Yacht Charter in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Posted by Director of Education on February 27, 2013 under Bareboat Charter, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

NauticEd staff just completed a 10 day yacht charter on a 40 ft Leopard Catamaran with the Moorings, New Zealand in the famous Bay of Islands. AND … I have to say that comparing all the places all over the world that we have chartered in, the Bay of Islands is definitely world class. We sailed out of Opua which is the yachting hub. We first ventured 12 nautical miles north out of the Bay to the Cavalli Islands where we stayed the first 2 days. Then further North to Whangaroa harbour, back to Opua, south to Whangamumu, back to the bay for a few nights then returned to the base. As with all bareboat charters the time flew by and 10 days was not enough.

Our Moorings 40 Charter Catamaran

Our Moorings 40 Charter Catamaran in Paradise Bay, Urupukapuka Island

If you like what you see below and are interested in Chartering in New Zealand contact us, we’ll help you book and design a perfect itinerary. In addition, in March next year (2014) we’ll be holding a Bareboat Charter Master Graduation Celebration Charter for graduates of our Bareboat Rank. If you’ve ever wanted to come to New Zealand and charter, then join our flotilla. I’ll be leading the armada around this world class haven for yachties. Spaces will be limited to keep the fleet manageable so contact us now. Cheers  – Grant

Here’s a quick summary of each location we visited and some of the activities

North Island New Zealand

North Island New Zealand

Zoomed in – here’s a iPad Navionics chart of the area.

Northland Coastline

Sailing ground for a Moorings Charter - Whangaroa to Whangamumu.

First off, the Bay of Islands is unquestionably spectacular. There are over 100 islands but about 6 main large ones with dozens of protected anchorages and amazing lonely beaches in the islands and arms off from the mainland.

I like this

I love this place

The main larger islands all have local Maori names. From west to east they are: Motuarohia Island, Moturua Island, Motukiekie Island, Okahu Island, Waewaetorea Island and the largest Urupukapuka Island.

Bay of Islands New Zealand

Bay of Islands New Zealand

Twelve miles to the north west of the 10 mile wide Bay of Islands lie the Cavalli Island group. The Cavallis is the final resting ground of the famous Rainbow Warrior green peace boat bombed in the Auckland Harbour in 1985 by the French government. I’ve dived on the Rainbow Warrior on previous trips to the Cavallis and it is a great wreck dive where there are easy entrances and exits at about 60 feet deep.

 

matauribay-rainbowwarrior

Matauri Bay-Rainbow Warrior

The Cavallis, as with the entire north of New Zealand are abundant with Snapper and many other kinds of eatable local fish, crayfish (a local spiny lobster) and scallops. Thus we took along with us with us 3 fishing rods and eight scuba tanks and were able to feed the entire boat each night from our catch as we sailed around between the different islands and bays. Contrary to the Caribbean and parts of equatorial Pacific, the reef fish are completely safe to eat. It’s the absolute most seafood we’ve ever prepared on a sailing trip anywhere in the world – purely because of the abundance of fish. We were able to refill the scuba tanks back at Opua when we stopped back  mid week to re-provision, however there is also a scuba refill station at Matauri Bay campground opposite the Cavallis.

Cavalli Islands

Cavalli Islands New Zealand

And the islands are pretty spectacular. Which is one thing that you’ll notice about New Zealand is the ruggedness of the coastline followed by extremely beautiful untouched and uninhabited beaches.

View of the Cavalli Islands

View of the Cavalli Islands

A walk up to the monumnet commemorating the Rainbow Warrior is really with the walk from Matauri Bay and gives a commanding view of  the Cavallis.

rainbow warrior

Rainbow Warrior Monument at Matauri Bay

Scuba diving in and around the New Zealand coast line is pretty incredible. The water is too cold for coral but the reefs are still abundant with fish and colour. Scallops are found in sandy areas at about 30 feet deep and beyond. Crayfish are found in the rocks 20 ft down and below. Noting the cold – you’ll need about a 3-5 mil wetsuit to cope with the extended underwater times.

