Cruise Specialists hosts Steve and Wendy Bodenheimer are continuing to share their journey with us from aboard the 2016 Holland America World Cruise. Previously they shared the experience of navigating the Panama Canal, sailing the Pacific in to French Polynesia, the Cook Islands and today they take us to New Zealand.
In contrast to the small Cook Islands, our next day was spent in Auckland, often called the “City of Sails”; home to over 1 million people, it’s all about boating.
Giant marinas are everywhere, with every size and shape boat, both sail and power. We hosted a tour this morning for our Cruise Specialists Guests, which included a drive around the city where we saw boat garages, drydocks, and all kinds of support businesses for the boating industry. The Sky Tower, tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, dominates the skyline.
The main stop on our tour was the Auckland War Memorial Museum, sitting high above the city in a park like area called the Domain. It houses an extensive collection of Maori artifacts, which supplemented all of the things we’d been learning through our onboard Maori educational experiences. One interesting piece of trivia for the day – our tour guide (doing double duty as the bus driver) has been the regular driver for the New Zealand All Blacks for the past 10 years – the World Champion Rugby team – and we were on their official team bus. We also got a pretty good sample of the less than cordial relationship between Australia and New Zealand. Our driver had lots of little jokes and barbs aimed at the Aussies. Luckily, no one on our bus is from there.
Our third and final stop in New Zealand was Picton, gateway to the famous wine-producing Marlborough region. This was much more our kind of place, it’s a tiny town but in a very scenic location. We again hosted a tour here with three fun stops: Aviation Heritage Center, Hunter’s Winery and Makana Confections.
The first is call the Omaka Aerodrome or Aviation Heritage Center – a remarkable collection of authentic and reproduction aircraft from World War I. All the items are owned by Sir Peter Jackson, creator of Lord of the Rings and local hero.
It’s a Smithsonian-like display of planes and other historical items from the period. We were told that plans are in the works for an expansion to include a World War II section. Our Guests loved it. The Aerodrome is actually in the town of Blenheim, about 45 minutes from Picton. As we drove toward it, we entered the land of the vineyards.
We passed Cloudy Bay, Villa Maria, and Matua among many others. For those of us who love New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, this was heavenly. Our actual stop was at Hunter’s Winery, where we had a tasting and buying opportunity. Almost everyone purchased at least one bottle, and some more. Then it was on to Makana Confections, a local chocolate manufacturer. We could watch them making the product, but the samples were the main point of interest. Macadamia nut crunch was the sample of the day and presented another buying opportunity which our guests readily took advantage of. Someone said they were just trying to use up their New Zealand Dollars!
We had already had a full day, but we wanted to explore Picton itself. We headed into town, through the lovely harbor area and then headed out on a harbor trail. It wound itself around the shoreline and then up to a fabulous lookout point above the city. It was a great but challenging walk – quite a steep incline.
We left New Zealand far too soon. We didn’t get to see any activities involving sheep or sheep herding, which are very popular and we missed our chance to eat some green lipped mussels, the local delicacy. We did take a taste of the country with us through our purchased wine and chocolate which we can enjoy for a while longer. Lots to look forward to if we are fortunate enough to return here.
Now, we have three days at sea now to get to Melbourne, Australia. We are expecting some rough weather – getting ready to rock and roll (that wine might come in handy!).
DON’T MISS OUT ON YOUR CHANCE TO EXPERIENCE THE WORLD!