My last post highlighted the Australian part of a cruise vacation from a few years back.
Next we were traveling to New Zealand, which became the highlight of the trip. We first sailed into Milford Sound, a fjord on New Zealand’s South Island with fabulous vistas. Dunedin, the South Island’s second largest city was the first port. The weather was cold and drizzly for our wildlife tour; we saw penguins and albatross.
In Christchurch, the largest city in the South Island, we toured the International Antarctic Centre. The Antarctic exhibits were very educational, and we were able to ride in a Hagglund, an Antarctic Vehicle still operated on that continent. Other highlights were the downtown and Christchurch Cathedral. Picton was our last port in the South Island, and we enjoyed a tour of a winery in the Marlborough region.
Wellington is New Zealand’s capital city, situated on the southwestern tip of the North Island. Watching two sheepdogs herd about a hundred head of sheep into their farm corral and having lunch on the farmhouse lawn were both very memorable. Napier, further up the east coast of the North Island, is a working seaport, but also known for its Art Deco architecture. We had great fun on an ATV “adventure” along the hilly coast and took in a dolphin show at the Napier Marineland (ah, but it closed in 2009).
The next stop was Tauranga, New Zealand’s largest port. We visited Rotorua, best known for its Maori history and culture, and the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute. We also experienced the Agrodome. Sailing towards the Bay of Islands, we passed White Island, New Zealand’s only active marine volcano, spewing sulphur and steam. What a sight!
One of the highlights of our cruise was a tour at Bay of Islands that allowed participants to swim with dolphins in their natural habitat.
As seen on the left, we could just about reach out and touch them as we sailed on our tour boat. Alas, one of the female dolphins had her young calf with her so we were not allowed to swim. But riding alongside the dolphins in their natural surroundings really was wonderful.
Our final port was Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, from which we flew home. What surprised us most about this cosmopolitan city was the large number of cell phones in use. Remember – this was 2002 when cell phone usage was not as widespread as it is today.
New Zealand is a land of incredible beauty. You must witness that for yourself. New Zealand is not only cosmopolitan, but also laid back. We were constantly commenting how we felt we had been gone back in time to the 1950’s. New Zealand is modern and eco-conscious; yet its Polynesian roots remind us of an ancient culture. If New Zealand is not on your travel bucket list, why not?