Day 1. Opua to Russell, 3 miles
After receiving your briefing at our charter base on Opua Wharf and perhaps getting a few last minute provisions at the local store, cast off and head down channel towards the historic township of Russell (Picture 1). Set sail if you really want to!
Anchor in the excellent holding ground of Matawhi Bay. Go ashore in the evening for a drink at the quaint Russell Boating Club and, leaving your dinghy on the pontoon dock, take a 5 minute stroll into Russell to eat at one of the number of fine restaurants in the village.
Day 2. Russell to Army Bay (35°13.2’S, 174°11.7’E), via Roberton Island (35°14.2’S, 174° 10.2’E), 7 miles.
After washing the Matauwhi Bay mud from the anchor, set sail and round Tapeka point where Roberton Island will be visible to you. Twin Lagoons Bay (pic 2) is one of the most popular anchorages in the Bay, with good reason. A lovely beach, lagoons for snorkelling in and an easy 10 minute walk to the island's high point gives you a panoramic view over the Bay.
From Roberton Island it is an easy 40 minute sail to Moturua Island and the locally named Army Bay (it’s called Waiwhapuku on the chart but almost no one knows it as this) (pic 3). This bay with its sandy beach and overhanging trees was the site of a military camp during WW II and the "pillbox" on the headland overlooking the bay gives a splendid view of the anchorage. Not a hardship posting.
There is a well marked track around the island which takes about 2hrs for the circuit.
Day 3. Army Bay to Whangaroa (35°00’S, 173°46’E), 38 miles.
Catch the 09:30 forecast to check the weather and head out across the Bay, rounding Ninepin Rock and up the coast to the Cavalli Islands. Wai-iti Bay (pic 4) on Motukawanui Island makes a pleasant lunch time stop.
The narrow approaches to Whangaroa Harbour are not obvious until quite close and winds are fluky in the entrance, so this is a good time to start the motor and drop sails.
Day 4. Exploring Whangaroa.
Whangaroa Harbour has numerous secure anchorages. Our favourite is Rere Bay and the nearby Lane Cove. (pic 5) The land surrounding Lane Cove is a park, and a walking track begins from the west side of the cove and offers a pleasant walk along a nearby stream. Those who want more strenuous exercise can make the 45 minute scramble to the top of the ‘Dukes Nose’ which offers impressive views over the harbour. At high water take the dinghy and explore the creek around the western point of the cove.
The village of Whangaroa (pic 6) is at the southern end of the harbour and, while exposed to SW winds, has excellent holding. There is a marina with visitors’ berths available. Ashore is a small shop, a public bar and the game fishing club which welcomes visitors for meals and drinks.
Day 5. Whangaroa to Marsden Cross (35°10.4’S, 174°05.7’E), 37 miles.
Retrace your route of Day 3 back to the Bay of Islands and anchor at the uninhabited bay of Rangihoua. Oihi, at the northern end of the bay (locally known as Marsden Cross), was the site of the first Anglican Mission in New Zealand (pic 7). The cross ashore commemorates the first Christian service on the shores of New Zealand.
Day 6. Marsden Cross to Paradise Bay (35°13.2’S, 174°13.6’E), 7 miles.
After yesterday’s sailing treat yourself to a day ashore with a fine sandy beach and a whole island to explore. Make the crossing to Paradise Bay on Urupukapuka Island. The island is threaded with walking tracks from which spectacular views of the Bay of Islands can be enjoyed (pic 8).
Day 7. Paradise Bay to Te Hue, via Cape Brett. 17 miles.
Up anchor and motor out through Waewaetoria Passage to give a clear run out to the cape. An icon of the Bay of Islands, the ‘Hole in the Rock’ is in Piercy Island off Cape Brett. (pic 9) The ‘hole’ runs NW – SE, so is not visible from inside the Bay’. The area abounds with fish and bird life. Expect to see dolphins.
A good stop for lunch is the picturesque Oke Bay (pic 10) at the base of the Cape Brett peninsula.
Returning closer to Opua for the evening, anchor in the tranquil Te Hue Bay, also known as Assassination Cove. The latter name relates to the killing of Marion Du Frense, an early European explorer, by local tribes people. The only killings in Te Hue Bay these days are made by real estate agents.
Day 8. Te Hue to Opua, 9 miles.
Head home around Tapeka Point and up the Veronica Channel to be in time for your noon drop off at the charter base.