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Whitianga, Arches and Hot Beaches

Lava tubes north of Mayor Island

Mayor Island in the Bay of Plenty was as far south as we intended to go this year, indeed it’s as far south as we will ever go at 37º 18 south. Sydneyis 34º south and South Africa is about 36º south, if we end up going that way.  We are now making our way inexorably further north towards home.  The east wind was giving us a pleasant sail north with a great view of Crater bay just below the devil’s staircase that we had viewed from the top the day before.  The Lava tubes around the north of the island were also interesting.  It was a cloudy day with a lumpy sea but the island was soon left behind.  We arrived at Matapaua bay outside Whitianga just after 4pm.  The next day we motored into Whitianga for a couple of days in the marina. 

Whitianga Seafront

Our position on 31st January 2012

36º 50.1 south

175º 42.4 east

The usual domestic chores were catching up with me such as piles of washing, and the marina is very conveniently within walking distance of a nice big New World(NZ Sainsbury’s).  I like to stock the boat up at the beginning of the month with enough food to last the month, which meant a couple of trips.  I also had a much needed hair cut.

Cathedral Cove

Before leaving the marina I met up with a very nice lady I had met in Seoul on my way home to the UK in June.  Rae had given me her address and suggested we meet up when I reached Whitianga.  We met in a local coffee shop and caught up with our news.  I invited her back to the boat to have a look around and she offered to take us out in the car so we agreed to meet on Saturday. 

The Arch that gives Cathedral Cove its name.

We left the marina, having topped up the water and diesel tanks, for the short trip around to Cathedral Cove.  Unfortunately the weather had turned against us again and our lovely sunshine had changed into cloudy skies with an easterly breeze making life on the East coast very difficult.  We had the anchorage to ourselves, which wasn’t surprising because there was quite a swell running.  Even without the sun it was still a spectacular spot.  We launched the dinghy and landed on the beach. 


Velvety beach in Cathedral Cove

The sand was very velvety under our feet and the rock formations around the bay were amazing.










Camomile through the Arch

We walked through the arch to another picturesque beach on the other side with steps up the cliffs leading to a breathtaking cliff top walk with views over Gemstone bay and Stingray bay.  Some of the scenes from the film Prince Caspian of the Narnia stories were shot on this coastline.   We didn’t want to leave Camomile alone for very long because the swell was quite bad so returned quickly. 






We moved to the more sheltered Cooks beach.  On the 9th November 1769 Cook was reminded by Charles Green the astronomer that it would be possible to observe the transit of the planet Mercury as it passed over the face of the sun and Cook would be able to accurately fix the longitude of New Zealand.  The day dawned fine and calm.  Cook went ashore with Green and their astronomical instruments and successfully carried out the observation on the beach, now named Cooks beach, which is in Mercury bay.  Unfortunately the swell was curling around the headland and gave us a very unsettled night so the next morning we motored back into Whitianga and anchored out in the harbour.

Maherangi Island from the Cliff top

On the Saturday morning we took the dinghy ashore to meet Rae at 9am. 

My 'Spa' on Hot Water beach

We had agreed to go to Hot Water beach where it’s possible to dig into the sand, tap into thehot springsand create your own thermal pool an hour either side of low tide. The low tide was at midday and as it was about a half hour drive we needed to get going.  Although it was a cloudy day the beach was packed.  There’s only a very small area of beach that has the warm sand and everyone was trying to get their little patch.  Rae had brought her garden spade and Bill started to dig my ‘spa’.  In some areas the sand was really hot under the surface and the water was warming up nicely but the easterly swell was causing waves to crash over the top of my sand hollow bringing in the cold sea.  It was great fun but we wanted to get on so after a quick change left the beach. 

This is where Camomile had been anchored

Rae drove us to the Hahei beach area; it had a viewpoint over Cathedral cove where Camomile had been anchored the day before, and along Cooks beach.  We stopped for a lovely lunch before driving back to Whitianga.  It always feels strange being driven in a car after travelling at 6mph everywhere.  








Camomile anchored in Parapara bay, Mercury Islands



We couldn’t get out of Whitianga until the Monday when the swell had dropped.  Once out of Mercury bay we turned north to go back to the western side of the Mercury islands for an overnight stay.



There are a lot of sheep on Mercury Island

The beach was wonderful for a long walk.

I was the only one on the beach

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