Sunday, April 27, 2014

First stop ... New Zealand

After 2 days and 3 nights sailing pretty much due east, we rounded the northern tip of New Zealand on Monday morning (14 April) and soon found ourselves anchored in the Bay of Islands, which is quite a pretty area that has some historical significance ... the British signed a treaty with all the Maori tribes here after they had come and taken over their  country in the early 1800's.

We had to be tendered ashore here in the ship's lifeboats ... for non-cruisers, this is not an unusual occurrence as many smaller ports do not have big enough or deep enough docks for big cruise ships to tie up to.  The problem here was that it seemed like everyone on the ship wanted to get off straight away with the result that it took an unprecedented 2+ hours to get ashore ... it didn't help that tendering also had to be curtailed for a little while the crew evacuated someone on a stretcher into an ambulance waiting on shore.  For us, the delay wasn't a real issue since we had nothing specific planned, but for others, it became an issue anyway ... I felt sorry for the crew who had to placate the crowds and repeatedly explain that "sometimes, shit happens!"

Once on shore, we had a quick look around Paihia, which we had previously visited, before taking a ferry across the bay to Russell, which for a short time in the 1800's was actually New Zealand's capital.  Today, Russell is just a sleepy village that doesn't have a lot going for it apart from a wonderful seaside location.  Thankfully, it had quite a few cafes along the waterfront where one could enjoy lunch ... which we did!  While Janet checked out the local shopping scene (which disappointed), I took the opportunity to go for a walk around town to grab a couple of geocaches and take a few photos ...

Insert pics

The next morning (Tuesday 15 April) saw us in Auckland, New Zealand's largest city with a population of maybe 1.4 million.  As we have been to Auckland a couple of times, we opted to hire a car this time to explore the greater Auckland area.  We traveled to the north and went from the west coast to the east coast without seeing anything worth writing home about.  Still, it was an enjoyable drive into the countryside, which actually isn't much more than 15 minutes from the city centre.  We did take time to watch the kite surfers in quite breezy conditions on the beach at Orewa, and this view of Auckland Harbour and CBD (and our ship) from Wellington lookout at Devonport is hard to beat ...

Insert pic of Auckland Harbour view

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