Hiking in New Zealand

They call it “tramping” here, but whatever you call it, hiking in New Zealand is a way of life. If you like to hike, New Zealand is paradise. It’s one of the best places we’ve been for hiking. Everywhere we visited on both North and South islands had nice hiking trails, thousands of them.

New Zealand Is a Hiking Paradise

One of our favorite ways to see a new place is by hiking. Especially after days on the boat, it’s a great way to stretch your legs and get fresh air. Sometimes you get to commune with local wildlife and people too!

hiking trail Greymouth South Island
An inviting trail in Greymouth, South Island

Some of our favorite places for hiking are The Marquesas and Curaçao, thanks to a variety of beautiful trails. New Zealand hiking is even better for variety and quality. The sheer number of well laid out trails means you can pretty much go hiking anywhere. It’s practically impossible to get lost because they are so maintained and marked.

Let's go Tramping sign
A well marked New Zealand trail

Brian and I marvel at the work that went into building these trails and then maintaining them. Someone has to bring loads of lumber into the forests to erect the stairs! Someone else carried in steel to build a bridge to cross the river. We are impressed at New Zealand’s trail infrastructure and reaped the benefits.

Pelorus swing Bridge
We hiked across this swing bridge on the South Island

Add to that the lack of dangerous animals and a temperate climate, and hiking in New Zealand is nearly perfect.

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The Best of Vavau

After a year in French Polynesia and a lovely but too short visit to Niue, we sailed to Tonga. Only a week after we arrived in Vavau, Tonga, we got stuck! Our starting motor died so while we waited for a replacement, we had a lot of time to explore and enjoy the best of Vavau Tonga.

About Vavau

Vava’u (pronounced va-vuh-ooh) is an island group in The Kingdom of Tonga, and the most popular area of the country for sailing. It consists of 50+ islands, the biggest of which is Utu Vava’u. This is where we spent several weeks on a mooring ball waiting for a new starting motor. On a boat, there’s always something that needs fixing! We maximized our waiting time by seeing the sights and visiting the bars and restaurants, discovering the best of Vavau.

You should know: In Tonga, churches are everywhere and Sunday rules are strict. No working. No tours on the water and no noise aside from singing in church. Fortunately, resorts and bars catering to tourists are open on Sundays, but not much else.

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Marine Encounters in French Polynesia

French Polynesia covers a vast area in the South Pacific with 5 island groups spreading over more than 2000 kilometers. People often compare it to the size of Europe. Unlike the wide diversity of land animals in Colombia and Panama, French Polynesia has only a few and they’re primarily domesticated. The real action is in the water. In our year there, we had amazing marine encounters in French Polynesia. This post features our best videos and tips of where to spot marine life from The Marquesas to the Society Islands.

Fun with Marine Animals

One of the highlights of living on a sailboat traveling around the world is getting up close with marine animals. After over four years on board, spotting these animals in their natural habitat still gives us a thrill! Turtles, sharks, and dolphins have been regular sights since the beginning, and rays and whales are more common since we’ve hit the Pacific. The South Pacific, so far, seems more untouched than much of the Caribbean. We love spotting marine life in French Polynesia just as much as everywhere else and here are some highlights.

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Four Years Living on a Sailboat

This may be hard to believe, even to us, but we are commemorating four years living on a sailboat. On December 5th, 2018, Brian, Domino and I moved onboard Sava in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and now we are in French Polynesia, on the same boat!

Four years ago Sava sailboat Florida
Sava when we first saw her in Florida. She’s come a long way

High Highs and Low Lows

We’ve had some high highs and low lows living on a sailboat. I’ve learned that in nature everything is more extreme. I have felt more awe and joy on the ocean and at anchor than I ever imagined, mostly when interacting with wildlife.

This year alone we experienced noteworthy nature shows. One of the most memorable was being surrounded by hundreds of eagle rays leaping out of the water in Las Perlas, Panama.

One of the highlights of our life on Sava: watching eagle rays leap out of the water all around us in Las Perlas
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Anchored in Fatu Hiva

We spent a few weeks anchored in Fatu Hiva, French Polynesia, exploring, meeting locals, hanging with other cruisers, and enjoying the marine life. It’s a beautiful island, like all the Marquesas, which is why we plan to return during cyclone season.


Marquesas Map
Fatu Hiva is the southernmost Marquesan island

Also known as Fatu Iva, it’s the southernmost island of The Marquesas archipelago. It’s a great place to start your entry to French Polynesia after the Pacific crossing, although you can’t check in there. Because we had to check into Nuku Hiva, we made it our final stop before The Tuamotus.

Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva
Approaching The Bay of Virgins, Fatu Hiva
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