Wow, wow, and wow! We just returned from a ten day trip to the Otago region of New Zealand's South Island and the scenery was just incredible! So many highlights! We were extremely lucky to catch fine weather throughout our stay in this normally fickle region. After months of ocean and island scenery, the mountains and lakes were a real change of pace for us - not to mention the fact that did more than just stretch our legs with several great hikes.
10 - in New Zealand
One of the projects that we finally completed during our two weeks up in Whangaroa was converting Nana's "Lesson Plans Ahoy! to an eBook/Kindle format, which is now available at amazon.com. So, after two print editions you can now enjoy the 3rd edition on your favorite e-reader (a version in EPUB format will follow shortly).
We're back in Opua now, after two weeks in Whangaroa and another week between Oke Bay and Urupukapuka in the Bay of Islands. Had some great company on the sail back to Opua this morning: A pod of 6-8 big bottlenose dolphins that seemed to have a great time right next to Namani. We'll be catching the bus to Auckland tomorrow, from where we plan to fly to the South Islands for two weeks. People keep telling us that two weeks are too short for the South Island but we still look forward to it. After all, we only want to see a small part of it. Stay tuned...
We sailed into Whangora on Tuesday afternoon (it's Friday today) and have spend three very nice days in this large natural harbor / inlet with numerous side branches. It is fringed by steep wooded cliffs, giving the whole scene a fjord like feeling. Only 20nm NE of the Bay of Islands, this feels very differently and we had the feeling as if we had been transplanted from New Zealand to somewhere in Nova Scotia when we visited the little town at the head of the inlet yesterday.
Nicky has been very interested in NZL2, New Zealand's high-tech catamaran for their latest America's Cup challenge. He build a Lego model from a picture in a sailing magazine, albeit with a Teutonic twist: While the orginal carries a giant "Fly Emirates" commercial on it's main sail, Nicky changed that to good old trusty Lufthansa. Who knows... we've been a bit cut off from news from Europe...perhaps the German flag carrier is indeed sponsoring another entry into the next cup...
After almost two months we're now (Sunday, 10FEB) back in Opua in the the Bay of Islands. After leaving Oneroa Bay off Waheke on Wednesday, we stopped in Bon Accord Bay (Kawau Island at the northern end of the Hauraki Gulf), and then had two longish sailing days, first to Whangarei and then to Whangamumu (old whaling station), before turning the corner around Cape Brett and into the Bay of Islands on Saturday afternoon. We had a nice night at anchor off Urupukapuka Island here in the Bay (see picture above) and then came back into Opua Marina this afternoon.
We changed our minds yesterday morning and rather than going back to Motuihe we went to Oneroa Bay on the northern side of Waiheke Island (still only 7nm away but quite chilly as you can see in the picture above...). While the wind was still gusting in the 30s the sun came out shortly after we dropped anchor and we had a nice little excursion to the town and beach ashore. Very reminiscent of some of the pricier weekend destinations along the New England coast in the US. What used to be little baches are now houses priced in the million NZ$ range.
Spent two nights tucked in between Motutapu and Rangitoto Islands to sit out the passage of a trough/front last night. Now the wind starts to shift to the south (our only exposed direction) and we will move to the NE side of Motuihe this morning. It's been a while since we had rain like this - probaby a welcome change for the Auckland area where it hasn't really rained since Christmas.
When we were in Germany back in July last year, we brought back the "Knaurs Spielebuch" to Namani. It's a book full of games for children (and adults) that includes everything from board, card and dice games, games with paper and pencil, field games - you name it. The book was printed in 1953 and used to be my mothers. I remember using it as a kid myself. Nicky absolutely loves the book (the picture above shows him reading it in his bunk after waking up one recent morning).
Our plan to get an early start for the 50nm from Great Mercury to Rotoroa were fouled yesterday (Fri, 01FEB) morning when Markus' watchband was snagged by a line and went overboard while we were lifting up the dinghy on deck. Out came the snorkel gear again, and in we went to scan the bottom beneath Namani. Somehow the water always feels a lot colder in the morning... Luckily we were anchored in only about 4 meters of water.