Road trip with Dylan, Waitomo

March 11 – 15

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Posting by Barb:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur next stop was Dylan’s pick, a Waitomo caving adventure. Back to the world of Glow Worms but with some heart thumping action. The first Waitomo quest was called Black Odyssey. It was a couple of hours in the cave with emphasis on different caving techniques (zip lines, rope work, swings, heights) over glowworms. Before being able to participate we would have to pass a test where we had to squeeze ourselves in OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAa tight box and move through a narrow cardboard tunnel to come out at another opening. I didn’t even attempt that test as I am slightly Claustrophobic.  Dylan would have to do that escapade all by himself. All I can say about that adventure was that when I saw him again he was grinning from ear to ear. As I looked at the pictures I almost wished I had muddled through the test because I think I may have enjoyed the thrill of climbing and swinging above the Glow Worms.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second Waitomo quest was black water rafting, the Black Labyrinth. It was another couple of hours in a cave but this time we were dressed in wet suits and given a large rubber tube so that we could weave, jump and float our way through the glowworm flecked underworld.  It was dark, cold, wet and we floated and jumped off some ledges to the next pool, rear end first! We even floated by a nice size,OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA fresh water eel, which we took a picture of. Although I have a dislike for cold water, I actually did enjoy the tube ride. Lucky for us it was only a 3 hours experience whereas  the Glow Worms live their entire lives underground in the cold, wet caves eating other bugs or each other. Quite a miserable life but they provided such beauty for us!

 

 

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Road trip with Dylan, Hobbiton

March 11 – 15

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Posting by Barb:

Dylan and I wanted to do a road trip  to see some of New Zealand and spend some quality time together. Dennis decided to stay behind on Landfall as he had lots of boat projects to work on and he wanted Dylan and I to just have some time to ourselves. We planned our 4 day trip and we each picked places we  we both wanted to see and places we individually wanted to see.

DSC_7832DSC_7919First stop would be Hobbiton!! Yes, it’s a tourist trap but both Dylan and I were huge Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie fans. Actually our love for the story started long before the movie was made when we read the J.R.R. Tolkien’s book the Hobbit. We probably both immersed ourselves in the fantasy at about the same age, many years ago when I was 16 and not so many years ago when Dylan was 14 or so. It would be a Mcisaac family tradition to see the Lord of the Ring movies when it premiered every Christmas. This last Christmas I watched the last 3D Hobbit movie with our good friends Tina and Sonke. Never would have dreamed that I would actually be here in NZ for a premier showing!

DSC_7824DSC_7881When we got there we were greeted by Gandalf himself. We, that is Dylan, I and 20 or so other people, followed the tour guide, along the Shire. When Peter Jackson began to look for suitable locations for film series he first saw the Alexander Farm during an aerial search. Peter Jackson nailed it because the Shire was everything I imagined when reading the book.

 

 

 

DSC_7957DSC_7920Our tour ended at the Green Dragon where we enjoyed a good craft beer and a traditional New Zealand pie. Everyone visiting in NZ must have pie!!

After visiting Hobbiton,  it made us want to go back and have a marathon day of Lord of The Rings and Hobbit movies. Get the popcorn ready Denny, I know you can’t wait for that day to come!

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Cape Brett Hike with Dylan

February 25 – 26

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Posting by Barb:

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A picture is worth a thousand words.

Cape Brett Elevation chart:

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2 km

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3

3 km

 

Our friends Sonke and Tina invited us to go with them on the Cape Brett hike. We, of course said ‘yes!’ and thought no more of it until some of our ‘better educated on NZ hike’ friends, none of whom had done the complete ‘return’ hike, questioned our desire to do this. Well we were committed and Dylan was looking forward to experiencing the great NZ outdoors. The hike was a continuous trek up one incline and then down another. There seemed to be no end. As soon as we finished one grueling climb  and down over the other side we were already looking at our next climb!! Not a sight to behold when Denny’s knees started to give him trouble. We

4 km

4 km

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5 km

won’t lie, it was a tough hike.   The trek traversed through native and  bush, ran along the ridge and through some beautiful coastline terrain. But we did do some research and this is what we found out ” To walk this 16 km undulating track, you should be self-sufficient and will need to have a high degree of fitness and experience. You will need 8 hours of daylight one way to complete the journey to the old lighthouse settlement. You must take plenty of water to drink during the tramp. Carry a water treatment system if you are staying at the Cape Brett hut as the quality of drinking water cannot be guaranteed during summer.”

