December 1, 2006 Fri

I woke up late and Jason was getting ready to go into Paihia the bus left at 10am and it was 9:35. I rushed to get ready and we made it before 10am to find the bus, but it had left before 10am. Jason ran into Laura and Ross and they were heading there and invited us to join them. We were so excited to see Ross was up and about after having his surgery. Off we went on the beautiful ride to Paihia. The first thing we did was stop at the pharmacy for Ross and then it was to get the cell phone, and yes we are the proud new owners of a cell phone. It is mine though, not Jason's since he refuses to carry one!! He was very against getting one and if it wasn't for the free incoming calls we would not have it. We walked around town; it is a very touristy spot for New Zealander's as well as visitors. It is a beach town. We had come here the other day with Chantal and John to do the beach walk. We decided to stop and have some lunch at a cafe. It was so good. Jason got nachos and they were very strange but good. They were somewhat sweet! We decided that since it was early enough that we would head north to see this famous tree that is in a little store. Inside the tree is a staircase leading to the second floor. We took the long way there but it was a nice drive. On the way we saw an antique museum and we stopped. It was really cool they had old radios, and record players, engines, and best of all cars!! It was awesome. We even got to feed the ostridge, and sheep. It was really interesting. The drive we took to Keri Keri was beautiful very scenic. We then went to Keri Keri we were hoping to stop by the chocolate factory but it was closed. There is also the annual Christmas Parade that we wanted to see. We went to a cafe and ordered a small snack to tide us over until dinner and watched the parade. It was cute. After the parade we went to the pizza restaurant to have a pizza but they had an hour wait so we decided to get it to go and ended up eating it outside on the little table they had for people waiting to sit. It was fun. Our pizza was very different from normal pizza it was a little sweet, but had artichokes, feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes. We decided to head back to the marina since it was almost 9pm. It is amazing that the sun is still up at 9pm!!

December 2, 2006 Sat

We worked on the boat a little in the morning and then met up with Laura and Ross to go to the chocolate factory. Their chocolates were so good!! The caramel corn was out of this world!! We then went into Keri Keri to go to the used book store and then to the grocery store before heading back to the boat to get some more work done! It was a nice time. I took a nap when we got back and Jason finished a few things on deck.

December 3, 2006 Sun

We worked on the boat this morning taking down one of the sails and putting things away in preparation for our leaving the boat for a while. Jason left this morning for Auckland to purchase a van for us. He most likely will not return until tomorrow evening at the earliest. It will be my first night ever alone on the boat. I enjoyed the solitude of the day. I do not even have the dingy to go in. I just want to relax and work on some projects and just enjoy some alone time. I have had none in so long it is really welcomed. I received an email from Jason and he was making good progress in Auckland and just wanted to tell me he was missing me. I was missing him as well. It is strange to be apart when you are used to being with some 24/7. I was sleeping this evening when I was awoken by a distress call on the VHF. Basically a flare went up which means there is a boat in distress. We have friends on their way from Minerva Reef on their sailboat and I was instantly concerned for them. They had not sent an email in 2 days. I got up and emailed them worried something could be wrong. After a while, I fell back asleep but did not sleep well.

December 4, 2006 Mon

I woke up and checked email again right away and was relieved to see that our friends Michi and Tobi had emailed us and that everything was fine on board. They had heard the distress call as well and hoped it was not the boat that left before them. They are still 230 miles away. We are really hoping they arrive before we leave on our trip in a few days. We are hoping they might join us for part of the trip, maybe even the weekend!! I worked on cleaning the boat. I cleaned our room and the main room, including washing all the walls and wood. The boat looks so nice. It would be nice if it could just stay that way but I am sure once Jason arrives it will get cluttered once again with our preparations for travel. Jason arrived home around 4pm. It sounds strange but I missed him. I was bummed when he told me all the people that called on our new cell yesterday and today that I missed talking too. I hope they all call back. We made some dinner and curled up on the bed and watched a movie. It was nice. Tomorrow we will try to finish getting ready to leave. We are hoping to leave on the 6th of December for Auckland, most likely in the evening. It is a 3 hour drive. Ah then our phone rang, I ran to grab it and hit the red button by mistake, the red button and green button are opposite to my old Motorola phone. I was so bummed. It was Dmitry. Luckily he called back a few minutes later. I was so happy to hear his voice!! We talked for an hour. I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to hear his voice and have an actual conversation with him!! It made my day!! I feel so happy to have this cell phone and to know my friends and family will be calling me now!! So, do not be shy use the number!!! I have been having a little bit of a hard time lately, actually since we have arrived in New Zealand I have been crying every day. I know I am a total baby but I miss my family which includes some of my friends. It has been hard on me. It is the first time I have ever been away from my family for so long. So, it was really wonderful to hear Dmitry's voice. I have not cried since.

