Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Shotover & back to Nadezhda

13th April 2008

We left Shotover at 10am and headed for Christchurch.

We stopped to watch some bungy jumpers in Kawarua. One girl was given the countdown and, when it got to 1, she froze to the spot but on the 2nd attempt she jumped.

3 2 1 Bungy!!!!!

Had a lovely drive to lake Tekapo with wonderful views of Mount Cook. Our plan was to stay overnight but, as we'd arrived early afternoon, we didn't feel there would be enough to do to keep us occupied so we did the standard tourist which is to take a picture of the old stone church and we then carried on towards Christchurch.

The camp site again was very basic but for “card holders” they offered a free private spa, so Pete and I decided that, as it was free, we would take them up on it.

The “Private Spa” had the ambience of a knackered old shed in the back streets of Calcutta but, what the hell, it was free.

14th April 2008

Christchurch was wonderful and quintessentially English. Gorgeous weeping willow trees whose branches dipped into the River Avon, for a fee a “Gentleman' will punt you down the river and, of course, he would be wearing the obligatory stripped waistcoat and boater.

The River Avon

A lovely Cathedral (small by English standards) was holding it's Sunday service, it was lovely to watch as the choir paraded up and down the aisles holding a huge golden cross and candles. Pete and I are not religious so we didn't actually go into the cathedral whilst the service was taking place but we could see through the glass doors.

Inside of Christchurch Cathedral

We took a beautifully restored tram to see the attractions of Christchurch and got off at “Artists Corner” really was lovely, lots of street artists singing & miming the whole area was buzzing with life.

Tourist Tram

Out of all the places in New Zealand Pete & I decided that Christchurch is were we would settle if we were to stay in New Zealand, we're not going to but it was a charming city, very English!

After we had done the “sites' we headed off to Arthur's Pass which is listed as a “must do” in the rough guide, it was meant to be an amazing feat of engineering. I'm afraid to say that is was a complete let down. According to a local at Arthur's Pass Village the government had made changes to the roadway which had taken away the wow factor.

We stopped for a beer to decide what we were going to do next.

You may be wondering why we were doing a whistle-stop tour of South Island . The reason for moving on a such a pace was that it was starting to get really cold so we didn't want to camp and we were paying out to stay in cabins. Even though it was cheap it was still a cost that we couldn't afford - also the forecast was showing that bad weather was heading our way so we might as well head back to Nadezhda. The final deciding actor was that the clock was ticking and we needed to get Naz ready for the off to New Caledonia.

We pulled into a camp site which boasted “terrific”views of Lake Brummer, so we paid the money for the night and headed to the cabin.

We really should have checked it before we paid the money over as it was extremely poor. Patches of stained carpets & bed linen smelt of being long overdue for a wash, we were asked when we checked in whether we had our own bedlinen so why were there sheets and what were they hiding?? we didn't look, thank god for sleeping bags!

The dining room/tv room was full of dilapidated furniture that even Steptoe would have turned his nose up at.

The the icing on the cake was the kitchen, it was dirty and totally non functional, the electric cooker rings we broken but still working (just) the grill sat on the bottom of grill floor hanging on by a thread and the sink was leaning downwards only held up by a wooden nailed support - any amount of water would have seen it crashing onto the floor. Before we could even start cooking we had to bleach the work surfaces.

The sink

Check out the rings!

15th April 2008

We had a good nights sleep, amazing given the surroundings! We headed off for Nelson.

Not a lot to say really as when we arrived the clouds opened so we didn't get to see much of the area.

16th April 2008

We changed our ferry booking to head back to Wellington earlier than planned as the weather forecast was bad so we wouldn't be able to do the Abel Tasman tramp, but in all honesty we were tired of camping and we both wanted to get back to the boat. There would be no point hanging around South Island when there was so much to do on the boat in preparation for leaving in May.

We decided to stay the night in Picton as the ferry was booked for 8am. Picton is a quaint little town but again it was raining so apart from wandering around the shops there really wasn't much to do.

17th April 2008

A real shame as it was cold and wet so we didn't get the views of Marlborough Sounds.

Whilst reading this you may think that we had bad weather all the time in South Island but it didn't stop us from seeing the sights!

We have had a wonderful time and we both feel that North Island & South Island have their own magical qualities but we're looking forward to going home to Naz.

