Tauranga harbour…

Tauranga port is New Zealand’s busiest port for import/ exports. We were in Tauranga to walk up Mount Maunganui, a small volcanic hill at the harbour entrance when we saw the Pucinni leaving harbour under escort of the pilot vessel Arataki. How ships enter and leave ports and harbours isn’t something that comes up in everyday conversation, but we now have a new appreciation for seamen and the job they do.

The Puccini is 212m long and specialises in container. She can displace up to 27322 tonnes. Arataki is 16.6 metres in length and displaces about 25 tonnes. (It’s amazing what you can find on the internet.) We start of by seeing them outward bound towards the harbour mouth. The Puccini’s next scheduled port of call is Brisbane, Australia.

Puccini and pilot vessel Arataki approaching the harbour mouth.
Puccini and pilot vessel Arataki approaching the harbour mouth.

What our title picture doesn’t show is how narrow the shipping lane is! 200m. The distance between the beach and the rocky shore is only 400m. And the tidal flow in and out is 3-4 knots on average, with waves over 2.5 metres high. And these guys fly through it like a cork out of a bottle. It took perhaps only a couple of minutes to get through, but we are impressed with the skills involved.

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Powering through… The red bouy is over 2m tall.
Check out that bow wave.
Check out that bow wave.

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Nearly out...
Nearly out… Look at the Arataki punching through the swell.
Clearing the bottleneck.
Clearing the bottleneck.

Now, the Puccini is a reasonably large ship, and this happened on our way up the Mount. On the way back down, we spotted the Arataki berthed at the pilot/ tugboat station. What follows next is what happens to smaller vessels, such as this fishing boat…

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Of course they made it through safely. If you enlarge and check out the rear deck area, you’ll see the crew all geared up in lifejackets as a safety precaution.

And the Puccini made it to Brisbane, and is en route to Singapore at the time of writing.

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