SAYING A LONG GOODBYE TO NEW ZEALAND AND A SLOW HELLO TO FIJI
New Zealand has been a wonderful host to us over the last 19 months. I truly believe we won the Covid country lottery. The hospitality of the Kiwis, several auto-immigration extensions and the fast and hard lockdown that allowed us to live mostly unaffected by the global pandemic was remarkable. Usually we would have been here only to sit out a cyclone season and would have missed the exploring we did overland in the van or the fabulous summer sailing and hiking we enjoyed. The best part of this visit to New Zealand was reuniting with all the folks we sailed into New Zealand back in 1998…you can’t make new friends like these! Keep in mind these folks sailed and immigrated to NZ so they now live in amazing houses but we still refer to them by their given boat name. Bill and Irene (s/v Faraway) lived just up the road and so accessible to us for a chat, tea, hike, fish, sail or just a place to stay when Shenemere was hauled out. Cruising, hiking and art appreciation with Jenny and Dennis (s/v La Ruche). Fishing and art exploration with Cheryl and Henk (s/v Omega) in BOI’s was priceless. Norge (s/v Irish Mist) made the long journey to visit with us all and even brought his photo albums; what fun we had looking back. Our tribe remained intact after all these years and it’s remarkable the amount we all have in common. Martin and I did a lot of road trips to meet his school mates that have since immigrated to New Zealand. Gavin & Sharon, Martin’s childhood friend was always accommodating our comings and goings through Auckland. We had hilarious adventures with Richard and Marlene Koekemoer. Brian & Felicity Fuller hosted a SA reunion in Cambridge and Brian and Gavin cruised with us in Great Barrier Island. We met a few of Martin’s family that had immigrated to NZ as well; always real to connect with family when you are so far away. What a treat “The Caribbean Tribe Meet-Up” with Byron Pick his wife Stephanie (+2), Jenny Pick and Elizabeth and Garth indulging in an hysterical recollection of events when we were so very much younger sailing carefree in the Caribbean. A fortunate stroke of serendipity my close Kiwi friend Suzie from Miami had since moved back to New Zealand so we we were able to hang out. We had met Kiwi Malcom & Pauleen in Fiji last year and remained in contact with them so whenever we were in each others vicinity (Auckland, Whangarei or Opua ) we got together. Gosh we were incredibly lucky meeting all our ole mates in such a beautiful country and to be insolated in the Covid free bubble that New Zealand’s boarder closure provided, that we were safely and freely able to socialize. However, even though were no cases of Covid there was an economic impact and there were many folks that needed help. The Red Cross of Whangarei helped during this crisis by providing food, resources and support to the people most vulnerable at such a time. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with these good people + helping good people. I met some amazing people, made lasting friendships and have an opportunity to continue to volunteer as I travel (stand by…Fiji Red Cross possible opportunities). I was also very fortunate to have met Chef Leman, Shauna, Gaby and Rachel at Affair Catering over the summer. I had such an authentic experience with these amazing women; dang they made me laugh. I value the time we had and consider them my sisters. Probably the best and most unexpected New Zealand experience was being in one place and on a dock for 1 year. Naylene, Sharon and Brian @ Town Basin Marina helped us through this newbie experience. We hit it off with Naylene and Phil (Marina Staff and Dock Neighbor); BBQs, Holiday parties and any excuse to visit their authentic nature paradise @ The Hideout was such a fabulous treat. The highlight of all highlights was to witness their wedding. A real Kiwi Wedding in the bush and an unforgettable wedding party! Naylene’s neighbor Sue was such an inspiration and always a laugh. Sue gave me a traveling hippy skirt that I will cherish forever. I told Sue that I want to be just like her when I grow up and I mean it XO. Sharron and Andre were entertaining and always keen for an impromptu braai. Then there was actual boat work to be done; our haul out was supposed to be a 2 week event however, it went on for many weeks. We were quickly absorbed in the fold of the boatyard ole timers and what fun we all had. Kate & Robert on s/v Sylph along with Michael (40 years fishing on Quo-Vadis) were a regular dinner event that often lasted hours. Wesley on s/v Rose Marie, Liberator, Barking Mad, Ryan, Babs and John on s/v New Zealand Maid all made the challenging boatyard blues into a memorable time. Every Sunday Rob had a generous BBQ in a secret corner of the boatyard were everyone gathered mostly discussing boat projects with cold drinks, delicious BBQ and warm laughs. We were blessed with some amazing dock mates/ “Covid refugees” at the Town Basin Marina to share the day to day living experience with much as you would with your neighbors at home…a “chin wag” in the morning and a sundowner at the end of the day. The Town Basin Marina had a vibrant social schedule of ladies luncheons and weekly socials among other activities that provided us the opportunities to meet all kinds of International sailors. We are so grateful. Our Daughter Adrien sailed the seas with us and weathered the storms and has decided to set her anchor in New Zealand with her partner Donovan. We will miss her dearly, trust her immensely and believe that New Zealand is a great place to live. Our dearest friends Elizabeth & Garth -our buddy boat s/v Irwinish since Miami and decades of collective history between us have decided to stay in New Zealand. I can’t write this without the raw emotion of knowing how much we will miss the frequent belly laughs and familiarity that we have together. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” -Winnie the Pooh. As for Shenemere we have set our horizons on distant ports. Fiji-Indonesia.
