Thursday, 18 January 2018

A Procession of Boats- Tauranga Harbour

Catch-up; And there I was finally thinking I was catching up on blogs when summer arrived in the Bay (Hawkes Bay that is). Beautiful hot sunny weather, too good to not get outdoors and enjoy. We've had two short sojourns away from suburbia in the last few weeks; one out to Oceanbeach and the other up to Kuripapango on the Napier-Taihape Road. 

We still have another week or two here in Napier before we'll be back on the road; David is steadily working his way through his maintenance list for 'Out There' and I have been busy working on an exciting project (another reason the blogs have been a bit slow in coming). I'll be able to tell you more about it in the not too distant future.

And now back to the blog;  while I was going to do one post on the Mt Maunganui cruise ships, I decided I had too many great photos not to share more of them. But don't worry (famous last words), I won't do a blog on every ship that arrived and left while we were there. This one is on the Golden Princess (the first to arrive when we were there) and I'll try and combine the others in another one or two posts. Bear with me (I sound like Tilly in Miranda).

I'd downloaded the Port's cruise ship schedule which helpfully listed arrival and departure times so it was just a matter of whipping a couple hundred metres along the Base Track past Pilot Bay to one of the many vantage points near the Entrance to Tauranga Harbour, to watch the ships arrive. 

A slight spanner in the works had been thrown in since our last visit to the Mount; a major slip (actually several large slips) came down around the Mount back in April, 2017 during Cyclone Cook. The track reopened within a week or so but people could only walk to the slip and then return the same way.

You couldn't walk the complete loop around the Base Track until stairs were built up and around the top of the slip in June. And while they aren't too much of an obstacle, when you're rushing to catch a ship, camera in hand, it's a fair slog to the top.

And more so if you're coming up the other side; they are very steep.

Luckily, I knew (from past excursions), where the best spot for capturing ships coming through the Entrance is; over (or under) the stair railings, out on a ridge at the top of the stairs and past some beautiful old pohutukawa trees in full bloom. 

From my vantage point I was able to watch a steady procession of early morning boat traffic leave the harbour, many heading to their favourite fishing grounds out in the Bay of Plenty. A couple of local charter boats full of eager punters were also off for a day's fishing; I suspect these may have been staff Christmas functions. 

The Motiti Island barge, 'Deliverance', with a tyre recovery truck on board, was one of the more unusual boats to pass. Motiti Island (permanent pop. around 30) is a small flat island that lays about 10kms offshore from Papamoa, and 21kms from the Harbour. Motiti was a favourite place to visit and fish around when we lived in the Bay and had our launch.

It wasn't long before I spotted the pilot boat 'Arataki', heading around the point and back into the harbour; I knew the Golden Princess wouldn't be too far away.

This was also confirmed by the arrival of the two tugboats; Sir Robert (named in honour of Sir Robert Owens, who played a key role in developing the Port of Tauranga and was also Mayor of both Mt Maunganui & Tauranga before they amalgamated)....

& Tai Timu; (Tai Timu means ebb tide in Maori, her sister tug Tai Pari is flood tide).

They then waited patiently...

...until the bow of Golden Princess finally appeared from around the side of the Mount.

Sir Robert moved to the stern, as the pilot carefully guided her through the entrance.

The occupants of a yacht heading out, waved furiously at many of the passengers- some still wrapped in white toweling robes- watched from their private balconies.

Tai Timu spun around and led the way into the harbour.

Little Toot...I mean, Sir Robert was towed in from behind. 

Once Golden Princess passed my vantage point I raced back to the stairway, clambered over the railing and ran (as fast as my damaged foot allowed me to) along the path to an opening in the trees where I could watch as the ship headed towards the port.

A bit further on and another gap provided the perfect framing...

There's lots of little detail in some of the close-up shots (remember to click the photo to enlarge)- how's this for a view? People lined up along the top of the bridge. Also notice the open gangway door near the bow.

Berthed at Tauranga Port's Pilot Bay, Mt Maunganui

Golden Princess facts and figures-
Class and type:Passenger
Type:Grand class cruise ship
Tonnage:108,865 GT
Length:951 ft (290 m)
Beam:118 ft (36 m)
Draught:8.7 m (29 ft)
Draft:26.2 ft (8.0 m)
Decks:17 total, 13 passenger
Ice class:1A Super
Propulsion:diesel-electric 2 propulsion motors (19,000kW each)
Speed:22.5 knots (41.7 km/h; 25.9 mph)
Capacity:2,600 passengers

Later in the evening and right on the dot at 8pm, the ship sounded its horn as the tugs pulled Golden Princess off the wharf...

...and she sailed off towards the Entrance, heading for her next port of call.

A brave paddle boarder makes for a lonely figure, as he manouveurs himself out of the way as the huge ship approaches. 

Maori God of the sea, Tangaroa performs a wero, or challenge, to those entering Tauranga Harbour. Here he looks to be challenging the ships officers standing on the gangway door.

Check out that BIG screen, I can hear the movie voices from where I'm standing.

The sun is setting fast and it's right in my line of sight as the ship glides past me, down at the water's edge. Passengers line the rails waving to us (and a launch) as they pass.

The sun is now directly in front, the ship silhouette against the bright light, I wait until the sun goes behind the funnels and take a sunburst shot just as it reappears.

The Sun Princess heads out into the Bay of Plenty...

...with the launch bobbing along in its wake.

I take a final shot as it disappears around the point and head back to camp...

...passing my two long time favourite fishing boats (and Pilot Bay icons) along the way.


  1. Always nice to see the Kotuku, knew her way back in the 70s.

    1. Yes, I was sad when she got stolen a few years ago. Luckily she was found again- I mean who wouldn't recognise her! :)

  2. Wow really a feast for the eyes! Seeing the Mount and Tauranga Bay is like seeing dear old friends...

    1. And there's more to come offstone, how to revisit without leaving your armchair! :)

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Kaye, glad you enjoyed them. There a whole bunch more up in the latest blog too.


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