7 km. We missed the 6 km marker??

8 km

‘ We can do it!’ we said. We did do it but it was no ‘cake walk’. For any of you contemplating this hike it is well worth the beautiful scenery and the option is there to take a water taxi back from the hut but you do need a cell phone to contact them and good weather for a ‘pick up’.

We decided to pack fresh vegetables and noodles for our cookout at the hut.  We each packed 3 litres of water and we brought along 2 bottles of wine for the celebratory drink. The hut was well equipped with everything we needed and the vegetable soup was exactly what we needed for nourishment. But it was the wine that hit the spot!! We found a pack of cards so the four of us had a round of card

9 km

9 km

10 km

10 km

‘golf’. All that we can say about that was that Tina won every single hand. Each time one of us thought we had a good hand she had a better one.

It was a beautiful night so Denny, Dylan and I dragged the mattresses outside and slept under the starts. Our total exhaustion allowed us to just lie there and think of nothing and  enjoy the glitter in the sky. And every now and then we witnessed a falling star.

The next morning our stiff muscles tempted us to take the easy way out and order a water taxi but we didn’t give in.

11 km

11 km

12 km

12 km

Denny and I left 3 hours before every one else and slowly made our way back. The ‘young ones’ passed us half way through the trail. There was nothing more satisfying then walking past the last kilometer marking. Believe me we earned that satisfaction!!

That was just the first of many hikes Dylan would do while in New Zealand.

 

 

13 km

13 km

14 km

14 km

15 km.

15 km. No more markers but many more KM to walk

 

 

Each hike rewarded us with spectacular scenery. Cape Brett was a jewel!! 

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Hikes and Road trip with Dylan

February 15 – 20

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Posting by Barb:

As Landfall was on the ‘hard’ we could not take Dylan sailing so we planned a couple of road trips. Close to Whangarei we decided to take him to the highest point, Mount Mania and then to an underground experience, Abbey Caves.

DSC_7686DSC_7729I had already hiked up Mount Mania but this time we decided to do a sunset hike. We  packed a couple of head lamps for the return trip and a couple of beers to enjoy while the sun was setting. Denny decided that he should not go as DSC_7749he was not sure if his knee would survive the hundreds of steps up and down, approximately 3.5 kms of stairs. There were a few people at the top when  we arrived but we were soon left alone to sit and watch the sunset. It was an incredible experience to be able to have front row seats to a beautiful sunset while sipping on a cold beer and being able to enjoy great conversation without trying to compete with social network pings and tweets.

Just a few minutes from Whangarei is Abbey Caves and Glow worms! So off we went with our headlamps and Denny was all over this hike! I never could understand why a cave would be more appealing than a mountain top with sunsets but that’s something Denny would have to answer to. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was a short hike to the mouth of the cave and then with some encouragement from Denny and Dylan I followed them into the cave.  The warning “Only experienced cavers should enter underground, as there are risks from rapidly rising water and roof falls” was enough to dampen my enthusiasm. I did follow the boys for a while but as it got wetter and narrower I was out of there. Denny and Dylan did discover a chamber inside the cave that contained abundant glow worms. What is a glowworm you may ask? Although we see them as a dreamy mass of twinkling lights they are actually larvae (maggots) of a species of fly called a fungus gnat. Maybe not so dreamy!