We spent the last few weeks in New Zealand back and forth to Auckland to service the life raft and swap out our van for a car Adrien could drive. We caught up with the “original” New Zealand Sailing Fleet of 1998 at Cheryl and Henk’s beautiful home. Grateful that Jenny & Dennis and Norge all took the time out of their busy schedules to come up and see us off. Irene and Bill put on a spectacular Braai for our farewell; a meal that will go down in the history books. The anticipation was killing us; we’d been talking about this final night out for awhile… Elizabeth and Garth treated us to tomahawk steaks at Bad Habits Restaurant. A “few” final good byes to Adrien & Donovan as we waited for a weather window.
Waiting and Waiting for a weather window to sail to Fiji
Finally got our weather window
After more than a month and a half of waiting for a decent weather window to head the 1000 miles north to Fiji we had to first navigate the new Covid testing requirements and Fiji’s Blue Lane protocols before we could even make an appointment with New Zealand customs to depart. A massive logistics operation was underway which included an eight hour trip to Auckland on a Sunday in order to receive the results on Monday and get Fijian Government approval to depart on Tuesday. So much for the good old days of picking a safe weather window and setting sail; new protocols make a stressful passage like this one more dangerous. Such is our new reality.
The Fijian Blue Lanes protocols allow the time at sea to go toward the 14 day quarantine requirement. We spent 5 days in the quarantine lagoon which was just the amount of time we needed to rest up, tidy up and fix up. Once out of quarantine we moved to a mooring ball outside the town of SavuSavu on the Island of Vanua Levu which is at present Covid free. However, just a day ago a supply ship was turned around when crew tested positive for Covid; it might be weeks before the next supply ship. We are allowed to walk around town but need to have masks to enter into stores and are required to have the FijiCare Covid Tracing app on. The Fijians are friendly, the weather is hot and the water is warm. We are relieved to be making our way in pursuit of a circumnavigation…one passage at a time. Peace
Waiheke Island in The Hauraki Gulf / Tīkapa Moana is a coastal feature of the North Island of New Zealand. It has an area of 4000 km², and lies between the Auckland Region, the Hauraki Plains, the Coromandel Peninsula, and Great Barrier Island. Most of the gulf is part of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park
Back to Whangarei to get ready for Naylene and Phil’s Hens Party and Wedding Celebrations
One of the highlights of Backyard Kiwi at Whangarei Heads is the annual kiwi releases. Since 2003 volunteers have supplemented the kiwi population by releasing kiwi to introduce wider genetic variety into the Whangarei Heads area. This was fantastic opportunity for us to see live kiwis in our own backyard! We learned a lot about this amazing flightless bird that has been endangered by rats, stouts, cats and domestic dogs.
Adrien & Donovan Celebrate their Partnership Visa
Adrien treated us to a lovely picnic and trek at the waterfalls. Beautiful afternoon to celebrate her Partnership Visa with Donovan that she has anxiously been waiting for 3 months.
It’s a Boy!
Justin and Sarah had a beautiful Gender Reveal Party in Houma, LA with all their friends and family
Ladies Night on Shenemere
New Zealand issued a tsunami warning Thursday after a Magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck the Kermadec Islands. Because the tremor struck at a relatively shallow depth of 19.4 km, it triggered fears that a tsunami had been generated, prompting tsunami warnings for the parts of the country’s North Island facing the quake’s epicentre.
