Tonga to New Zealand
20 December 2016 | Upper Coomera
Jane, warm and sunny
We arrived in Opua, New Zealand on the 1st November after seven and a half days sailing from Tonga. I say sail, however this trip we did use the iron donkey (engine) a couple of times to keep up with the best weather, and to get through some of the "no wind" spots. It sounds like we were lucky, as friends who left on the next weather window had a much tougher trip. What a year of travel. With our beloved Ta-b we have sailed approx. 10,000 miles, and have visited seventeen countries in the Caribbean and the Pacific oceans. Number of islands? Too many to count.
Heading south to New Zealand (our last stop this year) the temperatures fell, and by the time we got to good old Kiwi land we were freezing. It took our bodies a good week to adjust to the cooler climes. Thank goodness we have a heater on board from when we wintered in Turkey, many years ago. Summer however was just around the corner and we were soon enjoying warmer sunny days.
Opua is in the delightful Bay of Islands. Most cruisers checking into New Zealand, from the Pacific, chose to arrive in this northern part of the country. We had no problems with the friendly officials, and were soon greeted by friends who had come up from Auckland and Whangarei to see us. It was certainly an emotional time, even more so as sadly my Mum had died the day before.
There was lots to do on our arrival. I had a trip to England to organise for the whole family, around everyone's commitments. My brother was booked up for several weeks and we had company on board to work around. Iva and Aimee were very understanding, with their two week holiday around the Bay of Islands becaming one. They ended up spending a week on board Ta-b while we were away having a wonderful time exploring the local area.
We also had work to sort out for Ta-b. She will be going up onto the hard (out of the water) in February. We plan to go walkabout all the way down to Queenstown for a month while she is being worked on. Hopefully we will be able to catch up with lots of our old friends on the way there and back. Our dear friends Bryce and Martha, from Wangarei, very kindly lent us their car for a few weeks on our arrival. We now have Edwin and Iva's car which we bought from them when they left. The kids (love calling them that) have been living in Wanaka since May. We had a terrific time with them on board before they departed for Australia mid December.
Our trip to England went well. It was wonderful to see so many friends and family. Mum would have loved the farewell we put on, she was certainly in everyone's hearts throughout the day. Her love will always be with us. I am so blessed to have had such a terrific Mum, what wonderful memories I have. The week was exhausting, with two days travel both ways and only three days in Poole, but it was very special; especially as Edwin and Amy also managed to be with us.
Before we went to England we were able to enjoy some of the All Points Rally. The Rally is put on for all the cruisers arriving from the Pacific and was a great event. By the time it started most of our friends who we had met crossing the Pacific had arrived. So lots of catching up, salty stories and hilarity was shared by all, we are so glad that we managed to participate in some of the events.
Our short trip around the Bay of Islands with Edwin, Iva and Aimee their friend from Vancouver was wonderful. We had some terrific sunny, warm days and a couple of so so ones, when we went fishing around the whole in the wall or visited Russell. Yes there is a delightful town called Russell in the Bay of Islands. Russell holds an important place in New Zealand's history, being the country's first seaport, its first European settlement and New Zealand's first capital in nearby Okiato. The town's streets retain their original layout and names from 1843, and many of its historic buildings can still be visited today. The treaty of Waitangi in 1840, New Zealand's first government was formed just down the road Okiato. We went to the Duke of Marlborough on the waterfront. Established in 1827 and the first licensed hotel in New Zealand. It has lots of character and is a fun place to have lunch.
While in the Bay of Islands we caught four fish, most in a long time. The kids swam with Dolphins who visited our bay one morning, snorkeled, wake boarded and hiked all over the place. It was a terrific holiday together.
We are currently in Australia staying with Russell's sister Yoga and husband on the Gold Coast. We will be spending Christmas with our niece and family near Byron Bay. Both Edwin and Amy will be with us until the 3rd of January when they will fly back to Vancouver together. It will be a very special Christmas with Russell's other sister Jillie and husband also over from Auckland for a week.
We are flying our great niece and nephew back with us for a two-week holiday on board Ta-b in the Bay of Islands. They will be onboard from 12-26 January; so do keep an eye out for us if you are in the area.
On that note we would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. Roll on 2017 it is going to be another goodie ☺