Dylan had obtained tickets to the yearly Splore festival which included 2 nights of tenting with all day music and festivities. In Mrs Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure and Preposterous Words; defines Splore as ‘Merry making festivities, carousing and frolicking or a good going session.’ Just what Dylan was looking for!015fb71a5ce3ed5dd31c4b6a339c3ebfaa228e798b The festival was to take place in a location  South of Auckland so I decided that I would do a little road trip with Dylan to Auckland, enjoy the city and then drop him off at the festival. We stayed at the International Youth Hostel and had a clean,  sparse room for $70 in the heart of the city and it included free parking. Everything was within walking distance so we did a lot of walking. We enjoyed a fine, large mug of Belgian beer at a nice little pub and we now understand why Belgium has won ‘World Beer Awards’. We drove and walked on a few of the volcanoe craters in the city and took the usual visiting family/friend iconic picture on Mount Eden. It was a great bonding weekend. Loved it!!

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Dylan in NZ

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Posting by Barb:

015de8981abc96c06267fc80ad599efe07fdd91bc0There is no doubt that one of the negatives aspects of living on a sailboat and moving from one anchorage to the next is keeping in touch with family and friends. And to that end we are held hostage to the availability and quality of  internet services. But in the last year we have been fortunate to have had many visitors. So having Becky, Allison and Mike on board was fantastic and now my boy Dylan was with us in New Zealand! Dennis will attest to the fact that as February 12th drew near I was more and more anxious and excited. I looked around the boat and tried to imagine whether 6″3′ Dylan would be able to stretch out and sleep in the salon or whether he would be able to walk tall and straight inside our little home. But despite all my distressing the day was finally here. It was so good to see him walk out of the Auckland International Airport terminal gate. All was ok, he was finally here! (He slept fine in the salon and his beautiful curly hair grazed the ceiling and gave it a badly needed Dockland 5 dusting).

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For Dylan’s first day I took him to several of the culinary spots in Whangarei. That included the Fat Camel and the Butter Factory for a cool tall one. So what else  does a visitor from Newfoundland want besides a good beer?  01115b541237e28c444954c275efa766b8a423d57bThat would be a hot day on a white, sandy beach so that was on the agenda for the second day. And it was a hot day and it was a beautiful beach, Ocean Beach!

01f11f02fc397e54aa05f70cbf4eb4d015e25088a8On the way back from sunning and swimming we passed by an area where there were quite a few cars parked by the side of the road. Of course we had to check it out and it turned out to be a Kiwi Release occasion. We got to see a real, live Kiwi up close.
There were a lot of things ticked of Dylan’s ‘To Do’ list in a couple of days.

 

We are a Threesome again

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January 6 – January 20

Denny flew back from Minneapolis with our friend Pat. I love having Pat around as we usually team up and give Dennis a hard time and some well-deserved teasing. IMG_0398Pat stayed in a small B&B place within walking distance as Landfall was going to be torn apart by Dennis who was going to be working on our new engine to replace the transmission (the reason for this will be explained by Denny in his boat projects post). Pat walked to the boat every morning carrying his expensive NZ Flat White coffee. I heard that Starbucks now serve Flat Whites as well so Pat can continue to get his expensive fix!!

The B&B was quaint but I avoided the place after my first visit as the little dog there fell in love with me and insisted on wrapping his little paws around my leg, arms or anything it could hug and then proceeded to show more than just a simple affectionate hug! The dog left a little present for pat in his room thanks to an upset stomach.

The three of us hung out at the boat a lot as Dennis worked on replacing the transmission. Every morning after his walk and coffee Pat would log on the internet and call work.DSC_7573 We told him he could just stay in NZ and work from the boat! The first couple of days of Pat’s visit was a bust as far as working on the engine as Denny came back with some strong Stomach bug or food poisoning. It was bad enough to make Pat and I very  worried. You all know the moldy things that Denny can eat and his stomach accepts it all usually with no ill effects. While Denny was puking his guts out Pat and I were outside having BBQs with our friends Ernst and Inge. We felt bad but Denny didn’t want us near him.

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 We did do a couple of road trips with Pat. The weather while Pat was here was spectacular so we of course visited a couple of the beautiful beaches including Ocean Beach and the white sand beach in Pahia. We took Pat to Opua to say hello to friends but took the scenic, twisty, snaking road to Russell and then the Ferry to Opua. All our visiting friends naturally get a tour of Auckland and get their iconic picture taken on Mount Eden. We stayed a night at John’s house in Auckland. Dennis had met John in Chile. John cooked a great meal on the BBQ while we sat there and enjoyed their beautiful backyard while sipping on some good wine. 