We stopped at a camp site just outside of Cambridge for the night as it meant we would only have a two hour drive to Auckland the next morning to pick up our repaired Avon dinghy and charts needed for our passage onwards.

18th April 2008

Dinghy and charts picked up we arrived home at 5pm, to celebrate we bought takeaway chips and burgers, home sweet home!!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Routeburn & Greenstone Tramp

6th April 2008


The forecast is looking good for the next 5 days so we spent the day packing to head off in the morning for the Routeburn track. The coach was booked for 09:30am the next morning.

7th April 2008

Alarm went off at 07:30am.

Pete packed the tent away and I made my way over to the kitchen to make breakfast. As I passed another tent a guy asked me if I knew that the clocks had gone back the day before, we didn't so we got up an hour too early!

The coach dropped us off at the beginning of the track and it started with a gentle walk through the bush but we knew that it wouldn't last and the up's were coming.

Eventually the path started it's relentless climb to the Routeburn Falls hut. I've been concerned that I would not be fit enough after two years of just sitting on Naz so before we left I gave myself a good talking to!

Going up!

Stunning scenery!

We took it slowly and paced ourselves but even at our slow pace we still beat the recommended time to make it to the hut. Even though the up's were hardwork there was no way in denying that it was worth it as the views were breathtaking.

En-route to the Routeburn Falls Hut

We arrived at the DOC hut at 1pm and wondered what we were going to do with ourselves for the rest of day & night

The hut was very nice and new but there isn't anything else apart from beds and cookers.

The DOC (Department of Conservation) really had cottoned onto how popular this tramp was as they charged $40pp per night (usual price is around $10pppn to stay at the DOC huts).

Out of extreme boredom we had our 1st dinner of noodles at 4pm and did a crossword puzzle that was far too easy.

The “Kiwi”s have a totally different attitude to life than we do in the UK as John our warden worked for the DOC during the season and out of season he was an electrician, he said that the love of the outdoors was more of a pull than the money - he could earn more money full time at home. He invited us back to his hut for a cup of tea - his quarters we far more comfortable than ours.

Terrible nights sleep in the communal dorms as a fellow walker decided to incessantly roll over in "Elephant" sized belly flops which made the all the bunks shake, this carried on all night.

8th April 2008

A long day today as we are planning to walk 8 hours to the Howden Hut, the main reason for the long slog is that we are planning on going over the divide tomorrow to hitch to Milford Sound and back again, the Howden Hut is ideally placed at the bottom of the divide.

After having a terrible nights sleep I was dreading having to climb over the Harris Saddle which is described as a steep climb. I've learnt to never ask a Kiwi if it's a hard walk as either they tell fibs or they are incredibly fit, more than likely the later. John, our warden, said compared to the walk we had done to the hut the Harris Saddle was a walk in the Park.

It was cloudy morning and really quite cold, Pete was concerned that all the effort wouldn't be rewarded as we wouldn't get any views at the saddle. As we got to the top a small window appeared in the clouds and you could see the peaks of the mountains, they appeared to be floating in mid air and part of an enchanted world, truly magical!

It doesn't get better than this!

Or this!!!!

From the saddle it was mostly down hill to the next hut and the skies cleared, we were treated with amazing vista's of mountains and glaciers, you could even see the Tasman Sea in the distance.

The down hills were long and weaving and we could see our lunch spot a good hour or more before we got there.

Stopped for an hour & Pete cooked some noodles before we did the short climb out of the valley and towards the Howden Hut.

My understanding of short is that it is the opposite of long! the short up was quite demanding and went on for some time. We passed a lot of other walkers who were going the opposite way to us, we both thought they were doing it the hard way as it was long hard slog upwards were as we had gained height quickly the day before.

The Howden hut again was very basic but, only being 7 of us, there was plenty of room. So more space food for supper and tot of whisky that I had carried.

th April 2008

Up early at 06:30am as a fellow tramper had suggested that we try to cadge of lift with him as he was being picked up at 07:45am to go diving at Milford Sound.

A short steep (yer right!) climb up to the top of the Divide which took us 45 minutes. The walk down to the road was a long, serious and winding path. Pete and I looked at each other and gulped as we would have to climb it on the way back to the hut.

