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Wilderpeople & Pizza

With the freezer stocked to the gunnels – (mainly with Johns ice cream!- only the seven tubs of Haggen-Daas), we left our Auckland city pad behind and headed for the islands around the Hauraki Gulf.

A new dimension to our travels was Johns idea. He was fed up of puffing up hills on our tiny push bikes and invested in a folding e-bike. After a few days bombing around Waiheke island on his new found joy, and with me now grumbling about puffing up the hills, we got a second e-bike delivered! We have only had them a month and have had such fun.

Not only do they carry dive tanks, gas bottles, petrol tanks and a lot of shopping, now, John wants to go on a bike ride whenever possible and he never stops chuckling as he presses his throttle and accelerates up the hill! He tries to tell me he uses more battery than me due to his extra body mass, of course nothing to do with his lack of pedaling!.

On e- bikes the Waiheke hills and exploring is great fun for both of us. A vineyard for lunch is a military operation as we pile our bikes into the dinghy, land on the beach, assemble our transport and off we go.

With Waiheke explored and a final stop at the lovely Man of War anchorage/vineyard we headed across to the Island of Rotoroa. Bought by the Salvation Army in 1908 and ran as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center until quiet recently, it has been taken over by a couple of philanthropist to return it to its natural pest free state.

The model of NZ islands been returned to their natural state sponsored partly by NZ philanthropist, guided by DOC ( department of conversation), is a heartening growing theme in NZ – as these beautiful places are now open for all to explore and enjoy, islands are been rid of pests, native bird life is returning and an ecology is been nurtured not destroyed. Rotoroa is beautifully set up to enable visitor to learn about our past and the natural NZ habitat and it is only one of a number of fabulous islands around the hauraki gulf which provide great sheltered anchorages and fabulous walks ashore where you and the local DOC ranger can be the only folk there.

Easter brought my friend Kim and her family north from Christchurch. Kim hates sailing, but as a very good friend she agreed to come and try a day in our yachting world. Fortunately, the waters were smooth-ish but stopping for snapper fishing was not my best idea. Her daughter and hubby loved hooking “Geoffrey the snapper” and he made a very good starter for dinner!. Unfortunately, it was a bit bumpy and just before Geoffrey was hooked Kim turned green! So fishing was curtailed and we headed for the Island of Motuihue and landed Kim and on the nearest beach – she made a quick recovery. The trip back was a happier event - Chard on the aft deck, the Nichols family well rugged up followed by a fun family meal together and junglespeed, all safely moored along side motionless at Pier 21. – The things friends endure… thank you Kim.

Within a days sail from Auckland we were out at Great Barrier Island where we immersed ourselves in what felt like a wilderness adventure.

Every day we donned our exploring hat, went ashore with a tentative plan and within half an hour we would both have huge grins on our faces as the more we explored the more delight the island would deliver. From endless mountain forests to huge rugged sandy beaches, from no track, to mud track, to gravel roads, river crossings, rope bridges – and of course awesome views, with hardly a sole to be seen - it felt like our very own wilderness.

Our ebikes were put through the rigour of a “top gear” test, off road mountain tracks that landrover would struggle with and when the rain arrived mud slides and inclines that the hardest mountain biker would have baulked at. We still had huge smiles on our faces as we hit the gravel tracks with battery to spare, full throttle up the hill and back to find the dinghy.

Ever since Emma (my eldest now 29), had a bad school week aged 5 we introduced Friday night Pizza and Video night to celebrate the beginning of the weekend. Years later it became Pizza, red wind and film night! and even today spread around the world, Friday night arrives and many of the “Lamb clan” will be digging into Pizza, red wine and watching a good film. Great Barrier Island is a beautiful wilderness, with great anchorages, and, as such has been loved by yachties for many years.

One of which, ( Eric Lester), established a camp fire ashore, added a stove which heated hot water for a bath and it formed a gathering place for visiting yachties – Smokehouse Bay. Years later it has been kept pristine rebuilt, BBQs, smokehouses added, and a pizza oven installed. Friday night armed with our homemade pizza dough and toppings,

matches, red wine and drift wood we headed ashore at Smokehouse bay to light the oven and cook our own pizza – it was the best pizza ever!

The following week we spent four days sanding, cleaning and treating our cockpit and aft upper deck- a rewarding but back aching stuff.

One beautiful afternoon we took a few hours off to go buy some honey from the farm we were anchored very close to;- Barrier Gold. They had generator problems and having no mains electric it needed to be working. John loves to talk and fix generators. So the conversations started.. – Sven and Trish are a wonderful couple who own 2500 acres of great Barrier Island once they farmed hundreds of sheep and cattle now it is mainly covered in Manuka bush. It was fascinating to learn about how they were harvesting manuka bush to make manuka and kanuka oil and how Sven had created his own oil extracting still, chopping machine and made all the tracks across his land himself- miles & miles of them.

Sven and Trish were fascinating to talk to and we felt so privileged to be taken on a tour of their estate in a 4x4 mule – breath-taking views, incredible tracks, wonderful stories and a brilliant afternoon out with passionate hard working people who loved where they lived what they

were doing.

We will be back to Great Barrier Island. I hope one day to bring my whole family together and enable them to enjoy this special place– and of course we will be doing Smokehouse bay for Pizza on Friday.

For now we have run out of Ice cream so off to the mainland we sail…….