We finally managed to leave Akaroa during a brief lull in the weather.  The wind had been blowing from the south west at 35 knots for about 3 days, with only minor respite, and as the long harbour at Akaroa faced south it was impossible to leave in these winds. We had been anchored across the bay at French Farm to stay out of the wind as much as possible, and set off immediately that it went calm.  We motored down the harbour to the entrance where it was quite "lumpy", with the southerly swell rebounding off the cliffs of the Banks Peninsular. The wind started to return very lightly at first from the north once we had reached the eastern side of the peninsular,then gradually backed to north west and became a nice sailing breeze.
At 1 am the south westerly gale came back again at 35 knots, hitting us like the proverbial ton of bricks - no gradual build up.  We reefed down to 4th reef in the mainsail, plus our small staysail, & a bit of headsail which we rolled out or in depending on the fury of the wind.  The good news was the wind was in the right direction and was going to blow for long enough to get us to our destination, Port Underwood. The night was cold, with occasional spray & light rain, but we were entertained by a lot of phosphorescent dolphins who zipped around us, jumping, diving, and tail slapping for several hours.
In the morning we were sailing passed Kaikoura with a backdrop of 9000 foot snow covered mountains, with albatross, prions, skuas, shearwaters and petrels flying around us and penguins & seals in the water.  The wind stayed with us all the way around Cape Campbell and across Cloudy Bay, easing up on the final approach to Port Underwood.  By the time we entered the heads it was pitch black, and we proceeded another 3 miles up the harbour to anchor in Hakahaka Bay. Our chart plotter took almost all the anxiety out of coming into the harbour in the dark, but it was interesting to see exactly where we had "parked" when we awoke next day. We were surrounded by tree covered hills, much of it pine trees grown for harvest, and the small settlement in the bay supported the fish farming industry.
We spent 2 nights here waiting for the gale to abate, then proceeded in light conditions to the narrow entrance into the sounds at Tory Channel - the tide can run here at 7 knots, so we timed it for low water to minimise the current.  The entrance looked narrow to us , but the inter island ferries come through as well.  Once inside it became dead calm, and we enjoyed the cruise along the fiord before stopping for the night at Nagruru Bay on Arapawa Island.  Another couple of nights here then onward to Kumutoto Bay, Torea Bay and finally the marina at Picton. The bays offer protection from most winds and there is plenty of choice in the event that the winds change.  Also the waters are much calmer than in the open waters of Cook Strait where it funnels between the North & South Islands. Some of the flora is native trees, shrubs, and tree ferns, but there is a considerable amount of pine forest on some very inhospitable slopes - it must make harvesting difficult.
So we will enjoy stocking the boat up with water, fuel, and food, then head off for a bit more time in Queen Charlotte Sound, before heading up the west coast of the North Island.