Kewoie Two 02

Sailing on the Kaipara

For one reason or another, travel may not be part of our lives as much as it once was. This reader-submitted blog post brings a little vicarious travel to our lives. Thank you Margaret Guthrie for sharing…


An article in the New Zealand Herald of Friday 11 March “For Kiwis travelling is the best revenge” was actually about the Flight Centre building up its staff to cope with the demand for “revenge travel” for being covidly deprived of overseas travel for the past two years. But there is also the opportunity now to visit parts of our fair country we have not seen before.

My daughter and I have recently been on what is billed as “Exploring New Zealand’s Largest Inland Waterways”, a two day’s sailing on the Kaipara Harbour from the ship’s base in Helensville.

On day one we boarded MV Kewpie Too, owned and operated by Terry and Gaye Somers. Terry sails Kewpie Too while Gaye looks after those on board, including morning and afternoon refreshments, as well as lunches. Terry, the boat’s pilot, also provides a commentary. It is not a recorded commentary but is personally delivered while he quietens the motor so we are able to hear him best.

He informs us of the early European gum diggers and fellers of the then magnificent kauri forests which clothed much of the surrounding land. He also discusses the current farming situation as only a very few kauri remain other than in specific reserves elsewhere. It must have looked magnificent in those kauri days, but it is still attractive farmland with scatterings of bush and introduced pines these days.

There is also that vast harbour itself, with its bar so difficult to navigate that it was known as a graveyard for sailing ships. It was a calm summer’s day, but the sea was somewhat choppier while we sailed across the opening onto the Tasman between the two harbour heads. It is a harbour which looks impressive on a map, and is distinctly so while out upon it.

That first day we sailed up the Eastern reaches and the Arapaoa River to Pahi where we disembarked to join a coach to take us to a hotel in Dargaville overnight. The second day we rejoined MV Kewpie Too to sail down the Northern Wairoa River back to the harbour, sailing alongside the Poutu peninsula. At one of its farm jetties, we picked up three fit looking men and their bicycles. They were doing Northland somewhat more energetically than we were. By mid-afternoon we were back in Helensville.

There were forty six of us on MV Kewpie for that trip, the majority of whom were older New Zealanders. As a short trip for locals, it is a really special way to see and hear about an area north of Auckland. If one was an overseas tourist with perhaps only two to three weeks in New Zealand, it might interest those who like the thought of sailing on a quirky but very well looked-after small ship for a couple of days, and who were interested in a good commentary and good food. It does not have a liquor license but allows those who wish to have a beer or wine to bring their own aboard. There is tea, coffee, and water a plenty.


Margaret Guthrie


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