Arriving in New Zealand

The entry procedure to New Zealand is very strict and very organized. NZ makes sure you have all the information for check-in that you need in advance (e.g. by having people in Tonga who come to you and give you information material) and require you to notify them once you leave your last port, 2 days before arrival and upon arrival. There are very strict rules on what you can bring into the country and what not (e.g. no fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, seeds….). The boat has to be clean, nothing growing on the hull and no bugs etc. inside. If they find anything, you end up in quarantine and pay a lot of money. As advised by our friends I had all the goods in doubt out so that the guy from Q was able to decide what we were allowed to keep and what the threw into his plastic bag. Once he left a young lady from customs came and did the immigration as well. The whole procedure lasted about 10 min. This is the most efficient check-in we had ever experienced.
We’re in the marina in Opua and the last days we had the chance to experience the friendliness of the Kiwi-people. Everybody here is just lovely and very helpful- just like the “boatie” friends that we have. It is not an outside friendliness, it’s from the heart. The land we saw in the past days is green with many flowers. My heart is dancing with all the wonderful flower smells of this late spring. It reminds me of home, yet it’s different being at the coast. By means of a rental car and partly a bus tour we have travelled most part of northern NZ. We have seen the northernmost point, where the Tasmanian Sea meets the Pacific ocean; the oldest and biggest trees of New Zealand (Kauris, about 2000 years old), seen yellow and white beaches, drove on the 90 mile beach (which is actually 90km long) with the bus, slided down a sand dune, ate NZs supposedly best Fish&Chips (busloads of people go there) and shopped souvenirs. We saw many sheep and incredible amounts of cows. For the first time in my life, I have seen white cows (or bulls?). Here are some pictures of the beautiful Bay of Islands and Northern New Zealand. Enjoy. FOllow the link for all pix: http://sailing.smichah.de/#!album-83 

FInd Alita in this picture. Tip: in front of the Ferry
 Bay of Islands at Opua.

 Old cars came through Paihia

 New Zealand's biggest tree.

 An incredible amount of cows...
 Pine trees are high and used like a hedge
 Busride on the 90 mile beach

 Look close: it showsdistance to London via ocean and London right through the earth...

Unfortunately I do not know the name of this flower, but it sure is gorgeous. No photoshop!!
 New Zealand's second largest (Kauri) tree

 On the "90 mile beach" (which is actually only 90km long)
 At Cape Reinga
 THe northernmost point of New Zealand. Tasmanian Sea and Pacific Ocean meet here.
 Caoe Reinga lighthouse

 Look at the sign ("PLease register here before cmaping") and where it leads to. I wonder what the bird is going to register...
 Rarawe beach

The last leg of the trip – Der letzte Reiseabschnitt

About 2,5 years ago, Marcus bought Alita and made a plan for the trip from Canary Islands to New Zealand. Looking back at our journey, he has done an amazingly good job. We have met all the dates; no one ever missed a plane back or had to wait for us. Only once, in the Chilean channels, did we have to change a destination, which turned out to be for the good of all guests.

But let me look back. Beautiful sailing conditions made the last leg a very nice closing down of the whole trip. I did not think about where we are going I just enjoyed the trip and looked forward to arriving at our next destination. Then, early in the morning, 3 a.m., as I was out on my last shift, I started to realize what was happening. The mountains and sea rocks I was able to see in this still full moon night belong to New Zealand. NZ is the final destination of this planned trip, which started in Gran Canaria 17 months ago. It was very quiet outside. We had just entered the borders of the Bay of Islands Marcus and the girls were in bed, the waves started to calm down, a nice breeze made its way over my face. I felt so alive, enjoyed the cool air - which put a nice reddish color into my face - and loved the smell of land. It smelled different than arriving at any one of the atolls or islands this year. There was way more land and flowers behind that smell. Trying to find my way in the dark, following the lights that I could see and cross checking the electronic map I had to think back how it all began.

