After being locked out of New Zealand for over two years, we booked to fly from Vancouver to Auckland on the first available flight. With six carefully packed pieces of luggage full of parts and supplies and four carry-ons, we were stocked up for our next adventure aboard S/V Whistler.

Our shuttle from Whistler arrived six hours before our flight, but it was the only choice to make the flight. We sat around the ANZ check-in counter for two hours before staff showed up. It took about 45 minutes to go through the New Zealand Immigration questioning and get cleared to go to the gate. The 14-hour flight was pleasant enough but some turbulence and galley noise disrupted our attempt at sleep.

After disembarking the flight at 5:15am, we picked up our luggage and were relieved to find our new cooktop arrived in good condition along with our new kite board, cherry veneer and other luggage. Always better when you can fly direct with a reputable airline.

Next step was a slow line for Immigration to check our paperwork. Then another line up for Customs screening. After that, a check point where we were questioned about why we checked off bringing more than 3 months of medications. The attendant then handed us the bag of COVID tests with instructions to comply with the testing regulations. One test on the day of arrival and another in 5 to 6 days, all supported by email reminders and reporting. We ended up being the last to clear into the freedom of the airport.

A pleasant attendant at the Budget rental car company offered us a diesel or gas SUV. We went for the diesel Toyota “Foretuner”. We headed into a suburb of southeast Auckland to pick up our EPIRB which had been serviced and new anchor chain. We were early for the businesses to open so we hit a coffee shop for cappuccinos and a bit of breakfast. Doesn’t this say, “Welcome to New Zealand”?

The 80 metres of new chain with an estimated weight of 400 lbs was carefully loaded it into the back of the SUV.

As we headed north, we stopped by a Chinese-run solar panel shop that seemed more focussed on the household market. We ended up going to Burnsco and buying their panels which we told were more suitable for the marine environment. We had a problem using our expired ATM bank cards so we had to find a Westpac branch to get our new cards.

We got to our boat in Marsden Cove by mid-afternoon. She looked good. Her bottom had been painted with International Paint Micron 99 antifouling and her hulls polished.

Monty picked out a pair of pyjamas from a drawer and they smelled like they had just come out of the wash. No funky boat smell. Our caretaker, Larry, had kept on top of replacing the dehumidifier packs in the cupboards and been running a dehumidifer when it was damp.

We moved into a nearby AirBnB while we did some work on the boat. Though we had lived on the boat in the yard before a few times, it was cool at night and we were glad to have a comfortable bed in a warm room. Our suite was on the ground floor of this house which had a bit of a view of the marina. The yard has lemon and lime trees, a variety of palm trees as well as blooming hibiscus and camellia shrubs.

It is just a short bike ride from the house to the boat yard and a grocery store. Larry mentioned he had had a bike shop for 10 years and kindly offered to get our folding bikes into working order. It has been nice to ride around the area for a break from boat jobs at the end of the day.

For the first week or so, the weather was mostly sunny with a high of about 22 degrees and nights around 8 to 10 degrees. We had a couple showers but it was generally fair.

Next will be tackling the boat maintenance. More soon.