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North Tip of the North Island

My family, Kimberly and Troy, came for a visit to the North Island after they spent 10 days in the south island.  We had each day all planned out but did not account for the increment weather.  Unfortunately, a rather large storm system had plans to visit the North tip of the North island during the same time.

We decide to make the best of it.  On their first day in Whangarei we go on a 10.6km hike.  I had never visited the Whangarei Falls – despite being in the area for 6 months.  Since it was raining when we left, we decide to drive to the falls.  As luck would have the rain stopped or at least slowed to a drizzle!

The Whangarei falls were beautiful with loads of water from the recent rain storm.  

Whangarei Falls

Our plan was to hike around the falls and then drive to another waterfall.  But it was so nice out that we just kept hiking.  We crossed lots of rivers and everything was such a vibrant green!

Whangarei Falls Hike

Whangarei Falls Hike

Along the way we stumbled across the “Canopy Walkway.”  There were a surprising amount of Kauri trees in this beautiful forest.  I just love these majestic trees!  They are simply stately and regal without even trying.  Just by merely growing for centuries.

Of course we are required to clean our shoes as we enter and exit the park.  Kimberly got a surprise when she stepped on the green peddle which shoots water on your shoes and up your legs.

We ended up crossing over to another track and came to a beautiful lookout point.  Then we took the Ross track back to Whangarei.  

Our total walk ended up being 10.6km and we were exhausted, hungry and thirsty.  We did not plan to walk this far and left our provisions and water in the car back at Whangarei falls.  Oops.

North Tip: Tana Mahuta

The next day we all gather into the car and  head east toward the Waipoua Forest.  The first Kauri tree we come to is the “Father of the Forest” called Tane Ngahere (bottom two photos) and then we drive 10 minutes to the “Lord of the Forest” Tane Mahuta (top photos).

Tane Ngahere is 16.41 meters around, 29.9 meters tall and has a trunk volume of about 208.1m.  Tane Mahuta is 51.5 meters tall and has a trunk volume of about 244.50 meters.

We continue north and make our way to 90-mile beach.  It was a gloomy rainy day so we just did what everyone else does and drove around in circles on the beach – just because we could.

Cape Reigna

The next day we drive all the way to the North tip of the North island, Cape Reigna.  It rained and rained and rained the entire drive up there.  We were not surprised as the weather showed the storm system hitting the north tip on the very day we were visiting.  We had heard that gusts could be as high as 45kts.  But we wanted to see what we could see.

By the time we got all the way to the parking lot of Cape Reigna, the rain had stopped!  What, seriously how amazing and lucky for us.

It was still blowing really hard when we started the walk.  We had a fun time trying to walk and stand at the outer tip.  We later learned that the winds were actually gusting up to 70-75kts!  Oh dear.  Check Matt leaning into the wind in the lower photo.

We leave Cape Reigna and head to the Bay of Islands and Russel.  It was a beautiful drive through the windy roads, over the mountains, and across the valleys.

We enjoy a lovely lunch at Omata Vineyards which I highly recommend!  The restaurant overlooks the vineyard and they have wood burning stove.

A truly lovely property that would have been absolutely breathtaking on a normal, non-rainy day.

Here are just a few fun photos worth sharing.

It was a super short visit, but so nice to be able to show the North Tip of the North Island with Kimberly and Troy.  Unfortunately it was time for them to head back to the States.  Lucky for me, I was blessed with a beautiful sunset later that night to lift my spirits.

Events from this blog occurred at the end of April early May.  Our blog posts run 8-10 weeks behind actual live events.    Did you read our NZ North and South Island Road Trip highlights from our last blog?  Super fun recap!

Celebrating the Konis Family Fijian Style

As we near the end of the Konis family trip, we visit 4 islands in their last few days onboard Sugar Shack.  We stop in Naviti, Mana, Malolo, and Viti Levu in 3 days!

Day 9: Naviti Island to Mana Island

We were blessed with northerly winds which gave us a super comfortable downwind sail with our medium size spinnaker.  Everyone was a little nervous considering our last “longish” passage was pretty rough.  This time they all enjoyed the calm conditions as we surfed the seas and averaged 7kts to Mana Island.   35nm down in a blink of the eye.

I love exploring all of these islands for the first time with my family!  They get to see how we navigate into new passes and anchorages.  The pass into Mana island is crazy narrow and curvy.  It is certainly a challenge, especially during low tide.  But we manage to enter it and drop the hook with no issues (thank goodness).

We frolic in the water in the afternoon and enjoy a tasty porkchop dinner and chocolate raspberry ice cream for dessert.   Then we get real goofy watching Zoolander 2.

Day 10: Mana Island and Malolo Island

The next morning, we go ashore to explore Mana island.  It is filled with many backpacker resorts on one side of the island and a posh resort on the other.  A huge ugly fence separates the two halves of the island which is rather unfortunate!  The village and backpacker side is super friendly and very welcoming to cruisers.  We enjoyed some cold beverages, a walk through their small market, and chatting with the locals.  We did venture around the fence to the resort side and found it to be a typical posh resort.   Friendly enough to us, but not overly welcoming like we are used to with the Fijian culture.

This was a funny sign using “kava” as a pun…

The anchorage looks so pretty and peaceful from shore.

We ran into some beautiful little children while here.

