North Island - New Zealand

We had a great crossing from Tonga to New Zealand. Some how land looked sweeter than ever as we were ushered into the Bay of Islands with this sunset.

Opua Marina

Bay of Islands

To be our home for the next 6 months, we were amazed to see how much it resembled the Pacific Northwest. The scenery is similar to the San Juan Islands and with so many trees and greenery we felt very at home.

All the new plants and animal such as kiwis vines & silver ferns or Pukeko birds had us excited to see what new things we could find around each corner.

We got right to work and bought a car in our first 2 days there. Next was learning how to drive on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the road. Often exploring our neighboring towns of Pahia and KeriKeri for groceries and goods, we worked hard at getting the hang of the language and the Kiwi dollar... good on ya' mate. They do speak English but it's much harder than you 'ld think.



- the northern tip of the north island is home to a few of the first amazing sights and bit of history we would explore.

We toured the Kauri forests where Tane Mahuta, father of the forest and 2000 year old trees can still be seen touching the sky. From these trees came the sap or "gum" that was then harvested by immigrants to become the finest varnishes on the world best violins. Once petrified it becomes rare amber found only here and Africa.

One of our most favorite get away's was Shipwrecks Bay, where we were able to take our minivan off -roading, driving over sand and tide pools to find just the right camping spot on the beach. Great place to surf the waves or the sand dunes.

Drive further north and you can cover 90 Mile Beach and visit Cape Reinga.

Tristan & Matthew ready to toboggan down Cape Reinga dunes

(those little dots are them on top)

Bruce on the flying trapeze

Adventure World

When we decide to finish our days of sailing we may just have to run off and join the circus. We found a fantastic theme park of sorts run by Carol and Freddie Ossler. World champion trapeze artists by trade have opened their own park to let you experience some of their joy. Walk on the tight rope, fly from trapeze to trapeze and laugh all the way. We made some great friends there in them and if you get the chance, make it one of your stops.

South of the marina we visited quite a few sites. The town of Whangarei is one of the next harbors available for boats to stay. A great location for shopping and boat haul outs and repair.

Near by we found the great towns of Tutukaka, Ruakaka and Orewa for fun in the sun, surf and sand. We took our first camping trip on the beach of Tutukaka to catch some waves with our pals the Kelly's.

In Ruakaka we had the great joy to meet Su and Dave Kay. Su is the 3rd time NZ kite surfing national champ and Dave builds Decay boards. They had Bruce up with the kites in no time and we enjoyed many a day with them. We think they have the corner on the market in their coast side town where they can catch the wind at every angle when it rolls through.

Bruce Kite surfing


Driving across the bridge coming into Auckland and you may think you are heading into downtown Seattle with their big Sky Tower dotting the skyline. Crazy driving just like any other big city. You would think we would be better navigators than this but they really don't make it easy. But, after 6 months here we know it like the back of our hands. Our favorite stops here were the Auckland Museum, the Observatory, Lunch in the Sky Tower while people bungee off the roof and a quick stop to see some penguins at Kelly Talton's Antarctic Adventure.


NZ is home to only 4 million people but 40 million sheep, their greatest export. So of course, though the hillsides are completely covered sheep, no trip to NZ would be complete without a trip to the Agrodome or Sheep World. Each gives a great sheep and dog herding show, and yes, we saw them both. We didn't get to sheer a sheep yet,but the boys did try their hand at bottle feeding a lamb.

A great side trip in the Agrodome is a drive around the farm where you can see kiwi vines grow, along with olives, cattle, llamas and deer (venison), the other meat of NZ.

Bubbling mud bath anyone?


The largest tourist attraction in North Island NZ is famous for it's sulfur hot springs and mud pools. We had the great pleasure to visit life long family friends Scott & Jebraun Clifford and their family at their home on Lakes Ranch Christian Camp. They showed us the sights and entertained the boys with kayaking, abseiling, horseback riding, spotting glow worms and so much more.

The boys had a blast playing with their children Terah, Caleb and Owen for hours walking the property, feeding the animals or bouncing on the trampoline. We weren't sure we would ever get them back on the boat.

We were able to see Scott in action as pastor and share in their fellowship at his Calvary Chapel church in town. One of the biggest blessings of all.

One of the most impressive things we found here in NZ was the powerful Maori presence. As original settlers of this land, the pride they hold for their tribes, their heritage and history is awesome. You can feel the strength of their people in everything they do, whether it is a traditional haka dance or poi poi dance, a special carving or weaving or the poetry of pronouncing any maori word.

Opua, Bay of Islands

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