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.