Still in Kawau Island

Sunday late morning we headed ashore in a break from the rain to have a late breakfast in the Club whilst I moved backwards and forwards to the laundry. There were two big washers but only one small drier so it took ages. To speed things along Richard took some sheets and towels back to the boat to hang them up so I could concentrate on getting the clothes dry. Of course, this meant that I got stranded ashore as the rain came down even heavier and there was a white out in the anchorage! The rain didn’t let up at all so eventually Richard came and collected me, we toughed it out, and got absolutely soaked on the return dinghy ride.

Monday morning we were up early just in time to see Sea Bear depart from the anchorage as Chris started his travels north. We worked hard sanding down and varnishing, pleased that the rain held off despite the threatening clouds around us.

Just before the sun went down the wind shifted significantly and we were nodding into a considerable fetch – so we picked up anchor and moved to the other side of the anchorage to get some respite. Once set we then relaxed for the rest of the evening.

Tuesday morning and the weather had improved significantly. It was a beautiful day.

We were up early, rubbed down, and managed to get another coat of varnish on. Yay! Morphie is definitely looking much smarter.

We then tackled the Spectra watermaker. This had been ‘pickled’ since we left Morpheus in November 2017. We had decided not to unpickle it up until now as, once it is operational, it needs to be flushed every five days and, with our touring holidays arranged, we knew we would not be on board for that to happen. So today was the day and we were both a bit nervous to be honest, concerned about leaks and the possibility of contamination in the hoses. We went through the whole process diligently and were delighted that everything was working absolutely fine and the water quality was good. So we made some water to top up our tanks. Something else to check off our ever increasing list of things to do before we depart for Fiji this season.

Wednesday morning the forecast remained good. So we sanded down early and got another coat of varnish applied. We were sat in the cockpit having a cup of tea and a sandwich not more than an hour later and the rain came down again. Damn that’s not good! We suffered some damage to the new varnish on the port rail where there were some holes and cloudy areas. We let the sun dry out the varnish and, luckily, some of the cloudiness disappeared so we mainly had to deal with the holes. Oh well, what can you do?!? So we visited the Club to drown our sorrows for a couple of hours and ended up sitting in front of the roaring fire chatting to some friendly locals before heading back to Morphie before dark.

Thursday morning and it was fine and sunny. While we were working hard rubbing down we saw everyone converging on the Club’s jetty for Anzac Day. I would have liked to have gone to the remembrance ceremony but, sadly, after the varnishing set back the day before we needed to keep working. We eventually applied the varnish and had all our fingers and toes crossed.

And it stayed fine so we were very happy that we were good to go for a little while -we’ll probably do some more coats in Fiji but at least the wood is now protected from the elements. So we went ashore later in the afternoon and admired the wreaths before attending the retreat when they took down the national flag on the jetty. We had a couple of cold ones and headed back to Morphie before dark.

Friday we decided not to remove the masking tape as we wanted to let the varnish harden up before we did that but we did reinstate the canvas dodgers, the spare fuel cans on the rails, and moved our blocks back into position for the sheets. Later on we headed over for sundowners in the Club and enjoyed a nice meal combined with a great sunset.

Saturday morning we removed the masking tape and reinstated all the sheets. At last, job done!

We had been dreading our next job – to clean Morphie’s hull. The bio-security rules here in New Zealand require you to anti-foul, jet wash or dive your hull before moving between areas. There is a problem in the Auckland area with Mediterranean fan worm which is a foreign invasive species without any predators which could decimate the oyster and green-lipped mussel business in Northland – so when we return to the Bay of Islands we have to have a clean hull. Anyway, we got into the (cold) water in our 3mm wetsuits and stared in horror at the bottom. OMG Morphie had only been in the water for a couple of months and look at the state of it! We had never seen anything like it before in our lives.

Richard decided that he would dive the bottom while I snorkelled and got on board to organise that when he called me back onboard. He had realised that we had moved around a bit whilst we were in the water and was concerned we may have dragged our anchor….so started the engine….and then put it into reverse to check the set. And, guess what, we had no reverse gear! So we abandoned the hull cleaning and relied on Calder’s bible to troubleshoot the problem. Thankfully we managed to resolve it. Phew what a stressful day! We went ashore for restorative sundowners at the Club before getting back onboard for an early night.

This morning, Sunday, and we got back in the water to continue to clean the bottom. Richard dived and I snorkelled – so he was tackling the deeper growth while I concentrated on the waterline and just below. We spent over two hours in the water and were absolutely exhausted so ended up calling it a day. Oh yes, horrendously the growth has lots of little shrimp-like things in it and they stick to our wetsuits. So we are absolutely crawling when we get out of the water and, although they die off pretty quickly, they give me the creeps! Tomorrow is another day… will have to go back in for a third time….

So I’m sitting here blogging down below while Richard is reading – we are in fleeces having had showers and hot chocolate but still feel a bit chilly! Later on we plan to go to the Club for a roast dinner so we’re really looking forward to that (not to mention sitting in front of the fire LOL). Sadly I think we’ll get wet again later as it has just started raining again – you can definitely tell that winter is approaching.

We had planned to leave Kawau on Monday once the varnishing was complete and the hull was clean, but the weather is not conducive, and certainly don’t fancy the forecast. Check out the wind on this grib, think it would definitely be prudent to sit tight for another day.

We had hoped to rock hop back north to the Bay of Islands and visit more anchorages but the wind turns north again soon and we have a deadline of the 6 May when we are booked in to be hauled out and renew our antifoul. So we have decided to make an overnight sail on Tuesday/Wednesday (weather permitting) and return to Russell where we can relax before heading around the corner to Opua. Will be good to get some sailing practice in on another overnight passage anyway.

