Month: March 2018

Tauranga, New Zealand

After being awake for several hours during the night coughing, I wasn’t in any shape to go on the excursion I had booked in Tauranga.  I went to the doctor, who diagnosed me with an acute upper respiratory infection and gave me a Z-pack and some cough medicine.  Carol was packed and ready to leave the ship that morning.  She had planned to fly home early from Auckland, but since Princess had cancelled our Auckland port, she was flying from Tauranga to Auckland, where she would spend the night before taking her flight to the U.S.  I spent most of the day catching up on the sleep I missed the night before.  I stood on the balcony and took photos as we departed Tauranga.  I didn’t want to subject our tablemates to my coughing spells, so I just got a piece of pizza from the Pizzeria on the upper deck near the pool and brought it back to my room.  I read for a while and decided to turn in early.

The next two days were sea days and we had some rough weather since we were going around behind a tropical cyclone that was traveling toward New Zealand through the Tasman Sea.  Good days to stay in and watch movies and work on the computer.  I didn’t try to post any new blogs because the internet was so slow and expensive.

I finally felt better and was able to join my fellow tablemates for the formal evening.  The next day would be our last day on the ship and we had a good time discussing our excursions and plans for travel after the ship docked.  I was returning to Melbourne for a few more nights to see more of the area and take another tour with AATKings.  Morris and Margaret’s daughter was meeting them at the dock, and Ray, Vanessa, and Tillie were flying back to Miami.  A text from Carol confirmed her safe, but delayed, arrival in San Antonio.

 

Tauranga Harbor
Diamond Princess Docked in Tauranga

 

Leaving Tauranga
Leaving Tauranga
Tauranga Sunset

Gisborne, New Zealand

A spectacular sunrise greeted us as we entered Poverty Bay, the anchorage for Gisborne Harbor.  Gisborne claims the honor of being the first city in the world to greet the sun each morning.   Along with 120 of our fellow passengers, we boarded the tender that would take us to Gisborne.  We boarded the beautifully restored vintage steam engine for the 45-minute journey each way to view a performance of the local Maori school children.  As an avid train enthusiast, I enjoyed every minute of the noisy, smoke belching trip across the Gisborne runway, through the country side to the middle of nowhere.

The young children and their teachers treated us to an interesting performance of their native songs and dances.  We had time to interact with them and our fellow passengers before re-boarding the train for our return trip.  The train was staffed by volunteers, who obviously loved their work and went out of their way to make sure we enjoyed the experience.

On the return trip, we exchanged seats and had an opportunity to view the country side from the other side of the train.  I took a photo of the white chalk cliffs of Young Nick’s Head, the first point of land spotted by Captain Cook’s cabin boy, Nicholas Young.  An unusual photo of our ship from the train looks like our ship is sitting in the middle of a field.

 

Gisborne Sunrise
Gisborne Sunrise

 

Tender to Gisborne
Kayakers in Poverty Bay
Native School Performance
Native School Performance
Native School Performance
Waving Goodbye
Young Nick’s Head
Strange Photo of Our Ship from the Train

Wellington, New Zealand

Carol was finally feeling better and we departed the Golden Princess for our excursion in Wellington.  Most of our first choices for excursions were full by the time we booked, so we chose an excursion to the WETA workshop and manufacturing facility for a behind the scenes look at the special effects used during 20 years of film making that included Peter Jackson’s movies such as Lord of the Rings, Avatar, etc.  Our host for the tour gave us a brief history of Peter Jackson’s career, explained the technology used, and circulated several props such as guns and swords for us to examine.

Our second stop on the tour was a walking tour on Mount Victoria to view some of the locales used in the Lord of the Rings movies.  It was a steep trek and we opted to wait, along with several others, at the bus.  Our driver took us to the summit for our final stop where were took photos of the area while battling gale force winds.  It was a bright sunny day so despite having to brace ourselves against the wind, we were able to get some great shots!

