From Great Mercury, it was off to the north thru Colville Channel into the Hauraki Gulf – and prime time Kiwi cruising territory. Home to Auckalnd where half of new Zealand’s 4,000,000 people live, it is an area bounded by the Coramandel Peninsula to the east and Great Barrier Island to the north.
In between there are so many islands and bays that it would take a lifetime to explore them all – and many Kiwi’s do. Our first stop was Waiheke Island – a wonderful mixture of wine estates, luxury homes for those who work in Auckland and country side. Our anchorage was in Putaki Bay not far from Oneroa.
The ferries to Auckland run from this location and it takes around 30 minutes to get to the city. In the distance is the top of Rangitoto – a perfectly symmetrical volcano (presently inactive).
We rented a car and did a tour of the island and it incorporated more wineries – which Waiheke is famous for.
A beautiful Kauri furniture piece at Man O War.
If you go, my recommendation is to try them all!
Next day, out journey took us to Stony Batter – an enormous underground complex built during WW2 by the Brits and NZ to house gun emplacements in the event of a Japanese attack. The site was chosen because it overlooks all of the approaches to Auckland Harbor.
The large guns it is said had an accuracy of 2 to 3 meters at distances as far as Great Barrier. The guns were never fired in an act of war. In fact, there is but a rumor that the Japanese ever approached Auckland and that rumor invokes a quick reconnoiter by a Japanese submarine.
Strangely, this enormous project was not even completed until 4 years after the war ended and then it was abandoned.
But some wag thought this was a reminder of the ferocity of days gone by.