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new zealand ~ opua & paihia

Posted by on November 17, 2014

November 19 – 28, 2013

we were anchored next to alpaca on the hillside near Opua

mum & ducklings visit boats anchored in Opua

It didn’t take long for us to settle into life in New Zealand. We quickly found a good spot to remain anchored while we sorted out our thoughts and brainstormed new goals, as well as give our boat some much needed attention. Many of our good friends were either anchored close by, or at one of the marina docks nearby. We were extra excited to see s/v Elcie for the first time since Panama!

We received visits from Kiwi friends whom we’d met prior to our Pacific crossing. One couple, we first met back in 1999 while we were cruising in Mexico, drove all the way from west coast North Island to Opua to say hello and offer any possible assistance with finding our way around New Zealand. We also got to see Simon (s/v Cat) who we first met on the east coast US, when we had just started this round of cruising. Simon drove up from Whangarei to see us twice (once with his pal, Luke) before returning to the US to continue his journey on Cat. He was so kind to give us a lot of helpful information, as well as an old prepaid phone he wouldn’t need anymore. We were sad that Simon had to leave, but we were happy to have gotten in a couple of quick visits.

Gidday mate!

wooden sculpture in Paihia











The unlimited amount of fresh fruits and veggies was extra exciting. Each week, there was a Farmer’s Market in Paihia (pronounce similar to Pie-Here). It was always easy to catch a ride with someone who had a car and was going in the same direction, and a stop at the Countdown supermarket was always a must on the return trip. On my first trip to the farmer’s market, one vendor wanted me to keep talking because he loved my accent. I was surprised because I felt like he was the one with the awesome accent! Occasionally, whether I’d borrow a car or ride with someone, I’d get to the Warehouse (similar to Wal-Mart) and New World grocery in Kerikeri (Maori pronounciation Kitty Kitty).

Almost daily walks became a part of our routine. There is an old railway path that runs out of Opua and is perfect for a scenic walk, run, or bike ride. Some venture the opposite direction and down a rockier path along the shoreline from Opua to Paihia. Two hours later, they’d arrive in Paihia for an ice cream treat and then call for a ride back to Opua. Our kids did the hike to Paihia for ice cream, and then they were picked up by the Sueño van as we were on our way to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. On occasion, I’d do a girls’ walk along the path to Paihia, but only totaling about an hour walk time.

Te Pitowhenua ~ resident Maori performance group at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds

a Haka war dance

notice the tongue!

The kid activities were numerous while we were in Opua. Each day after school, the kids would play ashore with other cruising kids. At one point, we counted 25+ kids on the Opua waterfront. I’m sure the local store owners were overwhelmed with the amount of kids hanging out and running around. Through word of mouth, the kids discovered a local guy who taught bone and wood carving in a shed in his front yard. He was there almost daily and would work with the kids for free, but greatly appreciated any small donations. As Christmas time approached, Justine attended a dance class taught by another cruiser at the nearby community center. The cruising kids could also join in sailing Optis with the Opua Cruising Club. At Christmas time, the Opua Cruising Club hosted a Christmas party for the kids where they did a scavenger hunt, and they received a visit from Santa Clause.

springtime ~ New Zealand's Pohutukawa flower ~ also known as New Zealand Christmas tree

dance class at Opua's community center

gifts from Santa at the Opua Cruising Club






Opua has many available services (although most are a bit pricey) within a short walk, such as marine supply stores, a country store, laundry facilities (right across from the dinghy dock), and internet. The marine stores carry just about anything you need, and if something isn’t available, it’s always easy to get items shipped in.

Life was good and easy in Opua and the beautiful Bay of Islands. There were just a few hiccups that got in the way . . .

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