Day 1-3 at Sea
Sunday finally arrived and with a toot of the horn, the ship embarked on its journey. There was a buzz of excitement and apprehension as the tugboats guided the Sun Princess out to meet the big ocean. As we went under the gateway bridge the party music geared up and the champagne began to flow.
We focused on getting our bearings and direction to find our room, the best bar and where to grab a bite to eat. Greeting people along the way and getting to know our neighbours.
Our cabin is fab, with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers sitting proudly on our arrival organised by my dearest husband. Also containing a queen size bed with the fluffiest pillows to lose yourself in.
With the breeze in my hair, music floating through the air we relaxed on our balcony taking in the sights as Brisbane became a mere speck. Ahhh we are on holiday.
Being our first night on board ship we thought it best to visit our restaurant for our allocated table and fine dining. We indulged in a sumptuous dinner served by a fun waiter. After dinner, we explored the ship and enjoyed a variety of music and great areas to sit and listen and indulge in a cocktail or two.
Monday – first full day at sea. What will we do????
We read through our daily “patter” which gives you a rundown of all that is happening on the boat from dawn to dusk.
Mmmmm breakfast sounds like a good start to the day. Fruit, cheeses, cereals, muesli, cold meat rolls and bread of every kind. Hot delicious delights also adorned the buffet. Where does one start when trying to pace themselves. Fresh and tasty we soon found our favourite breakfast bites and sat watching the water as we munched way.
“Patter” came out again to check the program for the day. 11 am we caught up with Facebook friends we had found before coming on the cruise. We all met at the wheelhouse Tavern to say hi!
Downstairs we decided to exchange a soft drink card pre-purchased before the trip to a drinks card which fondly became the magic card for cocktails and beers. The staff could not be more helpful and this was organised within 10 minutes and we were on our way.
We finished our day with a buffet dinner at Horizons restaurant – delicious hot and cold delights.
Tuesday – after another delicious breakfast we consulted the patter and organised to attend a couple of seminars.
12noon I was booked in for a pedicure in the Lotus Spa. Dragana looked after me and my feet felt light and fluffy. Many services available through the Spa with incredibly experienced staff to look after you.
10.30 Pete’s skin wasn’t great and he had pain in his hips and ankles so thought it a good idea to attend a seminar on Arthritis. Dr Lisa was lovely and gave us all an overview of why, who and how. She also offered free 15 min consultations for interested people. We booked in and had an appointment at 4.45pm.
4.45pm. Acupuncture was offered and combined with a divine bath milk and some herbs for the skin to soothe and cool. 30 needles later and woohoo not a bad result for the first session. We booked 5 more over the trip to see what results we could get.
Dinner was a chance to visit the Pizzeria. We shared a Hawaiian pizza and it was just right. Thin base with a little bit of crunch and just the right amount of topping. Then down to the coffee shop for a good brew. You can also indulge at the coffee shop in savoury treats – sandwiches, cheese and crackers or just add a bit more sugar to your diet and have a pastry or dessert or even a homemade cookie!! A nice way to end the day.
Thursday – very excited as it is our first day on shore – Auckland
What a shock to the system to be up at 6 am, breakfast delivered to the room by 6.30am and then ready to disembark by 7.30am.
We have a tour booked today to see the sights of the city and visit the Museum. The bus with a great guide took us around the sights of the city and out to several spectacular views of surrounding hills which highlighted some of the local high-end real estates. As we drove through the city the guide pointed out certain aspects of interest for us all.
Once we arrived at the museum we split into groups and had our own guide to take us around the museum, explaining in brief detail the history of the artefacts displayed. Extremely informative without being too much. We then had a short to time to grab a cuppa and have a further wander around.
Pete did some great photos outside incorporating the war memorial and museum building as a backdrop. Once back on the bus we circled the city and then it was back to the ship. Pete and I then took off up the way to the centre of town for a wander. The wharf area was abuzz with people, buskers and activity so Pete was able to get some great photos of our ship and surrounding sights. The main street was rather like any other, full of shops we have at home but on a much smaller scale – Bit like a Geelong!!
It was great stretching the legs today but even better getting back on board and settling down to a gin and tonic and Pete’s new favourite – Long Island Iced Tea.
Buffet dinner sounds perfect and then race to the theatre for the show. Plenty of singing and dancing in incredible shows twice each night.
All aboard – we set sail at 5.30pm. right on time
Friday – Tureronga / Rotorua
Up early and ready to disembark by 8.00am. We are on a private tour today up to Rotorua.
Evelyn and Tony are joining us –we have got to know them from facebook and since we have been on board. Certainly great company!
Our tour guide was ready when we disembarked and we were off for the day.
First, stop – Kiwi Fruit farm. Kiwifruit preserves, wine, juice and dried fruit on offer. We had a taste and browse around the displays then back on the bus. The countryside was stunning with rolling hills that were lush and green like velvet. Don, our guide gave us information as we made our way towards Rotorua.
2nd stop – waterfalls left from the electric hydro system that used to be in place. Really spectacular as they also joined up with white water rafting groups. We watched anxiously as a group were preparing to take off down the river. The sun was out and warmed our bones.
3rd stop – the village where they had incorporated – hot geysers,
traditional dancing and music, kiwi enclosure, wood carving and gift shop for the tourist. The geysers were a highlight as the steam thrust into the air and the mud and water bubbled like lava down below. The faint odour of sulphur crept around our noses but it certainly wasn’t offensive. We then went up to the traditional schoolhouse and were invited in to see some traditional dancing and music from a fabulous local group. This show finished with the Harka as one would expect.
