Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Whangarei New Zealand

Hello Everyone,

Well, we arrived back home safely here in New Zealand after about 26 hours of travel.  We got in at 3:30am to the boat and all was good.  The boat was still in great condition, nothing missing and to my surprise no mold in the boat.  YAY!  It is really nice to be back in our beds hunkered down in our caves and in our small space again.  We are starting to get back in the groove of school, repairs, tourist stuff and relaxing.  We are all a bit sick from our travels but all is good.  

The weather here is like a San Francisco summer.  It is really a funny climate.  Down pouring one minute with hot humid air, and then the next completely sunny and dry air and then the next day really cold… you can also have all of the above within a one day time frame so you really have to layer as you go out and about.  When you look at some of the weather forecasts online they have a section where it says how many layers to wear and how many windbreakers to bring.  

Oma is loving being here with us… Chris and I have been busy getting the boat ready to go back out and also making some slight adjustments… We have converted the power on the boat to European power so we can plug in now… YAY!  We are also adding some sun/water shades to the cockpit area for a little more protection.  The sun down here is so strong that even our solar panels are taking a beating (in a good way) and are able to power up our batteries with a quarter of what they were able to do in the states and Mexico.  We have changed out many of our lights in the boat and have ordered some outdoor lights for the cockpit to change from the cold white lights to a warm glow… Mainly the boat lists is just some cosmetic changes and updates.  Amongst the repairs and errands we are fitting in some field trips to see the local sights and be tourists.  It is a nice break in the afternoon, to get off the boat and go explore.  

We have gone for a few walks exploring waterfalls and the Abbey Caves.  The nature around here is just stunning and with every corner there is a new landscape in front of you. From meadows, to huge boulders in the middle of the fields, to Kauri Forests, over bridges and through what we call fern tree forests…  Stunning.

We are always impressed with the waterfalls here, they never disappoint us.  The walk ways throughout New Zealand’s parks are well groomed, clean and inviting.  The fauna around is endless with so many varieties that I have never seen before you often get distracted and have to stop along the way.  Not to mention the sounds of the forests here.  Yesterday as we were walking to the caves it felt like R2D2 was following us.  The bird calls are so different from what we are used to and then competing with the insects and the cicadas it is defining at some points.  

Since we had been to the caves before, we thought Oma must see it.  We remembered our flashlights this time and we all had one which helped immensely.   We had forgotten how steep the drop into the first cave was and all I can say was Oma was a trooper climbing down these steep and slippery rocks to get into the cave entrance.  Once in the cave, if you turn out your lights you can’t see your hand infant of your face so it is important to have your head lamps on.  Climbing through the caves there are many rocks to climb over and water that you wade through up to mid thigh, but when you turn your lights out and look up it really is super cool to see the glow worms at the top… little green dots speckle the ceiling like stars.  As we were heading back up to the car you walk through several meadows and the trail leads you through many people’s properties and pastures… at one point I think the cows were waiting to come home and eat so they were all congregated at the fence entrance.  

Glow worm webs to catch their food (what ever that may be)

On the way home we found a gypsy fair and the kids had a good time wandering around and checking out their converted homes and shops and then playing on the trampoline.  There was a skate park set in the meadow with a tree that had all the old skater shoes thrown up into it… draped like a christmas tree.  Not sure the meaning behind the shoes, I think maybe it is just a way to make a claim to the park for themselves.

We also visited the acclaimed Kawakawa Hundertwasser’s Toilet… When we first heard about it we thought… What the Heck!  So of course we grab the Tourism Brochure (yes they have a brochure to make sure everyone visits these toilets)… and told the kids to drink plenty of liquids.  The town of Kawakawa is cute but nothing really special…. it is funny how when we are sitting outside these public toilets that were designed by this artists you see a multitude of tour buses stop to let people go in and take pictures… Hmmm it is a little creepy to come out of the restroom and everyone has their cameras out taking pictures.  Of course I took some pictures  too, trying to wait until the restroom was emptied so not to capture anyone in an unsuspecting pose.

After we ventured up to the Wangitangi Treaty Grounds to view where the first treaty was signed between the British and the Maori Chiefs for the rights to use and own the land here.  The site also offers a performance of traditional Maori dance and music.  The style of dance here is unique in the way they use facial expressions to intimidate throughout their dance.  It was a more primitive style with more of a fear factor too it.  Throughout the dance routine, they often charge at the audience with spear raised, eyes as large as they can make them, and tongue out in an angry manner.  

We are now back in a rain pattern for the next 3 or 4 days so we will be hanging out here and catching up on school work and boat repairs… blah, blah, blah and blah… I can’t wait until we can get through some of this weather and chores and be able to go and explore… I get a little restless being in the marina.   

Hugs and love,


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