Last we wrote, we had made it to Great Barrier Island (GBI) and were anchored in Smokehouse bay for 3 uneventful days. Smokehouse bay is very popular with yachts visiting GBI because there is an ingenious wood fired bath set up, hand wrung laundry and a pit toilet. Last Saturday we met a few fellow yachties around the campfire and it wasn’t until our second visit to the bay that we actually had a hot soak in the bath. The land is for public use in perpetuity and it is up to the yachties and a trust to keep the place maintainted. They’re doing a great job of it so far. After leaving Smokehouse, we contined further down the West coast of GBI to Whangaparapara (wh pronounced ph) and spent a couple of days walking on some nice trails. The first walk we did was to Whangaparapara summit which we did in “jandles” NZ for flip flops or if you’re Aussie, ‘thongs’. This was a smart choice especially on the way back as i slid down on my ass once, and fell crossways on my knees once. Andy was walking a bit behind me so he could laugh at my slips and skids as I traipsed down the ‘mountain’. Summit and mountain are very generous terms to describe the trail. I would call it a “lookout” at best.
The wind picked up at our anchorage in Whangaparapara harbour when we got back so we didn’t sleep the best, thankfully the next day we were planning to visit the ‘#1 must do’ in GBI. We were going to visit the Kaitoke hot springs! After reading a review that it was ‘wallowing in a shallow warmish pool’ we were more than excited to commence our who knows how long hike to get there. We walked along the old tramline track to the hot spring (that was decommissioned in the 1940s) and came back via walking 5k along the road as the ‘gentle incline’ of the tram track started out great for the first 500 m then became mud, ravines and creek crossings which Andy loved and I complained about. At least we had on proper shoes though!
After we returned to the boat it was getting pretty cold so Andy hooked up the fireplace and we enjoyed relaxing with a bottle of red and some spaghetti to replace all the calories we must’ve burned traversing ravines and creeks.
The next morning we went back to Port Fitzroy for some lunch at the boat club and then we spent another night at Smokehouse bay where we actually used the hot bath after Andy chopped a bunch of wood and had the fire going for a couple of hours to warm the water tank. We went around the corner on our last day to Bradshaw Cove where there are some old war bunkers in the brush. Good thing we didn’t bring any unruly children that may’ve climbed into the bunkers…
We left at 5 am the next morning (Friday April 21) to make it to Whangarei Marina before the office closed and we made pretty good time. Andy let me sleep in for the morning so I’d be less cranky and thankfully the radar and chartplotter helped Andy get the boat up the narrow river channel to the Marina as visibility was poor at best. Luckily, I got to test out my wet weather suit and donned my sea boots for the very first time which all worked great. After checking in to the Marina we stayed in for the rest of the afternoon and cozied up to the fireplace.
We will be in Whangarei Marina until we get a good weather window to make a break for Tonga. We are enjoying the central location and being a few 100m from all necessities will make provisioning extremely convenient. On the way out, we can clear out of customs at Marsden Cove Marina (at the river’s mouth)and top up fuel.
Thanks for reading,
Bre & Andy