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Wheels Aweigh!

One of our first chores here in Whangarei was to make several decisions.  One of those was to rent or buy a good used vehicle for transportation.  Our good friends from SV SuAn had just returned to Whangarei with a used van they were planning to convert into a camper vehicle to use for traveling around New Zealand.  They had picked up the used van at a wholesale lot in the Auckland area.  They had a Rent a Dent from a local company and let us use it while they started converting their van.  Okay we had wheels for a few days but it would not be permanent.  We decided that we would also travel down to Auckland to see what we could find on the lot.  This worked out great because Jilly’s family has friends that live in the Auckland area.

So we contacted Sean and Donna to let them know that we’d be traveling through.  They insisted that we stay a night with them. Okay, everything was set in place. We rented a Dent to drive down to Auckland to the Grande Motors, the wholesaler.  This was one of the easiest purchases I have made except for a fifteen pack of Carlsburg beer at the beer store.  We found a Toyota Wish that was a 2005, a used import from Japan, that we thought was a good deal.  They put some gas in it, gave us the keys and said, “Take her for a spin”. The motor looked very good for its age and everything seemed to be tight in the steering, transmission and other operational equipment.  There were about 92,000 kilometers on the odometer.  The price of the Toyota was $6050 NZD ($3932.50 USD) that included taxes and six months of vehicle registration.  They had to prep the car and fix the radio before we could take it off the lot.  We left a deposit and spent a wonderful night with Sean and Donna.  We became instant family members with them.

The next morning we all went down to Brown’s Bay for breakfast before saying our goodbyes and heading back to the car dealer.  The car was ready.  The only thing we had to do was get it registered.  I rode with the salesman to the motor vehicle department about a half a block away.  We walked in without an appointment and up to the first available window. The transaction took about five minutes and we were out the front door with two license plates and the registration.  California could learn a few things from the process here.  

We drove back to the lot, picked up Jilly, said our goodbyes and were off northbound with a really nice used vehicle.  We are not sure if we will keep it stored at Sean and Donna’s when we leave for next season or sell it before departing.  We are still up in the air about that.

A little financial statistics: For the same amount of money we spent on the car we could rent a car for about one hundred days.  We will be here for a little over 180 days so we are about $4,400 NZD ($2,948 USD) ahead of the expenses.  Insurance for one year was about $450 NZD ($300 USD) and that transaction was done over the phone prior to picking up the Toyota.  Off we traveled back to Dazzler with our faithful stead. 

We now have wheels to get around in and see what New Zealand has to offer.  Tally Ho!


Captain Dan and Jilly

SV Dazzler

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Clearing Into New Zealand

So here we are…we made it! After eight days of which four were a complete beating we couldn’t be happier to be in the land of the Kiwis. The first order of business is to check in with the officials.

The sun is finally beginning to peak from behind the clouds as we enter the mouth of the river and make our way toward Marsden Cove Marina. This is where we will do our official check in with Customs and Immigration. On the way we pass a large commercial dock where freighters come to deliver fuel and other supplies to the island. Dan radios the marina to let them know we are getting close. They advise us to continue on to the Custom’s Dock.

We arrive at the dock and tie up and Dan calls them on the radio to let them know we are ready. It takes a bit for them to arrive so we celebrate our arrival with the traditional anchor down beer. This one tastes especially sweet as it’s not just celebrating a safe passage, it’s celebrating the entire journey from México to New Zealand.

About twenty minutes after arriving the first of two Custom’s agents arrives at the boat. We’d been forewarned that New Zealand can be very strict and so we were completely prepared. We have filled out all of the paperwork and we have a spreadsheet that lists all of the food we have on board and where it is located. As the officer goes through our paperwork he finds that we do still have a few items they will have to take from us. They confiscate a couple of packages of meat we didn’t get to yet as wells as popcorn, fresh beans, our last onion and a couple of other small items but nothing we really cared about. Like I said, they are pretty strict with what you can and cannot bring into the country but we were prepared for it so it was no big deal. In fact, before we left Tonga we donated some of the food we knew they would take to the islanders. At least someone would get to eat it rather than it being tossed in the garbage.

The second officer who came aboard was Bruce Cooper. He is a fine mate who has been doing this for over twenty years. We chatted with him for quite a while. He was a wealth of information and very kind to us. When he finished with his paperwork he told us we’d get an invoice via email for the custom’s fee and he’d send us our TIP (Temporary Import Permit) when he got back to his office. All in all it was a pretty easy check in, of course it helps that I spent several days completing the paperwork before we arrived.

After our check in we departed Marsden Cove and headed up river to find the marina we had booked for our stay. The hour long trip up the river was absolutely stunning with mountains and hills that reminded me of an English countryside. And even though the sun had finally made its way from behind the clouds it was still cold! Our house gas had gone empty the day before our arrival so I was trying to make coffee from the hot water in the sink. It wasn’t as hot as we like it but it was helping to warm our insides.

Once we got to the north end of the river here in Whangarei (pronounced… Fon ga ray), you have to go under the Hatea River Bridge. It’s a rather unique looking bridge that is said to resemble a Māori fish hook. Our mast is too high to get under so we called to have it opened. The tide was low at the time and as we passed under the bridge we had just a foot and a half under the keel. That’s cutting it s little too close for both of us but we made it.

We originally planned to put the boat in the Riverside Marina but as we went by we realized this was not going to work for us. They didn’t really have any slips that would fit Dazzler so we kept moving up the river toward the Town Basin Marina.

One thing we both noted here is that not every slip has a finger dock. Some slips are just pilings and you tie off the bow and stern. Well, that means no electric and no water and you have to keep your dink in the water to get to shore. This was not an option for us. After all, whats the point of being in a marina if you don’t have easy access to land? Dan radioed the office as we were getting nearer to the main part of the marina and they did have a slip available on a finger dock. Hooray!

After eight days of traveling and in some pretty rough weather we were both ready to get tied up and relax a bit. We found the C dock and as we rounded the corner toward our slip I looked out and saw a most wonderful sight. Our dear friends, Lutz & Gabi were docked just two slips away from ours. This was such a wonderful surprise for us! More good times are definitely ahead!

Once we tied up and checked in with the marina office it was time to relax and tip a few cold ones. It’s absolutely beautiful here. I think we are going to love New Zealand!

Until next time,

Jilly & Dan