Our return to New Zealand

Having arrived early Sunday afternoon into Singapore we collected our bags from the Thailand flight.

We then promptly repacked them as the Qantas hand luggage limit was significantly more than JetStar so we could carry everything we wanted this time, plus a change of clothes for our layover in Melbourne.  Ready to go we followed the signs for the premium check-in area for our next flight with Qantas. We were travelling business class so, although we had a seven hour stopover, we knew we had access to the lounge from 2.30 pm onwards. So all was well….

Or at least it was until we tried to check in!   The entry rules for New Zealand state that you have to have a departure flight from New Zealand to be allowed in. Well, we knew in advance about that, and that is why the NZ customs and boatyard issued us with appropriate documentation prior to our departure last November. So we were pretty confident we had it all covered….we carried our UK boat registration documents too for completeness.

Of course this is where it all went pear shaped. The computer said ‘no’ as we didn’t have a departure flight/date and refused to issue baggage tags or boarding passes. We were then told we would have to wait for the Qantas service desk to open….would we like to go have lunch and return? Laden with bags the answer was no – we didn’t want to be out of sight out of mind – so we plonked ourselves down right in the middle of the area. At 3.00 pm (an hour and a half later) the girl phoned again – this time the desk was going to open at 4.  We were getting the run-around….so Richard went off to find the service desk himself. He did – and yes it was unmanned. So we sat and waited again…..very frustrating and I admit to getting a bit teary at times…..and was definitely not a “premium” experience.  I guess this is what happens when you outsource the check-in process for 17 airlines to one company as they can only follow a script. This was the first time they had come across this situation alledgedly…..

Anyway….eventually….after over three hours the Qantas service desk opened and our girl was told to phone New Zealand immigration to check with them. If they confirmed they were happy with our story then they would give her override codes for the system…..sigh….so Richard had a very long and detailed conversation with NZ immigration who, eventually, agreed to let us travel. OMG what a nightmare!!!!

So luggage finally checked and boarding passes in hand we took ourselves off to the lounge. This was a delight and we settled in and had a few recuperative glasses of wine. Then we started on the food – freshly prepared by an on-site chef – which was absolutely delicious. Was a very nice way to spend a few hours after our earlier trauma!

We boarded the double decker plane later that evening and took our seats upstairs and had our first champagne of the day. The seats were very nice and comfortable including duvets and sleep suits for the eight hour flight. We thought the service was a bit slow and the food offering very poor – good job we had stocked up in Singapore LOL.

We arrived into Melbourne very early Monday morning and got through immigration quickly – we then wandered to the ParkRoyal Hotel which is connected to the international terminal by a walkway. We checked in but our room wasn’t ready so we sat in reception for a while….and eventually got our room key for an eight hour stay. The room was a bit shabby for the cash but hey, we needed a break!   We enjoyed the luxury of a nice bed to laze on, a TV to watch, lovely hot showers and a change of clothes.

Suitably refreshed we returned to the terminal and, already armed with boarding passes, we cleared security through to the business lounge in preparation for our flight to Auckland. The lounge was a disappointment after Singapore – OK seats and wine but terrible food offering!   By this time we were pretty hungry…..

Eventually we boarded our flight to Auckland and settled into the very nice spacious seats. The service was much better on this short flight – with our wine glasses being topped up very often – and a good menu. The explanation of the food, however, crafted by their head chef was all a bit pretentious and the offering really didn’t match the hype LOL. Never mind….it wasn’t very long before we arrived in Auckland early Tuesday morning.

We expected problems with customs and immigration as we weren’t the normal holiday travellers with return tickets in hand – but we were in the system after our previous telephone conversation and were cleared through incredibly quickly. We collected our bags…..and then repacked them all again. The luggage allowance for Air New Zealand was, once again, different and we needed to check three bags to get them all under 23 kgs each and our hand luggage in line with the domestic policies. So more faffing….

Anyway…..we got organised….and walked around to the domestic terminal. This is supposed to be a 15 minute walk but I think it is nearer 30 minutes. There is a shuttle bus apparently but we haven’t managed to find one yet LOL.

We checked our bags in and sat….and sat….and sat. No lounge for us this time as we were on the cheapest economy tickets and so we waited. There was an earlier flight to the Bay of Islands but when I asked if we could transfer to this one we were told our tickets were not transferable – basically we would have to buy them all over again – so we decided to sit it out. People watching was interesting….and the wait was long in our exhausted state.   Lots of Ed Sheeran tee-shirt wearing fans waiting to board Gisborne flights as he was playing there this weekend.

