On the eastern coast of the north island of New Zealand lies Tauranga. A working port, it is also the gateway to Rotorua and Matamata.
Last year on this cruise we opted to do the Wai-o-Tapu and Rainbow Springs tour. Often costing about $150 per person, one of the advantages of booking a ship-organised tour is that if there are any delays, they will hold the ship until your arrival. However, if you go off on your own and get held up, there are no guarantees that the ship will still be there, in which case you would have to make your way to the next port under your own steam.
For something different, or more so ironic, this tour included a buffet lunch aboard the Lakeland Queen before heading down to Rainbow Springs.
This year’s tour was to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, an hour’s coach drive from the port of Tauranga. We tend to only book one tour per cruise; partly from a monetary point of view, and also because then that one excursion seems more special.
There is a guide who provides a running commentary as you wend your way through the adorable hobbit holes. Attention to detail is obvious and enchanting. Let the pictures speak for themselves. For those observant people, look closely at what I am wearing: same colours, but different items of clothing!
After the bleak crossing, fortunately the weather improved as we approached Auckland.
It’s always nice coming into the harbour, especially after days at sea.
The Dawn Princess docked before 10am, ready for disembarkation.
Having been to Auckland last year, we took a fairly quiet approach this year, but I did manage to buy two bathmats, a new handbag and a new top. I told you I took it easy!
We came back onto the ship for lunch, and then decided to stay on board and catch the afternoon movie in the Princess Theatre entitled “Now You See Me”, which I heartily recommend.
Then it was time to sail away overnight for our next destination.
Last year on the same cruise, we obviously left later, as evidenced by the city skyline at night.
It’s the luck of the draw as to what weather you’ll have on the crossing to New Zealand. We left Station Pier at Melbourne with sublime sunshine, which turned nasty within twelve hours. What happened to the old adage of “red sky at night, shepherd’s delight”?
red sky at night
The photos we took on our balcony the night we departed seemed promising. However, these hopes were short-lived, as bleak weather greeted us the next morning. Apparently a low-pressure weather system passed over us, creating this problem of being in its wake, causing four to six metre swells, misty rain and the closure of the top outside decks to foot traffic. The swimming pools have even been emptied, for safety reasons. Not that I’ve been out there in the decidedly unpleasant atmospheric conditions.
C’est la vie. At least last year when our friends did their inaugural cruise, the crossing was kind until we hit Milford Sound at the bottom tip of New Zealand. That cruise was also in January, although two weeks earlier.
You can still have fun as long as you can keep the queasiness at bay. We’ve both had a few hours of feeling woozy – no, not from alcohol! I think the Horizon Court buffet on Level 14 sways more than other areas on the ship. Perhaps it’s because you can see more of the sea up there? We’ve been enjoying the a la carte lunch in the dining room on Level 7 for this reason, and also because it seems a little more civilised.
It has been almost a year since my last post on Travels With Princess and Quiquinou. Somehow other blogs and life in general got in the way. This is about to change.
Princess and Quiquinou are on a cruise to New Zealand, aboard the Dawn Princess. Funnily enough, we also did the same cruise one year and two weeks ago. Last year we travelled with another couple, and we tested out an interior room, while this year we are travelling as a couple in a balcony stateroom.
There will be comparisons of both as well as photographic evidence detailing some of our experiences, which, though similar, will be quite different. And that’s the beauty of cruising; each journey brings with it different memories. Happy cruising!
The Dawn Princess awaiting our embarkation at Station Pier, Melbourne.