Wellington Tour
Wellington Sign

 

WETA Workshop
WETA Workshop
Tour Bus
Mount Victoria Sign
View from the Summit
View from the Summit
View from the Summit
Cricket Match
Roxy Theater
Wellington Tour

Akaroa and Christchurch, New Zealand

Akaroa is a tender port, so I was relieved as I watched the beautiful sunrise.  We had signed up for an excursion that morning, but Carol was too sick to go, and she decided to visit the ship’s doctor since she didn’t seem to be getting better.  His diagnosis was acute respiratory issues (in other words, bronchitis).  He gave her cough medicine and an antibiotic and signed her excursion ticket so she could get a refund.  I wished her a good rest and went to meet my tour group and make our way to the tender.

Our first stop was Manderly, a 750-acre sheep farm located on the shore of Lake Forsyth.  Ross, the owner, gave an interesting demonstration with the sheep dogs and his wife, Mary, served homemade lamb sausage rolls and shortbread cookies with tea and coffee from stoneware (no Styrofoam from this classy pair) in their lovely garden.  After a leisurely break, we boarded our bus for the trip to Christchurch.

Our driver, Joe, was a “jolly curmudgeon” who entertained us with lively commentary during the long drive over the mountains.  He drove us around Christchurch pointing out the areas damaged by the earthquake.  He pointed out the cathedral walls being held up by shipping containers until repair work could begin.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit the botanical gardens, museums, etc…we barely had time for a brief stop at the art museum for a short break before we had to return to Akaroa.  We were all disappointed that the tour had so little time in Christchurch.  We made it back to the tender and boarded the ship with minutes to spare.  Other tours were delayed and our tablemates, Ray, Vanessa, and Tillie, missed dinner.  Carol’s medicine was working and she didn’t feel up to going to dinner.

Akaroa Sunrise
Akaroa Sunrise

 

Akaroa Harbor and Tenders
Sheep Dog Demo
Lake Forsyth
Tea and Sausage at Manderly Farm
Joe, the Jolly Curmudgeon

 

Manderly Farm

 

Akaroa Tour
Akaroa Tour

 

Christchurch Cardboard Cathedral
Shipping Containers Holding Wall

 

Christchurch Art Museum
Christchurch Art Museum

 

House Across from Art Museum
Christchurch
Akaroa Sunset

Dunedin, New Zealand

Dunedin was our first port in the “land of the long white cloud”, but a pretty “pink” cloud greeted us as we approached the harbor that morning.  Carol wasn’t feeling well so she decided to cancel her excursion and rest.

The excursion included a visit to Olveston House, built in 1904-06 for a wealthy importer, David Theomin.  The magnificent 35-room Jacobean-style mansion was designed by London architect, Sir Ernest George.  The eclectic furnishings and personal items were lovingly preserved and provided an interesting perspective of the gracious lifestyle of the owners.

After a brief tour of the city, where we saw the long line of passengers waiting to return to the ship, we went to the Botanical Garden.  The Garden, established in 1863, boasted a large display of roses, camellias, and other native plants.  Floral photography is one of my favorites, so I was happy to take lots of photos, several with bees!

Back on board the ship, Carol wasn’t feeling any better and seemed to be getting worse.  I encouraged her to visit the ship’s doctor.

Dunedin Harbor Entrance
Pink Cloud over Dunedin

 

Lumber Stacked at the Port
Pink Cloud over Dunedin

 

Queue to Return to Ship

 

Dunedin Harbor
Dunedin Botanic Garden Sign
Dunedin Botanic Garden

 

Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden

 

Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden

 

Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden

 

Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden

 

Dunedin Botanic Garden
Dunedin Botanic Garden
Olveston House Tour

 

 

 

New Zealand Cruise

It was a beautiful Saturday morning and I enjoyed the taxi ride to the pier where I boarded the Golden Princess for our cruise to New Zealand.  Carol had flown from Christchurch, New Zealand, where she had been visiting her granddaughter’s family, that morning and was already aboard when I finally made my way to our balcony cabin.  Carol wasn’t feeling well and was coughing so she didn’t join me on deck for the sail away event held by the ship as we departed Melbourne harbor.  I took lots of photos of the picturesque Melbourne skyline before returning to our cabin to change for dinner.

