Geoff Durham, a keen Weta owner from Auckland, New Zealand talks about his last minute Weta cruise to Moturoa Island in the Hauraki Gulf last weekend.
Searching for a camping destination to sail to last week we settled on Motuora Island (6km east of Mahaurangi Harbour) and little did Lotte or I realise what a wonderful weekend our selected destination would provide!
We have a large hatch on our Weta which enabled us to carry a lot of gear - as you can see from the photo. We included my reconfigured canoe cart which I use for putting the boat on the beach without a trailer. It isn't easy in soft sand and steep beaches (of course!) but, if if the boat is lifted from the bow whilst the other person lifts/pushes from one of the rear float arms, good momentum can be achieved. Of course if there are a couple of Wetas with a total of more than 2 adults the boats can be easily lifted and moved.
On Saturday morning we launched from Red Beach, Whangaparoa (approx 13km south-west of Motuora) and sailed to the island on a sunny day with an 18knot following wind whilst admiring the wonderful scenery.
The main Motuora Island beach is on the south-west side, is easily approached and there are rocks only at either end of the beach. The best place to land is right opposite the camp site entrance near the warden's hut! The campsite (you need to pre-book at http://motuora.org.nz/?page_id=186) only had 6 sites occupied even though it was the middle of Summer - which was a great start. By the time we had set our camp the sailing clothes were almost dry so we packed them away and set off for a walking tour of the island armed with water bottles refilled from the camp tap. On the subject of water I recall reading somewhere on the island's website that the water is "potable" (which, according to the dictionary, means "drinkable)...but I have not, following a comment by one of the campers about needing to boil the water, been able to find that reference again. Anyways we drank the water (laced with a few drops of bottled lemon juice) without a side-effect... unless the side-effect was to produce the hallucination that we had arrived at paradise on our doorstep!
The walks are all pretty easy (ok so there are a few steep bits for a few mins!), well maintained and picturesque - and they almost always end in stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf. I have not included any scenery-only shots as my attempts wouldn't do it justice....
Saturday evening we wined and dined on the beautiful, deserted beach and, when it was dark, we looked for Kiwis (supposedly found within a hundred metres of the camp). After 40 fruitless mins we gave up and retired to bed. Maybe we need more patience....or some help which, fortuntately, will be forthcoming from the wonderful wardens Toby and Sian who offered to help us next time we visit. After assuring them that we would definitely be back I added that, as they seemed to be interested in the Weta, I'd happily take them out - to which they readily agreed.
Sunday morning we strolled along the beach and then up to the highest point of the island on which we ate breakfast - with a 360-degree view and such a beautiful place to ourselves we felt pretty good! After some more walking - during which we came across a delightful bay on the south-east side - we reluctantly repacked the Weta and set sail for home.
Once we were on the water the enjoyment of sailing the Weta soon brought the smiles back. After 2 and a half hours we arrived back at a busy Red Beach and, as often happens, a few people approached to express their interest in the boat.....a couple of guys were seriously keen so, who knows, we may have some new local owners!
We look forward to returning to Motuora one day but we will also explore other islands and locations - hopefully with other Weta owners! All I have to do now is to buy some tube-shape dry bags to replace the rubbish bags sealed with tape which we used this time....that will cut down the (un)packing times.