Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wellington, NZ

When we woke up this morning, we were arriving in the harbor which brought us in to Wellington.  This city is located on the south end of the north island.  After breakfast, we were able to walk off the ship and do our own tour of the city.

It was cold and windy, so were were bundled up as much as possible.  I have to admit, I was more prepared for summer weather than for spring rains and winds!  But it was nice to walk along the waterfront in Wellington.  The boardwalk was inviting, and I imagine it would be bustling with people enjoying the water and outdoor restaurants on warmer days.  We shopped a bit in some interesting boutiques as we made our way to the Te Pa Pa Museum.

Along the waterfront...

The museum had 6 floors, but the top two were mainly observation decks.  The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors had the best displays.  These featured the Maori culture and history.  A long boat on display was very impressive, both in length and craftsmanship.

The port at Wellington; see our ship docked there?
Next we walked into the busy city center to find the Cable Car, which we rode to the top of the hill. What a nice view of the bay.   From there, one can walk back down to the city center by way of the Botanic Gardens.  It was a great way to enjoy the green space in the city; I was impressed by the variety of trees, ferns and plants. 

I believe we walked 10 miles today!  I was very ready to get back on the ship, out of the wind, put my feet up, and relax.  Before we boarded the ship, the crew was there to offer us a half cup of hot chocolate! Yum. 
Walking down through the Botanical Gardens.

This sundial that was very accurate, making adjustments for each month of the year.
As we walked back through the city toward the ship, we passed Wellington's Parliament building.

Their Parliament building is called The Beehive.

I liked these stone sculptures on the grounds behind The Beehive.

After a brief rest, it was time to get dressed for another fabulous dinner.  The evening's entertainment in the theater was violinist, Jane Cho, on an electric violin.  Amazing!  After her show, the crew hosted another fun show they called "Dancing with the Stripes."  (This was a take-off on "Dancing With the Stars")  Passengers could sign up to be paired with one of the chip's crew members.  It was very entertaining....

Monday, December 23, 2013

More from Akaroa, NZ

Greg and I walked up a steep street to a tourist attraction called the Giant's House.  The house and gardens are built on a beautiful hill overlooking the bay.  I think you'll find the whimsical giant structures, decorated with mosaics of pottery pieces to be enchanting.  This was a little girl's dream to create this fantasy garden, and she made it come true! 

We walked back down to the waterfront, finished up a bit more shopping, and then boarded the tender to get back to the ship.  The color of the water was so memorable...couldn't stop taking pictures to try to capture the beauty around us.  That afternoon, the clouds rolled out, the sun warmed us up, and it was a treat to hang out on the ship's deck and soak it all in. 

Again, this was my favorite port...would loved to have had more time here. 

Friday, December 20, 2013


The next morning ( Nov. 12, 2013) the ship arrived in Akaroa, NZ.  The boat was anchored in the bay, and we were instructed that we would be "tendered" to the dock.  OK, this was a new term for me.  So, when it was our turn, Janet, Greg, and I got on a tender (a small boat that ferried us to the dock). 

Just as we were getting ready to leave, the captain of our tender said, "I am Costas, your Captain...blah, blah, blah."  Admittedly, after I heard the name Costas, I didn't recognize another thing he said.  It WAS Costas, the handsome  Greek Captain we'd seen on the bridge tour.  I turned to Janet and told her I was going to be brave and bold...and when we got to the dock, I was going to ask Costas if he would take a picture with me.  All I could think of was how funny it would be to show Enid that I got my picture!!

Of course I had to wait until everyone found their way off the tender...but I waited...and got my chance.  Costas was very gracious.  So, gals, here he is. 

OK, now on to the beautiful town of Akaroa.  It's only a town of about 1,000 people.  It was quaint and beautiful, and we had a lovely time shopping and walking around town.

The tender is at the end of the dock (orange and white).

Boats in the bay at Akaroa.

Here's where we had lunch, a fish and chips special.

The view from our table.
We found really good shopping here at the "Fire and Ice."

More to come...

Monday, December 16, 2013


Entering the harbor at Dunedin, New Zealand.

After 3 full days at sea, rain, and pretty rough waters, we arrived in Dunedin, a city on the southeastern seaboard of the south island.   We had plenty of time that morning to eat breakfast and visit as we were scheduled to catch at transfer bus into the city center at 11:00 a.m.

Here's looking at hillside above the dock area at Dunedin, where we got off the ship and caught a transfer bus.

 It was a 20 minute ride, and we were dropped off at the Octagon, a city center/park in the heart of the city.  Dunedin has retained its distinct Scottish roots.  When settlers first arrived here, the anticipated that the gold rush would provide rapid growth, and they urged British authorities to quickly draw up plans for the town.  However, the Brits did not take into account the actual topography of the land, so many streets in the city go straight up very steep hills.

