Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands (Dec 8, 2016)

Dec 8 (Thu) - Bay of Islands
            Today we arrived in the Bay of Islands in the very northern part of the north island. We were the first group off the ship. We got on a tender and we were taken to the dock. It was raining today.

Tender loving care
 We got on a bus and then left on our tour half way across the Northland. We stopped in one of the towns for a washroom stop. Power was out on most of the northern part of the island.

Rainy day
Shopping center at the rest stop
We took the Manginangina Kauri Walk in the Puketi Rainforest. It was raining while we were there, of course. We had a guide that told us about the Kauri trees, their importance and how everything in the forest works together and supports each other. New Zealand did not have any mammals until man came to the island.
Manginangina Rainforest
Kauri tree
Tree toucher
We then stopped at a small town called Kawakawa. The power was still out across the north part of the island. We stopped here to get something to eat, but many places were closed because of the power outage. We did not find anything so we just walked around. The town had many strange sculptures, etc.
Lamppost on the corner
Logging is a main industry 
Washroom decor
After Kawakawa we visited the Kawiti Caves to see the glow worms. It was fascinating to look up on the ceiling of the cave and see so many points of light. It looked like the Milky Way. They are worms that form a web that insects get caught in and is their food source. It was fun to see. We weren't allowed to take pictures in the cave so we left the camera on the bus. I'll use a couple of pictures from the web.
Cave entrance 
Glow worms
 When the tour was over we returned to the pier. We took a shuttle into the nearby town called Paikea. We found a picture of New Zealand and a koauau (Maori flute). The power came back on in the store where we bought the flute.
Artist of our New Zealand painting
 We then walked back to the pier taking pictures along the way.
Street in Paikea
Christmas tree - blossoms in December
We passed by Te Tiriti o Waitangi, the place where the treaty was signed between the Maori and the English.
Maori monument
Signing house
 We finally got back to the dock, ready to tender back to the ship.

Maori canoe

We got back to the ship about 4 PM and went to get a hamburger and fries from the Mast Grill.

To be continued:

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Tuaranga (Dec 6-7, 2016)

Dec 6 (Tue) - at sea
            Today is another "sea day". We went to the spa today; Diane had a manicure and Paul had a massage. We also went to soak in the hot tub. What luxury! In the afternoon we attended a presentation on the life of Steve Irwin (the crocodile hunter). It was very  interesting.

Dec 7 (Wed) - Tauranga
          Today we stopped in Tauranga, the largest city in the western Bay of Plenty. We didn't see much of the city, just a drive-through on the bus.
Tauranga Harbor
 We took a 1 1/2-hour bus ride through the interior of the island toward Matamata. It seems like we are coming down with colds.
Houses on the bay in Tauranga 
New Zealand countryside
Our destination was Hobbiton. This is a farm owned by the Alexander family that was used for "The Lord of the Rings" films and the "Hobbit" films. It was fascinating to see this set creation. It was so neat. We saw the Birthday Tree, Bilbo Baggin's home, Samewise Gamge's home, and the Green Dragon Pub, where we were treated to Ginger Beer (non-alcoholic). They have houses scaled differently

Welcome to Hobbiton
Pathway to the village
Is anybody home?
Houses on a hill
A hobbit house
The birthday tree
Welcome to our little home
View across the village
Did this house shrink?
Best ale in Hobbiton

The old mill
Green Dragon Pub
Drinking Ginger Beer
 After Hobbiton we returned to Tauranga. We passed by a kiwi vineyard and some beautiful countryside. 
Kiwi growing
Houses in the country

 We returned to the ship for a late lunch at the  Mast Grill. We went to the Maori Haka show in the afternoon. The evening entertainment was Tom Burlinson (the lead in "The Man From Snowy River") singing the oldies swing tunes.
Volcano in Tauranga
 To be continued:

Saturday, January 28, 2017


Wellington (Dec 5, 2016)

Dec 5 (Mon) - Wellington

          This morning we docked in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. It is located on the southern shore of the north island.

Wellington from the ship
We took our tour bus to the Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa ("Our Place").

Te Papa Tongarewa
 The museum is large and had a lot of modern exhibits, but we liked the traditional exhibits the most. Some were considered sacred so they didn't allow cameras. Several paintings showed Maori culture. "The Widow" by Charles F. Goldie (1810-1947) uses symbolism to demonstrate conditions in Maori life.
The widow
Te Marae is a meetinghouse for Maori activities. The one in the museum was not the traditional mare.

Te Marae
Rubbing the lucky stone
Maori carving
We then had a ride through the city.
Wellington street
We visited the parliament buildings, which consist of three buildings: The Parliament building, the Parliamentary Library, and the Beehive (executive wing).
The beehive
The parliament library

From there we went to the Cathedral Church of St. Paul's, known as "Old St. Paul's. It was an early English Gothic-style church consecrated in 1866. We went in and sang "Silent Night" then our leader, Allen, asked if anyone played the organ so Diane raised her hand. They unlocked the organ and pulled out some Bach Preludes. The first was short and so she sight read it. It went well. It was a highlight and privilege for her. We bought some Christmas ornaments in their Christmas shop.

Old St. Paul's
Old St. Paul's interior
The world-renowned organist
 We went to Wellington Botanic Garden and had lunch in their cafĂ©. We had carrot soup and French fries with gluten-free toast for Paul. The garden a mix of protected native forest, conifer plantings, and plant collections.
Lunch at the Botanic Garden
A look through the greenhouse
In the rose garden
Paul at the fountain
A twisted sculpture
The garden is on a hill above the city. We took a cable car down the hill to the city.

View of Wellington from the hill
Cable car to the city
 The cable car let us out at Lambtom Quay where we had a chance to shop for souvenirs. Wellington seems to be a nice city.

Big foot on Lambtom Quay?
 We then got on the bus and returned to the ship. We had a chance to rest before dinner. We went to the show tonight called "La Zorza", which was two men singing oldies. There are actually three in the group, but the third one couldn't make it to the ship before it left the port. As the ship was leaving the harbor we were able to see the sun set over Wellington.
Sunset over Wellington

To be continued: