Cruising in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf: Every Sailor’s Dream
During March 2011 we were fortunate to be on charter down in New Zealand. The Hauraki Gulf was the venue for two America’s Cup challenges and is famous for it’s consistent winds, clear waters and well-developed marine industry.
Hauraki in Maori means ‘North Wind’. Kiwi sailors are some of the most competent in the world – they regularly crew on super-yachts and are sought after by international yacht racing teams.
The Gulf cruising area is roughly 4,000 square kilometres and is protected by Great Barrier Island and the Coromandel Peninsula. There are many islands within a day’s sail of Auckland City and there are numerous protected anchorages.
Waiheke Island Circumnavigation
We chartered a somewhat tired Jeanneau 36 called Sequin from Charterlink in Bayswater, Auckland and set off down the Auckland Harbour. Being a Monday, there was not a lot of other traffic.
We sailed past a couple of retired America’s Cup yachts en route to our first anchorage in Huruhi Bay on Waiheke Island. Entering the Bay, we were stopped by three fisherman who had obviously caught more fish than the limits allowed and gave us three good-sized snapper. Those fish ended up on the table that evening.
The next morning dawned bright and sunny and we started our clockwise circumnavigation of the Island. After rounding the NE corner of the Island we came across Hook Bay and decided to anchor there for the night.
Bill is a keen fisherman and within a few minutes was hauling in snapper which we filleted and stocked our freezer.
Swimming is pleasurable in the warm, clean waters. New Zealand made a wise decision many years ago to ban commercial fishing within the Hauraki Gulf. Fish stocks have rebounded and it is difficult not to catch dinner each night.
We sailed across the Firth of Thames the next day to Coromandel Town. The anchorage off the town is quite shallow and care was needed to avoid grounding. We walked around the Town which was the centre of gold-mining many years ago.
Our final night was spent in a delightful anchorage on Rotoroa Island, adjacent to Waiheke. Formerly off-limits, Rotoroa has just been gifted to the City of Auckland.
Great Barrier Island Exploration
A childhood friend, Warren Dawson, keeps his Elliot 1050 Snap Decision at Gulf Harbour Marina and invited us out on a three-day trip to Great Barrier Island. Warren has sailed the Hauraki Gulf all his life. Snap Decision is a cruiser-racer and very quick.
The 36-mile ride across to Great Barrier was exciting to say the least. Winds gusted to 50 knots and the boat surfed down large waves at 14 to 15 knots. At one point, we had to reduce sail to prevent rounding up.
Kiwis call the Island ‘the Barrier’. It is home to a number of laid-back types who enjoy the secluded life-style. We spent an evening in Arid Cove on Arid Island on the west coast of the Barrier.
The Island is well-served by ferries and is a favourite holiday destination for stressed-out Aucklanders. The beaches surrounding the Island are spectacular. The Island reminded us of the west coast of Vancouver Island with it’s remote, pristine beauty.
April 30, 2011