The Bay of Islands – New Zealand

Blurry eyed from the kind of sleep only achieved from tying to a dock after 7 rough, sleep deprived days at sea, we momentarily forgot where we were. The chill in the air had us snuggled beneath a duvet for the first time in over a year, whilst the chatter of people floated down the dock, English speaking but with a funny accent. As we pulled on our thermals and socks (sub-tropical climate my backside), it dawned on us where we were and what it meant to us.

Our arrival into New Zealand brought out two distinct emotions, first was excitement that we had successfully sailed half way around the planet and arrived in a country that we had always wanted to visit. Second was relief that we had made it safely and were now back in a place where if we had any problems with the boat, there were a whole host of people and businesses who would be able to help us. Something we did not write about is the feeling that if we had a problem in the Pacific islands then we were essentially on our own to fix it.

Checking the steering pedestal bearings, note the hat and thick jumper…

A week in Opua marina, flew by with Amy giving Florence a deep clean from deck to bilges and Matt touring the local services. We needed to receive quotes and find supplies for the long list of jobs we have coming up including; fitting a new windlass, putting an inspection hatch in the fuel tank, fixing the alternator, replacing the lower shrouds and changing the bearings in the steering pedestal etc. At one point, being too lazy to fully empty the cockpit locker and needing to get at the steering gear, Matt crawled head first into the cockpit locker. As he inched further under the cockpit floor, the pile of ropes on which he was balanced shifted, leaving him stuck upside down with just his ankles protruding from the cockpit locker. Instead of running to his aid, Amy had to wait for her fits of giggles to die down before she was capable of extracting him from the locker!

Being attached to land brought novelties such as easy access to fresh water, laundry, showers and shops, as well as walking and cycle routes. On a bike ride over to Russel, we came across a kiwi in the woods. In our naivety we presumed that as they are the national bird, we would see them everywhere. It was only when we mentioned it in passing to someone we found out that sighting them in the wild, during the day, is very rare and many locals have never even seen one. It seems we should have got the camera out

The attachment to land was growing stronger as the week went on, so we cut the umbilical cord that was becoming more firmly routed to the dock and escaped into the Bay of Islands. We had heard great things about the beauty of the bay with its abundance of stunning sheltered anchorages and we were not disappointed. We happily set about exploring the islands and the walking trails on Roberton, Moturoa and Urpukapuka Islands. The scenery reminded us of a mixture of the Lake District and Cornwall but with less people. With pine trees and gorse the islands even smelt like home, giving us an odd feeling being back in the UK, despite being half a world away.

Our friends James and Tanya who’s day jobs are running a 72ft Oyster, came to slum it with us for a couple of days. There were a few thumps from the quarter berth as they adjusted to the reduced head room!

Florence enjoying some peace and quiet whilst we were ashore!
Hiking with James and Tanya
James and Matt the ‘twins’ paddling the girls into the beach for a walk

Seafood is plentiful in the bay and it seems everyone is a fisherman/woman here. We often lack the patience to sit and wait for a bite on the line and preferred to go and pick our seafood from the rocks in the form of green lipped mussels. This was the first time we had been able to gather mussels since we were in Spain.

Free seafood for dinner
Collecting the green lipped mussels for dinner


Its amazing what you have to learn when cruising. When entering the bay at Roberton island we went to start the engine to find that it would not start. Matt immediately suspected the ignition (not an immediate fix), so we anchored under sail. On disassembling the ignition he found water had made it’s way inside and it was so corroded as to be un-usable. So we had to hot-wire the ignition to get started. We worked our way through this and got the engine going. Matt then made up a temporary harness of separate switches from our spares and we were back in action.

Before leaving the Bay of Islands we had been recommended to visit the W treaty grounds and learn about the history behind interactions between Maori and European settlers. We anchored Florence just below the Treaty House and spent the best part of a day in the grounds, it was well worth the visit.

