Written June 2011 – Raoul Island,
& Savusavu, Fiji
much. Not enough. Time. Too much time
since the last update (6 months!), so now there isn't enough time to
cover everything that's happened without boring you all. So the
theme of this update?
There isn't one. I'll try to keep it brief. (Impossible!) Just a lot of photos and a
narrative. Perhaps inspiration and promptitude will strike properly next
OVER THE TOP
Here's the plan: Up and over the north end of the
North Island, south along the west coast to the north end of the South
Island to visit the Marlborough Sounds, then south (yes,
south) to the south end of the North Island to spend the
holidays with friends in Wellington. Enough norths and souths for
you? This map will help.
The North Island of New Zealand is about
450 miles long.
As we left Opua heading north, our first stop was the Cavalli Islands...
And it was here that we were first "stopped" as well.
In the distance behind Migration, you can see a big
NZ warship. They launched a large RIB and zoomed over
to check us out. More on this later.
Excellent hiking, or "tramping" as the Kiwis say.
Remember the Rainbow Warrior? That's the Greenpeace ship the
French sank in Auckland Harbour back in the Eighties. (What a
stupid and immoral action!) It was refloated, towed to the
Cavalli Islands, and purposely sunk to form an artificial reef. (As a side note, I'm listening to the NZ album Send the Boats
Away which was recorded at that time [Thanks,
We lucked out and had perfectly calm weather
for our dive on the Rainbow Warrior. It was
interesting... and cold. We wore every piece of
neoprene we had aboard.
After the dive we headed through the small
pass into Whangaroa where we spent the night.
Sailing around the North Cape and down the West side can be
difficult unless the weather cooperates. There is only one safe
harbour if a storm develops during the 450-mile journey. Thus, if
good weather is forecast, you take it. We left Whangaroa right away
so we would be ready when light northerlies were due on the west coast.
As we headed for North Cape, we had
our second visit by NZ officials.
North Cape has a reputation for bad weather,
but we approached it on calm seas.
We had to wait for the northerly before heading south.
We anchored in Tom Bowling Bay -- desolate and beautiful.
Despite my efforts, we didn't have fresh fish for dinner.
We took the opportunity to transfer our extra fuel out
jerry jugs and into the main tanks. In the middle of the
we received our third visit from NZ officials. You can see the
flying above and to the left of Alene. Of course, they hailed us on
when our hands were all diesely.
It was nervous-making and exciting to
round Cape Reinga,
point of New Zealand. It's covered
giant sand dunes.
We had an awesome sail down the west coast (of the North Island).
We felt far away from everything. We were out of sight
of land most of the time and, until we neared the south, we saw no
A glorious sunrise began our third day out.
And hidden in the sunrise, magnificent Mount Taranaki.
In case you missed it, Alene will help.
Mount Taranaki is a spectacular peak rising to 2,518 meters (8,261 feet). It is a
classic snow-covered volcanic cone.
We were with the mountain all day long. Sometimes it was hidden
in the clouds, sometimes it peeked out, and
then it would stand tall in full glory. What a day!
As we passed Taranaki, the North Island curved away to the east.
We were bound for Marlborough Sounds. To get there we
had to cross... Cook Strait.
COOK STRAIT PRIMER
Notice how NZ is divided into two big islands. Each island has
tall mountain ranges. The prevailing westerly winds coming from the Tasman
Sea run right into those mountains. Each island also extends all the
way to the sea floor (of course). The ocean and tidal currents run
right into those walls of rock.
So what happens? The wind and water need to find some way
around. That's either to the north -- a long way, or to the south --
also a long way, or through that convenient gap right between the two
islands. That's Cook Strait.
Cook Strait has a reputation. Not a nice one. It can be a
pleasant, beautiful day just a few miles away. The seas
can be calm, all is fine in the world. In Cook Strait? 40 knots
of winds against a 5 knot current creating mountainous, confused, steep
We were understandably apprehensive as we approached the area.
