Auckland NZ: Holland America Cruise Port

The New Zealand Story So Far:

This is the third day at sea. It has been difficult and expensive to blog during the last few days.

Auckland, New Zealand:

I love the Aucklanders and their friendly civility. They go out of their way to help. I first encountered this with the Qantas stewardi, who were not old and snippy like the usual airplane servers. I chalked it up to the fact that all “Qantas Help” seemed to be under 30 years old.

Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour Tour was what sold me on NZ.

Usually, I refuse to go on most Tourist Trap Tours, but Ray had already paid for the harbor tour. There was something intangible, but I felt like I could live in Auckland. It’s just the right size.

If the US falls apart, this could be my new home…however, the flight to get to The States is BRUTAL.

Holland America, The Volendam:

The name of the ship sounds like a swear word, ie “Volendam You!”

We’ve had fun hanging out with our tour friends. As I’m typing this…I…woosh…am…swoop…get…ting… sea…arf…sick…umpf.

I’m Ok now. I put on my wristbands.

The White Island:

Yesterday at sea, we spent an hour going around White Island. It was a virtual Mt. St. Helen’s as that mountain was about 5-10 years back. Presently, White Island is a blown-out rock with the spewing steam happily happening at sea-level and with most of the “mountain” below the water line.

There were white puffs of sulphurous steam seaping out of cracks, then the steam would rupture out in a giant whoosh, then slow, then woosh again. It was like the “rock” was breathing.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Though, it was not as regular as breathing, which was a bit unnerving. It gives the viewer new meaning to the words “Active” and “Dormant”.

Holland America Cruise Port: Tauranga, New Zealand:

The name Tauranga is easy to remember if one thinks in 60’s terms. The Taurus lives in Topanga. And this little burg is a bit like the 60’s.

The Teenies and the Twenties are all around with their backpacks. Hoards of backpackers are running round here because February is

Tauranga is a sleepy little seaside town, and the locals are frighteningly friendly and helpful. The “adults” who are my age are pensioners.

After stocking up on non-durable goods such as nail polish and mouthwash in Tauranga proper, we strolled the narrow beach on the
way back to the Volendam-you. We watched a class learn to scuba-breathe in the shallow waters.

We took a few pics of the conicular “Mount” (where a tour gal-friend was climbing), and a lovely retired couple walked up to chat with us. Their names were Ron and Nancy, just like the Reagans they said… and I love easy names to remember. (I’ve decided that everyone should be required to wear a sticky paper with their name on it.)

Anyway, Ron and Nancy asked us if we were from the ship, blah, blah, blah, and I had a lovely opportunity to find out about the Tauranga area. R&N live on the other side of the something? mountains. They came to NZ 30 years ago from England. And, boy they certainly did look like proper Brits. We asked about NZ’s socialized health care and now I (think I) understand that there is a two-tiered system, where one has the option to have private insurance or government insurance.

N&R did give the impression that the fancy-dancy medical machines and procedures were more difficult to come by… though I may be reading too much into the conversation. R&N would have stayed and chatted all day, and they were so friendly and truly interested in our story, however, it was too hot and humid for me and my new, current medication, so we ambled on down the beach.

Well, 100 yards away was another couple (pensioners also) sitting on a bench in the shade of a tree of foreign origin.

Almost to Napier:

At sea now. The ocean is so blue. The clouds are so pluffy (yes that’s the correct Bush-Speak word). And, we are so far away from the “civilized corporate corrupted corraled” world that I find myself thinking, “Madoff who?” and, “Who gives a volendam about Afghanistan?”

In an hour we will be at the port of Napier. I have signed us up for the Sheep Show. (No, nothing like that!) We get to watch the critters get haircuts and we get to watch some little pup yap at the sheep until they behave. It sounds so much like one of my favorite movies, Babe the Pig, that I had to check this excursion out.

Normally, I like very cheap vacations and I don’t pay for many excursions. I like to stay away from Luxury Coaches (buses…people they are BUSES ! ). However, I decided I’d like to go inland a little so I could see more of than the NZ coastline. And, watching the pooch and the sheep sounded like fun.

There are tons of winery tours, but I can’t drink while taking my current meds and Ray only downs fou-fou drinks with umbrellas and tons of sugar.

Right now, the gawd-volendam ship is slowing down and we are at port. Ciao, baby.


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