New Zealand, specifically Whangarei, has been our home for the past 8 months. We have had an amazing time exploring this beautiful country, meeting new friends, and getting lots of much needed work done on our beloved Sugar Shack. As our Kiwi friends say, ‘sweet as’ time! “Sweet as” means “good, right, ok, excellent, great… in Kiwi”
Sugar Shack spent most of her time tied to the dock at Town Basin Marina while she got her make over. Many locals knew us by Sugar Shack as she was a constant for so long.
Lots of Work Done:
We managed to get a lot of work done on Sugar Shack. The boat was under construction and in complete chaos for nearly 6 months.
(2) New Lithium House Batteries
(5) New windows on the cabin
Rebedded all of the other windows and painted protective covering
New Dinghy and new chaps to cover her
New Interior cushions
New Exterior cushions
New Cockpit enclosure
New Main sail and Genoa (by North Sails)
New Stack pack
New Stainless Steel countertops
New Ceiling panels and new interior lights
New artwork and pillow covers
She looks like a new boat….almost. Just a few more things to do when we come back. Sweet as! You are probably thinking…what “come back?” Yep, we decided to come back to New Zealand next season (which is just a few short months away).
New Zealand has the expertise and resources to work on Sugar Shack. So, we decided to come back to replace our bottom paint with copper coat. This requires highly skilled workers to apply the copper coat properly. We are also considering a wrap around Sugar Shack to make the side of the hulls look better. Still in the researching and contemplating stages on the wrap.
Hopefully, we will come back, haul out for a few weeks, then spend the rest of our time sailing around New Zealand as opposed to sitting at the dock.
But with a nightly view as sweet as this…who can complain?
Our blogs run 10-12 weeks behind actual events. We left New Zealand in early July.
Jade, Green Stone or Pounamu are just a few names of the many names for New Zealand Nephrite. This greenstone plays a vital role in Maori culture. It is considered a treasure or “Taonga”. Jade is only found in the South Island of New Zealand, known in the Maori language as “Te Wai Pounamu” (“The Greenstone Water”).
Only one Maori tribe has rights to collect and carve NZ pounamu / jade and they are from the west coast of the South Island. This tribe is the largest in NZ and is called Ngāi Tahu. Only members of this tribe are allowed to collect, harvest, and carve NZ jade. And you have to be born into this tribe in order to have access the stone.
All pounamu is sourced from riverbeds and boulders in the South Island, especially the West Coast. The colour and markings of each stone vary according to its river source.
Jade can be found in other parts of the world, but it is a distinctly different type. Jade in NZ is very difficult to carve because it is very hard and is not typically translucent. Chinese jade for example is softer, easier to carve, and often see through when you hold it up to the light. Thus the cost is much less expensive.
New Zealand Greenstone
Below are large pieces of jade. In the upper left photo I am kneeling by a typical boulder found at the river bed that has been exposed by hundreds of years of water wearing its surface to expose the beautiful jade. The dolphin in the lower right is a piece from China.
I could not resist. I had to get a kiwi made of NZ greenstone and I bought a pendent which is a symbol of strength and hope.
Tbeautiful greenstone is in many shops but you have to be very careful not to buy a piece made from a foreign country. I was told to ask the merchant where the jade was made and by which tribe or carver. The answer will easily reflect the origin of the stone.
Every country is full of funny quirks. Of course they are not quirky to the locals, just to the foreigners. I thought I would share some of the quirks that stood out the most to us.
During our month-long road trip I mentioned the narrow, windy two-lane highways. In fact, I would venture to say that 90% of the roads in NZ are 2 lane (one lane each way), windy, narrow roads. The pay off is that they all have spectacular views of mountains, glaciers, valleys, hillsides, rivers, or pastures.
But what I did not mention were the numerous one-lane bridges. Usually one side has “right-away” but most times the cars just proceed ahead and hope that there is no oncoming traffic – it is frightening and amusing. Matt calls these “shoot out bridge” because in Texas the biggest vehicle would have right away or the smaller one would be shot.
Adventure or Quirk?
Pedestrians do not have the right away unless they use a rare and very specific, designated cross walk (which are far and few between). These beauties are hard to find and are not located in most intersections. Maybe this is not a quirk but rather part of the adventure of being a New Zealander? Here is one of the elusive “proper” cross walks with orange dots and white cross lines on the street.
Kiwi’s risk their own lives each time they get on a bicycles. So many locals ride bikes on these narrow, windy roads and there is no bike lane or shoulder. They share the road with cars. And if there is no passing lane, you are stuck behind the bike until you can safely pass. It is super surprising to me that they don’t have bike lanes for all the adventure loving bicycle riding locals.
It seems that all New Zealanders are adventurers. I am sure it is not “all” but seriously we run into locals all the time doing something heart stopping and thrilling. I love that they are very outdoorsy, fun loving, and living life fully.
An Everyday Quirk?
We stayed at over 25 different hotels ranging from backpacker motels to 4-star hotels. Every single one had a mini fridge with milk stocked in it. Most of the hotels had heated towel racks which I love!
There are a lot of men, boys, and teens with mullets! Not just one or two here and there, but a lot! I was told that mullets never really went out of style in NZ and that there is a huge resurgence now.
All of the plugs have on/off switches. Took some getting used to frankly as I was perplexed why our devices were not charging while plugged in. You have to plug in and turn on the switch.
All eateries, cafes, bars, fancy restaurants have a “pay at the bar” system. We’ve sat and waited for the check at many places only to be told to go to the bar to pay. Slightly embarrassing, but we are learning.
It is absolutely “normal” to go barefoot into a grocery store, market, or restaurant.
A lot of New Zealanders own classic cars. Not really a quirk to most. But what was a quirk to me was that they actually drive them and get them out on the roads and truly enjoy taking them out for a spin or showing them off in the parking lots. Americans tend to keep their classics locked up to be admired not enjoyed. It was great fun to see all of the classic cars on the roads.
Really Funny Quirks
We saw a lot of really funny, quirky signs around New Zealand. They like to post signs that “talk to the drivers on the road” but I missed most of them as we drove by. I saw a lot of signs showing the proper way to sit on a toilet – do you think this is a quirk?
On New Year’s Eve, most of the bars and restaurants were closed by 10pm. Kiwis celebrate on the beach or the few places that stay open in Auckland. When we asked why they were not open it was because the cost to employ people to work on NYE was too high.
I am sure many of these “quirks” are absolutely normal to New Zealanders. But to me, they are lovely little quirks that make me love NZ that much more!
Our blog posts run about 10-12 weeks behind actual events. Events from this blog post occurred during our 6-month stay in New Zealand (Nov.2022-May.2023). We unveil our brand new high tech North 3Di Sails in our last blog – did you read it?