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A Sunday Drive Through The Countryside

Well, we woke up and did our usual coffee and internet routine and then Dan said, “Let’s go for a drive in the country.” Well, that sounded like a brilliant idea for a beautiful Sunday so of course I was all in. We got dressed and headed out toward the north. Just about an hour’s drive north of Whangarei is Opua and the Bay of Islands. Lots of cruisers make this their first stop when coming into New Zealand. We originally planned to stop there but then our friends talked us into coming to Whangarei so we were excited to see what all the hubbub was about in this northern port.

The drive through the countryside was amazing! New Zealand is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It’s rolling hills and beautiful forests just beckon to be explored. Along the way we saw a sign beside the road that read “Kawiti Glowworm Caves”. Well, we were on an adventure so we turned and headed to see what it was all about. Just as we turned onto this road we saw this sign…

You have to love the Kiwis….they just say it how it is! Of course we adhered to the instructions on the sign and made our way cautiously to the entrance of the caves. There was a small park area with some picnic tables and a building made from an old shipping container. That’s the office. Of course there’s a fee to see these caves. We’re quickly learning that everything in New Zealand has a price attached to it. We spoke to the Māori gentleman at the counter who informed us the tours go every half hour and they cost $30 NZD per person. We weren’t really all that excited about spending $60 NZD for a half hour tour of the cave so we thanked him and got back on the road.

It wasn’t too long before we had made it to Opua. WOW! The sites of the bay and the islands from the main road were pretty spectacular. I can see why the cruisers like this place. It’s quaint and beautiful. That said, other than a handful of restaurants and marine related businesses there’s really nothing else here. We both quickly agreed that we made the correct choice to make Whangarei our home while in New Zealand. There we have many options for restaurants, stores and places to get parts etc… whereas Opua is pretty limited with just a couple restaurants and marine stores. There’s no doubt we want to stop here on our way out of the country but for our purposes Whangarei is definitely the right choice.

We did stop in at the Marina Cafe and have a bite of lunch. The food was really tasty. I had my first “pie”. No, not a sweet pie. Here in New Zealand they sell savory pies everywhere. The look like Chicken Pot Pies. This one was chicken and leek and boy was it good. I think I’ll be having more of these tasty treats during our stay in this fabulous country. And, the view was pretty nice looking over the marina and all the boats. It was a great stop. Of course we also had to check out the two marine stores. You never know what you’ll find that you didn’t think you needed until you saw it.

After a couple of hours in Opua we headed back south. It was still pretty early so we took the turn out to the Tutukaka Coast. Our fiends had told us what a beautiful place this is so we decided we should take a little side trip. It was definitely worth it. There were magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean with rocky cliffs and beige sand beaches.

When we arrived back in Whangarei we decided it was too late to worry about making dinner so we stopped at the one our favorite little pubs, McMorrissey’s Irish Pub, for a bite to eat before heading back to Dazzler. They have the most amazing Guiness Stew that they serve in a sourdough bread bowl. YUMMY! It was the perfect way to end another wonderful day here in the land of the Kiwis!

Until next time,

Jilly & Dan

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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