Words by Bryson

Latitude: 35 deg 18.8 '

Longitude:174 deg 07.3'

Aotearoa, The Land of the Long White Cloud, loomed against the horizon, slowly growing larger and larger till it filled the horizon from north to south. We hadn't sailed into a land mass of this size since leaving Mexico some 6 months ago and as it filled the sky and horizon, the more daunting it became. "So that is New Zealand... right there " we pointed and mused. A weird feeling to finally be here.

Knowing we had friends on land watching us come in, we decided to show off a little and hoist the spinnaker for the 20 min downwind run into the bay, always nice to come in with a little panache. The facilities in New Zealand for yatchies are amazing and everything is extremely well laid out. Coming in later in the day, we were worried customs would be closed for the night and we would be forced to spend our first night in New Zealand under quarantine. Not the case, catching the customs fellows just as the were walking out for the day, they gladly came out and gave us an inspection, removed all remaining fresh food on the boat ( aka one cucumber ) and gave us our visas.

Our good friends, Shane, Jo, Mike, Addie, Deano and Mel were all standing on the dock waiting to pick us up and led us up to their beautiful houses for an ol' fashioned BBQ. Even while we were in quarantine, they managed to toss over a few Tui for us to enjoy while going through all the necessary paperwork. Sailing into Opua, after 13 000km, to see their friendly smiling faces was something I don't think any of us are going to forget soon. An amazing welcome to an amazing country.

Throughout this trip, thus far, New Zealand was always been this mythical place where we will live on land, fix everything on the boat, see friends and really consider ourselves having achieved something. I don't think that fact that we sailed Khulula, a boat we have owned for only 8 months, from Mexico all the way here really sank in for a couple days.

My birthday was just a couple days later, and sitting on my ol trusty Sitka board out in the surf at an out-of-the-way beach, I started to look around. The green rolling hills, the sandy windswept beaches, Hugh and Ryan surfing a nearby peak, and an upcoming front on the horizon did it really sink in for me. "We sailed to New Zealand, we really sailed all the way to New Zealand.." I thought. Three young guys, with nothing but an idea to sail around the world, and somehow we made it here. A long way from all the way around, but a huge accomplishment for us. Khulula is an amazing boat which keeps us going despite the weather and our tired miscalculations, Ryan and Hugh are my best mates and two friends that I know I can always rely on. They took me on despite on having sailed a cumulative total of one week before leaving, they taught me everything I know about sailing, they helped me when I was suffering from sea sickness and took my shifts... without them this would have been impossible. I owe all the amazing life experiences and sights I have seen, to two of my best buddies.

New Zealand is the end of the first leg of the OceanGybe Expedition.

We have learnt a great deal about boating, human spirit, each other and the ocean this year and manged despite a trial by fire. It hasn't always been easy but being able to share an experience like this with two of your best friends, is priceless...

Currently Khulula is berthed in spot C18 at the Opua Marina, due to be hauled out of the water tomorrow. We have completely gutted the interior, ripping out floorboards, roofing, hatches and anything else that we deemed necessary to be fixed. Now we begin the process of putting her back together stronger, more watertight and more "ours" than ever. More updates and pictures very soon...