Fortunately, our first brush with the strait was just that. We
skirted the northwestern edge.
But the change in the weather was quickly noticed. Fog and rain
developed as the wind and seas increased.
The automated weather reader says "seven"
just like Jerry Lewis!
Almost out of Cook Strait.
Our first view of the South Island.
Moored in Ship Cove in Queen Charlotte Sound. Happy to have
It didn't take long! Within a few hours of
arriving, we had our fourth visit from
On our way across the Strait, we caught a
strange-looking fish. It was a barracuda, but
one quite different than the tropical species
we are used to.
We picked up a mooring in Ship Cove. What a fascinating
place to be. Captain Cook anchored here for months. Besides being
full of great history, the Sounds were like no place we had ever
Ashore at Ship Cove we found carvings, wildlife, and excellent
tramps to impressive views.
Chanukah in Marlborough Sounds.
The weather changes quickly. When a south wind blows...
two days after our summer hike.
We loved the way Migration looked
this misty, green landscape.
Alene picks flowers while I wait
in the kayak. Besides flowers, we
collected lots of fresh mussels.
Classic Marlborough Sounds. The turquoise waters
of the tropics are replaced by aquamarine.
Duck in the hole!
Looking through our
'garbage disposal' in
the wing deck in the galley.
(And "wing deck" is not a pun.)
The weather changes fast in this part of the world. We awoke one morning expecting strong
cold winds from the south but instead we had light northerlies. A
perfect time to cross Cook Strait. We'd only been in the sounds for
five days but we upped anchor and quickly made our way 20 miles
through the sounds and out Tory Channel into the strait.
The weather was fine. In fact, at first there wasn't even enough wind to
Ferry traffic in Cook Strait.
In mid-channel, we hit a fog bank and the wind rose from 15 to 30
in a matter of minutes. We sailed fast toward Wellington.
The fog didn't last long and we had our first
view of the headlands around Wellington.
A personal escort entering Wellington? Nope.
With winds upwards of
30 knots, we had our
fifth visit from NZ officials.
Less than two hours later we approach Wellington
without foul weather gear! I'm ecstatic because I've
dreamed of sailing into Wellington ever since my
Steve and Shirley, moved here back in the 1990's.
(I was a little too late to visit them as they moved back
to California in 2001.)
THE REAL WINDY CITY
We'd visited Wellington briefly last year and really enjoyed
ourselves. Now, moored at the marina a few blocks from the city
center, we understood why Wellingtonians love their city. Well, most
of the time.
Migration moored in Chaffers Marina right across from the Te Papa
Museum. What a great location.
Wendy and Ken of s/v Cop Out, the
foreign-flagged boat boat in Wellington for nearly
all of our time there. Notice the pahutakawa in the background.
They are beautiful trees that bloom just in time for Christmas!
The weather in Wellington is pretty interesting. During our first
we had four days with maximum winds of 52, 51, 70, and 54 knots.
Hurricane force is 64.
Actual wind speeds we were recording in the marina.
And then there were days like this...
You might remember that I'm a Morris Dancer. That's a slightly
dorky English traditional dance. Depending on whether you do it or
not, you might argue about the 'slightly'. In January 1988, some
California Morris dancers got together and flew to New Zealand to
dance with the annual New Zealand Morris Tour. They made many
friends and some of the Kiwi dancers came to the first Southern
California Morris Ale (The Sunset Duck), which I organized in April of that
same year. Ever since, I've always thought it would be great to dance
with the Kiwis. I got my wish. The Britannic Bedlam Morris
Gentlemen were more than welcoming. I had a great time practicing
with them... and drinking David Barnes's home brew afterward.
Morris practice looks the same regardless
which hemisphere you're in.
December is the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere.
