Week 2 November 2014:
We are still cruising along the east coast of New Zealand. The first day of the week was spent visiting some of the sights of Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. We travelled via cable car, over 100 years old, to Kelburn Lookout where there is a panoramic view of Wellington.
From there we walked through the botanic gardens to the Wellington CBD. This is another beautiful botanic garden with splendid plants and an Australian section where we saw a Tui (Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae), a large NZ honeyeater, feeding on the flowers of a Homoranthus sp.
In the CBD we saw the Beehive; this is the common name for one of the buildings of the New Zealand Parliament. It is so-called because of its shape is reminiscent of that of a traditional woven form of beehive.
We visited two museums. The Wellington Museum is one of the 50 best museums in the world. There were very interesting displays including a Wellington timeline. Next stop was the New Zealand Museum. The eye-catching display was a preserved giant squid caught south of NZ. The squid was at least five metres long.
The ship left Wellington at 6pm.
Next day we docked at Napier at 7am. Napier has an interesting history. In 1931 the CBD was destroyed by a force 7.8 earthquake that lasted two and a half minutes. There were over 200 casualties and is New Zealandís deadliest natural disaster. The CBD was rebuilt in the 1930ís during the Art Deco period. This area is now regarded as one of the finest collections of Art Deco in the world.
On a walk around the CBD we were very impressed by the variety of Art Deco buildings.
We set sail from Napier about 4 pm. The sea became a trifle rough and seasickness was prevalent.
By 9.30 am, the next day, we docked at Tauranga one of New Zealandís busiest ports and the gateway to Rotorua and the thermal area. We had booked a tour that would take in Rotorua and surrounding areas. The first stop, on the tour, was a kiwi fruit farm where we sampled various products made from this delicious fruit. From there we had morning tea at a hotel that overlooked the thermal area. Whilst there the main geyser put on a splendid display shooting steam many metres into the air.
When walking around Rotorua you see steam coming out of drain covers and cracks in the road. It must be like living on top of a pressure cooker.
Our final visit, on the tour, was a walk to the Hangarua Spring. The spring produces 4 million litres of crystal clear water per hour. The water travels underground from a distant plateau and takes 70 years to reach the spring.
To reach the spring we walked through a magnificent American, Coastal Redwood Forest. The trees, in the forest, were planted in 1919 and are 55 metres tall. This was a truly majestic walk.
The ship was an hour late leaving tonight. A member of our tour group disappeared. He finished south of Rotorua and the ship waited until he was brought back.
At Tauranga a sister ship, Dawn Princess, also docked. This meant that up to 4000 visitors would be helping the local economy.
The next day we docked at Auckland at 7am. We left the ship at 9 am and caught a shuttle bus to a drop off point where we visited the Winter Garden. The garden consisted of two large glasshouses filled to the brim with colourful annuals and perennials. There was a dazzling collection of Mimulus known as Monkey-flowers. Most species occur in North America with a few species from Australia.
At the dock we watched, with interest, a cargo ship unloading hundreds of cars. Throughout our cruise we were interested in the workings of a number of wharves when we docked.
Another 6pm start this time from Auckland harbour.
Our finally stop was the Bay of Islands in the northern end of the North Island. The ship moored offshore and we were taken ashore by the shipís tenders.
We were taken by shuttle bus to Paihia where we wandered around a craft market and had a short bushwalk. On the walk we saw a number of tall Kauri (Agathis australis) trees. These conifers are native to the north island of New Zealand.
The Bay of Islands is well named with 144 islands within the extensive waterway.
We said farewell to New Zealand as we set sail for Australia. Two days were spent crossing the Tasman Sea.
On the last day of the week we left the Sun Princess at the White Bay Cruise Terminal. It only took 15 minutes to clear customs etc.
Our shuttle bus was waiting and took us back to our daughterís place in western Sydney.
This was our first cruise; we enjoyed the experience and would probably go again. We were impressed by the efficiency and friendliness of the staff. The food was superb with high quality and quantity at all meals.