April 2019: New Zealand

We sailed the Marlborough Sounds, across the Cook Strait to Wellington, around Cape Palliser and up the East Coast to Great Barrier Island. It was cold. There were snow-capped mountains.

MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS. Mussels. Delicious.

HIKING. Willow and I chased Captain Cook’s ghost around the first section of the Queen Charlotte Track between Resolution Bay and Ship Cove.

RANDOM FACT FOR TRIVIA NIGHT: Cook visited Ship Cove five times during his three voyages. He visited Australia only once. For some reason I thought Cook was Australia’s special explorer. You may also like to memorise the names of his two vessels (see below). You’re welcome.

VISITORS. My parents arrived for a few days and rented a batch in the beautiful Sunshine Bay.

They came for our fierce one’s fifth birthday, which we celebrated at Lochmara Lodge (a wildlife recovery and arts center). We patted stingrays…

…and the strangest pigs we’ve ever seen.

BAKING. The packet cake I baked on the sail to Lochmara flopped. It didn’t look like those cakes you see on the world wide web, not even the ‘look-how-lazy-I-am’ / ‘it-doesn’t-quite-look-like-the-picture’ ones. I’m ordinary in the kitchen, and that’s okay. Right? Anyway. Hazel didn’t seem to mind.

SLEEPOVER / BIKING. While the girls played with Nana and GrandJohn…

…Dale and I mountain-bike-pushed the last section of the Queen Charlotte Track from Torea Bay to Anakiwa. It was a treat.

It was so sad to see my parents leave. We may not see them for a while.

PASSAGE THROUGH THE COOK STRAIT. Again. This time the weather was calm. The challenge was dodging the ferries fog horning us.

It cleared.

We motored in to Wellington Harbour…

…and moored next to Rona, an 1892 gaff-rigged racing cutter, one of the oldest yachts still sailing in New Zealand and the oldest continuously registered ship in the country.

We find mooring stressful at the best of times. The prospect of a headline: “Australian catamaran sinks precious part of New Zealand’s maritime history’” increased the stakes. It was a tight squeeze.

WELLINGTON. Wow. What a city. It was windy and cold, a little wet, yet we still loved it. Dale swam in the harbour with the crazy ocean swimmers. There’s a route marked with buoys and a hot tub on shore. The water temperature was around 13 degrees. Nuts.

HOMESCHOOL. Wellington was excursion after excursion after excursion. Whether there was any learning is unconfirmed, but it was fun.

Art gallery.


Street art.


Another museum, where ten Terracotta Warriors were visiting from China. Wow.

HOLIDAY CAMP / HIKING. One day Dale and I shipped the girls off to a wild/bush kid holiday camp.

We skipped away holding hands and walked the Escarpment Track from Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay. It was stunning.

PASSAGE FROM WELLINGTON TO GISBORNE. We said farewell to our pet swans…

…and sailed north to Gisborne. It was unpleasant. As was the strawberry packet cake I baked, which ended up in the spew bucket. Only Hazel kept it down. Sigh. Chocolate is more our thing.

The forty-six hours of discomfort were brightened by seals waving off Cape Palliser.

Dolphins. They visited us several times, including around both sunsets. Their visits never get old. (Please excuse my banshee voice in the second clip… I need to learn how to mute YouTube videos).


Breakfast weather reports.

The long white cloud.

TELLY. The girls enjoy unlimited telly while we’re on a passage. It’s when they catch-up on screen time so they’re not complete weirdos if one day they want to rebel against their parents and live a conventional life.


BOAT KIDS. It’s easy to make friends when you have a rope.

LIFE. I’m always dragging washing with kids straggling along behind. And I wonder why people stare.

HOLIDAY CAMP / BIKING. Again, Dale and I shipped the girls off to a school holiday camp. In our new 24/7 contact with our children situation, time away from them together is gold. This day we strolled around Eastwoodhill Arboretum and rode back to Gisborne.

We stopped at a winery for lunch, but they didn’t have any of their local brew. Dale enjoys his Chardonnay ‘woody’, of course.

Gosh I love that people have devoted their lives to studying leaves and lichens, and writing these books.

Poor old New Zealand though seems to have stripped its hillsides of natural flora to send plantation trees to Asia and South America. There were eight supertankers in Poverty Bay, and hundreds and hundreds of logging trucks plowing the roads around Gisborne each day.

PASSAGE FROM GISBORNE TO GREAT MERCURY ISLAND. Another unpleasant two nights at sea. I didn’t bother baking a cake.

More telly.

More dolphins. We can’t get enough.

The 3am – 6am shift

A volcanic island.

MERCURY ISLANDS. We were thrilled to arrive to New Zealand’s cruising zone, finally.

LOVE. Sailing as a couple is not for everyone. We’ve seen many a retirement plan and relationship end at sea. Perhaps we’re lucky because we started young with our first boat, or perhaps we’re just the right amount of the conservative side of crazy… over 25,000 miles now and we still love each other, most of the time, add two spirited children to the mix and this is pretty incredible!

GREAT BARRIER ISLAND. A short hop, skip and jump. We arrived in time for sunset.

HOMESCHOOL. Morning devotions focus the mind to start the day.

More libraries.

More street pianos.



These books were great. Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend are different to my usual type of read, but I found them enormously entertaining. Hilarious. Dale didn’t really give it a go, but detested Crazy Rich Asians. Perhaps you need to have lived in China to be amused, and not merely annoyed, by the characters’ antics? The Salt Path is inspiring if you find yourself homeless in your old age. It is beautifully written. And The Beekeeper of Sinjar is just generally devastating, recording atrocities happening all day every day, right now. It’s about a man who helps women in Iraq who have managed to escape from Daesh (ISIS). Uplifting? No. Important? Yes.


It doesn’t get much better than The Faraway Tree. This was Willow’s fourth read through the series, and Hazel’s first. The Magic Pudding went over our heads and was taken at slap-stick comedy value. It’s all rather silly really.