Bye for now


Boat jobs in Kawau Island

Monday afternoon we were still preparing the boat for varnishing when a familiar boat came into the anchorage – it was Chris on Sea Bear! Fantastic, had been such a long time since we had seen him. So we let him get settled and then all headed across to the Kawau Boating Club where we had a few cold ones and a great reunion.

Tuesday morning and we started removing the old varnish….and just to remind you here are the before pictures again.

Well, the varnish was so thick that it took almost three coats of varnish stripper to get anywhere near the bare wood. Richard continued stripping and scraping (and cursing I might add LOL) while I worked hard rubbing down the eyebrows (which go along the top of the coachroof). Once I had finished them, I started sanding down the wood that Richard had managed to get relatively clear. It was really hard and dusty work!

The Club now closes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays so we had to make our own entertainment. So we invited Chris over to join us for dinner and we had a movie night (tonight’s choice was Everest). It was interesting to hear his take on the film as an experienced mountain guide.

Wednesday morning and Richard continued stripping, scraping and cursing the rail while I continued sanding. This continued all day…. In the evening Chris came over again for another movie night (this time it was Jack Reacher).

Thursday morning and we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. So we spent the whole day doing the final sanding and were very pleased with our efforts. But it looked like rain so we decided not to start the varnishing.

Richard, instead, took the outboard apart and changed the plugs, and it worked. Woo hoo! We were very pleased that this was now back in service. While Richard was in the dink he made friends with the female duck who had been visiting with us all day.

Later on we went ashore for dinner and a few drinks. While we were in the Club we were treated to Morphie on anchor in a sunny glow followed by a spectacular sunset and then a great big full orange moon. And the boats starting coming in thick and fast for the Easter weekend. There was all sorts of anchoring methods with some of them just too close and with very little scope (bearing in mind we were anchored in 22 feet at low tide) and it reminded us of the BVIs all over again LOL.

During the night there was a massive bump and judder and I woke with a start thinking that one of the nearby boats must have hit us. But, it was actually Richard! He had popped his head up to check that we remained clear of the other boats (there was one who was way too close and he was not inclined to move despite us telling him we had a lot of scope out) and, when he turned around for a 180 degree look out, he fell from the top step into the saloon. A bit bruised and grazed up but thankfully he wasn’t hurt. Gave us both a bit of a shock though, he is usually so sure footed!

Friday morning we were surrounded by boats and still more came in. Wow it was getting really busy in the anchorage. Happy Easter to all our family and friends. To celebrate we had toasted hot cross buns for breakfast and a couple of pieces of chocolate in lieu of Easter Eggs.

After breakfast, on a chilly but sunny morning, we checked all the wood again and dried everything after a heavy morning dew. We found a few spots here and there that needed further attention so we dealt with them and then did a final clean up to ensure that no dust was around. We also removed the original blue masking tape, cleaned up any residue left behind, and then re-taped the rail.

Then it was time to apply our first coat – which was a sealant. Richard started on the bow and worked his way down the side while I did the eyebrows, the helm seat and the back rail. Eventually we finished and sat back and relaxed for a little while.

Chris joined us for dinner in the cockpit watching all the revelry around us and we had another movie night (this time it was American Sniper). Even when Chris left us people were still partying on their boats and dinghies were flying everywhere. Good night had by all I think.

Saturday morning lots of boats left and loads more arrived….crazy times.

We continued to ignore them although we did have a few shouted compliments as boats went through the anchorage. We lightly sanded everything and then put on our first proper coat of varnish.

We finished around 1.30 pm so by 2.15 pm we were picking Chris up for an afternoon in the Club. It was absolutely rammed with lots of kids running around plus a few very well oiled locals….was fun to watch although a bit loud at times. We came back to Morphie before dark and had a quiet evening on board.

This morning, Sunday and the forecast was for afternoon showers so we got out of bed early and quickly lightly sanded everything again. We were much faster today and we had finished varnishing by 12.30 pm.

After a snack we got cleaned up and Richard serviced the generator.

We are now both down below resting up and that will be it for the day. Morphie is looking quite shiny again now. According to the forecast it looks like Monday / Tuesday will be raining so we’ll probably hold off the next coat until this period of bad weather has moved through. Our weary bones and sore fingers will thank us for the reprieve LOL.

Bye for now


Coromandel Peninsular to Kawau Island

Thursday afternoon the weather deteriorated even further with gusts up to 40 knots in rain squalls. This caused a chop on the water which then pushed around the corner so our lovely little anchorage was no longer pleasant and we were ‘nodding’ constantly into the waves. So, in a lull between showers, we picked up anchor and moved across the bay to Name Bay, where we joined two other boats. By 6pm we were settled and enjoyed a quiet night on board.

Friday morning and it started much brighter, although the sea state out in the wider Hauraki Gulf was quite rough and marine warnings remained in place. We decided however, in another lull between squalls, we would move around the corner into Coromandel Harbour. This was a tough rolly trip but only for six miles and we had anchor down at noon in East Bay off Waimate Island passing lots of oyster and green lipped mussel farms along the way.

Another lovely spot and again we had a couple of other boats to accompany us. We were also treated to a spectacular rainbow on the other side of the harbour after another squall had gone through. We had a quiet day on board while we waited for the weather to calm down, which it did overnight.

