Saturday 19 December 2015

Amelie IV South Pacific Video

Here is a video that I have worked on over the past few months that shows Amelie's journey across the South Pacific: Galápagos to Fiji. Enjoy!
Brought to you by, Meghan

Bay of Islands to Half Moon Bay Auckland

Roberton Island- Bay of Islands

Saturday December 19th 2015 

G’Day from Aotearoa! We’ve been in BREATHTAKING New Zealand for almost a month now, sure we’ve been freezing our wimpy butts off- we’ve simply forgotten how to handle cold weather- but we are getting there, slowly and we are enjoying every minute here !

The first week in December we were thrilled to welcome my sister Dominique,niece Laura and brother in law Donald  back on board for some more excitement.We only had 3 days to do a bunch of stuff so we pulled up the anchor almost as soon as  we got them on deck.

We took a couple of days sailing in the Bay of Islands, enjoying the day hikes and even had a visit from a frisky bunch of dolphins who gave us  a great show....Boy they sure grow them big here in NZ !  I don’t think we’ve ever seen such LARGE dolphins !  Large and powerful, could not believe how HIGH these guys could jump , in doubles, triples, and, well, just, wow !

Got lucky and caught a picture of a dolphin , from the beach. (That's Meg and Doe on board Amelie)

We then went to visit the Birth Place of the Nation at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds...where the historic treaty was signed by Maori chiefs and the British.Our excellent guide, who happened to be a direct descendant of one of the key Maori chiefs of the period, taught us much about the history of New Zealand. For example  I found it interesting that the document that was signed by the Maoris was worded differently than the one which signed by the British ...The man in charge of the translation knew that he Maori chiefs would not agree to the terms unless he changed them- ever so slightly, this of course led to some misunderstanding later on, but now every one seems to get along quite well! 

We then had a great opportunity to take part in a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony. Filled with loud shouts, singing, dancing and demonstrations of their impressive skills with weapons and training exercises ! It all ended with the big finale: the world reknown Haka. A great show !

Matthew on Mimiwhagata Island

Then it was time to say ‘See ya later” as Doe and Laura went off on their mother-daughter tour of the South Island for a couple of weeks (they will be back with us for Christmas) and we also had to bid Donald a Bon Voyage as he hoped on the plane back to Canada .and winter......

We took some time to Enjoy Opua and our cruising friends for a week and then head out to sail south down the East Coast of the North Island.

A Fan Tail

It took us one week to get from the Bay of Islands to Half Moon Bay in Auckland. Stopping every afternoon we would take the opportunity to go for an (always) scenic walk before dinner. The places we visited were : Mimiwhagata Island (amazing look out), Urquarts Bay (mainland near Whangarei),  Kawau Island (Mansion House and grounds) , and Waiheke Island (wineries and fun shopping). Every day we put a line out, every day we pulled a fish out !  (Mostly King Fish- which are very tasty)

MC and the kids with the Maori performers ! 

3 days/3 Fish


We are turning into quite the bird watching enthusiasts, as it is easy to become in New Zealand !  We have come to recognize a few feathered friends by their song alone. Of all the song birds out there, none, in my opinion,  can out perform the magnificent Tui.  He has a range that goes from melodic to synthethized. Meg oberved that at times he sounds just like R2D2 !  Another good one, is the fan tail, this little guy hops around opening and closing his tail (like a peacock but really tiny) too cute for words!  The Weka and the Kiwi, two flight challenged birds, are, of course, other favourites

MC and Matthew on Mimiwhagata

One evening while anchored near Kawau Island, Meg and I decided to go “Hunting for Kiwi Biwds”. Armed with our red head lamps, we waited for darkness (9 pm) and then rowed the dinghy ashore, beached it and walked as quietly as we could around the grounds.  Mansion house (Run by the Department of Conservation in NZ)-is the former residence of the Governor and is now a park with many quaint little walking trails reminiscent of the days of past grandeur. Earlier that same day,the guide/park ranger had told us that that the kiwi birds are often found wandering on the lawn at night. So we walked along the path, fringing the dense forest and we were rewarded by many wild sounds, all sorts of birds calling to each other in the darkness !  

At one point there was loud rustling in the bushes, right beside us, it got our blood pumping and our canadian “got to get away from this bears/cougar/moose”  fight or flight responses into full gear, the noise was getting louder, and nearer, and while Meg grabbed on to my arm with a survival instinct- for some bizarre reason- was to break into fits of giggling. Anyways, after all this, we never did get to see what that was lurking in the dark. We think that it must have been one of the many wild wallabies which were introduced here from Australia by Governor Grey in the mid 1800s, there is no other explanation, unless it was a 100 lbs Kiwi bird !  

We opted for the wide open- safer feeling - front lawn and sat on a bench and waited...holding our breath at every loud cry, it felt like we were surrounded by night birds but we couldn't see much!  It was very dark, with only the light of the slimmest crescent moon and our battery worn head lamps- At one point Meg did see a bird, the size of a kiwi, who quickly ran past us (her night vision is way more accurate than mine).

We enjoyed the thrill of the search very much and returned on board with our ears and imaginations filled with exotic sounds and images. Mark greeted us back with a treat: Fruit topped with whipped cream!  He had been in a domestic mood, it was yummy and was the perfect ending to a great day !

Waiheke was another pleasure. The holiday island, just across from Auckland, is the perfect weekend getaway for people living in the big city. This island has lovely rolling hills and is  loaded with wineries and artsy/crafty stores. We spent three lovely night there and every afternoon went hiking around through vineyards and along beaches. 

Wineries in Waiheke

Grapevines on Waiheke

A nice rest stop on Waiheke

I don't understand when I see people swimming when my internal thermometer- the goose bumps on my arms and legs- tells me that it is definitely NOT swimming weather ! Anyways, you can’t blame them, after all the kiwi kids are out of school now and it is their summer holidays!

Mark enjoying a taste at Cable Bay Winery

 On two separate days we rewarded ourselves by sampling some of the whites (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris) and Reds (Pinot Noir and Syrah) at a couple wineries (Cable Bay and Stonyridge Winery) while Meg and Matthew had fun on the vast manicured lawns. 

Matthew stumbles onto an ancient stone carving while out walking on Waiheke

Mark harassing his daughter at Cable Bay Winery

We also took in the culture and went to see a movie IN A MOVIE THEATRE !  (Big deal for us) Even better because the local movie theatre was the coolest little theatre; Locally run by volunteers, it is furnished with couches and pillows !  After all the wine I drank, and the comfortable seating in the dark room, it was hard for me not to fall asleep- just for a minute or two - during the movie !  (No it wasn’t Star Wars- it wasn’t playing there!)

  A Groovy movie theatre !  (We were told that these are quite common in NZ)

Half Moon Bay Marina, in Auckland will be our home base for a while (From Christmas onwards) and this is where Amelie will be hauled out in 2016, where she will get a little bit of  well deserved pampering on the hard. Thank you for faithfully reading our blogs and sharing in this adventure with us. We miss our friends and family very much and think of you everyday !

This is NZ's Christmas Tree- It blooms at this festive time of year !

Finally I would just like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel,  Happy Hanukkah and Selamat  Tahun Baru 2016  to all of our friends near and far! Lets hope for a wonderful 2016: A new beginning, and a chance for making this a better world for everyone especially for all of the new families arriving in Canada for the first time!  Love, Love, Love, 4Ms Sailing