Category Archives: Daily Lime

Booted or Booty: NZ Visas

As an American, you can enter New Zealand with an NZeTA which will give you a 3-month visa (if you enter by airplane, cruise ship, or private yacht.)   If you plan to stay longer than 3-months, which most cruisers do, you have to then apply for a tourist visa which will give you an additional 6 month stay. Most countries will allow you to extend your visas, especially if you are spending money in their country.

However, NZ allows Americans to either stay 9 months in an 18 month period or 12 months in a 24 month period (see here).  Here is where we run into a problem and face possible expulsion from this amazing country.

Last season we arrived in early November and left in early July.  Matt never left NZ while I flew back and forth to the states several times (as my dad was very ill).  By the time we left, Matt had spent just over 8 months and I had spent about 6 months in NZ.  Well shoot.  Even if we got approval for the 12 months in a 24 month period visa that is not enough time for us.  It would have us leaving in February which is the peak of cyclone season.  So, we need to do something to fix our visas.

Booted or Booty?

Seems so strange to me that NZ would kick us out considering how much money we spent last season and this season on repairs and upgrades.  But thems the rules.  So, we had to decide…do we return and schedule a lot of work costing a lot of money with the hopes that we won’t get booted?

We decided to take the risk.  Here is what we had to do to get an extended visa.  It is a long process that wasn’t cheap.

Visit the NZ Immigration website.  You complete a very long online application, upload about a dozen documents, pay money, get a complete physical and medical check, pay more money, and wait.

Application Process

Reach out to us if you are interested in learning how to properly complete this application or hire an immigration agent to assist you.

The application inquires about standard information on you, your boat, and your spouse. They ask about your health, financial status, criminal background, and more.  Nothing is sacred.

It requires proof and uploads of financial status (past 3 months), proof of the value of the boat (insurance documents work), proof of marriage (if applicable and applying as a married couple), scans of passport bio page, boat registration, temporary import entry (TIE), and completion of the INZ 1224 form.

In addition you have to upload a photo of yourself in front of a non-white, solid color background, not smiling, with hair behind your ears, solid color shirt, and a very specific pixel size.  It was such a pain to get this just right.  The system rejected a dozen of our photos!


NZ is a socialized medicine country which means they don’t want their tourists to be a burden on their society. Our visas required us to get a complete physical.  We went to Rust Avenue Medical as they were able to get us in quicker than White Cross in Whangarei.  Even though it was quicker, it was still a 2-week wait.  This was rather a long process and took us about 2.5 hours and cost $300USD per person.  They did a urine test, checked our vitals, asked us a dozen questions, asked us to do basic physical activities (bend over, touch toes, etc…), eye exam, listened to our heart & lungs.

From there, we walked two buildings down the road to the pathology lab and had a full blood test run (including for Hepatitis B & C, HIV, Syphilis, HvA1C, and full blood count).  This took about 45 minutes, no appointment needed, and cost $250USD per person.

Next we went to TRG Imaging which is next to White Cross in Whangarei.  We had to get chest x-rays.  We walked in without an appointment and were done within 15 minutes, the cost $250USD each.

The medical facilities all uploaded the results to the immigration website.  Within 24 hours we were notified that immigration had all of our results.  Now that is fast!

The Waiting Game: Visas 

It is a bit nerve racking as you wait for your visa approval.  Supposedly, if your application is submitted and is in process you don’t have to worry, even if your NZeTA expires.  But that is a big “supposedly”

The other interesting thing is that our NZeTA visas are good for 2 years.  So, our NZeTA is valid until 29 September 2024.  Which means technically you can enter, leave and re-enter for another 3-months as long as this NZeTA is valid.  But what I don’t know is how this works when your standard tourist visa expires.  Surely their system shows that we have both an NZeTA and a tourist visa and we try to enter on the NZeTA with an expired Tourist Visa they will stop us?  So many questions….

We finally had a reply three weeks after our medical records were submitted to immigration.  The email was non-descript and short.  It did not have any hints as to whether we will be denied and booted from NZ or accepted to stay.  I opened the attachment with such trepidation and anxiety!  

Kicked Out ?

We were ACCEPTED!  Thank God!  Not only that, but we were given a multiple entry (so I can fly back to the States).  Usually this type of visa is a one entry visa meaning you only can enter once and being that we were already here we could not leave and come back during this visa period.  So, lucky for us we got multiple entry so I can fly back to the states and return to my boat.

We feel so blessed to have been approved and look forward to exploring the NE shores of NZ!

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog took place in November.  Several beastly boat projects get completed in the last blog post.

Kiwi Fun

It is difficult to live and work on the boat while she is on the hard in the boat yard.  We wake up and start working right away (0700) and then work until the sun goes down (2000).  We work on the weekends on projects that don’t get in the way of the contractors.  Work work work.  So, we periodically have to blow off some steam with a little Kiwi fun.