New Zealand hasn't commercialized
the holiday season to the extent that the US has. Still, there are signs of
Christmas. New Zealand Telecom put up
a giant tree made of lights in the park next to the marina. With
dozens of bean bags set up below, it
was a great place to hang out and enjoy the light show.
You can duplicate the experience if you lie on your back outside
when it's about
14°C (57°F), with 20 knots of wind
blowing, and hold the the computer above your head.
There's much to do in and around Wellington. With Wendy & Ken,
we biked the Rumataka trail along the route
the trains used to take over the mountains.
Great scenery, good
company, and a picnic in the sun. Meanwhile it was blowing
50 knots in Wellington.
The cityfront playground lighthouse was a bit of a magnet for Alene.
Note: I know there are lots of pics here of people you
don't know, but they were our wonderful hosts so they get top
billing in the update. I know photos like this can be boring so I
tried to pick ones that make our friends look funny or weird.
Christmas started the day the package arrived from Ohio. Alene's
mother sent us a huge
batch of her amazing ginger snaps. These are some of the best
cookies in the entire world.
Do not ask me to prove it to you because I will not share. Sorry. I
know it is base and shallow;
but some cookies call for selfishness.
We sailed down to Wellington because we'd been invited to spend
the holidays with two sets of wonderful friends: David & Janet from
s/v Navire (whom we'd met in Tonga), and Mike & Ingrid Hewetson, whom
I'd met through Steve and Shirley in California back in 2001.
Christmas Eve was gorgeous. This is the amazing view of
Wellington Harbour from David
and Janet's home. The photo on the right is included just because I
think it is cool.
Friends and food and presents.
Janet is an incredible chef. David writes songs, plays the
guitar and makes strudel. What talent! We exchanged songs written for
each other as part of our gifts.
Christmas day was absolutely beautiful. Mike and Ingrid live in
Plimmerton, about 15 miles north of Wellington. So we gathered gifts and
food and headed for the train station. The trains were all free on
Christmas Day -- a nice treat from the District Council.
All our holiday gear at the marina. I am able to text, ride a train,
and hold sweet potatoes on
my lap all at the same time.
Mike is working hard to become
a model for champagne brochures.
Mike's mom, Frances, looking
Daughter Izzy and friend Esther. They don't
have antlers but they look really good in hats.
That's a tui (a native NZ
bird) in Mike & Ingrid's backyard.
Tui birds have an amazing song
but this one was still learning. We
called him the "One Note Tui".
Yet another picture of us.
I titled this photo: Pahutakawa in Plimmerton.
Alene insisted on being in it.
A Christmas Day walk on the beach.
Do not mess with this man when he is carving lamb.
Ingrid cooked a delicious meal. "Alene, Please
hurry up and take the picture so we can eat..."
OH, THOSE BRITISH TRADITIONS
Note: I know that photos of Morris Dancing are
excruciatingly boring for most non-Morris Dancers. Oh well.
The Morris sides in Wellington traditionally dance in the Botanic
Gardens at the top of the cable car on Boxing Day (that's the 26th
December for you Americans). I was invited to join in. Alene and I
ran around like crazy the week before -- in advance of all the shops
closing for the holiday -- to find whites to for me. The Gentlemen
provided braces and a hat and I was in!
It's an amazing place to dance -- overlooking the entire harbour.
And the Gentlemen are great fun to dance with.
(Center photo by s/v Cop Out)
My solo jig.
I even had a little fan club. It takes true friends to come see Morris dancing!
And after dancing? Tea, of course!
This is Keith Riach whom I met when he came
all the way from NZ to dance at The Sunset Duck
way back in 1988.
All of NZ closes down for several weeks after Christmas, so we
just hung out and had fun. Except for the days we were on the boat
because it was too bloody windy to go outside.
The highest wind we saw. Wow.
Alene's friend Kay, whom she met in Panama years ago, came and
stayed with us for a few days. We sailed out to Somes Island in the
middle of Wellington Harbour aboard David & Janet's boat Navire.
