The World's Best Mooring
You can rest easy now; the debate is over. The best mooring on the planet is in New Zealand's Bay of Islands at 35˚ 18' S, 174° 7' E. What, you think yours is better? Tell us why and win a party!
On a mooring, there’s better ventilation, fewer insects, unobstructed views, and quiet, and a boat swings with the wind and tide.
When I want to change that view, I have only to drop my mooring and dodge the car ferries, and in an hour or two I have my choice of anchorages along the mainland of New Zealand’s North Island or at one of the many other small islands for which Captain Cook named this bay.
I consider the local cruising ground to extend from Whangaroa, a 40-mile sail north and west around Cape Wiwiki, to Whangamumu, a 25-mile sail east around Cape Brett and south. (The pronunciation of “wh” at the start of a Maori word is identical to the sound represented in written English by the letter “f.”) Both of these are beautiful and well-protected harbors; Whangaroa opens up for three miles after a 200-yard-wide entrance that’s obviously best avoided at full tide, and Whangamumu is a former whaling station.
But there are almost countless closer choices inside the bay itself. Depending on wind direction, my favorites are Roberton Island, where I can row ashore and follow a path up through the forest to a spectacular lookout, and Paradise Bay, at Urupukapuka Island, which has a wonderful view of the sun setting over islands to the west and a fine sand bottom from which anchors come up clean.
Roberton is exposed to the south, Paradise Bay to the west. If the wind comes from those directions, I have only to move a mile or less to find another cove or bay that’s protected.
In summer, I seldom have an anchorage to myself, although only during the Christmas and Easter school holidays are any really crowded. At other times of the year, I usually do.
These islands and the coast beyond a few enclaves are essentially unpopulated, with only isolated houses. The scenery is spectacular. Cliffs and hills dive into the sea. Parts remind me of California’s Big Sur, and some views inside Whangaroa recall Yosemite Valley.