December 5, 2006 Tues

We worked on going through all of our pictures of the trip to get rid of any duplicate pictures to trim down our photo albums of each location so that we could upload them to the website. It was fun going through all the pictures together. I have gone through them numerous times, but never with Jason nor all at once. It was exhausting and when we finished I fell asleep for 2 hours!! Jason continued trying to upload them. Unfortunately, he literally knows nothing of the website and how to upload it so he started uploading and overwriting ones we already had on the website and wasted my entire napping time with albums that were already on our website. I should have explained it before I went to sleep, but who knew he would work on it, he never does. The website is my responsibility, up until now he thought it pointless. But, I think secretly he has been glad I have been keeping it up. He does however, write the logs a lot. After I got up, we had to run the engine and get ready for our date night with Ross and Laura on New Dawn. I was just about to jump in the shower when Dina called!! I was so excited to get a phone call from one of my girlie friends from home. It was so nice to hear a voice and be able to talk to each other. But, I talked away all of my shower time and had just enough time after the call to throw on something to wear. Ross and Laura are leaving tomorrow to go home, so we will be without our playmates for a while. We were to meet at a place by the boats, but Laura suggested Thai food instead and I was all over that!! I was just talking to Dmitry yesterday about how I am dying for some Thai food!! We jumped in their Honda and drove to Paihia. We all split 2 different types of curry and 2 pad Thai dishes. They were so yummy, although sweeter than the Thai food in Denver. It seems the Kiwi's love everything super sweet more so than those in the US. It was still fabulous though and we walked around a little before grabbing a scoop of ice-cream for the ride home. We ended up sitting in the car by our dingy dock for an hour chatting. We will really miss them. Ross is a lot like Jason just making you laugh all the time. It is fun being around the both of them. Laura confided that thinks she married Ross for that reason, which is the same with Jason. Well, besides his huge, gargantuan heart. We stopped by the van to have a look; I have not seen it yet. It is definitely old, an 80's model, but it is perfect for us. It has lots of storage under the bed they made in the back and all the sheets and comforter were new, although we plan on washing them tomorrow anyway!! I am very excited to take off tomorrow. We will be heading to Auckland for a weekend of fun!! Jason has something planned for our birthdays; I believe we will be staying at a hotel. I cannot tell you how exciting and enticing that prospect has for me. To have running, unlimited hot water for a shower or bath!! Plus, a TV that has multiple channels, perhaps a pool and unlimited wireless!! I have no clue though, he has told me nothing. It is funny how you take hot water for granted. Since we have arrived in New Zealand and it has been so cold, we have had warm water not super hot like I love my showers!! We should be gone for 2 weeks touring around after our city visit! It will be nice to get away from the boat for a while. I like the idea of 2/3 weeks trips and then coming back to the boat to recharge. Burke is bringing us our tent and we cannot wait for that. The three of us can stay in it while we travel around to the national parks. I can't wait to see him!

December 6, 2006 Wed

We spent the morning finishing packing and doing the laundry of the van bedding in preparation for leaving today!!

December 7, 2006 Thursday

Well our friends Michi and Tobi are arriving today on their sailboat so we decided to stay until they arrive. We are very excited to see them it has been since we were in Tonga. We went over to say hi to them when they arrived but we could not board their boat because they had not checked in yet. They have to spend the night on the Q dock. We are super bummed since it is Michi's birthday!! Oh well.

December 8, 2006 Fri

We convinced Michi and Tobi to come with us to Auckland for our birthdays. they finished getting their boat ready to leave and we all hopped in the van for the trip. We stayed at the same hostel we had be staying at whenever we come to Auckland and had some Thai food for dinner. We walked around for a while and went to a film festival, which was not so good. We then stopped at an Irish pub for some beers and dancing. It was super fun.

