Cruising New Zealand – North Island


As I sit down to write this, Adelaide rummages around and looks for the journal in which she is writing her great American novel, Isa is peeling onion skins to make calligraphy ink and Cameron is single mind-idly running through the boat, multimeter in hand checking outlets. Banyan is currently tied to the dock, a familiar position after over a year for her, but for us, staying a month in a marina is something new.   All the aforementioned maintenance and work we’ve been doing has made it much more convenient to be in the marina.  We have been trying to settle in, and appreciating proximity to land.

Our main activities consist of the daily grind with a nautical twist.  Cameron does maintenance but also has been working on planning our next leg, keeping all of us fed, and working with the girls on their math especially.  I’ve been prioritizing my work lately, taking my computer off to the cruiser’s lounge where I have a quiet space and wifi.  I’ve mainly been trying to infuse some life into the branding of my little wine business.  It has involved lots of planning and thinking and creating and soon, hopefully, the results will be visible.  

The girls have started a new school program!  We decided for many reasons to enroll them into an accredited homeschool program.  It has been really fun actually and I’ve appreciated the independence it has brought.  The quality of the lessons is fantastic and the teacher feedback and support is very welcome.  Oak Meadow is the name of the school and I have to say, so far, it is fabulous.  It also seems to take the girls a fraction of the time it used to take us to “do school”.  While slightly disconcerting, I’m happy about it.  Seeing the projects and activities they are doing, the reports they are creating and the progress they are making settles any worries.  

On the weekends, we have been renting a car and getting out and about.  The Marsden Point marina is quite isolated.  There are plenty of lovely homes, a convenience store and a cafe near us, but anything outside of that, and you need a car.  We take weekly excursions into Whangarei (pronounce Fongaray).  We do our weekly grocery shopping, hit up a Mass, and darken the door of several marine stores.  

With our friends from Panacea, we explored the Kauri forests on the west coast and saw the second-largest Kauri tree in New Zealand.  Because of a lack of sea bird poo and the resulting increase in a specific fungus in the soil, these trees are in danger.  We had to walk through a shoe cleaning station before going in and out of the forest.  The forest was magical and the trees were breathtaking.

We took a drive down to Sheep World after Isa begged and begged to go.  We were expecting it to be a bit touristy and silly.  It certainly is for tourists, but it was extremely informative and the girls had a great time feeding all sorts of animals and learning all about the industry of sheep farming.  They had a wonderful working dog demo and a sheering demo and if you stick around long enough, you can feed the emus, possums, pigs, and rabbits. 

We were also able to get the boat out for a long weekend.  We motored over to a bay just at the mouth of the Whangarei harbor and settled in for some quality time at anchor.  We did some free diving for scallops and feasted on the bounty of the sea.  It was good to zoom around on the dingy and feel the sway of the boat at anchor, a short but good reminder of what all this work is for!

We found good fun closer to home as well at the local Heritage Museum and Kiwi North.  Kiwis are the national bird of New Zealand.  They are nonflying and quite large; weighing up to 4 kilos.  They are also nocturnal.  Interestingly, they have many characteristics of a mammal, they have whiskers, and have only small bony hooks in place of wings.  Unfortunately, they are not well equipped for these modern times.  Because of imported predators, they were in serious danger of being extinct about 30 years ago.  Due to a massive conservation effort, they are coming back.  Many different species of animals here have faced similar situations but not all have been or will be revived in New Zealand, a land that saw its first mammal when the human showed up about 1,300 AD.  We got to see the Kiwi’s eat their breakfast and wattle around while learning a ton about the unique flora and fauna of New Zealand.  

Cameron found a whole lotta Farmalls 🙂

Since writing the above, we have moved from Marsden Cove Marina, up to the Whangarei Town Basin Marina for a week and just this morning, we have hauled Banyan out of the water at Port Whangarei.  In the Town Basin, we got some carpentry done, a new solar arch fabricated and installed, and had our engine looked at (among other things).  I’ll chronicle a list at a later date.  But, the decision to haul out revolved around our dripping dripless shaft seal.  A progress report will come, but we are hoping to be back in the water in just a few days.  

Until the next update, Happy Adventuring!!  


  1. Toya says:

    Have fun and enjoy Hermosa Familia! Las Nina’s estan Bellissimas y grandes, saludos Cameron y Anitta! Siempre los leo y me siento afortunada de conocer nuevos lugares a travel de Ustedes. Los quiero mucho

    • Cameron Vawter says:

      Muchas gracias Toya! Espero que nos vemos en el Valle de Napa in Septiembre. Nuevo Zealandia esta bonita pero falta el corazón y el amor en la comida como Mexico. Besos y brazos a Ustedes!

  2. Marianne McGriff says:

    Good morning, Cameron, Anne, Adelaide and Isa
    Wow! I LOVE all the adventures and maintenance! Please let us know, Anne, when your wine business is up and running…I can always help with that. Girls, I have the recipe for “Raw Brownie Truffles” and will send to your parents via email. They are delicious and only 4 ingredients. I’m going to make them for the outstanding nursing staff at the VA that took care of Carver! Love to ALL, Marianne

  3. Scott Gerber says:

    We continue to live and crave for more of your “ink”!! Your enthusiastic words are just what we need here in N.Y. While we have experienced an extremely Mild winter, we still Year for our boats to be “splashed” back onto the water and raise our sails – hopefully very soon. Good luck with the dripless – we have the same. Please give us the outcome. Also, we use a product called Foam. A fuel additive that keep the iron horse purring. Keep the letters coming, take a daily nap and stay healthy!! Scott⛵️

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