North Cape

Trip Start Mar 06, 2013
Trip End Apr 04, 2013

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Flag of New Zealand  , North Island,
Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday started early,  with the usual morning chores and a quick forage for breakfast.The Novotel was very proud of their breakfast and we walked into town for a better deal and Gail friendly food. It was nice enought to sit outside and join a safari team from Ottanga, South Island. We would get to know them better that night. Departing Hamilton we managed to start in the proper place, as designated by the Safari aircraft ordering.  We were excited for the first leg which would take us around to the east of Auckland and then up the harbor and into Whenuapai Air Force Base.
Although Hamilton was a bit cloudy, the skies cleared to reveal a stunning view of Auckland gleaming in the late morning light. It wasn't quite as dreamy as our sunset drive through Auckland, but everything looks better from the air, regardless. We slowed to a crawl and enjoyed the view on our way by

As is now our customary way, we had ignored the 'competition' route. This time, however, instead of taking the extended scenic tour we flew more directly to the harbor and would have been the first aircraft into Whenuapai except that we were lapped by the one twin left (see an ealier entry) flying the Safari just prior to being cleared into the field. The controllers at Whenuapai were very nice and got us on the ground and over to the civilian flying club for lunch. We were nice and didn't go poking our noses around the hangars south of that--as we were warned against that at our briefing. Doedo still managed to get some patches of the Air Force parachute training and support unit.  The day was looking better by the minute and after some brief discussion, we left early from lunch to make a big flight for the afternoon: our goal was now to fly around the most northern tip of the North Island.
As we headed for the plane we kept getting advice from fellow Safari pilots about this amazing house we must fly over: a house with large sculptures around it, and giraffes. This, of course, was the house we had aimed for during our license validation 'obstacle avoidance' task. We headed north from Whenuapai with a view of the North Shore Aero Club and our now infamous giraffe house. A little north of there we joined the west coast and followed it. Stunning beaches, lovely Coke-bottle blue water breaking on the shore, and the endlessly varied shoreline of New Zealand kept us well entertained. In the remote areas we waived at the fishermen, and they waived back. We flew along the '90-mile' beach watching the tourist buses driving on the sand. 
 Eventually we rounded the first point, Cape Maria van Diemen, which is technically still in the Tasman Sea. Beyond that lay our goal, Point Reinga, which is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Point Reinga was sporting a 3 km rip tide of water extending along the junction of Pacific and Tasman water. This section of New Zealand is so remote, that our Swiss electronic charts (the only approved electronic charts for New Zealand aviation) don't include it yet.
From there we rounded North Cape and then headed south to enjoy the stunning scenery on the East Coast of New Zealand. We had to stop for fuel in Kerikeri, a small airfield just at the point where New Zealand widens a bit below the 90-mile beach. This little airport was listed as unattended but with fuel. The area where the fuel pump was located looked so very unattended that we were nearly convinced that fuel was no longer available. Happily the BP card worked and we could resume our flight without having to sweat the minutes to the next airfield.
Kerikeri is just north of Russell and Paihia where we spent our first 2 days in New Zealand. What a great spot for boating and vacationing! We thought rather nostalgically of the lovey B&B and it's unlimited, included WiFi as we passed by.
Not too far south of there we started flying over some more big water. Our destination was Whitianga on the Coromandel Peninsula. We departed the coast headed to Great Barrier Island and then over the Hauraki Gulf to the Peninsula. We made the field at Whitianga just ahead of our SAR (Search & Rescue) time of 6:30. The marshallers from the aeroclub helped us fuel and get tied down so we could go and join dinner which had started at 6.  Tired but really happy to have spent such a great afternoon flying around the norther tip of the country, we got a round of applause when we entered the hangar for dinner.
We missed the first bus to the hotel and didn't make our Backpacker's lodging until well after 9. No free internets here and we were too exhausted to sit in the lobby and feed $2 coins into the meter to try to post something. Instead we went expedited our usual evening chores of sorting through our tangle of wires and converters to get everything charging (computers, cameras, nav equipment) and fell in bed.
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