We met our fellow tramper in the car park whilst he was waiting for the dive transport. We decided to try our luck at hitching, as soon as we crossed over the road the dive bus pulled in and Pete ran across the road, I stuck my thumb out and a car pulled over. I think the driver thought he had been conned when Pete reappeared! The driver thought he was only stopping for me. He turned out to be the skipper of a cruise boat at Milford Sound.

We arrived at Milford Sound at 8:15am with plenty of time to take the 1st cruise at 9am.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is the most northerly and most celebrated of Fiordlands fifteen fiords with vertical sides towering 1200m above the sea and waterfalls plunging from hanging valleys. It is stunning in it's simplistic elegant beauty. A very welcome breakfast of coffee and toast was served.

Huge waterfall at Milford Sound

Our skipper was very daring as he took the ship right into the waterfall inches away from the mountain sides. He explained that it wasn't a problem as even that close he still had 250mtrs of depth.

Getting to Milford Sound was very easy but getting back could be slightly harder! After 25 minutes and loads of cars driving past us, a tramping company took pity, they did a detour and then offered us a lift back to the divide.

After getting back to the hut we had lunch and then headed down to McKellan Hut.

We took a slow walk down the valley as there is no point getting there early.

We weren't to keen on this hut as the loo's were a long away way from the hut & set in dark woods. In the night if there were no lights on in the hut it would be difficult even with a torch to find your way back. We also didn't like the sleeping arrangements as it was just a long row of bunks which meant we would be sleeping next to someone we didn't know.

As it got dark we all huddled together in candlelight. 7 kids were playing cards and Pete and I were playing games on our Ipod. The door opened and in walked 3 fully camouflaged men holding guns.

You could have heard a pin drop and the look on everyone's faces was priceless! I piped up and said “so what have you guys been up to tonight then?” a nervous giggle and then everyone just settled back down.

They were really nice guys and very friendly. They told us that the had a permit from Doc which allowed them to shoot 2 Deer each and that they were only allowed to hunt when there were no trampers around. They asked everyone what time we were leaving and we all agreed to leave at 9am.

The hunters told us that they would go out at 5am so that they would be finished before we all headed off in the morning.

Just before bed time I checked out where Pete and I were sleeping only to discover that it was between the three hunters, not fancying this Pete and I decided that we would take the benches in the living area. The dirty pants discarded on the floor was a deciding factor.

We're not keen on the hut scene with it's enforced early nights and the communal sleeping arrangements, the evenings can be very dull.

10th April 2008

We left at 9am and about 30 minutes into the walk we bumped into the 1st of the hunters, he had a strange backpack! He was carrying decapitated and disembowelled deer that he had shot. The deers front legs were tied over his shoulders and the back legs were tied around his middle. A bit unnerving having a conversation with him whilst he was covered in blood and with blood dripping down his back, yuk!

A short while later we came across the 2nd hunter he was the carrying a deer which must had weighed more than 8 stone, he told us that he had shot both the deer and the others had missed so from this point onwards he was the official photographer.

A long walk down the Greenstone Hut and for some bizarre reason both of our legs and feet hurt, we put it down to the fact the tramp was mostly flat so we were only using the same muscles. It seemed to go on forever! Eventually we came across the hut which some joker had decided to build on top of hill! The last climb to the hut drained the last amount of energy we had.

Spent a lovely evening with the kids playing cards.

More waterfalls

The Green Stone Track

th April 2008

Just a short walk to the car park to be picked up at 2pm. The coach turned up on time and only drove a short distance before the driver told us to get out and go to a boat. Great ending as we took the speed boat across the lake to Glenorchy.

Overall it was an amazing 5 days, the scenery has been wonderful, the weather was warm & sunny. We loved the swing bridges (especially the 1 person per time ones) which were high above roaring rivers. I think we also surprised ourselves with our fitness as we really didn't struggle too much.

Green Stone Track

Fliss on a swing bridge

Crystal clear rivers

So rather than stay in Glenorchy we headed off to Shotover which was only a few miles outside of Queenstown for a shower, pizza & lots of red wine.

Another furry visitor decided he was going to bunk down with us for the night. He took the spare bed and Pete held the duvet up and the cat snuggled down inside, all you could see was it head and ears, very sweet!

Our furry friend

Glaciers to Glenorchy

2nd April 2008

A fantastic drive through Haast Pass, the scenery was awesome! The pass just weaves it's way through the mountains with small waterfalls tumbling down onto the side of the road. With the low cloud it looked like the valleys were a boiling cauldren, amazing to think that the mountains we were seeing were just the foothills of Mount Aspiring!

