New Zealand Observations

New Zealand is an interesting country. Seems very first world in some ways. They have good medical care and supportive services such as free mammograms for all between certain high risk ages. Rates are also reasonable. For instance Sander and I will both be able to get cleanings and check ups at the dentist for under $100 USA. Also have library services for all but not totally supported by taxes. Lots of the services from the library have small charges such as music rental and video rental. The retail business is quite different. They have auctions for everything and the auctions are very popular. We are buying a 1997 Mazda compact four door in good running condition for $1005 US. All cars have to pass a test every year to prove their value. Liability insurance for this car will be $150 for six months. We hope to use it for 3 months and then sell it. Hope to have enough money to travel a little and see some of the country. That remains to be seen because of all the money-outflow to get projects done.

Sander is now working on the pilot house windows. The frames need to be stripped and then anodized. Sander will do the work to sand off the old clear coating and some of the anodizing and then they get sent to Auckland to have them acid dipped and re anodized. The seals need to be replaced also and we are trying to deal with VETUS to get the material.

In some ways the country seems very behind the times. It is not uncommon for businesses here in Whangarei to refuse credit card payments. If they take the card you must pay some interest. For instance the primary travel agent here in Whangarei charges 1.5% interest on any charge made on the card. There are other banking problems also. We got a cash advance at an ATM when we first arrived here. It was for about $180/US. For some reason there were eight (8) authorizations for this amount. Don’t ask us how it happened – we cannot imagine how a machine could cause that problem. Anyway, each authorization ties up the cash in your account for that amount – TOTAL tie up was $1,440. After a few days the authorizations die. Problem was that the travel agent here swiped our credit card twice and tied up our charge for Jane’s flight home for $1500 times TWO. All of a sudden we had no balance left in the account to work with.

One thing I love about New Zealand are the second hand book stores. Anything to recycle is high on our list!

There is also a copy store that has the big machine to do charts. They have tons of charts in memory on their computer – attained by scanning charts that have come through their door to be copied. All of the charts that they have in computer are listed in a catalogue. If you want a certain chart, just go in and tell them which one. You get it just for the price of the printing. FABULOUS! They say that there are only two other copy stores in the world that offer this service – one in Peru and ??? I forget the other. I have recently heard that they also have cruising guides in their computer for copying. Is nothing sacred any more? Got to check out that rumor as there is a fabulous cruising guide for New Caledonia that I would like to have.

We are between a set of four pilings here in Whangarei (35 degrees 43 S and 174 degrees 19 E). Have to dinghy into shore.

Population 45,800, the town is way up the river. There are five haul-outs here and four marinas. We are in the Town Basin Marina – the cheapest (of course). Rent is $183/month with no electricity. We can get water from the dinghy dock. Some people actually run hoses under the river to fill their tanks. There are shower facilities (32 cents US for eight minutes of hot water) and laundry facilities ($1.30 for wash and $1.30 for dry). The staff is very friendly and helpful. The marina manager used to work for New Zealand Customs Dept. Early everything that you could ever want for a boat is available here. One in three New Zealand citizens own a boat.

Lots of Germans here this year and quite a few Americans as well (mostly west coast folks). The river really suffers from all the boats moored here. Silting in is a continual problem and access to the lower end of the river must occur now only at high tide. Don’t believe that the town officials want to spend the money to dredge so it won’t be long before Whangarei will be a thing of the past – TOO BAD!

It appears that I am ranting on as well. When you wrote, “ Tell us about  New Zealand.  Is it as nice as we hear? How is the harbor and where you are etc.” you can see that I get carried away answering. Wish you could visit and see some of it yourself. The scenery is Knock Down Gorgeous! And the climate is great. Summer and winter the temps are within the 65-85 degree F range. Can’t beat that!

Jane and Sander