4th stop – lake Rotorua
Lunch by the lake in a little café was just perfect. As we munched, we watched to sun glisten over the lake, swans bobbing about and even a helicopter landed. Very pretty spot to enjoy.
5th stop – local gardens within the city
We were exposed to beautiful gardens and areas fenced off where the ground had exploded and became hot mud pools. Now, this was a huge steaming pot with the stench of sulphur at its worst. How do the vegetation and the amazing tree azaleas stay so healthy? It even had a lap pool where you could put your feet into and experience to warm water and all its properties.
Time to start heading back towards the ship. We meandered our way through the hills and took in the views of magnificent properties that were nestled amongst the valleys. What great day had by all.
Time for a hot coffee and then a couple of drinks before dinner.
Saturday – Napier
OMG! How gorgeous is this town? A small beachside village with all the character of the early 30’s. Art Deco is the theme of the town and the residents certainly know how to ensure this occurs right the way around. Locals dressed in period costume, vintage cars polished within an inch of their lives and the architecture taking on the art deco look and feel.
The town was buzzing with music playing, people riding in vintage cars and shops open ready for the tourist to enjoy. The seafront was adorned with lovely flowers and structures to walk by and the beach wasn’t your normal sand but black pebbles. After a stroll around town, we ventured along the seaway as the warm sun beat on our backs – perfect day. We then visited the aquarium a little way down the seafront- excellent set up with a great insight into the wildlife that frequents our seas.
Back on board, we had a sit-down and then ventured down for one of those amazing pizzas followed by a takeaway coffee and up to our room for a movie. A quiet night to relax.
Sunday – Wellington (windy Wellington)
We arrived around 8.00am in port to 45 – 55-knot winds and 15 degrees – bit fresh I must say.
We didn’t need to hurry today as we did not have a tour booked. So after a leisurely breakfast, we left the ship and caught the shuttle bus into town. We made our way straight to the cable car which takes you up several hundred feet to botanical gardens and an Observatory of the stars. We could hardly stand straight in the wind as it gusts through us.
We walked through part of the gardens and then went into the Observatory. Wow! This was fabulous. We listened to a commentary about our planets and the stars as we lay back on reclined chairs. We then moved through the displays of planets and travel in space – really informative and enjoyable. Bracing ourselves we then ventured out into the wild wind and odd drop of rain. Meandering around the top of the hill was just a bit cool today so we hopped back on the cable car and ventured back down. The main street of Wellington is similar to most main cities with a collection of shops we see throughout Australia – Country Road, Witchery, Rodd & Gunn and Crabtree & Evelyn just to name a few.
By mid-afternoon, we headed back to the ship for a hot drink and some lunch. Sat the afternoon out quietly as we look forward to attending the 7 pm show of singing and dancing then off to the dining room for a sumptuous dinner – with duck on the menu we couldn’t miss out.
Monday – Akaroa
As we woke this morning as the ship was docking at the quaintest village I have ever seen. We had tenders take us ashore. It was cool but the sun was out. We have been so lucky with the weather. Straight into a café for a hot cuppa and local scone – mmmm nice.
As the village is on the waterfront we walked the length of the town visiting quaint shops, market stalls and galleries of local delights and gifts. It was absolutely gorgeous. The houses were magnificent with full views of the water’s edge. As we sauntered back up the main street we joined the long queue for fish and chips local style. Definitely worth the wait! Delicious.
Then we walked through the other side of town to visit the local lighthouse perched at the water’s edge. Roger gave us the history as we climbed the narrow stairs and took in the breathtaking views from the top.
Akaroa is famous for blue pearls and possum/merino wool products. Lots to look at and buy if you wish.
Back on the tender to the ship, it was certainly getting a bit wild on the water. The tender was banging into the deck and we all had to be carefully disembarking so we didn’t miss our footing. The weather was changing for the worse and the wind was starting to howl and the sea starting to roll. Here we go!
I think this was my favourite port of NZ. Could go back there any time.
Tuesday – Dunedin
Back on tour today! City tour and Lanach Castle. Dunedin is very hilly and has great views throughout the city. The main centre of town is built in an octagon shape.
Our first stop is the historic train station. Beautiful leadlight windows, old style tiles and metalwork most of this being restored to its original state.
Flynn our driver was great he gave a very comprehensive overview of his hometown and all it has to offer. Churches, shopping precincts, universities and schools. We then left the town and meandered the countryside out to the castle.
Lanach Castle – stunning gardens and even more incredible home and views of Dunedin. Roger, our tour guide for the castle gave us the amazing story of the castle and its owners over the many years. It was incredible what one family endured and the fact the castle was saved from demolition in the 1960’s then being restored to its present glory. We then had time to wander the magnificent gardens. Back on the bus, Flynn chatted to us about the monuments lining the coast and the history.
Wednesday – Fiordlands – Marlborough Sound
As the weather turned wild and storms were headed our way the captain had to make a decision in regard to us visiting the Fiorlands. We were going to turn back and go through Marlborough sound instead. We viewed snow on the peaks and amazing hills for a 3-hour crossing. Even though we were disappointed we understand the safety of passengers comes first.
Thursday – On our way home
Relaxing journey – movies, massages, acupuncture, amazing meals and time to reflect