The sun eventually came out at 3pm and we had great views of Lake Hawea it's water was the most beautiful bright blue in colour. The mountain peaks which surrounded the lake really finished off the vista.

We decided to pitch the tent as Glendue Bay which is right by Lake Waneka. Superb setting as we had great views of the lake and Mount Aspiring. Sadly it was too cold to sit outside to appreciate the setting sun and the stars. Pete lit the primus stove in the tent to try to warm us up, it's not a good idea but necessary as we were so cold, and it was to early to bed down for the night.

Sundowners at Lake Wanaka

It might be small but we call it home!

3rd April 2008

Our plan today is to walk up to the Rob Roy Glacier.

The drive to Rob Roy Glacier

I popped into the campsite office to book another night and, whilst I was inside, an old man said to Pete “were you cold last night?” he explained that a southerly front had passed over us and this morning he had sheet ice on his windscreen. We were cold and I woke up thinking that my kidneys had frozen against my blow up bed.

A beautiful sunny day as we we made our way over swing bridges and through the alpine scenery, which eventually opened into the mountain range.

Pete on the swingbridge at the start of the walk

Once we made it to the top of the track we decided that we would carry higher on to see if we could see into the next valley. After 45 minutes of ascent we decided that it was time to head back down as the sun was starting to drop behind the mountains.

It's a long way down!

As we arrived at the main path there was a thunderous bang and we watched an avalanche; everyone sitting there cheered!

4th April 2008

We drove to Queenstown and then onto Glenorchy in preparation for our 5 day tramp across the Routeburn and Greenstone track.

Just before it got dark we took the car to "Paradise" where parts of Lord of The Rings were filmed. It was a seriously beautiful place.

5th April 2008

It rained HARD all day so Pete and I spent the day bored watching bad American TV.

Picton to the Glaciers

30th March 2007

A real shame as it was still pouring with rain & very cold so you couldn’t stand on deck to see the journey through the Malborough Sounds. A pity as it’s meant to have been breathtaking scenery and a wonderful introduction to the rest of South Island.

As we approached Picton the sky’s cleared and Picton looked a pretty little town sandwiched in between the tall peaky mountains.

Although it was a grey start to the day the drive was gorgeous to the West Coast.

Roaring Billy's Waterfall

Eventually the sun did come out and the day started to warm up! 1st impressions are that South Island is stunning with it’s rivers, gorges and waterfalls. The scenery is ever changing as one minute you are driving through the plains and next thing it’s mountain passes which are fringed by ferns & palm tree’s and to the side of you roaring rivers.

No wanting to spend the night in big city we pressed on to Charlestown where there was meant to be free camping with facilites at Constance Bay.

We did stop at one campsite to see what it was like and it turned out to be a German Pizza restaraunt that rented space out for camping.

As we walked into the resteraunt a couple of kids sitting a table had a really hard time saying hello. The German owner came out and said “Wat is it I can do for you? Snell snell” Pete asked how much is was to camp for the night “$5 each” she said “You want to stay you pay now” we agreed to pitch the tent and come back. We didn’t and just did a runner. The sign at the entrance said “You come in, you turn round, you lose” it didn’t give us a warm fuzzy feeling!

A few miles down the road we found another campsite which did look a bit ramshackle but we decided to ask how much, the Kiwi owner came out and her intro was much better “G’day mates you looking to camp, well you’ve come to the right place”

The kitchen was fab and was fully kitted out so didn’t need to pull all our cooking equipment out of the car. After chicken vindaloo & rice we headed back to the tent for the night with the company of sandflies and mozzies.

For the 1st time in two years we actually saw our breath, it was cold!

1st April 2008

Off to Franz Joseph to have a look at the Glacier and, if not too expensive, we’ll book a Glacier walk.

We did and have look at the Paparoa blow holes and Pancake rocks but the blow holes weren't that impressive as the tide was out and the sea calm, none the less a gorgeous coastline.

At lunch time the rain started again so when we arrived at the campsite we decided to book a cabin for the night.

When the rain eased we took a walk around the town and also a walk up to Sentinal Lookout to see the Franz Joseph Glacier.

