s/y Nine of Cups
Welcome to New Zealand
November - December 2009
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New Zealand facts:

Population: 3,890,000
Area: 104,454 sq mi
High Point: Aoraki /  Mt. Cook (12,316 ft)
Low Point: Pacific Ocean
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Languages: English & Maori
Time: +12 UTC (+13 UTC during Daylight Savings Time)
Currency: NZ dollar   (NZ$1 - US$ 0.72) aka "the Kiwi"
Guide: Lonely Planet New Zealand
We left Big Mama's anchorage and Tonga on 1 November...a beautiful, bright Spring day,
headed for Opua (near Paihia) and the Bay of Islands, about 1,100 nautical miles away.
Minerva Reef was en route, but with fine weather in store, we opted to take a miss on
Minerva and continue on to Opua. As luck would have it, Murphy's Law prevailed.
Having passed up Minerva some miles back, David discovered a rather significant oil leak
in the engine. We had consumed well over a gallon of oil in less than 15 hours of motoring
over a three day period. Since we only carried enough spare oil for an oil change (2-1/2
gallons), we would not have enough to motor for very long, especially since we needed to
charge the batteries for 1-2  hours each day. We were in the proverbial "pickle" (here, it's
a sea cucumber!). We had been calling in daily with our position to the "Big Mama Net"
which was established  and maintained by the cruisers heading to Opua. When we called
in, we announced our problem and within minutes several boats offered aid and oil.
In calm waters with no wind, we were drifting,
but in rather the right direction. Our "oil
delivery" came unexpectedly from
Happy Spirit
who dropped off 3-1/2 gallons of used oil (still
perfectly fine for our use). He wrapped the oil
jugs in big plastic bags, dropped them close to
us and we retrieved them with the boat hook.
The most likely diagnosis at this point was a
broken piston ring or a burned piston. Several
boats offered excellent ideas including
construction of an "oil catchment container"
which reduced the crankcase pressure and the
oil consumption significantly.
Our days were spent busily monitoring the
engine oil leak, completing our 2009
Christmas letter, updating the website,
polishing stainless (yuck!), completing
replacement of the lifelines and completing the
coachwhipping of the wheel. We did our
share of reading, jewelry making and of
course, planning. Planning what we would do
about the engine and the mainsail. What we
would see and do in New Zealand and what
might be our itinerary for 2010.
Never a dull moment on this boat!
We had company along the way... a sooty
shearwater above and a Royal  albatross below.
For more
New Zealand birds, click here.
Kate Sheppard spearheaded the movement
which gave New Zealand women the right to
vote in 1893...25 years before Britain and or
the USA. Go, Kate!
Many oral histories tell of the discovery of NZ
by the great Polynesian navigator Kupe in about
800AD. Kupe sailed to Aoteoroa (Maori for
NZ) from Hawaiki (not Hawaii, but rather
Ra'iatea in French Polynesia). It was Kupe's
wife who named the new land Aotearoa which
means "Land of the Long White Cloud".
New Zealand boasts the longest place name in the world (85 letters!)... a sign for a hill in
Hawke's Bay is called "Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamatea-
turipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuaki- tanatahu" meaning "The summit of the hill,
where Tamatea, who is known as the land eater, slid down, climbed up and swallowed
mountains, played on his nose flute to his loved one".
New Zealand has a number of  interesting,
and sometimes quirky attributes such as the
world's only living dinosaur (the
tuatara), the
highest number of golf courses per capita in
the world and more Scottish pipe bands per
head of population than Scotland!
Less than five per cent of New Zealand's population
is human ... the rest are animals. This is one of the
highest ratios of animals to humans in the world
In 1642, Dutch explorer Abel Tasman
(Tasmania, Tasman Sea) sailed up the
west coast and christened the land Niuew
Zeeland after the Netherlands province of
Zeeland. The Dutch lost interest and when
Captain James Cook arrived in 1769, he
circumnavigated and charted NZ, then
claimed the entire land for the British
Crown. Many of the places still bear the
names he gave them.
New Zealand is a land of many rivers. The
longest is the Waikato River in the North (425
km). The longest navigable river is the
In addition to 14 national parks, New
Zealand boasts 19 forests, three
maritime parks, two marine parks
and three World Heritage areas.