Janet and I went into St. Paul's Cathedral.  And we saw the statue of the poet Robert Burns there too.  Next, we simply started looking around in the shops, hoping to find some gifts and souvenirs.  I also searched out a yarn shop and bought 2 balls of lace yarn that's a blend of cashmere, possum, and silk.  Oh, so soft.
This is a government building on the Octagon.  We liked the red phone booths!

Jan and I ate lunch at the Little Sugar Cafe.  Nice!  Tasty! 

This was Nov. 11, and New Zealanders also recognize Armistice Day;  we witnessed a 2 gun salute, silence, and bagpipe music in the park.  Later, as we were preparing to catch the bus back to the ship, we saw that what appeared to be a college-age student was playing the bagpipes for tourists.

I did notice something a bit strange that day.  While I was standing in shops, I would have the feeling that the "ship" was rocking and I needed to brace myself for this uneven movement.  Crazy, man.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, Dusky Sound

I got up early, so that Janet and I could get breakfast about the time we would arrive at Milford Sound on the west coast of the southern end of the south island of New Zealand. (New Zealand is made up of two islands: north island and south island.) It was all new to me that New Zealand has only been around for something like 1.5 million years; the islands were pushed up out of the ocean, and are relatively young. (Australia is something like 5 billion yrs. old.) Thus, we would be seeing some very pretty fiords in the sounds we would be visiting today.
I braved the rain, with umbrella and camera in hand.

It was overcast and rainy.  That seemed like it should be a disappointment, but we were assured that because it was raining, we would see the best waterfalls on our journey through the sounds.  It was so interesting that these photos look more like black and whites, rather than colored pictures.

How about this for a "selfie"?

First we went into Milford Sound, dropped off some folks who were going to take an overnight excursion and meet us the next day.  Then, we turned around and went back out to the coast, where we followed the coastline until we came to a passageway that took us through Doubtful and Dusky Sounds.

This pic was taken off our private balcony.

We did see many, many beautiful waterfalls.

Once we came out to the ocean again, we sailed around the southern tip of New Zealand and headed for Dunedin on the east coast.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Crossing the Tasman Sea

The rough waters continued as we crossed the Tasman Sea.  No, I did not suffer in the least; no sea sickness.  I was just fine, rolling with it.  But, I found I was walking like a tipsy party-goer.  Having the challenge of  keeping my balance as the ship rocked really cracked me up.

Just to answer a question: yes, I did buy a couple of bracelets.  The shopping on these two days at sea was pretty exciting.  Pearls and opals were available (fun to look at, but didn't seem like a hot deal to me), as well as scarves, gloves, purses, pins, necklaces, and watches.  Lots of watches.  Yes, I bought a Citizen watch (Eco Drive) which doesn't require any batteries.  Love that feature!  

The Casino... I walked through...but no gambling for me.

The morning also included a talk from Naglii, The Maori Kiwi.  He gave fascinating lecture about his tribe and also about his journey to becoming a spokesman/ambassador for his people.  Later, I attended a presentation on Opals.

After lunch, our tour group of about 30 people were invited by the Captain for a tour of The Bridge.  This is where the Captain and his team of navigators (Assistant Captains) steer the ship and take care of all the logistics necessary for safe passage over the seas and in to ports.  The Captain himself welcomed each one of us individually on to "the bridge" and then introduced one of his Assistant Captains, Costas.  Costas was Greek...OK maybe a Greek God! LOL.  Anyway, Costas showed our group the navigational and steering instruments and the general area where all the information they need is received and transmitted.  I did not realize that every time this ship enters a port, a pilot from the port is brought out to the ship, and he boards and pilots the ship in to the dock.  By law, this must take place at every port, even if our own Captain has been to this port numerous times. 
From "the Bridge," looking forward to the bow of the ship. 

Here we are on "the Bridge." Those looking out the windows to the left are looking toward the bow.
From "the Bridge" one could also look back and see the side of the ship, the lifeboats, the stern.

Before we left "the bridge" the Captain allowed us to take a picture with him if we so desired.  I did not do this.  I was thinking...I'd like my picture with Costas!  But I kept that to myself.  Later that night at dinner, another of the gals at our table, Enid, and I compared notes for the day and both mentioned that we missed a great opportunity to get a picture with the Captain...Costas!  We got rather silly and ribbed each other about it throughout dinner.

Marilyn, our head waiter Ryan, and Enid.

Janet, our waiter NaPaul, and Greg
Dinner that night was another of our formal nights (we had 3 formal nights).  Everyone looked so nice! Again, the entree choices were phenomenal and all tasted exceptionally delicious. After dinner, we went to a show titled "Pulse" in the big theater. The performers were the Solstice Stars; they had awesome singing and dancing.  It was another rough night at sea.  We later found out that there have been times when the sea was so rough, they had to cancel dance or acrobatic performances for safety reasons; it was at those times, they hoped they had a comic or magician on board, and they could reschedule the performances.

More to come...