Franz Joseph is a very neat little tourist town and had definitely styled on Europe's Ski resorts.

The Glacier was very impressive and according to the information signs it had been in retreat for a number of years and had just recently started to advance again.

There's not to say about a Glacier apart from it was white!

Franz Joseph Glacier

After investigating the cost of Glacier walking we decided that we couldn't afford it.

If you didn't take the tourist trips there really wasn't much to do at Franz Joseph Village so rather than waste time we decided that the next day we would head off to Fox Glacier.

2nd April 2008

It's only 25 kms to Fox Glacier but again it was grey day and threatening to rain.

We parked the car at the beginning of the path and started to walk towards the Glacier. A sign at the beginning of the path said that the walk was closed due to rockfall, Pete and I decided to ignore it and carry on.

A wonderful walk to the snout of the glacier, it was great as we really did close to it.

Fox Glacier

As we stood there we heard a loud crack and we watched rocks tumbling down. The skies opened and it started to pour with rain again. Mad dash back to the car to dry off.

Auckland to Wellington

26th March 2008

Today is the day that we say goodbye to Marie & Alan, it’s been lovely seeing them and we have had a great time touring around North Island.

Their flight wasn’t due to leave until the small hours so we all went out for a slap up buffet style meal at “The Happy Days” restaurant, courtesy of Marie & Alan. A real treat as Pete & I always cater on Nadezhda.

We finally left them at 11pm and headed back to our camp site for the night.

We weren’t that keen on where we were staying as the receptionist had told us earlier that recently a car had reversed over a tent, luckily no one was hurt but the tent was a write-off! Pete parked the car in such a way that it wouldn’t happen to us.

27th March 2008

Got up early for our long drive to Napier. We stopped at a bar for an urgent loo break. What a very strange place! Pete and I ordered a drink and watched a car pull into the car park - as the driver reversed into a spot he hit the wall. The driver got out and looked very unsteady on his legs. At it turned out he was a musician and a talented one at that, he pulled out his guitar and started singing. We think that the unsteadiness was due to being unwell and not being three sheets to the wind.

At 5pm we arrived in Napier and, as its was getting late, we had a quick drive around and headed back to the campsite for the night.

In the middle of the night I had a sensation that something was crawling up my sleeping bag but being half asleep I decided to ignore it. A few hours later I woke up thirsty and wondered why my handbag was on the bed so I reached down to move it to then discover that it was a small tabby cat that had decided it was too cold to sleep outside and it was going to bed down with me for the night.

Phantom lookalike!

I called Pete, which then in turn woke the cat up. After a few strokes it quite happily went back to sleep.

28th March 2008

Napier is a very pretty little town and gives the impression of it being prosperous & wealthy area.

Beautifully restored Art Deco buildings and palm tree avenues, it is totally different from most of the other New Zealand towns that we have seen - the rest of New Zealand’s towns wouldn't look out of place in an American wild west movie.

We booked to go on a wine tour and the coach was due to pick us up at 12pm from the campsite.

The mini bus turned up 10 minutes late and everyone on the tour were “Pommies” - a couple from the north of England and a very well spoken mother & daughter from Clapham, London.

We visited 4 vineyards and sampled 6 nips of red & white wine at each. In our opinion the smallest & organic vineyard produced the nicest wine. Also we believe that New Zealand makes nicer white wine than red wine.

2nd winery and the best wine of the tour

We had a superb group but the wine helped to loosen people’s tongues!

Fantastic day, brilliant crowd & we certainly wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

A group of youngsters camping next to us took a different tour and said that their tour had been very staid, it really shows that people can make or break a day out.

The little cat turned up again but this time decided that it wanted to get into the sleeping bag, that was a bridge to far for me so Pete ushered the cat inside his. It snuggled down for the night. We couldn’t believe how bold it was.

29th March 2008

Off to Wellington to catch our ferry to Picton at 8am tomorrow morning.

En-route we stopped to pick up a hitchhiker. Graham must have thought all his Christmas’s had come at once as he was heading for Wellington & so were we.

Hitchhikers are normally a friendly and sociable types but Graham wasn’t - so after making small talk for a short while Pete & I gave up and just carried on doing our own thing.

To make life easier for us, we booked a cabin for the night as we really didn’t fancy having to pack a tent in the dark early the next morning, this turned out to be a good call as when we arrived in Wellington the heavens opened and chucked down with rain.