Saturday morning we picked up anchor and moved across to McGregor Bay so that we could dink up the river following the well marked channel into town (which was still over a mile away from our position). It was a beautiful sunny day which perked us up no end. We anchored on a rising tide (there was an eight foot drop that day) and got a good set in sand.

We then headed off in dink on an adventure up the river through the mangroves. The wind was still blowing about 15 knots but it was behind us so we had a good run in passed some boats sitting on docks and others lying in the mud, with lots of cormorants drying out after fishing and some geese.

When we arrived in town we were a bit disappointed that we had to clamber onto a very soft and muddy shoreline and drag dink up above the high water mark – all it needed was a floating pontoon really. We didn’t think we would be able to manage this on our own so Richard left me with dink and went off to the petrol station where he got our propane tanks filled and some extra petrol.

While he was there a young man (called Willow) offered to help us and promptly came across the road and manhandled dink onto the grass. Really friendly and helpful people here in New Zealand! So we tied dink to a post and went for a walk across the bridge into town. But first things first, coffee and a pie LOL.

Coromandel town is quaint with some old architecture and a nice high street. The town’s history clearly pointed to the gold rush as the Assay Office building still existed. We went into the oldest boozer in town and had a cold drink before heading back via the local supermarket where we picked up some fresh produce.

All sorted we returned to dink, chatted with some Australian tourists for a while, and then pushed him back into the water – it was just after high water so it was slack tide and we didn’t have so far to splash. We then took off back up the river. As we cleared the mouth of the river the outboard died. We had 15+ knots of breeze on the nose and we couldn’t row and make way against the chop. We were being pushed further and further into the shallow areas and towards the mangroves. Eventually we hit a mangrove so I hung on for dear life while Richard attended to the engine but it just wouldn’t work. It would start and conk out immediately again leading us to think it was a fuel issue. We were now a bit worried to say the least. We managed to pull ourselves along the mangroves – aided by the odd bit of rowing and pushing against the mud – until we came to the first dock near another slipway back into the river. Richard left me sitting in dink with all our worldly belongings while he sought some assistance.

He walked to the wharf to try and find someone who would give us a tow out to Morpheus and came back with Lance, a liveaboard guy, who had offered to help. I was quite worried about the tide dropping, especially as this part of the river dries out and, if that happens, we are stranded ashore for the night. We really did not want to leave Morphie in her current position unattended as we never planned to stay there the night, it was just a daytime anchorage for convenience. Anyway, Lance took the outboard apart, and found water in the carburettor – so he cleaned the carb, made sure the drain was working properly, checked and cleaned the spark plugs and tried again. Still the same symptoms. So Richard disposed off the old fuel and went back to the garage for more petrol and two-stroke oil. In the meantime Lance had stripped it all down and cleaned it again….so fingers crossed. And it still wouldn’t work so now we really are worried. We only had a couple of hours before the area dried out. So Lance phoned the harbour master (who had the day off) and told him this ‘elderly couple’ needed assistance. Cheek!!! Anyway, the harbour master Stu came by to check the water levels were OK for him to rescue us and return back up the river himself. Thankfully the answer was positive so he went off and collected his pontoon boat. Lance left us at this point and we offered him some cash for his assistance but he was adamant and wouldn’t take it. What a nice man!

He quickly deployed it and towed us back out to Morphie. Phew! Again, the harbour master told us there was no fee for this service as that was what he was employed by the local council to do. Can’t imagine that would be the case in many other places.

Once back on board we emptied dink of all our belongings and quickly picked up anchor and returned to East Bay for another night on the hook. Was quite an experience – oh the shame of having to be rescued! We had an early night worn out by the excitement of the day.

Sunday morning with dink back up on the arch and the outboard secured on the rail, we scared off all the swifts who were having a rest on our bow, picked up anchor very early as the sun came up and by 7am we were underway heading towards Kawau Island. We had loved the Coromandel Peninsular with its spectacular scenery and quaint town. Just a shame we couldn’t have lingered but without a way of getting ashore there was no point…..

On the passage to Kawau we had extremes of weather, from six knots (motoring in flat calm seas) to 16 knots (all three sails out on a close haul) to 11 knots (on a beam reach) to 30 knots in rain squalls and big seas. It was only 42 miles but felt much longer in the cold southerly wind. We also crossed the main shipping lane into Auckland Harbour so we slowed down for a tanker, the Aotearoa Chief, to cross our bow. Whilst on the radio to them we were obviously overhead by Serenity of Swanwick who radioed us to say hi – we met them on the Pacific Crossing – so it was nice to catch up briefly as they headed over to Great Barrier Island. Having crossed the shipping lane, and enjoying some brisk sailing up to 7 knots, we heard two Mayday Relays – one jet skier whose machine was on fire and one boat who had lost their engine. Neither incident were close enough for us to assist but it is always sobering to hear these incidents and rescues going on. Thankfully everyone was OK.

We eventually arrived in Kawau under a cloudy sky and dropped the hook just outside the Boathouse so it was easy rowing distance ashore. We were surprised to see new mooring balls that had been installed since our last visit almost a month ago. Anyway, chilled to the bone, we had quick hot showers before we headed ashore and were joined by Steve and Jo from SV Tamanu in the bar later. We had a lovely evening together and they very kindly towed us back to Morphie at the end of the evening.

This morning, Monday, we were invited for breakfast onboard their beautiful 420 Island Packet and Steve taxied us back and forth as they are anchored much further into the bay than we are. We had another good time and look forward to catching up with them further down the line as we both head north in due course.