December 9, 2006 Sat

We all got our hair cut today!! Jason's looks good and mine is very short compared to how it was and I now have some bangs. My hair is out of control curly most of the time. I miss my Denver straight hair!! Michi put some blond hilights in her hair and it looks cute. We went to check into the hotel we were staying out for just the night of our birthdays!! It was nice. They have a spa, pool, and workout room. We went down to the hot tub asap and hung out down there for an hour before returning to the room to relax before we went out. We watched a movie and had a glass of Champaign. Tobi and Michi came by the room before we were all heading out and brought some wine over. We went to the kebab place for dinner since we ended up going out so late. We walked to the Warf and went to a bar there but it was very touristy and expensive. We checked out a couple of dance clubs and ultimately spent the most time at an Irish pub! It was fun we met some locals and danced a little. We had a great night!

December 10, 2006 Sun

We had a nice lazy morning with a full breakfast of eggs, pancakes, brie cheese, smoked salmon and more which was included in our price of our room. Did I mention Jason somehow managed to get us upgraded?! It was a great morning. We drove to check out a marina in downtown Auckland to see the prices to stay there with the boat and to see how much a haul out was. After we finished there we dropped off Tobi and Michi at their friends house and Jason and I just bummed around the city the rest of the day. We drove up MT Eden and it was an amazing view of Auckland and the surrounding area. We stopped to have a beer and we were pleasantly surprised to see that they had Chimay on the menu so we splurged on one and split it!! We also stopped at this incredible bakery and bought focaccia bread for our travels. Jason also bought a fried mars bar. We were craving pizza so we went to Gino's pizza it has a good reputation. It was very amusing since the cooks and waiters sing while they cook, but the pizza was horrible. Oh well cannot win them all.

December 11, 2006 Mon

We tried to go to the Brewery tour but it was booked. We ran some errands today. We dropped off our computer that stopped working for some unknown reason at a computer store. We found a Sony store and asked them if they would fix it and they said to bring it in and they would fix it for free. We went back to the other store and back to the Sony store so they could get started. We picked up some Thai food for dinner and headed to the Regional park that is right on the beach with many hiking trails. We picked out a nice spot with a wonderful view and ate our Thai food. It was really pleasant. Jason was playing with the sheep and goats.

December 12, 2006 Tues

We were awoken this morning by the ranger. She said we had parked in the wrong spot that we needed to go through the other fence. She asked if we paid and we said our book says it is free but that we did call in that we were staying here just like the sign tells you to and that their was no talk of a fee. We even bought fire wood. She informed us that it costs $25 a person to stay there and we were pretty upset since we could have stayed at a nice holiday park for that price. She told us about the pass that if you buy it is free to stay at an7y of the regional parks so of course we purchased it for $60!! We are getting tired of spending so much money to just sleep in our van. It is getting a little ridiculous. I can't remember a day so I must have put what we did on a day that I already wrote.

December 13, 2006 Wed

We left for the coral Mandel Peninsula. We are heading down there to check out a couple places to spend New Year's Eve. We want to make sure we have something super fun planned this year Burke will be out and we have several other boaters that want to join us. So we are on an exploratory mission. We stopped at a hot springs but they were closed down because a boy drowned in one of the hot tubs earlier in the week. Very sad. We decided to go get some meat to cook at the holiday park we end up staying at. We went into a butcher in a small town called parawai. The butcher was super friendly. We were going to buy one t-bone steak for the two of us to share and he was so passionate about the lamb chops he threw in 2 for us to try. How super sweet. He also told us to hike up to see this monument in Tapu when we get there in the evening. There is a great Holiday Park there on the beach. We arrived at the first holiday park and it was awful; we passed on it and continued down the road. We saw the monument and hiked up it, it was not very far when Curt called us so we just enjoyed the sunshine while on the phone. We realized it was getting a little late and we should probably get somewhere so we can start cooking. We stopped at the Tapu Motor camp in Thanes. It was empty by the beach where the campervans park. It was really lovely. The owner let us use the grill that had a broken leg for free and we cooked up a feast. There was even a TV room and we watched Friends!! It was nice to sleep hearing the water.

