Category Archives: Locations

Places around the world

Stony Batter WW2 Bombardment

Our friends on Yum Yum (Mirko and Daniela) join us for a hike on Waiheke Island to an WW2 heavy coast defense battery called Stony Batter.  The actual website for Stony Batter and their contact and tour information can be found at  It was a 2nm dinghy ride to a small beach to get to the start of the trail which was straight up!  Seriously small trail (maybe for cows and sheep) that was vertical through the woods and forest.

The walk was straight up hill, then across several fields, up a few more hills, and over a few fences.

We passed by lots of animals on this hike…cows, sheep, waka (bird) and funny enough they all stopped what they were doing to look at us.

We arrive to the tallest peak and finally see the Stony Batter in the distant valley.  I love the funny face someone painted on the rock (lower left photo).  Matt is on top of a rock on top of the hill (top left) and the 3 remaining concrete gun replacements can be seen on the top right photo.

Stony Batter

Stony Batter has 3 concrete gun emplacements and an extensive system of underground chambers connected by stairs and tunnels.

We first come across the foundations for the Carpenter Store, Lister Engine Base, Auxiliary Engine and Lighting Plant, the Public Works Building and a ventilation shaft.

I will let you read about the history at Stony Batter, if you wish, but here are a few photos that we came across as well.

They had a cool little museum at Stony Batter where you could sign up for a tour, which we did!

The Underworld of Stony Batter

You can only see the underworld with a tour guide and as luck would have it we arrived 10 minutes before the tour left!  Us at the entrance to the tunnel which is 7 floors below the earth’s surface.

We visit a supply room which now is the home to the precious heritage findings (top left), a meditation room (top right), the engine room (middle two photos) and the plotting rooms (command center) (bottom two photos).

The engine rooms contained three diesel engines and generators which powered the lights in the tunnels, the equipment and the guns.

The top photo is the image of the stairs that take us 140m below the earth. The top right photo shows a part of the tunnel that was not completed. Just for fun, a picture of a latrine, and the exit from the tunnels.

The Gun Emplacements

We continue making our way around Stony Batter to find the gun emplacements.  We found #2 and #3.  The third gun emplacement was never finished so we moved on to the 2nd one.  We climbed down a sketchy ladder and got an up close look at the center.

It said “no entry” but we did not see it until we were climbing back out – ooops.  They did have signage down there so I think it used to be public.

The curator recreated the overall defense for Auckland.  The top right ship was a German ship that destroyed a NZ passenger ship “in accident.” The top left submarine is Japanese that threatened their security and safety.

More epic views on our way back down the trail.

And a gorgeous panorama shot of the anchorage and Northland islands.

There are 2 tours that you can take.  In 2024, a 25-minute tour costs $25NZD. A full 55 minute tour for $30 which takes you to all of the cool places we visited.

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog occurred on Valentine’s Day!  Be sure to check out the rare, white donkeys we encounter in Coromandel.

Coromandel: Rare Donkeys & A Shipwreck

We left the very beautiful Mercury Island on an interesting weather window.  Our plan was to head to the top of Coromandel and around to the west side for better protection. The winds were predicted to be light and slightly on our nose, but we can “pinch” (point into the wind) pretty well at 35 degrees.  So, we set out only to have 1-3kts of wind on the nose.  Way too light and in the wrong direction for a sail so we motored the first few hours.

Then we cleared the top of Coromandel and we found the wind.  We enjoyed beautiful sailing with full sails up, 17-19kts of wind on the beam.  It was gorgeous!

We dropped the hook at Squadron Bay along with several other boats.  But it is a big bay with plenty of room.  Super pretty green rolling hills dotted with cows!

We had beautiful sunsets and decided to stay for a few days.

The next day we were down to 1 other boat, but it filled up at night with more fishing boats.  It is a super calm, quiet bay giving us a truly peaceful anchorage.

Coromandel Harbour

We picked up the hook and moved to the Coromandel harbour, Papakarahi Bay because we heard there was a market within a few miles of the bay.  Lots more cows and goats in this bay that we had all to ourselves!

There was a regatta going on in the next bay over.  In the bottom left photo you will see black things in the water – that is a clam or mussel farm!