We have made a rough plan for our exploration of New Zealand and the first thing we need to do is find ourselves a vehicle. So we will be heading down to visit our friends in Auckland and hunt for a second hand van which we can throw a mattress into to go touring in.

Wow, that is our blog fully up to date, its been a while since that was the case. Thanks for all the comments its always good to hear from you all.



9 thoughts on “The Bay of Islands – New Zealand”

  1. I’m impressed! Sounds great. We are always excited where you are now. It is wonderful that you made it this far. Greetings from rainy Germany. Ps. Brittannika is sold since October and we will move to Karlsruhe in January. Have a wonderful Christmas time.
    Hugs Bernd and Britta


    1. Hi Guys, Great to hear from you, we hope you move on to more great adventures now that Brittannika has sold. We hope you have a great Christmas too, we plan to have a BBQ on the beach this year but that is not very traditional!
      Matt and Amy

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the “Seagull Pram” (dinghy), they are obviously no better behaved down there in New Zealand. Tell me what made you replace the inner shrouds, were they beginning to break strands of wire, if so where.


    1. Hi Frank,
      We do a regular rig inspection and when we were in Tonga we found that 2 strands of wire had broken on the port lower shroud just where it enters the swage fitting at the top of the wire. We chatted with a rigger about it here and his recommendation was to replace both lowers as they will then stretch at the same rate. There is some movement around where the mast passes through the deck which may have contributed to the lower shroud damage so we will be making some extra chocks to support the mast where it passes through the deck as well. Its disappointing as we replaced all the rigging before we left England, but we have sailed half the way around the world now and all the windy days have been on Port tack so the lower shroud has had some work to do.

      The seagulls gathered in large numbers when we had a bbq on the back of Florence!

      Matt and Amy


  3. Hi,

    Thank you so much for all the beautiful stories and photo’s and video’s. I have been following you two sail from the Caribbean. Have learned a lot about sailing, and have enjoyed your adventures. You both are excellent sailors. Have a wonderful time exploring New Zealand. Take care. Dan

    On Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 10:17 PM, Sail with the Flo wrote:

    > sailwiththeflo posted: “Blurry eyed from the kind of sleep only achieved > from tying to a dock after 7 rough, sleep deprived days at sea, we > momentarily forgot where we were. The chill in the air had us snuggled > beneath a duvet for the first time in over a year, whilst the chatte” >


  4. Hi! My husband and I are following you guys. Wow! What an amazing adventure. Thank you for all the great videos. Yours are definitely our favorite. Very informative and fun to watch. We are planning a sailing adventure of our own and have few questions. Where did you get your flags? Did you have any problems with customs? What was the worst weather you sailed in? Your videos always seemed like it was perfect weather.
    Wendy & Berah Taylor


    1. Hi Wendy
      Flags: We were very lucky, some friends of ours did this trip about 10 years ago and on the day we were leaving they gave us a present of all their courtesy flags. So we had most of what we needed. For the rest we make them if we can and if not you can always buy one when you arrive in a new country. You only need to fly the yellow flag on arrival, the courtesy flag is just that, a courtesy.
      Customs: No problems so far. It pays to know what you can and cannot bring into a country (you can find out online). Be polite, don’t break the rules, make their lives easy and generally they are happy and make the process straightforward. Just be aware that mostly they operate on ‘island time’ so we allow a full day for checking in and another for checking out.
      Weather: Worst so far was 50 knots off of Columbia, there we sought shelter in a harbour as you will have seen in the video. Recently the passages down from Samoa to Tonga and Tonga to NZ were pretty rough. They were only 35 to 40 knots but we were reaching across the waves so the motion was worse. Florenec can handle much worse weather, its just us whimps that are the problem! We don’t film much when we are having a bad time or the weather is bad because a) the camera would get wet and b) who wants a camera put in their face when they are feeling ill/tired/fed up? For the majority of the time, if you time it right with the seasons and wait for a good weather window the sailing is very pleasant. The key is to wait for the right weather which you can do if you don’t have to rush anywhere :-).

      Matt and Amy


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