Colourful reefs

Colourful reefs in New Zealand

On one of the dives for our search for Scallops, I came across one of the weirdest looking things I’ve seen under the water. In the sand lay a perfectly tubular hole about 8 inches in diameter and 4 ft deep. Lining the hole was perfectly placed scallop shells from top to bottom and outside the hole lay a heap of scallop shells. Needless to say, there was something intelligent living in there. Ohhhh – I got the underwater heebie geebies. About 50 meters further on was a large Octopus contently sitting there with his tentacles wrapped around more scallops ahh – mystery solved – pretty cool.

Our scuba adventure also involved catching crayfish which are certainly a delicacy. In the shops this one would sell for about $150.

 

Crayfish

Crayfish

On from the Cavallis, we sailed further north to Whangaroa Harbor.

Whangaroa Harbour New Zealand

Whangaroa Harbour New Zealand

This is a very large harbour with a narrow entrance and impressive cliffs and ancient volcanic cones. It is thus very sheltered and well worth the vist and sail north from the Cavallis.

Whangaroa Harbour

Whangaroa Harbour

Here also is a cool interactive 360 panorama photo I took on my iPad http://360.io/vazJMf

A unique chartering aid feature we discovered in Whangaroa harbour was a floating water refill station which operates on the honor system – pay $5 and refill your tanks. Thus through out the entire charter, we did not need to skimp on water -what  luxury.

Water Buoy

Water Buoy in Whangaroa Harbour

After Whangaroa, we headed south back to the Bay of Islands stopping over again in the Cavallis and just enough time to snag the anchor on the bottom at 25 meters. Fortunately the scuba gear was readily available and we were able to dive down to retrieve  This also creates a great future blog topic on how to retrieve a stuck anchor – with out scuba diving. The topic is covered in our skipper course also. In this instance, I believe the method would have worked well considering what we found the anchor to be doing on the bottom – see blog to come on this.

The sail back to the Bay of Islands was in a fairly large swell of about 2m with about 15 kots of wind which made it pretty interesting although the Cat handled the conditions well. Back in Opua we reprovisioned and headed out to Assassination Bay, an extremely tranquil and quiet protected bay – one of dozens of stunning anchorages through out the Bay. Assassination bay was so named after a group of french were killed in the early development years of New Zealand.

Assassination Bay

Assassination Bay

The Beautiful Shoreline in Assassination Bay

The Beautiful Shoreline in Assassination Bay

Over the next few days we explored many of the islands through out the Bay. Of course exploring meant scuba diving for scallops and snapper fishing. At the south end of Urapukapuka island  is a very sheltered and beautiful bay with a white sandy beach.

Urupukapuka Bay

Urupukapuka Bay

The island supports a fantastic worthwhile  1-2 hr walk through native New Zealand forest and leading upto a stunning and commanding view of the entire bay of islands in all directions. Next person up – take your iPad and get a 360 Panorama.

Top of Urupukapuka Island

Top of Urupukapuka Island

Heading south out of the Bay of Islands is the famous and large hole in the rock. Thousands of tourists every season travel on laden ferry boats to visit the rock and motor through the hole. Of course we zoomed through in our little dinghy.

Hole in the Rock
Hole in the Rock at Cape Brett

 Further south lies Whangamumu habour which is another extremely sheltered harbour and almost quite round inside.

Whangamumu Harbour

Whangamumu Harbour

 

The harbour has remanats of an old whaling station now rotting from the 1800s. A very sad place in on sense because of the slaughtered whales of old times – but on the lighter side – the dolphins seemed to be enjoying the harbour. It’s almost a guarantee that you see dolphins on a charter in the Bay of Islands area.

Dolphin playing in Whangamumu Harbour

Dolphin playing in Whangamumu Harbour

On almost any blue sky day, Whangamumu is a sight not to be missed, with several walking tracks around to take advantage of.

Whangamumu Harbour

Whangamumu Harbour

And of course I couldn’t help but do a few donuts in the dinghy LOL.

