Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Sounds

On Saturday we came to Fiordland, a national park that encompasses much of the southwestern part of the South Island. We were scheduled to go into Dusky Sound at 9:00 AM, but there was an announcement from the captain that the wind gusts were too great and we couldn’t go in. About noon we entered Doubtful Sound. The views were stunning. We could easily see the sides of the sound from our veranda. By the time we were heading out, the mists began to obscure the mountainous scenery. Around 4:00 we entered Milford Sound, the best-known, and the only one that can be reached by land or air as well as by sea. There is a small town where tourists boats take sight-seers out and back. There are often dolphins and sea lions, as well as birds such as the albatross and the stormy petrel, but we didn’t see any today. However, the views were amazing. The clouds were around the tops of the mountains, but it began to clear and the sun shone for much of our time in it. There were several lovely waterfalls. Some passengers had taken an overnight excursion from Dunedin the day before, and they were brought out in a boat and transferred back onto the ship. I took far too many photos of the scenery, and will try to just put a few on here. It was a day I wished for a good telephoto lens!

Now we are headed across the Tasman Sea to Hobart. Below are a few of the shots I took.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Christchurch and Dunedin

Since the earthquakes here in 2011, the cruise ship port for Christchurch has been moved to Akaroa, about 90 minutes away. We were pleased when John and Ruth Caughley, staff at Woodstock in the late 1960s when we were there, agreed to meet us. We got off the tender soon after 10:00 and they were there waiting for us. Needless to say, we have all changed a bit in the 40+ years since we last saw each other. They took us on a very hilly road towards Christchurch. At the top of a hill, we stopped to look down on the bay and town in the distance. Ruth had brought along a thermos of hot water and we all had a cup of tea standing in the lovely sunshine. Following that stop, we drove on to their house in a suburb of Christchurch. Ruth fed us a lovely lunch, with many of the items grown in her garden, from tomatoes to grapes. It is early fall here, and the garden is still producing.

On the way back, we drove into the city, which is still showing many signs of the damage from the earthquake. Many car parking lots are unpaved, a sign that a building was there and had to be taken down. Lots of rebuilding is going on. We stopped at a small park at a high hill again, this time to view over the city. We could just barely see the southern Alps in the distance. It was a bit hazy, although the day was nice and sunny. 

What a treat to be hosted so well. We feel we got a taste of this area (in more than one way!), and enjoyed renewing our acquaintance with John and Ruth.

View away from Christchurch

View of Akaroa Bay

We could almost see the Southern Alps!

John, Ruth, Dan

John, Ruth, Anne

Dunedin dawned cold and rainy and we opted not to leave the ship. Our all-day outing yesterday left me quite tired. But it has been interesting watching the log trucks come and go just below the ship. Trucks roll in every few minutes with two trailers piled with newly lumbered logs. They go through a shed where they are presumably weighed and checked for size and type. They are unloaded by a small yellow lift that gathers a complete trailer-load at once and delivers it to one of the piles. Once the truck is unloaded, it moves to the apparatus in the center of the photo where the rear trailer is lifted up and deposited on top of the front trailer. Then it heads back to get more wood. The green machine seen on the left  straightens up the piles of wood and nudges them into correct horizontal alignment.

Included in this post is a picture of the indoor pool in the Solarium. The water is quite warm (I’m sure lap swimmers wouldn’t like it) and just right for me to walk back and forth in. Water exercise is something I enjoy and am happy to have this pool available! The hot tubs aren’t very hot, but still are pleasant on my always-sore muscles.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Wednesday we were in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. We hoped to meet up with Anna, a former student and daughter of fellow staff members at Woodstock. We took the shuttle into town from the ship in the morning to check things out. There was an extensive visitors’ center and that was the first bus stop. We checked out the area and returned to the ship. In the afternoon when Anna got off work, she was able to come into the city and meet us at the centre. We didn’t have long together, but it was fun to chat and catch up with her. Her 10-year-old daughter Bella was with her.

This is a major port for shipping lumber overseas. I was able to get a photo of some of the logs piled up. On the right side of the photo is a huge sports stadium.

Our room stewards have developed their animal-creation skills quite well. Here are the chick and bunny we had on Tuesday night and a threesome we found tonight. The pictures below are not in order, as this internet is slow!

Plaza outside visitors centre

Another view of the plaza

Looking down in the grand dining room

A cappella singers greet us as we leave the ship

Towel menagerie

Dan, Anna, Anne

Lumber piles, stadium on right 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Monday we were at Tauranga on the Bay of Islands, not far from our friend Sally’s home. Since we had seen the area earlier, we decided to take it easy and stay on the ship for the day. I had a massage in the spa this morning, which helped relieve some of the discomfort I’m having in my leg muscles. I also had an introductory appointment with an acupuncturist, but have decided not to pursue that course.

