Monthly Archives: February 2023

Road Trip to Cape Reinga: Part I

Can you say “Road Trip?”  Several of our friends decided it was time to go exploring.  So, Thomas, Mareike and Julia (Scooter), Rokas and Simona (Starlight), and myself piled into their van to head to the north tip of the north island, Cape Reinga.   Matt could not come as he decided to stay behind to babysit the window repair project.

We drive toward the west coast along Hwy 11 until we get to Waipua Forest.  It is one of the best examples of the Kauri forest remaining in New Zealand.  It is notable for having two of the largest living kauri trees, Tane Mahuta and Te Matua Ngahere.

We had to drive past the oldest and 2nd largest tree to get to the first largest tree Tane Mahuta.  Lucky for us the park stayed open a few minutes longer so we could run in and capture some spectacular photos.  Tane Mahuta is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years old and is the largest living Kauri tree.  It is also called the “God of the Forest.”  Tane’s trunk height is 17.7 meters and the total height is 51.5 meters.  Trunk girth is 13.8 meters and trunk volume is 244.5 meters.  It was breathtaking to be so close to this most ancient of trees. 

We had planned to circle back to the other tree, but it was getting late and dark and we still had several hours to get to our next stop. 

Kohu Ratuarua Ferry

In order to continue on toward our destination of Kaitai, we had to hop on a short car ferry in Kawene called Kohu Ratuarua.

We wanted to stop at Ka Uri Café and Museum but it was still being refurbished and was closed.  But they did serve us some yummy coffee for our road trip.

Te Rerenga Wairua – Cape Reinga

We continued NW to Te Rerenga Wairua and Cape Reinga.  This is the northwestern most tip of the North Island of New Zealand.  For the Maori culture, Cape Reinga is the most spiritually significant place in New Zealand.  An ancient lonely tree and a lighthouse mark this special place.

It is a beautiful walk down an easy path to the lighthouse.  Along the way are dozens of signs that tell you of the history and culture of the Maori people.

It is here, that after death, all Maori spirits travel up the coast to Pohutukawa tree on the tip of Te Rerenga Wairua.

They descend into the underworld (reinga) by sliding down a root into the sea below.  The spirits then travel underwater to the Three Kings Islands where they climb out onto Ohaua, the highest point of the island and bid their last farewell before returning to the land of their ancestors, Hawaiiki-A-Nui.  In the bottom photo you can see the tree jutting out from the dock on the upper right side.

The Cape Reinga Lighthouse

We continue on to the lighthouse which was built in 1941.  It stands 10m in height and 165m above sea level.  Its light can be seen over 19nm from shore and keeps weary sailors clear of the rocky cliffs. This lighthouse replaced the previous one that lit the coast from 1878 to 1940.

Lots of tourist were around and it proved to be a bit of a challenge to get shots without someone in my photo but I managed pretty well.

We do a short 4-mile hike around the hills of the lighthouse where we capture some truly beautiful views.

Sand Toboggining

We left after spending an enjoyable morning at Cape Reinga.  Our goal was to get to the Giant Te Paki Sand Dunes shortly after lunch so we had to get a move on.  We made a super quick stop at the “Hidden Table” which was just off the side of the road.  It truly was hidden from view.

We arrive shortly after lunch and find a large truck full of boogie boards and a lovely couple.  They quickly give us the rules for safe toboggin runs, rent us some boards, sell us some socks (the sand is hot) and send us on our way.

Wow, who would have thought that sand dunes could be so pretty?  There was sand as far as the eye could see.  Mostly untouched hills that were crying out for our footprints.

We started out on a bunny hill to make sure we knew how to steer, stop, and fly across the sand.  You steer with your toes which was fun learning to master. 

Since we had 3 boards for the 6 of us we took turns going up the hills and racing down.  I am proud to say that I won two of my races and felt pretty good about that!

By the end of the day we were truly exhausted.  It was hot, we were sandy, and it was really challenging walking up the hills in sand that sinks to your ankles.  But we had a blast!

White Sand Beach

On our way to our hostel we stopped at two more beaches: Rarawa Beach (white sand) and the famous 90-mile beach.

Rarawa was by far my favorite stop.  The sand was like powdered sugar, so soft and luxurious on your feet.  It was so hard to capture its beauty on film, but trust me when I saw it was delightful!

Next, we headed to the famous 90-mile beach.  This sand was hard packed and easily driven on, which most cars and buses did!  It went on and on and on….

After our very long day we were finally heading back to the hostel when our car developed a horrible noise.  We pulled over on the side of a small, windy, two-land road and determined it was the brakes.  We called AA (their local roadside assistance) and they arrived within 45-minutes and fixed the problem.  What a lovely experience with a truly kind guy named Mark!

A few more fun photos

Our road trip continues the next day when we visit an avocado farm and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds…Don’t miss our next blog.

Events from this blog occurred in late December 2022.  Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind actual events. Did you happen to catch our flyover Marsden Cove in the last blog post?

Marsden Cove Fly Over

We take a short trip to Marsden Cove to meet with a friend whom we met in Fiji. Linda and Leigh Hopper own a magnificent power yacht named Moon Shadow and we ran into them many times while in Musket Cove.  They actually live in Whitanga which is about 5 hours from Whangarei. 

They were kind enough to invite us to their home for the holidays but our boat was in complete disarray with missing windows, a disassembled engine and a broken windlass.  So, we had to pass. But we did want to see them so we all decided to meet in Marsden Cove.

Leigh’s company, Hopper Developments, developed the entire property and has intimate knowledge of everything Marsden!  We met for a lovely lunch and then he drove us around the marina, yard, and residential property.  He showed us the amazing lock they built which happens to be the largest residential lock in the southern hemisphere coming in at a whopping $5 million to build.