Heading off to the Bay of Islands as soon as we can get a weather window:)
Radio NZ interviewed us about the creation and upcoming launch of the Cookbook- Appetizers Afloat
A Cookbook Fundraiser for Local Maritime Scholarships…planted as a seed turned into a full time job for many months: Appetizers Afloat
The Official Book Launch with Food, Music and Book Signings with the Honorable Mayor of Whangarei- Sheryl Mai
How the cookbook happened and how we all got roped into this project is a funny story as my friend Naylene from the Marina Office said to me one morning “Y’all ought to write a cruisers cookbook!” She had mentioned it to me before so as I left the office I bumped into Betsy and asked her what she thought. Betsy is a keen organizer of all things that need to get done so we set a date at the local cafe to discuss. Immediately we decided the cookbook would be a fundraiser to give back to the Whangarei community that has given us so much during the Covid Pandemic of 2020. Next we organized the yachtie’s to contribute their local expertise as well as recipes. We acquired backing from the Town Basin Marina Trust and hustled up some advertising dollars. We sourced a professional editor/ printing company and finally after months of reviews, edits and collaboration we produced, launched and sold most of the books. All the proceeds have been donated to the Black Ball Yacht Club to provide scholarships to students in the maritime industry.
Haul-Out for a “quick” bottom job at Dockland 5…and 7 weeks later!
What started out as a quick haul-out / bottom job turned into 7 weeks on the hard at Dockland 5. Osmosis/ blisters was a daily job to tackle. We pulled the rudder off and re-bedded the shaft. Martin went McYver on the rudder and poured epoxy down the shaft while sucking the epoxy to the bottom of the rudder with a vacuum cleaner and it worked! Everyone was so supportive; we had daily visits from fellow yachtsman which means so much as nobody likes to visit a dirty boatyard. The expert advise from our mates Eric, Phil, Garth, Bill, Jason and Travis was priceless. Along with our “neighboring boats” that were hard at work as well…we all became close in a short period of time.
Dockland 5 Boatyard has a secret “Castle Corner” …shhhh
In the corner of the boatyard is a “secret shed” that is hiding a fridge filled with cold drinks…some of these boat owners have been here too long! Great Sunday BBQ’s with all the regulars in the yard. We met some awesome folks during our time at Dockland 5 making the days hard work kind of but not really fade away.
FRINGE FESTIVAL – Largest Open Access Art Festival in NZ
Marsden Cove Craft Market
Splashed and away we went to Urquharts Bay
Off to Great Barrier Island for December- January “Summer” Holidays
(here in NZ they are taking their Summer break for most of December and part of January)
Fantastic hike / adventure with our old friends (22 years) on Kawau Island …looks so much like Canada in the Summer
We were interviewed for “another” special Interest piece in the Newspaper….
Road Trip to Beachlands and then to Cambridge
Martin getting to visit with the mates he grew up with in South Africa; Brian & Felicity Fuller, Richard & Marlene Koekemoer and Gavin Nel. From Beachlands to Cambridge and back to Whangarei over the weekend…total blast!
Mt. Manaia Hike
Great afternoon hike with Bill and Irene. Standing at 420 metres, the summit has outstanding views of the Marsden Point Oil Refinery, Bream Bay and the Hauraki Gulf to the south, Whangarei Harbour to the west and the Poor Knights Islands and Northland coast to the north.
Once-in-500 year- Storm
Fri. July 17th 8:58 PM
A unexpected storm system hit us on July 17th with an estimated 8+ inches of rain in 24 hours. It was a wild evening as the river crest at high tide creating a raging 5 knot flow of water and debris. The river with rapids and large logs, lawn furniture/ debris not excluding livestock bumped and scraped the hull of Shenemere throughout the night
The following morning we were able to assess the damage. Many roads were washed away or cut off by flooding and the town’s city center had been flooded
A lot of the local hikes have been closed for repairs however, we still enjoyed exploring particularly as we are going into Spring and things are starting to warm up
Enjoyed a Saturday hike to Whanagrei Falls with Cindi and Ian Smith on s/v Ocean Reach
Martin and Bill took the day off to go fishing and Martin landed the biggest snapper ever caught on Bill’s boat
Spring has Sprung
So grateful to have some quality time with the ladies at Naylene’s farm. Seeing all the cute new lambs was neat but holding a 12 day old baby lamb was pricesless.
