Four of our favourite spots to anchor in the Hauraki Gulf
The Hauraki Gulf is packed with secluded islands, sparkling bays and miles of pristine coastline. It’s hard to imagine anywhere more suited to boating.
1) Bon Accord Harbour, Kawau Island
Kawau Island is among the largest islands in the Hauraki Gulf and one of the most rewarding to explore by boat. Its west side is sheltered from the prevailing winds and offers countless calm and scenic anchorages alongside picturesque white sand bays.
Our favourite spot for an overnighter is Schoolhouse Bay – it’s completely sheltered from most winds and the muddy bottom will let your anchor really get stuck in. If you’re only there for the day, drop anchor in Mansion House Bay and take the dinghy to shore. Take a few hours to check out the historic Mansion House Museum, built in the mid-1800s and once owned by one of New Zealand’s first governors: George Grey. When you’re done exploring, grab a bite and a drink at the onsite cafe and enjoy the views over the harbour. The accommodation on the island books out fast so untie the dinghy and spend the night in your boat’s spacious cabin.
2) Waihaurangatahi Bay, Motuihe Island
Around 30 minutes from downtown Auckland you’ll find Motuihe Island, a small landmass packed with rare native flora and fauna and fringed by postcard-perfect beaches. The main harbour, Waihaurangatahi Bay, is a great spot to anchor up for the day, with plenty of shoreline for picnics and relaxation. If the wind’s blowing, it only takes five minutes to get to the other side of the island, where there are several more sheltered bays.
If you’re up for a spot of hiking, go to shore in the evening, bring a torch and look out for the Kiwi and other rare native birds who’ve made the island their home.
What are your favourite spots in the Hauraki Gulf?
3) Woody Bay, Rakino Island
Rakino Island is a popular holiday spot just east of Motutapu, with about 20 permanent residents outside of the busy summer months, around 80 baches and an unspoilt coastline. Put a line down off the north coast of the island and you’re guaranteed a busy day reeling in snapper. Keep an eye out for local fishermen who know the best spots better than any.
Drop anchor in Woody Bay on the Island’s west coast for a spot of R & R. If you’re brave enough to get in the water, there’s great snorkelling and spearfishing around Woody Island, where you’re likely to run into massive schools of Kahawai. Warm up afterwards with a hot shower on your duckboard.
4) Wairahi Bay, Great Barrier Island
Fill up the tank and make a weekend of heading to Great Barrier Island to experience one of New Zealand’s untouched gems. The island is rimmed with impossibly white beaches without a soul in sight, but our favourite place to spend the day is Wairahi Bay, south of Port Fitzroy. Our perfect afternoon here involves dropping a line, reeling in several snapper, filleting them on the spacious duckboard of a Rayglass 3500 then frying them up with the onboard barbeque. There’s nothing quite like sharing fresh fish around the table while the ocean rocks you back and forth.
Head to the island before summer and you might be the only one on the water in this beautiful inlet, sheltered on both sides by hilly landscapes covered in native bush. Don’t go past the local moorings though, as during low tide those areas get shallow. Be sure to look out for the shag colony who’ve made the bay home. Spend a few days here so that you have time to circumnavigate the island to see all of its stunning coastline, and if you’ve got time, go ashore and experience the legendary Currach Irish Bar in Pah Bay.