Monday, February 24
Kia Ora from New Zealand!
Today we reached the southernmost point we will visit on the voyage - about 37 degrees south latitude.
Arranged by one of my Cruise Critic friends, we had a private tour for 11 with Archer Tours. Jim Archer was our very knowledgeable driver and guide. (Highly recommended if you are ever in this neck of the woods!)
We started our tour visiting the beach at Papamoa. It was a beautiful beach with very few people (we saw four - two of whom were fishing). We dipped our feet in the water and collected a few shells.
Next we went to the Te Puke region (centre of the kiwi fruit growing industry) to Kiwi 360. We looked at the way kiwi fruit grow (who knew?) and then tasted green and gold kiwi fruit (which I had never seen before but is really good) as well as juice from them and even a kiwi fruit wine.
Then we drove to one of the most popular resort towns on the North Island of New Zealand, Rotorua. Here we saw a Maori ceremony at Te Puia as well as traditional weaving and the school for wood carving. We walked through the reconstructed Maori village. Next we walked down to see the boiling pools of mud and the geysers. We were able to see two kiwis (which are nocturnal) at Te Puia. They are funny looking little birds.
We had lunch at the cafe at Te Puia. I had a mince and cheese pie which was really tasty and filling.
Rotorua is nicknamed "Sulphur City" because of the numerous sulphur springs (we even saw one house that had one in its backyard). Luckily the smell was not too strong today. We stopped at Rachel Spring which was the only place where the smell was really bad.
We returned to the ship just before 6 pm. There was a Maori show on board at 7 which I went to. Then up on deck 9 to watch the sail-away. Met some friends and talked until about 9:15 when I had dinner in the Lido.
Strange fact of the day - the only mammals indigenous to New Zealand are bats.
Kiwi fruit trees
Maori Meeting House
Style of ancient Maori houses
Maori store house
Some woven articles
Sunset over New Zealand
Smooth sailing until next time!