24 February 2014

Back In The Barrier {Or What A Difference No Wind Makes}

Sourced from LINZ. Crown Copyright reserved.

We loved our time in Great Barrier Island last summer and were so excited to get back up there this summer. However, when we were there last, we were pretty much stuck on the boat for days in a blow which meant we didn’t get enough time to explore the island. So, on our way back from Great Mercury Island to Auckland, we decided to stop at the Barrier again and explore the western side of the island. And it was fabulous – because there was very little wind. It makes such a difference to be able to sleep peacefully at night, undisturbed by swells or wind, and to be able to safely leave your boat at the anchor and go exploring. We didn’t get nearly enough time to explore this part of the island before we had to head back to Auckland, but we’re definitely planning on heading back there this summer.
Monday, 3 February 2014

There is nothing Scott hates more than motoring, but when we left Great Mercury Island at 6:30 am there wasn’t even a hint of wind so we ended up having to motor the entire way to Great Barrier Island. We put the sail up a few times and it did give us a lift, but we still had the constant noise of the motor on the entire passage. Having to motor is a real drag because you can barely hear each other over the engine and you certainly can’t put any music on. But on a more positive, glass-half-full kind of note, we did get a chance to charge our portable DVD player and mobile phone during the trip without draining our batteries. 

Someone has built a cute little hut over the picnic tables so that you can enjoy your meal in the shade while looking out to Tryphena Harbour. There is a free, public barbeque next to the picnic tables that you can use.

And they even have barbeque utensils hanging in the tree for you to use. How handy is that!
25 nautical miles later, we dropped the hook in between Shoal Bay and Mulberry Grove Bay in Tryphena Harbour on the southwestern side of Great Barrier Island. Trypehna (or Rangitāwhiri, meaning “a day of welcome" in Māori) has three main parts to it – Stonewall Village, Mulberry Grove and Shoal Bay (site of the ferry wharf). After lunch, we got in the dinghy and headed over to Mulberry Grove and walked from there over to Stonewall Village. It is a relatively short walk between the two areas, mostly along the road and paths. Along the way, there are some nice views of the harbor and beaches. 

The cafe at Stonewall Village.

In Stonewall Village, you can find toilets, the post office, a café and general store. There is also supposed to be a pub near Pah Beach, but we didn’t see it. Instead, we got two bottles of Steinlager in the general store (NZ$3 each) and drank them on the beach. Much cheaper than a pub and probably a nicer view. You know you’re in a small town, when everyone in the general store knows each other and has a group discussion about whether Joe should go back on the dole or stay working in his current job. I'm not sure what he ended up deciding to do. We checked out the price of bread (NZ$6.50), decided to pass on buying bread there and meandered back to Mulberry Grove which also has general store and café, as well as a bar. 

Cafe and bar at Mulberry Grove. There are recycling facilities located nearby, but no dumpster for general waste.
Once in Mulberry Grove, it only seemed fair to try their beers too, so we bought another couple of bottles and, as they had a liquor license, we were able to drink them out in their very pretty courtyard complete with flowers, a duck looking for handouts and a sleeping cat. We also checked their prices on bread and decided to fork over NZ$6 for a loaf. All that comparison shopping to save 50 cents – it is amazing what lengths we’ll go to manage our cruising kitty. We then headed back to the boat and had grilled cheese for supper thanks to our new loaf of bread.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Yum - snapper for dinner tonight!
We both felt that we had seen what there was to see in Tryphena the day before, so we decided to head on out and visit some other bays on the western side of Great Barrier Island. But first, Scott did some fishing in Tryphena Harbour and scored a snapper!

Public wharf at Blind Bay. There was a guy there kayaking who has an ingenious way of hauling his kayak around. He basically doesn't have a rear window in his car and just sticks the kayak in through the back with it hanging over the trunk.
We first went to Blind Bay because our cruising guide said that there was a nice walk over stone bridges to be had there. I’m not sure what we were expecting, but it certainly wasn’t what we found. There are two very small stone bridges at Blind Bay, but certainly nothing to write home about or shout about in your blog. However, Blind Bay is a really pretty bay with some big pohutukawa trees, nice beach and a public wharf. We went for a little wander over the bridges, had some lunch on our boat and picked up the anchor and then headed off to our next stop – Whangaparapara Harbour.

Whangaparapara Harbour
Prior to the Europeans arriving in New Zealand, Whangaparapara was a center of commerce on Great Barrier Island for the Māori and protected by a number of fortified strongholds. The area later became a center for whaling and timber activity. Whangaparapara is a great base from which to do a number of walks. Unfortunately, we needed to be back in Auckland so we weren’t able to do more than briefly explore the harbor, but we do plan on heading back to take advantage of the trails soon.

Graveyard Bay
We anchored that night in Graveyard Bay, aptly named for the site of an old graveyard. After chatting with a guy from one of the other boats in the anchorage who came over to say g’day, we got in our dinghy and headed over towards the wharf to check out the Whangaparapara Lodge and their general store. The folks at the lodge pride themselves in having lower prices than the other general stores on the island and it does look like you can save yourself a few pennies on essentials like chocolate, bread and capsicums. We already had plenty of chocolate, bread and capsicums on the boat, so we opted to get some more beer instead. A word of caution, if you decide to land your dinghy at the lodge, consider the tides. When we left, the tide was on its way out which meant we had a really fun walk carrying our dinghy through the kind of mud which sucks your feet into the ground and won’t let go of them easily.

We managed to get our feet unstuck, into the dinghy and back to the boat to enjoy our beers and some Snappy, Snapper Chowder made with the snapper Scott caught that morning. It was scrumptious!


Nautical miles = 35 
Top speed = 5.7 
Number of snapper caught = 1
Number of beers consumed = we’re not telling

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