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Old 14-04-2009, 02:17   #1
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Question NZ - Opua or Whangarei??

We're looking to arrive in NZ November-ish. Which place is better (Opua or Whangarei) to check in and leave the boat while we fly back to the states for the holidays? Any benefit to skipping both of them and heading straight to Auckland? If so, what marina in Auckland?

Drew
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Old 14-04-2009, 02:51   #2
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Whangarei, hands down. We're here now, and we love the place. Check into Opua (very easy to do), then do an overnight, or 2 day-sails, to Whangarei.
Head and shoulders above Opua. Better marine services, cheaper berths, and much better protection from weather. And the city of Whangarei offers so much of everything that you've been missing for the last 6 months.
We are enjoying it so much that we're coming back after this season's cruising in Fiji and Vanuatu...hope to see you here.
John
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Old 14-04-2009, 10:41   #3
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Thanks a lot John! This is exactly the type of info I'm looking for!

Drew
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Old 14-04-2009, 18:27   #4
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The only downside is that it is useless for daysails, though it sounds like that isn't a high priority.
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Old 19-04-2009, 17:03   #5
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IMHO, absolute best place to leave your boat for travel home is Gulf Harbour Marina on the Whangaparoa Penninsula just north of Auckland. Far, far cleaner waters than in Whangerei. Very isolated and great security so vandalism or theft is not a concern whatsoever. Very protected from weather in any direction. Easy (though long) access to the airport via private shutle for approx $100 NZD.

We are back in Opua now playing the Weather Window Watching Game for passage north. Have visited marinas at Bayswater, Westhaven in Auckland, Gulf Harbour, Whangerei and Opua. Gulf Harbour Marina was definitely the best place to leave a boat. Whangerei is the best place if you are having any boat work done as there are more vendors there.

We did not need any special work this year so we also hauled out at Gulf Harbour. Had Touch of Gloss do a standard bottom job and also remove and replace the epoxy on our keel. They did a wonderful job and I would highly recommend them if you don't want to do your own anti-foul work.

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Old 19-04-2009, 22:43   #6
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That's some really great information. Thanks a lot!

Drew
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Old 19-04-2009, 22:56   #7
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The first time we sailed to New Zealand, we checked in at Opua. The second trip to New Zealand, we checked in at Whangarei.

Whangarei attracted yachties as a check-in location because they paid some of the check-in fees. I don't know if the town council still does that for cruisers.

Whangarei has everything that you need to do yacht work, and it's a friendly town up the Hatea River. We had our catamaran on pile moorings for about $NZ 80 per month. Very affordable. We still have many friends there.

We let weather decide our New Zealand destination. A low pressure area comes across the Tazman about once a week. If you are lucky, you will make it into NZ just before an oncoming low hits.

We made it into Opua about twelve hours before a low came through and rolled a steel yacht about 100 miles offshore.

The time we sailed directly to Whangarei, we had a thirty knot tailwind that made it easy to zip down to Whangarei.

If the weather is marginal, I would go into Opua and seek shelter. If the weather is good, I would go to points further south, maybe all the way to Auckland.
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Old 20-04-2009, 00:00   #8
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Here's the trifecta...check into Opua and stay there for a week or so for the post-passage euphoria to run its course. Then, sail down to Whangarei to buy your (cheap) car, and drive to Auckland (2 hours) to investigate the marinas there.
My bet is you'll end up staying in Whangarei. Regardless, this is a situation where it would be difficult to make a bad decision. Otherwise known as a "quality" problem.
Enjoy your trip...lots of good things coming up!
John
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Old 20-04-2009, 06:47   #9
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I agree with John that it would be hard to make a bad decision. I would look into arriving at Opua for sure and staying at least a week. I would make a tentative reservation at the marina but they always seem to fit one more boat in. There are no charges to check in that I recall (2008). Opua is a little small to spend the entire season although some boats do. Where you spend most of your time will depend on your taste and budget. I like Opua as a first impression of New Zealand. Whangarei is a huge draw for cruisers due to having the lowest cost marinas and boatyards. You also have the camaraderie of being with most of your friends. The immediate water front area is nice and neat but the town is not as nice as some. I would feel safer in downtown Auckland than Whangarei at night for instance. If you stay in Auckland you will spend the most money. We stayed at two different marinas in Auckland. I would not recommend Bayswater marina as they are not cruiser friendly although a great location. I would recommend Viaduct Harbor Marina. It is less expensive than Bayswater and right downtown. If you require shower facility's this might not work for you. Consider joining the Island Cruising Association's rally to Opua from Tonga or Fiji, it's free and a lot of fun. Yacht Cruising - Island Cruising Association

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Old 20-04-2009, 14:02   #10
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I second Dave's suggestion that you join the All Points to Opua Rally. At least as of 2008 it was still free, and Opua gave cruisers an unprecedented hearty welcome. There were celebrations (most of them totally free) every night for a week, culminated by a huge party where everyone won a prize of some sort. We won $500 mechanic's labor -- which gave us incentive to stay in Opua a bit longer than we had originally planned, thus benefitting local merchants. Boats coming from Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia can register online for this rally. This year the plan is to spread these celebrations out over 2 weeks instead of partying every single night.

