Soon after 6pm Mum arrived into Whangaroa! I had moved Honey so she was anchored off of Whangaroa township and took the inflatable ashore when she pulled up. Mum was super keen to do some fishing while she was here, and we headed into the sport fishing club and got some tips on where to go to catch snapper, the main advice being the best time to catch is at the change of light – dawn and dusk. We went for a short walk, and a short drive to Kaio in search of bait, and back to the fishing club for dinner before heading back to Honey for the night.
We'd had no luck with finding anywhere open in the evening so had no bait, and in the morning we headed back into Kaio to stock up on food and bait. After a leisurely breakfast we then headed out of the harbour nosing into some of the stunning bays on our way. It was flat calm in the harbour but as we headed out the wind was still blowing 15-20 knots outside of the heads – so we raised the sails and headed for Stephenson Island, anchoring on the north west side in the lee of the wind, close to Cone Island. Another yacht was anchored in the bay and they were fishing, so after we'd had our lunch we pulled up anchor and drifted around the rocks and Mum fished. With the wind dying out and the afternoon moving on, we headed back into Whangaroa Harbour for a brief dinner before dusk – then it was time for more fishing at the heads. We lost the light very quickly and it was dark when we came back into the harbour and anchored in Ranfurly Bay, just inside the entrance.
The next day, Saturday, was a fantastic day – a little mist when we woke up, early to catch the dawn fishing, but otherwise it was shaping up to be a lovely sunny day. A little after 6.30am we had lifted anchor and were headed back to the harbour entrance – along with half of Whangaroa – there were small and large fishing boats, blokes crammed into tin dinghys, all working in a line motoring slowly between Kingfish Point and South Head with their fishing rods out – it was quite a sight and experience. We moved in with Honey, the only yacht, and followed suit, Mum with her rod out, and me working to dodge the other boats and their long lines trailing behind. We saw others catching fish – some kingfish, and I saw one snapper being hauled in – and Mum carried on with her run of catching snapper. With the day lightening, the boats gradually disappeared, as we did too when the bait had run out, anchoring back off Whangaroa township.
We had breakfast anchored outside Whangaroa township, accompanied with live music – a very talented man was strumming his guitar and singing on the water's edge, the sound carrying across perfectly with the calm morning. Once the local shop had opened and we had restocked up on bait, an ice-cream and more tips on how to catch the big fish (as it turned out the fishermen this morning were all fishing for kingfish, we weren't in the best place for snapper so probably were the source of some amusement to those who saw us!), we headed back out on Honey, out of the harbour and east towards the Cavalli Islands. The wind picked up and we had a lovely sail past Flat Island and onto the northern Cavallis, anchoring in a calm little nook on the south side of Panaki Island. After relaxing in the gorgeous sunshine, we went ashore onto Panaki Island, in search of a walk to the top that was noted in the cruising guide. I have a copy of the Royal Akarana Yacht Club – Coastal Cruising Handbook, Millenium Edition, so it was printed some 17 years ago. There was no sign of any walk, perhaps long overgrown, and we didn't feel like bushwacking in our jandals, so we motored in the dinghy across to the north side of Motukawanui Island (Big Cavalli), about 2/3 of a mile distant where we could see there was a walk. It was a beautiful sandy beach, and we pulled the dinghy up and walked along the track, a mowed walking strip stretching up the hill. The views were fantastic at the top – it was such a clear sunny day, and the views stretched from Cape Karikari through to Bay of Islands, we thought as far as Cape Brett. Once we'd motored back to the dinghy, we nosed Honey through the small passage between Big Cavalli and Haraweka Island to try some more fishing, not staying long due to the discomfort from the swell, and we motored back past Panaki Island to Hamaruru Island, a relatively sheltered spot more comfortable for fishing. Mum caught more snapper, her tally now at 28, mine at 0, but then I put down the line and caught a decent sized trevalli. The sun was starting to lower in the sky, the days being notably shorter up in the far north than in the South Island, and we sailed Honey back towards Whangaparoa Harbour. The wind died down as we approached Flat Island with the setting sun, and with the full moon raising from the sea behind us, we motored back into the harbour. We dropped anchor in Waitepipi Bay, among of a city of lights from all the boats moored around us, filleted the trevalli and fell soundly asleep – a wonderful full day out on the water!
View towards the Bay of Islands
We had a relaxing start on Sunday morning, having decided we'd done enough fishing for now, choosing instead to stay put on Honey, reading and taking note of some of the large boats including a superyacht from Bikini, Marshall Islands in the bay, named Triton, we figured a statement on the nuclear testing done by the Americans which has rendered Bikini uninhabitable. Late in the morning some light drizzle set in and we stayed put until the middle of the afternoon, after we'd had our delicious homemade fish and chips and the drizzle had lifted, nosing out of Whangaroa Harbour and then back into Lanes Cove in Ruru Bay. We went ashore for a stretch of the legs, seeing that this cove like many others we have been to, is noted as a 'Kiwi Zone', and there are many stoat traps that have been set. I wasn't sure if I would know a kiwi call if I heard one, and we found DoC recordings of both female and male North Island kiwi on line – I had heard a distinct and different bird call on my first night in Whangaroa which I hadn't been able to place, which now I am sure was the female kiwi.
The next day Mum and I set off in the morning, back to shore and on the walking track up to the Duke's Nose (or the Pope's Nose as we had been incorrectly referring to!) This is a lovely short and rather steep walk to the top of the prominent rock feature behind Lanes Cove – with magnificent views down to the boats below, around the harbour and beyond. Access to the very top of the Duke's Nose is via a steep rock face with a rope secured to its face. After I scrambled up and down, we walked back to Honey and headed back into Whangaroa township, the dinghy trailing behind as it had since I had picked up Mum. It was rather gusty, with the weather that day a north west of 25 knots, and the dinghy flipped in a gust – whilst annoying, especially retrieving the seat that had fallen out, at least this was a reminder that I would need to stow the dinghy before I left for the Bay of Islands. Unfortunately it was time for Mum to leave – I had not been sucessful in persuading her to stay on – and we made it ashore in the dinghy through the gusts and whitecaps, with both Mum and her pack dry. One last icecream at the store and I waved Mum good-bye as she drove back to the airport and I headed back out to Honey.
View from the Duke's Nose into Waitepipi Bay