The cabin was more like a very basic prison and right next to the kitchen, not a good position as it was really noisy all night with people coming & going.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pete's Ma & Pa over

With fond farewells to Stuart, we had a few days to ourselves before Ma & Pa flew in to visit.

They arrived on the 7th March for three weeks sailing and touring in the far North. As expected, they were thoroughly jet-lagged and we had a couple of restful days visiting the atractions around Whangerai including the Whangerai falls, Kauri forest and the town itself.

After a couple of days, we upped-anchor and motored down to Urquharts Bay at the entrance to the Whangerai Sound. Dad was suffering from some sort of bug when we arrived but managed a good walk around the headlands there on the following day. This took us around the coastline and up onto a high ridge with beautiful vistas of the coastline and the Hen & Chicken Islands out to sea.

Ma & Pa - Smugglers Cove
Near Urqhuarts Bay

Dad and I then took the dinghy ashore and cleaned the river muck of the bottom before loading it on deck ready for the cruise Northwards towards the Bay of Islands. We set off the following day and soon found ourselves bashing into short, steep waves almost dead to windward. With such an uncomfortable ride, we decided to give up and pull into Tutukaka rather than carry on to our original destination.

Dad was still suffering from his ailment and we left him to sleep whilst we took a short walk to the headland.

The following day, we headed off again to the Bay of Islands. The wind had abated and the seas were calm and so we motored most of the way passing the Hole in the Rock by Cape Brett (see photo November 2007).

Cape Brett

We stopped a couple of nights at Urapukapuka Island where we had visited last November and moved on to Roberton Island and then to Russell for another night before fighing headwinds into Opua and using the Yacht Club facilities for a much needed shower.

The following day, we took the coach back to Whangerai in order to pick up the car. Our route home was via the scenic coastline and after a couple of hours driving, we found ourselves on a potholed dirt track in someones backyard. I woke up the Mauri lady who was having a lunchtime nap and she kindly gave us directions back miles the way we had come to get us back on track. The coastline road gave beautiful panaramas and was well worth the accidental diversion.

The next week and a half were spent with various day-trips around and about in Northland.

  • We visited Kawakawa that is famous for its public conveniences. These were designed by the (world famous??) Mr Hundertwasser from Germany and were a bit like a fairy grotto.
  • The glow-worm caves just South of Kawakawa were surrounded by magnificent Karst scenery and the tour led by an interesting member of the local family who owned the land and the caves.
  • KiriKiri is a historic town where the original Europeans made one of their first settlements. After visiting the old stone store and the mission house, we decided that we had had enough of the not-too-distant past. We had also seen too many historic relics that, in England, would not even be considered antique.
  • A tour further North took us to Whangaroa Harbour and Manganui Bay. Manganui Bay has a famous fish and chippy and, of course, we had to indulge ourselves. We were becoming NZ chippy connoisseurs by this point!
  • Another day took us Westwards to Hokianga Harbour and then South to the giant Kauri Forest where these massive trees still survive. Unfortunately, the photos do not do them justice. They are HUGE, the massively girthed trunk rising vertically upon which a straggly mop of branches and leaves sits.
Eventually the time came for Ma & Pa to return home. We all packed up our bags and left Nadezhda tied to the marina breakwater. Ma & Pa were heading back to England and we were off to visit South Island by car.

KeriKeri Old Stone Store & Mission House

Ma & Pa and Kauri

More Kauri

Stewart visits

February 2008

We had a wonderful time with Stew and he managed to do every extreme sport available in New Zealand.

A few days after arriving he saw a advert for a tandem sky dive over the Bay Of Islands, The company was called “Ballistic Blondes” so we called them up to see when he could do it, the answer was “Well, you can jump this afternoon” Stew wasn’t expecting to do it so soon so we booked for him to jump at 9am the following morning.

In the evening I said to Stew “they are going to look at you and then at us and say, let’s hope it’s the skinny guy or girl" Stewart is tall and very broad and could be easily mistaken for All Blacks Rugby player.

In the morning we made our way to shore to be picked up. The courtesy bus turns up on time playing loud rock music, Stewart was buzzing!.