We tried to do sevusevu here as well but the chief was not on island during our visit.  The local lady suggested we buy from the artisans instead of presenting kava and we happily obliged as they had some lovely wares.

We left early afternoon to visit Cloud 9, a similar over the water bar as Seventh Heaven. We were very surprised by the large number of people that came and went (in 2-hour increments) and the slow service.  Very different atmosphere than Seventh Heaven, but the food was good and the drinks were cold!

Even though it was drizzling a little, we still enjoyed ourselves.

A huge rain cloud was coming our way so we quickly headed back to Sugar Shack to motor to the east side Malolo Island.  We were hoping for protection from the winds, but as it turned out the weather forecast was delayed and we ended having a super bumpy night.

We were blessed with a beautiful double rainbow after the showers stopped.

The Musket Cove anchorage is super crowded – we spotted over 50 boats on AIS alone plus another 20-30 boats not broadcasting. Good thing we did not go there to anchor in that mess!

Day 11:  Malolo, Musket Cove

There is a pass from our anchorage to the Musket Cove anchorage.  We thought we could easily traverse this but we did not take into account the King tide.  Of course, it was low, low tide when we wanted to go ashore.  So, we dinghied to the reef, found some sandy areas and gently walked across to the shore.  Once onshore, we found a beautiful little trail that lead us all the way to the Musket Cove Resort.

We had lunch at Dick’s Place and enjoyed some pool time at the resort.  A calm, chill day.

Day 12: Malolo Island to Port Denarau

Around mid-day we leave Malolo Island for Port Denarau.  It is a short 2-hour motor directly into the wind.  We grab a mooring and decide to head to shore for a late lunch and then well-deserved hot showers (love marina life sometimes).

Back to the boat to pack and enjoy bhan mi for dinner.  We were meeting our taxi driver across from the “Sails Restaurant” who happened to be hosting a special event.  Outside Sails were some beautiful local Fijian dancers who gave the Konis family a proper send off!

It was so much fun having Troy, Kimberly, Cole and Cameron onboard as we explored the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands.  We are so grateful they chose to spend their holidays with us onboard Sugar Shack!

Events from this blog occurred in the first two week of August.  Our blog posts run 8-10 weeks behind actual events.   In our last blog, we adventure through a series of underwater caves in the island of Sawa-I-Lau.

Underwater Cave Adventure

We sailed all the way to the northern most island in the Yasawas to be able to explore the famous underwater caves.  On the southern tip of the Yasawa Island is a small island called Sawa-I-Lau where they give daily tours for 2 hours a day to these magnificent swimming holes inside the limestone caves.

These caves were actually filmed in the Blue Lagoon movie as well (it’s where she flees to) and they don’t disappoint.  Truly a breath taking experience.

Day 8: The underwater caves & Naviti Island

The next morning, we got up early anxious to explore the famous Sawa-I-Lau limestone caves

Unfortunately, we picked a Monday to do the tour which happened to be the same day the resorts bring hordes of people to do the tour as well.  Considering the caves are only open for 2 hours a day, it is not surprising that we all showed up at the same time.

But, we made the most of it and boy were we impressed!  First, you go up about 45 stairs to the cave entrance.  Then you step down about 25 stairs to the refreshing cave pool.  The “gate” which is where Matt is standing in the upper right hand photo is not much of a gate as one could easily scale the walls to enter the cave.  But, it’s better than nothing I suppose.

As you descend the stairs, you are greeted with the most stunning view of limestone rock formations and turquoise waters.

The photos truly do not do it justice.  But I tried with the GoPro. This is the first cave that you can just walk into easily.

Leaping into the Pools

The guides do these death-defying leaps from way up high to entertain the group while others go into a secondary cave.

Of course, Cameron cannot let this opportunity pass, so he too climbs up (albeit not as high) to take a leap into the deep cave waters.

The second cave requires the swimmer to dive under water while holding your breath for 3 seconds.  Once inside it is magnificent!  But there is no light and all our images came out crappy (even with a torch).  But we did get to swim back into the depths of the cave, test out the acoustics, and see some beautiful stalactites.

Super cool experience and well worth the effort to come to the North end of the Yasawas!  We enjoyed a little shopping from the artisans selling their wares to the tourist and I found some beautiful dark blue Fijian pearls for a very reasonable price!

We head back to the boat for a tasty brunch before we head off to Naviti Island.

Naviti Island, Somosomo Bay

There is a weather system coming which will make heading south very difficult.  So, we have to leave the northern Yasawas earlier than planned.  We make a quick sail to Naviti island.  Since we have been doing such a good job of eating all of our fish, we decided to put out the fishing lines.

Cole and Cameron picked the 3-lures and we set out the teaser.  Let’s see what we will catch.  We were only going about 5-6kts and the lures were a bit small, but we did manage to catch 2 skipjacks (tuna).  Since we already had a lot of tuna onboard, we set these two guys free to grow bigger.  The larger of the two fish actually had a remora attached (Matt’s fish)

We arrived Somosomo Bay on Naviti Island rather quickly.  Probably because we were distracted with the fishing adventures.  We took a quick walk on the beach while the boys played bocce before dinner.  Matt prepared super amazing chicken enchiladas for dinner.

Events from this blog occurred during the first two weeks of August.  Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks after actual events.  In our upcoming blog, we take the Konis family to Malolo and Cloud 9 before their departure.  Did you catch our last post, where we swim with manta rays in our last blog.