We plan to stay in Kawau for a while now as we are going to get the varnishing done – we are ashamed at the state of the capping rail which needs some loving care. So here are some ‘before’ pictures.

Back onboard after breakfast and Richard is starting the preparation for the varnish job while I’m blogging. It takes a while to prepare as we need to get the canvas off (dodgers); remove lines off the deck; moving the spare fuel cans off the rail; raising the blocks up the stanchions and, when the area is all clear, there is the taping up above and below the capping rail and the eyebrow. So I guess we’ll get that done today and start removing the old varnish tomorrow…. Neither of us are looking forward to it but Morphie deserves some care and attention.

Bye for now


Auckland, Waiheke and Coromandel

Friday we did a provisioning run to the large Countdown in Takapuna. We took one of our big roller suitcases with us to help carry it all as we went by bus but, again, too much to carry so we treated ourselves to a taxi back.

We got everything stowed away onboard and then got ready to go into Auckland to meet Paul. We met him at 5.30 pm and enjoyed a beer. However, the DJ was setting up for the night and it was really loud so we decided to move on as it was difficult to hold a conversation. Paul knew this great little Vietnamese restaurant so we walked there and managed to get a table…..the food was interesting and very flavoursome….so much so that Richard and I had three courses! Was a lovely evening and we were very grateful to Paul as he turned up with a brand new 1TB hard drive for us complete with films and TV shows. That’ll keep us entertained, particularly now that Autumn has started to set in here in New Zealand.

After Paul had left we went to Shuckers for a pontoonie while we waited for the ferry to take us across the bay back to Morphie.

Saturday morning we got the early ferry into Auckland in the pouring rain – as I had a hair appointment and Richard needed to visit some chandlers to get some materials. We have decided, in the next few weeks, to take some time out to varnish our capping rail and eyebrows, as the wood deteriorated significantly whilst we were home in the UK for such a long period of time. So I went for my hair cut and Richard went off – rejoining me a few hours later. Whilst I was in the hairdressers the fire alarms went off and we had to evacuate the building, so a bit of excitement watching the firemen turn up, check the little mall was safe, before we could go back in. Sadly the skills of the hairdresser was not as high as her price – never mind.

Richard returned to pick me up and we had a few hours before the next ferry back across to Bayswater. So, in the rain, we headed to The Viaduct….and enjoyed a couple of beers in Headquarters. It was good to see genuine Aucklanders out enjoying their Saturday afternoon which they celebrated with a few drinks. We were having such a good time we decided to go on an afternoon pub crawl. The next hostelry was Dr Rudi’s where we met an English couple from Bristol.

then onto White & Wongs (where we also had a bite to eat)

and ended the afternoon at the Crab Shack. We got the 8.20 pm ferry so we didn’t stay out late but had been a great last fun day in Auckland.

Sunday morning we continued to get the boat ready to go back to sea. I did online stuff like banking, bills and downloading updated charts. Richard ordered some new batteries for Morpheus. We have five house plus one engine Lifeline ATM batteries on board and they were new in 2012, so a seven year lifespan isn’t too bad. They would still be OK if we were rock hopping and could pop into a marina and plug in every now and again or run the generator at anchor, but with long sea passages ahead, this is as good a time to replace them as any. He also ordered a new battery monitor to go with them. There are other spare parts we need too so we are looking through our lists while we have access to internet here in the marina. By ordering them now they should be ready and waiting in Opua for when we return in early May.

Another thing we did, while in organisational mode, was to book ourselves onto a rally into Australia from New Caledonia. We can be as actively involved with other participants as we want and we probably won’t buddy boat, but the cost of joining is largely offset by all the discounts that we get for customs wood inspections, boat yard haul outs etc. And they supply all the information we need for checking into Australia, cruising guides for New Caledonia, welcome events/seminars etc so we thought it was a worthwhile thing to do. Not to mention the party week on arrival in Bundaburg which we quite fancy LOL. We have also been putting feelers out with a couple of boat yards in Australia to haul Morpheus out of the water for when we return back to the UK for a few months. And that was about it for the day.

Monday morning Richard did engine checks whilst I did all the laundry. We then received our final invoices from the marina and, OMG, they were so wrong it was laughable. We had already pointed out discrepancies in February’s and March’s invoices (which had been charged in full to us despite this) so we had some credits in the bank, but it was still far from accurate. So we spent a few happy hours going through everything and recalculating what we thought was the correct amount. We sent this email to the office and said I would be in later to discuss and guess what, the administrator was not going to be there. How convenient!!! Never mind, 8.30 in the morning it is then.

The rest of the day we checked out various anchorages and downloaded weather forecasts. We were surprised to see light south winds coming through on Tuesday which would mean a stop in Oneroa Bay, Waiheke Island, was possible for a night. Yay we really fancied going there.

Tuesday morning early I was at the office while Richard unplugged our power cables etc and got the ropes ready to slip. Well, of course, the woman was in late and wasn’t ready to talk although did say that she thought our list of discrepancies was a bit much. So I explained, tactfully and politely, how I had come to my conclusions and went away for 15 minutes while she tried to get her head around it. When I returned she agreed some, disputed others, but the bottom line was that she thought I owed less than I thought I did (seriously!) so I just accepted her position and got our security bond refunded all in the same transaction. That was seriously hard work.

Glad to finally escape I skipped back to Morphie, we slipped from the dock, and by 9.45 am we were underway. We enjoyed our last glimpse of Auckland on our way through the channel and were impressed by the training ship Spirit of New Zealand sailing under the bridge and eventually passing alongside us.

