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Watersports

Well it’s mid-winter (2008) – so what better way to brighten up these short (though not so dull) days with an update on Water Sport! As I may have mentioned before, Auckland has a lot of coastline. We have the Manukau harbour to the west of the city, and the Waitemata harbour to the east. The east coast also opens into the Hauraki Gulf – a reasonably sheltered but large area of water between Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula.

hauraki.jpg

So living in Auckland lends itself to watersport of all kinds. For those of you not familiar with where we live, we live on Bucklands Beach peninsula - that tiny little finger of land that sticks up just to the right of Auckland. From our living room, we look over the Tamaki Estuary and towards Sky City. And we often watch the following: Swellmap, Tide Tables and Marine Forecast for the Hauraki Gulf

Sailing.

This is a national obsession, as can be seen every time the Americas Cup is run. The place goes yacht mad. The NZ team (sponsored by Emirates Airlines – I never did understand that!), plus Team Oracle, are both based out of Westhaven, in Central Auckland. Last year (and before the yachts were shipped out for the race) they opened the sheds up and allowed the public in. The yachts are huge! But they were covered up so we couldn’t do too much industrial espionage! At the other end of the scale, we see the tinies out in their dinghies. These look like a flotilla of toy boats, with brightly coloured green and blue sails. Cute! But it’s because they start so young that Nea Zealand has some of the best sailors in the world. In fact, Bucklands Beach Yacht Club is the biggest club in the Southern Hemisphere. See http://www.bbyc.org.nz/. Art has been sailing with them every Friday afternoon until recently, when I very cruelly sent him out to work (but that’s another story…)

Wind Surfing.

One company hires wind surfers, and provides tuition, right off Bucklands Beach. See http://www.viewauckland.co.nz/info_actionstations_11583.html

Kite Surfing.

We love watching these! They surf on either the Tamaki Estuary, or Eastern Beach, depending on the winds and tide. See http://www.oceanxtreme.co.nz/ and http://www.wingsandwaves.co.nz/kitesufing.html - it looks exhilarating!

Fishing.

Another Auckland (and New Zealand in general) obsession. The Maoris and Pacific Islanders love it, the Chinese and other Asians can’t get enough of it, and the Europeans are not far behind. Favourite fish catches are snapper and tarahiki, with shellfish in the form of crayfish, oysters, mussels, cockles and (definitely a Maori think) the roe from Kina, a kind of sea urchin. There are very strict rules about catch quotas, and the size of the creatures caught. Paua (abalone) can be found in some places, but again is strictly controlled. Anything too small must be put back. This means that in theory fish and shellfish stocks are sustainable. There are also Marine Parks, where fishing is not allowed. These provide a fantastic breeding ground, and of course the fish don’t know where the boundary is, so they also improve the fishing in the surrounding area. Here are the rules, for anyone who wants to know… http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Recreational/default.htm And of course…

Diving.

Number one love of my son, Tom, and (considering the cold water here) very popular all round. There are many dive shops round New Zealand, and many areas that have dive sites. Having said that, the industry is relatively undeveloped from a tourist’s viewpoint. Most divers ‘do their own thing’, rather than through a dive centre. This is helped by the number of people with their own boats, and the ‘hunter-gathererer’ mentality of the average New Zealander. It’s the only way you can get those crayfish! (but you can’t collect Paua using scuba – only with snorkels) There are a number of clubs (we’re members of Botany Bottom Scratchers – www.bbsdivers.co.nz – and Tom has also joined the Auckland Uni Underwater Club - http://akunidive.com/ ) Tom’s finding that the ‘technical diving’ fraternity is small, but growing.

Motor Boats.

Best used for fishing, diving, and just pottering around investigating islands and bays on sunny days. Auckland must have the highest density of boats per head of population than anywhere else in the world! Just driving round the Bucklands Beach peninsula you see boats of every size in front gardens, and that’s without the kayaks and dinghies in the garages, and the bigger boats in the marinas. A very popular boat is a ‘tinny’ – usually between 4 to 6 metres in length, with an aluminium hull and an outboard motor. Very practical and sturdy, and good for fishing and diving. They’re ideal for towing on a trailer, so can be kept at home. So – why do I mention this style of boat in particular? Well, meet Sea Eagle - the new member of the Cattell Family!

Update Feb 2010. The boat has gone, sold it through lack of use, too many toys to play with. We are considering buying a sit on kayak to go tootling or fishing

Kayaks

November 2010 Right so we bought a kayak on trademe a couple of weeks ago and we have a forecast 26 with little wind. So load up the Tonka with all the gear and set off for the East coast, but we got only as far as Cockle Bay Howick and decided to launch from there. The idea for the day was to pootle around the bay, just to get in the swing of things, but as we were unloading along comes Chris from www.nzoe.co.nz with a group of his fellow kayakers. “Why don't you join us for a trip” so we did. The excursion took us across the bay up the Whitford river down some narrow mangrove lined channels and ended up at Amey's cafe Whitford. Total journey about 14K return on a sit on kayak, all the others were using sea kayaks (much easier to paddle). Still a great day and excellent company. Terri moaned about her arms, legs and everything else all the way back! Double kayaks are known as divorce boats!

The journey
Cheap accomodation on the river

Sea Life

Orcas surfing at Tutukaka, from the Herald

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