 

 

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We decided to do a little road trip before Pat had to go back to Minneapolis. After 4 hours driving our first stop was Rotorua to take Pat to the Waimangu Thermal walk which we also did with Bill and Ella. DSC_7661 DSC_5416-1This time around some of the thermal pools were dried up so it wasn’t as spectacular but we did do the boat trip at the end which was just a relaxing experience. Well maybe a little boring for Dennis.  The dining escapades in Rotorua were unimpressive. At one point we were sitting in a restaurant for quite some time waiting to get served when a waitress came by and told us that the chef had closed the kitchen for any new orders for the next hour or so. We thought that was an odd thing to do?

From there it was on to Taupo with a stop at McDonalds for ice cream sundaes. Taupo is a touristy little town on the shores of the largest lake in NZ. A few interesting facts about Lake Taupo; largest fresh water lake in the Southern hemisphere, roughly size of Singapore, crater of one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the last 5000 years, 159 meters deep and a surface area of 616 square km. And we did not get one single picture there. I guess it didn’t seem like much after being on Lake Superior.

Our last stop was Auckland Airport where we said good-bye to Pat. I think we may have convinced him to be a regular, yearly visitor but next time it will have to be a little longer than 2 weeks!

 

One on Board Landfall

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With Landfall safely on the ‘hard’ Dennis and Becky headed home for Christmas. As I am going home in April I decided to stay in New Zealand for Christmas. So after having 3 people in our little home it was a little quiet with just me on board.

But I was never alone. Ernst and Inge, our neighbors on Atlantis looked after me and had me over for countless coffees accompanied by the most amazing Apple cakes I have ever had. Inge can bake! And then there were cooked dinners too!

DSC_7480-1DSC_7418-1DSC_7487I did several hikes around Whangarei, including the beautiful Whangarei Falls and the Tahatea Loop which was a 4 mile loop from the boat to the town basin and back. It was  strange to be going out in shorts and flip flops (or ‘jandals’ as they would say here) and be surrounded by color instead of white snow or grey landscapes.   Many of the trees, Pohutakawas, were self decorated in red flowers.

 

 

 

xmas 01xmas 05I spent a fun Christmas day with my friends Rick and Kyra. They even served me breakfast in bed the next morning. I spent New Year’s eve with Ernst and Inge and their fantastic hamburger, sausage, pork chop and steak BBQ and topped it off with a New Years day brunch with champagne to toast the New Year.DSC_7497

DSC_7507New Year’s weekend I did the Mount Mania hike with my Canadian now Kiwi friend Melissa and that was a work out after all fine wining and dining. The hike is a  steady climb 1 hour climb  and as the gradient got steeper the views got more spectacular with the Bluff lookout offering great views of Bream Head and the Hen and Chicken Islands.  After the hike Melissa, Pete and Melissa’s mom Cathy treated me to a gourmet pizza.

Thanks to great friends it wasn’t such a lonely Christmas ! But it was sure nice to have Denny back on board.

Cruising with Becky, New Zealand

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Posting by Barb:

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So you all know that based on our previous blog postings that our trip from Fiji to New Zealand with Becky was a ‘cake’ walk. The only thing we worried about was running out of fuel. The only thing Becky worried about was catching that one last fish. Yes, Becky actually wanted more fish. Well 2 days before landing in New Zealand we did catch a Yellow Fin Tuna and it was a Big One!!

Becky spent 3 weeks with us in New Zealand. During the 3 weeks stay we did have to haul boat out at Dockland 5 so we couldn’t go very far. The weather was cool and Becky even thought it was freezing. That was before she arrived back in Minneapolis!

We celebrated Thanksgiving on the boat and managed to find and buy a small turkey to cook. It was so long since we had had turkey and the smell of it roasting in the oven  brought back so many family Christmas / Thanksgiving dinner memories!

 

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We did one road trip that took us all the way to Cap Reinga. We drove the car a little way on the famous Ninety Mile beach and ended up with a flat tire. Has anybody ever tried to change a flat tire on a beach? Well it cant be done. The tide was rising so we had to drive off the beach. We demolished the tire getting back on the access road and then drove the rest of the weekend on a little spare.