His company plans to build a retirement community and several apartment buildings to finish up the area.

Did he say helicopter?

Before we wrapped up the day he asked if we would like to see the grounds from the sky.  Let me think about that, “um hell ya!”  He arrived by helicopter and took us for a quick 15-minute bird’s eye view of the area.

Leigh is an expert pilot and easily navigated the airways with precision.  What a spectacular opportunity to see this beautiful area from the sky!

We flew along the interior where he pointed out new business opportunities for his company.

And then we flew along the stunning coast.

He then took us for a 360 where he actually flew the helicopter upside down!  I wish I had my video going, but by the time I realized I was upside down I was too late and giggling because I was upside down!

We ended the tour flying over a few anchorages.

What an unexpected joy!  Leigh is a true gem and so very generous with his time and company.  We hope to spend more time with he and Linda soon – so stay tuned!

Events from this blog occurred in early December 2022.  Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind actual events.  Did you read about our challenges replacing our windows?

New Glasses for Sugar Shack: Windows

Say what?  Your boat got new glasses?  Well, technically, yes.  Our cabin top windows needed some love.  We have 5 flat windows and 4 large curved windows.  The flat acrylic windows craze (hundreds of very small cracks appear making it very difficult to see out of).  We replaced them in 2010 when we bought the boat but they’ve crazed again.  And several windows are leaking after many years of bending and flexing with the boat as we crossed thousands of miles across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

We engaged Metro Glass to replace 5 windows and re-bed all of the other windows.  It is a huge, messy job.  We wanted to replace three of the windows with acrylic windows and replace the two small hatches (front of the cabin top) with glass (“wanted” being the key word).

Matt had re-glued several of our curved windows to stop the leaking.  However, it was time to do it professionally again, so in comes Metro Glass.  Dave came out and took out the two flat rear windows first.  The goal was to remove them in the morning, use the old windows as a pattern and bring new ones back later that afternoon.  That was the “plan”.

What Went Wrong?

Dave’s co-worker Rob, accidentally painted the wrong side of the window (he painted the inside instead of the outside) so they have to make an entirely new window. They put the old window back in temporarily to keep the elements outside.

The other window was “in” but they drilled the holes by hand and the holes were crooked, so the screws won’t stay in.  Yes, they will have to come back to remake this window as well.  Not a good start.

They took out the center cabin top window next and managed to remake and install it with only a few little issues.  Next, they took out the two small hatches which were to be sent to Auckland to be replaced with glass.   So, we sat with 5 windows covered in plastic and pvc for more than a week waiting for the rain to subside.

All of our cushions have to be removed as the black glue gets everywhere.  This is the Metro Glass team working on the center cabin top window.

Moving on to the Curved Windows

Our two large, curved side windows were schedule to come out next.  These windows would just be re-bedded (come out, cleaned up, and put back in).  We thought these windows would be “fairly easy” to remove as Matt has re-glued these several times (which requires removal of old glue and reapplication).  However, they were stuck on good giving the guys a bit of a challenge. 

The team uses a stainless piece of wire that they saw back and forth (one person inside and one outside) to get the glue to come off.  They applied so much pressure at one point that they “sawed” right into the plexi.  Luckily Matt caught them in time and it was only a small 1/8” dig and won’t show or ruin the integrity of the window.  The other window was a smidge easier to come out, but not by much. 

It is two weeks into our 4-day window project and I am feeling incredibly defeated.  I actually begged them to just finish one window as each window they had touched was in mid-state of repair.  Finally, they finished the sealant on the very first window and the center cabin top window.

The two front cabin top curved windows were the last to be re-bedded.  These are the two that have the smaller hatch windows inside them. The most challenging windows.

Glasses Don’t Want to Come Off

They start working on the starboard window first and worked on it all day.  It was a stubborn one as it has never been taken off in 22 years.  Surprisingly, it had areas that were leaking and yet other areas would not separate.  They again sawed super hard to get the glue to separate and managed to cut the plexi 1.5” which completely sucks as this window is not being replaced.  It is in the corner where it is not visible, but it does create a weak point which could further crack while the boat is under stress.  We will have to keep an eye on it.

A few days later they came back to work on the other curved cabin top window.  This managed to come out a little easier.

In the meantime, the new small glass hatches supposedly came back from Auckland.  Matt asked them if they drilled the large hole for the latch handle and the small hole for the locking mechanism.  They checked and guess what, they did not drill the small hole.  When they inquired about it they discovered that they cannot drill the smaller hole that close to the larger hole because it would compromise the glass.  Seriously, they did not know this before?  So, they had to remake them in acrylic in order to use our latches.  At this point, I have discussed my displeasure many times and they had the intelligence enough to offer to do these small hatches at no charge.  Appeased a little, but we are not getting what we wanted which was glass hatches.

And Yet More Problems

Moving on…they continue to work on the last 4 curved windows in between the rainy days.  As they remove the duct tape from our two forward curved windows, we see marks by the small hatches.  Oh my goodness!!!!  Another $600 discount and over three weeks later, the windows are finally considered “done.”  What a project.

It was rather an unfortunate experience and one that we would not wish on anyone.  Thank goodness we had the time to babysit the workers and watch every step, but even still we had loads of problems.  But they are done, better than before and look much improved.

New Glasses are Done

Glasses are clear and leak free, for now 🙂

The events from this blog occurred in December.  In our last blog post, we enjoy Red Bull Flutag in Auckland.  We witness man-made flying contraptions plummet 6 meters into the water – it was great fun!