Happy New Year
Harvey & Sue Death
Sun 21 Jan 2018 23:28
Happy New Year!!
After a hectic but lovely two weeks of catching up with friends and family and having only just got over the homeward jet lag we left snowy England and headed back around the globe to Sydney for New Year.
Being one of the first cities in the world to see the new year in, Sydney really does it in style. Millions of people make their way to the city centre, many camp overnight to get the best views of the fireworks on the harbour bridge.
We met up with friends who are also on the Oyster world rally, 9 of us of mixed nationalities - UK, US, Lebanese and Israeli, partied together and saw the New Year in from the comfort of the Marriott hotel roof top which had a direct view of the bridge.
It was lovely to spend it with our new friends although our thoughts were with family and friends back home.
We spent the rest of our time in Sydney doing the whole tourist thing - the city is a really interesting mix of beautiful historic old and modern architecture interspersed with large areas of park. The botanic gardens which are bang, smack in the City centre stretch for 33 acres and provide a peaceful oasis away from the throngs of people crowding around the Sydney Opera House. It was our first taste of Australia but as with many big cosmopolitan cities we could have been anywhere in the world!
We arrived back to the boat in New Zealand on the 3rd January. All the works had been completed and we spent the first few days reprovisioning and preparing the boat for a few weeks cruising around the Hauraki Gulf. After a couple of days of storm force winds when luckily we were safely tied up in the marina the weather turned and we have experienced really beautiful New Zealand summer weather - long, hot sunny days with a gentle sailing breeze.
Our first stop was Great Barrier island which is only 88km from Auckland but seems a world away. In the 70’s and 80’s it was a big hippy commune and there are still a few throw backs to that era around! There is a very small population of permanent residents, no mains electric or water - it’s like going back in time.
We met some friends Annie and Tom from Oyster Vela and rented a car together for the day combining some sight seeing with walking to some truly breathtaking locations.
From there we sailed to the Coromandel peninsular, part of mainland NZ. It juts into the Pacific east of Auckland and forms the Eastern boundary of the Hauraki Gulf.
The New Year winds blew up again and we nestled into a small bay to shelter from the high winds and torrential rain. Coromandel town was most famous for its gold rush back in the 1800’s and some of the old Colonial buildings built to accommodate the newly prosperous miners still stand. It’s now a faded holiday resort, popular with the Kiwis.
We hired a car and drove around the Peninsular, and spent a morning in (another!) Geo thermal spa where the water bubbles out of the ground at a blisteringly hot 40 degrees. We also visited a disused gold mine and a narrow gauge railway.
We weathered the storm in Coromandel and sailed from there to a small island called Rotoroa. We’re anchored in a beautiful bay fringed with white sandy beaches. For some 100 years until 2005 the only people who visited the island were the alcoholics and drug addicts who were sent here to dry out under the care of the Salvation Army. Some of the original old buildings remain and one can imagine how grim life was for the inmates. It’s now a wildlife sanctuary with some beautiful walks around the coastline. From here we’re going back to Waiheke, the island next door which we love because it is home to around 30 boutique wineries. So from sobriety to an alcoholics paradise!