Naylene, Betsy, me, Lauri and Tiny
If nothing else Covid has forced a lot of us to expand our horizons and try and do things that we would have never have done prior to the pandemic. Volunteering, dance, aqua-fit, singing groups and Cooking!
It all started when Julie on S/V Stray Cat wanted to learn how to make Chinese dumplings…the venue was secured, the invites sent and the Chefs organized. A super fun kind of laugh out loud, hands on afternoon of cooking!
Tuesday night “themed” happy hours have been the mainstay of the stranded sailors in Whanagarei
Phil & Naylene’s Goat Roast
It finally has started to warm up so Phil and Naylene had a few of us up to the farm to enjoy a goat roast. Super chill day spent hiking and enjoying the wonderful folks we have met here and the beautiful landscapes
The cruising gang: Annie & Leum, Sylvia & Tom, John & Lorola, Elizabeth & Matt, Betsy & Kenny, Kathy & Dave, Rikka & Toumoa, Lauri & Chuck, Martin and Ellen, Vandy, David, Naylene and Phil
Riverside Drive Marina Music & Food Festival
An afternoon packed with back to back performances by the yachties and Elizabeth, Cindi, Lauri and I sold our handmade jewelry and cozies for charity. We are going into Summer here; a lot of the boats will be setting sail in the upcoming weeks. Still borders are closed but the summer here in NZ is stunning and there are fantastic bays to explore; it is ripe to sail away…around New Zealand
This party was the Grand Finale of celebrations for all the sailors from the “Class of 2020” stuck in Whangarei for a year. Muddling our way through these uncertain times, creating bonds that will be valued for a lifetime. Great time had by all!
June 9, 2020 New Zealand moved to alert level 1- and will return to “mostly” normal lives
First stop after Lockdown; up to Bill and Irene’s house. Richard and Marlene came to town and Derrick was still stranded in New Zealand. Hazardous rain/stormy night driving on a hilly road when we got stuck in the mud on a steep incline and Bill had to tow our van out of the mud. We arrived at Irene’s doorstep drenched and Richard was sprayed from head to toe with mud. She gave us clean clothes while she washed our clothes and we proceeded to have a magical night with a great group of friends
Next stop…Naylene and Phil’s place for a cozy sleep over (Binky and Tiny too)
Finally made it out to Helene Bay Café and Art Gallery. Gorgeous bay view, delicious food and a stunning art gallery and nature stroll just 35 minutes from Whangarei
These are the folks on the “catarman dock” celebrating New Zealand moving to Level 1. These boats managed to stay confined within their dock’s “Bubble Buddies” for the lockdown period. Lifetime bonds and a very unique experience for them all
These are pictures of Owha the Leopard Seal. These pictures were from 2017 however Owha has been spotted around the Marina again recently. Martin got the fright of his life walking on the dock at night, he shone his flashlight right at her while she was busy eating a eel. I heard Martin scream and rushed out but she was already gone.
Owha is an Apex Predator…while she was in the vicinity she managed to attack one dingy and it was reported that she sunk an inflatable in Auckland
Thursday Ladies Luncheons resumed when we moved back to level 1. A great way to meet interesting ladies from the surrounding marinas and explore different foods…Thai, Israeli and Middle Eastern restaurants
Girls weekend at Naylene’s with a great group of ladies hiking, knitting, food, hot tub and lots of wine…
Ellen made this sweet video of our girls weekend at “Naylene’s Nuthouse”
Justin was on a job in the swamps of Louisiana for the entire “stay at home” order. Heavy lifting and a dirty job but grateful to be busy when the oil industry was tanking
Finally got to have a girls day with Adrien at the fresh and tasty Fat Camel Israeli Restaurant. Adrien spent the 60 day lockdown at her rented house with James and Brawnie so, we didnt see her the whole time even though she was only 10 minutes away!
What a Great Day! Jenny and Dennis drove up from Auckland to spend the day with us and Bill and Irene swung by for a visit.
