New Zealand is a wonderful place to visit! The people are kind and friendly, the scenery is varied and beautiful and the cities and towns are all clean! On our cruise, we visited 6 different places, in addition to Auckland, where we boarded our ship. New Zealand is an island nation with two main landmasses - North Island and South Island plus over 600 smaller islands. New Zealand was originally settled by the Polynesians about 1250 - 1300 BC, then sighted by the Dutch explorers in 1642 and then mapped by James Cook in 1769 - 1770. In 1840, it became a British Sovereignty and is now a British Dominion and a first world country.
After leaving Auckland, we sailed for Tauranga - the largest city in the Bay of Plenty on North Island.
North Island Ports of Call
Tauranga was a beautiful port town with lush greenery and a lovely coastline.
We walked along the wooden path and enjoyed the awesome scenery.
We also walked to the beach and then hiked up and out to a view point looking out over the ocean.
Our second stop was in Napier, located on the eastern coast of North Island. This picturesque city of 62,000 people, had to be rebuilt, after the 1931 earthquake levelled the city. Napier was rebuilt featuring the 1930's Art Deco Style.
It was fun to walk along the streets and explore the many shops here.
1930's vintage cars can be seen in the city and are available for a tour of the town.
The coastline beach was perfect for a walk.
Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and has a population of over 400,000 people. It is located at the south western tip of the North Island.
From the port, we took a bus into the city.
We explored some of the streets and shops, as we made our way to the Wellington Cable Car depot, where we boarded the train and rode to the top of the Wellington Botanic Garden.
At the top of the hill, there was also a museum with models of some of the earlier cable cars the were used in the city in times gone by.
It was a misty day, but we could still see some of the view of the city.
The botanical gardens were beautiful with such a variety of plants, flowers and trees.
The flowers and trees were beautiful!
We made our way down the hill to the greenhouse, which was filled with lovely flowers and plants.
There was a small group of cute, friendly Chinese ladies, and one of them asked to take a picture. I thought she wanted me to take a picture of them, but NO, she wanted to take a picture with me. I am not sure why, but after she had her friend take a picture of us, I asked her friend to take a picture using my camera.
Then I took a picture of them using my camera. They were so colorful and fun!!
We left the greenhouse and walked down the hill and into the city to catch the bus back to the ship.
On our way, we walked past an old cemetery and more beautiful scenery.
South Island Ports of Call
Akaroa was one of my favorite stops! It was gorgeous as we sailed into the harbor, with mist over the hillside and the aqua, peaceful waters.
After we left our ship, we walked along the beach and admired the views.
Akaroa is both an English and French Township, 52 miles east of Christchurch, New Zealand.
We visited the city library to use the Internet and then visited some of the fun shops, sidewalk sales and quaint homes, as we walked around the town.
We stopped at this pretty white church and peeked inside.
We made a long trek up a hill to visit The Giant's House.
The climb to the top was steep but worth the effort!
|The Giant's House|
Once inside the gates, it was a world of mosaic and landscape wonders!
Her home is now a tourist attraction as well as a bed and breakfast.
Trained in horticultural art, Josie did most of the landscaping. Digging in her garden, she found shards of lovely old china, buried because there was no rubbish collection in the early days. She used it to create mosaics. Her landscape has evolved and grown and her artwork now includes sculptures. The interior of the home contains many of Josie's paintings.
This mosaic piano was awesome!It was fun to explore this unique garden with beautiful flowers, shrubs, trees and of course all of the mosaic creations.
The photo below, shows another peek at the landscape that surrounds this area and a view to the bay.
After exploring The Giant's House, we walked back through the village and along the coast and back to the dock to catch the tender to return to our ship.
It was a beautiful day !
Our ship - the Noordam, as seen from our tender on the ride back.
The view of Akaroa as we sailed away that evening
Our second stop on South Island was Dunedin.
The sunrise, as we sailed into this harbor, was spectacular!
We took a shuttle into the city and noted the Scottish influence in the architecture, as well as the city's famous name. It is known as "The Edinburgh of the South".
Dunedin Railway Station
Gardens in front of the station
Interior of the train station
Cadbury has a factory and shop in Dunedin.
After we returned to the ship, we ate lunch and then went out again. This time, we walked to another church that was up a hill, not far from where our ship was docked.
It was a bit of a hike to the top of the hill, but the view was nice and we went inside to see the church - The Port Chalmer's Iona Presbyterian Church (built in 1882 & 1883)
Inside, there were two nice ladies there to answer questions about the church. I spotted a large pipe organ in the upper balcony and wen upstairs t to see it up close. While I was admiring it, one of the ladies came upstairs and asked if I wanted to play the organ. I was a little afraid to, but she encouraged me and said, "That's what the organ is for - to be played." She showed me where some music was and I experimented with some of the settings until it made a reasonably pleasing sound. Then I tried to find a hymn that I knew in the Presbyterian hymnal. There were a few that I recognized and played, and a few others that I tried to sight read. I'm sure there have been far better organists that have played this powerful organ, but it was fun for me!
Cruising Fiordland National Park - New Zealand
The next day we cruised into Milford Bay in the Fiordland National Park. The scenery was beautiful.
The water was calm and the low clouds and mist gave a magical feeling to what we were seeing.
As we sailed further into the fiord, we could see beautiful waterfalls and rock formations.
The fiords of the national park are called Te Wahipounami - the Maori word for "the place of green". They were named this because of the abundance of nephrite jade, that can be found in the rocks. This jade was used by the Maoris for tools, trade and jewelry.
After we left the national park, we began our trip to Tasmania.