It wasn't blowing 79 knots on this perfect
Wellington summer day.
Lily, David's daughter, said she was going for a swim. David and I
had to show that we were tough as well -- even though
the water was about 25°C (59°F). However, long
after David and I had scampered back onboard shivering, Lily
still casually swimming about. (Left photo by Kay
The views from Somes Island are wonderful. These photos were
taken before the
Dept of Conservation ranger chastised us for tying the dinghy to a
prohibited pier, coming
ashore at an unauthorized spot, walking in off-limits areas, crossing
yellow taped zones, and
endangering ourselves by hiking near recently fallen trees. We were
A NEW YEAR
We decided to throw a New Year's Eve party aboard Migration.
Despite the cold, we had a great time. Especially because of Alene's
excellent homemade eggnog.
Eggnog, party hats, charades, eggnog, Auld Land Syne, and eggnog.
The annual NZ Morris Tour happens in early January and Britannic Bedlam allowed me to
glom on. Alene and I jumped in
Gentleman Jim's car and drove with him the nine hours north to
First day dancing.
We danced at the "Magic Horse Show" which, disappointingly, did
not have horses
performing magic tricks. But we did get to ride the horses. Who is
that dork in the saddle?
Dancing at the giant corrugated iron dog in Tirau. Our dancing was
not good enough to
make the dog drool... lucky for Alene!
The Wellington women's side: White Rose.
The Gentlemen in fine style.
Saturday Night (the dance, not the time).
The whole NZ Crew. And the Britannic Bedlam Morris Gentlemen.
Thanks to all for an
We went to the museum in Hamilton where Alene
was immersed in déjà vu. She'd posed in front of
this same wall when she was in NZ in 1989.
Andy and "No Longer a NZ Virgin" Cimi
camp it up at the birthplace of The Rocky
Horror Picture Show. Its creator, Richard O'Brien,
worked in the old movie theatre that
once stood on this site.
The Morris Tour lasts for most of a week. There were dance tours
every day, singing and music at night, and an Ale with
skits, songs, and awards. Thanks to all the NZ Morris Dancers,
especially BBMG, who made us so welcome. Box of birds!
I had a great time.
During the week we had one free day. Alene and I visited Waitomo
Caves for a blackwater rafting adventure.
We donned our gear and practiced with the equipment.
First we rappelled down a 30 meter (100 ft) shaft. At the bottom
we hung from a zip
line and zoomed through a dark tunnel with the lights of the glow
worms surrounding us.
Then we jumped into freezing water with our inner tubes.
And floated through the darkness marveling at the glow worms.
(Photos stolen from
oz.plymouth.edu & www.nomadicmatt.com)
Then we crawled, swam, and hiked through passages, rivers, and
we exited the cave by climbing up a waterfall. It was an awesome
Back in Wellington, it was time to get moving. The Marlborough
Sounds called again. We provisioned and said goodbye to our friends.
Before we left, Alene got some kitty time when a cute marmalade
cat named Neville adopted us for a couple of days while his owners
In the right photo, Neville is intent on making sure the
ducks swimming nearby weren't in any danger.
NORTHWEST TO SOUTH
Though we loved being with our friends, we'd had enough of the
city. It was time to go cruising again. In mid-January, a fine
weather window appeared to allow us our third crossing of Cook
Strait. This time we'd be heading in a northwest direction to arrive
at the South island.
On a beautiful day (thank you NZ Metservice forecasts),
Migration motors past the Te Papa Museum on
our way to Pelorus Sound. (Photo by Andy Lawton)
Spinnaker sailing across Cook Strait. And no foul weather gear!
Pelorus Sound was beautiful. There were
any boats to be found.
But I wasn't happy. I'd had a tooth pulled in
Wellington and things weren't right. We needed
to find a dentist.
Now it was blowing hard. We had an exciting sail
through the Sounds to the tiny town of Havelock.
