Posted by John

I learned a long time ago that if the years seem to be passing too quickly, it’s time to try something different. A year ago we spent Christmas in La Paz, Mexico after sailing down the entire coast of the continental United States and Baja California. That was different enough from a normal Christmas then, but now even that seems so long ago and far away.

With Julie’s brother and nephew being joined here by his wife and other son, we ended up with a completely different experience than even what we were already having. The extra help, knowledge and moral support, meant we could tackle a few things I might’ve been reluctant to try myself. As a result, our non-functioning oven is now functioning again. The starter motor, which has been acting up at times, including on the crossing from Tonga, was removed, disassembled, inspected, contacts cleaned and, hopefully, will be more reliable now. We have a new alternator, and will carry the old one as a spare. We have new binoculars to replace the ones that fell apart in Bora Bora, a new goose neck pin for the main boom, and a lot of input and feedback on several other projects. Combined with a new tablet computer to fill in for the laptop that failed in the Marquesas, and our own car, it was almost like Christmas. I say “almost like” because we find it hard to feel like Christmas when it’s summer and the sun is still up well into the evening. Holiday decorations just don’t look right in the sunshine. Maybe that’s why we seem to have seen so few.

This is prime vacation time for New Zealanders. Everything is crowded, including the marina and the marina parking lot. Normally we wouldn’t care about a parking lot except that now we find ourselves worrying about finding a place to park our car. We lost a hubcap already, and likely need a brake job. Gas is terribly expensive, and our credit cards don’t work at unattended gas stations. Mobility is nice, but owning a car can be a hassle.

Having family here meant we actually went out and acted like tourists. We explored the far north end of New Zealand, took a miles-long bus ride on a beach, saw huge sand dunes, took a ferry ride to the historic town of Russell, visited a limestone cave with a ceiling covered by bio-luminescent glow-worms, and even went to the top of the Sky Tower in Auckland.

We stopped at this scenic inlet off Rangaunu Bay near Pukenui
Another view of the same inlet near Pukenui. Little dark dots in the grass on the other side are a herd of cows. There are millions of cows and sheep in New Zealand.
Far north end of New Zealand
Cape Reinga Lighthouse
Special tour bus drives right down Kauaeparaoa Stream between huge sand dunes
It wouldn’t be New Zealand if you couldn’t stop for a quick slide down the dune
Ninety-Mile Beach on the Tasman Sea side of the North Island
Tour bus can adjust the air pressure in the tires for driving on sand. It wasn’t ninety miles, but it was a long trip along the beach.
Along the waterfront in Russell on the day before Christmas
Landscape at the limestone “Glow-Worm” cave
Auckland waterfront from Sky Tower

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