We had all met 20 years ago when we crossed the South Pacific on our much smaller boats. “not a beat was missed” the beauty of catching up with old friends… Priceless!
Trip to Auckland to pick-up the Anchor Windlass would not be complete without a stop at the South African Biltong shop
We have now decided we are going to make our own homemade South African Beef Jerky onboard…standby 🙂
WINTER “SAILSTICE” COMING OUT CELEBRATION
Winter Solstice celebration was organized by the yachties. The always entertaining Mayor of Whangarei joined in for dancing with the Riverside Drive Marina Band, blessing of the fleet that included live cannon fire and a heaping of gratitude from the visiting yachts stranded in New Zealand for the year.
Yachties making the news for all the right reasons and in…
Belly Dancing Classes! Yep a growing troop of women are joining in on the fun
A group of sailors have formed the Riverside Drive Marina Band: RDM Band… a favorite at the events and an interesting assembly of unique talent and characters Be Kind
March 24, 2020 New Zealand prepares to go into a month long lockdown to reduce the spread of Covid-19
Alert Level 4:
- People instructed to stay at home
- Travel is severely limited
- All gatherings cancelled and all public venues closed
- Businesses closed except for essential services
- Educational facilities closed
- Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities possible
- Reprioritisation of healthcare services
I dusted off my day planner and took notes on our daily progress as we prepared to hunker down on a 51ft / 15m boat. A small space to self-isolate with 2 people so I thought I would try to chronicle the time spent so we can share our bit of history.
Day 1: “In shock, trying to get my head around staying on board for 4 weeks as we are only allowed limited trips to the grocery store and walks…everything else is closed”
Living on a boat we always have a list of things to do so I got busy then soon found out that I really wasn’t that motivated to do much of anything so some days just got lost; reading or on social media. I immediately lowered my expectations of being super productive but, managed to try some new things too.
Variety of ideas to kill time some more successful than others
Organized all the spices, experimented with jams and pickling. Apple pear jam (yes) Pickling in salt (no)
Made fruit Beer that fermented too long and turned into wine
Martin and I took long hikes daily and ended up logging 68.2 miles/ 109 kilometers
I love yoga but since we have been on the dock just below a very popular café (always packed with people on the patio) I am too self conscious to practice on the deck.
During lock down I was able to get some sweet outdoor yoga in… much needed stretching and healthy breathing to reduce stress
Got crafty with this bowl I found in the marina’s treasure box; epoxied the rim with paua shell inlay
More crafting 🙂 decorated wineglass base and more unique jewlery creations
As I was making yet another piece of jewelry with nowhere to sell it; I decided to finally set-up an on-line store. Easier said than done. A tedious week creating the website only to struggle with how to take a professional photo of the products. A great learning experience. Still under construction but, making daily progress. Actually could have used another week of lockdown.
Martin spent hours sewing: a sail bag, winch covers and repaired the dingy cover
I spent a lot of time researching places we want to go when the islands open back up. I was able to create a document that shows details of hundreds of anchorages from Vanautu, Papa New Guinea and Indonesia. It was fun at first to research the exotic ports of call, but it became somewhat depressing as the realization sunk in that things weren’t going to be opening up for cruisers any time soon. I will be ready when they do.
Some other random things that I did that wouldn’t have happened otherwise:
Blinkist: Get insights from top nonfiction in 15 minutes. I really like the idea of listening to a condensed audio on a complex subject. I can listen to crucial insights from leading thinkers from an app on my phone.
Meteorology: I have a keen interest in the weather and there were a lot of free meteorology classes being offered on-line so, I took advantage and enrolled in a few classes.
Boat Manual: I started to make a manual for all the important boat systems to include the engine, batteries, water maker etc. everything in one document and easy to follow.
From Alert Level 4 to Level 2 we ended up spending 50 days onboard Shenemere
I learned that self-isolation is kind of in a sailor’s DNA. We are probably more comfortable with long “passages” of time without interacting with people.
We are a social group within the sailing community so, even though there was not the regular Wed. and Fri. Happy Hours there was the virtual Zoom Happy Hour. We had our morning roll call on the Net that provided us daily updates and there was the highly active FB Group “Whangarei Lockdown Liveaboard”. We were able to visit our neighbors from the deck to dock chats, but it did not replace the cozy cockpit conversations we are used to.