December 14, 2006 Thurs

Today we went to check out Hot Water Beach. It was really nice but it was high tide so we could not shovel through the sand to get to the hot water. It must be low tide and then you can dig yourself a hot spring tub. Pretty Cool so we decided that would be fun to do with Brian. We talked with the guy in the surf shop and he also said it is a good place to learn to surf. After we left there we went to hike Cathedral Cove. It was really beautiful. You stop at several bays on your way. When you arrive you go through the mountain through a hold that has eroded the rock. It was so beautiful. The beach is one of the most scenic.

December 15, 2006 Fri

We walked around Whitianga, it was a cute little town. We went to the butcher again and purchased some lamb chops and chicken skewers to cook up for dinner. They were super yummy. We stayed at the Settlers motor camp. All these places have showers, bathrooms, full kitchens without any kitchen appliances or utensils, and a TV room. They are usually pretty nice. We had a nice time just exploring the town. WE also stopped in Whangamata and walked around which is where the concert we are looking into is going to be held. We heard it was at a farm so we drove over and checked it out. Everyone says it is going to be amazing and one of the bands is the most popular in the country. We ended up buying tickets to the Mercury Rising concert. You can camp in the parking lot. We bought enough tickets for Burke and us and then called our other friends and they all ordered them online. Should be fun it will be a group of about 9 of us. We spent the night at a little campervan park there. It was very simple but nice.

December 16, 2006 Sat

We hiked Wentworth Falls over to the other town. It was a nice hike up to the falls and then past to the other town. We were very lucky and excited that we saw a family of goats in the mountains. They were feeding along the trail we were to go to after crossing the river. We slowly walked across and then let them know we were there. They had very long horns so we patiently waited until they ran away. We then drove to and stopped for the night at Athenree Hot Springs. We found a nice spot for our camper van and went directly to the hot springs. They were so hot and felt amazing after our hike. We cooked a steak dinner after we got out and watched a movie in the TV room before bed.

December 17, 2006 Sun

We went into the hot springs again in the morning. After that we packed up and left. We past a German Ice Cream shop and stopped for a scoop. All they had left was vanilla or black licorice. We tried the latter and it was so delicious. Who would have thought. We were prepared to hat it and it was such a pleasant surprise. We stopped at a bakery and picked up a pizza log (basically pizza bread), a Carmel slice and a meat pie. We hiked Whahi beach and then went to the old gold mine. It was huge crater type hole in the earth and it was all gold colored. It was incredible. They had a tractor that they used to bring up all the earth and it was massive. We then drove to Karangahaka to hike the "windows". They are basically old mining tunnels that you can walk through. You need to have a flash light to go in them. All along the main corridor there were windows looking out. We went down two of the tunnels that turned into dead ends and really got a feeling for how incredibly dark it is in there. This is where we saw our first glow worm. On the other side of the river you cross a bridge to get there you walk the length of the river and can see the windows into the caves from there. We also did a 2 hour bush walk before we decided we had better start back to the car to find a place for the night. We sat a picnic table and had a snack before we left. We found a Top Ten Holiday Park to stay at and we secured the last spot. We were very lucky! We cooked up some chicken and chips and watched the Simpson’s and then the Adam Sandler Christmas animation movie. We also had purchased a mini Christmas tree that has lights on it. It takes batteries so when we walk to our van we can see it through the window. Jason is so sweet to buy that for me. It is also nice saying at these holiday parks because I can always do my Pilates in the morning. The down side is they always charge $15 per person which adds up after a while and really makes no sense because you would think it would just be a charge for the car. We were exhausted after a long day of hiking and driving, but we still managed to stay up late watching the movie.

December 18, 2006 Mon

Today we ran a bunch of errands in Auckland. We dropped off our starter motor and picked up some other parts we needed. We had some extra time in the afternoon so we decided to try again for the brewery tour that we had missed last time. We were able to do it and it was nice. They only let you try one small taste or two of beer so it was not the most fun tour we have been on. Then we walked up Broadway and checked out all the shops. We drove to the campgrounds and had a beautiful sight on the water with the trees with the pretty red flowers on them. We had an amazing sunset. We sat outside and ate our Thai food. Jason was playing with the goat. What a great day!

