After the heat of Australia...we found New Zealand on the cool side. And very green!
No matter where you may live in New Zealand, you are always near the sea. The country boasts some 16,000 kms of coastline. And they all seem to love their boats!
Our first port of call on our cruise was Auckland, a city of 1.6 million on the north island....known as the 'city of sails' for good reason.
Auckland's Anniversary Day Regatta was happening on the very day we were to dock there, so our arrival had to be delayed for some five hours. This year's regatta marked the 179th edition..
...and the harbour was still full of boats when we arrived.
We were met at the dock by Sandy and Ian...our personal tour guides for the day. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Sandy was my next-door- neighbour during my school days and we had not met up for some five decades. She has lived in Auckland all her adult life, and insisted on being our hosts for our day in port. We had a great day! (And yes, they own a boat as well.)
From Auckland we sailed south to Tauranga....in the Bay of Plenty where Mount Mauao stands guard and beautiful beaches abound.
We walked off the dock and found a friendly local with a van who was ready and willing to give us a private tour (the best way to go!).
We visited a kiwi orchard...saw how they were grown and learned about the different varieties.
Who knew there were golden kiwis? So sweet and juicy!
We sampled kiwi ice-cream.
We viewed the area from Minden Lookout...
...and drove by dairy farms along the way.
From there we set sail for Wellington...
...the capital city that sits on Cook Straight.
We rode the famous cable car to the top and walked to the Botanic Gardens...
...where they were celebrating their 150th birthday.
...to gardens with upwards of 3,000 rose bushes, it was a most lovely stop on the trip.
I have long since forgotten the name of these blue flowering plants that are seen everywhere in New Zealand (apparently a weed, but quite lovely through my eyes).
Everything was lush and green...even the roofs!
The Te Papa Museum in Wellington is fabulous...and free. It was definitely worth a visit.
We also enjoyed a stroll along the Wellington Waterfront Walk...and watched 'boys being boys'.
Next stop...Akaroa, a wonderful little French town on the Banks Peninsula of the South Island.
Akaroa is known for its fabulous gardens and historical homes.
It was a great place to stop and 'smell the roses'!
Akaroa, which means Long Harbour in Maori, was a lovely stop along the way.
Our last on-shore excursion of the cruise was at Dunedin. There we got on board the train and rode the historic Taieri Gorge Railway...
...over viaducts and through tunnels along the fabled route of pioneers and prospectors of the 1880's.
Cattle and sheep roamed the countryside...
We ended our full day excursion back at the beautiful Dunedin Train station where we began...with a young bagpiper serenading us on the front lawn.
Logging is huge industry in New Zealand. Near every port, one would see piles of logs waiting to be shipped to market. The plantation forests are mainly Monterey pine which can be harvested in about 20 years.
Our last day in New Zealand was spent sailing past the fiords and islands of Fiordland National Park...a Unesco World Heritage site.
It was great to be on our deck, watching the seals lying on the rocks...
...and checking out the mammoth waterfalls we passed by.
There are fourteen fiords in the park, some reaching 40 kms inland. It is an unspoiled paradise of ancient rainforests, shimmering lakes and granite peaks. We feel privileged to have seen it.
Our last few days on the Majestic Princess were sea days...heading back to Sydney, Australia where we began our voyage. It was a lovely ship...with staff always visible and ready to serve.
And the food. What can I say? We were so spoiled!
We dined with our friends every night at an ocean view table...and soon got to know the Croatian folks seated next to us. We were sorry to part ways after our last supper.
But 'all good things must come to an end'.
And that is just a wee glimpse of our visit to New Zealand.
Cruising does not allow for any flexibility in schedules...
and there is no extra time to wander or get lost.
But the advantage is that we were able to see both islands...
and did not have to worry about a car (or driving on the wrong side of the road) or switching hotel rooms every day or two.
Our cruise was a great introduction to New Zealand...
and maybe one day we will explore more!
And with that...I will end my blog posts of our time 'down under'.
If you missed any of the earlier ones, they can be found here:
Thanks for following along!