Day 13 – Hobart

After sailing for three days, up the east coast of New Zealand’s south island to Cook’s Strait, we sailed the Tasman Sea to Tasmania. It was an overcast and windy sail.

There were large cliffs on the islands that are part of Tasmania, as we sailed to Hobart.  Here is the lighthouse on one of those cliffs.

Tasmania Light House

We arrived about 11 in Hobart.  Hobart is the international  Gateway to Antarctica.  There were sailing vessels and fishing vessels in port.  Here is the Westward Bound, that sails a 7 day cruise to the western side of Tasmania.

Hobart Old Sailing Ship

This is the traps that they use to catch the crawfish.  This crawfish is more like what we call lobster.  There are no large claws but they have a large body and tail.

Hobart Crawfish traps

There were statues on the port for the explorers to Antarctica.

Hobart Harbour Hobart Harbour-2 I walked around Hobart, there are a number of old storage buildings that have been converted to shops and cafes.

I found a statue to Tasman who planted the Dutch flag in 1642 Hobart StatuteI walked around the shops and then up the hill via Kelly’s Steps to Battery Point.  There were a number of older homes with the small gardens in the front.Hobart Flowers

Carol took a tour that provided a view of the city, and the Royal Botanical Gardens. Tasman Bridge Tasmania Hobart Botanical Garden

My tour did not start until 6:30 pm and went to a Wild Life Rescue center – Bonorong.  Here a young man started a place for injured or orphaned animals. It was a night tour, as a number of the animals are nocturnal.  Unfortunately, without a tripod and flash, I was limited in the photos I could take.  I was able to see and touch  a wombat, kangaroo, and a few other animals.

Hobart Kangaroo-2 Hobart kolala-4 Hobart animal Hobart animal-2


Here are two Kangaroos play fighting –Hobart kangaroo-3

There is a tour that goes here during the day, but you will not be able to see a number of the animals since they are asleep in their dens or burrows. I was so glad I selected the evening tour.   It was wonderful to see  a young man so invested in saving the wildlife of Australia.  Here is the owner of Bonorong showing us a couple of his animals.

Hobart wambat Hobart kolala-3

We now have a day of sailing to get to Melbourne.


Day 9 – Dunedin

Today we docked in Dunedin.  This town is New Zealands’s oldest city.  It is a university town  and is also known for its wildlife reserves.  Maori first setttled her over four centuries ago. Scottish migrants established a settlement here giving it the Celtic name for Edinburgh – Dunedin.  In 1861, the discovery of gold in central Otago , put Dunedin on the map as the gateway to the gold fields.

I originally thought I had all day to explore the town and to see the Scottish heritage, but as it turned  out, the tickets for a  tour that I was wait-listed on, showed up in our room the night before.  So much for my taking my time and seeing this city.  I started taking the shuttle from Port Chalmers to Dunedin, about 15 minutes away, and then went to see St. Paul’s Cathedral, an Anglican Church.

Dunedin St Paul's Cathedral

I then walked  around The Octagon which is surrounded by small shops and cafes. Some of the items for sale were possum clothing.  Possums were introduced back in the 1870s to start a fur trade.  New Zealand only had 2 mammals – bats, no pigs, horses, dogs, cows, etc.  Well the introduction has created a problem as the possums bred very well and they are a nuisance pest now.  The possums are a threat to the penguins.

Dunedin Mural by Octagon

A mural at The Octagon.

I walked down Stuart Street to get to the Railway Station.  This station is the most photographed  building.  With the Flemish Renaissance style architecture, you can see why.

Dunedin Railway StationThe Dunedin’s Fashion Show is held inside here.  The floor is almost 750,000 Royal Doulton porcelain tiles.  The gardens out in front are beautiful.Dunedin Railway Station-2 Dunedin Garden in front of railway station

Dunedin Flowers-2

I then had to get back to the ship, to be ready for my tour.  Carol’s tour had just finished and we crossed paths as I grabbed my stuff and headed back out the door.  Carol’s tour was an overview of the city.  In which she saw the world’s steepest street – Baldwin Street.  Unfortunately, it is a straight street so you do not see the true impact of the street unlike San Francisco’s Lombard.

