16 April 2014

$6.50 For A Loaf Of Bread - I Think They Saw Us Coming

In order to make this full-time cruising thing work, we really need to live frugally and that means paying close attention to each and every penny we have and spending them carefully. I have a spreadsheet where I track everything we spend to a pretty detailed level, including the price of bread. Usually a loaf of bread in New Zealand costs us around NZ$3.50 - we have a few favorite brands and we typically buy whichever one is on sale. We've even purchased bread for as little as NZ$2.20, but to be honest the money we saved wasn't worth it. It tasted like a combination of cardboard and pencil shavings. So not yum. I'm pretty sure any nutritional value was overshadowed by the very long list of chemicals listed on the side of the bag. We won't be buying that brand again. 

Once you get out of larger cities and towns and into more provincial areas and remote anchorages on islands, you do expect to pay a bit more for bread. We've gone up to NZ$5.00 and sometimes even NZ$5.50. When we were in Whangaroa, we were a bit desperate for bread, so we hit the local general store. You don't often find price tags in these types of places and I made the mistake of not asking how much the bread cost before I carried it up to the counter. I assumed it would be in the NZ$5.00 range, so when the lady asked for NZ$6.50, I almost fell over. She didn't even smile or say "please" or do anything at all to take the sting away. I think she had heard our American accents when we came in, noted the look of cruisers we had about us and thought to herself, "Yep, they're foreigners. They'll pay $6.50 for this loaf of bread." And we did. I really need to get an oven on our next boat so I can bake our own bread.

Here is the latest on our adventures up in Northland. And, yes, the menu featured bread.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Waking up at our anchorage in the Bay of Islands, the winds were still forecast to be high with moderate seas, so at first we were going to hold off on an early departure, but in the end we decided to just get going. We left the Bay of Islands around 7:00 am and were treated to an incredible send-off by the local dolphins. Once you're had your coffee and are ready to go, you kind of lose patience waiting around for the weather to break. Fortunately, it was a good call on our part and the weather was fine. We made our way up the coast and then stopped for a few hours at the Cavalli Islands, had lunch and waited for the tides to change in order to make things easier to get into Whangaroa Harbour.

View from where we anchored at North Bay, Motukawanui Island in the Cavallis.
The Cavalli Islands are a small group of islands near Whangaroa. The Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, was scuttled in here 1987 and is a popular dive attraction. The Rainbow Warrior had been protesting the French government's nuclear testing in French Polynesia and was sunk by the French while anchored in New Zealand. Needless to say, this created a bit of a stir in New Zealand. Would you sneak into someone's garage and let air out of their tires because you don't like the fact that they don't agree with your politics? Of course, you wouldn't. Well imagine if a foreign government came into your waters and decided to start sinking ships. I don't think you would be too happy.

The aptly named Flat Island, which we saw on route to Whangaroa.
After lazing around in the Cavalli Islands, we pulled up the hook around 4:00 pm and headed off for Whangaroa, anchoring around 6:00 pm in Rere Bay. Whangaroa is someplace that Scott had really wanted to get to. We had been hammered by the weather all summer and were beginning to think we would never get that far north. But we finally did and it was definitely worth it. Some of the most stunning scenery in an anchorage that I have ever seen in New Zealand.  

Rere Bay, Whangaroa Harbour.

Friday, 7 March 2014 

The next day, we went for a little tour of the various bays in Whangaroa Harbour before anchoring near the wharf. Whangaroa is a great harbor with a number of bays to choose from, although I have to say that the Rere Bay and the bay next to it are the prettiest of the bunch. If you want to explore Whangaroa town, anchoring near the wharf is probably your best bet. You can leave you dinghy on the beach and walk along the water into the main center. Alternatively, if you just need to make a quick stop, you can tie up to the public dock at the marina for an hour and they'll even let you use their showers. Water is a bit hard to come by - you can't get any water at the public wharf or the public dock at the marina. Fortunately, we still had plenty of reserves so it wasn't an issue for us. But it was a good reminder to me that you just can't assume you can easily get water in every town, especially during a drought.

View of the Whangaroa marina
Although we didn't need water, we did need some bread and to find a place to get rid of some of our garbage and recycling. So we walked down the road carrying our plastic bags and found a place to deposit it near the Whangaroa Sport Fishing Club. Then we headed to the general store, forked over NZ$6.50 for the now infamous loaf of bread and then headed over to the local pub to drown our sorrows about the cost of bread. For the record, a handle of beer at the local pub is about the same price as they're selling bread for at the general store. I think, as a general rule of thumb, a loaf of bread should always cost a lot less than a beer. Whangaroa is the home of big game fishing and the pub has lots of cool looking fish mounted on all of the walls. 

Pub at the Marlin Hotel in Whangaroa
We had planned to anchor overnight near the public wharf but the winds started kicking up so we decided to move to a more protected anchorage for the night. We anchored at Waitepipi Bay (right next to Rere Bay) and not long after we had dropped the hook a couple came up in their dinghy and said that they had seen us back at Mansion House Bay in Kawau and again at Urquhart's Bay. Maybe they just think the little seahorse on the back of our boat is adorable and they keep following us around just to get a glimpse of it. 

After anchoring, it was an early night and, of course, dinner featured grilled cheese made with our newly purchased bread.

One of the previous owners painted this cute little seahorse on. It looks like they painted on the boat's name and former home (Waiheke Island) with leftover anti-foul paint. Very frugal and clever!


Total nautical miles = 45
New price point for bread = NZ$6.50 
Number of beers we had at the Marlin Hotel pub = 4
Cost of a beer at the Marlin Hotel pub = about the same as a loaf of bread

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  1. Once again, Ellen, you're killing me here! We have so many good memories of anchoring in Whangaroa off the Duke's Nose -- scallops and oysters! Yum! And one not so good memory that was funny in the long run. We were leaving the harbour and our engine stopped because my husband had the fuel tanks isolated and the one we were on ran dry (right in the entrance where you're surrounded by rock walls). It turned out well but it was a little nerve wracking at the time. Any thought on when and where you guys will land when you return to the States?

    1. Having my engine stop in a harbour entrance like Whangaroa is one of my worst nightmares! We really wish we had been able to spend more time in Whangaroa - such a great place. We'll initially head out to the Pacific Northwest as that is where our families are but we're still undecided as to where we should start looking for out next boat. Too many choices!

  2. Hi, just a random armchair wannabe cruiser at this stage of the game. I have heard of cruisers using box type solar ovens, could you possibly cook and make your own bread cheaper then store bought? Seems the box ovens work better then parabolics with rocking and all.


    1. The solar oven is a good idea - it is something I've been wanting to check out. I'm also really interested in those thermal bag cookers. Have you seen those?

      Any idea when you might make the transition from wannabe cruiser to full-time cruiser?


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