Kiwiland

Auckland, New Zealand:

This was the first time we visited somewhere Dutchy had been before me, and it was a strange concept. He had actually been to New Zealand twice, once on the cruise he took the year in 1981, before we met, and a year or two ago with work, where he was able to go up in a helicopter over the city. He wins hands down on that experience, which I have never had, and not entirely sure I want either.

After room service breakfast, with a view of the buildings on Princes Wharf, we met the others and we made our way to Deck 5 to enter the terminal. It was nice not having to wait for tenders (small boats) to move us. I was grateful to Sandy for forgetting her sunglasses, not that they were essential in Auckland, but we were able to have a look at the tables of souvenir goodies laid out before us, at delightful prices compared with the Tahitian islands. Even if they might have been cheaper elsewhere, I bought a scarf that doubled as a necklace, and a little kiwi pin embedded with paua shell.

After visiting the ATM for NZ currency, we went to the Explorer hop-on, hop-off bus, where we managed to get a group discount for the ten of us, so instead of $40 each it was $30. Unfortunately it was very foggy, and we missed (mist!) a lot of scenery. The recorded commentary was telling us to look to our left to see the island across the bay. What island? What bay? Luckily we had that discount or we might have been annoyed. But of course these are the natural hazards one must meet when travelling. Just make the most of it, and at least it wasn’t raining.

I’ve mentioned before that we have been narrowly missing different events, in this case the Rugby World Cup set to be huge in Auckland a couple of days after we were due to leave. Of course, sport doesn’t bother me but I’m sure a number of guests may have liked to stay!

Places we went on this tour included Bastion Point, Auckland Museum, Parnell Village and Sky Tower. As a general tour, we only stopped at the museum, where we were deciding who wanted to actually go in.

When we alighted at the Museum a toilet stop was urgently required by the women. In our desperation to get to the facilities, we had inadvertently gone in through the exit. Toilet doors closed almost simultaneously, followed by a loud, long chorus of tinkling and laughing about our synchronisation. There weren’t enough toilets for all of us, so the other Sandy had to contend with a solo performance. Then, realising that we were actually in the museum proper, we did the right thing and came back out.

Coffee and a snack were the next order of the day. Not wanting to waste too much money on food or drink while on a cruise, I bought us two cappuccinos and a small serving of macaroni cheese. All that added up to $14, but I forgot that the NZ dollar is much weaker than ours, so at the time it seemed more expensive.

There was a Maori Cultural Show due at noon, so I decided to do that, while the other ladies went into the museum, leaving the guys playing Boggle, a fun pastime. I went with the crowd, being led by a guide, through part of the museum. We were grouped together to be told we could take photos. Great I thought, and then we headed up the ramp, where they started collecting everyone’s tickets. Uh-oh, I thought it was a free show! I sheepishly left (note the word especially chosen for the environment I was in), but managed to look at a few Maori paintings and carvings on the way out.

I joined in with the Boggle crew until we caught the bus again, which arrived every half hour.

However, buses went in both directions and unfortunately we had been waiting at the wrong stop, and suddenly the correct bus went sailing past us, much to our disgust. Shortly another bus came by and the new driver assured us that the previous driver had been instructed to race off and collect someone from somewhere. Yeah, sure.

The others alighted at the Fish Market and Dutchy and I returned to have a late lunch on the ship, enjoying some Biryani rice and sweet and sour chicken, before setting out again after a little rest.

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