Dunedin Worlds Steepest Street

I was now off on the Yellow Eyed Penguin tour.  It was clear across the harbor.  It took about 45 minutes to drive out there.  Yellow Eyed Penguins are only found in New Zealand and most are right along this shore.  These birds are not like the penguins you are used to hearing about.  These are anti-social and they burrow.  They do not like to see other penguins.  The farm we were on, had built little triangular hutch and set it into the hill, and the penguin will dig out a hole behind it.  It gets too hot for them so they need to stay out of the sun especially during the summer.   Now these holes are not right down on the beach, but up the hills.  This little guys climb up the hills to their hutch.  If they do, they get all stressed out and will not mate.  When they do mate, they will have two eggs.  When they hatch,  the parents will feed them to get them fat enough for fledging.  When the chick has fledged, both parents will leave and go to see to fatten themselves up for the molt.

Dunedin Yellow Eyed Penguin FledglingThis is the fledging chick in the hutch.

They will return big and fat, and they do not want to expend much energy as they will not eat until the molt finishes.  Here are two that just returned from the sea, and they are too exhausted to go on, right now.Dunedin Yellow Eyed Penguin Adult - exhausted Dunedin Yellow Eyed Penguin Adult - exhausted-2

Every feather will be replaced during the molt.    The yellow stripe on the head does not show on the juvenile until after its first molt.

We also were able to see some seals.

Dunedin Seal Dunedin Seal SurfingSeal surfing.

And of course, flowers, lots and lots of flowers,

Dunedin Flowers


Well now we have 3 days of sailing ahead of us.  I am still bummed about not being able to go to Fiordland National Park. I carried the big lens for that park.  We are supposed to be sailing above the storm, and we are getting about 13 – 15 foot swells and the winds are fairly high.  This is supposed to stay with us until the morning when the direction of the winds are supposed to change and make it a bit calmer.  They had the pool area roped off as the water was splashing out onto the floor. Carol was not able to get a photo of that on this cruise like she did on our Mediterrean cruise.

So no posts until we get to Tasmania.   Maybe I will actually get to read a bit on this trip.

Update on Cruise

This is a short post to let you know there has been a weather development that is impacting our cruise.  There is a storm over Australia and is headed this way.  We were supposed to sail in Fiordland National Park/Milford Sound, but the timing of that would mean we would be sailing into the storm which has been reported to have 20 foot swells and high winds. So we are skipping that portion of our trip and taking a slower path over to Hobart, Tasmania.
For all our friends, you know how disappointed the announcement has made me as the main reason for selecting this cruise/cruiseline, was that this was the only one that actually sails into this. We have missed seeing the southern alps and the wildlife that are present in the park.  But safety is priority one.  Stiff upper lip and all that.  (I’m still pouting).(I’d better be careful, New Zealand is known for their birds and I am sporting one heck of a bird perch right now. )
I have not downloaded today’s photos from Dunedin, so that will be posted tomorrow as we now have 3 days at sea – open sea with no land to see.

Day 8 – Akaroa

We left Wellington in the fog and arrived in the fog to Akaroa.  Akaroa shows its French heritage in their signs and restaurants.  It is a harbor village that was originally the caldera of a volcano.  ARAKOA mapIt is in the center of the raised ring on the map above.  We had to tender into port.  All of this was done through thick fog.  We zig-zagged our way – two tenders at a time into port.  So they day got off to a slow start, and we just kept fingers crossed that today the fog would burn off unlike Wellington.

I had a scenic tour that drove around a part of the caldera and brought us up the mountain.  From there you could see down on the fog , but as you can see we did get out of the fog – for a little while anyway.

ARAKOA fog Akaroa fog 21 - In the Clouds

I went to visit a Cheese factory – Barry’s Bay Cheese. We saw the process and got to taste a few of their cheeses. They were very good and they also make wine.

From there we drove up further and we to the Maori Museum.  We were able to get photos of the canoes and we were allowed to go into the meeting house.

ARAKOA Maori Meeting house

They also had some buildings representing the homes from the 1800s – Here is what the kitchen would have looked like –

ARAKOA maori old kitchen

When we were getting ready to leave, a farmer was driving his sheep down the street, right in front of us.

ARAKOA sheep herding

After the sheep passed by, we continued on to the Giant’s House and gardens.  This very unique garden is for art lovers and garden lovers.  The lady is restoring the house and she has terraced the yard up the hill.  When she started digging, she found porcelain broken in the soil and she turned it into art and this garden.

