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Whangarei, New Zealand, October 5th  2006   (by Bart)

Whangarei is a nice little town. Everything is in walking distance. And everything is there. All you need for your boat either they have or they make it. And everybody is very friendly. And e specially for Dagmar and Soleil while I had to leave for work to South Africa for 5 weeks, a swimming pool just around the corner, offering different kids swimming lessons, dance and bead classes in town, a cinema, a library, nice little restaurants and cafes. So it was not necessary for us to buy a car. Here are some websites of businesses we really favor in town:

www.whangareimarina.com  Sharron and Brian, www.allmarine.co.nz  The Marine Store, petersson@paradise.net.nz  The sail maker Pelle Petersson, www.cduhost.com  Computers Downunder, Eric Becker, the computer expert

It is very cold (at least in our view) but the weather is beautiful. Clear skies and  around 12 (low) and 20 (high) degrees. Although we don't know yet what we will do the next 6 months before the cyclone season is over. This will be 'home'. We decided to stay here with the boat for the whole period until April and maybe travel a little in NZ and on December 24th we will fly to Maui.

So we are halfway. Sailed 14.500 miles and were 106 days at sea the last 365 days.

 

Whangarei, New Zealand, October 15th  2006   (by Dagmar)

Today for the first time after a long week of working on a problem we had with the mast and out of this resulting cracks in a wooden panel in the galley, a day in Auckland to renew our passports, we took some time off to go for a hike in the wonderful forest close to town. We are truly amazed by the vegetation over here, palm trees, fern trees, blossoms everywhere, the New Zealand springtime. Soleil met a new friend, Joel, the 8year old son of Sharon who works in the Town Basin Marina. So we were party of four on our way up Drummond Track and down Ross Track, the Parihaka Reserves Walk. Parihaka is an old eroded volcanic cone rising to 241m above sea level. Parihaka War Memorial stands at the summit of Parihaka and the lookout offers spectacular views of the city and the harbor.

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Whangarei, New Zealand, October 18th  2006   (by Dagmar)

In October Soleil and I had a photo shoot with Graeme, who shoots pictures for the New Zealand Photo Gallery. Soleil fell in love with his little dog Anna.

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Whangarei, New Zealand, October 31st  2006   (by Dagmar)

Whangarei offered a lot of activities for us, while Bart was working in South Africa. At Forum North they organized a Kids Halloween Party, with DJ, Hip Hop Music and treats for 300 kids. Soleil started Jazz and Hip Hop as well as Swim classes and we joined weekly a bead workshop at Diana's "Bead fest".

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Whangarei, New Zealand, November 4th  2006   (by Dagmar)

Sharron, Joel und Tove were picking us up in the morning to join them for the Maunu School Fair. Horseback riding, rides on the fire truck, arts and crafts, a huge jumping castle, hot dogs ..... were waiting for all the kids...DSC07409.jpg (42963 bytes) DSC07413.jpg (30740 bytes) DSC07432.jpg (31757 bytes) DSC07436.jpg (35786 bytes) DSC07447.jpg (30432 bytes)  

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Kokopu, New Zealand, November 21st  2006   (by Dagmar)

In the beginning of October, right after our arrival in Whangarei, I tried to sign up Soleil for a local school. The only school in walking distance from the Town Basin would be Whangarei Primary School. They were asking a fee of NZ$ 200.- per week per child. That was to much money for as a month, apart from the fact that I had already purchased her 3rd Grade Home School package from Calvert School. But Idunn and Rune of "Blue Malin" with the crew of "Jade" found a school 25 min. drive outside of Whangarei, in Kokopu, which was able to take all the girls from next year on for a semester. A wonderful school, out in the fields, big campus, swimming pool... We will see if we can join, because we will travel to Maui and Australia. On November 21 they invited us to join for an Activity Day, long jumps, high jumps, track, throwing balls...Two girls from Soleil's Jazz Dance School, Kendra and Madison are students here in Kokopu.

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Ngunguru, New Zealand, November 25th  2006    (by Dagmar)

We spent a day with our new German friends Judith, Chiara and Kuba at their home in Ngunguru. Chiara is Soleil's friend from Jazz Dance. In the afternoon we were driving north past the harbor of Tutukaka, the base for diving trips that run all year to the Poor Knights Islands, past Matapouri to Sandy Bay, a small surf beach. We spent 2 hours at Whale Bay. The kids had so much fun boogie boarding in this brrrr....cold water.

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Whangarei, New Zealand, November 26th  2006    (by Dagmar)

The 26m-high Whangarei F alls, 10 min. drive from the Town Basin, are very photogenic, with water cascades over the edge of an old basalt lava flow. We spent a wonderful morning there with the "Blue Malin" and "DIVA" crew. The lovely weather stayed, so we had a BBQ in the afternoon at the Town Basin.

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Auckland, New Zealand, November 27th-30th  2006    (by Dagmar)

Finally, after more then 5 weeks it was time to drive to Auckland to pick up Bart from the airport. We stayed with our friends Emily, Nigel, Sophie and Dom. They are having a lovely home in the center of Auckland. With them and Emily's parents Joan and Sandy ( the couple we helped as line handlers thru the Panama Channel, s. Panama) we spent some great days. They are such a warmhearted welcoming family.

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The next day we were invited to have lunch at Joan and Sandy's property at Glen Eden, Bush Rd., overlooking Auckland in the distance.

