Category Archives: World travel

New Zealand: July 2019-January 2020

The second half of 2019 went on and seemed to do so quite quickly. We still went on our adventures, but it started to become just 3 of us, Christian, Taj and myself. Nina found her friends and she was at the age that she wanted to stay home. And Ellamae was back in the USA with her Papa. The term “Windy Welly” started to make its name very apparent in our area. Most days had at least 18kt blows, and if it was calm it was so only until mid morning. We continued to venture about, but the cold wind was already started to wear on us, especially living on the water in the winter and spring. With the camper “Sharkie” however, we still found warmer ways to get out and see New Zealand.

Most of our cold and dreary days between school hours were spent either at the library or at the huge indoor pool/aquatic center. The days when the weather was nice, we went out in nature. Taj loves his animals and his birdwatching from the hides. We also spent many hours at the skatepark.

Our other entertainment: the new dinghy, named “Bunghole” after one of Russel’s (the founder of OCTenders) original videos describing the amazing light weight hard tender. In his video he describes the importance of having a bunghole and having the bung in the bunghole. The kids always referred to the OCtender dinghy as “bunghole” ever since watching that video in 2015. So when we finally got one we named her “Bunghole”.

Our new tender was so much faster and more efficient than our 10ft Montgomery sailing dinghy. With Mana Island about 10km away, we were able to snip out there on a calm day without a hitch. What a beautiful place!

Nina getting all dressed up and pretty. She had her first “Formal” (known in America as “Prom”).

5 more months of Playcentre for Taj before he started into TeRa Waldorf school.

Taj’s “powhiti” (last day) at Playcentre.

A little morning outing just out of Mana Marina and a bit north.

Both “homes” in one picture. (I circled the boat with red.)

For the October school break we took a shorter jaunt to the Wairarapa coast. Nina stayed back with friends as we searched for waves with friends .

From the south coast of the Wairarapa, we wandered up to Castle Point. A long trek in ol’ Sharkie with strong winds and windy roads, but worth it!

Just a few boat life pictures: Taj sewed his own tooth fairy pillow. He also learned to make is own eggs. And as always, just being goofy with dad.

Halloween in New Zealand is trying to become a thing. There were only a few houses that participated. Was fun nonetheless.

Another Makara ride to do “star fish”!

In September and November of 2019, I had to fly to the United States for work related things like keeping up my nursing license and continuing education hours. I was very fortunate to see my parents, my “sister from another mister” Rachael, and few other friends.

There were a few weekends in November that I had off, but Christian had to work. So I took Taj on some adventures! This one was just up the coast from Wellington to hit up some mountain bike trails and some hiking trails. This trip we just took the car and car camped. We kept in minimal and had a blast. We stumbled upon the Atene Skyline Track in the Whanganui National Park. What a gem! At the top, we discover the Kiwi Guardian program, which encourages kids to get out in nature by planting these posts along the trail with a password on them. Once you have the password you go online, input the password and a cool wooden medallion is sent to you! Taj was hooked! We also met this group of women along the path that were in a hiking group out of Wellington. They just loved how into the hike Taj was, so they asked to take a photo with them. On the way back we stopped by a sushi place. Done a little differently in New Zealand, they pre-make the sushi and have them displayed to pick and choose. We also stopped by the historic windmill in Foxton.

On our next little November Mom and son adventure, we went to Putangirua Pinnacles (above) and (below) the southern most tip of the North Island called Matakitakiakupe (aka Cape Palliser).

And the same adventure continued to a MTB park, a hike up to an awesome viewpoint and quiet camping near Mt. Holdsworth . This was the Tararua Forest Park of the Wairarapa side. Loving this #camperlife !

Taj at Riven Rock MTB park.
4 way video call for Ellamae’s 12th birthday. We were all in different places; Nina at her friend’s, Christian and Taj at the boat, I was actually in California for work and Ellamae was in Florida with her Papa.

Nina’s 17th birthday! We kept it pretty simple with a mermaid birthday cupcake breakfast and dinner at Mama Brown’s with her friend Zoe.

Christmas time in New Zealand, means warmer weather and summer holidays off of school. Although school doesn’t end until closer to Christmas Day itself, we enjoyed plenty of warm weather activities. That being said, we found it hard to get into the Christmas Spirit with it being summer, because we had been accustomed to cold weather Christmas… winter, white, fireplaces, hot cocoa, etc.

