Crew members of the Hokulea have spotted Aotearoa Saturday morning (7:30 a.m. in Hawaii), which is the next stop in the canoe’s three-year worldwide voyage.
The Hokulea and its escort vessel Hikianalia are approaching the North Island of New Zealand after departing from the Samoan Islands on Oct. 16, according to the Polynesian Voyaging Society. An arrival ceremony for the canoes is planned for Nov. 15 in Waitangi.
Ka’iulani Murphy and Kaleo Wong, are navigating the two canoes from aboard the Hokule’a. They are relying on only the stars, the swells, seabirds and other natural cues — all while keeping track of the vessels’ speed and course — to get the crews safely to their destination.
"It’s an amazing feeling to pull islands out of the sea and I feel very fortunate to do so with this ohana on Hokulea and Hikianalia," said Murphy.
Bruce Blankenfeld, captain of the Hikianalia, said that this journey tested the skills of the apprentice navigators who had to endure unfavorable winds, cold weather, and 100 percent cloud cover on most nights.
"Through each challenge, they have proven themselves capable and ready to take on more kuleana," Blankenfeld said.
The Hokule’a’s previous visit to New Zealand took place 29 years ago, during its 1985-1987 Voyage of Rediscovery to retrace the migratory routes used by ancient Polynesian voyagers.
The Hikianalia was built in Aotearoa in 2012, and will be returning there for the first time since its birth.