 

 

 

 

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We made it to the famous giant Te Paki sand dunes. Dennis, Bill, Ella I had already been there but with Becky we managed to work up the nerve to actually try the sand surfing. It was a long hike to the top and then we flew down the sand waves. Denny gave me a great tip to stay far behind the board so I didn’t get a face full of sand. The challenge was to go downhill without dragging the feet to slow us down but neither one of met that challenge. Doing a ‘sand’ face plant at a fast speed was not that appealing to either one of us.

DSC_5273DSC_5337We did the usual tourist stops which included Cape Reinga and a visit to Tane Mahuta, Lord of the
Forest, New Zealands oldest Kauri tree.

 

 

 

DSC_5300DSC_5318But one of Becky’s favorite stops was visit to Parrot Place. We played and fed the beautiful birds. Becky wanted to figure out a way of smuggling a parrot back to Minneapolis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_5397 One can’t go to New Zealand with at least spending one day in Auckland. Aside from the shopping and dining we did visit the Sky Tower. The view from the top was impressive. If it wasn’t for the cost we may have almost convinced Becky to bungee jump from the top. But all we did instead was sit at a window seat in the café  and occasionally see people flash by screaming as they fell to the bottom, attached to their bungee cords of course.

DSC_5415Naturally we had to do the signature picture from Mount Eden. Every one of our guests visiting us in New Zealand will have their picture taken from this spot, the one of many volcano craters in Auckland.

As the weather in New Zealand started warming up and one could actually sit out on the beach it was time for Becky to head home to the ‘real’ cold.  We loved having Becky on Landfall!DSC_7202

 

 

 

Merry Christmas

Dennis and I would like to wish all our friends and family a very Merry Christmas.. As some of you know, Dennis is in Minneapolis for Christmas so if you see him give him a big hug and kiss for me. Christmas without snow is different but it is very pretty here in NZ.

Becky’s trip to Fiji blog posts will be posted soon. Thanks for reading our blog.

2014 was a wonderful year with all the visits from family and friends.  Happiness and health to you all in 2015!DSC_7437

 

NZ North Island trip – Kohukohu, Hokianga, Waipoua

Posting by Barb:

On the last day of our memorable road trip we took the north-western route back to Whangarei. DSC_5428Our first stop was Kohukohu, one of the first European settlements in NZ and it boasted to have the oldest foot bridge built in the 1840’s. We took the ferry to Hopianga, a dying little town with lots of ‘For Sale’ signs advertising ‘life style’ change as the sale pitch.  We followed part of the road along the 30 km estuary with the thought that it would be a beautiful place to bring the boat. We did talk to some locals about the possibility of doing this and the consensus was that it would be treacherous to do especially getting through the sand bar across the mouth (another navigational challenge for Dennis, maybe next year).   DSC_5473-1We had a nice picturesque stop with some roosters for company and then on to Waipoua Kauri Forest to see the largest Kauri tree in NZ called  DSC_4143Te Matua Ngahere, meaning Father of the Forest. It  was 2000 years old. Kauri trees usually live to be 4000 years old but in 2007 a severe winter storm damaged the tree therefore shortening its life. To be sitting there underneath the tree was mystical and made me feel humbled and I wondered how many living beings had sat in the shadows of this great tree in the last thousand years. As we continued our journey through the forest, Bill, who was taking a turn in the back seat as Dennis drove ,inadvertently found out that the sunroof in the back seat could open. I suggested he stand up and take a video of twisty, winding road while hanging out of the sunroof. He was like a little kid discovering a new toy, whooping and hollering as he stood in the back seat hanging out of the sunroof. When he finally settled down his curls were all windblown straight!! Too bad we didn’t realize we could open the sunroof when we were on 90 mile beach.  We had a really nice meal in a little restaurant called Jo’s in Dargaville. We will definitely go back there and recommend it to anybody looking for a great place to eat!

That was end of our memorable road trip with never ending laughter and unforgettable scenery and experiences.