We didn't stop at Minerva Reef on our way to New Zealand . It's known on our list over things we have left to see. Especially Bjørnar longed for a stop at the reef. His longest sail from before was from Skagen in Denmark to Rugsund on tne west coast of Norway.
10 days and 1310nm
after we left Tonga we were along the Q-dock in Opua, a tiny place in
Bay of Island, noth in New Zealand. The water temperature fell from
comfortable 28 °C to nippy 16 °C . When we came to New Zealand
it was no longer tropical climate but chilly spring weather.
We had a variable sail according to wind strength and direction. From
mirror like ocean and 0 wind to intense 20 m/s on the nose. Luckily
the wind shifted when we got closer to New Zealand and we could sail
straight in to bay of Islands with a good slack on the sheet. Bjørnar
could now rightly call himself a sailor. When Heidi was down due to
an ear infection Bjørnar and the Captain shared the watches between
them, with som e assistance from Peder Sailor. Mostly he was occupied
behind a Donald Duck pocket. In addition to breaking the swimming code
he has also solved the mystery of reading. A game of UNO is still on
the schedule before toothbrush. When Heidi was making the New Zealand
flag Peder also wanted to learn how to sew.
In the crack of down we could see New Zealand and Bay of Islands . The
Bay is surrounded by pointed rocks and hills which makes a great silhouette.
It is always exiting to get close to a new coast after days on the ocean.
At the Q-dock in Opua the formalities went like a dream. Also this time
it was much easier than expected. The authorities in New Zealand are
very protective and try to prevent any foreign disease and other scary
things to get into the country. At Tonga the discussions was many how
to read the paragraphs.
When the inspector left Empire with his big black plastic bag it was
“filled” with egg, onion, un popped popcorn and tinned chicken with
bone. We were allowed to keep the rest of our supplies, shells and tapa
cloth he did not care about. Our hiking shoes and the folding bike were
checked and found ok, clean with no scary dirt.
A Lot of boats sailed into Opua the following days. There were many
happy reunions. Bjørnar was close to stay another day to have
some extra time with the “Norwegian fleet”. In Opua we got new visitors
from Norway . Bjørnar swapped with Heidi's parents who came to
sail with us for three weeks. They came just in time for Heidi's birthday.
Tore and Vigdis had whished for some warmer weather while in New Zealand
, but here the summer first comes in late December. We still had great
sail south to Auckland . Along the coast we stopped in several beautiful
and desert anchorages. It is early season, some months later the bays
will be crowded.
On our way south a big low was predicted with heavy winds. We choose
to sail up the 15 nm river to Whangarei which means safe harbour. The
last part of the river to Town Basin Marina is like an autostrada for
sailboats. Sailboats are moored close between poles or along the docks.
Many boats come here for the cyclone season in the Pacific. We saw lots
of familiar faces and boats. Close by you can find and get most things
you need or want for any boat.
There are well laid out paths around Whangarei and the hole family went
for a long walk enjoying the vegetation and the birds around.
After a wonderful spinnaker sail we came to Hauraki Gulf heading for
Auckland , City of Sails . Auckland is the city in the world with most
boats pr inhabitant, the name is deserved. The first week in Auckland
we were tourists together with Heidi's parents. We were high and low,
in the top of the Sky Tower , Aucklands landmark, and the tallest building
in the southern hemisphere. Under ground we entered Antarctic Encounter
Underwater World. At the Maritime Museum we learned about Polynesian
canoes, waka, and the arrival of the Europeans. Modern and classic boats
and New Zealand 's regatta milieu is represented.
To buy a car in New Zealand is cheap and fun. We are now the “proud”
owners of a 1995 Mazda Familia and look forward to see New Zealand also
by road. Out test tour went to the Kauri Museum two hours outside Auckland
. It was exiting and all of us learned a lot about the kauri tree. The
biggest tree measured in volume and the oldest in New Zealand . The
trees can be thousands of years. The biggest three known are 9 diameters.
In salt sump areas they have found and carbon-dated threes to be 30-50 000
In the end of November it was time to pack our bags. Peder has sailed
with us for seven months from Chile crossing the Pacific to New Zealand
. He has passed the Sailor exam with top results and we look forward
to see him onboard again.
Heidi flew home together with Peder and used the opportunity to work
while she was in Oslo . Via work and friends Heidi got to feel a part
of the “normal” everyday life. After a week in Oslo it did not feel
like it was two and a half year since she had left. Even if it is easy
to keep in touch with today's e-mail and Skype it is special to be face
to face with people you know well and care about.
The month in Oslo past quickly, there were many to be visited before
Heidi flew back To New Zealand to celebrate New Year with Eivind. While
Heidi was in winter Norway the Captain started to work as a machine
technician for Ovlov Marine, the Volvo Penta dealer in Auckland . Eivind
likes to be back working again. Lots of things have been forgotten during
the last two years of sailing but are now coming back to the surface
Eivind celebrated Christmas in Whangarei together with other sailors,
there were both lamb, turkey and rice cream on the table. His “days
off” he used to work onboard Sverre Erik's boat Vagabond Virgin.
After an extremely long and delayed flight Heidi came to Whangarei without
luggage and Christmas presents, but in time to celebrate the New Year.
It was cosy around the table in Empire with sailors from several nations.
Back in Auckland and Bayswater Marina Eivind is working full time for
Ovlov Marine and Heidi onboard Empire. In maori Auckland is named, Tamaki
Makau Rau, City with 1000 Lovers. Auckland will be our basis the next
months. We are still under way, but we use the opportunity to earn some
money while in New Zealand . Through our work we meet interesting people
and we get a wonderful opportunity to get to know the kiwis.