04 Jun Moving about in New Zealand
It appears this Blog Post is a long time cometh. What to say? We’ve stayed busy during our mostly, land life in New Zealand!
If you are “friends or followers” on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve been able to watch our travels through the pictures we’ve posted during our Blog hiatus. For those of you who are not on social media, or those who would like more details about our journey, please follow along for a synopsis our 7 months in New Zealand.
It was so exciting to arrive in New Zealand (on November 12, 2018)! It was a place we’d always wanted to visit, and here we were, at the Bay of Islands Marina, in Opua, New Zealand. The most amazing part was that we had SAILED from the US to New Zealand! When we arrived on the Quarantine dock, we were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by our good friends from Summer, Muskoka, & Harlequin, who had all arrived earlier that afternoon. It felt great to be on the land, in a first world county. We were quickly cleared in by health, biosecurity, and customs and made our way to a slip in the marina and we were able to move about on land! It was great after spending 8.5 days at Sea and 11 in Minerva Reef, we were happy to climb off Maia and wander around the Marina and the little community of Opua!
We spent from November 12 to in the Bay of Islands. Our first couple days we got our bearings and began to adjust to our new land life. It was Spring and the weather was warm. The day after we arrived, our good friend Helen, from Nighttide, offered us a ride to the nearest grocery store (a 15-minute drive). A couple days later, Helen and I continued our shopping spree a little farther away in a town called Kerikeri. We went into some 2nd hand stores (Op Shop’s), smaller shops in town and to a farmer’s market. It felt good to be able to enjoy well stocked stores.
Dick and I got our bikes off Maia and took rides on the rail trail, (which starts at one edge of the Marina). What fun to be on land, riding on a trail, through beautiful countryside! We also began exploring the area by foot on the other nearby trails. Our first weekend in NZ, we were invited by our friends Laurel & Leo (sv Summer) to a rural cottage on a working Dairy farm, near Donnelly’s crossing, about a 3-hour car ride West! We were treated to a spectacular drive through the beautiful green rolling hills and farmland of New Zealand. We stayed in a lovely 2-bedroom cottage. What a treat to sleep in a bed and take long hot showers in a private bathroom! On Sunday we went on a road trip and explored the Waipoua Kauri forest. It was an amazing experience to hike among the majestic ancient Kauri trees, the biggest one we visited Te Matua Ngahere, whose girth is 52 feet and has been living for over 2000 years!
After our first land exploration of New Zealand, we decided to have a muss and discuss our 6 months visit to New Zealand. (We have these meetings regularly to plan our time.) What places do we want to visit? What things do we want to do? What boat projects will need to get done before we sail North in May/ June? Our project list goes on and on (it’s a lot like house projects, but the project list seems to keep growing on a boat, living in a saltwater environment tends to wreak havoc on things). New projects get added to the list as we are sailing; when we realize that things are not working the way they should, improvements need to be made, some of which are for safety.
We’ve already mentioned a few friends that we had met up with when we arrived, but we kept running into more friends at the Marina that we had met along our South Pacific journey. It was so fun to see everyone and re-connect. Our social calendar was quite busy for a while, a highlight was having a surprise birthday party aboard Maia for young Adrian’s sixth birthday, (sv Yonder). It was awesome seeing the excitement through the eyes of this amazing young man.
On November 20th, Dick and I decided to rent a car and go explore the “big city” of Whangerei, about an hour drive south of Opua. We had heard it could be a good place to take Maia and spend time at one of the Marina’s. We had a pleasant time scoping out the area, but the rainy weather did not help with our decision to keep our home base in the Bay of Islands.
On November 22, we enjoyed an American-style Thanksgiving dinner at the Opua Cruising Club with some of our US and Canadian friends! On the 23rd we had a fabulous girl’s bike along the rail trail to Kawakawa, (a 22 km round trip ride) and enjoyed a lovely lunch at a restaurant named Elaine’s.
The month of December went by quickly. We did some exploring in the “Northland” by ourselves and with friends. We took drives and went on hikes & ferry rides to tour the area. We took the ferry across the bay and drove to the town of Russell and took a long drive back around to Opua, driving through the forests and farmland. We drove to Kerikeri, did some shopping and visited Rainbow Falls and took a beautiful serene hike along a small part of TeAraroa, “the long pathway”. (Backpackers will hike this path across NZ from tip to tip!) We went to the Thursday afternoon Paihia farmers market and the Saturday morning Packhouse market, shopped at more “Op” shops (thrift stores). We drove west to Hokianga Harbor and took the ferry across from Rawene to Parnell and explored more of the rural northland.
For my birthday weekend (December 9th), we traveled to Auckland and enjoyed a 2-night hotel stay and toured the city on foot. We walked around “Auckland Central”, Albert Park, out to the waterfront, the Wharfs and Viaduct harbor area. We checked out Marine stores and enjoyed some yummy restaurant meals. We went to the Grey Linn’s farmers market. We made it back to Bay of Islands Marina for a delightful time with friends, celebrating my birthday with a little party. It was a beautiful evening and we gathered on the Marina grassy area where we enjoyed the summer weather, ate, talked and played a little bocce, and enjoyed sweet treats (2 gluten free cakes) brought by friends.
