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