"error resolving pool 0.freebsd.pool.ntp.org" at startup

This is a 12.0 vm install from .iso on vmware that has been updated to p6.

ntpdate and ntpd are enabled in rc.conf but ntpd complains that it cannot resolve "0.freebsd.pool.ntp.org" during startup.
However, when I manually stop and restart ntpd it is able to resolve it:
named[611]: running
ntpd[692]: ntpd 4.2.8p12-a (1): Starting
ntpd[693]: error resolving pool 0.freebsd.pool.ntp.org: hostname nor servname provided, or not known (8)
su[807]: john.blue to root on /dev/pts/0
ntpd[693]: ntpd exiting on signal 15 (Terminated)
ntpd[830]: ntpd 4.2.8p12-a (1): Starting

I have tried different nameserver settings in resolv.conf .. GUI, RFC1918 and While all nameserver settings work, resolving on startup does not. I have also disabled pf from starting without success.

It feels like it is going to be something obvious that I have missed but right now, at this late hour, I am not seeing it.

Same here on 12. I tried switching to chrony which does the same thing as ntpd, but its patient and waits until DNS is available.
DNS is available all the time. You can try that by service ntpd restart and you will see the same problem.
It think chrony may be trying a different name resolving route and that makes it work then.