December 19, 2006 Tues

There ended up being a $20 charge even though the book said it was free so we were pretty upset about it. It is the same price as the place we stayed at last night where we had tons of amenities. Oh well live and learn. We stopped in Auckland to buy our ferry pass for the South Island. It is cheaper if you buy at the backpacker’s garage. We drove out of Auckland and went to the factory outlets. Then we found regional park that is part of our pass we purchased this morning. We got there and parked and took a walk on the black sand beach. When we got back to our car the manager was there and told us there was a fee to stay there. We told him we bought the pass and showed him our paperwork but apparently the woman was wrong when she told us we could stay there. The manager was so nice and actually let us stay for free if we did not use the bathrooms or facilities which we did not need to use. I think both of us were getting frustrated at how much we have to spend to stay in our van everywhere. We thought we could stay for free most places. I think we just have not figured out the system yet. We parked next to some locals and chatted with them for a while before it started to pour. They gave us their phone number and told us to call if we come by their area and we can stay in their guest house. The people here are super nice.

December 20, 2006 Wed

We drove up to Bay of Plenty to stay with our friends on Dutch Touch (Peter and Lynda). We saw Procyon first and had a drink on their boat before heading over to Dutch Touch. They came over as well. We stayed up drinking, eating and talking until midnight! We crashed hard. It was super comfortable in the cabin they had us sleep in.

December 21, 2006 Thurs

Went to the mall with Dutch Touch and then Procyon and Endangered Species met us there. We watched the new James Bond movie and thought it was awesome! We ate lots of popcorn. After the movie we went to dinner at an Indian place and then back to Dutch Touch to watch a Bond marathon before crashing.

December 22, 2006 Friday

Went back up to Opua. We stopped at this great Dutch store where I was able to get some cats, stroopwaffles, and good Dutch cheese. When we arrived we had no ride back to our boat so we ended up waiting in the yacht club for someone we knew to come so we could catch a ride. We ended up eating there and having some beers before we finally got a ride back with Chantal and John François. Chantal was showing me how to make music with 2 spoons. It was a super fun night. They brought some wine over to our boat and we danced and had a great time.

December 23, 2006 Sat

We were invited over to Mel and Morgan invited us and Chantal and François over for a Christmas party dinner. We brought some pasta and peanut butter cookies that I made during the day. They made scallops that they caught the other day!! They also made lobster. It was so fun and yummy. It was really starting to feel like Christmas. They had a large Christmas tree branch that they had decorated it barely fit in the boat.

Jason and I at Robaska for Christmas Dinner.

John Fransois, Jason, Laurel and Chantal before eating Sushi on Christmas day!

December 24, 2006 Sun
We spent a nice quiet day watching Christmas movies and cooking a whole chicken instead of turkey. It was a nice relaxing day just the two of us. Tomorrow we have plans with Robaska.

December 25, 2006 Mon
MERRY CHRISTMAS!! We slept in and had a nice breakfast and lots of candy and opened our presents to one another. We watched another Christmas movie while I made some homemade bread to take over to Robaska. We gathered up some wine and the rest of our food to bring there and dingied over. We had a wonderful time. We ate sushi and spinach and artichoke dip I made as well as a roast. It was a nice time and like a traditional Christmas dinner we ate too much.

December 26, 2006 Tues
We completely chilled most of today it rained and we were just relaxing until we leave tomorrow to go scalloping.

December 27, 2006 wed
We woke up early and left to go to the bay that that will yeild us many scallops to eat. We were driving always from our mooring ball when our engine failed. We had boats all around us and it was very new did great though at getting it started and no hitting anything in the process. We stopped with them at a little bay where Jason and Morgan went spear fishing to try and get red snapper or some lobsters. I was on the big sailboat by myself and we started to drag. I was sitting on deck watching us drag closer and closer to the beach. Finally I asked Mel if she could hail them so that Jason could help me pull up the engine. We were not so close to shore that I was really worried but close enough that I wanted to move the boat. After they were skunked there we headed over to anchor Urapukapuka bay. We dropped Anchor and jumped in the dingy and drove out to the place where the scallops were. It was so easy we had 40 scallops in less than 15 minutes!! They were all over the place. They do tend to move locations sometimes but once you find them there are tons to grab. We measured them all and we ended up having to throw back 4 due to them being slightly questionable on size. We went back to the boat and cooked up a grand dinner of seared scallops. We of course had some raw as well. They are so sweet they are 100 percent better than when you buy them in the States and I love those. Just to give you an idea of how amazing they are. Mel and Morgan talked us into staying over night so we could have a few drinks together. We needed to be back tomorrow and leave to pick up Brian from the Airport on the 30th. We ended up drinking way too much rum and staying up until late! What a blast though.

