Touring NZ

Sea Cloud is in the Bay of Islands Marina in Opua, giving us a good opportunity to explore the local region of Northland.

Russell is a very pretty town, a short ferry ride from Paihia.

Duke of Marlborough Hotel

We rented bikes from near the marina to cycle the Twin Coast cycleway, a 88km, 2 day cycle across Northland.

We were dropped off in Horeke, on the west coast.

Our first day of cycling started as fairly gentle, through mangrove swamps, then farmland and bushland.

We’d been warned about the killer hill – about 1.8km of uphill, definitely bike pushing, not riding for us.

After lunch in Okaihoe, it was mostly flat or downhill to Kaikohe where we spent the night in the beautifully restored Left Bank Hotel.

Day 2 was pretty much all a gentle downhill ride back to Opua, mainly along the old train lines. The weather was great, we only had one short rain shower as we crossed the beautiful old suspension bridge.

Kawakawa was meant to be just a lunch stop but turned into a train ride on the beautifully restored trains run by enthusiastic locals. Ian was like a kid, very excited to be allowed to ride up front with the driver.

After leaving the train, we had an easy ride into Opua, crossing the old bridge and then riding along the riverfront.

We ran into cruising friends at the Kerikeri market. Joanie and Bob are Kerikeri locals who we met in Turkey in 2011. They gave us tips for food – the mussel fritters at the market, and recommended local sites to see around Kerikeri and further afield.

Kerikeri Honey cafe

Our friends Price and Benny, well known for their style and cooking throughout the Pacific entertained us once again with a delicious dinner on their aptly named catamaran, Panache.

It may like look like all holiday, but we’ve also spent time doing never ending boat jobs. Everywhere I looked on boat, I found more beer. Ian had over-catered by about 250 cans when we left Panama. He couldn’t face the thought of running out of beer – especially when they were only 49cents each! Fortunately in a marina there are many people happy to take excess supplies.

There are lots of good walks in the area – Kerikeri waterfalls walk was lovely.

We headed south for a few days driving holiday. The coastline and farmland south of Whangarei is very beautiful.

We were excited to be going to Tokatoka B&B Farmstay to experience NZ country life. We weren’t disappointed! Our hosts, Sara and Peter went out of their way to make us feel welcome, to show us the local sights and a give us taste of farm life. They also have a great sense of humour!

The hike up Tokatoka peak was worth the spectacular view at the top.

with Peter our guide and the lovely Bella.

Having run a huge dairy farm for years, Peter and Sara now have a smaller plot with a delightful collection of animals.

newly shorn alpacas

After  a delicious dinner, we were amused watching ducks and geese caught, ready for Sara to take an assortment of her animals for display at the local Whangarei show.

For us, it was an early morning start in the milking shed. What an experience! The contented looking cows tolerated our fumbling hands well.

The Kauri museum at Matakohe was highly recommended by Joanie and Bob. And what a great museum it is! The result of a dedicated local museum is an incredible display of the kauri industry and life during those times.

The lush green pastures around here are such a contrast to the horrible fire situation at home. The fires even made the front page of the local paper.

The Holiday Park outside the Trounson Kauri forest offered Kiwi night walks. Although we didn’t manage to spot a kiwi, we did hear them and the walk through the forest was fabulous.The park a very pretty place to stay.

The Waipoua Forest is the home of the largest Kauri trees in NZ.

Unfortunately dieback threatens these spectacular ancient trees. We were very privileged to be able to walk through the park, as I suspect this might not be the case in the future.

Te Matua Ngahere
Tane Mahuta. These 2 trees are reputed to be over 2000 years old.

On to Hokianga Harbour.

The entrance to the harbour on the usually wild and woolly NZ west coast looked treacherous, even on this rather calm day.

NZ Christmas bush is blooming everywhere.

What a great end to a few days away – a very enjoyable dinner with other cruisers at Joanie and Bob’s beautiful place in Kerikeri.

Cruising NZ

Sea Cloud was launched at Marsden Cove, ready to sail north to Opua. We just needed a weather window. It was great to be back sailing on Sea Cloud, one year after arriving in NZ.

A pod of dolphins welcomed us to beautiful Whangamumu. They spent each afternoon frolicking around the yachts in the bay. Shame the water was too cold to swim with these playful friendly creatures.

Whangamumu is a beautiful, peaceful bay, with great, almost all round shelter.

Ashore is an old whaling station and spectacular walks.

Reluctantly leaving Whangamumu, we had a very pleasant sail around Cape Brett to reach the Bay of Islands to take shelter before the next strong wind warning. Strong winds seem to be very frequent in this part of the world right now!

We managed to drop anchor off Bay of Islands Marina just before it started to pour.

Fortunately the weather changes very quickly in this part of the world.