Christchurch to Marlborough

When last we posted, we were enjoying the South Island town of Oamaru, situated a bit more than halfway down the east coast. It was hard to leave good friends and fun times, but with winter on the way, it was time to move up in the world (at least in terms of latitude).

So, we’ve continued our trek up the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. We’ve been fortunate with the weather, but have to admit that we’ve been fairly cautious, choosing lighter windows. It has stood us in good stead and we haven’t been nailed by anything too boisterous other than that solid 25+ knots going from Oamaru to Akaroa. During that little blow, Cameron and I were debating the wind speed (we don’t have a mounted anemometer). I was arguing that it was likely a bit higher and Cameron thought a bit lower. Right then, a huge wave hit the side of the boat, jumped the lee cloths, and splashed heavily down on the back of my neck… I won the argument and thankfully had my hood up.


Akaroa is in the heart of the Banks Peninsula, nestled into a crater that blew about ten million years ago. The volcanic activity formed a series of deeply cut bays around the whole peninsula. It has really interesting Maori history. When Europeans came, it was settled primarily by a group of immigrants from France. This legacy lives on and is embraced by what is now mainly a sweet tourist town and second-home-getaway for Christchurch. It has a very cool, local cinema and a collection of very nice restaurants and shops.

French Bay, Akaroa
Akaroa Inlet

After watching the lunar eclipse in Akaroa we headed around the peninsula toward Lyttelton. It is a passage to respect with some shallow areas and a tendency to want to be a bit too close to land. We had a fairly good day for it though and made it to Lyttelton in good time. We pulled into the docks just in time for several days of torrential rain and some serious wind. We were happy to be pulling on dock lines rather than our anchor chain.

Lyttelton is a small village with a very active port and the metropolis of Christchurch just through the tunnel or over the very steep hill that serves as a backdrop to the drama of the port activities. We marveled at the huge ships coming in and out so quickly. It was fairly noisy due to the port activities. As it is now solidly winter, the town does not see very much sun given its orientation. But, the town has lots of soul with its victorian bungalows and strong community.

Rounding Banks Peninsula
Frost on the docks, Lyttelton

We had lots of social time and several kismet moments running into people. As we pulled into our slip a dinghy motored up and lo and behold, it was a friend we’d met on Stewart Island. As Cameron walked down the dock he spotted a familiar boat, Sangvind! We met the family on SV Sangvind in Mexico in 2015. They have settled into the marina there, living aboard and working on land. In the tiny grocery co-op we ran into another Suzuki family we’d met through the workshops and ended up spending time together. Isa got to spend some good quality time with a friend she’d made at the summer camp which is really great as the girls always soak up kid time. Also in Lyttelton harbor was our friend Rodney on SV Strannik. He was really helpful to us and hosted a meal at his home, inviting a handful of new friends which we’ve added to our hearts.

Lyttelton was warm with friends, but the outside temperature and lack of sun has driven us north. We’ve decided to spend the winter in Marlborough Sounds (if our recently requested VISA is granted). It’s the only Kiwi cruising ground that we haven’t explored much yet. During the summer this area gets really busy and has pretty strong winds driven by the heat differential between the land and sea, but the winter sees more settled weather. We’ll hang around and explore this area and slowly make our way toward Nelson.

Approaching Tory Channel, Cook Strait

Our hope is to get vaccinated in the next few months, then plan the next move. That might be settling here a bit longer, sailing off to Tasmania for the summer, or enjoying the summer here and then heading up to Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu then on to South East Asia.

The girls have just finished 6th and 8th grade with flying colors!! Thanks to Oak Meadow School for such an amazing year of interesting and challenging curriculum. The girls can’t wait to crack the books (which have already arrived) for this coming year. For now, we are enjoying a month or so of ‘summer in winter’. These are promising to be some lazy days with lots of fishing, baking, reading, music playing, art, and walking in the woods.

FaceTime with the Padres while on passage
Missionary Bay, Queen Charlotte Sound, Marlborough


  1. Douglas Vawter says:

    Thanks for the post. Beautiful scenery and countryside. Looking forward to future posts with knowledge of the near future. We are enjoying our week in Alaska and have had great weather and fantastic activities. Denali was spectacular! Look forward to future Facetime! Love to all, Gramps

  2. Marianne McGriff says:

    Good morning, Banyon Crew
    Your post has begun my day with a smile. I LOVE the geography and history of your ‚neck of the woods.‘. One of my goals in the coming months is to try and make a connection happen!!! So, I‘m anxious to hear about your plans in the coming months. All is well here…sending much love to ALL, Marianne

  3. Janis and Fred Blue says:

    Dear Ones, Always enjoy your posts and beautiful pictures. We enjoyed having our Sean back in the states from N Z. Now he’s moved to Baton Rouge where his gal is. We had son Randy’s f/FL and Grdau Alyssa & GGson Ronin (7 mo & never seen) f/TX and Step Gdau & her dau (18 mo) from Boston , all here for the “Blue” reunion last wkend. (didn’t stay w/us tho) Glad Doug’s enjoyed Alaska–we were there 23 yrs ago and loved it. Hi to the girls! You are so blessed to experience this as a family. Happy sailing, Love, A Janis & U Fred

  4. Karen says:

    Hi sis! Your beautiful pictures and “tales of winter” are very cooling, we are experiencing the hottest smokiest summer we’ve ever had, its got us talking seriously about getting some sort of AC unit in our house as a survival necessity which is so strange to contemplate, meanwhile I’ve never looked more forward to winter! We are all very interested in what the future will hold for you, give the girls and Cameron a big hug and keep on keeping us posted! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.