Santa comes around on a Kayak here apparently.

Nina signed up for the Coast to Coast endurance race with her school! She was the biker of the girls team. The other two members kayaked or ran. She trained a bit with some longer rides, but nothing that would be like the actual ride. The race is a yearly event that starts with a bike course on the West Coast of the South Island, transitions to a running section up the steep and rugged terrain over Arthur’s Pass, and finishes with a down river race kayak section. Both girl and boy teams did great! The girl’s won first in their devision.

We volunteered driving our 7 seater wagon with Nina’s bike on top. The drive consisted of our first ferry ride over to the South Island, a drive down near the base of Arthur’s Pass, a drive over the Pass and back for the event and lastly down to Christchurch.

While we were in Christchurch we made a special stop to see fellow kid boat cruising friends that we met sailing in Mexico. SV Sangvind had sailed to New Zealand as well and were living on their boat in Christchurch. It had been about 3 years since we had last seen them in Mexico. (Sadly I did not get a photo of Sylvia and myself.)

The bathroom was through a “secret bookshelf door”… Nina was thrilled!
Can I “get fixed” please? Taj waiting for his morning cuppa at Get Fixed Bicycle Cafe.
Glimpse into Christmas morning 2019.
The Pōhutukawa (Christmas Tree) in full bloom.

That’s a wrap for 2019 in New Zealand for “A Family Afloat”. I’m sure I’m missing so much, but this gives a good insight to what we were up to. The next post we’ll be covering the first half of 2020. You’ll get to see more on the South Island when Mom Katie and Brother Phill come to visit, bringing Ellamae back with them. Also expect more adventures in Sharkie, and what it was like during the start of COVID in New Zealand.

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Life afloat in New Zealand: January 2019-July 2019:

I’m not sure what happen to the blogging, or lack there of, while we spent life afloat in Aotearoa (New Zealand). Truth be told, I quickly lost touch with the romanticism of cruising life and lost motivation to write about what we were doing. I still, to this day, am not entirely sure what and how to write about our time in New Zealand. And the longer it gets the harder it is. It’s not that New Zealand lacks in amazing things to write about either, and we did do a lot of amazing things! So here I am, finally sitting down with some room to breath and ponder what to write about our time afloat in New Zealand from October 2018 to October 2021.

We arrived into New Zealand late October 2018 and Christian and Taj made their way down to Wellington (south end of the north island). See this part of the journey here in which I did actually write about.

I’ve somewhat already summarized 2019 in this post here, but I mostly just posted photos without explanations/captions. Now with a little more time to write, I’ll give you more words and many more photos.

January is summer time in New Zealand and school starts at the beginning of February. Nina was set to start “year 12 in College”at Aotea College, which is junior year of high school in American terms. The school was not but a 10 minute bike ride from Mana Marina. Ellamae started in “year 7” at Paremata School, which was 6th grade. Her school was even closer, a short walk away. And Taj was still homeschooled for a short time and enrolled at a local Playcentre, which is a child led play-based co-op type learning center. I had started work on January 14th, 2019 as nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Wellington City. (Please feel free to send me a message if you have questions about nursing in New Zealand.) Christian ended up connecting with a Mountain bike buddy who needed help at his shop @getfixedbicyclecafe with bike mechanics and e-bike conversions. Our lives quickly became back into “standard life” mode, but of course not really, because when do we Lauduccikins ever do “standard”?!

6.5 months (January- July) went by super quick. A half a year into school, work, and life in New Zealand! I accepted a permanent position at my job since we felt confident that Nina wanted to finish high school there and we were enjoying exploring New Zealand on our vacations (called holidays there) from work and school. One really cool thing about Kiwi working and living, they sure do value their vacations. Every 8-10 weeks, the schools take a 2 week “holiday” and then summer is about 6 weeks. My holiday pay accrued quite quickly, so I was able to take time off (at least part of the time) during those holidays and go on family adventures.

Camping, hot springs, and Mountain Biking near Rotorua our first Autumn Easter in NZ.

Soon July would roll around, and it would be time for Ellamae to fly back to spend time with her Papa in Florida. New Zealand schooling was ok with her swapping back to homeschool since we were already registered as US homeschoolers and weren’t NZ residents.