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In the afternoon we took off for the West Coast to iconic Karekare Beach, rugged, wild and pristine. Scenes from Jane Champion's "The Piano" were filmed there. Emily made a little sculpture with the nautilus shells we found on the beach. 

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Around midnight on the 28th I went to pick up Bart from the airport. Finally he was back again. We stayed for another day at our friends house and left on the 30th in the morning back for Whangarei.

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Whangarei, New Zealand, December 2nd-3rd  2006   (by Dagmar)

Soleil didn't have to miss Sophie for a long time, the following week end Emily and Sophie were joining us on the LUNA. We did a board walk along the Town Basin to the concrete Maori "waka", canoe, had brunch with Walter and Rita from "Noa" at the Falls. Emily and I did a hike in the Parihaka Forest next to the Marina, just across the road. Parihaka is an old eroded volcanic cone rising to 241m above sea level. There are extensive remnants of Maori settlement extending along 3km of ridge and including 3 heavily defended pa (fortified village) sites. More than 100 household terraces and 300 kumara (sweet potatoes) pits have been identified. The Pa complex at Parihaka was the site of a significant battle and massacre in the 1700s.

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Whangarei, New Zealand, November/December  2006    (by Dagmar)

In November and December more boats with kids came into the harbor. So Soleil had plenty of company, Hedda and Marita, Nancy and Molly and Thea and Tala. But friends we hadn't seen since Nuku Hiva, Togs and Matt from "Helene", who stayed in Opua visited, as well as Amrei and Sascha from "Sarei". We met new boat friends: Katrin and Stefan from "Sidharta" who are now in the Town Basin.

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Opua, New Zealand, December 13th  2006    (by Dagmar)

In the early morning we left from Whangarei to visit our boat friends from "DIVA" and "de Pelikaan" in Opua. We will stay overnight with the "DIVA" crew and will continue the following morning for a tour around the Northland. Upon our arrival in Opua we had coffee and waffles at "de Pelikaan". Later we took the ferry to Russel directly across the bay. It was originally a fortified Maori settlement that spread over the entire valley, then known as "Kororareka", Maori for "sweet penguin". A peaceful and picturesque little town. 

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The Russel Museum shows relicts of the Maori culture, information about the kiwi bird, arts and crafts, especially carvings on fish hooks, spears and clubs, as well as pictures of the "Mokos", the Maori tattoos. Women had "Moko" only on their chins and lips, while high ranking men not only had tattoos over their entire face, but also over other parts of their body, especially their buttocks. The tattoos were created using bone chisels, a mallet and blue pigment.

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Northland, New Zealand, December 14th  2006    (by Dagmar)

Today we were all sooooo excited. We left Opua around midday on our way to go Sand Surfing in The Dunes. Roxy from "de Pelikaan", Soleil's friend, joined us. On our way north we passed a "waka", a Maori canoe in the bay of Paihia. Further north in Mangonui we ate the traditional fish and chips. Then we continued to Te Paki, renting boogie boards at a nearby gas station. There were about 7 sq km of giant sand dunes. We were climbing them up several times for this thrilling ride on the boogie board down the slopes, covered in sand everywhere.

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Our last stop would be Cape Reinga, the northern tip of NZ. Standing at the lighthouse, which is still in use, you would have an amazing look over the endless ocean, where the waters of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet. From there driving south again, we arrived around 7pm at Pukenui, where we stayed overnight at the Pukenui Lodge.

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Northland, New Zealand, December 15th  2006    (by Dagmar)

Our first stop in the morning brought us to the GUMDIGGERS PARK, north of Kaitaia. It has a maze of footpaths around a major gum-digger site and an original gum-diggers hut, evidence of ancient buried swamp-kauri forests and shafts and holes from where kauri resin or gum was extracted. It was a hard life for the workers in their gumboots, who used jute sacks for their tents, bedding and clothing. Many farmers turned to gum digging either full time or in their off season to support their families and pay for their farm improvements.

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Here at ANCIENT KAURI KINGDOM, on the highway at Awanui, you will find a workshop, cafe and gallery. Soleil and Roxy were sitting in a huge upright Kauri log, that has a spiral staircase carved into it, which leads you to the upper level of the store. Here in the workshop 50.000-year-old kauri stumps, which have been dragged up from swamps, are fashioned into furniture and woodcraft products, with some superb eye-catching results. We continued driving and went to the Waipua Kauri Forest. It is the largest remnant of the once extensive kauri forests of northern New Zealand, having the opportunity to see the largest kauri tree in NZ " Tane Mahuta", named after the Maori god of the forests, and as well the oldest kauri tree in NZ, approx. 2000 years old, "Te Matua Ngahere", Maori for the Father of the forest.

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Whangarei, New Zealand, December 16th  2006    (by Dagmar)

Today was Vincent's birthday. What a better place to celebrate, then with a brunch at Whangarei Falls and a BBQ later next to the river at the Marina.

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Whangarei, New Zealand, December 17th  2006    (by Dagmar)

Now we were getting ready for Christmas. Here around the Town Basin Marina a lot of trees were carrying vivid red flowers. The tree is called "Pohutukawa", that's Maori and it's earning the nickname "Christmas Tree", because it only shows its flowers in the month of December. Soleil, Coen from "Tradewind", the Dutch boat, and I were picking some branches for our X-mas bouquet. At Diana's bead shop we did some X-mas tree jewellery and we were doing a gingerbread house on LUNA the other day. We will leave Auckland by plane on December 24th for Maui, Hawaiian Islands, to spend X-mas there with our friends.

We are wishing you all a MERRY X-MAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR. 

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