We met the other passengers who would be sharing our table at dinner throughout the cruise:  Margaret and Morris, a lovely couple from the Melbourne area; and Ray, Vanessa, and Ray’s aunt, Tillie, an interesting, pleasant, threesome from Miami, Florida. Dinner was spent getting acquainted and we were pleased with the service and our friendly tablemates.  We decided to go to the ship’s theater for the welcome aboard show before adjourning to our cabin for an early evening.

The next two days were sea days as we sailed toward New Zealand and Fiordland National Park.  We spent the morning cruising in Milford Sound observing the breathtaking waterfalls surrounding us.  Carol was feeling feverish and coughing and spent most of the day in bed.  We left the Sound and within an hour the ship had to turn around and return to evacuate a crew member with a medical emergency.  Consequently, we missed Thompson Sound.  Much to our delight, a group of dolphins surprised us, coming up right under the ship and putting on a show for us, as we sailed through Doubtul Sound on our way to Akaroa.

 

Melbourne Skyline
Melbourne Pier

 

Melbourne Sail Boats
Melbourne Sail Boat
Golden Princess Atrium
Melbourne Sunset

 

Milford Sound Waterfall and Azmara Ship
Milford Sound Waterfall
Milford Sound Waterfall
Milford Sound Waterfall

 

Dolphins
Dolphin
Dolphin
Dolphin

Melbourne, Australia

My flight out of Honolulu was delayed so I missed my connection in Sydney.  I finally arrived in Melbourne at 10pm and after a lengthy taxi ride with a Pakistani driver, who was bemoaning the fact that he had spent two years in a detention center and had been waiting six years for an interview with immigration officials, I was glad to be at my hotel, the Mercure Welcome, in the center of Melbourne.  I was exhausted from the long flight and quickly unpacked and fell into bed.

The next morning, I started walking toward the Botanical Gardens stopping along the way to take a few photos of the National Gallery.  It wasn’t open yet, so I went on my way taking photos at the bridge over the Ybarra River (it was a little eerie realizing I was standing on the bridge where a terrorist had struck down and killed several pedestrians a few months earlier), capturing the red hat ladies at Flinders Street Station, and spending a couple of hours wandering through the Botanical Gardens.  I hopped on one of the free trams and got off at the National Gallery, where I viewed some interesting exhibits, before making my way back to the hotel.

The concierge at the hotel, Chris Pappas, was great.  I made reservations for an AATKings Tour of the Great Ocean Road the next day.   I also booked a tour with the same company for another all-day tour when I returned from my New Zealand cruise.  Chris recommended several restaurants a few blocks away on Hardware Lane.  I chose Max’s Bar and had some delicious cannelloni and a glass of Pinot Gris.  I decided to check out the huge shopping mecca, The Emporium, across from my hotel.  I found a place to get my nails done before heading back to the hotel.  My body was confused from all the time changes and I decided to put my feet up and relax for the rest of the day.

The tour of the Great Ocean Road was even better than I had hoped.  AATKings picked me up at the hotel at 7:30 and took me to their central distribution point where I boarded the bus for my tour.   Our driver, Steve, announced that we were going to do the tour in reverse to avoid some of the long delays and parking problems experienced the day before.  The weather was perfect, and I was able to take lots of photos while we were at the area called “the twelve apostles”.  We made several stops at “London Bridge” and other attractions before returning to Melbourne via the twisting, turning road that followed the coast line.

 

Ybarra River and Melbourne Skyline
Ybarra River

 

Melbourne
Red Hat Ladies at Flinders Street Station
Outside National Gallery
National Gallery of Victoria
National Gallery of Victoria

 

National Gallery Exhibit
National Gallery of Victoria
National Gallery Exhibit
National Gallery Exhibit
National Gallery Exhibit

 

Melbourne
Queen Victoria Gardens

 

Shrine of Remembrance
Shrine of Remembrance

 

Royal Botanic Gardens
Royal Botanic Gardens

 

 

Royal Botanic Gardens
National Herbarium of Victoria

 

Great Ocean Road Twelve Apostles
Great Ocean Road Twelve Apostles

 

Great Ocean Road London Arch
Great Ocean Road Tour

 

Great Ocean Road Tour

 

Great Ocean Road Tour Driver, Steve
Chris Pappas, Hotel Concierge