Marcie puts the final touches on the New
Zealand courtesy flag which we'll fly as soon
as we clear NZ Customs/Immigration.
We arrived and tied up at the "Q" dock
(quarantine) in Opua, New Zealand (just southeast
of Paihia on the map above) on 11 November at
about 2130 and spent a restful night...11 days and
1205 nm. Not bad considering the state of both
the mainsail and the engine. Customs, Immigration
and Biosecurity arrived around 0900 the next
morning. Efficient, friendly and professional, the
check-in was nowhere as bad as we had heard or
We had made a reservation at the Opua Marina
and once freed of NZ incoming formalities, we
settled into dock life at the marina. Hot water
showers, laundry facilities, real supermarkets
nearby, restaurants...nearly overwhelming!
The waterfront at the Opua Marina is lined
with chandleries, services and tradesmen.
The closest supermarket and gas station is in
Paihia though.
Soon after we arrived, we were invited to go to
the Waimate North show, one of the longest
running county fairs in New Zealand. There
were lots of displays of local crafts, tractors,
baked goods, agricultural products and wines.
It was not very different from a US county fair,
with farm animals being shown in competition
for blue ribbons. Bulls, horses, pigs, sheep,
cows, chickens...the whole farm.
One "interesting" display was dead rodent
pests... previously frozen and thawing as the
day progressed. Evidently possums are a major
pest eating vegetation, while stoats, weasels and
rats tend to eat the local bird population.
Possums are a pest here. But possum fur is
used to make mittens, socks, slippers, scarves
gloves, you name it AND it's quite expensive.
Advert from a local paper above...making
lemonade out of lemons!
We managed a trip to the nearby town of Kerikeri
and visited The Stone Store on the banks of the
Kerikeri River, the oldest stone building in New
Zealand c.1836.
David browses inside the store at the memorabilia
and interesting articles for sale, reminiscent of an
old general store.
Though shallow, the river is navigable and a steam
ferry makes regular trips stopping at the Stone
Store. There is an anchorage here, but too
shallow for Cups.
Like "Americana", Kiwiana is all things that
are common to New Zealand and New
Zealanders (Kiwis) and make New Zealand
the special and unique place that it is. Click
highlighted text above for a sample!
This arch is found at the entrance to the
Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Signed in 1840,
the controversial treaty signed by over 500
Maori chiefs ceded sovereignty to the British
crown in exchange for protection and the
granting to Maori all the citizenship rights
afforded to all British citizens.
Opua, Bay of Islands, New Zealand - 35S18.81 / 174E07.35
Replacing the engine...yikes!
The major oil useage/leak on the way from
Tonga in conjunction with poor
compression test results, got us to thinking
about a major engine overhaul. We
located a rebuilt Ford Lehman 90HP
engine exactly like ours in Auckland for
less money than the rebuild would cost
and so began a huge project of exchanging
out the engines.  David opted to do all the
labor himself (with a little help from his
friends). The first step was removing our
engine. It barely fit through the cockpit
sole, but "barely" was enough. At right,
David and Iaian (Loon III) work the chain
hoist to lift the engine (1000#!!) out of the
engine room.
Once the engine was out, oh my, what a mess! Not
only inside the engine room, but parts were
eveywhere...on deck and down below. That, too,
was soon to be rectified.
We loaded the engine on a heavy-duty trolley,
moved it slowly up the dock, waiting for high
tide to make the trip as easy as possible. It fell
off the trolley in the parking lot! No blood, no
foul. Lowe's Marine used their crane to lift it
and load it onto the bed of a rented pickup
truck for the trip to Auckland.
A long, slow, hilly and curvy 2-lane road leads
from Opua to Whangarei and then a highway
into Auckland...about a 4-1/2 hour ride. Once
at Moon Engine, we unloaded the old engine
and compared it to the new one to make sure
we had all the bits we needed off the old one
and there would be no surprises.
Projects expand exponentially on a boat. As
long as the engine was out, might as well paint
the engine compartment, get the transmission
checked and reworked as necessary, replace all
the old wiring, all the hoses and clamps, etc, etc.
etc. Hard to gauge how long a project will take
when the project is ever-expanding.
