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Our Second Holiday Season in New Zealand

Written by Cathy Siegismund
December 2002 - January 2003

We had received an invitation from our friends Marc and Teri aboard Tauranga to join them for Christmas. They had rented a house in Ohope. Ohope is a small beach town on the Bay of Plenty on the east coast of the North Island. Ohope often tends to get nicer weather than Auckland, so we were looking forward to a sunny, warm Christmas. They also had invited Drew and Vernita, Bob and Cary aboard Illusion, and Jim and Eleanor, cruiser friends of Marc and Teri who had just arrived in New Zealand. We took off on December 23 in the afternoon to make the 5 hour drive to Ohope.

Ohope sits on New Zealand's Bay of Plenty

Marc and Teri had rented a two-story house across the road from a beautiful beach. Drew, Vernita, Ken and I shared the down stairs, and Marc, Teri, Bob, Keri, Jim and Eleanor shared the upstairs; though we spent most of the time hanging on the beach in the backyard, or upstairs with a view of the ocean.

We arrived late in the evening, unpacked and decorated our little Christmas tree that we normally put up in the boat. Drew and Vernita and Ken and I arranged our presents in under our little tree and called it a night.

Our little Christmas tree in Ohope

Arranging the presents, which did dwarf the tiny tree

The stash of presents

We woke up to a beautiful warm sunny day. We explored the beach, sat in sun, visited with friends, and planned our barbeque Christmas Eve dinner. During our walk on the beach we saw some people blow karting down the beach.  Blow Karts are small three wheeled carts with wind surfing sails to power them. Ken had been looking into renting a couple of these for the trip to Ohope, but we ran out of time and couldn't find a source for this in Auckland. Marc, Drew and Ken all took off down the beach to talk to the blow kart owners. Soon they were heading back to the house, to drive into Whakatane - the largest nearby town - which apparently had a blow kart store. Our only hope was they would find the store closed for the holidays.

While we waited for the outcome of the blow kart expedition, we hung out and enjoyed cocktails and hearing stories about the past cruising season.

Teri and Cary

Vernita, Teri, and my hopes were however, dashed when several hours later the three returned, and Marc had bought a blow kart. The three of them hopped out of the van all sporting the cat that ate the canary expression, and quickly began assembling the new toy.



After the blow kart had been assembled, we finally got to sit down for dinner.


Christmas Eve barbeque with the gang

Christmas day proved to be another beautiful one. Drew, Vernita, Ken and I opened presents down stairs first. We then moved upstairs to celebrate Christmas with everyone else, and have our white elephant gift exchange.



Christmas 2002 with Drew and Vernita

Marc and Teri's upstairs Christmas tree beautifully decorated with small Tongan carvings and shells


Teri and Jim on the sun deck and Bob watching Marc try on his new dive fins

Vernita showing off a Christmas present



Christmas among cruisers can bring out some odd gifts from friend's boat's t-shirts, a game of Twister, a small plastic cow that poops jelly beans to favorite deodorant from the US.



White elephant gift exchange

The rest of the day was spent playing with Christmas gifts - particularly Drew's new model dune buggy, and preparing Christmas dinner for ten.



Model car assembly

Despite the appearance of too many chefs in the kitchen, Christmas dinner was wonderful and enjoyed by all

A few too many chefs in the kitchen



Christmas dinner

During the rest of our five day stay in Ohope we played on the beach, relaxed, explored the nearby town of Whakatane, and following Drew and Ken's additional blow kart purchases, had blow kart races on the beach.

Not wanting to spend any of the great weather indoors, we even barbecued breakfast

The boys patronize the local ice cream truck

The blow kart team

Much of every windy afternoon at low tide the blow karts hit the beach






After a great time in Ohope, we headed back to Auckland. We wanted to be in Auckland for New Year's Eve to spend time with some friends who didn't come to Ohope.

As we had done last year, we got a group together to head to the west coast beach of Muriwai about an hour's drive from Auckland.

Though a little windy, we enjoyed the sunny warm weather at Muriwai


Drew and Ken enjoyed blow kart races, but the black volcanic sands of Muriwai beach seemed to be the real winner

We again spent New Year's Eve 2002 at Bayswater Marina, with its spectacular views of the fireworks display on the Auckland Skytower. This year was not quite as rambunctious as last year, but we enjoyed an evening with friends aboard Green Ghost.

Photo by Green Ghost

Cath, Sarah, and Ken -- taking a little nap -- on New Year's Eve 2002 aboard Green Ghost

As we welcomed in 2003, in Auckland we looked forward to a summer of visitors from home, boat projects, and preparations to leave New Zealand and head back to the tropics after 18 months of marina life.

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