The problem then came up about his size as they were concerned that he would be to heavy, after a lot of deliberation they decided to let him jump and the lightest instructor was selected to jump with him. The look on Stew’s face when it looked like he might not have been able to jump I think pulled on their heart strings and they felt obliged to take him

Little & Large - Stew with the camera man

Once he was on the plane one of the team turned around to Pete & I and said, had they have known how big he was before he turned up, they would have turned him down. They also said that when we turned up they looked at each other and prayed that it was either Pete or I….

He could not have asked for more perfect conditions as it was a windless, beautiful hot and sunny day.

We watched him from the binoculars as he jumped from the plane.

Is it a bird of a plane? no it's Super Stew!

In Stew’s words it was “The” most amazing thing he had ever done! The views of the Whangerai estuary were stunning.

He also bungy jumped off the Auckland Bridge, White river rafted over the worlds deepest commercial drop, went caving & scuba dived of the Poor Knights Island.

View from the Sky Tower - Auckland

Stew in his "Village People" outfit

Diving at Poor Knights Island

One highlight that we could all do (budget didn’t permit Pete & I joining in on all the sports) was the 3 day kayak down the Wanganui River. The scenery was amazing as you paddled down a deep gorge with waterfalls cascading down and no one else apart from the three of us. It really was value for money for the $200 each it included drop off and pick up, hut passes and the hire of the kayaks.

Pete in the double kayak


We had the huts all to ourselves which was surprising as the day before we were told that 35+ people had been put in the water, we must have been just a day behind them.

The best part were the rapids. In our 2 minute training we were told to head for the V in the rapids and paddle like mad. This proved impossible for me being in the front as unlike Stew who bobbed over them Pete & I just ploughed through them! I was greeted by a wall of water each time and got totally soaked, Pete got slightly damp as I was his buffer.

Fantastic experience and we would seriously recommend anyone coming to New Zealand to do it.

Another highlight was the Tongario tramp a hard slog up the mountain carrying rucksacks. The "likely lads" were planning on climbing up Ngauruhoe Volcano which meant that we wouldn't be able to make the bus back to the campsite in time so we would have to stay in a hut for the night. I had decided that there was no way I was doing it as after they came back down we still had three hours of hard walking before we made the hut.

I warned Stew that I had climbed a volcano before and it was seriously hard work. So they set off and I sat, watched the rucksacks and waited for the to come down.

Pete came down 1st with wobbly legs and a stubbed toenail and Stew came down 15 minutes later.

He sat down and promptly said it was the hardest thing he had ever done and proceeded to throw up, he was running on negative energy as he hadn't had anything to eat all day.

Pete & Stew at the summit of Ngarahoe

Ngarahoe Volcano, a hard a grueling climb!

Emerald Lakes, Tongariro

Us in the natural spa pools, Rotorua.

He wasn't that confident in the hammock!

When it rained, it rained! leaving Auckland for Whangarei.


1st January 2008

Happy New Year all!

We have been busy bees here and there is no let-up. I've finished painting the decks - Primer, high-build epoxy, high-build with sludge aggregate and then a final coat of two-pack polyeurethane. The sludge aggregate was tricky to roll out evenly but I am pleased with the result except that I keep skinning myself on the surface! The leak in the kitchen was due to water getting under the coaming that houses the companionway hatch cover, I sanded that back to the wood and picked out the sealant, released the screws and filled the gap with epoxy resin and filler powder and have just finished priming, followed by 3 coats of high-build epoxy and a coat of 2-pack polyeurethane - one more coat and it is finished. The blue stripe down the hull has been sanded back, primed and re-painted. My preparation of the primer coat was not good enough and 'tipping' the paint horizontally does not work well and so I have re-sanded back and we are awaiting delivery of more blue paint. Repairs to peeling parts of the lower hull are complete and re-expoxied and the peeling bits of antifoul have been removed and primed ready for the antifouling. The anchor locker now has a hose attached to it to take surplus water right to the bottom of the bilge rather than letting it flow through clothes, food and tools. Windows are all in and are surprisingly watertight. Barbeque is fitted to the new steelwork at the rear. The lazarette still leaks through the lid (as do all the cockpit lockers) but there seems to be ingress of water into the boat by the nav station and so that is under investigation. The water through the lid falls directly onto the outside of the electrical panel recess and so the next job is to ensure all that is watertight by glassing it over and making sure any water is well channeled away to the bottom of the locker where there is a drain into the bilges. With the delay in blue paint, we have deferred launch until mid-Jan and so have time to get on with these 'extra' tasks. Fliss will be lifting the kitchen floor panels and sanding/varnishing them whilst I fiddle with other things. We might now have time to get the SSB installed and are going to talk with someone today about the best way to install. One autopilot fixed, one disposed-of and so I am going to look for a real cheapy as a spare that will drive the aries.

