14 February 2014

Cruising To Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula

Chart showing our route from Great Mercury Island to Whitianga. Sourced from LINZ. Crown Copyright reserved.

After our time in the Mercury Islands, we decided to head down to Whitianga in Mercury Bay on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula. The full name of the town is Whitianga-o-Kupe, or Kupe’s crossing place, after Kupe the explorer who came to New Zealand from eastern Polynesia around 950 CE in his canoe, Matahorua. The European explorer, Captain James Cook, also landed in Mercury Bay in 1769 on a much larger boat, the Endeavour. He observed the transit of the planet Mercury across the sun during his stay in the area, which led to the naming of Mercury Bay and Cooks Beach.

Whitianga is the main town in the area and a great base from which to explore the nearby beaches and coastal villages. We had spent some time in this area a few years ago and had an opportunity to visit Hahei Beach and Cathedral Cove. On this visit we had hoped to be able to anchor our boat off the shore and see them again, but, unfortunately, the winds were too high and from the wrong direction to safely leave our boat in the anchorage.

We did spend a couple of nights at Whitianga Marina (a relatively small marina with only 191 berths) located in the heart of the town. As usual, we didn’t get too much downtime when we were there to explore the area, as boat and life chores needed to be done, but we did have a nice time catching up with folks that we had met up at Great Mercury Island.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Whitianga Marina
We left Huruhi Harbour in Great Mercury Island at around 9:15 am and headed straight out into a an uncomfortable swell (around 2 meters). If you read about our adventures in the Mercury Islands, you’ll know that we weren’t a big fan of the swell up there. It made for a very uncomfortable and unpleasant sail and we ended up having to motor into it for 12 nautical miles. As we only have a 10 horsepower engine, it meant that we motored very, very slowly. Up and down and up and down along each swell we went for what seemed like hours.
Once we got around Opito Point, we were able to put up the headsail which helped increase our speed. We ended up anchoring at Cook’s Beach to wait out the tide as there is a very strong tidal flow of 5 nautical miles leading into the marina. So unless you try to navigate it at the right time, you’ll find you are either fighting against it or being pushed along far too quickly. As our engine isn’t very powerful, it would be hard for us to make any progress against the tidal flow into the marina when the tide is going out. So we waited until slack tide and headed on in to the marina in the afternoon. Showers, dinner and early to bed.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

There is a passenger ferry which runs across the Whitianga Harbour. It parked right next to us at night at the marina.
The next day, we did the usual life and boat chores – cleaning, grocery shopping and laundry. We also had a couple of people over to our boat for a “Mexican fiesta” dinner who we had met in Great Mercury Island. When I first moved to Auckland, Mexican food wasn’t that popular, but it seems to have really taken off in the past couple of years. The folks we had over had only had Mexican food a few times, so even though our “Mexican fiesta” was pretty basic, I think they were impressed. They had never had quesadillas before (something we take for granted) so it was kind of fun to see how much they enjoyed them.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

One of the take away places in town. We didn't try them, but apparently their shakes are "da bomb."
We had arranged with the marina to leave at noon so that we could wait for the tides to be in our favor, so we went for a bit of a walk in the morning around town and had one last shower before heading back to Great Mercury Island to wait out some more bad weather.

Another one of the nautical themed restaurants in Whitianga.

Nautical miles = 19 
Top speed = 6.4 (in the Whitianga Channel) 
Average speed = 2.5 
Cost to take a shower = NZ$1


  1. Are you heading south to the beautiful BOP? If so, let me know...could say hello and have a coffee or vino:-)

  2. Hi Lynn - unfortunately we are on our way to the BOI otherwise I would have loved to catch up. hopefully our paths will cross soon!


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