The Seaside Sirens

There was a flyer on the bulletin board outside the boat yard office that caught my eye. It was an advertisement for a one night only show of the Seaside Sirens.  Intrigued I googled it and to my surrpise it was a cabaret.  Oh ya, sign me up for this type of Kiwi fun!  I called a few friends and dragged them along with us.

We stopped by the Quay for a cocktail prior to the show.  Daniela, Mirko (on Yum Yum) and Kara joined Matt and I.  Check out my pretty drink (lower left) called the Autumn Sun.

The Seaside Sirens are mer people and the two sailors have been caught under their spell to do their bidding.  The live band called “The Otherlies” were land based but worked with the mer people in exchange for favors.

And then the show began!  It is not a strip show per se, but they do strip down to pasties.  They had performers dancing, singing, performing on a pole, silks, large ring, and with a hula hoop.

It was serious fun with great laughs and loads of entertainment.  The performers were lovely and put on a great show!

It ended at 8:30pm and we were all starving.  We stopped by several eateries which were open but their kitchens were closed.  Finally we found Loco, a Mexican place that fed us and wrapped up our night.  Kiwi’s know how to put on a good show but they need their restaurants to stay open past 8:30pm!

Welcome Cruiser Party

Whangarei throws an amazing party each year to welcome the new cruisers to Whangarei, NZ!  This year I had the pleasure of assisting (albeit very little) Kara from Town Basin Marina.  The party was held at Aqua Restaurant located at the Hundertwasser Museum.  It was great fun seeing old and new cruiser friends.  Upper left is Kara and I and upper right are two of the amazing performers.

The most spectacular Maori group, Hatea Kapa Haka Group  performed and they did not disappoint!  They take my breath away, brought me to tears with a Maori version of Ava Maria and showcased their local traditions and songs.  It was spectacular.

Christmas Tree Farm

It was nearing Christmas and our friend Kara from Town Basin Marina asked us to come along to get her Christmas tree.  We went to an actual Christmas Tree farm called “Crane Road Christmas Trees.”   The family had a beautiful ranch style home overlooking their gorgeous farm!

Oh how I wish I could have brought home a tree to the boat!  But even though they were “small” in American standards (between 4-6′) they were way too big for our boat.  But they smelled devine and they keep all of their trees in buckets full of water.  

Kara found a beautiful, round tree that we gently stuffed into her car and brought to her house.  She did a fabulous job decorating!

After our tree farm we went to Parua Tavern for a tasty lunch!  Check out this super fun mailbox.

Me having a little fun with a NZ phone booth in Whangarei.  I don’t know how to actually make a call from this phone.

I purchased a wooden vase in Panama for cheap and have been using it on the boat on the rare occasions I get flowers.  It has cracked in several places so I commissioned a new vase out of Rewarewa wood (native NZ tree) and it came out beautiful (the darker vase).

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This show was 22 November.  Our last blog post documented our rudder rebuild, did you read it?

A Whangarei Christmas

We headed to Town Basin Marina after we splashed.  It was no surprise to find that the Christmas cheer was in full swing!

We quickly put up a few lights and decorations.  Nothing compared to last year.  But I had to do something as I was judging the annual Christmas Boat Light extravaganza.  We did not have much time to do our full decorating, but we showed a little spirit.  if you recall, we won “Overall Best Boat” last year so I had a repuation to uphold.

The judges met for dinner at Local Talent, then headed to a cruiser’s boat called Rewa for drinks while we waited for sunset at 8:34pm!  Yes, it is summer here and the days are long!

Bribing the judges is strongly encouraged so we were gifted with lots of snacks, treats, and cocktails along the way.

Santa is played by Dave on the Rewa, Sharon is in the beautiful red dress next to santa.  The mayor of Whangarei is dressed in his royalty best and Matt was awarded Grinch of the year.

Santa asked that I be the bell ringer.  This was a really heavy and very loud bell.  After an hour everyone was tired of it but Santa insisted I keep ringing it – so ring I did.  That is until the mayor decided it was enough (around 10:30pm) and stuffed it with a shirt to quiet it down.

Lots of boats got into the holiday spirit with music, dancing, lights, and decorations.  It was a really great night!

A week before Christmas I finally got our decorations out.  It was killing me not being in the holiday spirit.  I feel so much better with them out.

Christmas Cookie Galor

I carried on the tradition of baking cookies for friends.  I used to do this with the ladies in our family when I was young and ever since I had my own kitchen I’ve carried out the tradition.  This year I went a little overboard with over 800 cookies (gingerbread, white mice, sugar cookies, peppermint bark), 3 batches of Toffee and 2 batches of caramel fudge!

I put together 12 gift boxes for cruising and local friends!

Myt friend Kara came over to help decorate the large sugar cookies which will be presented on Christmas day.  It was so much fun having her help to decorate – she brought her “A” game!

Of course we had the cookie monster there to help too.

There was some rose wine helping spur our creative side.

And the final product of 60 sugar cookies decorated in a rainbow of colors and designs.

A New Zealand Summer Sunrice from our dock at Town Basin Marina.

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events normally.  But I moved this blog post ahead of the rest so that it coincided with the actual holiday season.