All this to be done so that when Stewart (Fliss's Brother) arrives on the 2nd Feb we can actually have a holiday and see New Zealand.

Lift out & going home

28th November 2007

We got up early to prepare Nadezhda for lift out at 11:30am. As we made our way to Norsand we noticed someone waving at us from the river bank. Kevin who manages all the lift out's was giving us the signal to come in.

He had previously told us that we should keep towards the right hand side of the entrance and look for plastic stick that indicates shallows.

The procedure was very proffesionally done but a bit long winded as we didn't get truely settled until the following day.

Life on the hard isn't pleasant as everytime mother nature calls you have to down a ladder which is 11 feet off the ground and at night time a bucket comes into force.

Cooking also is tricky as washing up afterwards is a trail as all grey water goes into a bucket which needs to be emptied each day.

2nd Dec 2007

The day has arrived I heading off home, last night we decided to order pizza so that when I am gone Pete will be ok for a few days. We over orderd and it looks like he'll be eating pizza for a week.

Last night I tried to book my seats online and was told that I couldn't do it and I must check in at the airport.

When I tried to check in I was told that I wasn't due to fly today (I had changed my dates back in August) and that the booking was still showing the original date, after a long wait & hassle they booked me on the flight for the 1st segment to Hong Kong and was reassured that someone would meet me at Hong Kong with my boarding pass to London.

After an anxious 13 hour flight we arrived in Hong Kong and it came as no surprise to me that there was no one there so I made my way to the BA checkdesk only to have the same conversation that I wasn't scheduled to fly! again they got me on the flight but being the last passenger to check in I had the worst seats on the plane.

It was great arriving in London at 5:00am to see my Mum, Brother Ash and Holly waiting for me, my Mum had insisted on arriving three hours before the flight landed as she wanted to make sure they were there to meet me.

Strange how jetlag works as I really fancied a Gin & Tonic rather than an early morning cuppa.

I had a great time back at home being waited on hand & foot! people take for granted the simple luxury's of home; kettles that take a few minutes to boil, being able to cook roast without worrying about using to much gas, space around you and having a hot bath!.

As a treat I took Holly & Robyn up to London to get their Christmas presents this is something I would never do again as it was totally jam packed with people. The kids loved it and they shopped till they dropped, me I just dropped, I think I'm getting to old for this! plus the kids insisted that I dress up as they weren't going to go to London with me wearing jeans and a comfy and pratical pair of walking boots.

I had a wonderful Christmas but the time was really running away and I knew that going back to New Zealand was fast approaching.

28th Dec 2007

Last night I tried again to check in online and had the same error message as before so we left early to get to Heathrow in order to sort out any problems. Same thing as before I wasn't scheduled to fly, rather than bore you with the full details a fair amount of complaining on my part and I was checked in right through to Auckland. I will write to BA and complain about my experiences with them.

Goodbye England hello New Zealand

A Note From Norsand

Having been left behind, I got on with the myriad jobs that needed to be attended to. I won't bore you with the full details but here is a summary:

  • Varnish Kitchen, Navigation Station and Companionway. Plus Ceiling Beams and Part of Front Bedroom
  • Varnish Tiller and Boathook
  • Remove all windows, renovate frames and seal back in.
  • Re-paint Rudder
  • Remove all headlining panels replace velcro attachments and replace
  • Remove stanchions around cockpit and fill resultant holes in deck, then organise new solid stainless steel guardrails
  • Replace broken stanchion with new spare (See Bora-Bora to Suvarov entry)
  • Replace gaurdrail wires
  • Sand, clean, mask-up and paint decks with 4 layers of high-build epoxy + non-slip
  • Cut-back paint on hatch coaming, re-bond coaming to fix leak and re-paint with 5 layers epoxy.

And that's not all since I have ommited the minor jobs and not told of the dismantling of other areas of the boat in order to get the above tasks completed.

Varnishing Chaos

Sanding and Dust Chaos

Deck Masking Detail

The lid just came orf in me 'and guv!