Otherwise, it was a restful day. I finished one book, went to the ship’s library, and got another. Dan had rice and dal at the Indian food station in the cafe for lunch. We had a lovely dinner in the main dining room. In our past cruises, we had to sign up for dinner either at 6:00 or 8:30. We like a little more flexibility, and this cruise allows us to go anytime we like between 6:00 and 9:00. Last evening was the first time we had to wait to be seated, and that was barely five minutes.

Dan and enjoyed watching the heavy equipment both in the morning and in the evening. A crane set up the exit ramp from the ship and another vehicle moved multiple containers close so they could be unloaded onto the ship. Just imagine the supplies needed to feed 2000+ people and 1500 crew members every day! It has to be one of the best organized efforts anywhere.

Sunrise from our balcony

Setting container close to ship for unloading

Setting up exit ramp

Island in the bay

Dismantling exit ramp

Chick made from towel on our bed in the evening

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sunday in the Bay of Islands

Our first stop after leaving Auckland was the Bay of Islands. It is near the north end of the North Island and a beautiful holiday spot. We anchored in the bay and tenders took us to the port near the Waitangi Treaty House. The Treaty of Waitangi was signed here in 1840 between the Maori Chiefs and the British Crown and became the basis for the working relationship between the two groups.

We got to the port about noon, and our friends Greg and Chris Mutton met us almost immediately. They live about an hour away in Whangarai and came over to spend the day with us. It was wonderful to be driven around to the three areas with historic and scenic significance. First we went up the hill for a view back over the bay and to see Haruru Falls. From there we drove to Paihia, a major tourist area. There were lots of interesting shops and cafes. We had a mussel, prawn, and crab fritter on the street for lunch. They were being sold to raise funds for the local ambulance service. Then we found a cafe and had some tea.

From Paihia we took a short car ferry to Russell, the early capital of New Zealand. We drove up to Flagstaff Hill, where Maoris repeatedly cut down the post where the flag was flown. The oldest church in NZ is in Russell, Christ Church. It was surrounded by a lovely graveyard. Inside it isn’t very large, but is quite lovely. The pews are covered with cushions upholstered with needlework designs by local women. After a look at Long Beach, we took the ferry back to Paihia and they dropped us at the dock for the tender. 

We are enjoying the scenery and beauty of this country, but it has also been a special treat to see old friends here. I’m sure today will remain as a highlight of our trip.

Inside Christ Church in Russell

Outside Christ Church

Graveyard - many said "fell asleep on [date]"

Hauru Falls

Kayakers at Hauru Falls

Dan, Chris, Greg, Anne

Long Beach

Chris and Greg at falls

Needlework pew cushions at Christ Church

View of ship from Flagstaff Hill

View over bay

Loveseat carved from root system - very comfortable!

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Our hotel in Auckland is right in the downtown business district. This is a hopping city. There are many people on the streets, lots of them Asian. The first night our room was right above a bar that had an open roof and the noise went on until past midnight. We asked to be moved and were given a room at the back, looking over some condos and parking garages. So much better!

There was a nice healthy restaurant next door called Revive and we ate supper there. I had Thai pumpkin soup and Dan had chickpeas and another veggie somewhat curried. All very tasty.

We didn’t get out much on Friday, as the streets are fairly hilly and we weren’t quite up for exploring on foot.

In the evening, we had asked for a meeting-up with Woodstock people in the area. We had a great turnout of people; there were twelve of us for dinner. (Glenys’s husband Robert arrived later.)

The Indian food was good, of course, but the conversation was wonderful. Dan and I both moved around several times to chat with more people. All in all, a fitting end to our week in New Zealand. Later today (Saturday) we board the Celebrity Solstice for the next part of our trip.

Marjorie B, Glenys M., Heather B.

Dan with Diane W. and husband

Gwen W. and Anne

Heather W., Chris and Greg M.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Visit in Opotiki

We had a wonderful visit with our friend Sally Kibblewhite. She and her late husband David were teachers at Woodstock School with us in the 1970s. They bought a property near the coast, southeast from Rotorua. David was a master gardener. He and Sally planted a forest of eucalyptus trees, more than two dozen olive trees, other fruits, and avocados, and built their retirement home there.

On Wednesday we took a drive down the southeastern coast, about an hour and a half each way. Along the way we stopped at a macadamia farm for a cup of coffee/tea. The coast was unendingly beautiful, and the hills inland were never far away.

Thursday morning we headed back north to Auckland. We are looking forward to a Woodstock gathering at an Indian restaurant on Friday evening. We board our cruise ship on Saturday and we won't have an internet connection much of the time, so posts will be a bit sporadic.

Lemon trees

View from house; Bay of Plenty in the distance

Weka, flightless bird just larger than kiwi

Vegetable garden, fenced from rabbits

Olive trees

"Selfie" of the three of us

View on coastal drive
Cafe at macadamia farm

Small Maori church

Guacamole from the ample, delicious avoids