osprey into the Westhaven Marina, tied her to the dock and congratulated ourselves for making the journey to New Zealand.  The first few days were spent cleaning the boat and getting her back into "liveaboard" mode and getting our bearings in our new home for the next several months.

More images from our passage from Tonga to Auckland.  Enjoy!

Sailing from Tonga to New Zealand.
Waterfall seen during hike in Kerikeri.
Urapukapuka Island, Bay of Islands, New Zealand.
Running towards Auckland.
Not always tropical beaches and sunshine.
Heading into the Hauraki Gulf under full sails.
These guys greeted us upon our approach
to Auckland.  Super fast!
Auckland skyline.
Auckland Harbour Bridge.

No comments:

Post a Comment