The Waitemata Harbour is Auckland’s ocean glory. On sunny days the water sparkles with golden glitter. Oodles of ‘fizz boats, as my brother used to call them make zippers on the sea, while yachts of all sizes lean their sharp pointed sails into the wind. The eastern side of the harbour bridge widens to the open sea beyond Rangitoto and Waiheke Island. Totally glorious.
The more western side of the harbour still favours yachts and speed boats, but to me has a different feel. One that I prefer.
Recently a friend asked me to join her and a group of about thirty people to go on a day trip from the Westhaven Marina, which is on the watery edge of Auckland’s CBD, to Riverhead in the far north-west region of the harbour.
We were happily welcomed aboard by a pleasant, young man. It was his first day working on the boat and he told me he was doing a course in sailing as he loved the sea. He was so happy getting a job on a boat. Once we were settled on board, the boat started winding its way from the Marina and turning left heading for the Auckland Harbour bridge.
It was wonderful to leave the busyness, road repairs, crowds and traffic of central Auckland. The boat cruised under the massive concrete Harbour bridge and as we gazed upwards, we could see the small base from where people could bungy jump. Not for me, no way!
Our boat travelled past various Auckland suburbs and known features, which our captain happily pointed out to us over the intercom. We saw the Chelsea sugar factory, (the New Zealand Sugar Company Limited) a refinery where most of New Zealand’s sugar products are produced. The refinery was built in 1884 and small ships dock here every six weeks to unload imported raw sugar.
We saw a small subsidiary navy area, part of the larger Naval base situated in Devonport on the north eastern side of the harbour. We saw smaller piers where people could launch their boats into the water.
Our captain drew our attention to an old shipwreck lying on a beach on the south side of the harbour. There was quite a history about this wreck with council and locals arguing over its removal. In the end, only the wooden parts of this old boat were removed, and the rust metal skeleton remain. I didn’t catch the name of this ship
We passed the Hare Krishna Centre, a large interesting shaped building. Apparently, there are public tours to explore this fascinating place
The coast leading towards Riverhead is a mixture of mango swamps which I’d previously been told are nurseries for some fish including shark pups, and wonderful green native bush. The native bush and the very few houses dotted amongst it, made me think I was in an isolated part of coastal New Zealand instead of close to New Zealand’s largest city. Marvellous!
When we arrived at Riverhead and our boat was moored, we climbed the fifty steps up the bank to The Landing Restaurant. Most of us being aged and having replaced hips and knees took our time with this climb, laughing at the commonality of aging.
The Landing is an old, charming, rural tavern/eatery with seating both inside and out on three different decks. As the weather was so warm, we ate our tasty pub type food on one of the outside decks where we could enjoy the breeze from the water. The establishment is surrounded by big oak trees and it was lovely to sit in their shade. We happily ate our food, drank our wines or cups of tea and chatted to each other. So pleasant.
After a relaxed lunch, it was back down the fifty steps to our boat for the return trip to Westhaven Marina. Our tummies were full, talking was finished and it was difficult for some of us not to drift off into a pleasant snooze as the boat rocked gently on the way back to Auckland.
This trip is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. What a very special day it was!