A US sailor and her four-legged friend Zia docked in Napier at the weekend as the charitable duo seek to raise awareness for kids in foster care.
Elana Connor is sailing a figure of eight around New Zealand to raise money for foster care charity Voyce-Whakarongo Mai on her 34ft blue yacht Windfola.
Connor, who was in foster care herself, said the mission is to inspire others to reach their full potential regardless of their upbringing.
"We're capable of incredible things," she said.
Connor's original plan of circumnavigating the world was thrown into disarray when Covid-19 struck.
Instead of docking her boat for good, she decided to make the most of her prolonged stay in New Zealand and planned her journey in support of Voyce.
Connor said while full on, she is thankful for her four-pawed companion alongside her on the journey.
"We were sailing from Mahia Peninsula to Napier, we landed a kahawai and she was so stoked, it was her favourite day. When we catch a fish it's like the best day of her life," she said.
"I always fish, but I don't always catch anything. The kahawai we caught was quite big and hard to eat in one day."
Connor said she has been blown away by the generosity of the New Zealanders, who've ensured she won't be going hungry in-between destinations.
"The Kiwis I've met have been so kind to share whatever fruit or vegetables they have from their gardens."
The next part of the figure-of-eight journey is a 250 nautical-mile journey to Waikawa, near Picton, through Cook Strait.
She said crayfish pots and other hazards will create the most nerve-wracking section of the four-month journey.
"I won't be sleeping for the 48 hours because I have to keep an eye on where I'm going at all times."
Being on the water with Zia means she never feels lonely.
"In a strange way, when I'm out there I feel closer to the people that I love because when I look around at my boat I can see them everywhere."
Since arriving in Napier on Friday night, Connor has been speaking with youth in foster care.
"I don't know if every Kiwi knows that there are kids who live in facilities that didn't do anything wrong and they're not permitted to receive hugs."
Between Napier and Hastings alone there are about 543 children in foster care.
Connor said she chose to sail for Voyce because of its work to help children in New Zealand that were just like her.
"They're teaching these kids leadership skills and giving them the ability to speak out."
Voyce - Whakarongo Mai kaiārahi Krysti Lloyd said Connor's efforts to help youth is inspirational.
"We had a barbeque and got to hear her speak to some young people. I think all of the staff were in awe listening to her. She's kind of our why too, she keeps us motivated," Lloyd said.
Connor's yacht and home of four years, Windfola, is a 1985 Sabre 34.