Last Day – Sydney

What a trip!  We have spent two days in Sydney and unfortunately Sydney as decided to rain on us both days. We start out with great weather and then the showers start.  We have been trying to get as much in as we can before the showers start.  Yesterday, we spent time over by the Opera House.  We walked around it and went in to see but the tours use stairs so we did not take it.  And there were no open seats for the show “Winter’s Tale” and they are closed on Monday.  You can see the front coming in over the opera house.Sydney - Carol and Opera House

Sydney - Carol and Opera House & QEThe Queen Elizabeth was in port at the Rocks.

We also took photos of the Sydney Bridge – note the people on top – you can walk up the bridge (well you can pay to do it).

Sydney - Opera House and Bridge Sydney - Bridge


Last night we went to dinner with Tracy, who is dating Paul who is somehow related to Carol.  She was nice enough to drive into the city and take us to have Thai Dim Sum.  It was very good and she was a great hostess.  She then took me out for some after dark photos of the Sydney Bridge.  I have not edited them yet. Sorry.

We had breakfast down at Circular Quay.  There are a number of little cafes.  We selected one and we were serenaded –

Sydney - breakfast serenadeWe took the hop on and off bus today.  We rode it for the full route.  It is a double-decker and I sat on top, and got rained on, while Carol sat inside.  There is a second loop that goes to Bondi Beach, but with the weather, we did not bother to head over there.

Stop 3 of the ride was the Queen Victoria Station – loads of shops – high-end and cafes. Sydney - Queen Victoria Station-3Sydney - Queen Victoria Station-2 Sydney - Queen Victoria Station

Then I walked over to St Mary’s Cathedral. Unfortunately, they do not allow photographs inside the cathedral.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  Sydney - St Mary Cathedral-2


On my walk back to our hotel, I found the wild boar statue outside the Sydney Hospital.  They say if you drop coins and then rub the nose of the boar, you will have good luck – well see how shiny the nose of this boar is – it has gotten a lot of rubbing.

Sydney Hospital Wild Boor

Further down the street, on the side of the library, I found this little bronze of a cat, with no plaque to tell me what it was for.  SydneyLibrary - cat statue


There was a rhino statue outside the Customs House, which was an art project.Sydney - Rhino

Raining again so we retired to our room.  I had walked quite a bit of the area and Carol had walked around the circular quay so we were pleased with what we were able to see.  And with this as the view from our room – Sydney - view from room and with our end of day view –  Sydney - Opera House_We are sorry to see it end.  We have only seen a very small bit of both New Zealand and Australia, but it is time for us to start that long long flight home.  Tomorrow we will depart Sydney and land in Los Angeles before we have left Sydney.  (Think on it)

Thank you for following our adventure down under.


Day 17 – Sydney

We arrived in Sydney in the early morning hours, sailing under the Sydney bridge and by the Opera house.  Unfortunately, it was similar to sailing in NYC and too dark to really get a photograph. We are having our last breakfast on the ship before disembarking. We will post more after we get into the city.

Day 15 – Melbourne

We arrived in Melbourne just as the sun was starting to rise.  Unfortunately it was off to the east of the city as we sailed towards port. Melbourne SkylineMelbourne welcome

We only had a tour that was booked by our travel agent – Teri  Brick of Via Verde Travel in Chino, CA, which was a panoramic view of Melbourne bus tour, with stops at the Eureka Sky Tower and Melbourne Royal Botanical Gardens/Memorial Shrine.   A big Thank you to Teri for scheduling this.

This tour took us around Melbourne showing us the downtown area with the high rise buildings.  We went up the Eureka Sky Tower building to the 88th floor to see the view of the city.

Melbourne Eureka Carol
Melbourne city-2 Melbourne city

There was a post box or mail box (as we call it) at the 88th floor – Melbourne sky high mail box

There were two gold bee’s on the side of the Eureka Building.  I did not get to find out what meaning they had.

Melbourne Eureka

Then we drove around to see the edges of the city with the old houses that used the iron from the old sailing ships to create the lattice cornices.  These buildings were from the early 1800’s.

Melbourne old house

We drove by the Ron Laver Arena where the tennis matches are held, as well as other sporting events.  Melbourne tennis arenaWe also went by the Olympic Park where the stadiums that housed the Olympics a few years back were still in use.  The Olympic rings were still on the sign on the road.Melbourne olympic rings

Our last stop was at the Memorial Shrine that was built to honor and remember those in WWI, and it has since added more to honor those in the other wars since.  Melbourne memorial shrineInside there was 4000 Medals that were given to the participants in the wars.  It was very impressive.  This is just a small sample of those medals.

Melbourne memorial medals

It was right across the street from the Botanical Gardens.  There was art work –Melbourne Royal Botanical Garden art

And a children’s garden next to the observatory –Melbourne Royal Botanical Garden

And Carol went further into the gardens that I did and she found some flowers. Melbourne flower Melbourne flower-2 I spent more time in the war memorial so when I entered the gardens, unfortunately, I only saw the lawns section and did not get back far enough to see the flowers which were more on the other side of the gardens.  Being that this is the end of summer in Australia, more of the plants have finished with flowering, and now are preparing themselves for fall and winter.

And the Eureka Tower from another angle – Melbourne skyline-2

Melbourne has trolleys that run around the city so you can travel around on them getting on and off to see more of the city.  Unfortunately, Carol’s and my knees had had enough at this point and we figured we would save our knees for walking around Sydney.  So much to see, so little time and sore knees.

We are now on our last sailing day towards Sydney.  It is our last day on the ship so Carol is busy packing and I will finish packing after I post this.

We will arrive early in the morning sailing under the Sydney bridge and by the Opera House.  I do not know if Carol and I will be awake enough to take photos or even if there will be enough light before 6 AM to even try.  If not, we are staying in Sydney so we will get photos of the Opera House at some point before our vacation ends.

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.