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New Zealand: Whangarei and Auckland 6.-29.12.2002

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  16.12.  21.12.  


6.12.2002 Whanagrei, New Zealand

The celebration of Finland's Independence Day:

Kristiina in the Whagarei Marina 6.12.2002

Neighbours and the flag-cake: Lisbeth, Bengt, Louise, Vivi-Maj, Bo
 - outisde the picture Alf and Boris, as well as  s/y Li, s/y Tinto and  s/y Lorna.

16.12.2002 Auckland, New Zealand
Just when we had complained about the lack of Finnish company, we heard "Hei Kristiina!" from the pier. It was Liisa, a translator living partly in NZ, partly in Finland. We made a date for Sunday, heading to Dargaville on the West coast. New Zealand is very narrow country, distance from Whangarei to the other side was only 60 km. The West coast differs greatly from the East coast: in the North it's mainly long, straight beaches, in South deep fjords. No wonder that the first European, Abel Tasman wasn't so excited about the country, he landed on the West coast. It was captein Cook who sailed around the islands and found the sheltered harbours of the East coast.
The big waves of the Tasmanian Sea were loudly breaking on the Dargaville beach. It remained about Jane Campion's film Piano, where they land on a similar, never-ending sandy beach.
Our route back went through a hilly landscape with sheep and cows, time to time  passing a small village. We stopped at the Waipo cave, and Hannu went exploring it finding a ceiling like a star-sky, they were small, phosphorescence spiders. The nice Sunday ended with "glög", hot spicy wine served by the Swedish couple in s/y Lorna. It was the second Advent, time for this traditional Christmas drink in the Nordic countries, but we were hot already before the first sip, it was about 30 deg. C and sunny.
On Monday, a mechanic changed the waterpump to our Perkins engine, and finally all the jobs were done. On Tuesday, this time on hide tide, we left Whangarei. That day we only motored 15 miles to the open sea. In the morning dolphins came to our anchorage bay. Little after Auli was looking at a strange dolphin. It turned out to be a shark - which was obvious because of the big, roundish fin. Swimming desires, if there were any, disappeared quickly. We hoisted the anchor and started our sailing to the Great Barrier Island 50 miles away. The sky was grey but the wind was with us all the way.

Great Barrier Island is the biggest of the 47 islands in Hauraki Gulf, and one of the few with an English name. Behind the name is captain Cook again. The Great Barrier is a great place. A lot of deep, shelterd bays. Most of the island is recretional area with numerous walking tracks.
The first day we walked to see an old, wooden dam built up to the mountain river. Hundred years old kauri trees were systematically cut on this island, as in the other places. When the trees near the shore were logged, men had to move up to the hills, where the transportation of the logs became a problem. So in 1926, they built dam in the hill river. When enough water had gathered behind its 10x5 meter door, it was opened, and the kauri logs in the river came down with the water masses. This was slow, sometimes it took two years to get enough water. Despite that, between  1791-1942 millions of meters timber was logged, enough for 15.000 houses, according to the information board.

It took two hours for us to walk up to the dam

One of the Great Barrier Island bays had a bath. Not a shower, but a huge bath tube. Water comes from a big container, and if you want a hot bath, you can make a fire under the boiler, and after an hour you get hot water  from the hot-tap. The tube is inside a shack, half underground. Other yacht facilities include a laundry: three sinks with hand mangels and two drying racks; several barbecues, two big smokehouses, and a toilet. The place is owned by a family, there is no watch or payments. They maintain it by donations, for that there was an old scuba bottle with a hole for coins. Unbelievable spot!

A service harbour: bath and ...

... laundry!

We would have spent more time on Great Barrier Island as well as on the other Hauraki Gulf islands, but Auckland and a reserved marina berth were waiting. On our way we saw  a small blue pinguin (common here), two giant whales (Bryde's whales?), and a shark. On Monday we joined 2000 boats in Westhaven marina, by the Auckland city centre. No sights of any marine animals for a while, it's other interests here.

21.12.2002 Auckland, New Zealand
We thought that we'd have nice, relaxing time in Auckland with museum visits and Christmas preparations, but the hectic pace of the city has made us hasty as well. Auli is going to fly to Finland after Christmas for three weeks, which has also brought some more things to do. 

Kristiina and 1999 other boats

In Auckland the Louis Vuitton cup, the elimination series of the America's Cup is going on. We are located only ten minutes from the Cup Village, where you can stare and wonder about the different project's halls and shops selling cloths and other logo-stuff. It's hard to get even a glimpse of the racing boats. They are lifted and covered after each race. Although the race area is very near Auckland, even here it's easiest to watch it on TV with commnts and animations. At the moment, when writing this, two Americans, Oracle and One World are fighting against each other in a very light weather.

One World entering the harbour

America's Cup is over 150 years old. It began in England as the 100 Guinea Cup in 1848. In 1851, the race was won by a yacht called America, and the cup has had its name ever since. The silver trophy looks little like a tall lamp of Alladin, being the world's oldest sport trophy.
America's Cup is a match-race. The winner of the last cup defends his victory, and the challenger is sorted out in months long elimination series. New Zealand has won twice, in 1995 and 2000. Before that only once the trophy has been outside of the US, namely in 1983 when Australia won it. The race is taken place on the waters of the winner country.
Officially there is a yacht club behind the project, in practise it's millionaires and a bunch of sponsors. The club of the Team New Zealand is the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, which is located in the same harbour than us. When just arrived we were looking for the marina office, and almost knocked on a door... but golden frames and wood carvings on a heavy double doors with the sign "Members only" gave us second thoughts.
Training has began long ago. The money invested in the projects and in the cup is going over the understanding of a small cruiser. The circus begins in February, when the Challenger meets the Defender, the Team New Zealand.


Merry Christmas!

29.12.2002 Auckland, New Zealand
Just before Christmas we made a trip to the scenery of the Lord of the Rings, to the horrible Mount Doom of Mordor. In reality it was Mount Ngauruhoe, located 350 km south from Auckland, in the Tongariro Natural Park. It is the oldest natural park of NZ and a Unesco World Heritage Site. Not a bad place for making a movie. In Tolkien's saga an eternal fire is burning on the Mount Doom, which is not so far from the reality. There are three active volcanos on the area: Mt Ngauruhoe (2287 m), Mt Tongariro (1967 m), and the snow topped  Ruapehu, (2796) which erupted in 1995.
Our Finnish friend Dennis and his wife Xeania took us to this trip. The track goes between two mountains rising up to 1886 meters, where locates a huge crater. The bottom of the crater is flat and easy terrain, but otherwise the 8-hour trip is rather exhausting with uphills and downhills. The scenery up in the mountains is dead, like in Mordor. The impact was strengthened by foggy weather and sulphur stink: like two tons rotten eggs would have been broken nearby. There are four lakes with turquoise water. Only the top is stone desert, the sides grow lichen, moss, small flowers and hay. The more down we went, the lusher the terrain changed. Suddenly we were in a forest, birds singing and a small river frothed. It was a great trip, and efficient, that we could felt in our muscles the next day.
Team North Face in Tongariro Crossing:

In Chrismas Day we saw the Two Towers in movietheatre. It's seldom you both see the film and are able to go around in the scenes.
The Christmas went with preparations of Auli's trip, and the 27th of Dec. she flied to Finland. She made a round the world trip: it took 1,5 years to sail to the other side of the world and 1,5 days to fly back to Finland.

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