We have been spending the last couple of weeks preparing for a car camping trip around New Zealand and arranging our spring flights home. Our cruising friend's from 'Blue Moon', Rob & Jo, have graciously allowed us to use their home and internet connection for this. Jo has a busy work schedule teaching yoga and doing personal training and Rob has been flat out building their new house/health retreat, so unfortunately, we have had only a few evenings together during this time.
Rob has been working on a large wrap-around deck on the new house. He is very experienced and manages to do virtually all of the building on his own, using cunning rather than brute strength, for example, to move into place the heavy beams that are required by the local building code. On a few occasions I have lent him an extra pair of hands and enjoyed working with someone who is so competent. Rob also helped me bring our rusty anchor chain into Whangarei to be re-galvanized. New chain is very expensive and most of it now comes from China and is of doubtful quality (several boats have had chain failures with the Chinese chain links parting). Galvanizing costs about $3 NZ per kilo and re-galvanizing our 200 feet of chain will probably set us back between 300 and 400 NZ dollars.
We have also enjoyed visiting Homeport - the off the grid farm where our friends Holger and Roz live. They have gone back to work now out of Russell, about 2 hours drive north of here. They live on their boat on a mooring near Russell and go to work as painters on various jobs in the area. We spent the weekend with them and they kindly allowed us to spend a couple of days here on our own getting ready for our trip. The weekend was packed with music and good food. Holger is an excellent electric guitarist and played several original compositions for us. Holger and Roz's friends, Jan and Peter, dropped by bringing their guitar and mandolin. They are accomplished folk musicians and we had fun jamming with them and listening to their beautifully harmonized singing. As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is a truly lovely place and being here makes us yearn for a more settled life. Maybe we will build our own Homeport some day in Canada.
Rani bus'd her way into Auckland a couple of days ago and returned with a Nissan 'Sunny' - a nice little sedan that will be our magic carpet for the next 6 weeks. We plan to spend about 10 days on the North Island and will then take the ferry across Cook Strait to the South Island where we will travel for 3-4 weeks. We are basing the trip mainly around hikes as well as a few days in Napier (famous for Art Deco architecture) and Christchurch. More on this when we are on the road.