I heard repeatedly from sailors in our community that we are Grateful to be riding out the pandemic in a progressive, safe, and politically sensible country. New Zealand was able to swiftly shut the country down and there are no new cases of Covid.
Meanwhile, in the South Pacific there are an estimated 500 boats that are in the Pacific with the intention to explore all the exotic destinations we were privileged to do last year and now they are in limbo and struggling with ever shifting immigration laws. Soon these boats will have to worry about what countries will give them refuge in the forthcoming cyclone season.
We are going along with our plans to haul the boat out and do the bottom, replace the windlass etc. just in case Fiji and the Marshall Islands open for us. However, we are getting our head around the fact that the Pacific islands will not be opening their borders to cruisers and we will be spending a Winter in New Zealand. We have a new heater and have started to put on layers of clothes. There are worse places to be and again we are extremely grateful to be here.
The sun always shines after a storm
We celebrated our 2 year anniversary of cruising while in lockdown. This gave me time to review footage from the Drone, Go Pro and Nikon and put all the highlights together in a short clip…Enjoy!
Had fun traveling down memory lane to make this Birthday video for Martin’s 59th!
Malcom and Pauleen invited us to stay on their boat docked in Auckland at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club Marina
Team New Zealand will defend the America’s Cup in 2021 in Auckland, with crews sailing foiling 75-foot monohulls. In 2018 the New Zealand government committed $100 million to help fund the event and the America’s Cup Village was an epicenter of all things nautical
Grateful to Malcom for inviting us on a tour of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron where the America’s Cup Trophy is on display…Members Only
The America’s Cup is the trophy awarded to the winner of the America’s Cup match races between two sailing yachts. One yacht, known as the defender, represents the yacht club that currently holds the America’s Cup and the second yacht, known as the challenger, represents the yacht club that is challenging for the cup
Malcom and Martin at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Martin found the Royal Natal Yacht Club- Durban Flag and a Portrait of Peter Blake
Sharon from The Town Basin Marina Office was going to Panama to present at the 2020 Puddle Jump so I helped her with this promotional Whangarei Video
Million Dollar view from Phil and Naylene’s front porch
Phil and Naylene invited us to their annual BBQ cook off. It’s a big deal, high stakes cooking competition with a trophy, crowning, prizes and an all day party of friends and neighbors at their farm
We couldn’t believe it when Martin won the competition with his BBQ ribs!
Martin and Al had a brief surf session at the beautiful Pataua Bay
My Hobie Kayak paddle drive succumbed to rust in Tonga and it took me all this time to order the needed replacement parts. Grateful to have my “mode of operation” back for some safe adventuring
Ready to do some inland exploring and trekking in New Zealand
Thanksgiving catching up with Suzie and Lori in Pahia and enjoying a Thanksgiving feast in Opua at the yacht club
Spending the day with Mark Souter’s family. We spent a lot of the holidays catching up with Martin’s relatives and friends in New Zealand…a lot of South African’s have immigrated here in the last few years
Reunited with Bill and Irene after 21 years; enjoyed spending the evening at Cyril and Jackie’s beautiful home
Spending time in Auckland for Christmas visiting with Richard, Marlene, Gavin & Sharon and exploring the sites
Being a tourist in Auckland enjoying the panoramic views from the Waitakeie Ranges in Piha and the wild Piha surf beach
Adrien jumped from NZ’s highest building with nothing but a wire between her and the ground 192 meters down!
The day after Christmas we had a delightful visit with Byron Pick’s lovely family and his Mom Jenny visiting from South Africa; it had been 15 years since we had seen them!
Yes…more South African Braais:)
The Town Basin Marina had a Boat Decorating contest and I got really into it; adding decorations bit by bit for a few weeks. The Mayor of Whangarei was the judge and when she visited Shenemere I explained that we are so close to the cafés and walking path that we always have someone asking us questions or just having a “chin wag”. I told her that I feel like an Ambassador for the marina having the responsibility of answering the inquiries. The Mayor awarded Shenemere the winner of the contest not necessarily because our decorations were the best but because she liked the way we interact with the community.
It is summer in New Zealand and it is warm so it is hard to get into the spirit of the season. I do like how the Kiwis close down the last three weeks of December. Retail stores are open but, most of all the local business close up and enjoy time with their families.