We sailed all the way to Waiheke in light airs dodging ferries. By 1.30pm we were on anchor in Oneroa Bay having travelled a mere 15.54 miles.

We got a great set in sand and straight away we got busy dropping dink off the davits and getting the outboard on the stern. Once we were happy and settled, we headed over in dink to say hi to fellow Island Packeteers Steve and Jo, on Tamanu, who were anchored nearby. This isn’t something we normally do but it is so unusual to see an Island Packet in these waters we thought we would say hello.

When we got over to them, they already knew we were Richard and Jan from Morpheus as they had checked on the IP Yacht Owners’ Association. We were a little flabbergasted by that LOL. We spent a while chatting with them and realised that our plans may be similar for the coming few months. They were trying to lead us astray by offering us beer and, in the heat of the sun, we were sorely tempted. But we managed to resist as we had to go into town to get some more supplies (things we had missed or used since the last big provisioning run). So we said farewell and headed to the beach. By now the tide had gone out and even though we have OAP wheels installed on our new dinghy, it was still quite a drag.

Eventually we managed it and walked up the very steep hill into town. We got our provisions in the little supermarket and went to a rooftop bar overlooking the bay for a few cold ones. Was lovely.

Before the sun went down we headed back to dink, pushed him back into the water (not so far now as the tide had started to come back in) and returned to Morpheus and had a nice evening in the cockpit. It was pretty warm in the sun but we still needed fleeces once the sun went down.

During the evening we ran the weather again to see if we could stay another day or whether we had to move on. At this point we found that a gale warning had been issued for Thursday. Great….so we looked at the wind direction and found an area over on the Western Coromandel coast which would be a good place to shelter while the blow went through. Squadron Bay (in Te Kouma Harbour) would give us protection from N/NW winds (the first wind direction) and if, indeed it switched (timing was indecisive on this) we could go across the way to Name Bay (also in Te Kouma Harbour) to get protection from S/SW winds. So our decision was made before we went to bed.

Wednesday morning we were up early and ran the weather again. The position had worsened if anything, gale warnings in most places for Thursday, and torrential rain all day too. Never mind….we had a plan.

So at 9.30am we picked up anchor – said goodbye to Steve and Jo – and headed out on a beautiful sunny day with light NW winds. We attempted to sail downwind on genoa alone but the wind completely died on us so we ended up motoring slowly virtually the whole 23 miles.

There was lots of bird life on the water and, at one point, Richard could hear this squeaking and it was a little blue penguin who had surfaced beside us giving us a fleeting glance. Made us very happy. By 3pm we were on anchor in beautiful Squadron Bay surrounded by stunning scenery and the only boat around, but lots of cows on the hill and even one wandering along the scrubby beach. We even had a duck welcoming party so we gave them a cornflake treat.

We had a nice afternoon and evening in the cockpit. Just before the sun went down another boat came and anchored over in Name Bay which has no protection from northerly winds – so we double checked the weather again just to make sure we were in the right position and, yes, no change. The winds were NW up to 40 knot gusts.

This morning, Thursday, and the weather was quite pleasant first thing. The forecast remained the same and was supposed to kick in at 10 am so we had breakfast in the cockpit first. At 10 am the clouds rolled in and the wind picked up, Morpheus moved head to wind (NW as predicted) and we prepared to sit it out.

By 10.40 the heavens had opened and it poured with rain. So I’m sitting down below blogging and Richard is reading. I guess that will be it for the rest of the day.

Friday we had hoped to move around the corner into Coromandel Harbour as there is a town a couple of kilometres up the river, so could be fun to go exploring the river in dink. We have also decided to return to Kawau (which is pretty protected) to do the varnishing as at least there is a yacht club to get off the boat now and again after a hard day’s work, so we will probably be there for Easter. But we are totally weather dependent as we are back on the hook and this front could linger, so we’ll make our decisions on a daily basis.

Bye for now


South Island Tour – part 2

Friday (29 March) we got up early for the eight hour drive to Queenstown (yes Google maps say less than seven but they clearly don’t understand the terrain). It was a long way and we had planned to avoid such lengthy drives but the exceptional weather event earlier in the week had made us reorganise our plans.

Never mind, we set off in good spirits, armed with snacks and soft drinks. Clive and Richard did two hour shifts each to share the driving, stopping when it was convenient. There was great scenery along the way and we made a couple of comfort stops too….

Around 5pm we arrived at our waterfront apartment and checked in.

We found a good spot in the private car park to leave the car and headed up in the lift to the 5th floor. The apartment was large although a bit dated. As we had the double bedroom last time, Clive and Val took up residence in the main bedroom. They definitely got the better deal as it was a large king-size with ensuite. We ended up in the twin (with two small single beds) at the back with a separate bathroom. Never mind, at least we had two bathrooms….. But, you know what, when the views are this good from the window who cares?!?!

We got ourselves organised and headed along the waterfront for dinner – this time we chose a pub for simple fare of ribs, then returned to the apartment for pontoonies.

Saturday morning we had to meet our coach for a 7.11 am pick up for the trip to Milford Sound. We weren’t sure exactly where the coach was going to be (except outside the Crown Plaza which happened to be the next door hotel) so we went early and waited as numerous coaches passed us in both directions….eventually ours turned up…and we settled down for the long drive.

It was a great trip across the country with some special photo opportunities from mirror lakes to majestic mountains, valleys and ice above us. We even went through a tunnel….. Absolutely stunning. And the commentary was interesting and informative – we didn’t know that possums were such a pest and nuisance and, when he saw one splattered on the road, the driver made sure they were dead by turning them into squishums!!!

