The Riverside Drive Marina is a small marina with only 30 slips and a boat yard that accommodates another 30 boats on the hard. The best part about the marina is the "community". Because it is so small, you get to know everyone and the have a weekly Sunday night pitch-in BBQ where you bring something to grill and something to share. And, everyone is so welcoming and helpful. From the marina, we can see the Town Basin with the largest marina, the park across the river, and the beautiful "Te Matau a Pohe" bridge (designed after a fish hook). (See Photos of Marina & Whangarei)
Whangarei has a population of 50,000, enough to have all the necessary amenities, yet small enough so that it is all walking distance from the marina. It was so nice to once again have great grocery stores, a wide variety of good restaurants, tons of shops, a nice movie theater, and some great hiking trails starting right from the marina. It is also a great destination for our refit planned for Cetacea because there is an abundance of marine specialists including chandleries, boat yards, boat builders, riggers, mechanics, electricians, upholstery, stainless steel shops, wood makers, window and portlight manufacturers, painters, etc. All of which we plan to use.
One thing that we noticed right away was that all Kiwis are so genuine, polite, down-to-earth and very non-pretentious. They don't care if their clothes don't match and they don't wear makeup often. They also wear t-shirts, shorts and sandals (or barefoot), even when it is below 40 F. It is common to see children barefoot, when we've got on heavy sweaters and jackets. And, they barely heat their houses and restaurants; the worst part being the cold restrooms!
Whangarei is at the northern end of the North Island, 2.5 hours from Auckland. New Zealand is comprised of two main islands, the North Island and the South Island, with 600 smaller islands along the coast. Both the North Island and the South Island are approximately 500 x 100 miles in size. There are 4.8 million people in New Zealand and more than 40 million sheep! So there are lots of lamb dishes on the menus here.
We started learning Kiwi talk right away. The first thing is that "yes" is pronounced "yeeees". When they say "I'm buggered and feeling crook", it means they are exhausted and feeling ill. When ordering at a restaurant, an "entre" is an appetizer and "pudding" is desert. I love the expressions "good on ya mate", meaning "good for you" and "that is dear" means "that is expensive". They call hiking, "tramping" and when Kiwis tramp, they go for days. They have built trails they call the Great Walks, with huts along the way because the trails are 3 to 5 days long. Kiwis are rugged people!
We did take time off from shutting the boat down to go on three hikes with beautiful scenery. One day we went tramping about 7 miles up to Whangarei Waterfalls, Mt. Parihaka, and the Kauri Tree forest. We also went tramping at Whangarei Heads and up the coast to Whale Bay. Another day we enjoyed the nice walking trails at the Quarry Gardens. (See Photos)
So ends our 2016 cruising season!