ARAKOA giants garden-3 ARAKOA giants garden

ARAKOA giants garden house number-2 ARAKOA giants garden-2

And I loved the house numbers – ARAKOA giants garden house number

Carol took a tour to give her the overview of Akaroa.  Her bus took her up the mountain and she saw the wispy clouds.  ARAKOA clouds

And she was taken by the lighthouse – ARAKOA lighthouse

This is our next to last stop in New Zealand, so I made sure that I had a chance to get their fish and chips.  I had heard they were very good and I wanted a chance to taste them.  Well, other than they are expensive here, they were very very good.

As we left Akaroa, we could still see the wall of fog waiting just outside the harbour for us. On our way to Dunedin which I just found out that I will be able to take the tour to hopefully see the yellow-eyed penguins.  Keep your fingers crossed in that I get to actually see these little guys.  So my slow day just picked up the pace.


Day 7 – Wellington

Today we arrived in Wellington, the Capital of New Zealand in the fog.  The city was socked in.  I had a tour of the Storm Coast, which still went on, with our driver trying to explain what we would be seeing if the fog was not there.  He had a great sense of humor, a bit dry, but I loved it.  At one point, he commented that we would not know if he lied to us, with the fog.  He commented on how interesting and eery everything looked in the fog.

As we drove around the harbor, we came to the lighthouse, and there used to be two of them, but only one remains.  I thought it was odd that as we were in the fog, I never saw a light from it.

Wellington - lighthouse in fogI saw goats on the hill.  Years ago, they brought in Angora goats and now they have bred with the white goats and they have some unusual patterns on the wool.  Wellington - goats

The tour continued on to a farm where we were served Breakfast Tea.  The lovely finger foods were delicious.

Wellington - arrangementOne of the decorations in the house – using local plants.

When we were done, we walked a bit around the house,  Wellington - grapevines

The grapevines were in the back of the house, and he had some sheep in the front paddock.  He gave us a demonstration of how sheep herding is done.  He has two dogs, one which brings the sheep to him and the other as a bit of hound in it, so it chases the sheep away. It was quite funny to watch the dog with hound in it scare the dickens out of the sheep.  Now the ram stood and stared at the dog until the dog got close.

Wellington - Sheep dog herding

Wellington - Sheep dog herding-2

Wellington - Sheep dog herding-3And this sheep looked right at me and I almost felt it saying – My Name is not Serta.Wellington - Not Serta_

On our way back we came upon the S.S. PAIAKAWellington - S.S. PAIAKA

As we drove along the beach, we saw a number of these which the people build to create wind blocks or protection.

Wellington - beach shelterThey cover the driftwood with plastic or blankets or anything to help block the wind.

This is one of the houses on the way.

Wellington - house

There is a curve and apparently there are little penguins that cross the road to the hillside, where they burrow into the hill to sleep at night and then they cross the road to get back into the sea where they fish all day.  They are no taller than 12 inches.  Unfortunately they would have all been out to see, so I did not get to see this blue burrowing penguin. But you must drive slow there as I imagine they would be hard to see at dusk or dawn.

Wellington - penguin signThe fog started to burn off, too late for me to be able to photograph the sights, but here it is over the city

Wellington - the fogCarol took a tour of the city highlights.  Hers did not start until 1 so it had cleared somewhat by then.  Here is the building that we went through when we got off the ship – Wellington - bldg in port

And the overlook of the city – Wellington - town

And of course, flowers and fountains – Wellington - fountain Wellington - rose

Day 6 – Napier

Sorry this post is late, but we experienced some internet maintenance when I was ready to upload.

We spent today in Napier, New Zealand.  This quaint little town was destroyed by a 7.9 earthquake in 1931, in which the epic center was shallow and right under the town.  There was no building code for earthquakes back in 1930’s, so most of the town was leveled.  There were fires after the quake as well, which finished whatever the earthquake didn’t take.  More than 250 people were killed, many struck by falling building ornaments and gargoyles.  When they rebuild, the two styles being used were Spanish Mission and Art Deco.  You can see each being used in the buildings.   This coming weekend, they are having an art deco celebration. Napier - art deco just a small section of Gladstone street.

It looked to me like they had already started, with people dressing the part. Napier - dress up

Napier art deco sign

Napier plate in sidewalk

A placque in the street.

Our ship was created with a number of antique cars and the drivers all dressed in period garb. Napier Antigue Cars at pier

Napier antigue cars-2

What you are seeing behind them is lumber before it is shipped out.  New Zealand is a great place for growing trees.  California Monterey Pine reaches maturity in about 25 years so it can be harvested in a relatively short time.

