Tag Archives: new zealand

A Passage to Vanuatu

We leave New Zealand for the second time having accomplished a lot in the last 7 months.  This time our passage finds us heading North West to a small country called Vanuatu!

The passage should take 8-9 days if all goes well.  You can follow our progress on our blog by clicking on “Current Location.”

Our pre-scheduled blog posts will be suspended until we make landfall and should resume around 4 June.  But you can count on Matt posting a few blog posts along our passage.

We will have Starlink which gives us access to the world wide web so feel free to email us or comment on the blog posts.  It is always nice to hear from people when you are out in the middle of the sea for days on end.

What did we do for 6 months?

We hauled the boat out and continued to work on our beautiful boat.  We added Coppercoat, fixed some gelcoat work, replaced our rudders, added new vinyl stickers, varnished all of the exterior wood, added some more new canvas, updated our aft teak on the steps, repaired our water tank, replaced bathroom accessories and hatch frames.

We also sailed around the North island and explored so many amazing new islands, atolls, and motus.  We spent a lot of time at Great Barrier, Mercury, Wiaheke, Whangapoua, Coramandel, Kawau, Tiritiri Matangi, Limsetone Island.  We hung out with loads of friends and caused as much trouble as possible.

It was a fabulous, but short visit back to this amazing country.

The cover photo is a us at Marsden Cove Marina, Whangarei, Northland as we meet with the officials to clear out of the country.

Until we meet again Kiwis!  We loved our stay and hope to see you soon.

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.

Beastly Boat Projects Part II

We conquer lots of boat projects while we are in the yard at Norsand Boat yard.  Some we hire contractors and some we do ourselves.  Be sure to read Beastly Boat Projects Part I.   Since we had so many boat projects to complete we had to break it up into two blog posts.  Here is Part II.


Did you know that Sugar Shack came equipped with heaters?  We don’t have a generator or AC, but we do have heaters.  The problem is that they stopped working. Starboard never really worked and port gave out last season while we were in NZ.  This is our old heating component inside the engine room.  

We had (2) new heating systems sent to us while we were in Fiji and they needed to be installed now that we are in chilly NZ (even though it is summer time we are cold).

We purchased (2) Eberspacher Hydronic M-II systems that are 12voilt, D10W, 86W from Heatso in the US.  Matt installed them and they are a thing of beauty!  Wow what a difference they make inside.  Warm and dry.  Our new heating component and dehumidifier!  We will be going to some countries with high humidity and these units will come in very handy!

The Boat projects continue and both Matt and I are working hard along side our contractors.

The Beastly Anchor Chain

I love our 10mm stainless steel anchor chain.  It is long, shiny, self folding and really strong!  We mark our chain every 10m with a coated webbing from strapworks.com.  The straps that were in the chain were old, ratty looking, and difficult to see from the deck so I wanted to replace them.  I drop all 100m (over 300′) onto the ground and prepare it for cleaning and new straps.

It took several tools to extract the old webbing from each link and a good set of needle nose pliers to help me pull the new stiff webbing through each link.  Then I used ospho to clean up the chain and she looked like new!

Dinghy Repair

We loved our Avon dinghy, but the pontoons were dead and needed to be replaced.  We decided to buy a Highfield 3.6 CL which we regretted. In retrospect, we should have just replaced our pontoons and kept our last dinghy as they just don’t make them that good anymore.

Our dinghy was used for a month before the non-skid (EVA) started coming up.  We were so mad.  We had lots of communications with All Marine the company that sold us the dinghy and the manufacturer.  In the end, after much negotiating and me being a brat, the manufacturer agreed to replace the non-skid at no charge.  New Zealand has a Consumer Guarantee Act which guarantees products have to be replaced or repaired within one year of purchase. I love it!  This is regardless of the actual manufacturer guarantee.  So, they repaired it at no cost to us after I reminded them of this act!

Inverter Charger 12v

Being in New Zealand made us realize that we needed a 220 inverter charger.  We have a 110v inverter charger and we have a 220 charger but it does not invert.  So, we bring our friend Matthew Duckett from Cleigh Ltd. to help Matt install it.

New Mirrors 

This is not one of the “beastly” boat projects but it drove me to beastly states every morning I looked into the mirror.  Our medicine cabinet has pretty damaged mirrors and old rusty hinges.  They are double sided which is super cool but evidently really expensive to replace. So we decide to go with single sided mirrors with a mirror vinyl finish for the inside.

I know it is a small thing but I just love the new mirrors.  We hope to find the hinges in stainless steel as I am not a fan of the mat black, but other than that they are much better.


After weeks of being on the hard and working on dozens of beastly boat projects, here are a few photos of sunset on the hard.

Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual live events.  This blog post occured during our stay a Norsand Boatyard, 7 Nov-22 Dec. Stay tuned out if we are getting kicked out of New Zealand.  Coming up next we share our visa issues.