5 wildlife species in the Hauraki Gulf you may not know about – NZAEE Seaweek 2014

March 1st didn’t just mark the beginning of Autumn this year but also the beginning of Seaweek 2014, ‘the national week about the sea’. As Seaweek serves to educate all about the sea and renew our connections with it, here are 5 species you may not know about that live right on Auckland’s doorstep in the Hauraki Gulf.

1. Kahawai – The Kahawai, like many fish species, comes in near the bottom of the food chain. These guys are a vital part of the food supply in the Hauraki Gulf making a great meal for birds, whales, and dolphins.

SONY DSC

2. Gannets – These birds love to feast on Kahawai, as do some other larger predators namely dolphins and whales. When we spot these amazing birds plunging into the sea at speeds of up to 24metres per second, targeting Kahawai and other fish, we know that the whales and dolphins are probably not too far behind.

3. Blue Penguins (Korora) – These ‘little penguins’ enjoy life among the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Sometimes spotted alone, seemingly in the middle of the ocean, they have great capacity to travel to find food with daily round trips of up to 75km.

DSC07469

4. Common Dolphins – These playful mammals are powerful swimmers who take up residence in the Hauraki in great numbers. They love to put on a show jumping in the boat wake and riding the waves. These hard working team players work together to round up schools of fish to feast on.

DSC_7426

5. Bryde’s Whales (Tohora) – These large baleen whales live and breed in the waters of the Hauraki Gulf. The Bryde’s whale likes to travel alone or in pairs, rising for air every so often with often no more than a blow and a glimpse of a dorsal fin to identify them. Often when the common dolphin has worked fish up into a feeding ball the Bryde’s Whale will make the most of the opportunity to feed, diving steeply through the work up.

AWDS_04_12_2010_pm11

Still not feeling connected to the sea? Come out on our Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari and see them for yourself.
To find out more about Seaweek 2014 see their website

Posted in New Zealand Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Inside Account: the Busan Women’s Match Race Championships 2013

Explore NZ’s Auckland Operations Manager Raynor Haagh, jetted off to Busan South Korea earlier this month to compete in the 2013 Women’s Match Race Championships. Raynor’s account of events is an interesting insight into the professional sailing scene…

While the rest of us were taking it easy over the long Queens Birthday weekend, Raynor’s team, skippered by NZ Olympic sailor Susannah Pyatt, made its way to Busan, South Korea.

IMG_0727 IMG_0724 <a

The event started with an official opening ceremony, and great pomp and ceremony, at the Ballroom of the Grand Hotel complete with obligatory ice sculpture fittingly in the form of a yacht. The formality of this occasion is an indication of the level of support behind major international sailing events like this with many representatives from Busan City attending, including the Mayor, as well as local politicians and members of the Busan and Korea Sailing Federations and organising body ISAF.

P1030464 The formalities

For the team members this was a great chance to network, an important part of the professional sailing scene, it also gave them a chance to regroup as a team and meet the competition before racing began.

IMG_0730 IMG_0728

Racing started early the following day on the scenic Haeundae beach on Busan’s waterfront. For Ray and Team Susannah, the first round robin of races were slow starters and unfortunately they lost every race except the final one of the day.

The conclusion of the day’s races was marked by a flyover of Korean Airforce planes. While these planes caused a moment of anxiety and a stir amongst the crowd, it was not North Korea coming to crash the party, it was all part of the show and the beginning of the Memorial festival celebrations for the next day.

On South Korea’s celebrated Memorial Day the team made it in early to race headquarters, grabbing the chance to get a free massage before racing began again. Better results today from the second round robin, those massages must have helped, coming through ranked 6th out of 9 teams. A great position to head into the quarter finals with.

Unfortunately their performance in the quarter finals did not give them a chance to move up the ranks. Matched against Team Camilla, the defending champions who went on to place second, they were not able to make any gains and their placing slipped back to 7th.

P1030594 P1030596

In the final tally up the team came in 7th overall after the final days racing and race off for 5th-8th placing was cancelled due to high winds. 7th place a reasonably good effort from a team who hadn’t had training time together prior to the series, up against a selection of Olympic sailors including the 2012 Gold medallists, who ended up taking out the title.

Raynor and team would like to say a big thank you to sponsors who helped them get there including RNZYS, Cafe Royal, NZ Sailing, KPMG and of course Explore NZ. Explore NZ loves to get behind this type of group promoting sailing to the world, and all the more relevant when a part of the team is part of the Explore NZ family.

P1030531

Posted in New Zealand Travel | Leave a comment

Explore NZ Manager Racing in 2013 Women’s Match Racing World Championship

The Team about to depart

The team about to depart for Busan, Korea

Explore NZ Auckland Operations Manager Raynor Haagh has spent the last week in Busan Korea, competing in the 2013 Women’s Match Racing World Championship.

