Sailing reunion to Waiheke and Kawau Islands

Tuesday and Wednesday were a blur of activity as we readied the boat, the hardest task was relocating everything from our ‘garage’ so that it turned into a guest cabin again LOL. All done, we headed to Auckland to do a provisioning run, and taxied back. Finally everything was done and stowed – phew!

Thursday morning we were up early and headed across to Auckland on the ferry. We then walked to the bus stop on Customs Street and got on the Sky Bus to the airport. This was slow going through the City and we were a bit worried that we would be late. Thankfully, we arrived in time and found the arrivals area, by which time Clive’s plane had landed. About 20 minutes later he walked through the gate.

Reunions over, we then reversed the journey and headed back across the bay to Morphie, although we did stop for one beer on the wharf while we waited for the next ferry. By 2.30 pm Clive was on board and he took a nap to try to recover from his long trip from London. And, surprisingly, he brought the sun with him – it certainly hadn’t been that hot for a while!

Later on, cleaned up , we headed back into the City where we did a mini pub crawl around the Viaduct Wharf area and had fish and chips for supper before returning to Morphie on the last ferry at 9.10 pm. Was a fun night.

Friday morning we slipped away from the marina after breakfast and headed out through the bay. The plan was to sail to Kawau Island but the wind direction was completely wrong and we didn’t particularly want to bash into the wind for hours on end so we changed our planned destination to Waiheke Island instead. We had a lovely sail in 10-15 knots of breeze and dropped the hook around 2pm in Puteki Bay after a mere 15 mile passage.

Once we were happy we were secure we got dink off the arch, the outboard installed, and went over to the car ferry area where there was a small floating dock. Dink safely secured we wandered up to the ferry terminal to find out that, despite our cruising guide saying buses were available, they were discontinued two years ago. Very annoying. Anyway, never mind, we found a cab and, during the journey, the driver told us about events unfolding in Christchurch. But he had very little confirmed information so we would have to wait until we got online.

We headed into Oneroa, the main town, and wandered around. The main reason we wanted to go into town was to sort out a wine tour as Waiheke is known for its numerous boutique wineries. We found out about the Explorer Hop-On, Hop-off tour so we planned that for the following day.

Oneroa was quite touristy with some funky artwork, was very pretty with an excellent beach and had a nice vibe. We found a bar with spectacular views but sadly the service was lacking and, having sat there for 15 minutes without even being approached for our order, we voted with our feet. Which worked well, as we then found a bar doing happy hour beers LOL. We sank a couple here and then went back up to the street level and found another place with great views. At this point we realised that the news from Christchurch was terrible as one group of women nearby were listening to a broadcast on their phone and they were clearly distressed….but we were still unaware of the tragic events.

Heading back to Morphie after a great few hours we collected dink and got back onboard. We quickly got online and read about the shocking incidents. OMG this is the last country on earth that we would expect this type of thing to happen. The response from the public and the Prime Minister was amazing but the whole country is in mourning with flags at half mast. Sobered by the news we had a quiet evening and supper in the cockpit.

Saturday morning we headed ashore and got a cab to the nearest bus stop (which was too far to walk). We waited patiently for the Explorer bus and during this time we got chatting to a guy from Hong Kong who worked in one of the vineyards. He was very knowledgeable and gave us some great tips about which ones to visit. Our bus turned up and we headed off first to Onetangi beach for a coffee as it was too early to start our wine tour at this stage.

We had a quick look around then rejoined the bus and got off at Stonyridge Vineyard first. This was a lovely venue and the wine was fantastic – I didn’t indulge in the taster session as the wines here were mainly red (which I don’t drink) but I did get both their Sauvignon Blanc tasters so didn’t miss out. We enjoyed our time here and, of course, our friend from the bus stop was there and treated us to a small taster of one of the high end wines. Very nice too! This place was quite large and very corporate, clearly expecting large groups into the restaurant for lunch.

Leaving Stonyridge we walked across a disused airfield to visit Te Motu Vineyard. This, in comparison, was pretty small and family run. The tasting session was much more informative and we found it quite interesting. As this was purely a red tasting session, Richard and I purchased some Sauvignon and Rose and left the tasting to Clive. Have to say, reflecting on the day later, we think these wines were the best we tried.

