Boat-less in New Zealand



With our departure from British Columbia, November 2014, leaving Sunstone with friends near Victoria, we were boat-less for five months for the first time since 1977. We should have been at a loss for activities to occupy us, but strangely found plenty to keep us busy until our return to BC and Sunstone the following April. This page is a mostly photographic account of how we spent our time between November 2014 and April 2015.




Our return to Auckland gave us the chance to catch up with our friends Geoff and Jane, who treated us to a sail to Islington Bay, which then allowed us to accomplish a feat we had missed while living in Auckland, climbing Rangitoto.






To remind us that it was still spring, Mt. Taranaki was part snow-covered when we flew over on the way to Nelson and so were the ranges we can see from our house.




The red manuka in our garden was in full bloom. The weka visited regularly and it was time to dig out more of the flax plants.





We had hardly arrived in Nelson before we had to fly back to Auckland, this time to receive a Cruising Award from Yachting New Zealand. An award was also presented to our friends and fellow RCC members, Jim and Karin Lott, who have been cruising extensively in their boat, Victoria.


We really owe this award to the kindness of the Commodore of the Tasman Bay Cruising Club, Tam Hazen, and the Committee members of the Club, who nominated us.







Back in Nelson there were plenty of local events to attend and friends like Regan and his family to catch up with, quite apart from some breezy racing, a little house maintenance – and of course the rugby!


Our 42nd anniversary could not pass uncelebrated, while a Havenview cul-de-sac party gave us the chance to catch up with neighbours and the local tui, eating its way through the flax pods.


Nelson is a fruit growing area so we couldn’t resist heading out for PYO blueberries, raspberries and boysenberries.











To prepare for Christmas indulgence we headed off with our friend Sandy for a day hike up to the asbestos mine and the hut of typically tough Kiwis, Henry and Annie Chaffey. This pair lived at the top of a tough track on a mountainside above the mine. Their hut and home still stands. The view is great, but bringing in supplies must have been quite a chore, while living there year-round would have been a challenge in itself.


For the first time in 14 years we replaced our inflatable Christmas tree with a real, if very small one topped suitably with a flightless Kiwi rather than a winged angel or a star. There was a Christmas Eve carol concert in the town and we celebrated with friends, both for lunch and for evening drinks.


















Perhaps unsurprisingly the beautiful pre-Christmas weather was followed by a heavy blow just after, bringing huge waves crashing onto the Boulder Bank.


However, we were soon out on our bikes. Tom testing his new mountain bike and Vicky renewing acquaintance with hers while we tried to keep up with our fitter and much more practiced friends, Willem and Corrie.










After a long hiatus, building recommenced on the last empty section in Havenview.


After 50 years since our graduation from Groton, Tom finally caught up with classmate, Joe Potter and found that he and his partner, Pat Stout, were regular visitors to New Zealand.





While Vicky got her exercise running, Tom got stuck into garden projects, such as constructing this veggie box, to be ready for planting on our return in November 2015.












With Sunstone laid up in BC we were delighted to be able to sail with our friends, Peter Gray and Ellen Bailey, on their boat Nonstop in the Nelson Regatta.


Despite the disadvantage of having four skippers on board, the team pulled together well enough to win the regatta. There was strong competition from hot Wellington boats.














Nelson’s hosts a variety of odd events including a Buskers’ Festival. Over three days a variety of street acts showed the remarkable skills of different acrobats.







While Tom maintained a regular but moderate routine of exercise at the gym and on his bike, in her usual energetic and competitive way, Vicky got out on her road bike and also hoisted her pack for practice hikes, here with Jan and Wendy, in preparation for a planned later assault on the Heaphy Track.










It was a summer of visitors for a period in February and March. It had been planned that Vicky’s sister Annabel and husband Dave would come first, but sadly Dave’s mother was very poorly and he stayed in Canberra to help care for her. However, we were pleased to collect Annabel in Christchurch, which also gave us the chance to see the surprisingly beautiful ‘cardboard cathedral’, which is the temporary replacement for Christchurch’s cathedral, ruined by the earthquake.


Annabel’s visit gave Vicky the chance to visit Nelson’s WoW, the Museum of Wearable Art, which also houses a huge collection of classic cars.












Annabel’s visit provided excuses for visiting vineyards and for our first and probably last taste of international cricket. Nelson played host to several of the World Cup matches and we were fortunate to attend the most high-profile and biggest upset, when Ireland unexpectedly beat the West Indies. Annabel kindly also brought a weighty and beautiful present halfway round the globe in the form of a life-size otter statue, now perkily ensconced in a corner of our sitting-room.






Our next visitor was family friend, Pooh Curtis, who, between excursions around the local countryside helped tidy our garden and made beautiful flower arrangements.


With her Vicky discovered a beautiful blue hole at Riwaka just south of Takaka Hill.






Any account of high summer in Nelson and Marlborough would be inadequate without mention of the cicadas which provide the background aural accompaniment to all other activities during February and March.


Vicky does not get many pieces of jewellery, so we splashed out on a one-off piece from a local craftsman, Alexis Gundry, who did a beautiful job on a silver, mail choker.





 Vicky’s elder sister, Fiona was our third guest of the summer, to come out from England. Sadly she had an unpleasant encounter with an escalator just before departure and so spent much of her time with us trying to recover. Fortunately she bore up well enough to make a number of local excursions. It was good to catch up. We had not visited the UK for two years.


One of her outings was to the classic boat show at Lake Rotoiti and on another we took the tortuous road out to view the tidal rapids of French Pass from above instead of at sea level. The Scottish heritage of New Zealand was also on display with the pipe bands championships in Nelson.


Vicky also managed to fit in her marshalling duties with the Tasman Wheelers Cycle Club.










Vicky had plotted for some time to do the Heaphy Track, one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’ and relatively local. Fortunately her yoga friend Joan Hughes was also keen.


Joan’s husband, Stuart, kindly delivered them to the start of the four day hike. While both he and Tom drove round to Karamea on the West Coast to collect them at the end.






Though you have to carry your own food as well as other equipment, the huts on the Great Walks have become quite comfortable with individual bunks, good cooking facilities and in some cases flushing toilets!


New Zealand’s Department of Conservation does a remarkable job maintaining all the many tracks. Naturally the Great Walks tracks are given most attention, but even very out of the way, seldom used tracks are also well looked after and marked.


Every day on the Heaphy Track there is different vegetation and scenery, finishing with the almost tropical scene, walking under Nikau palms on the west coast.









Just before we left, the basic structure of the new house in Havenview went up and we expect to see a completed home when we return in November.






As an appropriate parting note, one of Vicky’s artier photos was hung in a local art gallery during a show of local photographs. We also have one hung on our sitting room wall and several of seabirds in our bedroom. This photo was taken in Waddington Cove, the Broughton Islands, British Columbia.