It was our first winter there that we had bought a camper, named Sharkie. We realised that it cost us >$50 /night to sleep in a tent on the cold and wet ground. With a camper we could do what they call “freedom camping” there. With a self contained certification, there are loads of designated sites where you can just pull up in your vehicle and camp for the night. Most places are limited to a certain number of nights, some have very limited spaced, some are in a busy parking lot, and some are remote gems overlooking the surf break. They also have a motor caravan association called NZMCA , which gets you discounts on the ferries across the the North and South Islands, more options for private camping areas, and a few other cool perks as well. Sharkie took us on some amazing adventures and it started with taking Ellamae up to Auckland airport!

The rest of this post will just be more photos and captions. Enjoy!

New sites to take in and new birds to discover!

One week into being liveaboards at Mana Marina we were Bbq’ing and camping with our new fellow liveaboards.

We were so excited to have visitors from outside of New Zealand come and see us! Always fun to be a tour guide.

Christian went up to Paihia to grab our new dinghy , the OCTender that we’ve been dreaming about since we started cruising!

Some more scenes around Mana Marina.

More photos of Taj’s school (Playcentre).

July 2019 came quickly and it was time to take Ellamae to Auckland Airport to fly back to the US to spend the next 6 months with her biological dad. We left at the beginning of the Winter break in our camper for the first real adventure in “Sharkie”. After Ellamae flew off, we continued north all the way up to see our friend’s Russell and Karin of OCtenders and then west and back down!

And that about sums it up for the first half of 2019 in Aotearoa (New Zealand). I’ll admit getting this ready to post took a lot more time than I expected, but I sure did enjoy rummaging through the photos that jogged many amazing memories. It’s a good way to journal and it feels more “real” than Instagram or Facebook, but I do wonder…. do people even read blogs anymore? Please leave a comment on your thoughts on the matter.

Looking from the marina towards the town of Porirua.
Shawnigan nested in her berth (they don’t call them “slips” in NZ) .

Finally, we can let the cat out of the bag…

I know the suspense is high in finding out exactly what we’re planning to do next, but to be honest, we weren’t quite certain therefore we decided to wait to tell all.

Are you ready for it?!?!?!?!

We bought a new boat!!!! Her name is Malihini and she’s a Shuttleworth 35 catamaran. Yep, you ready that right, we bought a CATAMARAN and its official as of the 9th of October, she’s all ours!!!

During the latest lockdown here in New Zealand, it became clear to us that our nomad desires to set sail to new oceans and new lands would be very difficult and different with COVID lurking about. Sure, there are some places we could go, but we would likely to get “stuck” there like we are here in New Zealand. When I say stuck, I’m not really complaining about being here at all, it’s more that we can’t go visit family and then come back. So long story short, after many years of not seeing family and friends and no signs of that being a possibility anytime soon, we decided we will go back to the States for a while! That lead us to looking for boats to buy there. S/V Malihini was there waiting for us to find her in Portland Oregon.

Christian boarded his flight on the 10th of October out of New Zealand to fly to LAX on the 10th of October (time travel) , to drive up California to pick a few items for Malihini up along the way, see his dad and friend Jonah. He stocked up at Costco (picture a kid in a candy store after being in New Zealand for 3 years. Actually, Christian hasn’t been back to the US in 4 years!) Today, he drove drove up to our new boat … our new home! She’s been floating in Oregon, at St. Helens Marina, along the Columbia River, which is closure to the ocean than Portland is. He will get her all prepped and set sail to arrive in San Francisco with the earliest weather window.

More pictures of Malihini!!!

I can’t really describe the feelings we are having. It’s overall really exciting and we’re are looking forward to seeing our friends and family again. With the uncertainty of where New Zealand was heading (All things Covid related) it feels good to have made this choice. There will be many things about New Zealand that we will miss, to name a few: the Māori culture, the slower life, the clean and crisp air with its bright and vibrant colours, the accents, the not so crowded surf breaks, the bird songs, the happy cows grazing along with a billion sheep and many red deer. The list goes on, which is great, I’ll just have to finish my post about our time in New Zealand to show more about that. We made a few life long friends here too and parting with them (for now) has been hard, but it truly feels like we will return at some point to the lovely Aotearoa (New Zealand).

One step at time…. Or one ocean at a time. But first, Oregon to San Francisco!