Donuts in the Whangamumu Harbour

Donuts in the Whangamumu Harbour

We fished and scuba dived amongst the rocks just outside the harbour for Crayfish, scoring an incredible sized packhorse cray (featured in the video) and some decent sized snapper all for dinner – although you’ll see in the video below, I almost lost the Cray overboard.

Whangamumu Rocks

Whangamumu Rocks

The sail from the hole in the rock down to whangamumu harbor is amazing display of the rocky New Zealand coastline including the Cape Brett Lighthouse marking the southern end of the Bay of Islands.

Cape Brett Lighthouse

Cape Brett Lighthouse

Our final two nights were spent back in the Bay of islands in Paradise Bay and Urupukapuka Bay on Urapukapuka Island. Paradise Bay has the most beautiful white sandy beach with deep water almost right up to the beach. Great for close in anchoring.

Paradise Cove

Paradise Bay

Overall, we can’t recommend the Bay of Islands more as a world class yacht charter location. The staff at the Moorings Base were friendly and helpful and the boat ran with out any hitches.

The best time to charter a yacht in New Zealand is anytime from December through March.

If you want to learn more about chartering in The Bay of Islands, New Zealand or make a booking, contact us at NauticEd we’ll help you design a perfect itinaray.

Now, please enjoy watching our video on our experience in New Zealand and why you should consider the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master bundle of courses. PS Watch the second half for the fun stuff.

 

 

Oh – I Do Love to be Beside the Seaside

Posted by Grant Headifen on January 10, 2011 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Videos and photos | Be the First to Comment

It’s an old song but it certainly rang the bells for me recently.  Over this last new year’s break 2010-2011, my family, extended family and friends that we call family all traveled to Matauri Bay in New Zealand for probably one of the best aquatic experiences one could imagine. Unfortunately it was sans sailing cruising but sometimes it’s good to see the other side of the ocean (meaning other than sailing).

Matauri Bay - New Zealand

Matauri Bay - New Zealand

Here is the list of aquatic/camping toys we took

  • 6.7 m Surtees aluminum fishing/diving boat
  • 5 m wakeboarding/party jet boat
  • 6 sets of scuba gear
  • 10 fishing rods and reels
  • 2 lobster snare hooks
  • 3 windsurfers
  • 4 sea kayaks
  • 2 skim boards
  • 3 surfboards
  • 5 boogie boards
  • 1 performance jet ski
  • An uncountable amount of tents
  • A huge marquee tent
  • 5 sun umbrellas
  • Probably 2 liters of sunscreen
  • 2 barbecues

and…

  • 23 dozen eggs.
Our Campsite at Matauri Bay

Our Campsite at Matauri Bay

The result, as with all vacations, was achieving absolutely nothing except good times. See the video here.

Matauri Bay is about a 4 hour drive north of Auckland. The bay is about 1 km wide with a beautiful sandy beach. A 250 m high upside down bowl shaped headland sits at one end and the top of that provides a commanding view out of the Cavalli Islands 1 km off shore. You can also see 30 kms south to the famous Bay of Islands.

The Cavalli Islands provide an abundance of sea life and spectacular anchorage bays. The water temperature at this time of the year is 20 deg C (68 deg F). In fact the entire Coastline is pretty impressive with high rocky cliffs leading down to beautiful bay after beautiful bay.

Cavalli Islands

Cavalli Islands

If you ever think about sailing in New Zealand, spend the almost required 4-5 days exploring the incredible Bay of Islands, but do not miss the Cavalli Islands and then venture slightly further north to Whangaparoa Harbour, a remote harbour with bush right down to the shoreline. If you’re not thinking about sailing in New Zealand – you should start. One of our Sailing Charter business friends here in the Bay of Islands is Sailing New Zealand, http://www.sailingnewzealand.co.nz give them a call or contact me  and I’ll hook you up.