We arrived at Milford Sound and boarded our large catamaran. We were very lucky that this was another dry day.

We enjoyed our included lunch and then took up residence on the bow. We were very lucky to see some dolphins, fur seals and, of course, there is the obligatory getting soaked under the waterfalls. Or at least Richard and I did, Clive and Val ran for cover LOL. Another amazing time.

After the boat trip we re-boarded our coach for the long trip back. Some tourists had opted to fly back on a small plane instead (and there were spaces available) so we tried to tempt Clive but it was too rich for him, so we stayed on the coach as well. We dozed for a while until we reached our intermediary stop of Te Anau and had a coffee. Then we got back on and watched a movie The World’s Fastest Indian about a local guy who went to the US to take on the land speed record on a motorcycle. He came from Invercargill (a Scottish town at the bottom of the South Island) and as our driver’s name was Hamish we did wonder – he later confirmed that he actually was a distant relation. It was a great film with some really funny moments.

Arriving back into Queenstown the coach wasn’t stopping at our stop so we got off and walked for about 15 minutes to get back – which we all needed having spent 13 hours on the road. Back at the apartment we had a pasta meal and stayed home with our feet up.

Sunday morning we all headed through town to the Gondola station, once we had been to the ATM for more drinking vouchers. We enjoyed the ride up to the top and the spectacular views – and watched some crazy bungy jumpers and some paragliders. We also watched the luge but thought it looked a bit tame although Clive was tempted….. As we had booked onto a jet boat trip at 1pm we left them up there and, yes, Clive did do a few luge runs once we had left.

We walked down to the main wharf, were briefly entertained by Happy the singing sheepdog, before meeting our driver, kitted up with life jackets, and climbed on board.

The one hour trip was amazing….check out the photos. We have also put a video up of the trip on Richard’s Facebook page. It was really good fun and an adrenaline rush.

On our return to the wharf we enjoyed the underwater observatory into the lake and then wandered down the waterfront, checking out the little black ducks, just enjoying the sun. So we visited the floating bar and watched the ‘sharks’ come and go. They speed along, go under, and then jump out of the water. Looked fantastic! We did enquire about taking one each, but at $154 for 15 minutes seemed a bit steep….maybe next time?!?!

Returning to the apartment we all got together and shared our adventures. We then headed back into town for dinner and, this evening, we fancied a curry so chose a nice-looking Indian restaurant just set back from the main drag. The food was lovely and we really enjoyed it. We chatted to a Scottish guy on the next table who decided to swear and become loud about British politics (despite the fact that he had lived in New Zealand for many years). This was to the annoyance of other diners so we asked him to calm down which he did for a while, then got excited again LOL. So, once we had finished our dinner, we exited left and hit a few hostelries on our way back.

Monday morning and we headed off in the car towards Dunedin. Again there was some spectacular scenery along the way, but different. This is a fruit growing region so we saw lots of farms, including vineyards. There was more of a volcanic look to the rock and lots of pasture lands with kale, sheep, deer, veal calves etc.

Arriving into Dunedin we checked into our hotel and headed out in the car towards the coast.

We admired the spectacular beach at St Clare – with only a few crazy surfers around – and had a nice lunch. The wind was blowing strongly at this point and it had turned very cold.

Back to the hotel we left the car in the secure overnight parking spot reserved for us and walked into town. We went past the Salvation Army monument, numerous churches, Art Deco buildings and then to the train station.

Afterwards we decided to stay out and headed to the main centre of town, the Octogen. We sat on the pavement (wrapped up against the cold) having a beer and watched the world go by but it was very very quiet and we were a bit disappointed to be honest. So we headed back towards the hotel and found a lovely restaurant. The dinner was superb, in fact, probably one of the best we had had on our whole trip.

After dinner we went into the neighbouring casino for a little flutter….I spent a whole $10 on the slot machines and walked away with $20 a little while later. Clive tried the roulette table and, feeling very tired, we said our goodnights and left them there. We watched TV for a little while in our room before having an early night.

Tuesday morning we had breakfast in the hotel, checked out, and picked up the car. We then headed along the coast to Brighton (yes another one) to see if we could see any seals or penguins that reside on this wild coast. Sadly our head count was zero!

We then drove cross country towards the airport, hoping for a final bakery/cafe visit for coffee. But we found nowhere open….. Apart from Dunedin’s suburbs the larger district is very remote and isolated. Eventually we were almost at the airport so we filled up with petrol at the nearest village – still no cafe open – and drove towards the terminal building. At this point Clive didn’t believe me that this was a regional airport as all he could see was small private planes landing!!! Well, Dunedin only has one airport (I checked) so this was definitely right LOL. We returned the car and headed into the terminal, we checked our bags, and finally got that coffee. We were a bit early but, hey ho, nothing wrong with that.

After a couple of hours we went through to the gate and boarded the plane. It was a good flight and we landed in Auckland on time at 5.40 pm. We recovered our luggage and now it was time to say goodbye. Clive and Val were booked into a hotel near the airport for the night, prior to their flight to Bali the following day. We, however, were returning to Morphie. So we said our sad farewells and headed into Auckland on the Sky Bus.

At the main wharf we had to wait for a ferry across to Bayswater so had a glass of wine and some nibbles in Shuckers. We got back on board Morphie around 7.30 pm and were pleased that she was in good order and very happy to be back onboard. We quickly unpacked and had an early night….

Wednesday morning we had a lay in. We had been on holiday for almost six weeks and were both feeling tired….so no schedule! Later on I did the first of the South Island blogs while Richard did all the laundry. We kept ourselves occupied all day and had an early night after dinner in the cockpit, despite the rain.