Leaving Te Motu we rejoined the bus and went to Batch Winery. This was a spectacular setting with lovely views. We had a simple lunch along with a wine tasting. Here they are famous for their sparkling wine so I swapped one of the reds out for that so we were all happy. The food was fantastic but, sadly, the wine was probably the least impressive for the day. It was fun, though, to actually see the wine producing area.

Back on the bus we went to our last vineyard of the day Mudbrick. This is a spectacular place which is especially popular for weddings – apparently there is a two year waiting list. By now, Clive and Richard were ‘wined-out’ so they went back on the beer while I made the most of their lovely Sauvignon sitting on the roof-top terrace. Very chilled.

Back on the bus we headed to Matiatia Bay to drop people off for the passenger ferry and we stayed on the bus for our last visit to Oneroa. We had a single beer, enjoying the lovely views again, before cabbing it to the dock. Back on board we had dinner and a lovely evening listening to tunes. We thoroughly enjoyed our time on Waiheke Island.

Sunday we headed back out to sea again towards Kawau. And, of course, the forecast lied. The wind direction was perfect, just shame that it didn’t blow more than 6-7 knots all day. So we motor sailed until we reached the channel towards our chosen bay, Bon Accord Harbour.

We loved looking at the little islets / rocks dotted around, particularly the one that we thought looked like an old-fashioned diver’s helmet. We found the Kawau Boating Club and anchored nearby. We made sure we were secure then dropped dink and headed ashore to check it out. Was a lovely little hostelry with friendly people and we enjoyed sitting outside watching the world go by. This small island has few roads so most people travel around by boat. Back to Morphie for another evening in the cockpit.

Monday morning we took dink across to School House Bay and secured to the public wharf. We then followed the path towards the Mansion House. We were told this was an easy walk of around 30 minutes….well, it wasn’t! It took us 45 minutes and it was a strong uphill walk, followed by some flat through the forest, and then a downhill stretch towards the Mansion House. Phew, was hard work! But some lovely plants, trees and butterflies…..and a view of the old Coppermine.

The Mansion House was built by the then-Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey, when he purchased Kawau Island for his home. This has been renovated and we enjoyed walking through the interior. The grounds were also nice and we loved seeing the wikkis and peacocks as they tried to get us to feed them crumbs….. Peacocks and wallabies were introduced by Sir George along with numerous non-native plant species almost 150 years ago. The wallabies are regularly culled as they present a nuisance to gardeners but there is no plan to totally eradicate them and, sadly, we didn’t encounter one on our travels.

Some of the pine trees he imported, however, are a nuisance as they drop huge cones (weighing up to 8kgs) and can be a bit of a problem. So, throughout the forest, they have been cutting them down. Was an interesting visit and it was clear that Sir George was very influential with Queen Victoria. He was also a bit of a difficult character and he was not particularly liked for his tough stance during the land wars during his second term in office.

We did try to get a ferry back to the bay but, sadly, they were returning to the mainland so we had to do the whole trek back again. This was tough on my poor old legs but I managed it! Back to Morphie I rested up for a while and then we went to the Club again for a few sundowners. Such a lovely place….I think Richard and I may well revisit this bay on our way north later on this season. It might even be a good place to base ourselves to do the varnishing……you never know!

Tuesday morning and we were up very early and worked out way back towards Bayswater Marina in Auckland. And, again, annoyingly the wind didn’t get above 7 knots so very light airs and the weather had changed to grey, cloudy and some showers. So, for the first time, we were wearing jackets in the cockpit and keeping warm with hot chocolate drinks but were cheered up by a glimpse of a few dusky dolphins. On the way back we were passed, in both directions, by huge car carriers…..not to mention the various ferries. We pulled into Bayswater around 2pm having done a total of 76 miles in the last few days.

This afternoon, we are catching up with laundry, blogging and packing as we are heading off on a small North Island road trip tomorrow morning.

Bye for now