Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Waiheke Island (again, this time on Mazu) March 18 - 25th

Yea! We are back in the water again. After many delays, umpteen dollars and cyclone Lusi, Mazu made it back in the water. We were so glad to have our home floating again. I turned on the freezer and fridge (items we could not use while out of the water as we have a “keeled-cooled” system) and it appeared that all systems were a go. Unfortunately the next morning I noticed that the fridge was no longer cool. Darn we forgot that it was on the frits before we left.  A refrigeration company was called and a service man (Ross, who also is a fishing expert and gave me lots of advice on fishing)  figured out the issue and we soon were up and cooling again. A run to the store for provisions and we were ready to go.

Our first shake down  cruise was  to Waiheke Island. We decide to motor so we could concentrate on the ins and outs of our new chart-plotter; soon we are nicely tucked into a nice anchorage on the west side of Onetangie Bay. We celebrate with a couple of cold beers and enjoy the sunset and burgers off the grill, now we are really living again.

The next day I am anxious to try out my new fishing lures, I want to catch a snapper which I hear are everywhere here, we get a late start and miss the prime fishing time, no fish, but we get a nice dingy cruise in. We then move over to the East side of the bay and meet up with our friends on Double Diamond and Exit Strategy. We have drinks on Mazu then meet on DD for and tasty dinner, great wine and a spectacular sunset. Our plan is to go to shore tomorrow to walk to some of the small wineries that make Waiheke a popular tourist destination.

Waiheke walking wine tour:

Melody and Jeff pick me up in the morning; Mel is sitting this excursion out as he is not really into wine. After a nice lunch we start our hike up to the winery trail. While the steps up are steep we are rewarded with a great view of Onetangi Bay. We meander down a few streets and soon find the correct road to the first winery. We do not stay as the tasting room is not open only the restaurant. Here is where it gets fun. The trail to the next winery is through the vineyards. It is  interesting to see the grapes and vines up close. Soon we arrive at Obsidian Winery.

Obsidian winery, like most on Waiheke is very small, but they produce all their own grapes and produce the wine themselves. We are well taken care of and sample several different wines. Each one is very good. It is hard to make a choice, but I purchase a bottle of their Chardonnay. We were then off through the vineyards again to the next.

Waiheke is a very hilly island and parts of the trail is very steep, but it is very pretty and soon we are at Stonyridge winery. The setting is very pretty so we sit and have a glass of water. The staff does not seem to notice us and as it is running late we decide to carry on to the next place.

Wild on Waiheke winery and brewery is unique as they have skeet shooting and archery as activities you can participate in while you sample their beers and/or wines, some combination. Unfortunately they are closed when we arrive, so no shooting for us. They do let us have a beer and relax.

The bus stop is right outside their place so we take the bus back to Onetangi Beach. Our little group will split up in the morning with Double Diamond and Exit Strategy going on to other anchorages. We will stay for another day while we decide where to go next.
Here are some pictures from Waiheke Island:


Stonyridge Winery

Stonyridge Croquette Club




Sunday, March 16, 2014

Waiheke Island, Pasifika Festival, and Cyclone Lusi: Auckland New Zealand February 16 - March 15 2014

 After two months home to visit family and friends, we are now back in New Zealand.

Mazu was left “on the hard” at Half Moon Bay Marina. We had new bottom paint applied installed new chart plotters and various other maintenance items done.  Luckily there is a small motel right next to the marina so we did not have to always stay on the boat while it was in the dusty yard. We expected to be on the hard for the first two week of our return but as always, things took longer than we thought. So here we are still on the hard, waiting to splash, any day now.

On weekends we try to have some fun. One day we took the ferry from here to Waiheke Island. Let me back up a bit. Auckland is in an area called the Hauraki Gulf. There are many islands in this area most accessible by the ferry system here. Or for us just a short sail away.

Waiheke Island:

 In the 70’s Waiheke Island was a mecca for hippies and bohemian artists, now it is a popular Aucklander get-away, with its many wineries, long sandy beaches, and historic village.  The island is quite large and very hilly. It will be our first time driving on the wrong side of the road as we have rented a car for the day.

Our first stop is the Saturday Market in the town of Osted, a mix of yard sale and crafts, with lots of food booths thrown in. I purchase some yummy local honey. We are then off to circumnavigate the island by car. This proves to be very stressful for both of us, as the roads are very narrow with no shoulder, and it is after all Mel’s first time driving on the wrong side.

We manage to have a great lunch at Onetangi beach. We see several boats at anchor here it looks like a great place to hang out.  The scenery is spectacular with many views of the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland City.
Pasfika Festival:

As New Zealand is home to the largest Polynesian population in the world it hosts a yearly celebration of Pacific Island culture, the largest one in the world.

Western Springs Park a very large park in Auckland is transformed into 11 Pacific Island villages where you can experience the food, music, arts/crafts, and dance of each island. Each village has its own stage, for performances, and market area where you can buy food or local crafts. Many of the islands represented were ones we have visited on our way here. It was fun to hear the music, see the dances and the craft works. We also got to “preview” Fiji, where we plan to sail this season.

For the first time Hawaii was represented. We were treated with a performance by the world famous Hawaiian singer/songwriter/guitar player Keola Beamer, a highlight of the day!

 Cyclone Lusi:

We sailed to New Zealand to get out of the cyclone “belt” of the Pacific Islands, so we were surprised to read that one was heading our direction… yikes!

Mazu is still sitting on the hardstands out of the water. While she is ok to go back in we decide that with a lack of a secured marina slip our best bet is to keep her in the hardstands while we high tail it to a motel for a few days.

The wind blew and it rained a bunch but all in all Lusi was less of a hit as predicted. Still I was glad not to be on the boat during those high winds. As we rode around the bus after the worst day we were surprised to see very little wind damage and /or debris on the roads. And best of all our boat was safe and sound.

Next week we will finally return to the water, get our barring’s and start cruising again… 

New Zealand Sunset