For the Christmas Holiday we untied from the dock spent a couple stormy days at Roberton Island, a mere 2-hour sail from Opua. We met friends from Muskoka, Harlequin and Manna for a Christmas Eve celebration with a potluck dinner aboard Muskoka. Besides the wet and stormy weather, we had a lovely time. We took a couple walks on shore, enjoyed the amazing lush green scenery and gorgeous rock and sand beach. When we left Maia to dingy over to Muskoka for our Christmas Eve celebration, it was pouring rain. We had a wonderful dinner, with singing of Christmas carols afterward. As the weather was expected to go from bad to worse, we headed back to the marina and enjoyed a lovely Christmas dinner aboard Maia with our friend Leo. It was a pleasant way to spend our first (“summer”) Christmas away from our family.
January was a big work month. We hauled out (took Maia out of the water) to work on her bottom and a few other projects best done “on the hard”. We had the bottom paint removed and sanded down, “smooth as a babies butt” and Dick put on an epoxy “barrier coat” and new hard bottom paint, that we hope will inhibit growth on the bottom and be better for our precious environment. We had the diesel injectors replaced, propeller serviced, new zincs installed, the keel bolts re-torqued, installed a new prop shaft seal, had the bow roller replaced, a new vang gooseneck installed, and, and, and! Dick replaced 3 of our 7 new port lights and replaced our leaky water heater.
Laura’s big project was replacing our old bimini (shade covering in the cockpit). The undertaking began by watching Sailrite You Tube videos, studying all the steps to the process. Once comfortable with the stages, Dick and I jumped in on patterning, and sewing our new Bimini. A big shout-out to Sailrite who provide You Tube video’s for boat sewing projects. (Their prices on materials are also great.) We changed to a new color, “linen” which is a tan. The new Bimini looks great, next up will be the dodger and panel to connect the two.
Also, during January we prepared Maia for our sail South to Auckland and beyond. We planned for our land travel to the South Island in February and had a little fun biking, hiking and hanging out with friends.
On January 29, we got back “out there” and had a wonderful 4-day sail to Auckland. It felt great being back on the Pacific and exploring New Zealand by Sea! My favorite site during this trip was sailing around Bream Head, with it’s beautiful dazzling cloud formations.
We had a memorable February as Trevor and Macie came for a month and we toured New Zealand. They flew into Auckland, where we were currently located at Westhaven Marina aboard Maia. We began the vacation month with a sail to Waiheke Island and an overnight in Man O’war Bay. We had a nice visit ashore at the Winery. The weather was warm and sunny, a perfect start for our summer vacation.
Next, we flew to Christchurch and rented a motorhome for a two-week tour of the South Island. Trevor had a list of things to see and do, so, we began checking things off the list. We saw a lot of amazing things, Forests, Glaciers, Waterfalls, Rivers, Beaches. We hiked as much as we could and kayaked in Milford Sound in the Fiordland, which was spectacular. We drove as far south as Dunedin on the East coast and as far north as Punakaiki on the West coast. We saw many wonderful things.
After our 13-day tour in the Motorhome, we dropped Dick off at the Christchurch airport (he flew back to the States for a 3-week visit). We rented a Camper Van for our last week of touring in New Zealand. Trevor, Macie and I had a great week as we explored our way back to Auckland. We spent a little time in Marlborough, exploring some of the beautiful vineyards. Then we took the ferry from Picton to Wellington, over to the North Island. I splurged for a night in a hotel in Wellington, as always it was great to sleep in a “real” bed and take long hot showers. We visited a hot springs and went to a couple beaches to finish off the list of places to visit, as we drove northward.
Once Trevor and Macie had flown away☹, I had a week until Dick returned. I was able to rest, relax and play hostess to Laurel and Leo who stayed aboard for a couple nights. Once Dick arrived, we prepared for our 3 week “sailing vacation”. We had a lovely time sailing out to Great Mercury Island, south to Cooks Bay, back North to Great Barrier Island and eventually back to Opua. It was splendid, sailing from anchorage to anchorage and exploring a wee part of New Zealand coastline.
Next, Laura went back “home” to the states to visit family and friends while Dick returned to boat projects. For Laura it was wonderful to catch up with people and live the land life for a while. It was a whirlwind month with stops in LA, Utah (Salt Lake & Park City), Chicago and San Diego.
Dick had his “work cut out for him”, projects included; installing the final 4 port lights, new stanchion bases, rebuilding bilge pumps, installing 9 batteries, including a new start battery, leisure furl maintenance and upgrades, installed new outlets and, and, and! It ended up being a good thing Laura was gone while Dick worked on projects, as he was able to spread out in our “little house”. It saved a lot of time by him not having to put tools and project makings away each evening. It wasn’t all work and no play for Dick, luckily friends invited to dinner and the Cruising Club for darts and Trivia nights. He spent his birthday with Laurel and Leo and went to sail Fiji and sail Indonesia seminars. (Thanks Dick!!!!)
Once Laura returned in mid-May, the project list got whittled down to only the required necessities before we set sail. A new NEMA cable for chart plotter was installed, steering cables were tightened, new shelves were built above the new battery bank for additional storage, and, and, and! As it usually goes, simple projects take longer. We twice re-installed the mainsail, as our friend and rigger, Leo, noticed that our sail was too long, once he had taken the time to get it fully lashed onto the boom. (Previously we had always had to stop before it was fully raised). We decided it was best for the mainsail to go back to the sail maker to get 6″ trimmed of the top.
There was also lots of administrative work to do, updating of charts and the chart plotter, bills to pay, studying of Fiji charts and taking care of entrance requirements, final Facebook and Instagram posts to post and Blog to write! We also began seriously watching the weather, as we’re waiting for an good “weather window” for our 10+ day sail to Fiji.