Once convinced the engine was what it was
supposed to be and we had all the miscellaneous
bits we needed, we loaded it onto the pickup for
the return trip. We stayed overnight in Auckland
and arrived back in Opua in time for Lowe's to
unload the truck and stow the engine in their
garage where David would prep it for installation.
The most difficult part was moving the engine
back down the dock and up the narrow pier
beside the boat. Thoughts of the engine falling
off the trolley were on everyone's mind.
Luckily, thank Neptune, no mishaps! The new
engine went into place as planned with only a few
issues to be addressed. A week and much
concentrated effort later and David said the magic
words..."Let's start the engine!". Marcie turned the
key, the engine sputtered and voila...a working
engine in the boat! Hooray!
If you take a look at the map above, you'll see
where we are in Opua, Bay of Islands. Lots of
cruising to be done here as soon as all the boat
chores are complete.
Though David was intent on completing
the engine work as soon as possible, I
convinced him to take a day off every
once in awhile. "All work and no play...."
On Thanksgiving, we took a lovely walk
along a coastal "track" (Kiwi for path or
trail) from Opua to Paihia...about 7 km.
Later in the day, we joined other cruisers
for a turkey dinner at the Opua Cruising
Club.  There are innumerable tracks like
the Opua-Paihia  in New Zealand and it's
our goal to walk as many of them as we
can. Good exercise and outstanding
View from the track of the lovely Bay of Islands. That's
the Okiato ferry dock on the opposite side of the bay.
A trip to the Kauri Coast & the Waipoua Forest
A friend loaned us his car one day and
we decided to head to New Zealand's
west coast. In this Northland region,
the country is pretty skinny and in less
than a 100 km we were there!  We
drove along narrow country roads
from Opua/Paihia through several little
towns to Rawene, NZ's 3rd oldest
European  settlement on Hokianga
Harbour. Along the way, we stopped
as usual to view the scenery and the
In a field, we were amazed to see a wild
turkey and a peacock. It seemed as if the
peacock was racing, but no contest as the
turkey was just being a turkey and ambled
along slowly, eating and gobbling away.
In Rawene, we came across the Boatshed Cafe and
decided to have lunch there. It was a friendly little place with
ambiance, good food and a great view of the harbour.
We stopped frequently to take advantage of
scenic overlooks and short tracks along the
bay. Above, Martin's Bay
Most exhilarating, with the wind blowing 25
knots, was our first view of the Tasman Sea!
With Queen Anne's Lace in the foreground, a view
of the Hokianga Harbour entrance from the Tasman.
Our ultimate destination for the day was
the Waipoua Forest, home of the giant
Kauri trees. This area, now under DOC
(Dept of Conservation) protection, was
once noted for logging and gum-digging.
So much logging took place that this is
one of the few remnants of native kauri
forest still found in New Zealand.
Above, Tane Mahuta "Lord of the Forest" is named
for the Maori god of the forests. It's estimated to be
2,000 years old and stands 51M (166') tall. We
tramped through the forests on well-marked trails
through lush vegetation, especially ferns.
Te Mahuta Ngahere, "Father of the
Forest", isn't very tall, but has a trunk over
5 M in diameter. It is thought to have the
widest girth of any kauri tree in NZ and to
be the oldest...possibly 4,000 years old.
We stopped in the DOC office at the park
headquarters for a good informational overview
of the kauri forests and logging industry of the
past. I photographed B&W photos on display
with reasonable results.
Kiwi- speak... We may be in an English-speaking country, but it doesn't necessarily equate to
American English by a long shot. The main difference in accent is the pronunciation of the first
short "e" sound in a word. They pronounce it as a long "ee", so seven is pronounced "see-ven",
eleven is "elee-ven" and  so on. Here's a sample of some different vocabulary Kiwi-isms...

Ute - (yute) - a pick-up truck; short for utility vehicle      Jandals - sandals
Capsicum - green, yellow or red bell peppers                Chilly bin - a cooler     
Flat white - coffee with milk (latte)                                 Long black -black coffee
Track - path or trail                                                       Tramping - hiking
Panel Beaters - auto body shop                                   Trundler or trolley - shopping cart
Dairy - convenience store                                              Bush - wooded/forested areas
Wee - small, tiny                                                            Crikey - an exclamation like Geez

We'll add more as we hear them.
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New Zealand Birds
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