We don’t normally get to spend large chunks of time in big cities on the boat, so we tried to maximize every minute in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city. Our conclusion: we could live there! Auckland is a vibrant cosmopolitan city with a lot to offer, from museums to excursions to food. This post details our Auckland favorites.
I thought it was the capital, but that’s Wellington, at the southern end of the North Island. Instead, Auckland is New Zealand’s most populated city, with nearly 1.7 million people.
Located in the north of the North Island, Auckland is on a narrow isthmus between two large harbors and is known as The City of Sails. With it’s waterfront location, Auckland is home to beautiful beaches, waterfront trails, fish markets, and scores of sailboats. It’s also based around multiple volcanos, great for hiking.
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.
Discovering a truly special place is one of my favorite aspects of this nomadic seafaring life. We recently sailed from French Polynesia to the compact island nation of Niue, spent five nights in Niue and loved every minute of our short visit there!
I hadn’t even heard of Niue a few months ago, and that’s not surprising. Most of its visitors and many of its residents hail from New Zealand. However small, Niue is an impressive country. It left its mark on us!
Niue, which means “Behold the Coconut,” is pronounced Nyoo-Ay.
Niue is a ruggedly beautiful country in the South Pacific Ocean. Itis defined by dramatic high cliffs, which we could see as we approached by boat. This explains why Niue is also known as the Rock of Polynesia.
For sailors, Niue has one safe bay on the western side of the island near the town of Alofi. The bay is very deep almost right next to shore (the cliffs), so Niue’s yacht club installed moorings for boats to tie to for their stay. We were one of the first boats there after several years of Covid lockdowns, so it was exciting for us and the people of Niue!
We are being spoilt by French Polynesian paradise. Case in point is the island of Huahine, one of the Society islands. Located less than a day’s sail from Tahiti, Huahine offers fun on land and water. We spent a week exploring and discovering the Huahine highlights.
Huahine, pronounced “Hoo-a-he-nay” by locals, is part of French Polynesia’s Society islands, with Moorea, Tahiti, Raiatea, and Bora Bora, most notably. The island’s population is around 6,000, bigger than any of the Tuamotus. Since it is close to Tahiti, only 100 miles, the island is easy to visit, accessible by regular flights and ferries from Tahiti.
Huahine consists of two islands, Huahine Nui (Big Huahine) and Huahine Iti (Little Huahine), surrounded by fringing coral reefs and little motus. We spent a little over a week exploring this lovely island, visiting three different bays by boat, and cycling around the big island.
As Colombia’s capital city, many people fly in and fly out of Bogota to more glamorous Colombian destinations but I recommend staying for a few days. We liked Bogota so much we returned for a second visit this summer and loved it even more. Now, with two multi-day visits almost exactly five years apart, here’s what we loved and why to visit Bogota.
Many people hike up this hill with great views of the city, but we chose to ride up on our first day due to the altitude. And even then, after years living at sea level, I got dizzy and light-headed up there. Monserrate is over 3,000 meters above sea level, with great views of Bogota. It is the site of a 17th century church, and is a big tourist attraction which can be reached by cable car, funicular, or hiking. We did the cable car up and funicular down, but I’m sure the hike is good once you’re acclimated to the altitude.
The views are stunning, the church is pretty, and Monserrate has a whole section of restaurants serving Colombian food and drink. If we’d known, we would have waited to eat lunch! Even with the dizziness and general discomfort from altitude adjustment, Monserrate was a pleasure to visit and the intermittent showers made for some moody photographs.