Cavalli Islands, New Zealand - Sailing Paradisese

Cavalli Islands, New Zealand - Sailing Paradisese

Scuba: We scuba dived so much that on one particular day I actually turned it down and opted for a day on the beach. We dived mostly for New Zealand Lobster which is referred to as Crayfish. The New Zealand Crayfish has no pincers unlike the lobster most people in the USA think of, but they do have a very spiny crustacean shell which makes it necessary to use a dive glove to capture them. One variety called the Pack Horse Cray can get pretty big.

Matauri Bay is also the sunken location of the famous Green Peace protest boat, the Rainbow Warrior. It’s wreck was moved here after being initially attacked and sunk by the French Secret Service in 1985 in the Auckland habour.  And so we were able to dive this wreck situated in 23 m of water. The sea has taken pretty good hold of it now and it thus inhabits a really great display of reef life. There are a few places for advanced divers to swim through the wreck and whilst it’s very ominous to swim through a sunken ship it is a fun thing to do to see the fish attending school inside the hull.

Rainbow Warrior (photo courtesy http://www.dailyscubadiving.com)

Rainbow Warrior (photo courtesy http://www.dailyscubadiving.com)

A memorial to the Rainbow Warrior and it’s crew Member who died in the attack is erected atop the Matauri Bay headland.

Rainbow Warrior Memorial

Rainbow Warrior Memorial

Thanks go to Craig Johnston who saved my dive. We showed up at the dive site in our 6.7 m dive boat, suited up (5mil wet suit required preferably with a hood), almost ready to tip over backwards into the water when I discovered that I’d left my mask behind. Although air is pretty important down there – a mask is probably the next most important. Craig was the Dive Master on the Paihia Dive boat that tied up to us. Paihia Dive is a professional dive company that takes tourist divers out to the Rainbow Warrior and Matauri Bay area for a 2 tank dive. Embarrassingly, I called over to their group and pleaded for a temporary borrow of a spare mask and offered up a bag of Salt and Vinegar chips as compensation. Graciously Craig accepted the highly unfair trade. Thanks Craig – the dive was great. Hope you enjoyed our chips.

Scuba Diving in the Cavalli Islands

Scuba Diving in the Cavalli Islands

Fishing and Sea Life: It’s hard to put a hook on the bottom in New Zealand with out catching something. In the north, it’s mostly snapper and thus the 12 days were mostly spent eating superbly fresh snapper although we did hook (and eat) quite a few other varieties.

Snapper - about 11lbs

Snapper - about 11lbs

All in all we sampled 11 different sea garden foods, including, lobster, local abalonie (called Paua), scallops, and fish fish fish.

Crayfish catch of the day

Crayfish catch of the day

At Matauri Bay you launch your boat off the beach – there is no ramp. Dean is the local tractor driver and for $20 he’ll expertly launch and retrieve your boat. I say expertly because sometimes the waves can be a little challenging and an expert tractor driver can save you from a lot of damage should a wave come in at the wrong time.

Launching the boat

Launching the boat

Windsurfing: It’s been a while since I’ve windsurfed but now from this trip, I figure it’s time to get back into it. I used to be pretty good about 10 years ago. My 15 year old niece, Steff, wins local competitions and so we went out on a couple of windy days together. I got a few good rides on one particular day when the wind was blowing 30 knots. I chickened out when I ventured out further and started getting into a 2 meter swell. Although I could handle it fine the small voice of caution was speaking PRETTY LOUDLY.

Windsurfing in Matauri Bay

Windsurfing in Matauri Bay

The principle of windsurfing is pretty cool. Once you start to understand sailing and forces it doesn’t take to much to figure it out or get back into it. Raking the mast forward moves the center of pressure of the sail forward and thus positions the force on the board more forward causing the board to turn downwind. Conversely, raking the mast backwards, turns the board towards the wind. The raking movement is done with your hand closest to the mast. Your aft hand works the sail like a  mainsheet, pulling the sail to center line on upwind runs or letting out on downwind runs. It acts like an accelerator and helps with your balance.