Today, Thursday (4 April), Richard is reorganising the boat in preparation for going back to sea, ie reinstating the ‘garage’ in the stern cabin. I’m blogging again and thinking about the provisioning we need to do tomorrow…. So no rest for the crew of the good ship Morpheus.

Bye for now


South Island Tour – Part 1

Sunday evening (24 March) we got together and headed across the street to the Sky Tower. We had dinner reservations for 7.45pm which entitled us to free entry to the viewing platform (usually about $30). The Sky Tower, at 328m is the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest structure. The lift up to the observation decks does it in 40 seconds and there is even a glass panel in the floor to watch the ascent. On arrival we wandered around the deck and enjoyed the spectacular views of Auckland, including over to Morphie safely tucked into Bayswater Marina. Then the sun went down…..and we had lovely night views.

And of course there was some silliness aided and abetted by the on-site professional photographer.

Later on we headed into the Orbit restaurant and had a fantastic three course meal. The service was a little slow but it didn’t detract from the evening. It was a great way to start our next adventure. Afterwards Val was tired (unsurprisingly having just flow in from London), so her and Clive retired to their apartment while Richard and I headed back down the hill to have a few pontoonies on the wharf.

Monday morning and we all went for a stroll down the hill and found a local cafe for breakfast. We then continued downwards to the harbour and walked around the wharf area admiring the views back to the Tower. Richard also fancied getting his hands on the Americas Cup. All too soon it was time to return back up the hill to our apartment and we picked up our bags and waited for the shuttle to the airport. This arrived bang on time and we drove over to the domestic terminal.

On arrival we got checked in easily enough and then headed to the gate. This was a different end of the terminal than we were used to so it was a bit confusing especially when we came across security scanners. As we were flying internally this was a new development for us but, hey, no problem. Going through easily enough we waited at the gate until it was time for our flight to Christchurch.

We landed in Christchurch late afternoon and collected our large SUV, a Toyota Highlander.

Richard drove us to our rented house on the outskirts of South Hagley Park having stopped at a supermarket on the way to pick up provisions. I had printed off the entry instructions only to find that the code on the door did not work. Hmmmm…… So we tried again and eventually had to phone the owner. She gave me a different code to use but this still didn’t work. So she agreed to come over but would take 30 minutes to get there – not great, but what could we do? Val and Clive went for a walk while Richard and I minded the bags. After a while I decided to try again and, lo and behold, it worked. So I quickly rang the woman and told her we were in. Have to say we were disappointed at the exterior of the property as it was pretty shabby and looked unloved….

Anyway, inside, we found three bedrooms, two bathrooms and loads of other amenities. The place was pretty clean and very well found with lots of extras including chocolate! Sadly the bedrooms were a bit small and we only had one with a double bed (and no ensuite) so we flipped a coin. We won so we got the upstairs double bed and separate bathroom and Clive and Val had the downstairs bathroom and twin bedroom. At least we had privacy in that we were on separate floors.

By now it was getting on for about 7pm so we headed straight out to the City to find somewhere for dinner. We wanted to go to a particular area and appeared to be heading in the wrong direction but then this woman came along and adopted us and showed us the way. Well, it was miles, and she went at a pace. Finally we arrived, couldn’t find the actual restaurant we were hoping for, but found another one and settled down for dinner.

Food was fine and it was warm enough to sit on the pavement and watch the world go by. By 9pm, however, the place was emptying, the kitchen was shut, and the whole area was shutting up. So we returned to our house (in a taxi) for pontoonies while we planned our next day.

Tuesday morning we had breakfast then walked into the city crossing the river and enjoyed the birdlife.

We found an alternative route and realised that we had walked a lot further the night before than was necessary! Oh well….never mind…. Walking along we came across the huge flower wall which was dedicated to the victims of the recent terrorist attack. Was quite sobering and emotional to walk along reading the various tributes from every part of society. If this attack was designed to create racial and/or religion tension than it was clear it had failed spectacularly. The overall message was one of love, peace and inclusiveness…..

Moving on, our first destination was Quake City, passing some beautifully restored buildings along the way, as well as some currently being renovated. There were also some pretty impressive modern buildings.

Christchurch was hit by two deadly earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 which left 186 people dead. We looked at exhibits explaining how the earthquakes hit and watched some frightening CCTV footage of actual buildings collapsing as people tried to run through the streets. The upward pressure was stronger than gravity so many people were actually thrown into the air. Inside the exhibit there were moving stories of heroism, loss and heartache. The two clocks at the entrance to the exhibit are from one of their damaged historical buildings which are set at the time the quakes actually hit.

Since then, entire streets and neighbourhoods have had to be abandoned and Christchurch’s heritage architecture is irrevocably damaged. Some areas – such as the historical port of Lyttelton was badly damaged – with roads and bridges crumpled and residential suburbs in the east were also inundated as a process of rapid liquefaction saw tons of oozy silt rise from the ground. In fact, many of these areas remain to this day, abandoned and too dangerous. Emotional stuff indeed. But the underlying theme was that the City will rise from the devastation stronger and better than before, it will just take time and vast amounts of money…..

Leaving Quake City we got on the hop-on, hop-off tram ride around the City. The beautifully restored old trams trundle around a 17 stop loop leaving every 15 minutes or so and the driver commentary was really informative. The funniest thing was seeing signs near the seats that the Queen had sat here…and Prince Harry had sat here…. at different times obviously. But the Americans were loving it and taking photos and selfies with the plaques LOL.

