Port Whangarei New Zealand Latitud e:-35.752145° Longitude:174.345614°

SV Jenny
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Mon 29 Feb 2016 05:51
Dear Family and Friends,

February 29th 2016

Well it has been a long time!  A little over 6 months to be precise and it is good to be back, traveling, experiencing, photographing and writing. And what better place than New Zealand, Aotearoa, 'the land of the long white cloud', I am fulfilling a long held passion to visit these islands and laying to rest the last, frustrating visit, in transit to the UK, back in August last year. The 23 hours I spent here were not going to be the last time I set foot here.

As everyone who has traveled here will know it is a long and somewhat boring flight, and after 5 days here I am still wrestling with the 13 hours time difference. Who needs sleep at night anyway. Our boat is in Whangarei port, so on reaching Auckland there was another 3 hours to wait and a short flight here. I arrived into temperatures in the high 20C whilst dressed for an English winter, clothing layers peeled in the airport had to be worn again because of Air NZ 7kg carry on weight, (the case was half full)! But for all the wearying travel the short flight here was definitely the best bit of the travel, the countryside spread before me like a model, fields, frequent hills, cows, a few threads of roads, imposing volcanic ridges and exposed vertical crags and to be honest just a few homesteads outside of the small towns. And so much green.

The news is that we have all but sold our boat here. It seems a little mad given that we are planning to continue to cruise and have no idea at present where we will find our next boat but who knows, life is an adventure. We will be seeing NZ by campervan, Alan declined the models with crazy colourful paintwork, shame. But for now we are awaiting the final repairs to the boat, for those of you for whom this means anything, a fuel injector pump from Japan and the completion of the copper coat to the hull. With the boat sitting in it's cradle some 10' off the ground living on board is a challenge with no drainage. The uninvited flying beetles or cockroaches are also hard to catch and tiresome. After the rat (our experience, October 2014), this is the next most feared invader and hard to eradicate, we have packed the boric acid treatment! The things I never knew I needed to know!

It is probably not be a surprise when I tell you that apart from packing the boat contents for freight to the UK, we have been taking in the sights around Whangarei, (pronounced Fungaray). What hope is there for any attempt at pronunciation around here, apparently Kauri is spoken as Cody, not to mention the Kiwi accent, but I digress. There are some lovely if energetic walks from the town into the surrounding hills, Parihaka has wonderful views over the town and the river as it meanders towards Whangerei Bay. The ridge itself is the site of a tribal Pa or fortified hill village. Little is discernible of this now under the ferns and palms. The delights of walking in the forest reserves, begin as you enter the cool depths of the valleys, the stream tumbles over short falls and rush past the boulders, the path leads up steeply past the wonderful primeval tree ferns and the indigenous Kauri trees which grow so straight and tall their very existence was threatened by the numbers felled to make masts and spars for the European sailing ships and the Maori canoes. As we climbed the temperate perceptibly warmed and became more humid, the air vibrating to a cacophony of crickets pulsing buzz and clicking. The wet and warm side of the ridge was lush with ground ferns, palms and broad leafed evergreens, whilst on the other side something akin to sedge grass and less trees veiled with pale Spanish moss. Atop the viewing area is a carved stone, chosen by the Maori elders to mark this important place for them and unveiled earlier this year. The elders chose this stone from among a great many because it had a lizard on it which is auspicious and at its unveiling, the name of the ridge changed back to it's Maori original. What this does emphasize is the respect in which the Maori culture is held and how today's New Zealander's are rolling back some aspects of English culture to embrace Maori traditions. 

The locals use these paths with their steep ascents and descents as a training ground, they are so fit and we even met a boy of about 12 running up steep steps near the summit, I am suitably shamed into gaining some degree of fitness, now sadly lacking through 6 months of indolence.

Thank you for the Alan's birthday wishes for yesterday, a dull and very wet day that showed no promise at all. But going stir crazy in the boatyard we ventured along the coast late in the afternoon. Amazingly we were rewarded with a lovely sunny end to the day while we walked towards Bream Head nature reserve. the climb was even steeper than before, some hundreds of metres, through the sub tropical forests of ferns, (no wonder this is the national symbol), epiphytes growing on their host trees and the ever present cricket chorus. Our wanderings disturbed them and they buzzed past us, quite disconcerting close to your head. The star of the show has to be a bird with black plumage and a white tuft under its beak, we encountered who kept up such a variety of 'ouching', trilling and whistling, we stood listening for some time. We never quite made it to Peach Cove, the descent was by a steep path and with one eye on the return journey and the other on the setting sun, our aching limbs were grateful for the descent.

More soon, with photos. 

All our best,

Lynne and Alan

P.s despite the sale of Jenny, we will continue to blog under the same address.