Akaroa, February 27th 2018
Dear friends and family,
We hope you are all doing fine.
Here, everything is going on well. We are just a little bit sad to leave Akaroa after 7 great weeks but the South island is calling us!
It all started on January 9th quite early. After a call and a few text messages, Roy, the captain of the sailing boat the Fox II invites us to Akaroa to maybe complete his crew.
As mentioned in our previous postcard, the Fox II goes out 2 to 3 times a day to see the dolphins in Akaroa's Harbour with 30 passengers maximum on board. Roy needs a crew of 3 to 4 people to help him navigate and take care of the passengers.
One member of the crew has just left and two of them will leave soon so we have the possibility to replace them.
We will be hosted at Chez la mer Backpackers which belongs to Roy. When we arrived there, there was only one bed left so we parked our van in the spacious garage and slept there.
In the end, we were very well in the garage so we slept in our van the whole time.
The next day, we met Sarina, an 18-year old german girl, who will be the 3rd member of the new crew.
The weather was not good at all and Roy had to cancel the trips. After all, it was better for us as we went on the boat with the captain and learnt the basics: we did some knots and sailed during 3 hours. We were a bit wet but very happy to start sailing!
The days follow each other but are not alike. Even if we sail in the same area, the colours are very different every time, we never take the same routes and the passengers are (almost) never the same. The captain's speech is the only thing that changes little. But we don't get tired of the stories of the Maori, French and English conquests nor of the captain's humour, or the music that embellishes the trips - mainly sailing music.
We don't get tired either of the Hector's dolphins (the smallest in the world) that we have the chance to see every day, Little Blue penguins, fur seals, local cormorants, or albatrosses that take the time to come and greet us when they are in the area.
We loved being on the water and learning to sail as well as meeting people every day. We met incredible people and shared unforgettable moments. You should see their faces when they saw dolphins! Shining! It was great being part of that kind of memories. It's also very rewarding to receive nice reviews or being thanked on TripAdvisor (you may see 1 or 2 pictures of us).
In short, it was a wonderful experience that we won't forget soon!
If you are going to Akaroa, we highly recommend a trip on the Fox II to discover this beautiful volcanic peninsula.
Here is a short summary of those 7 weeks on the Fox II:
- 75 trips in Akaroa Harbour and the South Pacific Ocean
- 280 hours spent aboard
- 1150 passengers welcomed (2 came back)
- 32 nationalities
- 614 hot chocolates made (we serve hot drinks on the way back of the trip)
- 492 dolphins seen
- 20-ish blisters each on our hands
- 10-ish bruises each
- 6 caps overboard (none of them were ours)
- 7 knots learnt
- 74 times heard the song 'Sailing' by Rod Stewart
- 1 vomit (we warned her she had to eat a ginger candy... it's a trick from the captain, apparently ginger helps keeping your stomach in place when the sea is choppy)
Finally, as Roy says at the end of every trip, we can write to our friends and family that we sailed on the oldest gaff-rigged ketch of New Zealand, with the smallest dolphins and penguins in the world, in the crater of an exctinct volcano and in the South Pacific Ocean (and all this, 75 times!).
When we were not on the boat, we discovered the region and spent time with people we met at the backpackers. We met awesome people. We especially got closer to other volunteers who work 2 to 3 hours a day at the backpackers and work in restaurants, cafés, gardens or on other boats the rest of the time.
We did a few nice hikes like Onawe, the center of the volcano, Children's bay and the rhino statue, Purple peak from where you have a beautiful view over Akaroa and the Harbour.
When the weather was too bad and we couldn't go on the boat, we stayed at the backpackers with the other volunteers, around a good chimney fire, playing crazy Monopoly games and tasting everyone's specialties (jam jams, pancakes, cookies to name a few...). It was so good!
We also went for Waitangi Day (national day) to Okains Bay, on the other side of the peninsula. We saw the arrival of the waka (canoe) on the river, we ate a hangi (barbecue under the ground - it doesn't seem very handy to check the cooking but actually the meat was very tender and the veggies very soft) and we saw a professional blade shearer shearing a sheep (apparently he holds the record of sheep sheared in one day!) and a demo of woodchopping. It was a cold and rainy day but very interesting and entertaining.
It's with a twinge of sorrow that we are leaving Akaroa. We felt really good on the boat and at the backpackers but it's time to discover the rest of the South Island before it gets too cold!
Lots of love,
Léonie & Baptiste