Friday, January 8, 2016

New Zealand with Erin and Tim, December 2015

Our daughter, Erin, came for 3 weeks and invited her friend, Tim, to join us.   Before Tim arrived we took Erin up North to Kerikeri and Kawakawa and the Marsden Winery.

Here's the stone store again from across the river.

We made a quick stop in Kawakawa to show Erin the Hundertwasser Toilets, an artist's fanciful imagination gone wild with a normal, everyday, facility.  

Tim barely got on the boat and we told him we were pulling out for a short cruise.    I think both of them were pretty happy to get out on the boat for a while.    We exited the river not exactly sure of which way we would go first:  up to Bay of Islands or down to Great Barrier Island.   The wind would make the decision and since it was out of the North we sailed the 60 miles to Great Barrier Island at a pretty good clip and anchored off of Port Fitzroy.  Great Barrier Island is great for hiking, although many of the trails are still closed from a surplus of rain and subsequent damage it did to the trails a couple of years ago.  

We decided to make an overnight sail up to Bay of Islands to save time and take advantage of the SE winds.   Our first stop was Opua again, then off to Russell, a quaint village settled by whalers.   The houses here are a treat to look at.

Another quick motor around to Roberton Bay.   This bird was guarding her nest and was pretty annoyed with me for taking her picture.

The next bay was Urupukapuka.    The "trails" were for the most part mown into the grassy hillsides. It was seriously pastoral with grazing sheep, farm buildings, fences to crawl over, a favorite for all of us.

Tim got into the sailing thing and became a great crewmember.   He helped with everything, asking questions, eager to learn, so he is invited to come back anytime.

This is rounding Cape Brett

We stopped in Whangamumu Harbor for a night to visit the ruins of a whaling station.

Coming back into Whangerei around Cape Bream

We tried, not too hard and, therefore, not to successfully, to catch fish.

Tim and Erin took for a couple of days with our car to go to the Waitomo Caves then came back in time for CHristmas on the boat.

The next day Erin flew back home and Tim began the next stage of his New Zealand trip when we dropped him off at the rental car agency and he headed to points south.    Before they left we had a nice lunch at Ascension Winery near Warkworth and toasted the end of a perfect few weeks.

Whangerei, New Zealand    November 2015

We've come down the coast to Whangerei which is 14 miles up a river.   We decided to make Riverside Drive Marina our base while we were in NZ.   It's a bit funky,  but that's the way we like it. Its a small place, with about 30 slips and a hardstand.     There's people here who have been here a long time, 10 years, as well as cruisers who have come back year after year.   Its a friendly group with a Sunday BBQ every week.   Up the river just a bit more is Whangerei Marina in Town Basin; they have the advantage of being right in town, so for local stuff you pretty much don't need a car.   We bought a car anyway so we could travel around New Zealand.  

Nearing our marina, you pass under a bascule bridge

Jenny from "Lady" (standing) organized a nice THanksgiving dinner at Reva's restaurant in Whangerei.
 This is the Sunday crowd for the weekly BBQ.  The marina keeps up this nice shelter with a gas BBQ for the cruiser's use.
 Friend, Walt and Jane, came to New Zealand for a month of touring sans Callisto.    They stopped in Whangerei for a visit and we had dinner at the tavern over the water in Parua Bay, a short ride from Whangerei.   DO you think Jim enjoyed his meat pie?   Indeed he did.

 We had a nice New Year's Eve dinner with the RDM crowd.

Opua, New Zealand    November 2015

We finally made the dreaded crossing from Fiji to New Zealand in late October.   "Dreaded" was a label derived from my impression of how awful this crossing could be.    Indeed, it has had some bad press, but with monitoring weather progression from Australia, a sailor can make a reasonable crossing with, hopefully, minimal bad stuff.     Leaving Fiji, we had a great sail from the marina to the Navula passage that would get us out to open water.    The predominant SE winds make the first 8 hours or so at sea a bit rolly with 6 ft seas off the beam.    You know you've been in the marina for too long when stuff starts flying around the cabin that you forgot to put away or cinch down for the voyage.    Fortunately we didn't break anything and got the cabin squared away for the rest of the trip.

It took us almost 10 days to finally arrive in Opua where we joined with the ICA All Points Rally for a week or so of festivities, seminars and socializing with new friends.    We don't really like most rallies, but this was basically a "welcoming" rally to encourage cruisers to consider coming to New Zealand for the cyclone season, and promoting Opua as a cruiser haven with entry formalities,  a marina, plenty of stores and workshops to help cruisers with parts and repairs and topping that off with just being in the Bay of Islands, one of the prettiest and interesting cruising grounds in New Zealand.

The dinghy dock was crowded with folks coming and going from their boats at anchor near Opua.   The Opua Cruising Club was especially welcoming to cruisers and had good food at reasonable prices.

 We ran into cruisers Tom and Fran from "Dagon" who we had run across from time to time in Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.    They just finished their cruising life and are readying Dagon for sale now.
 There are many Agricultural fairs that take place around New Zealand.    We took a day off to go out to one.   I think we'll be seeing a lot of these guys as we travel around.
This is one of the beautiful, century old missions found out in the countryside in Northland.

The owners of Cater Marine were especially helpful and welcoming to cruisers with a sausage sizzle event and a bacon and egg sandwich breakfast.   They give you a good discount on supplies and can order just about anything you need.

 New Zealand has a growing wine industry and you can have a lot of fun trying out the varietals in the cellar tasting rooms.   This was at Omata Winery near Russell, just a $1 ferry ride from Opua.

 Oyster farming is a big business in New Zealand, too.   These guys pull in often in Opua to offload their "catch".
 The Stone Store near Kerikeri is a pretty tourist attraction now with a garden behind it.

The Princess of the Sea party closed out the formal rally events.    Some of the cruisers really got into the spirit.   Here's the Dutch crowd as mermaids.
I had to do a lot of cajoling just to get Jim to wear the stupid tiara.    I'm not sure myself what I went as, a conglomeration of a shark hat, whacky sunglasses and a kaftan from the Middle East.