A Travellerspoint blog

The Other Face of Tauranga

Monday, 24 December 2012

View 2012 New Zealand Christmas on greynomadm's travel map.

The Sea Princess encountered some rough seas overnight but conditions had improved by the time we arrived at the Mount Maunganui Wharf. The overcast and fog of yesterday has transformed to a steady drizzle however. Both sides of the promenade deck was wet this morning and made the early morning walk questionable. Overall a total contrast to when we were here just a month ago.

Spent the morning watching people going ashore with raincoats and umbrellas. One of the disadvantages of prepaid shore excursions you don't get a refund if it is wet. After lunch the sun showed signs of breaking through so we went ashore and did a walk through Maunganui and back to the ship. It wasn't raining but the humidity was like being in North Queensland.

Formal night tonight and Carols in the Atrium at 1915. Might be a great spectacle if there's a vantage point.

Dinner was excellent, my main course was lobster tail and king prawns, as large a seafood meal as I've experienced. The Christmas Carols were quite spectacular with most of the ship's officers forming the choir their white dinner jackets offset by red pixie hats.

The production show has been postponed to another night because the ship's movements could be hazardous for the dancers. Wouldn't want to break any of those pretty legs.

There was a small Christmas stocking on Jenny's pillow when we returned to the cabin. We decided to call it a night so this is the last thing I'll be doing tonight.

Tomorrow we'll be in Auckland, celebrating Christmas aboard. To any and all who read this, I wish you all a very Merry and Enjoyable Christmas.

More tomorrow.

Posted by greynomadm 00:06 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Pretty Napier

Sunday, 23 December 2012

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Early morning laps on Deck 7 and watched the harbour pilot approach, board and depart, The whole operation over with in just minutes. The totally calm sea no doubt made it easier. The ship was escorted into the wharf by two tugs, this is unusual as the Sea Princess is normally quite capable of berthing herself. Just before 0700 we were all tied up.

Off to the buffet for a quick breakfast and then to the dining room to collect a shuttle bus ticket. Arrived there and we were waved through, no waiting and straight unto the complementary bus. A shot trip into the 'i' centre in town arriving there about 0815. Napier is amazing in the way they organise things for the cruise ships, volunteers everywhere to advise, explain and give directions.

We wandered down Marine Parade and stumbled upon the Sunday Markets, Interesting collection of craft, junk and food stalls. An interesting mix of locals and cruise ship tourists. Walked down Emerson Street which was decorated and quite lively despite the early Sunday hour.

By about 1030 we were ready to return to the ship. I wrote up part of this blog and downloaded my photos and it was time for lunch. If you get the impression that this cruise is all about breakfast, lunch and dinner that's about right !!

We were up on Deck 7 to see the vintage cars and the jazz band that bid us farewell as we left Napier at about 1430. There wasn't much to do during the afternoon and we'd decided to give the dinging room a miss to watch a movie in the Vista Lounge. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in "Hope Springs". We left about 30 minutes into it, just wasn't what we'd expected.

Dinner in the Deck 14 Buffet was themed "English Pub Dinner" and included bangers and mash, steak and kidney pie, Cornish pasties and bread and butter pudding. All good healthy fare - NOT !! Topped that off with a slab of chocolate cake and two scoops of chocolate ice-cream - starvation for the next month.

Finished writing this blog and spent some internet minutes catching up on emails.

We're travelling through the remnants of a tropical cyclone tonight, we've been warned that the ship could get lively.

Tauranga tomorrow, see you then.

Posted by greynomadm 22:55 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Wet Windy Wellington

Saturday, 22 December 2012

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Damp blustery winds greeted us on arrival to Wellington. We procrastinated for quite some time and finally decided that we didn't need to get wet and cold so stayed aboard. I spent some of the morning posting some images on the 365 project.

Lunch at the Buffet where the choices were extensive and the quantity overwhelming. Spoke to one of the chefs about the left-over food and he confirmed that anything that was left was dumped. It almost makes you feel obliged to eat more so the waste is less.

After lunch we watched an unusual movie in the Theatre, according to the Patter it won a Best Picture Oscar. It was made in the style of the black and white silent movies. The plot is thin but the acting quite good. "The Artist" stars Jean Dujardin and John Goodman - didn't recognise either of them.

Dinner was very efficient tonight because one of the big tables in our service area was unoccupied, makes a big difference to the service at our table. The weather has also cleared as we leave port.

Tonight's show in the Theatre were the marvellous voices of the Platinum Tenors comprising Mana Farrell and Steven Graham. They joined the ship today and leave it tomorrow indicating that they've done this on a number of ships. As well as their awesome voices they paid homage to the crew who were far from family at this time of year. They also dedicated their final song to the families of the recent Connecticut massacre victims. They received a well deserved standing ovation.

