Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

Mt. Parihaka viewpoint, from Whangarei Heads to Whangarei Town Basin.  Terrific view given it’s less than 800 feet up.

Robyn, me, Patty and Litara, posing aboard Robyn’s boat,
Mintaka, in Whangarei Town Basin Marina.

Nearly every morning at 7:30 am, Litara kicks off the day with a wander up Mt. Parihara to enjoy the Whangarei territorial view at its summit.  Of late, most days, Litara’s trailed by four featherless ducklings… Robyn, Patty, Louise and me.  We gaily chatter our way to the top, generally arriving back at Town Basin around an hour and a half later, refreshed, happy and raring to get on with the rest of our day.

Our boats are in the Hatea River, below, as seen from Mt. Parihaka.

Ferns, including New Zealand’s iconic and enormous silver fern,
are as lovely as the view from Mt. Parihaka.

Mt. Parihaka’s a 20 million year old former volcanic cone, rising 791 feet (241 meters) from Whangarei’s Town Basin, with panoramic views extending beyond the city and the snaking Hatea River, all the way out to Whangarei Heads.

In 2005 the mountain reclaimed the correct Maori spelling for its name, from Parahaka to Parihaka.  This year that was reinforced with an elder-blessed ceremony, scenic identification and historical signage, and a sculpture.

February, 20 2016 in memory of the lives
lost in battles fought at Parihaka.  She’s
still dressed in her ceremonial garb.

Litara came for the ceremony; it appeared she was the only one who walked to it, rather than stepping out of the adjacent Memorial Drive parking lot.

“How can you stand to take the same hike every day?” asked Wayne incredulously.  “Nothing changes.”  He’s typically just getting up as I take off.

This question comes from my same darling husband who watches his favorite movies over and over.  Touche, he admitted, graciously, when I pointed that out to him.

Seriously, not only does nothing change, with only sight and sound, unlike hiking, movie watching’s merely a two-dimensional experience!

What changes on our Mt. Parihaka walk?  Here’s but a few…

Mirror-like Mair Park at flood, which didn’t discourage
the pandering ducks.
  1. The character of dawn’s daily evolution outside our companionway as we get ready
  2. Who shows up and what we chat about that day.
  3. What time the sun comes up, before and after the April clocks were set back an hour (as we’re in the Southern hemisphere).
  4. Noticing the frost on our breath as we slip into fall.  Is it cold enough to require a layer of fleece?  How far will we get up the steps before we layer down.  Is it cold enough to layer back up on the way back down?
  5. How much the waterfall flows — much more after a good rain!
  6. Whether we use the umbrella brought or wish we’d brought one
  7. Downed trees and branches after a storm
  8. What birdsong we hear, more often than not, the tui.
  9. Which natives and naturalized plants we identify that day.
  10. The sculpture and info placards unveiled after a public commemorative ceremony.
  11. The ephemeral scent of naturalized ginger blossoms, since faded.
  12. The minty-earthy richness of newly fallen leaves, dampened and decay.
  13. The flood of water across the lower trail forcing some bushwhacking.
  14. Glow worms cast their ghostly blue light one gray chilly fall morning.
  15. Dew dressed slender-bladed grassy clumps in a shimmering diamond necklace.

A flooded trail? Not enough to stop us intrepid gals!  Normally,
we respect the trail boundaries but are not above
bushwhacking when required.

A few nights ago, five of us gathered at a local Indian restaurant for a Girl’s Night Out before most of us scatter with the winds that spur cruising season.  Good food, and as always, exceptional company.  Appropriately, we walked.

This sodden morning, it was wet enough only Robyn, Litara and I took off together.  “Let’s do the Hatea River Loop instead, Robyn suggested.  Armed with big umbrellas, we complied.  “I wish I had a camera, Litara giggled, when I eventually gave up after about the 7th time my umbrella turned inside out from the wind and figured I was just due for a clothed freshwater rinse.  Robyn and Litara’s umbrellas, unlike mine, were Wellington-tough (click here to learn more about just how windy Wellington is).

Litara, Robyn, Patty and me.  Louise played photographer.
Alas my camera does best at 25 feet or less and we
were much further.

Last week no one was about when I ventured out into the gray mist, breaking spider webs along the trail to the top.  There was the barest hint of a sprinkle for a 100 yards or so, near the summit, little more than a walk through a small, airy cloud.  To my surprise, I returned across drenched Town Basin Marina sidewalks and a dinghy in need of a rainwater bailing.

As I climbed into our cockpit, post-hike, Wayne commented, initially discounting my dry appearance “I was just sure you’d be wet as a drowned rat.” The rain resumed a few minutes later.

Guessing this morning, Mt. Parihaka was a wiser route than the one Robyn, Litara and I took.  The trees would’ve sheltered us from both the wind and the rain most of the way.   Wet or not, it was still worth it for Robyn and Litara’s most excellent company.  Who knows?  It might be the last Whangarei walk with Robyn, who’s about to head back to the states for a brief family visit.  By the time she returns, we may we have set sail. 

Patty, Robyn, Litara and Louise on  the
boardwalk along the Hatea River near
Whangarei Aquatic Centre.

Before we leave Whangarei, I’m hoping we can gather together again, this time with our partners.  I’d love to share a toast to Whangarei, and watch the sun set, even though we’ll likely make the trip by car up Memorial Drive, rather than on foot, to Parihaka’s summit.  Hard to believe we’ve just a few days to make that happen!

Litara, you’re the one who started this lovely daily hike, long before we arrived to continue long after we leave, flowing off like ripples across the Hatea River.  We’ll count on you to let us know once a while what’s happening here.  Robyn, Patty and Louise almost certainly will return, at least next year.  As for me, not sure when.  In spirit, I will return many times.

Getting ready for our morning walk, this oft-stunning view
prompts me to stop and pop out into our cockpit for a quick snap.

Location Location

We’re back on a pole mooring in Whangarei’s Town Basin Marina (S35.43.412 E174.19.539).  Our must-do boat and provisioning chores  before we set sail list is getting much shorter!  Quite likely we’ll leave Whangarei by month’s end.

Sailing by the NumbersLast year, between December 2014 and November 2015 we sailed from Florida USA to New Zealand, over 10,000 miles. Current plan’s to resume cruising this May.  First stop’s Fiji.  We plan to sell our boat in Australia, likely around February and return to work – somewhere.