Eventually at 2pm we boarded our last very short flight of the epic journey to Bay of Islands – Kerikeri airport. We were delighted to arrive – collect our baggage – and pick up the shuttle bus to our motel. We had booked into this motel for a few nights while we got ourselves organised. The room is basic with a small kitchenette and wet room attached so all was well.   As we were being dropped off I overhead one snooty woman tell her husband that she “couldn’t possibly stay here”.  So I just casually dropped it into conversation that we were here for six months and this was our temporary base whilst we got our yacht ready to go back to sea…..  Her attitude changed immediately LOL…  That was definitely naughty and a verbal ‘up yours’ but she shouldn’t have picked on me in my tired state!

We crashed into bed late afternoon and that was it for the night!

Wednesday morning we were up very early and drove off in our hire car (which had been delivered the night before by Rent a Dent, which really is the name of the hire company) to see Morphie. She was looking in good shape and we were very pleased to see her again.

We unpacked bags and moved things around to clear the back cabin as we need to access under the bed as the stuffing gland is going to be repacked.  We visited the trades and paid some of our debts….we just need to organise collecting some of the things we had ordered in advance. The only thing we were interested in at this stage was the bottom paint and organising the sander from the boat yard. Although this is a self-service yard dry sanding is not allowed without a vacuum attached to protect other boats – which was fine by us!

Wednesday afternoon we returned to our motel for a break. We did some laundry and got ready for a night out in Paihia. The Dolphin Motel is only a few minutes walk from all the restaurants and the waterfront so it is ideally located.

We wandered the waterfront and stopped off at the Swordfish bar. We enjoyed the view but the food offering didn’t appeal so, later on, we went to a craft beer and kitchen restaurant – the ambience was lovely, service was fine but the food was really pretty poor for the cash!  What a shame….

Thursday morning we headed back to Morphie very early and taped up around the awlgrip. Richard sanded the whole hull while I took my time on the propeller.

We finished mid-afternoon so we did some more tidying down below – including getting all the crew out of their lockers LOL – and then called it a day. We decided to go to Jimmy Jacks for dinner – a ribshack – and enjoyed a meal between the two of us and a few draft Tiger beers. Was very nice sitting on the pavement watching the world go by. Back to the motel for another early night.

Friday morning we were back to the boatyard again and started anti-fouling in earnest. Have to say neither of us particularly enjoyed this!   We worked hard all day….and finished the whole boat by around 6pm. Note my full protective gear compared to Richard – but I think I still managed to get more paint on me than he did LOL.

By the end of the day we were absolutely shattered so got some beer and a takeaway pizza at the local store and returned to our motel. Had a lovely restorative shower and an early night.

Saturday morning both of us were pretty knackered and stiff but Morphie needed a second coat. So we just pushed on…..and finished her second coat….plus a third coat on the leading edges and water line. We also painted the propeller with Barnacle Buster – something they don’t sell or use here in New Zealand. The store are, however, going to see if they can source some more for us.

Saturday night we headed off into town. The place was buzzing – guess we kind of forgot that it was Easter when we made our plans – and we fancied a curry. So we had to queue up and wait to get a table in the local Indian restaurant. It was worth the wait and we had an excellent meal, although a tad expensive compared to the UK. Afterwards we went to the local sports bar and chatted to an interesting local Maori….and listened to the karaoke. Richard was treated to his first Maori Hongi where the breath of life is exchanged and is equivalent to a formal handshake. No other visitors in here so clearly a bar for the locals – we had fun!

Sunday morning we carefully removed all the tape from Morphie and cleaned the Awlgrip line. This painted strip is in relatively poor condition after a bad paint job in Grenada many moons ago, so this will probably be it’s last season. But giving it a good scrub with cleaning compound and a ‘protect’ layer gave us a pretty shiny finish!

After that was finished we moved to the topsides and gave them a scrub with boat wash.   We did some more tidying down below before heading back to the motel. Later on we wandered the restaurants and decided on pasta. Well, the meal was average at best and we didn’t like the craft beer either. We left – still hungry after the very small portions – and thought we’d stop at Jimmy Jacks for a plate of chips and a beer. However, being Easter Sunday, no beer was being served anywhere without a full meal…and the supermarket although open wasn’t allowed to sell alcohol either – felt like being back in the UK in the 50s LOL!!!

This morning, Monday, we were a bit slower getting going. We compounded the gelcoat on the topsides and have called it a day at that.   She looks pretty good just with this bit of tender loving care – will look even more amazing once we give her topsides a ‘protect’ coat too!

We are now in the Cruisers Lounge blogging and catching up on the internet. This evening we might try fish and chips?!?  The food here in New Zealand is familiar but, actually, we haven’t been that impressed yet….other than the pies, of course, which we have succumbed to a couple of times from the local bakery.

And so the boat jobs go on….. We are moving back onboard on Wednesday – and hoping not to be living on the hard for more than a week – but we’ll see….

Bye for now