Next Diary entry…Road trip and camping in Northland
Camping Adventures by Campervan
New Zealand is all about natural attractions. It has a reputation for untouched landscapes, welcoming wilderness and spectacular scenery. Along with all the Kiwi’s on Christmas Holidays we found the best way to experience all of that picture-postcard perfection is undoubtedly by camping: it’s cheap, fun and hopefully will put as little civilization between us and beautiful New Zealand as possible.
Campervans are very popular in New Zealand, particularly when everyone is off for the Christmas holidays. Camping is a number one past time and just seems fit in well with the laid-back culture of the Kiwi’s. So off we went in our van with a bed and basic camping supplies: chairs, table and stove.
From Whangarei to Dargaville, Kauri Forest, Opononi, Ahipara, Cape Reinga, Toupo Bay, Matauri Bay and Opua
Rick Taylor recovered ancient kauri from swamplands near his home in Dargaville on the Kauri Coast, in Northland during 2000 to 2003. He had samples carbon dated – the results show that the ancient kauri had been buried for around 3860 years!!!
His gallery/studio has been operating in Dargaville for over 22 years and he welcomes wood turners and those interested in the art of wood turning from all around the world to visit. We had a pleasant visit with his wife and enjoyed browsing their studio before we grabbed some delicious fish-n-chips for lunch and headed off for more explorations.
We tried to get into the campsites at Kai Iwi Lakes but, everyone had the same attraction to the blue water fringed with white sand beaches…campsite was full so off we went to the forest
The Trounson Kauri Park had a spectacular campsite and considering the fact that most of the campsites were full we went ahead and committed to two nights.
The two days allowed us to do day trips exploring all the aspects of this wilderness area. The forest is also home to North Island brown kiwi population; try as we might to spot one… these guys were quite elusive.
Waipoua Forest is famous for the biggest and oldest kauri in the whole of New Zealand! Tane Mahuta (The Lord of the Forest) and Tane Matua Ngahere (The Father of the Forest) are the two largest kauri in New Zealand
Opononi: Waimamaku Coastal Track
Stumbled into some funky one horse towns in our explorations…Waimamaku was a treat
Rawene is a town on the south side of the Hokianga harbour. This cute town is full of historic charm. We walked around the heritage buildings and looked in on some charming art galleries while we waited for the next ferry
Catching the ferry to Kohukohu
Ahipara is at the southern end of 90 Mile Beach. Martin just had to go to check out the surf; it known to have one of the best left hand surf breaks in New Zealand. Beautiful unspoiled sandy beach was packed with “land yachts” on New Years eve. The lady at the campsite warned us there might be a big party…lol Kiwi’s were as sedated on New Years Eve as anything else we have seen since November. We were asleep before 10PM.
Couldn’t have planned it better…celebrating the first day of the year at the tip top of New Zealand Cape Reinga
Breathtaking Vistas of Cape Reinga
Spiritual moment for a Native Maori in the backgound
Cape Reinga Cape Reinga is also known as Te Rerenga Wairua in Maori. Te Rerenga Wairua means “the leaping-off place of the spirits” – for the Maori people, this is where a person’s spirit comes after death and leaps to their eternal home.
Dramatic hiking along the entire penusula.
We took the drone for a flight and captured our pinprick selves on the top of the cliffs!
It was New Years Day in New Zealand and the whole country was out camping. We tried several campsites around the Bay of Islands and they were all at capacity. We considered heading all the way back to Whangarei in the late afternoon; we were tired. I made one last call to Matauri Bay Holiday Park and got lucky; someone was just leaving and they would hold the spot for us.
Matauri Bay Holiday Park is one of the most well-known holiday parks in New Zealand. I am so glad we got to stay there. We me some fisherman towing a fishing line out with a kayak and had a good time with them until they had to pull the line in.
NZ named ‘Greatest Country on Earth’ for seventh year in a row
“I’m not the only traveller who has been to a small part of New Zealand but wants to see it all… New Zealand is not really a place you can ever “do” with certainty. I fear you will always want more. It’s hardly surprising that Telegraph Travel readers have just voted it their favourite destination in the world for the seventh time in a row.” Per digital travel editor Oliver Smith
Next Stop…Royal New Zealand Yacht Club and Americas Cup Village in Auckland