New Zealand

 

Log Entry #51 – January 9 – February 11, 2008
New Zealand.

We were right! New Zealand was here when we returned! Thank goodness! After having a fabulous visit with our wonderful family, cutest grandsons, son, and daughter-in-law in the world (ok, we are biased) and extremely understanding friends (especially since we were not able to spend as much time with them as we would have liked), shedding many tears when saying farewell (this actually started a few days before we left – parting is so, so difficult), and making a long but not too difficult flight which included losing a day, we made it back to Talerra, safe at her pile mooring in Opua. Being gluttons for punishment we had scheduled a haul-out date for Talerra just four days after returning. To add to the craziness of getting Talerra ready for the haul-out and finding places to put the tons of stuff we brought back with us, David’s brother Randy was in Auckland and returning to Australia, where he currently lives, in just a few days. That left just one day to get back down to Auckland to see him, so off we went! It was a short, but terrific day. Randy was an excellent tour guide, taking us to all of the fabulous vistas in Auckland and giving us an overall tour of New Zealand’s largest city. Auckland is home to over a quarter of New Zealand’s people. There are just over four million people in the entire country and over one million of them live in Auckland. Of course it has some of the issues any city of its size experiences, but it is still very picturesque and in fact reminds us a lot of Seattle, including sporting a structure they call their Sky Tower, which is very similar to Seattle’s Space Needle. Although it is mostly sitting on an ancient volcanic field, it is also surrounded by salt water, teeming with boats of every kind, just as is Seattle. We know our tour with Randy was far too brief to really see all of Auckland’s main attractions, and we look forward to returning!
Besides working on the many boat projects, including our haul-out (which went very well) and stripping and re-doing varnish, we have also spent our fair share of time visiting with many of the cruisers in Opua. We have even joined the Opua Cruising Club and helped cooked breakfast for the racers here during the Bay of Islands Sailing Week! As we wrote to friends back home, it seems we didn’t learn our lessons about volunteering so well when we were in the Shelton Yacht Club! Actually it was great fun, and we met lots more new and marvelous people in the process! We have also done a bit of touring the “Northland” of New Zealand. We are fortunate to be just a few miles from Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where significant historical events occurred in New Zealand’s past, and were able to take a couple of trips there during the national holiday celebrating these events. My next log will be solely about those visits.
We also took a day off from boat work last week to drive to Cape Reinga, the northern point in New Zealand where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea. According to Maori belief, this is also the spot where spirits of the deceased depart to the Maori mythological homeland of Hawaiki. That trip included seeing Ninety-Mile Beach, which can be driven but is best not. It is on this beach that one of David’s high school buddies, with David and a few other chums along for the ride, tried to take a drive. The guys made it, but the car was swallowed up by an incoming tide at the mouth of a river! The other thing this trip provided was the realization that there are many more places we need to see here in the Northland, as well as the rest of the country! In fact, we have a driving/camping trip planned for the South Island in just a few weeks. We want to head south while summer is still here, and we can’t wait for the awesome sights and experiences that trip will surely provide!


Log Entry #52 – February 5 & 6, 2008
New Zealand.
February 6 is Waitangi Day, one of New Zealand’s most significant holidays. It is the celebration of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, in 1840, by representatives of the British government and Maori chiefs. The treaty allowed England to annex New Zealand to the British Empire in exchange for the Maori people continuing to have rights over their land. Of course as it seems to have been with most historical agreements with indigenous people around the world, there has been much controversy regarding whether or not the locals got such a fair deal. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that New Zealand courts ruled that a significant amount of the resources of the country be put back in the control of Maori tribes. The Waitangi Treaty Gounds are just a fifteen-minute drive from Opua, so we were able to attend the festivities during the holiday. The evening before, Alan and Diane from Moonfleet, Paul from Blue Stocking, and David and I attended a concert featuring a very popular New Zealand reggae band. It is interesting to note that as we have traveled across Polynesia this past year, the most common and seemingly popular music we have heard has been reggae, with Bob Marley definitely at the forefront. The band for this event, called “1814,” was excellent, and it was great fun watching members of the audience who appeared to represent people from all walks of life. By the end of the performance, many of the audience members, our group included, were dancing away! The next day we returned to tour the treaty grounds, sample the wares of local food vendors (ice cream included of course), and witness several of the traditional activities that are part of this day of celebration. We saw Maori dancing and singing, Maori young people performing dances that looked like dancing you would see at any modern high school, the sunset ceremony which included a performance by the Royal New Zealand Navy Band, a gun salute and flag lowering by Navy soldiers, and Waka ki Uta, the housing of the waka, in this case New Zealand’s largest ceremonial canoe. It is amazing! This canoe was built in 1940 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Waitangi Treaty, using three giant kauri trees, and holds 150 people! The Maoris participating in this ceremony were very respectful and serious about their task. It was a special event to witness!
This is a good place to give credit to the Maori people for the spectacular names they have given to so many locations in New Zealand. I will also summarize my guide for pronunciation! Wh is pronounced “f” and ng is like the ng in sing. Otherwise it is pretty simple; you merely pronounce every vowel and there is no emphasis on any syllable, just as you do with Hawaiian words. Of course when there are fourteen or more letters in a word, it still gets pretty tricky. I’ve also learned that if you can’t understand what a New Zealander is saying, you just ask them to repeat it. They will gladly do this, and of course you still won’t understand without requesting additional interpretation, but they will get a good laugh at you and it does show you really care about what they are saying! I’ve also been priding myself on being able to differentiate Kiwis, Aussies, and Brits by the way they speak, (Canucks are easy, eh?), and the fact that our best cruising mates have mostly come from these countries has helped. Aussies speak very fast, and Palms, I mean Brits, are proper! The critical thing to remember with Kiwis is they pronounce a single “e” as if it is a cross between a short “i” and “ee.” There you have it! Pat yourself on the back, say “sweet as” or “brilliant,” and be guaranteed of “no worries” when speaking to a New Zealander! Cheers mate!



Log Entry #53 – Late February Through Early April 2008

New Zealand Road Trip South - Introduction
When we arrived in New Zealand, we knew right away we wanted to stay an extra year. There was just too much to see and do and too many old friends and family to spend time with to do it in just six months. We also wanted to make several long trips back to see family and friends in Washington, especially two precious little grandsons and their parents! But as with all governments, especially these days, there were lots of time-consuming, bureaucratic hoops to jump through. With no quick answer in sight, we decided to take a long road trip south, just in case we were denied our requests. While in transit we did receive notice Talerra would be allowed to stay (this was the biggest hurdle), so we were able to extend our trip to a bit over five weeks. We had a wonderful time seeing spectacular sights, and now that we know we will most likely be able to stay the additional year, we look forward to many more scenic road trips!
* The photos I’ve added for this log entry are of some of the sights that just didn’t fit with my other entries, but I still wanted to include them! The fishing photo is to prove to my little brother that I do have the family fishing genes after all!