First Port of Call: Auckland

After the bleak crossing, fortunately the weather improved as we approached Auckland.

Bleak balcony

Sad deck

It’s always nice coming into the harbour, especially after days at sea.

Arriving in Auckland

The Dawn Princess docked before 10am, ready for disembarkation.

Dawn Princess docked at Auckland

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.

Leaving Auckland

Sun starting to set over Auckland

Last year on the same cruise, we obviously left later, as evidenced by the city skyline at night.

Auckland city skyline at night

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Mission Les Mills:

A slow start after too much walking the previous day meant that it was mid-morning by the time we left the ship, this time by ourselves.

Meanwhile, overnight, the ship had moved from the Princes Wharf to the refinery for refuelling, which would take ten hours. I had this image in my head of someone holding the hose for the petrol bowser for an awfully long time.

As I am a mad fan of Body Balance, one of the Les Mills’ programs, originating in New Zealand, I thought it would be great to buy some of that brand of gym gear. At the internet café we found, for a fraction of the cost on the ship, we printed out my email receipt for the extra 20kg baggage allowance for our domestic Qantas flight. Looking at emails and even facebook, it cost $2 for half an hour plus $1 for printing two pages, rather different from 40 cents a minute onboard! The guy there kindly found the address of a Les Mills’ gym, giving us directions which led us to Victoria Street West, a good walk away.

Unfortunately, there were no items on sale, as you can buy them online. The girl was so sweet when I was really disappointed, that she rang their other gym and sourced a water bottle. I asked her how much it would be, but she said it would be free, so we set out again on the Quest for Les Mills, finally arriving at the other gym where the girl at reception gave me my lovely metal water bottle stating that I am a foundation member of their gym. That was an excellent piece of PR on their behalf, and a water bottle is a nice practical souvenir.

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.