December 28, 2006 Thurs
We woke up and left to get back to Opua to our mooring ball. We need to leave today to drive the 4 hours to Auckland to spend the night in the regional park close to the airport. Brian gets in at the crack of dawn and we certainly can't drive up from Opua in the morning. We love the regional park by the airport. It is really nice and you sleep with the sheep around. We cooked up the last of our mussels on the grill there and had a beer and crashed early for our early departure.

December 29, 2006 Fri
We woke up early since we still had to finish packing before it was time to leave for the regional park outside of Auckland. We needed to get there in time to drop off our computer paperwork to prove that we bought it in Jamaica under a year ago. Sony won't hold it under warrantee until they see this paperwork. We were able to have a boater watch our dingy so we did not need to get a ride in this time. Last time was such a disaster waiting for a ride back. It seemed to take us forever to get ready to go. We had to take showers at the yacht club, in fact most of the time we do since we have to run our engine for some time in order to warm up the water. this is the first time since we bought the boat that this was an issue. Everywhere else we have been to we have always had hot water. New Zealand is just cold. We never expected it to be so cold in the summer time here. And are super happy we brought our extra blanket and fleeces. We loaded up the van and left to head down to Auckland. We were able to get to the camp site early and made some food on the grill. We hung out until they closed the gates and parked by the first gate. You are not supposed to do that but we did not feel like taking the time in the morning to open 4 gates to get out when we needed to be at the airport by 5:30am.

Jason and Brian gathering Green Lip Mussels!

The big bag we gathered of Green Lip Mussels!

December 30, 2006 Sat
We picked up Brian at the airport and he had sat next to our boater friend Carson who is coming to the New Year's Eve party with us. Pretty weird that they were sitting next to each other. As soon as we left we headed to the Coromandel Peninsula North to Thames. There are some amazing views here. We stopped to have a snack and picked up some bread for the next few days. A little farther north we stopped on the side of the road because there were so many cars parked there and people in the water. When we asked the guy what they were doing he told us he was collecting mussels. Green lip Mussels is what we collected for a half hour and we had more than enough for the three of us. We stopped and picked up a bucket to put them in and added some sea water so that would last a little while. We stopped in Coalville to get some gas and pick up some garlic to make the mussels with. We spent the night at a motor park and cooked up a bunch of the mussels and ate them with bread. We were stuffed so we went on a walk through town and stopped at a brewery for a beer. When we got back to the motor camp we actually made some more mussels and pitched our tent. We opened our gifts from everyone that sent us stuff. Thanks to you all we loved everything it was so sweet. Then Brian played a little guitar and off to sleep for us all.

December 31, 2006 Sun
We went down the 309 road and saw Kauri trees and a waterfall. Kauri trees are very old and very think. It took the three of us around it holding hands just to get around the trunk and this was one of the smaller ones! We stopped to taste some honey and it was delicious. It was manuka honey and the woman told us all the whole process. We finally got to Whitianga for the concert. We went to the grocery store to pick up some stuff and every line for a check went all the way to the back of the store. We decided to leave and just go to the liquor store. We picked up a few beers and went to the park to cook up some mussels and some meat for dinner. Randy and Sheri joined us there for a drink before we headed into the farm land for the concert. We met up with Mike, Carson and Chantal and we all sat around drinking and talking until it was time to head in for the concert. You could not bring beer and the line to get tickets to buy beer was way too long so we just enjoyed the music and around 11pm we went to get some tickets. They had already closed. The concert went until 3am which makes no sense as to why they would not allow you to get any drinks after 11pm. We walked up the mountain there and had a beautiful view of the concert and the surrounding area. We crashed after the concert. It was a little more mellow than we anticipated but was still very fun.