BTW, I forgot to mention in my last posting that if you opt to stay at Gulf Harbour Marina longer than just for the time you fly home, then you absolutely must have a car. It is a decent walk to the bus stop. We bought a car online on Trade Me (NZ's local version of ebay). Paid $2000 NZD, drove it almost 4 months, and sold it for $1800 NZD. Turned it over to the new owners the day before departing to begin working our way back to Opua to stage for passage north. There are also numerous places to buy a car with a guaranteed buy-back agreement if you don't want the hassle of dealing with selling.

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Old 21-04-2009, 03:06   #11
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Seriously...you guys are spittin out some great info. We will definitely look into the rally.

Dave, I've been looking into the Viaduct Marina. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll probably end up storing the boat up in Whangerei or Opua for the holidays but I may want to move to Auckland proper for a little while when we get back. I don't yet know whether we'll stay around the boat or buy a car. I've been looking into the whole buying a car thing. It seems like it would be a great way to see the country.




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Old 21-04-2009, 06:52   #12
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Drew,

Yes we brought a BMW 328i for $3500 and sold it for $4000 after touring both islands. Buying a car is very easy in New Zealand with a total transaction cost of $9.20 at the post office!!!! Ours was on the side of the road by private owner in Opua.

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Old 22-04-2009, 17:09   #13
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Remember Opua to Auckland (and thus all points in between) is 24hrs sailing or less. You don't have to stay in one place if you don't like it.
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Old 22-04-2009, 21:58   #14
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Having dual NZ-US citizenship, so I’m able to stay in NZ longer than most cruisers, and consequently suspect I know it better than most.

I have friends who live in Opua, where I’ve spent Xmas holidays on Blue Sovereign, have friends in Whangarei and even crewed for someone out of there a few years ago, own some investment property with berths in Gulf Harbour near the marina, and currently have my yacht berthed in Westhaven, which is located in the heart of Auckland.

Like everything else in life, every location has its trade-offs, and your cash funds will be a major factor you will want to seriously consider when making any decision as to where to berth your yacht, especially if you’re going overseas or traveling around NZ during your 6 month lay-over.

Based on personal experience, generally speaking the further from Auckland, the less expensive it costs to have your yacht worked on. The flip side is of course Auckland has everything!

Opua marina is not highly regarded by most NZ locals, Whangarie is by no means as clean as Gulf Harbour, and I question whether you could even call the Town Basin in Whangarei a marina environment. I would definitely want to have access to a car if located in either Opua, Whangarie or Gulf Harbour. They are 3 hrs, 2 hrs, and hrs from Auckland respectively…. all depending on traffic … and NZ DOES have traffic issues!

Back-packers will be competing with you for any car purchase in November and possibly when you want to sell it in April-May. Besides TradeMe, there is a great “car fair” every Sunday in Ellerslie, a 15 min drive from Auckland’s CBD. Given the economy here, people are holding on to their cars longer, then again with unemployment increasing there will always be someone who “needs the money”. Bottom-line: it will likely be easier to buy a car than to sell it.

One marina that no one has mentioned which is located in a distant eastern suburb of Auckland and is an excellent marina is Half-Moon Bay. Again, it is one I would want to have a car to ensure getting around is easy. Two marinas I would never ever consider is Bayswater on the north shore of Auckland, or West Harbour further up the harbour.

Westhaven would definitely be my first choice … if you can afford it. While the services there are more expensive, the service providers definitely know their stuff.

As previously stated weather would dictate which location I would first arrive in. Opua to Whangarei is a full day’s sail. Same from Whanagarei to Auckland. When sailing from Auckland to the Bay of Islands (i.e. Opua) I usually do an over-nighter in Whangarei, just inside the Heads.

May I suggest you articulate more specifically your ideal scenario and perhaps I can assist you in that regard.

William
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Old 24-04-2009, 14:35   #15
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Thank alot for the info William. That's great stuff. Starting this thread was the start of my plans for NZ this year so I don't have much of an ideal scenario yet. I know we plan on flying back to the states for the holidays so I hope to arrive in NZ waters early November like everyone else. I assume we'll be back in the states from approx Nov 20 till just after Christmas.

I like the idea of being closer to Auckland. That Westhaven marina where you store your boat is HUGE and from the price sheet it looks to be about US$360/month for a 12 meter slip. If I'm reading the price list right for Whangerei Marina, a marina berth of the same length ends up just over $300 for a month. And Gulf Harbor somewhere are $275/month. Does that sound right? I'm not so much concerned with services as long as I don't break anything major over the next 7 months (finger crossed). If I do need something I'll move somewhere less expensive and take care of it before I leave NZ and head towards Australia.

I'm definitely looking to purchase a car but I don't know if we'll actually be out traveling away from the boat for months on end. Assuming that, I'd like to be happy and content with lots to do when I'm on board. Closer to Auckland sounds like the best option for us...even if it costs more.

Drew
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