February 01, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 27

Day 27 – Waitangi, New Zealand. We arrive early as scheduled. The breathtaking entrance to the bay promised by Gene, our cruise director, is present I'm sure, but it is still pitch black dark as we arrive. Except for a few lights in the distance nothing is to be seen until a little later.

When daylight breaks, the sky is pretty cloudy. Too cloudy to obtain decent pictures, a few shades of gray at best. The "Bay of Islands" name is most appropriate as there are dozens of islands all around us. There is a chance of rain today, and temperatures are expected in the lower 70's, an ideal temperature.

An Azamara ship anchors on the other side of the bay. She is too far away to read the name. We are a small ship, she is about half our size. Some passengers start tendering before 7. My excursion doesn't gather until 8:45. With only 3 tenders instead of 4 the process is going to be slower than usual. Fortunately the seas are very calm so tender loading should be easier. If I have counted correctly, a task which is very unlikely, we only have 2 more tender ports for the rest of the cruise.

The butler point whaling museum tour is enjoyable. Our bus takes us across much of the countryside on our way to the museum. We see many wool coats on the hoof and many milk, cheese and hamburger farms as well as taking a quick stop in the forest to see some giant kauri trees over a thousand years old. The roads are good, except nearly every bridge is only one lane. The driver tells us that replacing them was a campaign promise of politicians in the last election, but once elected nothing has happened.

The museum is small, but of excellent quality. The spacious grounds overlooking a bay are gorgeous, and make an ideal home site. It is owned and operated by decedents of the original property owner, William Butler, who was a whaling captain and a merchant for the whaling fleet in the 1800's. The museum home reminds me of the home I grew up in as a child as it too was built in the late 1800's and shared some construction techniques with the museum.

Our driver pointed out many local sites. Of universal interest was an orange grove that has been sold for a housing development. I made mention that this was no different than what is happening in Florida and the couple next to me added it was exactly the same in Spain where they are from except that most of the developers are going broke. It may not be long before orange juice will something from the past.

I also remember that the big box stores used to sell lumber imported from New Zealand. Now all the New Zealand saw mills are closed and raw logs are shipped to China for processing and New Zealand has to import finished lumber products from them.

During happy hour I meet Bob and Ginger for the first time. They met in Michigan City, IN. and frequented places I remember such as Tosi's, The Red Lantern, Maxine and Heine's, Indiana Dunes, Phil Schmidt's, and others. I know a few of you are familiar with these names.

It has been a long day, so dinner in the Lido, an hour with Debby at the piano, and to bed early. I have seen all the performers in tonight's shows even though they will do something different.

My timing on the way to my cabin is such that I hear Koko, the dining room greeter, play his 4 note xylophone announcing dinner time. He walks back and forth in the hallway leading to the dining room on deck 5. He does this every night for both the 5:30 and 8:00 seating.

Tonight we travel to Auckland, arriving at 8:00 AM. This is a very important leg of our trip in that in about 2 ½ months on April 19th we will be exactly on the opposite side of the earth from where we are now. Important because passing two points opposite each other is a requirement for a true circumnavigation of the earth.

Again, I have a tour first thing in the morning. Yes it can be a pain to set an alarm on vacation, but that is the primary reason I am doing this, to see other ports of the world.