Monday, January 31, 2011

New Zealand & Australia 6: Dunedin

Before taking us up to Seal Beach our tour bus dropped us off for a few minutes at the Dunedin train station.
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New Zealand & Australia 5: Dunedin and Seal Beach

We arrived at the port town of Dunedin the next morning and boarded our tour bus under overcast skies and light drizzle.  Our destination was ranch an hour or so south, where a private beach has been preserved for the exclusive use of seals and penguins.  We had booked this tour because Melony really wanted to see a penguin in the wild.

The day grew even more overcast and drizzle turned to rain.  We arrived at the ranch lodge shortly before noon and were treated to a very nice lunch, while rain became torrential and poured down in buckets outside.

It was to be an outside tour.  After lunch, while waiting our turn to go outside, rain turned to hail.

Here, the sopping wet penguin watchers return from from their soggy excursion.  Our turn was next.

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New Zealand & Australia 4: Christchurch

Our ship made its way south, down around the east side of the New Zealand to what the folks there call the south island, or the big island.  We stopped for a day at Christchurch, a beautiful port city about mid island, and took a short tour into the city.

The Avon river winds through the city of Christchurch.  Folks punt up and down this river here like they do on the Thames in England.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Zealand & Australia 3: We board our cruise ship.

Others, who have cruised before will find this amusing, but I could not get over the size of this ship as we rolled our suitcases around the corner, and saw it for the first time.  
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New Zealand & Australia 2: Auckland Tour

The next day we were picked up from our hotel at 8:10 am by Anthonie Tonnon, a delightful chap, who is a tour guide by day and the lead singer of his rock band, Tono and the Finance Company, by night.

Sadly, I never quite managed to get a photo of Anthonie.  I don't think he was consciously avoiding me, but he did manage to turn his head away several times just as I snapped the shutter on my camera, leaving me with only a blur or an unrecognizable profile.  Anthonie didn't stay in one place for very long.

Anthonie took five of us on a tour of of rain forests, waterfalls, beaches and trails, all within an hours drive of Auckland. He brought along a nicely stocked chilly bin full of cold water and juice for us during the day.

I loved how the English language has morphed away from England's mother tongue here.  And done so in a delightfully different way than we have in the US.  His chilly bin is what we here in the US typically call an ice chest.

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New Zealand & Australia 1: Auckland

We arrived in Auckland on New Year's Eve, 2010 around 2:30 in the afternoon, after being en-route nearly 24 hours.  Our travel agent had tried to sell us an shuttle ride from the airport to our hotel for $140.  They also offered another $70 shuttle arrangement from our hotel to the cruise wharf three days later when we were to board the cruise ship.

We declined both because the price seemed way too steep.  Sure enough, after a little investigation before we left, we caught the "Air Bus" at the airport which took us to with in a block of our hotel near the waterfront at a cost of only $16 each.  Our hotel was only three blocks from the cruise ship dock.  So when the time came, we enjoyed the walk.

Most of the shops were closed for the holiday, but we had no trouble finding a bite to eat after checking in.  And, even though the idea of celebrating New Year's Eve in a foreign country seemed like a good idea, we were exhausted.  Eight-thirty that evening found us both down, out cold, for the count.

I remember waking with a start from a sound sleep to loud sounds that sounded like artillery fire.  I opened my eyes, saw orange lights flashing around the room an wondered if we were under siege.  It turns out that folks in New Zealand and Australia set off fireworks at midnight on New Year's Eve. 
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