We made it – what a great feeling! New Zealand seemed so far away at the beginning of our journey – half around the globe – and now we were here. Unbelievable!
It was dark when we came closer to shore and there was a land breeze. It reminded me of the smell in the mountains in Switzerland on early summer evenings… a mixture of hay, damp earth and a tiny little bit of cow dung. Something just so completely different to all the places we have been before on our journey – but very much like home.
We arrived in Opua around 10 pm. We were on the early group, so we had to handle our lines by ourself. PELIZENO was the first boat of our ” Minerva Reef Club fleet” and had made it on time to be cleared in during the day. In the hours after our arrival more and more boats from the Minerva Reef Club fleet came in. It was a long night there on the quarantine dock… of course we had to celebrate our arrival in New Zealand and about every half hour there was another boat arriving… The rhum on Rougue flowed freely.
Next morning there were quiet a few boats there for customs to clear in but everything went very smooth and efficient. A friendly german speaking lady introduced herself as Monika and brought us a welcome bag with all kind of useful informations. We felt at home right away. There was a good atmosphere. In the Marina Cafe were many familiar faces . Some we had already met in French Polynesia others we knew from the Vavau Blue Water Festival in Tonga. It was so great to see so many of our friends.
To make things even better Jaël and Nael from BAJKA could start in Opua school on Friday already. We just had enough time to organise a lunchbox and black skirt and leggings for the uniform. The school was 10 min. walking distance up the hill… it simply could not be better.
There was no kindergarden in Opua but our new cruiser friends Kostya and Jenya from PONYO told us about Paihia Waitangi Kindergarten. Their daughter Michelle was enroled there and they planned to take her out to go cruising. So we tried our luck and Wil and her team were happy to enrol Amina the following week. We arranged to start slowly, as Amina had been around us all the time for the last year and was not used to be without us anymore. After a while trying we decided to bring her only in the mornings and that worked out very well. Wil, Dilmari and Mahina are doing a fantastic job there and Amina was very proud to go to Kindi.
While the kids were in school and kindergarden we started some major boat projects which had been on our to do list already for a while. Opua is certainly one of the best places for boat projects. Kiwis are very passionate sailors. Therefore you have a big chance of finding solutions for any problem you could come across on a sailboat. In addition we planned to have Mirabella repainted while we would fly to Switzerland in December and explore the South Island in a Campervan in January.
On the weekends we enjoyed beautiful hikes in the mangroves and rainforests full of fern trees. We did not see any kiwis but lots of beautiful birds like Fantails and singing Tuis. We just loved it. I think it is this mixture of stunning nature and the relaxed and friendly people that makes New Zealand so special. Wherever you go you have those special encounters with warmhearted people.
We celebrated Jaël’s 7th birthday on 31.10. and all the boatkids went on a “trick or treat” tour on the numerous pontoons of the marina. On Naels Birthday two days later there was a Halloween party in school. There were always kids around in the marina and they loved to scooter around and play together. So we all enjoyed this time and almost got back our landlegs.
End of November Mirabella got hauled out and Paul, the rigger ( by the way the husband of Jaël’s teacher) took the mast down. Amina was very excited about it and told everyone in Kindi that she has to climb up a high ladder now to get on the boat.
So we left Mirabella in Opua, ready for being moved into the shed for the repaint. We had packed all our warmest clothes for our Switzerland trip and Lukas from BAJKA gave us a lift on Sunday morning to the bus station. Four hours bus ride to Auckland and a long flight back home on the following day ahead of us.