The Kauri forests, Opua, Cape Reinga, Cyclone Fergus and the Bay of Islands
Ed and I drove up the west side of the north island past Kaipara harbor and on up to the Kauri Museum. Kauris can be huge trees, we think they are stouter than our redwoods of California. Unfortunately, when Europeans came to NZ they forested and slashed and burned much of the country side leaving 3% virgin forest today. There are eight large kauri trees left in this area. The museum depicted much of this history and had an excellent collection of swamp kauri. Swamp kauri are fallen trees that have been preserved in swampy areas for thousands of years. It is fascinating to touch wood that is 33,000 years old.
We then drove to Opua to meet the Marshes. Mark and Dana were Hobie sailing buddies with Ed long before I came on the scene. We have maintained a wonderful friendship over the years of building their 36' boat Kate and now in the Bay of Islands. They have lived there for six years with their kids, Joanna (16), John (11) and Lizzy (8) and become dual citizens of NZ and the US. They have just finished buidling their 65' boat, Max, of Mark's design. They then sailed to Fiji for six months, home schooling the kids.
Ed woke up one morning and decided to drive to the tip of the North Island. Joanna agreed to accompany him and off they went. They drove up Ninety Mile Beach to Cape Rienga and hiked to the lighthouse. On the return trip Cyclone Fergus started whipping up winds. Back on the boat Mark and Dana were putting down extra ground tackle and we were clocking gusts in the protected harbor to 48 knots. Meanwhile Ed and Joanna decided to go sandboarding (!) and ended up coming home covered with heaps of sand.
We celebrated our anniversary on the boat the following night (New Year's Eve) with a spectacular light show.
Two days later we sailed out from the harbor through the Bay of Islands to Roberts Island where we hiked to the hilltop, found hundreds of golden oyster shells on the beach and enjoyed the sunshine. Mark and Joanna went diving for scallops and came home with buckets of them.
We continued to sail down the coast to Algies Bay just north of Auckland with the Marshes. Even with my 'mal de mar' tendencies, this was one of the most memorable times we had on the trip. There is nothing like old friends to make you feel at home.