Raynor and team, led by Olympic skipper Susannah Pyatt, headed off to Busan with mixed expectations and the team concluded the weeks racing in 7th place.

The inaugural Women’s International Match Racing Series is in Korea for the second event. Nine world-class teams competed for the Francoise Pascal Memorial Trophy and a share of the USD$100,000 prize fund.

The team steadily improved, finishing round robin 1 and 2 in 6th place. The quarter finals were a full on blast and racing was close, but not close enough. The team sailed off for final placing and finished up 7th.

Susannah reports ‘the conditions were rather fresh with lots of pressure and shift’ with wind causing some delays to races. She says ‘the team had their highs and lows, securing some good wins and swallowing a few losses.’

On the water action

On the water action

The team is due back in New Zealand on Wednesday morning after a fun week on the water and off.

Stay tuned for Raynor’s inside account of the week’s racing, formalities and fun.

Explore NZ were proud sponsors of the team, helping send them to Korea for the event.

For more information on the event see the Women’s International Match Racing Series website .

Posted in New Zealand Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lion New Zealand gets TripAdvisor award…

This prestigious award, the 2013 Certificate of Excellence, places the trip in the top-performing 10% of all businesses worldwide on TripAdvisor and is given to businesses that consistently earn high ratings from TripAdvisor travellers.

Lion_TA

So to all of you who wrote reviews about your trip on Lion New Zealand in the Bay of Islands, a huge thank you!

Posted in New Zealand Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Auckland Whale & Dolphin Safari awarded TripAdvisor Award…

This prestigious award, the 2013 Certificate of Excellence, places the trip in the top-performing 10% of all businesses worldwide on TripAdvisor and is given to businesses that consistently earn high ratings from TripAdvisor travellers.

AWDS_TA

So to all of you who wrote reviews about your trip out on Dolphin Explorer into the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, a huge thank you!

Posted in New Zealand Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Explore NZ Skipper competing in Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Selection Series

cf97e40cf7ae33b3afa30224a8220811a9dd850edb26b06e597f0a89663c0f51386751946a45801a

Talented sailor, and Explore NZ Skipper , Shaun Mason is currently in San Francisco competing in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup selection series with his team Full Metal Jacket Racing.

The selection series runs until February 24th from which the top teams will be picked to race in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in September. Six independent teams are participating including teams from Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany and South Africa and competition is fierce.

The Full Metal Jacket Racing team is made up of a group of talented young New Zealand sailors who have sailed together for two seasons. Competing on the international sailing scene the team has already had great success including 2nd at the World Tour Regatta Match Race in France 2012, and the top spot in several 2012 races including New Zealand Keelboat Nationals (NZ), Korea Match Cup Q (Korea), Sail Of White Nights (Estonia), Parnu Sailing Week (Finland).

As well as sailing on the match racing circuit with FMJ, Shaun competes in offshore racing such as the Rolex Sydney to Hobart. He also manages and sails for the Living Doll campaign out of Melbourne, Australia and worked in stopovers for Team Sanya in the last Volvo Ocean Race.

Shaun took some time out of his busy schedule in San Francisco to answer some questions about his racing career.

How did you get involved in racing yachts?

I started sailing with my father when I was about 7 on a mirror dinghy in England. I used to just sit there and swap sides when I was told. From there I just started doing more and more racing in dinghies and eventually progressed on.

What are your top achievements to date?

  • Sydney to Hobart 2nd 2011
  • 2nd Match Race France 2012, World Tour Regatta
  • Our team (FMJ) being selected for 2013 Extreme Sailing Series
  • Our team being selected for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Selection Series

How do you feel about racing in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Selection Series?

Excited! It’s a whole new style of sailing that is faster, physically harder and more fun. The boats we are sailing are the AC45’s and you struggle to wipe the grin of your face even hours after getting off the water.

How does working for Explore NZ compliment or challenge your racing activities?

Apart from the obvious links with sailing and running boats, Explore NZ has helped me hugely with my sailing career by being a great platform for learning and refining the way you interact with and meet new people in a professional and friendly manner. This helps a lot in the yachting world to find sponsorship and network with owners and other professional yachties.

What is your ultimate career goal?

The ultimate goal, which I share with the majority of sailors, is to compete in and win the Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup!

For more info about Shaun and his team see Full Metal Jacket Racing’s website  http://www.fmjracing.com/

Posted in New Zealand Travel | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring cleaning!

We’ve decided to tidy up our blogs. We’ll have shorter menu options under the main blog for Explore NZ, grouped under Bay of Islands and Auckland. Watch this space!

Posted in New Zealand Travel | Leave a comment