Getting to know you …… New Zealand, you are BEAUTIFUL!!!!

It’s been a few days shy of a month since we arrived here in Opua.  We have tried to find a balance between work and play but in reality…. it’s been a blast here!  Despite the amount of work we needed to accomplish (next blog post) we have had a variety of day trips and runs into the nearby towns to take a break with our friends who so kindly took us along in their newly bought cars here in New Zealand (SV Sky Blue Eyes-Karl and Julie, SV Me Too-Clay, Jill, and Briley,and SV Spill the Wine-Chris and Nancy).  Additionally, we have enjoyed hanging out with old and new friends here at the Bay of Islands (BOI) marina as well.  Everyone has been so incredibly nice and helpful, including all the chandleries and local shops here doing work on the boats.  I am sure I am missing a few photos but here is a start to our new relationship with New Zealand…it reminds me of Seattle!

From our boat…almost every morning I would take a photo to capture the range of weather here….This is what we are use to in the tropics….Sunny and kinda hot (74 degrees Fahrenheit)
Other days it’s cloudy, rainy, and cold (to us). The weather can change within the hours here in the BOI and the wind can changes directions and speed within minutes. However, the bright side is that our days are long with the sunrise at 6:00 am and sunset around 8:30pm!

Opua- BOI marina has basically what we need: Chandleries, riggers, sail makers, electrical and mechanical shops,  if they don’t have it, they can order it…for a price!  Things are a bit expensive here compared to prices we have seem in Mexico and even French Polynesia…they are comparable to the US so for us there is not much of a discount even with the exchange rate in our favor ($1 NZ dollar is equal to about $.75 usd currently).  There is a small cafe here open for breakfast and lunch and a Sailing/Cruising Club that is open for dinner and occasionally would have live entertainment.  There is a small store we can walk to with a small assortment of fresh veggies, meats, cheese, espresso and baked goods, beer, wine…. all the essentials!  If however you needed a hardware store, bigger grocery store, or household goods, you need to travel to the other nearby towns.  But we have made the best of what is here in Opua : )

Cruisers Happy Hour on Dock H: Meeting new cruisers we have seen before but haven’t officially met yet, sharing wine, beer, and platters of cheese, meats, and crackers. Sharing stories of passages, talk about how to fix “X”, and just watching the cruising kids dance and play on the dock.
Dock work out! Jill and Julie doing push ups next to Slow Flight. Since we all have been at sea and in HOT weather…most of us haven’t done much exercise besides lifting a wine/beer to our lips. But with such temperate weather, most people (excluding myself) would get on land and take a run or walk or even yoga. Jill and Trevor would walk almost every morning!
Saying “see you later” to SV Pesto before they took a trip back home to Brazil. Their family of 4 left for 3 month to visit family they haven’t seen for 2 years.
Got to love FB! When I posted we had arrived in New Zealand, I received a FB message from an old friend Jenn Baggs who I worked with at Arnies restaurant almost 22 years ago! She and her husband, Jim, were taking a vacation here and took out precious time to come down and see us in Opua. Jenn and Jim, thank you for the wine and lunch…. you are too generous! (Trevor edit… Jenn remembered how Kimi was at paying for meals and beat her to the cash register) We had such a good time sharing stories, old and new, and can’t express how cool it was to have this opportunity to share our story with you both. Hearts Jenn and Jim : )
Not a great photo…but these guys were everywhere in the marina. They are spotted brown and move super fast….

Going beyond!  Glow Worm caves, waterfalls, and Paroa winery- We took a day trip with SV Sky Blue Eyes (Karl and Julie) to tour around before they left for a trip back home to the US and Iceland!!!!  They had bought a Subaru for near $2,000 nzd (looked just like my old car, just silver) and we toured around all day!  Thanks for letting us come along for the ride Karl and Julie : )

The Kawiti Glow Worm caves were spectacular! Glow worms are special to this New Zealand, though you can find them in Australia too. New Zealand glow worms are larger and have bigger “lights” than their Australian cousins. They look like maggots (they are not actually worms) and they illuminate with bioluminescence to attract food. They “spit” sticky “goo”, similar to a spider web, that hang down from their bodies which catches their prey (mostly mosquitoes, gnats, and other flying insects..I love these guys already!) They have a short life span (10-11 months), we were told, and just before the male dies, they have 3 days to “get busy” with females and then they are dead. Not a bad way to go….I thought. Because they live in caves, they live on the ceiling due to the water level changing in different seasons and such. Further, the time they ‘glow” the brightest is around 3-5 pm when their “buffet” is in full force.
We were not able to take photos in the cave I guess becuase the flash makes the worms not want to “light up” for hours later….We resected this so sorry no photos. Inside though, the worms looked like lots of little stars in a dark sky. I have never seen anything like this in person…a true New Zealand treat to experience such a wonder.
Image from Google…..this is what their ‘spit” looks like.
Image from Google…this is basically what it looked like inside the cave…Cool huh?!
The Kawiti caves (formerly Waiomio Caves) were discovered in the early 17th century by Roku. Hineamaru, famous cheiftainess of the Ngati hine Tribe arrived at Waiomio with her aged father, Torongare and her brothers. Exploring the valley, she discovered trodden Tawa berries which made her curious. No member of her party had come this way. Later she smelt smoke which seemed to come from a nearby hill. She went forward and found that the smoke was coming from a cave. 20 metres in from the entrance she came upon a woman sitting by a fire. Hineamaru learned that she was Roku, runaway wife of Haumoewarangi of the Tribe Ngatitu. Today, the Kawiti Caves are owned and operated by the Kawiti Family, direct descendants of the chieftaness Hineamaru of the Ngati Hine Tribe.
Stopping on the side of the road to take in the view…definitely not walking friendly these roads… but if you are like Trevor who loves to drive fast…you would enjoy driving  on these curvy and windy roads…so long as you stay to your LEFT!!!!
The view…rolling hills, lots of farming, the sea in the back ground…just beautiful!
A really loud bird…..Not sure what these guys are called…but I will find out : )