We sat around one complete loop then got off at the Anglican Cathedral. This was terribly damaged and remains untouched to date. The sheer power of the earthquake was evident here. The City are hoping to renovate it but this is just one on a lengthy list of jobs to be done.

Having completed the tram loop and jumped off and on a few times admiring more architecture and other modern art installations, we had a sandwich lunch and talked about what to do next.

We didn’t fancy the botanical gardens or punting on the river so decided to go for a drive out. So we walked back to the house and picked up the car. We drove through towards Lyttelton and came across numerous road closures – the views were not as spectacular as we had hoped – and we certainly couldn’t continue driving up through the nature reserves as the roads were too steep, unmade, and only suitable for trekking really…. But we did find some lovely beach scenes down in Brighton.

Heading back to our house we were relaxing with a glass of wine in the lounge and turned the TV on to find out about the horrendous weather on the West Coast. We watched the footage in horror of the road bridge being swept away and heard reports of numerous land slips and dangerous conditions. And, of course, this area was next on our itinerary! So before we headed out for dinner we emailed the properties (one in Arthur’s Pass and one in Franz Josef Glacier) to find out the situation (especially as we had non-refundable rooms booked). Emails fired off we headed out to a local pub we had spotted the night before and had a really good meal.

Arriving back to the house later we checked emails to find that Arthur’s Pass was still open to traffic from Christchurch. But Franz Josef was blocked by a land slip one way and the bridge collapse to the other – with lots of tourists trapped in the area too….. So we were able to cancel Franz Josef without charge and agreed that we would still drive up to Arthur’s Pass in the morning as planned.

Wednesday morning and we were on the road after breakfast for the four hour drive to Arthur’s Pass. As we drove through into the mountains and valleys the scenery was absolutely spectacular. Amazing….really difficult to describe.

Having checked into our (crinkly tin built) side-by-side cabins at Arthur’s Pass Motel and Lodge we went for a walk and visited the smallest Post Office ever! The road was running with water and we found the river in full flood….moving very fast. Was quite a sight.

We were going to walk the trek to a famous waterfall but it was marked up on the information board as ‘moderate’ with ‘rocky and muddy’ conditions to be found, and that was before the biblical deluge from the previous day so decided that we were not equipped for that type of hiking (or tramping as they call it here in New Zealand). We then spotted a car being allowed through the road block – interesting! So we chatted to the guy manning the stoppage and he said that, providing we had a high sided vehicle, we could go through for a drive. So we picked up the car and headed off past the long queue of traffic. We saw signs of road slips that had been cleared, where the rock was porous and the rain had generated little waterfalls wherever we looked and, where we could see streams and rivers they were running scarily fast. We then came across a bizarre sight – a diverted waterfall and a tunnel, controlled by traffic lights. This was actually a culvert cut in the late 1800s to reach the gold fields. Can’t even begin to imagine the conditions these guys must have lived through during that period.

Afterwards we came across another small single lane bridge that was under a couple of inches of water. Either side there were diggers trying to move the gravel that had been washed down and to save the bridge. We drove across anyway……realising that, if the rain came again, we would need to back track very quickly. More spectacular scenery (along with evidence of roads being undermined and roadworks everywhere) and then there were rain spots so we turned around quickly and headed back the way we came, including past a very strange hotel…..but a great driftwood horse! We didn’t want to end up trapped without supplies nor (suitable) accommodation LOL.

Arriving back at Arthur’s Pass we sat together outside having a drink. Richard headed off to the local (only) restaurant The Wobbly Kea to check what time last orders were. He was told that we had to be there by 6.45 pm latest, doors were closing at 7pm, and that we would need to be out by 8pm. No worries… we rested up for a while (with heaters and heated blankets plugged in for later as it had turned chilly)…and headed up the road at 6.45 pm on the dot. On arrival we were rudely told we were too late but could have a takeaway pizza. Richard said, hang on, I came and checked and this young lady told me differently at which point the blond waitress denied ever having spoken to him. Definitely not impressed!!! So we ordered two takeaway pizzas and asked for a drink while we waited for our food – the answer was NO. What?!? Outraged. At this point Val and I returned to one of the cabins and waited for Richard and Clive to return. When they did we perched on beds and ate our pizzas washed down with a nice Sauvignon. Thankfully we had supplies with us…..and, as Richard said, it probably did us a favour anyway as the staff were rude and the place had the ambience of an undertakers. However, we did do a bad review on Trip Advisor later, as it is one thing to be given duff information, it is another to be lied too!

In the morning it was cold and misty as we retraced our steps back towards Christchurch. We had decided to book a motel in Akaroa which had been one of our favourite stops on our earlier cruise. So we headed through the valleys and mountain ranges down to the coast, enjoying the views again, and noting how the water levels had dramatically dropped overnight without any more rain.

We arrived in Akaroa, checked into our motel, and went for a walk through the town along the coast road. Really pretty place and it’s French influence makes it quite different. It does feel like you are walking onto a movie set…..especially with London buses and concrete cows!

Clive and Val wanted to rest up but we weren’t tired so we took a bottle and sat on a bench at the water front of the property and enjoyed watching the birdlife whilst taking in the warmth of the sun.

Later on we got together and headed to a French restaurant, Renaissance, for dinner (we had made reservations earlier as one bitten twice shy and all that)….. The food was fantastic, the ambience lovely, and the service great. Was definitely a worthy replacement for the glaciers, although still sad we didn’t get a chance to see them.

Part 2 to follow – bye for now