We sailed from Fiji to New Zealand in early November. After checking in at Marsden Cove and completing the formalities, we moved up the river to the Whangarei Town Basin marina. Here’s what it was like spending almost two months living aboard in Whangarei.
Whangarei is not pronounced how it looks. Unless you speak Maori. In that case you know that the WH is pronounced as F, so it’s pronounced Fang-Ah-Ray.
We enjoyed living aboard in Whangarei. It’s the biggest town in the Northland region of New Zealand, with all the amenities we’ve missed since Tahiti. Whangarei’s population is almost 57,000 and it is 155km north of Auckland, which is said to have almost 1.7mm people.
The Town Basin Marina is located on the Hatea river and is walkable to groceries, shops, restaurants and more.
The supermarket across the street is huge and overwhelmingly good. After being in Tonga, where you couldn’t get basic rice, and Fiji, with no cat food or kitty litter, we consider New Zealand the land of plenty. On our first visit to the supermarket, we were overjoyed upon seeing the varieties of lettuce, berries, and yogurt, and the glow hasn’t faded. It doesn’t hurt that we arrived in springtime.
Five years flies by faster than you realize. Since moving aboard in December 2018, we’ve logged a lot of miles and anchored in many bays. We’ve also spoken – or tried to speak – several languages, and met countless people in the last five years living on a sailboat. As many of you know, we’ve also made changes and mistakes. This year we visited countries we hadn’t visited or even heard of before moving onto a boat. We’re happy to spend the rest of 2024 in New Zealand, over 8000 miles from where we started in 2018. Here’s a small recap of what we learned this year, after five years living on a sailboat.
Wind and Weather
We finished our year in French Polynesia this May, and looked forward to heading west to other South Pacific islands. After French Polynesia, we skipped the Cook Islands because of limited anchorages and strong winds. In fact, the weather this winter all throughout the South Pacific was bad. We got battered by storms en route to Niue, shivered through record-breaking cold in Tonga, and were poured on in Fiji. Our friends in French Polynesia dealt with the same conditions. Fortunately, we left Fiji before a cyclone, and are supposedly safe in New Zealand as long as last summer’s storms don’t repeat.
After nearly five years on board Sava, Brian and I are making a change. We bought a catamaran and will sell Sava.
Our New Sailboat
We only recently started looking for a different boat. When we saw this sailboat, it was a go! We bought a catamaran; it’s a Leopard 43.
After almost five years and thousands of miles on board Sava, we’re ready for more space. A head for each of us plus one for guests. Lots of lounge space indoors and out. This boat provides all of it.
It’s also been lovingly maintained by its previous owners, is registered to Canada, and has lots of power. The decision to buy a catamaran was even quicker than when we bought Sava, which we never regretted.