Not a great day for photography so I'll have trouble selecting one for the 365 project. Short visit in Napier tomorrow, see you then.

Posted by greynomadm 00:36 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Beautiful Akaroa

Friday, 21 December 2012

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A few brisk partial laps to start the morning. Sections of Deck 7 were blocked to enable the launching of the tenders when we arrive. By 0700 we were at the Buffet along with a good number of other passengers and by 0800 we had collected out tender passes.

At 0815 we were escorted to the little jetty that services the tenders. We were the first to make the 10 minute crossing to the wharf. On the wharf were were welcomed by a virtual army of volunteers who handed out copious information leaflets. Further along the wharf were representatives of the dozens of tour operators keen to sign us up for a tour. Bus tours, wine tours, dolphin tours and even walking tours.

We walked around the little village and took photos of some of the quant cottages and their beautiful gardens. Jenny spotted the "Woolshed Gallery" and sent me off to take some photos. After a while I decided to check up on her and found her enthralled by the lush knitted and woven garments. Wool, fur and silk combined to make soft, light and beautiful articles. She settled for a multifunction cape/jacket thing and I found an amazing warm cap.

On the advice of the storekeeper we had the items "exported" to our home address saving the GST. The cost of postage was only about one third of what we saved in GST and we were talking Kiwi dollars so the price was another 20% better.

Just before 1000 we returned to the wharf where we'd arranged to meet up with a lady from the 365 Project. I'd sent Kitti a photo of me and she found us without any trouble. Back down the wharf and we found a coffee shop. Kitti had brought along Raewin, a good friend. Jenny and Raewin talked of many things while Kitti showed me what she had wrapped in some bubble wrap. Some while back I had sent her one of my photos of a pelican, she'd had this printed on canvas and mounted. She wanted me to see it and sign it for her. I was gobsmacked, the printing and enlargement were breathtaking. She says it hangs 'pride of place' in her home. It really touched me.

To finish off my embarrassment she presented me with a mounted canvas print of one of her images I'd admired. Such a generous gesture from an unknown person. We talked for quite a while and compared our shooting equipment. I shot off a couple of random shots to demonstrate the flexibility of the super-zoom.

Kitti and Reawin wanted to wander off and take some shots and Jenny and I begged off and returned to the wharf to line up for the tender. It was an interesting experience to put a face to a "virtual person" only ever "seen" by what she had written.

The tender trip back to the ship was worthy of any amusement park, the wind and sea tossed the little craft from side to side. Nothing dangerous but a bit of a thrill.

We were back aboard just after 1300 and we were both looking forward to lunch. The Buffet on Deck 14 didn't disappoint. Watched an old B&W movie on the TV (and dozed off a bit.) Watched the retrieval of the tenders and had dinner. Back to the cabin for a confusing, fast paced movie "The Bourne Legacy". that certainly kept us awake.

Realised I hadn't completed this blog so it is now after 2200.

Wellington tomorrow. See you then.

Posted by greynomadm 01:09 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Port Chalmers - Dunedin

Thursday, 20 December 2012

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Started the day with a few laps of Deck 7 as we approached Port Chalmers. The Pilot boarded at about 0630 and we proceeded into the Port. The ship performed a 180° pirouette before berthing at the wood-chip wharf. We joined a significant crowd at the buffet for breakfast and were ready to go ashore just after 0900.

A short walk down the wharf to where the shuttle bus tickets were being sold. NZD15 each for the round-trip journey to Dunedin's Octagon. Our first priority was to convert some of our AUD to NZD - AU$200 converted to NZ$240. Common items in NZ cost no more than they do in Oz so we have a 20% advantage, not bad for someone like me who loves a discount.

Wandered through the main street and and around the market stalls, there were not many buyers but it was early. After a long walk we found the craft material shop that Jenny had heard about. Not sure it was worth the long walk. Made our way back to the shuttle pick-up point and we were back at the ship's berth just after 1200.

Up to the Buffet for lunch, brilliant sunshine and a brisk cool breeze made the port look even better. A lady sitting at the next table was surprised at "all these hills" and declared she wouldn't want to drive here. She obviously hasn't been anywhere much.

Found a small problem in our cabin, no running water in the bathroom !! Reported it to housekeeping and will wait and see what happens, we can't be the only ones.

Nothing much happening so we'll indulge in our habitual afternoon activity - we'll take a nap.

Another nice dinner and the waiter is starting to loosen up and becoming more relaxed. Still not the same as the Jeffry and Rex who managed to make the evening meal an enjoyable event.

We've decided that the entertainment tonight is not to our liking as he didn't impress on our earlier voyage.

Jenny is off solving a problem of how to spend the last of the on-board credits. I'm sure she'll succeed.

See you tomorrow.

Posted by greynomadm 00:44 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

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