Look how little jib we have unfurled. We were
doing 7 to 8 knots.
Havelock is the green shell mussel capital of
Most of the mussels farmed in the area are processed here.
Some escape, like this one on top of the fire station.
With a population of 400, Havelock wasn't the best place to find
a dentist. The marina harbourmaster was extremely
helpful and got the word out. Within a couple of hours, Vic showed
up at our boat offering his van so we could drive to Nelson
the next day.
It's a beautiful road through the mountains. The dentist in
Nelson saw me right away and fixed me up.
The elegant old inn where the dentist has her office. The
view across Nelson
from the front porch made it almost worth seeing the dentist. Well,
After taking care of my tooth, or the hole where my tooth had
headed back out into Pelorus Sound. Unfortunately, the delightful
weather had been replaced with a rainy southerly gale.
St. Omar Bay provided excellent shelter from the
wind, but not from the cold. We spent four days
huddling below wearing wool caps and scarves.
This is the middle of January which is summertime.
Just so we'd feel like total wimps, while we were
shivering, there were Kiwi children out waterskiing.
The gale finally blew through, the warm weather returned, and we
sailed west toward
Tasman Bay. Along with a hitchhiker.
Between Marlborough Sounds and Tasman Bay is French Pass. A
narrow strait which can have currents up to 8 knots.
That can be dangerous so we took this passage very seriously.
INTO THE WARM
Tasman Bay is a different world. Sail 25 miles and you go from
the cold to the warm just like that. We rendezvoused with our
friends Ken & Wendy on s/v Cop Out in Croisilles Harbour. This
is seeded with scallops every year and Ken and Wendy had offered to
show us how to dredge for them.
Still lots of mussel farms, but calmer waters and warmer temperatures.
(Photos by s/v Cop Out)
Ken prepares the little dredge.
We had good teachers. Look at all the scallops!
Now comes the hard work: cleaning them.
Ready for the galley.
Time to relax while dinner is prepared.
By the next day, Migration was squeezed into
a berth in Nelson. And we mean it. The berth
was about 30 feet long and the riprap was
only a few feet to starboard.
FRIENDS AND PENGUINS IN OAMARU
Our friends Betsy and Richard of s/v Qayaq had moved to Oamaru,
between Christchurch and Dunedin on the east coast of the South
Island. They were going to be heading back to the US soon. We left
Migration in Nelson and jumped aboard a bus for some adventure on
A bus to Picton, then the Tranzcoastal train to Christchurch.
After that... a failed attempt
But the next day we got a ride from Tarsh
in her Russian-made Lada named Enchi-lada.
It was great to see Betsy and Richard. We had three fun days of
Betsy and Richard, and sunflowers. (Sunflower
photo by Richard Spore)
Elephant rocks. (First 2 photos by Richard Spore)
Lots of posing at the Moeraki Boulders. (Photos 3
& 6 by Richard Spore)
When we form a band, this will be the album cover.
We visited a wildlife preserve. New Zealand has some great birds.
(Photos by Richard Spore)
More wildlife photos.
"Hmmm, could there be anything scary on this trail...?"
Photos by Richard Spore)
Another New Zealand bird.
There is a lot of wool in New Zealand.
Kiwis do Botanic gardens really well. Even small towns like Oamaru
have beautiful gardens.
As well as the rare Southern Pompom Tassle-Duck.
THE ABEL TASMAN We returned to Migration and headed to Abel Tasman National
Park. Abel Tasman is one of the most popular parks in NZ. It's
filled with islands, birds,
bays, seals, penguins, forests, and quite a few tourists. But on a
boat, you can get away from the crowds on shore.
The Hewetsons came for visit. They are very bad at following
instructions. We asked
for some milk and fresh veggies and they brought boxes and
boxes of food and wine.
(Some photos in this section by Mike or Izzie)
We didn't go hungry.
Our visit to the rock slide at
Cleopatra's Pool was a highlight.
