Auckland & The North Island

Sometimes I scare myself when I am on the ship.

I actually watched and enjoyed the entire Super Bowl! That is a first. And, to make things even more scary, I watched the Academy Awards. They even showed stuff from “Gone With The Wind.” No big deal, since it’s one of the half dozen films Princess shows on cabin TV over and over . . . and over and over . . . making the “Front of The Ship” channel one of the most exciting things on cabin TV, and one of the few shows that actually changes. But, I digress.

As if all that wasn’t scary enough, I’m eating sensibly [Yes, it is possible and actually easy to do on a cruise!] and exercising. I actually was in the gym yesterday, first time since leaving 24 Hour Fitness and Apex. Wow!

The week before the tragedy in Christchurch, we were driving from Auckland across the North Island to the West Coast and our guide, Stuart, was explaining the precarious geological location of New Zealand and the country’s capital city, Christchurch, in particular. Stuart explained the risk of a country living on a major fault and warned, “Someday the big one will come.”

And it did.

But a few weeks ago, when we were actually in New Zealand, it was a fantastic day.

Your hosts, Stuart & Donna Hamilton

One of the amazing things about the Internet, and specifically doing a blog, is that you meet and become friends with folks from all over the world.

Donna Hamilton, from Waimauku, New Zealand, was a regular reader of this blog, and when she saw that the World Cruise of PACIFIC PRINCESS was coming to Auckland she emailed me to say I must visit!

Donna and Stuart have a sheep farm on the West Coast of the North Island and they run tours exploring the countryside and attractions around Auckland, including a visit to their historic sheep farm and a delightful lunch at their home. These are not the traditional “ship tours” of busloads of 30 or more people, but small intimate tours. Stuart picked us up at the pier in Auckland. There were two couples from PACIFIC PRINCESS, another couple from the QUEEN ELIZABETH [on its Inaugural Voyage], a gentleman from Hong Kong who was in Auckland for a conference, and me. Taking a tour with only eight people is a much different experience than being on a bus with 30 folks.

We saw some of the sites of Auckland, drove through Auckland’s beautiful rain forest and visited a craft market. While craft markets aren’t my thing, the gals on the trip who liked this sort of thing, loved it. Stuart explained that usually the tour companies get 15% of the take from the market, but indicated that rather than take the money he gave us certificates that would give us the 15%. [In case you were innocent enough to think it didn’t work this way.] We went on to visit a winery and taste lots of New Zealand wine, went on to the coast to see the gannet colony, and then went to Donna and Stuart’s home for a fantastic lunch and a tour of their sheep farm.

If you are visiting Auckland and want a great personalized tour from real Kiwis [Donna is part Maori], I highly recommend this tour. For more information visit their web site at http://www.coast2coastnz.com or you can reach Donna at info@coast2coastnz.com

The Hamilton Homestead
Lunch by Donna

[Folks the Internet on board ships is nuts! I can’t tell you how much time and how many attempt it has taken me to post this one post. It’s the same on every ship, every cruise line: this is the one thing that no cruise line seems to be able to get right. Somehow it hasn’t yet dawned on any cruise line that we live in an age where people expect high speed and reliable Internet connectivity – and free Internet! – just like they expect the toilets to flush. They all seem to use the same provider. Memo: put up satellites that are sufficient to carry the traffic. Buy enough bandwidth. And provide the reliable, fast, and free connectivity that guests expect! ]

And finally, I like to call this picture, “In your dreams” . . .

[This is the fifth time I’ve tried to post this one paragraph!]

We all know the traditional Maori greeting or challenge to potential friends or enemies, where the Maori warriors go out and dance, prance and challenge by beating on their chests, bulging their eyes, and sticking out their tongues.  What you may not know is the traditional dance included flashing the enemy as well.  The size of a warriors genitalia was believed to indicate his strength as a warrior, so the “big” guys were put in the front of the line, and the guys with the little weenies were stuck in the back.

One thought on “Auckland & The North Island

  1. Ah Richard…Thanks for uploading the photos of your day with us! (along with the perseverance re your internet connection, which we hear to be a common complaint from Cruiser’s all-round).
    Alas, a ‘big one’ did infact hit…poor Christchurch, still reeling from the September earthquakes too. All of NZ holds this very dear to their hearts, and we wish them a speedy recovery.
    Glad you enjoyed your day with us as much as we enjoyed meeting you (and the others), maybe we may see you back in Auckland someday soon!
    Ka kite ano (until I see you again),
    Donna & Stu.
    ….and PS: pleasant dreaming!! 🙂

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