Bay of Islands

New Zealand is amazing! Our first weekend did not disappoint, despite a few days of dreary weather. We arrived in the midst of a cruising rally welcoming boats from the tropics; we enjoyed a weather seminar and a talk on anti-fouling paint that ended up being highly contentious. Friday night was a barbecue, and Saturday night was a princess party in which all attendees, male and female alike, went dressed as princesses. It was a night where neon wigged mermen ruled supreme and divas ranked the burlier the better. Things got wild.

Monday was our first day of gorgeous sunshine, and we finally had the chance to absorb the scenic luster of our surroundings. The Bay of Islands is a region in northern New Zealand with an undulating shoreline punctuated with bays and river outlets. There are over one hundred islands nearby, only a few which are inhabited. Currently, Helios is docked in Opua, a gem of a small town with a bustling maritime community nestled far from the ocean swell in one of the larger bays.

On Sunday, we hiked eight kilometers north to Paihia, a larger, touristy town on the coast. The trail was spectacular—jade waters, golden beaches, sloping green countryside, so many new birds! The day was gently sunny, and the humidity a mere 50 percent. The ambiance made us think of California and walking on the shores of Point Reyes. It feels so good to be somewhere so similar to home.

A few other luxuries of the industrialized world we’ve been enjoying: a fantastic cafe 100 meters from our slip; hot showers (two a day!) in a land-based, stand-still shower; pizzas to go; two chandleries on the block; sim cards; and all the dark, leafy green vegetables we can eat.