An Unexpected Winter ~ New Zealand

Overlooking Whangaroa Bay

All is well in the Land of the Long White Cloud.  Wet and a wee bit cold it may be, but we are happily working on boat projects, exploring more of New Zealand and taking care of the daily needs of our little family.

During May and June, we saw some lovely weather, and some wild, windy and rainy weather as well.  Mother Nature was easing us into our current state of daily rain squalls and weekly blows.  Our dear friend Michelle Herald who lives in Aukland sent us all hot water bottles, saying that New Zealanders like to pretend it doesn’t get cold in New Zealand, but they all have hot water bottles.  It has become a nightly ritual and our toes are toasty in bed!

View to the east while heading south from Whangaroa to the Bay of Islands

All this time we’ve been in and around the Bay of Islands, making new friends, exploring new bays, and foraging for food in these abundant waters.  There has been lots of drying laundry inside the boat (because there is so much room for that;), boat projects, art, hikes, and school.

In June, when the girls finished their school year, we took several weeks off from school, ZOOM meetings, and FaceTime music lessons.  We made a quick trip up to another bay, Whangaroa, in early July with some new friends. We then headed back to the dock for a full week of work; 3,000-hour scheduled engine maintenance, woodwork projects (final install on the heater and a little stool for me so I can see over the dodger at the helm), and canvas and upholstery quotes for work we’d like to do.  After that, we headed back out, eventually to the beautiful bay of Whangamumu for Cameron’s birthday weekend.

Cameron inspecting our rigging on his way down from the top of the mast. Whangamumu Bay

But let’s get down to the real questions.  What is the plan? Any ideas about where we are going and when?  I wish I knew anything for certain.  Fiji and French Polynesia have opened their doors to yachts with some procedural hoops to jump through, but New Zealand has not yet fully and publicly opened the doors to returning non-NZ flagged yachts.  They have indicated in a statement from the Ministry of Health that yachts needing refits and reprovisioning to the tune of at least $50,000.00 are welcome (yikes).  The Cook Islands have, for a while, been making a case to NZ for a travel-bridge between their two countries.  But recently, New Zealand said, “no thank you.”  The Cooks have not seen one single case of COVID-19!  It makes it a little uncertain whether or not going up to the islands, then coming back would be totally A-okay or not. We’ve burned a bunch of time here on our already extended VISA and likely wouldn’t be allowed to return for any length of time due to normal VISA time limits.  And, if New Zealand is not opening their doors, is Indonesia going to be open?  Australia?  It makes it a little worrisome to head out.

Even with the uncertainty, and along with a complicated and a bit expensive exit process requiring negative COVID tests before departure, several yachts have taken off for warmer weather.  

Seeing what the future holds is a bit tough right now, we are having to settle with looking out for what is right in front of us

We are banking on another kind of uncertainty – the hope of a very extended VISA. We’ve applied with about 40 other yachts and the yacht services industry to extend our VISA and our boat’s temporary import license here until early June of next year.  It is uncertain how all this will go and there are no guarantees that we won’t be kicked out of the country when our current VISA is up.  

Even with all this uncertainty, we are all feeling very relaxed about things. We are so happy to be here.  While it certainly wasn’t the plan, we couldn’t imagine being in a more convenient place to get boat work done or live our daily lives.  Boat-school starts back up in a week now that we got our shipment of the school books and we plan to keep on keeping on.

I hope you enjoy the last few months of One Moment a Day videos!  And, if you think of it, send up a prayer that New Zealand Immigration will happily extend our VISA!


Whangamumu Bay (only boat in the anchorage, the beauty of off-season cruising)



  1. Michele says:

    A belated Happy Birthday to Cameron. Lovely to see your photos and hear how you are. …Good to hear that u are enjoying the Bay of Islands … and trying to sound positive about all the rain. Do u have something to catch all that rain so u can drink it

  2. Don & Teri Hecht says:

    Wow!! What a journey you are having. Really appreciate the peek into what it is like to be quarantined to NZ during this Corvid pandemic. Praying for safe travels!!