Rainbow falls…..

There is lots of waterfalls around, some short and some tall…Rainbow falls was one of the taller waterfall we have seen. There is a RV/camping area right next to the walking path/trail here…car camping and RVing, and backpacking is REALLY popular here…I get it!
AHHHHH..Paroa winery…a suggestion from Jake, my sister’s fiance, to visit. The view was breathtaking, overlooking the Bay of Islands and of course the weather was cooperating!
Our table for the wine tasting and lunch
Karl’s lunch…a seafood medley: Green lipped mussels (also a New Zealand speciality), capsicums (like a clam), fish, calamari, and shrimp in a delicate brooth.
Group shot with FULL bellies!!!! We stayed here from open to closing hours…seriously : )

Paihia- Is the closest town to Opua (15 minute drive), where the marina is.  We have been here a handful of times to either get a few groceries, have dinner with friends, or just to take a break.  It is where one of the major cruise ships stops and the town fills up with tourists of all types so lots of people watching opportunities and lots of diversity.

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!!!! I tried a new flavor..Feijoas… which is similar to a guava and it was GOOD! Thanks Jake for the recommendation.
You guessed it….what does Kimi find….the closest pizza place! Karl and Julie suggested this place and Trevor and I shared a “Footy” meat pizza named “The Kid Rock” with ham, salami, ground beef, smoked bacon, pepperoni, italian sausage, and cheese and they ment a Yarddy because the pizza was about 3 feet long and 16 inches wide.                     : ) =happy Kimi
Paihia is right on the water…lots of tours available here: parasailing, explore cruises, skydiving, scuba, fishing, night kayaking, and everything else you can think of…..

KeriKeri- is about 25 minutes driving from Opua.  It’s bigger than Paihia with 2 main grocery stores, a hardware store, lots of little shops and restaurants, and a theater.  We have only been here a few times, I think but each time we eat at Diablo’s Mexican restaurant!

Churchhill meat store was AWESOME! Trevor is buying loads of meat for us as we re-provision.
Bunnings….aka to us as Home Depot (lol). Trevor, Jill, and Karl and Julie all at the checkout.
On Saturdays in Kerikeri there is a huge “farmer’s market” with fresh produce, food, and local products to buy…even wine tastings and beer! Here is a coffee and bakery which smelled wonderful!
The market had local crafts too! from hats to jewelry to art…
Trevor super “Hangery” (anger and hungry) looking for food…he decided on smoked local ribs….me I tried the thai food.
Soaps, honey, candles….
The size of these strawberries were HUGE!

There was a winery on the road to Kerikeri we stopped into…the owners are ex-cruisers from California (hence their logo…a sailboat) and we received a wealth of local info from good hikes, to where to go cruising in the BOI, and the difference between ketchup and pasta sauce: Tomato sauce is equivalent to ketchup here so you don;t want to buy it for your pasta…where Tomato paste here is equivalent to tomato sauce better for pasta sauces….I guess they learned the hard way…we have been lucky enough to have talked to them first before re-provisioning.

They offered us their Walnut Liqueur, they also had grappa (Italian style liquor), and a host of different wines. New Zealand is well know for their Sauvignon Blanc and the countries southern climates are well known for their Cabernet and Syarh, and north the climate is good for Pinot Noir and riesling. A new varietal to me was Chambourcin, a light-medium bodied very drinkable red wine. We bought a case of it and split ot with SV Sky Blue Eyes.
Cottle Hill vines
So the Owners of Cottle Hill winery, Barbara and Mike Webb, also shared with us you can’t find dill pickles here locally or in stores (OMG…what is Trevor going to do!) They told us the only place to puchase proper dill pickles was in Auckland…..and they they make their own (we asked them if they would sell it to us…they declined)…so I guess we are going to Auckland and stock up on dill pickles soon.
Diablo’s….since leaving Mexico we all haven’t had great mexican food or there was no mexican food available unless you made it yourself on the boat…this place was yummy!

Fun decal on the window at Diablo’s…makes us miss Mexico even more!

