Day 972 - Kauri Forest, NZ (S 36° 25 E 174° 49)
19:48hrs - January 27th 2010

I love the sea and living on it but I have always had a major weakness for trees, and sadly, the two don’t often go together.  One of my very favorite places back home in New York is an arboretum in Oyster Bay on Long Island and I can spend hours wandering around amongst the beautifully cared for woodlands and trees, so I was very happy to find out that New Zealand is actually home to the Kauri tree, one of the largest, oldest and most impressive tree species on the planet, so we set off on a Kiwi road trip to find them.  Turns out we almost missed seeing them altogether, as they were practically wiped out by the first settlers here, who realizing how valuable and useful the wood was, made it their mission to chop them all down.  But happily they are entirely protected now, and no one can touch them, and the lucky surviving trees that escaped the early settlers voracious saws, are treated like Kings.  They live in their own carefully protected forests and spend their days sucking up rain and sunshine while they stare quietly down at the occasional teeny weeny person looking up at them from far below. 

It would be hard not to be impressed when you first see them, they are just so immense, impossibly tall and wide, and then there is also something quite remarkable about being so close to a living thing that has existed in that very spot for 2,000 years.  And with everything that has changed and moved in the world over the last 2,000 years, I think its nice to know that no matter what, that Kauri tree was, and is, just there, being a lovely tree.

Our next mission was to meet up with the ever gorgeous Mum and Dad Hockley in Auckland, who with their friends Mike and Lynn had timed their Australia New Zealand cruise to coincide with our time here.  We didn’t have long but we did have a lot of fun. We spent the day sightseeing and catching up on family news, hugs and sea stories, and although we didn’t have time to visit my lovely kauri trees, we did go to the top of the ‘Sky Tower’ the tallest man made structure in the southern hemisphere and while it may not be as old and pretty as a kauri tree its dimensions were similarly impressive and you can make your way 1,082 ft. to the top and look straight down through head spinning glass floors.  Dad even got into the whole New Zealand spirit and agreed to join us in a ‘reverse bungy jump’ where you are catapulted 200 feet into the air while strapped into a little chair! I’m not sure how much he enjoyed
it but kudos to Dad!


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Day 962 - Kawau Island, NZ (S 36° 25 E 174° 49)
19:17hrs - January 17th 2010
Kiwi Cruising

We're not cruising anymore. Or at least it doesn't really feel like it. For the moment, gone are the long passages, charging ahead at night under full sail into the unknown, navigating uncharted anchorages, judging depths and sighting reefs by water color alone. The thrill of achievement when arriving in a new and exotic country, or foraging for supplies in tiny tropical remote villages. No, you see even though we're still in the South Pacific Ocean and over 8,000 nautical miles away from home port, cruising here couldn't be easier.

For the last three glorious weeks we've been bobbing around the protected waters of Hauraki Gulf, exploring the picturesque tiny coves and bays of the mountainous Coromandel Peninsula, and anchoring off the many small islands scattered along the mainland from Auckland to Cape Rodney. It's another kind of sailing experience altogether. With the security of weather reports broadcast 24/7 on the VHF radio, the knowledge that teams of energetic coastguard volunteers are poised to leap into action and assist mariners in need, access to heaps of charts accurately detailing each and every rock in the area, and shops stuffed with all the goodies and treats that we've been denied for over a year, nowadays we haven't a single cruising-care in the world.

There's a sense of security here, a reassurance that you know if anything goes wrong, help is just a hail away, that you're never really on your own. And once you've had that for a while, it's a comfort that can be difficult to leave behind. When we left New York almost a 1,000 days ago, the biggest challenge for us wasn't the sailing, the navigating or even the confusion of arriving in a foreign country by boat - but rather it was the loss of the familiar, the perceived lack of security, the unknown. Ironically that's now one of the things we love the most about the cruising lifestyle, not knowing what to expect one day to the next, the freedom that comes with independence, and the confidence we've developed in ourselves and our boat to sail off over the horizon without looking back.

In a few months we'll be returning to the tropical South Pacific to explore a whole new chain of islands
- Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia... and I'm already excited. But before then, another cruise is in the
making - a Kiwi cruise, where we'll load up a car and drive around the islands for a month to hike the Southern Alps, marvel at glaciers, soak in the spectacular scenery of Fiordland, bathe in volcanic mud pools, play with penguins, to camp in the wild and perhaps, if we're very lucky, get a glimpse of the elusive Kiwi bird, the national mascot which apparently can still be seen in its natural habitat off the very southern tip of New Zealand on the remote outpost of Stewart Island.

So our charts will be temporarily replaced with roadmap's, our flip flops for sturdy hiking boots and we'll drive south for over 600 miles, closer to the Antarctic Circle than we ever imagined we'd be on our world tour, in search for a shy little hunchback, shortsighted, flightless bird with a long bill.


We would also like to extend our gratitude to Beretta in Auckland, New Zealand for all their support in helping to deliver our Steiner Navigator 7x50 binoculars.

Day 952 - Coromandel Bay, NZ (S 36° 46 E 175° 28)
20:05hrs - January 7th 2010
Summer Holidays!

It feels like we are on our summer holiday here! We’ve spent the last few weeks sailing around about 50 miles outside Auckland, and everywhere is full of kiwi boaties, (fyi if you are on a boat here you are a ‘boatie’) and they are all floating merrily around from island to island, bay to bay, taking advantage of the warm summer holiday weather and some of the best sailing and fishing water you could wish for.  Having been tied up at the marina doing boat projects for what seemed like ages, halleluiah, we are finally out sailing and anchoring again and it feels lovely.  Today we are anchored off an old gold mining town, Coromandel, on the Coromandle peninsula, and while they say there’s not much gold to be found here these days, there is in its place a great little summer town, full of local art, fresh out of the water seafood and the all important ice-cream lady, all in all, my kind of town.  We have also spent some time out at Great Barrier Island and our next stop will probably be Kawau Island with its famous Mansion House Bay. 

One of the things that make all of this especially lovely, apart of course, from the dreamy hot summer sunshine in December, is just how strikingly pretty everywhere is.  There are these endless rolling green hills dotted with sheep and cows cheerfully munching their way from field to field, from sunrise until spectacular sunset.  We’ve been spending afternoons wandering up and down daisy and buttercup covered hills that roll off into the distance, and then sit under trees eating apples, watching cows go by. It’s just so peaceful and lovely, and there’s just so much of it! I’m beginning to understand why people here love it as much as they do.  Oh and summer holidays in December, a very good idea!

PS: We will post the videos when we get back to WiFi territory.

Day 946 - New Zealand (S 36° 06 E 175° 25)
00:01hrs - January 1st 2010
Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!