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Happy to be in New Zealand

November 1, 2013

We are berthed in the Opua Marina on the north island of New Zealand where we made landfall after a 7 day 5 hour crossing from Tongatapu. We are enjoying the comforts of a first world nation; good restaurants, great services, marine chandleries, and knowledgeable people that really do speak English. As much fun as the out islands were, this is great!

We spent our last few days in Tongatapu preparing for the voyage. Brian cleaned the boat bottom (a requirement for entering NZ), checked the rigging, and prepared emergency gear while Sandie cooked all of our meals in advance. We raised anchor in front of Big Mama’s on Tuesday the 22nd (Monday for North America) and motored to the fuel dock where we filled up with duty free fuel. Then we headed out the northwest pass in rainy weather with 20 kts of wind. It was sloppy and we got drenched by salt spray before we cleared the reefs and set course on a beam reach making 8-9 kts.

We decided to use the route planning services of the legendary Bob McDavitt. We knew the winds would be strong for the first few days and we wanted to make maximum miles before the light winds set in. Several days into the trip we received an email from Bob changing our route to accommodate a squally front that was moving down from Fiji. We were able to slip around the south end of the front with no problems, but the resulting winds were on our nose. Bob warned us of a big front that was due to hit NZ just after our planned arrival and suggested a bit of motor sailing. We had 24 hours of bouncy motor sailing before the winds lightened and we made landfall two days before the front hit. We would recommend using Bob’s services and plan to use him again when we head to Fiji next year.

We watched as the water temperature dropped 22 deg F during the voyage and the air became “icy”. We have lived in the tropics for the last year and our blood has really thinned out. We pulled out the foul weather gear, sweatshirts and shoes.

At dawn on Tuesday morning of the 29th we could see the mountains of the north island; pretty exciting. We were met by a customs boat Hawk that came along side and checked us out. We had already filed an early arrival form, as required, so they were expecting us. We were tied up to the Opua Customs & Quarantine dock by 3:00 PM.

The clear-in procedure was straight forward yet very thorough. All of our produce was confiscated along with our frozen meats; even sealed honey jars!. They indicated that Sandie’s fresh made salsa would have to go so we brought out chips we all ate our fill.

Opua is not a large town and doesn’t even have an ATM. So we rented a car and drove to Paihia 5 Kilometers west and stocked up on NZ dollars and had lunch. Then we did some sightseeing and ended up in Kerikeri which is a proper city. We stopped at the Makana Chocolate Factory where Sandie went a little crazy… The countryside is green and beautiful with lots of cattle and sheep.

We have been enjoying the Opua Cruising Club that has great food and drinks and we meet fellow boating enthusiasts. We spent Halloween night there as the anticipate weather front moved in with high winds and pouring rain.

We have decided to stay a bit here in Opua and get some much needed boat work done before heading to Whangerei where we will keep the boat for the season. We hope to purchase a camper soon so we can continue exploring this incredible country.

Small Mahimahi for fish tacos

Small Mahimahi for fish tacos

"Red skies in the morning sailors take warning..."

“Red skies in the morning sailors take warning…”

Sandie pulled out the Alaska blanket when it got cold.

Sandie pulled out the Alaska blanket when it got cold.

Last morning with blue berry pancakes (thanks Rob & Kathy)

Last morning with blue berry pancakes (thanks Rob & Kathy)

Our first visitor was from Customs

Our first visitor was from Customs

New Zealand & Quarantine flags are raised 12 miles offshore

New Zealand & Quarantine flags are raised 12 miles offshore

Customs and Quarantine dock in Opua

Customs and Quarantine dock in Opua

The quarantine lady was very thorough!

The quarantine lady was very thorough!

Halloween night when the storm came in.

Halloween night when the storm came in.

Halloween night at the Cruising Club

Halloween night at the Cruising Club

Haruru Falls

Haruru Falls

Bay of Islands from Mount Bledisloe

Bay of Islands from Mount Bledisloe

From → Travel

3 Comments
  1. Wow! Congratulations, you made it! Awesome blog, thanks for keeping it up.

  2. Randi B permalink

    Glad to here you guys made that last passage safely. I bet Sandie was glad to see those mountains! It will probably seem strange for you to not be moving from anchorage to anchorage and getting used to driving on the “wrong” side of the road. We are heading to PV on 11/3 with a plan to move Vagabundo north to Ensenada…we may have some of those wind on the nose days ahead as well!Enjoy New Zealand!

  3. So happy to see you are safe in New Zealand. Looking forward to meeting up back here in the States before the New Year. Have fun exploring!

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