It was hard to pull Alene away from the slide.
They didn't catch anything but they looked good trying.
Can it land on the deck of that boat?
Show us some more leg, beefcake.
Trying to receive text messages in the Abel Tasman is not easy.
Even when you use your arm
as an antenna...
Hurray! They're gone! Not really.
We had an awesome time with
GOING DUTCH (Many photos in this section by Patrick & Marion)
Patrick and Marion from Holland, who last visited
in the Sea of Cortez (Migrations 4), met us in Nelson.
Patrick must be very dedicated to sailing on
Migration as there is no place inside where he
In Nelson, we came across this attorney's office
with specially marked parking places.
One spot per case type.
We sailed back to Adele Island, one of our favorite anchorages in
the Abel Tasman.
The island has been cleared of invasive species
like stoats and possums and the bird life is
Listen to the Adele Island bell birds
Adele Island also provides excellent cartwheeling opportunities.
This is Alene's first cartwheel inside a cave.
Abel Tasman is all about tramping. Excellent trails with beautiful
views around every corner...
A good number of waterfalls...
And fine sailing.
Good crew are rewarded properly.
1, 2, 3, jump! Try again. 1, 2, 3, jump! OK,
one more time. 1, 2, 3, jump! You guys are hopeless.
We finally left Tasman Bay and headed north into Golden Bay.
We sailed up to Farewell Spit, the northern tip of the South
Island (are you tired of these descriptions?!). It's difficult to
anchor there because of the miles of shallows, so we anchored far away in the south part
of Golden Bay and rented a car to visit Cape Farewell and the
spectacular area around it.
Are those people way up on that
dangerous cliff without
a guard rail?
Yep. It's us!
Time for a peaceful walk through a sheep
pasture after all that danger.
More fine sailing across the top of Tasman Bay.
Marion wanted scallops for her
birthday dinner. So what did we do?
Sailed to Croisilles and caught some.
But she did have to work for them.
A party that night.
Back through French Pass...
And into the Marlborough Sounds.
What are they doing?
The Sounds were great but we missed the warmth of Tasman Bay.
Our fourth crossing of Cook Strait started out nice and calm
with Alene calling her father for his
birthday... and ended with a bit more wind.
Back in Wellington we had the typical "beautiful day, storm day"
weather. We were docked right next to some of the
Barcelona Round the World Race boats. Notice the dismasted one in
the center photo.
Though the breed is called "Plush Puppy",
that's real dog.
It was time to leave the south. We spent a few more days getting
ready for the sail north and visiting some of the city's well-known sites.
You gotta love a city that has sewer
covers like this.
Panorama of Wellington from the top of Mt. Victoria
EAST COAST TO THE NORTH
In fairly calm conditions we sailed out of Wellington and exited
Cook Strait to the east. Then we turned the corner and headed north.
We had 600 miles to go to Whangarei where we would leave Migration
for our trip the US.
With Cape Palliser behind us, we are
officially out of
Accompanied by many albatross, we had
a fine sail up the East Coast.
Rounding Whangaokeno Island off of East Cape
important point on the voyage.
part is behind us!
We anchored a few miles past East Cape. It was here we received a
text message from Patrick and Marion who were now travelling around
the South Island by land. They informed us of the terrible
earthquake in Japan. There was a tsunami warning for New Zealand. We
upped anchor early in the morning before the wave was scheduled to
arrive. It turned out that there was nothing to worry about in New
Zealand but it is much better to be cautious.
We sailed west into the Bay of Plenty. Our destination: White
What is that on the horizon?
Is it smoke?
Wow! Look at that.
We're going to anchor there?!
Yep. Right next to the steaming crater!
White Island, as you have probably figured out, is an active
volcano. What an amazing place to anchor. The next morning, we
hooked up with one of the tours that come out from the mainland. It
was awesome. We hiked all around the crater and the old sulfur
works wearing hard hats and gas masks.