  3. Elizabeth Vianna says:

    Happy Birthday to Cameron! And wishes that the Visa fairies bring good news soon. Beautiful pictures, and what a magical place for you all to be shelter in place together! Love reading your news! Stay safe and keep us posted. Lots of love.

  4. JANIS H BLUE says:

    Whew…wish we (and Randy) could send you some of our high temps. But of course, when it isn’t not so great is when friends plan an outdoor fish fry at a camp ground and it is cold and rainy, a drop from 80+ to 59 deg. (that is an English lesson for the girls about double/triple negatives??? lol) Anyway, it is hard to go with the flow when everything is so up in the air EVERYWHERE and you are left dangling. You do a great job of improvising. Praying that the extension comes thru and gives you a little peace of mind and you keep warm. It is such beautiful scenery but that does not provide comfort. In our prayers, Love A Janis & U Fred (Hope Cam got our birthday wishes thru facebook)

  5. Douglas Vawter says:

    Great post and I loved the sequence of the 2020 Moments in Time. New Zealand is a beautiful country!! Watching multiple Moments in Time gave emphasis to the amount of boat maintainence and repair and the girls schooling and music practice. Continue to make the most of this “unplanned time” and enjoy your adventure! Love to all from the midwest!

  6. Toya says:

    Happy happy happy birthday Cameroncito! Muchas felicidades! You have a beautiful Familia! God bless you and hope the Best to come! Biggest Xoxos to all of you! Saludos

  7. Taylor Miller says:

    I’m enjoying your ongoing diary very much as someone who always wanted to spend time in New Zealand. I’m not sure you would want to venture into this deep water, but it would be interesting to hear your impressions of New Zealand’s politics in this era of Covid, Trump and resurgent nationalism.

    • Anne Vawter says:

      Hi Taylor,
      It’s here too! There is a similar divide here among the population although the country has embraced decided stronger socialistic structures over the last 50+ years Here the parties are the National Party and the Labour party which aligns similarly to our parties at home. There is an election in September and things are starting to heat up a bit. Things are much more polite here in general but there have been a few eye-popping instances of politically driven violence, unfortunately. Currently, the Labour party is in power, and the National party is a bit unorganized and has had some big changes and setbacks. Considering how well Jacinda has done in tackling COVID (although we are seeing new community transmission cases again after 100 days of none which is a bummer), it’s hard to criticize her – of course, the National Party and people who oppose her politics certainly give it a go! In general, we’ve been really impressed with how quickly things move in their system (centralized federal gov makes for fast-moving legislation – something that was a hot topic here in the late 1800’s). NZ is a country that has relied on export and global trade for a healthy economy since day 1. They have seen economic challenges in the last years, but globally, they are ranked very well for a country of their size. These days, it’s winter, loads of Kiwi’s who usually travel abroad are home, so the very large service sector has been hopping to accommodate Kiwi tourists. Also, the COVID lockdown was fast and efficient, so everyone got back to work quickly – we aren’t seeing the unemployment and the closing of businesses anywhere near numbers like the US. But, it will be interesting to see how things go in the summer when that very large service sector doesn’t experience the usual influx of travelers… and if this current COVID resurgence beings to require a larger scale and more aggressive lockdown. In general, the surge in Nationalism I don’t think is as strong here, most Kiwis have a global outlook as they travel extensively, and they rely heavily on exporting their goods to the larger world. But it’s here and has always been here in certain iterations. They certainly have a lot to be proud of!

  8. Erin Bernhardt says:

    Hi! Love to see the photos and hear how you all are doing. Adelaide and Isa have gotten so much taller! We are doing well in MO; missing the mountains and streams of TN, but growing and thriving as a family. Happy birthday Cameron. So lucky to be the sole boat in the Harbour. Xoxoxo. Be safe. Love you guys.

  9. Karen Minton says:

    Happy Birthday Cameron! Wow beautiful post and video guys, saying a prayer New Zealand will keep you all safe and sound as long as needed. Much love and miss you all so much (Jolie sends hugs to Adelaide and Isa!)

  10. Joanie Schumann says:

    Wonderful photos and I love your artwork Anne…The girls have definitely gotten tall since you started this adventure..
    What a great place to be right now…

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