OMG…good eats….
Julie and Karl (SV Sky Blue Eyes) and ourselves having dinner at Diablo’s for the first time! We actually ordered nachos for dessert….. the server was a bit confused but none the less delivered our cheesey dessert to us : )
The last time we eat at Diablo’s was with SV Me Too and we saw this little sign…. For some of you not familiar with Slow Flight we have a pole near our mast that is a compression post to stop the mast from pumping when under sail, but it looks like a stripper pole and almost everyone asks what this pole is when they come aboard for the first time….. We thought this would be funny to put in our boat   : )
Speaking of stipper pole….this beautiful little girl was dancing to live music….Aimee Nance (SV Terrapin) ….you have some competition ; )

Whangarei – We took a day trip with SV Me Too to check out another cruiser friendly marina and town about 1 1.5 hours away from Opua.  This is the other marina most cruisers go to leave their boats for the cyclone season.  A much larger town than Opua, Kerikeri, and Pahia it has all the things you need which a large downtown area, industrial area for boat parts, museums, and even a car auction place where you can buy a car for pretty cheap…this was one of our main reason to visit Whangarei to check out the car auction.

The drive to Whangarei exhibited more beautiful rolling hills, farming structures, sheep, and so many trees!
In Whangarei there is a decent sized downtown area..here is a pedestrian only alley way with shops and restaurants.
AND cows…lots and lots of cows!!! and sheep…..they all looked really healthy unlike some of the livestock we have seen in the countries beforehand. We call them “Happy Cows”….even happier than California cows : )
We stopped off and took a short walk around Whangarei Falls.
The hike had new vegetation for us to examine…will need to get a book on all the local flora and fauna. New Zealand is know for a fern as a national logo…it’s a silver fern….not sure I have seen a silver fern yet but this “fern tree” was pretty cool.
The river from the Whangarei Falls…again, reminds me of the Pacific Northwest
Checking out the Whangarei Marina…..Whangarei is down a river so it is not exposed to the ocean…however the channel to get here is about 10 miles long and narrow/shallow so most people put their boats here and don’t really sail around…they mostly do land trips.
Pile moorings are really popular here….. here is an example of them. I am not sure if Slow Flight could parallel park her big butt into one of these moorings
Lots of art in this town….Briley being funny in a funky tiled structure near the marina
Turners…the car auction place…On Tuesday’s they auction off cars, live and online, and we wanted to check out the process and fees and what cars are selling for. We witnessed a relatively new can sell for $3000 nzd. You ask why are cars so inexpensive? Well in short we hear that New Zealand receives lots of cars from overseas..likely Singapore and Japan, who have high registration costs for cars less than 5 years old…so they just buy a new car…which leaves these almost new cars to be imported to other markets..New Zealand being one of them. Gotta love supply and demand : )
Trevor had his eye on a almost new Subaru Spec B sport car for a “buy now” price of just under $10,000 nzd….this same car would of cost in the range of $30,000…WOW…we didn;t bid…we weren’t quite ready to buy a car….yet….
After the car auction, we were hungry and for the same reason we went to McDonalds in American Samoa…..here we stopped off and enjoyed KFC before heading back to Opua….Such Americans! Though this place was packed with locals!

Getting ready for Christmas – My Gosh…it’s that time already….. other cruisers have been passing out small gifts and baked goodies so I thought I would dress up Slow Flight with our minimal stash of Christmas decorations…..

It’s still weird to me that we are not around the cold or snow for the holiday season. Often we would be in Whistler BC for the new year and Trevor skiing and such with our friends from Seattle (Phil, Tammera, Theo, and Jeff) I guess we will have to live vicariously through Facebook for that….Stocking provided by SV Me Too filled with cookies and present….

4 comments

  1. So glad to hear from you two, and have been missing you both much. We head south in January 1, and will be “unplugged” for about 2 months, back about 3rd week in February. How long will you guys be staying in New Zealand? My supervisor, John Miller and his wife, Kathy, spent a couple of weeks in NZ last year and have a whole list of places and things to do. John is a herpatologist and took over 500 photos of the Tuatara (a very prehistoric looking amphibian found only in NZ). They were also enthralled with the native culture there. Love you both, and Merry Christmas. Let us know if there is a way to send mail to you, or get in touch with you in any way.

    1. Hi Claudia, yes, let’s chat before you are “offline”! hope you and Bill are doing well. We miss you all and the Bards for this holiday season….wish you all were here adventuring with us : ) Hearts,
      Kimi

  2. Happy New Year from Seattle. We enjoyed a rare white Christmas on the docks and Theo finally got his first Christmas morning at home aboard instead of at the relatives house. We hope to see you in a couple of months. Love Tamm, Phil, Theo, Jack and Pickles.
    SV Coraggio

    1. A white christmas? AWESOME POSSUM!!! We hope you are enjoying the fireworks from the space needle, a tradition we miss dearly with you guys. Theo probably doesn’t have any problems staying up for them anymore ; )

      Love you!

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