Steff showed me some technology advances in windsurfing equipment. She told me that tightening up the downhaul made the top of the sail twist out. Wow I had to think abou that for a sec.  Turns out it’s pretty easy to understand and is the same principle that I wrote a blog on a few months back. On a flexible mast, tightening the downhaul puts a significant bend in the mast. This bends the tip of the mast down closer to the aft of the boom and thus reduces leech (aft part of the sail) tension on the sail. New windsurfing sails have a large roach in the sail, ie the line from the head (top of the sail) to the clew (back bottom of the sail) is not straight but curves out significantly. Thus reduced leech tension allows the curve of the sail to twist out under wind force. In my previous blog the same twist out on a large sailboat is achieved by releasing the main sheet but bringing the traveler to windward. In both cases you are effectively reducing the size of the sail and more importantly forces aloft on the rig. It’s cool to know that once you understand the principles you can just figure it all out from there.

Skim boarding: I doubt there is very many people at my age hydroplaning on a skim board in the 1 cm wash of the beach waves but anyway I gave it a pretty good go without busting a hip. My 11 year old nephew, Rafi, mastered it quite well and was doing 180’s by the time we left.

Surfing: I’m not a surfer. Give me a sail. But my 60 year old brother-in-law rode the 1.5m waves on several days and showed up every one on the beach.

Jet Skiing: OMG – this jet ski was a high performance version built for time trials and wow it could accelerate faster than you could hold on almost. The requirement to make the tight turns at speed make it very unstable to sit on. In deep water it’s very difficult to climb onboard . One day, it was hosing down with rain and so we figured that the only thing to do on a wet rainy day was to get wet in a big big way. The jet ski was the answer – that was fun.

Sea Kayaking: The rocky coastline around the headland and further up the coast provides a most awesome sea kayaking location. The surge from the swell washes water through cracks between close to shore rocks and reefs. Running the kayak through these is pretty exciting at times. But you also can see into the water and watch the kelp below flow side to side with the occasiona fish venturing along. Seagulls protecting their young dive from the rocks above.

Seakayaking in Matauri Bay

Seakayaking in Matauri Bay

We paddled quite a way up the coast to a house set slightly back from the beach – but there was no road into the house – just a very basic farm track. Which brings up another point – I just can’t think of any other place in the world where you have working farms that go right down to the shore in such a high percentage of coastline than New Zealand. This little (beautiful) house was just sitting there in the most gorgeous bay with a backdrop of a green grass valley and 100 feet from a deserted beach and an ocean loaded with sea life. Wow!

The Beach: Great place for the kids to play. My Daughter and (great) Nephew had the best time of their lives.

Alexandra and Cooper

Alexandra and Cooper

Whales: I left the high light for the end. We were blessed with 2 visits from a pod of Orca Whales.

Orca Whales Right Next to the Beach

Orca Whales Right Next to the Beach

On one occasion they were swimming all around us on the boat when we were returning from a scuba dive on my birthday. On another, they came right into the beach next to us. My sister and I promptly jumped in the sea kayaks to go for a visit. They were breaching all around our kayaks so close that we were getting wet from their blow holes. Although seemingly slightly scary because they have big teeth, our Captain Nemo friend Alex (who we are sure has gills on the sides of his neck, assured us that Orcas in the wild have never eaten anyone. Despite this – I my heart raced a bit when one breached about 5 feet away from my kayak.

Orca Whales

Orca Whales

So that’s what one can do in 12 days in paradise with a big family and lots of toys. Now it’s back to work with NauticEd – we’ve got some exciting advances coming this year. Right now we’re working on a referral program to be launched in the next few days and a Skipper test out exam for advanced sailors. Beyond that we’ll launch more courses this year including a sailing race regatta clinic. Some large companies are approaching us for alliances and … whew it’s exicting being at the forefront of technology, education and wrapping it up with something we love – SAILING. I hope you all can take advantage of everything what we offer and get your sailing certificate!

TTYL

Grant

PS  – if you’ve ever been to Matauri Bay – add your comment below.