Ponui Island

We cross the Firth of Thames which was a truly unusual trip as the steady 17-18kts of wind turned int 33-35kt guests.  Sugar Shack had a double reefed main and genoa for a short while before we decided to drop all canvas and motor that last 8nm.

Ponui Island (red arrow) is just off the coast of the North Island of New Zealand and right next to Waiheke.

We ended up at Chamberlaine’s Bay on the north side of Ponui island which is right next to Waiheke.  Lots of boats hiding out here.  Ponui island is owned by 3 very wealthy families that farm the land.  They don’t live there and the don’t allow visitors onshore which is a disappointment as there were lots of hillsides begging to be explored.

There are 2 really cool things here though!

The Ponui Rare Feral Donkey

The first and by far the best is the rare, white, short (3′ tall) feral donkeys.  These donkeys are the descendants of 3 animals imported from Australia in the 1800’s.  They were left to roam free and eventually bred down to these white / light gray little donkeys with round bellies.  

They were technically on a farm that we were not supposed to visit.  But I could not resist, so please forgive me land owner for saying hello, for 5 minutes, to your adorable donkeys.  See the funny video I posted on Instagram on 12 February 2024 for more donkey antics!

They were super friendly, not feral at all and just walked right up to us.  There were also lots of cows, sheep and goats.

The Pupuke Shipwreck

This was super sad to see.  The Pupuke was a ferry that grounded at Ponui island.  It was left to rote until the late 1960’s when a man purchased her with the hopes of reclaiming her heritage.  However, she was too far gone so they blew her up!  All that remains is her steel frame and her enormous prop.

We circled around her by dinghy at first to ensure there were no metal shards in the water.

Then we headed to the shore which had half of the ship buried in sand.

Totally cool little island. I would certainly come back to Chamberlaine’s Bay to see the donkeys and enjoy the beautiful sunrise!

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind live events.  This blog post occurred in early February 2024.  Don’t miss our blog on Mercury Island as it is a true gem!

Mercury Island

Mercury Island, also known as The Mercs has been on our destination wish list for over a year!  There are 7 islands that make up the Mercury island group including: Great Mercury, Red Mercury, Korapuki, Green, Atiu/Middle, Kawhitu/Stanley and Moturehu/Double Islands).  

Great Mercury Island, which is where we explored, is the only inhabited island.  The rest of the Mercs are managed by DOC (Department of Conservation) and are preserves.

We see some of the other islands as we sail around Great Mercury.

Coralie Bay

Our first anchorage is on the east side of Great Barrier and it is called Coralie Bay.  We decided to go to this bay because we had really light winds and typically this is not very protected.  This is a pretty large bay with lots of places for anchoring.

We happened to visit Mercury Island during a 4-day weekend so there were lots of local boats out at all of the anchorages.  At dusk we counted 23 boats which is a lot to us, but evidently not very many to others.

We met our friends Mirko and Daniela from Yum Yum and Leigh and Linda from Moon Shadow.  The next morning, Leigh picked us up and we did a quick hike up to the top of one of the many beautiful mountain tops.  

Peachgrove Bay

We decide to continue our exploring while the weather is calm so we head to Peachgrove Bay.  This is another bay that is typically exposed to the weather, but our calm conditions it is perfect.

There is a lovely walk to a set of waterfalls here in Peachgrove Bay.

Sunsets are stunning.

And Sugar Shack is so happy in this beautiful water.

Bumper Bay

This is truly a beautiful bay!  The water colors are stunning, the beach is long and there is only one other boat here, our friends, Yum Yum (Daniela and Mirko).

The winds were predicted to shift so we had leave Mercury Island.  We motored across to Coral Mandel, Matarangi Bay to do some provisioning.  It was not a pleasant anchorage and the dinghy landing was even worse.  We got drenched by waves and almost flipped the dinghy.  Gesh!

Afterwards we had a lovely sail, with lots of tacks, to get to Little Bay where we stayed for the night.  We arrived at 1800 and left in the morning so not much to say other than it was pretty.

Our blogs run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog occurred during the first of February.  Hope you didn’t miss the absolutely gorgeous Rakitu Island in our last blog?