Napier - antique car

This gentleman and his car seemed to be everywhere.

Carol walked around the town checking into the various gardens, fountains and statues.

Napier Pania - of the reef

Pania Of the Reef.

One thing we have noticed is the number of gardens in New Zealand.  There are botanical gardens in every town we have visited and most of the homes have wonderful  flower gardens, which are all kept up very well.  It makes for a very colorful view.

Napier flower Napier Flower-3

Carol also spotted this train which took people from our ship to a Train Ride Tour.  Napier Hawkes Bay Express

I took a tour to Cape Kidnapper to see the largest Garnett nesting on  mainland.  There are other large Gannet nesting sites but they are on islands.  There are over 20,000 gannets on a couple of flat-topped areas, of which I saw about 5 of them.   Gannets are members of the Booby family.

Napier - Gannett and baby parent and baby.Napier - Gannett Napier - Gannett landing-2

A landing……Gannets like the Boobies do not do it very well, They raise their feet up so to land on their heels, and then fall forward, smacking their chest and face into the ground.  Too bad none landing right in front of us.  I had the colony between them and me so I could not capture the landing.

It was a lovely drive through the countryside to Cape Kidnapper and I saw more antique cars.

Napier - driving down the road  This location was named by Captain Cook after the local tribes tried and failed to kidnap his trusted Tahitian interpreter.  Hawks Bay is next to Cape Kidnappers.  The location of the Gannet colony is on private lands, owned by an American billionaire.  There is a resort and golf course built back on the property, that we drove by on our way back to site.  Our driver Pete, of the Gannet Safari Overland LTD, was providing us with information regarding New Zealand, as well as the Napier area.  He treated it as a conversation, so we could ask questions so it was not a lecture. Napier - Cape Kidnapper – the scene from the Gannet colony.

As we returned towards the ship, he allowed some of the people in our bus off by the I-site (New Zealand’s information center) and then he was so helpful, he drove us on a couple of the main streets so we could see the art deco buildings, before taking us back to our ship.

For those people who like wineries – Napier has about 20 wineries within a short distance.

Since this is an art deco town – here is a display on our ship – done up a bit.   Music on ship

Now, I was asked if I would put up a map of our itinerary – I just pulled this down – hope it helps..

nz cruise itin

Day 5 – Gisborne

Today finds us in the town of Gisborne, New Zealand.  This town is known for being the first in the world to see the sun rise – “the City where Day Begins”, and home to Easthill Arboretum – New Zealand’s National Arboretum.

Gisborne - Carol


Carol and Bear right after we got off the tender.

Gisborne is also the place where Captain Cook’s cabin boy, Nicholas Young, first saw the bay, which was their first sighting of New Zealand in 1769.  Captain Cook named the bay Poverty Bay because “it did not afford a single article we wanted, except a little firewood.”  The name stuck even though it is rich in fruit, vegetables and wineries (15 in the area).  There is a central mountain range which keeps the area fairly dry making the area favorable for growing wine, and Gisborne is known as the nation’s “Chardonnay Capital”.  The city enjoys an average of 2200 hours of sunshine each year.  If you like wine, this cruise is definitely one to take.  There are more wine tours and wine sampling at each port. 

They also have Steam Train WA165 , which is older than 100 years and is still running and taking passengers on a scenic tour.

Gisborne - steam train engine

While Carol took an orientation tour, I walked around the city trying to capture a couple of their unique sites.

Gisborne - art-2Gisborne - art


Carol found this painting on the side of a building.

Gisborne - painting on side of bldg


Gisborne - Carol & ship


And of course, she found flowers.  There are lots of flowers in front of many of the homes.

Gisborne - Carol flower

This is the clock tower that still remains after  earthquakes in 1931 and 1932 destroyed the towers and most of the town.

Gisborne - clock tower

I found a totem pole that was presented to New Zealand from Canada in 1969 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Cook’s arrival, with the animals that Cook would have seen as he traveled down the west coast of Canada.

Gisborne totem

The sign post outside the information center showing the distances to different major cities.

Gisborne sign post

The beaches are long and welcoming.  This one – Waikanae Beach is just on the edge of town.

Gisborne - waikanae beach


The view of our ship from this beach.

Gisborne - our shipWe are enjoying our way around the edge of New Zealand.  I can see why many people come to visit.  I would love to come back and spend more time in this country so I could give it the time it deserves.  Off to Napier tomorrow.