Mar. 2006
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Check out Weeks ending:  [4 Mar 06] [11 Mar 06] [18 Mar 06] [25 Mar 06] [1 Apr 06]

3 Weeks ending 4 Mar 06 (Bob)

See the first few days of March on the Feb 2006 page.

Week ending 11 Mar 06 (Bob)

Medical Checks - After visits to a couple of doctors Bob and Judi have been pronounced fit so we have decided to escape the Northern winter and see how things are Down Under in our adopted homeland of New Zealand.

Trip Plans - We plan to fly to Auckland on 14 March and return to the UK on 11 April, arriving just in time for the Easter travel rush - we may have to re-think the return date.  In any event we plan to travel around the North island, visit friends, and look at real estate.  Since settling in NZ after our touring ends next year is one option we would like to find out what is available, what the pitfalls are, and what the costs are.  So, we plan 3 weeks on the road looking for a 'Fixer-upper' to keep us busy for a little while.

Internet - It seems we have spent all week sitting in Starbucks paying them for use of their internet 'hotspot'  Having decided to fly to NZ we now had to find the cheapest deals, make reservations, and communicate with friends - we are quite tired of Cafe Lattes!

Too Many PCs - Our laptop on board Long Passages has finally died - a long illness caused by rainwater soaking through the motherboard 2 years ago finally made it succumb. The LCD monitor suffered the same fate, developing streaks of bright colors to let us know it was unhappy.  Its replacement?

  • Travel Companion - Since we have been traveling with a heavy (6 pound) laptop we decided to go lite and bought a refurbished Dell weighing in at only 2.5 pounds. 
  • Navigation - However, Bob was not content with that so we also bought a refurbished LCD display and a laptop with a broken monitor to use for navigation - they were cheap but not light.  They will be installed semi-permanently on board and devoted to boat chores only. We'll see how that works.

Week ending 18 Mar 06 (Bob)

The Plan - We are contemplating returning to New Zealand when we complete our circumnavigation next year and so have taken this opportunity to check out property for investment, improvement, and living in New Zealand.  The NZ currency is somewhat high at the moment (compared to the US$) and house prices are high.  Conventional wisdom is that real estate may be headed for a hard patch in the near term, but all projections are subject to change at any moment.  We plan to look in:

  • Auckland - Preferably northern and western suburbs
  • Northland - Beach communities on both coasts and as far north as Whangarei.

For the moment we do not contemplate looking south of Auckland or as far north as Bay of Islands.

The Long Flight Home - We have never made this Odyssey before, 24 hours of flying in a 28 hour period, and a 12 hour time change to boot. We had the good fortune to fly Singapore Air, usually rated as one of the best airlines in the world, and it lived up to expectations - good food, comfortable seats, and attentive service.  Fortunately (for us, if not Singapore Air) on the leg from  London to Singapore each of us had 3 seats and on the leg from Singapore to Auckland we each had 4 seats - plenty to stretch out and get some sleep.  Changi Airport in Singapore was a nice break with plenty of duty-free shopping, bright flowers and relaxing Koi ponds - truly a world-class operation!

Happy to See Our Friends - In Auckland we were fortunate to be able to visit our friends Russell and Laonie, Best Man and Maid of Honor at our wedding.  They have a beautiful home in Milford on the north shore and we were able to stay with them for a few days as we recuperated from jet lag and re-oriented ourselves to the area.  Since we left they have become grandparents (see Ella on the front page) and yet are as busy as ever with golf and driving a thriving business.  On the weekend we shared brunch with Bev and Alwyn, Laonie's parents who have passed their high-activity genes on to their daughter - it was great to see them again.

House-hunting (Near Auckland) - We spent three days roaming the streets, visiting open houses, and talking with a realtor.  We quite like the area around Titirangi and Laingholm and found many properties we liked.  We had the misfortune of looking at a beautiful waterfront house as our first property and this set a standard that will be difficult to beat - and of course we could not afford it.  By the end of allotted time we had identified a candidate property in Titirangi, somewhat small but surrounded by trees and palms - a cozy cottage with potential to expand a little.

Week ending 25 Mar 06 (Bob)

House-hunting (Northland) - In our second week we drove north and looked at properties in Mangawhai, Snell's Beach, Taiwaka, Whangaparaoa, Manly, and other places in between.  We have found prices highest near Auckland and lower as we moved north.  Ocean views added $US 75,000+ to asking prices, and some properties were listed at unrealistic levels - $US 550,000 for a 2-bedroom cottage for example.  Prices are inflated from when we left in 1998, then a comparable property could be bought for $US 120,000.  We have found that a fixer-upper with views and a little space will cost from $US 200,000 and up.  Examples from our trip include:

 

Week ending 1 Apr 06 (Bob)

More House-hunting - During the week we roamed from Snell's Beach and Algie's Bay on the east coast to Murawai and Piha beaches on the west coast, and a few spots in between.  We confirmed that water-view was expensive, farm-land is less so, and towns away from Auckland are the least expensive.  Some of the houses we looked at

Catching Up With Friends - In 1994 when we arrived in New Zealand Chip and Leslie also arrived on the yacht Tamarac, with a little 'cargo' - actually beautiful twins-to-be who have grown to become bright and friendly Kiwi's in the intervening 11 years.  We were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit their new home in Warkworth for 5 days and had a great time.  Ashton is a whiz with computers, Katie has a new horse to ride with lots of room on their 92-acre farm and Colin, their 5-year old son is the ultimate car buff.  We had lots of enjoyable dinners and talks with all of them, and Bob departed with sore muscles after only one day of installing fence posts.  Our hats are off to them for keeping up the pace required to keep jobs, family, and a farm going all at once!

 

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