Hi all... Just a quick note to say hi from the South Island, New Zealand.
We are a little behind in the blog, but figured we may as well skip ahead slightly so we don't get too far behind!!!! We still need to (and will do) write blog updates of:
1) our time in Sydney and Pittwater, where we met up with Andrew Dudley and his family; Dave Collins and his family; Bruce and Di Denley, fellow boating friends from catamarans "Nogal" and "Impi", Jackie Savage and her family, and Bruce and Lyn Savage and their parents.
2) our sail back from Sydney to Gold Coast including Australia Day celebrations.
3) our time in the Gold Coast preparing Cool Runnings for haul out and catching up with old sailing friends William Voerman and his family (including going racing with William over a weekend.... the 1st time I have raced since 1997). Also catching up with old varsity Building Management friends Brian Chambers and Gavin Cubbin!
As I write this, we are camping next to a beautiful lake somewhere south of Christchurch. This is our 1st of 10 days we will spend driving around the south island of New Zealand. We have rented a self contained Camper Van for the duration and are looking forward to exploring this beautiful country by road :)
OK.... Rewinding a few days.... We left Cool Runnings in The Gold Coast area at "The Boat Works" for a full Pedi / Mani... and just overall pampering session. We are having some warranty work done, having the bottom antifoul repainted, installing new oil seals in the sail drives, having the cone clutches lapped in the saildrives, new window outer privacy screens installed, and a full polish and wax of the sides and top. We figured after 11,000 miles it was time for a bit of maintenance. So hopefully when we return Cool Runnings will be almost ready for her next adventure across the Indian Ocean. We still need to purchase a new genaker (as Puff is a little tired) and possibly a new smaller spinnaker for night sailing in stronger winds, plus I need to service both engines plus the generator and outboard engine, and try and remove some excess weight.
Anyway.... We flew into Auckland on the North Island last Wednesday, Feb 8th after staying with Brian Chambers and his family for 2 days. Thanks Brian and Carla for your hospitality and for letting us enjoy your wonderful home!! It was great catching up with Brian after so many years since we were at university together. Brian has actually organised a "Builders" reunion for all the builders who graduated in the 1990 era on the 1st weekend in March. So far Gavin Cubbin, Les Gorvet, Kevin Pickering, Andrew Dudley, Brian Chambers, Richard Wilkinson , Dave Hibberd have confirmed with a few other possible builders that may attend. Rumours are Dave Lewis may even make a guest appearance :)
Back to NZL... Les Gorvet (also a fellow varsity building buddy) was kind enough to pick us up from Auckland airport and took us back to his home for a 2 day stay. We had a fantastic time with Les, Lauren and Justin.... What a cool family and Lauren is an absolute riot!!!! A BiG thank you for your kindness and generosity and it was so nice to catch up after so many years!!! Les took us for a tour of Takapuna beach where I had sailed a Laser World Championship many years ago... That bought back many fond memories!!!
Les then dropped us at Devonport where we caught a ferry into downtown Auckland and explored a bit of the city including a look at some America's Cup former race boats! Later that afternoon we met up with Tobi and Nicole from catamaran "Invictus" and enjoyed reminiscing about our time together in the Pacific over some drinks and pizza for dinner.
The next morning Les helped us secure an Avis rental car and we set off on a whirlwind 3 day tour of the south part of the North Island. The 1st day was spent driving down to Rotorua and Lake Taupo area where we enjoyed visiting the Agrodome and some real mud pools. Gaby got to milk a cow and Ben fed a lamb in the Agrodome farm show which included sheep shearing, sheepdog show and a few other activities.
We stayed at a lovely motel on Lake Taupo (called 52 on Rifle) and rose early the next day to explore The Huka Falls. These where unbelievable falls... They supply 15 percent of NZL power through hydroelectric power and over 200,000 litres flow over the falls every second!!!!!
After seeing the falls we drove to " Craters of the moon", a large geothermal park and explored the many natural thermal steam vents.....quite a sight and quite a smell :)
Later that afternoon we set off yet again to another natural phenomenon at Waitomo Caves where thousands of glow worms line the ceilings of these beautiful caves. Having seen some wonderful caves along our travels we did not expect too much but were blown away by how spectacular these limestone caves were!!! After walking through the caves for about 40 minutes, the final part of the tour is a small boat ride in the pitch dark out the cave mouth...very cool.
That night we stayed in an Airbnb near Cambridge and then yesterday drove from there to Tauranga, a seaside town, where we met up with Nicholaus and Anne Marie from "Excalibur" whom we had also spent many wonderful times with in our journey across the Pacific. We found a really cool fish and chips place next to the local fishing fleet and enjoyed an awesome afternoon catching up with them and the kids had fun with their old playmates from Excalibur. All too soon our time was up and we had to head back up towards Auckland to catch our flight to Christchurch this morning. We stayed at another lovely Airbnb just south of the airport and woke up at 5am this morning to catch our flight.
After arriving in Christchurch the company we are renting from, www.heroncampers.co.nz picked us up and took us to their place for a full briefing and handover of our camper... It's a new 2016 model van so really nice thus far. We made a stop at a local grocery store and loaded up with 10days worth of groceries while the kids unpacked our luggage and made up beds etc. Then off we set...
So here we are... 2 beers later, sitting next to a peaceful lake and feeling very relaxed and happy to be here and getting a bit caught up on our blog :) The kids have been running around and enjoying our first ever family camping adventure :)
More to come as we set off further south tommorrow... But now it's time to crack another beer and fire up the BBQ.... And PS enjoying the cold.... "Cheers mate"