2 years and 2 weeks ago I boarded Alita for the first time. I flew in to Turkey for a 5 week trip, helping Marcus deliver Alita from Turkey to Lanzarote. I was very emotional when we left the harbour of Marmaris to the soundtrack music of “Conquest of Paradise”. Some little tears of happiness rolled down my cheeks in that moment, on Nov. 15th, 2011. That trip across the Mediterranean Sea actually was the most demanding part with the worst weather until today. We had cross seas, lots of strong wind, rain, thunderstorms, water sprouts and traffic in our 4 weeks of sailing (we had a 1 week construction stop in Spain). It was there I learned that I will get a little bit seasick if the weather is very bad or the waves very uncomfortable but it was also there that I saw my dream of youth, sailing out on the oceans, came closer. We arrived in Lanzarote on Dec. 18th and I hated to leave Alita. A couple of weeks later we decided that I join for the long trip.

Again under the music of “Conquest of paradise” and passing by waving friends we started out to the big water world of the Atlantic and the Pacific on June 18th, 2012. Another very emotional moment. My childhood dream had come true. I was going to live on a sailboat for a while and discover the world from the sea. Almost to the day 17 months later I was on my watch early in the morning, the birds started to sing, I saw some light coming up in the horizon, smelled the land and listened to the music of “Conquest of Paradise” as some tears again tried to make their way through from the eyes. We had really made it, we were arriving in a port in New Zealand. I had already talked to “Whangarei Maritime Radio” to let them know about our arrival in Opua Marina, where we had to tie up at the Q-dock (quarantine dock). Marcus was with me then, at the moment of our lifetime, a moment, we will never forget. And then there was State of Mind. They had heard us on the radio (although they were still in bed at 5am in the morning). When we arrived the Q-dock, Rod jumped out of his bed, onto the dock and came to help us with the lines. How nice, after all this trip, to be welcomed by friends. They had left Minerva Reef South together with us, but with a slightly longer (on the waterline) boat and more sail area they quickly left us sailing alone in the light winds, which we had in the beginning. So they arrived half a day earlier. The downside to that: there was no one there to help them with the lines as they were the first ones. We all did help the next ones arriving. By the time customs arrived around 8.30am there were 8 sailboats at the Q-dock.

So we have come to an end of this trip of a lifetime, a trip of joy and fear, demanding and relaxing, solitude and partying, learning and teaching, laughing and crying, ….Especially the long passages were very hard on my body and nerves. I learned to be patient on the situation, which I can’t change – although it’s not easy, especially in rougher sailing conditions when you don’t feel too well. Yet it is a trip I would not want to miss in my life and I can only encourage everyone to do it, if it is your dream. There is always a way to follow that dream. 


Pictures Atata and Minerva Reef

Already 4 days have passed since we got to New Zealand and I had no time for updating the blog and the photogallery so far. Tomorrow I have some time to write about the trip from Minerva to New Zealand, the feelings of this trip and of arriving here in NZ after 1,5 years. Also I already have photos and stories about New Zealand, so check out the blog in the next days...

For now I have some pictures for you.
We left Tonga from the island "Atata". Some rainy weather came up which made me take some pictures: http://sailing.smichah.de/#!album-81

"Downtown" Atata
 The new church in construction

And here, as promised earlier, are the pictures from Minerva Reef. I hope you like them...

On the first passage, Tonga to Minerva Reef
 and a flying fish as a stowaway
 Anna happy in Minerva Reef north

 "Parking" in the middle of the ocean

 Left to right: Brenda, Rod, Micha, Anna, Tina
 I made the first french fries in my life in Minerva Reef. Anna cut one smily into the potatoes...
 The huge crayfish (Lobster), that Brenda found and the guys helped her trap it and get it out. It's worth about $200 as I saw in the supermarket today. It served us VERY well, 8 people had ENOUGH food.

 View over Minerva Reef and Alita - from the top of the Mast of State of Mind
 Green coral on the reef

 Amd here it is: our crayfish dinner, prepared by the most wonderful cook Brenda.
 You think taht's enough food for 8? Easy!

 Wickie (my yellow kajak) and Alita at South Minerva Reef.

 The two best friends, State of Mind and Alita at South Minerva Reef.
I just saw, that the resolution of the pix is too low. I will put higher resolution ones in tomorrow. Now I have to go to bed.