It’s been a while since we posted an update, so as we wait for the weather window to leave New Zealand, we thought we had better catch up.
We know it’s hard to understand how we can be too busy to update our blog when neither of us are working so let us try to explain.
Our time in New Zealand has flown by, there has been so much to see, both by land and boat, so many people to catch up with and a LONG list of jobs to get Florence ready for the next 6 months cruising the islands.
After a great Christmas spent mountain biking, surfing and sailing with our friends Amy and Scott, we headed 60 miles down the coast to haul Florence out of the water in Whangarei for a long list of minor but time consuming maintenance jobs (separate blog to follow).
Hauling Florence out of the water meant revealing her hairy bottom to the world. We had to marvel at the variety of life and colour that had taken residence under our floating home. Tiny crabs ran for cover, while shrimps clung on to the waving weed. All from just a month and a half of being sat in the Bay of Islands (we had scrubbed her clean before leaving Tonga). Pressure washing the hull, left a million barnacle bases firmly attached. So firmly attached that it took 3 days with a scraper to remove them, creating a noise not dissimilar to nails down a blackboard and greatly reducing our popularity in the boatyard. As well as teaching us the importance of hauling out before all your anti-foul paint has disappeared, those long torturous days gave us a good understanding of why superglue manufacturers have barnacles at the top of their research list.
- Florence’s hairy bottom
- Post pressure wash
Not wishing to have to repeat the process we chose to leave Florence out of the water and free from growth while we spent 5 weeks travelling the South Island in our recently converted camper car. With the stormy weather this summer in NZ, that turned out to be a good decision as we did not need to worry about Florence whilst we were away.
Our time in New Zealand’s South Island deserves, and will soon receive a separate blog post. We were blown away (quiet literally at times) by the wild beauty of the place.
Our time away with the car allowed us to visit some more of North Island en route. A beady eye on NZ’s version of eBay had bagged us a brand new inflatable kayak to take with us in the camper then keep on Florence. After collecting it on our way through Auckland, we tested on Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake.
We decided not to take the kayak down the nearby Huka Falls. Probably another good decision given the falls average flow rate is 200,000 litres per second!
With the forecast for sun and partial cloud, we set out to hike the Tongarario Crossing, high on the ‘must do’ list it is deemed to be North Islands best day hike, with stunning views of the volcanic landscape and emerald lakes. Unfortunately the weather did not play ball and it turned out to be the biggest disappointment of all our time in New Zealand. Cloud and drizzle blanketed the volcano for the entire walk, while icy winds battered our faces.
Passing through Wellington, we had some time to spare and had heard great things about ‘The Scale of Our War’ exhibition in the Te Papa museum. The exhibition features 2.4x lifesize models and tells the story of New Zealand’s involvement in the Gallipoli campaign, through the eyes of eight New Zealanders. We both agreed that it was incredibly well done and the most moving exhibition we had ever visited.
Back from our South Island trip we stopped in for a weekend with Amy and Scott, which involved two excellent days of surf tuition, the best curry (and company) in Auckland and Auckland’s Chinese lantern festival.
On arrival back in Whangarei we promptly sold the car and set to work getting Florence back into the water ready to cruise the Hauraki Gulf with Amy’s eldest brother, Sam and his girlfriend, Charlie. Prior to their arrival Amy packed a tent, hopped on a bus and joined them in the third seat of their camper for a few days, the first time away from Matt for more than a few hours since before we left the UK nearly two years ago.
- Cathedral Cove
- Sam and Charlie on the Coromandel Peninsula
- Amy and her brother Sam
- Sam Paragliding near Auckland
Sam and Charlie then joined us for a week onboard, sailing in the Hauraki Gulf. This was the first time Amy and Sam had sailed together since 20 years prior, when they spent summers cruising as a family of 5, aboard a 21 foot catamaran. It was great to see Sam, a motorbike racer and self confessed petrol head sailing around in The Machine, at a leisurely 2knots, with a huge grin on his face. Sam and Charlie’s visit was bitter sweet, wonderful to share in each others adventures half way around the world, but also a sad reminder of how much we miss our families.
The sail back up the coast from Auckland to Opua included some night sailing and several beautiful anchorages. The night sailing reinvigorated our excitement for the magic of moving through the dark, under the stars with Florence leaving a faint trail of bio-luminescence in our wake. We awoke one morning at anchor in Whangamumu bay to the sound of dolphins blowing beside the boat. Watching them circle the bay while we enjoyed a breakfast of pancakes on deck was one of those special moments that reinforced our reasons for choosing this life, and filled us with excitement for the adventure ahead.
So that leaves us here, anchored back where we started, in the Bay of Islands waiting for the weather to check out of the country and move on to Fiji (hopefully before our visas expire in 5 days time).
It’s with mixed feeling that we are looking to leave New Zealand. This is the longest we have stayed in any one country since leaving the UK and although we are excited to be on our way to Fiji, we are sad to be leaving a place that is so similar to home but also so refreshingly different. New Zealand has offered us comfort in it’s modern foods and conveniences whilst providing an environment where people have always got time for you, it’s normal to walk around barefoot and getting dressed up means putting on a clean t-shirt. We are not ones for buying souvenirs but we hope to take away some of the friendly, laid back, positive, unassuming attitude we have found in New Zealand’s people.
South Island blog and boat yard life blogs coming soon…..