Idyllic bay on Motorua
It’s been feast and famine here in New Zealand over the last 3 weeks. Apparently the weather had been beautiful for 2 months before we got here. Northern New Zealand was already experiencing drought conditions and Summer wasn’t even here yet. Fortunately for Northland the drought is now over, unfortunately for us we’ve been rained in for a week at a time twice now. We got a bunch of salt water in the v-berth during the passage from Fiji. The first day here, I rinsed our mattress, bleached it, rinsed it, bleached it again, and rinsed in thoroughly. It was finally dry enough to put back in the v-berth on January 2nd.
Tiffany and I hitched the 100 miles from Opua down to Orewa to spend Christmas with Arek and Iwona. I always worry a bit about being able to get rides and this country is always quick to allay my concerns. It took us three rides to get south and ended up taking about 10 minutes longer than if we had driven our own car. Our last ride just saw us walking with our cardboard sign that said “Auckland” on it and pulled over to pick us up 100 meters before we got to the spot where we were going to start hitching from and dropped us off right at Arek and Iwona’s driveway. I do love Kiwi hospitality.
Tiffany’s cookie contribution and leftover dough santa sculpture:
Iwona was in full Polish cooking mode for 2 days before Christmas Eve preparing a 14 course meal. In Poland you’re supposed to have at least 12 dishes on Christmas Eve to ensure a good new year. Iwona’s neighbor Sue doesn’t eat fish, so she needed to have a couple extra dishes to ensure that Sue would have a good 2011 as well. I think that Iwona was having fun. It was great seeing her making pirogies and pate and these little tortellini looking things to go in the borscht, all from scratch. Tiffany helped out making rum balls and santa’s whiskers and in true Christmas fashion there were hardly any left by Christmas day. We spent Christmas day itself with some other cruiser friends of Arek and Iwona’s at their parent’s farm south of Auckland.
Iwona’s amazing Christmas Eve dinner
Arek, Iwona and myself with out Christmas hats on
After Christmas, Arek was hurting to get a little sailing time in and Tiffany was looking for a little off the boat girl time. So Arek drove me up to Opua while Tiffany stayed in Orewa with Iwona. The plan was for Arek and I to spend a week sailing the Bay of Islands. Sadly we got to the boat right as a gale hit and were stuck on the mooring for the first day. It the proceeded to rain for the next 4 days. We sailed out to Motorua Island on the second day and then off to Urupukapuka the day after. There were two good couple hour long breaks in the weather and Arek got out snorkeling during both of them, but in general it was cold, wet and dreary…..and my mattress still wasn’t dry and it was constantly in the way down below as we couldn’t leave it outside in the rain.
Arek and I motoring to a snorkeling spot during one of two sunny breaks
With the miserable weather, Arek decided to cut off his trip short on New Years Eve and head back down to Auckland. Tiffany hitched up from Orewa in 2 rides, the second of which was with a couple of party girls from Auckland heading up to Paihia for New Years. It was quite a ride, but I’ll let her tell that story. We spent a quite New Years out on the boat, watched the fireworks and went to bed and about 10 after midnight.
On New Years day we sailed out to the islands in sunny weather and light winds with a few hundred other boats. It was fun seeing all the boats, but a bit unnerving when we all tried to cut certain points at the same time. Still the weather was beautiful and we buddy boated with Momo and Rockhopper for a day off Motorua. Their boats were rafted up and a bit like a circus with all the little girls swinging from the rigging from one boat to the next. The favorite spot was the bosun’s chair rigged on the main halyard. The girls would swing from stem to stern out of the water, back and forth for hours until they were forced to relinquish their seat to someone else. I always forget that sailboats really are great jungle gyms.
Tiff and I on Motorua looking out towards Cape Brett
That’s Bodhran right there
Momo and Rockhopper took off north the next day while Tiffany and I stayed on. We spent the next 4 days relaxing, hiking on Motorua and Urupakapaka, kayaking, swimming, playing music, cooking and generally doing all the things you’re supposed to do while cruising. Alas Arek took off a bit too early. I think we’ll stick around this area another week or two before heading south. There’s a tall ships festival coming up which would be a shame to miss, but points south are calling and we’d like to explore some new territory as well.
Tiffany swinging from one of the the brilliantly red Pohutukawa trees on Urupakapaka