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Sailing the Hauraki Gulf

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Hi, I'm a Kiwi who grew up in Auckland, but have been living in London for the last 20 years. I belong to a sailing club here, and I've managed to arrange a trip to NZ next year, and about 28 of us are coming over to spend 9 days sailing. 

My plan was something like Auckland -> Waiheke -> Great Barrier -> Tiritiri -> Whangaparoa -> Auckland, but not really firmed up yet. 

So, I was wondering, if you were in my position, where would you go/not go? Anything I'm missing, anything to skip? A few people might like to dive places, I'm sure a lot would love to sample seafood, hiking to the top of Rangitoto etc.

We have a mix of people, a lot are very experienced, but also some who just want a relaxed cruise. I'm thinking 30NM per day is probably enough, and going ashore and seeing things needs to be factored in. I love Waiheke, have never been to the Barrier, but would be keen to swim & snorkel, and show my friends the sort of place I grew up in. And also reconnect with everything, and see how much has changed.




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What you describe isn't miles away from what many people do here for a week away in summer. Head to barrier, via either waiheke or kawau for a night or two on the way in and out.

Few thoughts:

Be prepared to change your plan based on weather. Even a 30nm trip to or from waiheke to barrier can be heinous on the wrong day. Likewise if you get a great breeze to sail to barrier on day 1, I'd be tempted to take it, and consider leaving a day or two early to stop at the other places you want to see on the way back.

I wouldn't rush to spend time at whangaparoa unless you have a specific reason to do so. Imo the islands are nicer.

Tiritiri is lovely but anchorage is exposed to some wind directions.

Kawau is also a good staging post, has good all weather anchorages, fishing, walks etc so worth considering.

Rakino also nice, could do something like leave auckland on day 1 and head up rangitoto summit, then round to rakino for the first night. 


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Bottom end (eastern side of Waiheke).  Rotoroa Island is a great anchorage as well as a solid half to full day ashore with views, a couple of nice swimming beaches and wildlife esp. birds.

Man'o'War Bay is (in)famous for its anchorage, restaurant and vineyard, and for the fit its a good half day walk up to Stoney Batter gun emplacement for history and views.

A short skip across the Thames inlet to Te Kouma harbour, then up to the Barrier for a couple of days, home via Kawau, Tiri, Rakino take your pick.

As Raz says, stay flexible.  Winds may dictate your direction of travel.

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Sounds like a great trip you've all planned!

I hope (fervently) our weather is better for you than it was for us last 'summer' season.

There are lots of really good books you could buy on line by kiwis about the gulf and anchorages etc.

Google David Thatcher - he's written a few. Plus there's the 'Coastal Cruising Guide' by the Royal Akarana Yacht Club which is updated/new editions every so often - brilliant guide to pretty much everywhere in the gulf.

And there are others.

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Be aware of anchoring restrictions, out at the Barrier and The Merc's re Caulpera (seaweed) infestation. What Aardvarkash sugests is a good loop. Depending on the time of the year allow for possible weather stops. your longest exposed run would be Barrier to kawau. On average I allow 6 hours + - .

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Thanks so much for all the excellent responses, always helpful to get a variety of ideas.

@Steve Pope I'd seen the anchoring restrictions previously, but back then it seemed to be mostly "scrub your anchor", where as now I see that several bays are strictly off limits (mostly around Tryphena). 

@Terry BI'd picked up two of David Thatcher's books last year when I was home

@aardvarkash10 I haven't been to Stoney Batter since I was a kid, I'd love to go back. Te Kouma sounds like a good shout, but I guess it will depend on weather etc, and if we can make it to the Barrier.

@raz88 I'd only thought of Whangaparoa as a place that might have showers/water/fuel etc, most of our club trips end up being a mixture of marinas & mooring/anchoring, mostly because people will want to get get cleaned up and go ashore for a nice dinner occasionally. I think fresh water will be our biggest issue, with 6-8 people on a boat I'm sure will go through it. Hoping it will still be warm enough to swim though! 

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The main gulf cruising areas are inner islands Motuihe, Motutapu Rakino etc

Waiheke and the bottom end

Coromandel coast

Great Barrier

Kawau Bay

All can be reached in a day from town with the right breeze.

We head out and see which way the wind is blowing and end up where it takes us to the lee of something by the end of the day, and cruise that area over the next few days with no agenda or until the wind changes. Swimming is good pretty much everywhere except deep into muddy bays, snorkelling is generally better the further out you go.

Best time to come is late mid to late summer but keep an eye on the weather patterns, if its La Nina Id consider postponing until next year or be prepared to sit out a lot of bad weather. This year was annus horribilis for cruising. 




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9 hours ago, Psyche said:

This year was annus horribilis for cruising

Haha... I used cluster fark sh*t.... But your enterpreration sounds way more educated and teknical. 

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