The glowing pink sky of the predawn morning outlined the numerous islands as we started our approach to our anchorage in Waitangi (Bay of Islands). Rain was forecast, but fortunately it appears to be wrong and the dawn light begins to illuminate a partly cloudy sky. The Maori team was on the bow performing an arrival ceremony as we approached our anchorage spot and the sun peered over distant islands casting the days first shadows.
After our motion stops, the sounds of the tenders diesels fill the air and the familiar orange boats lumber toward shore to establish our beachhead. What a wonderful day.
Gene announces opening tendering until 8am when the tours will start. They would require tender tickets from until 8am until 10:30 am. We relaxed in our cabin until they announced open tendering and proceeded to deck A to board the next available tender. We waited about 5 minutes with a small group of people who at this point was about 50% crew. Once our tender arrived, we spoke with a few people we knew who were already coming back from shore. They were on the 7AM tender and spent about 4 ½ hours ashore, which will be about the same amount of time we plan to spend ashore, the difference being whether you want to sleep in or not. Another consideration is whether or not you have early dinner – 5:30 or late at 8pm. If you eat early, you will have to get back early to clean up for dinner and then you will miss the sail away. This is one reason we prefer the late seating. Now you can always eat in the Lido on port days, but if you have a great dinner companions as we do, then you miss a major social event of the day.
Twenty minutes after we pulled away from the ship, the tendered tied up to the pier at Waitangi. You can see a map of the layout HERE. Waitangi is about a mile from the town of Paihai and many passengers chose to walk, while others, including us, chose to take the free shuttle bus that was perfectly timed with the tender arrivals – no waiting!
We arrived in Paihai in a few minutes and hurried over to the ferry pier where we caught the ferry to Russell, a quaint little town across the bay. After a 20 minute ferry ride, we arrived in Russell and stopped into a convenience store called Four Square where we bought some post cards, stamps and some snacks.
A Dutch door labeled Russell Radio caught my eye next to the Four Square store. At first I thought it may be a local broadcast station, but it turned out that this was service for local boaters to keep people ashore advised of their sailing plans and when they expect to return – sorta like filing a flight plan for boats. He didn’t seem very busy and was eager to chat and answer my questions about how the system worked.
I always enjoy looking at local bulletin boards. It gives you a sense for the town.
Russell is a very small town and we were covered it from one end to the other and arrived at the Russell museum. Admission was $12 each and we spent about 30 minutes looking at the various exhibits showing artifacts from the early days of Waitangi and how Captain Cook influenced events. The highlight of the museum was a 1/5 scale model of Cook’s ship the Endeavour.
Across the street we noticed a sign – Rolled Ice Cream – with an arrow pointing to an alley.
We love to sample new types of food, particularly one called “Rolled Ice Cream” Around the corner and down the alley we discovered to our disappointment that Rolled Ice Cream means Scooped Ice Cream – and was nothing different than you would find in the USA. I bought a cone of Hokey Pokey ice cream, which is vanilla filled with chunks of honey comb – quite delicious. I also discovered that the New Zealand coins I brought from my last trip in 2006 were no longer any good as they were replaced a few years back.
Wandering back to the pier to catch the ferry to Paihai, we stopped in a book store and Judy bought a few knitting magazines. Judy remarked that she hadn’t bought any yarn in the entire month of January which was some sort of record. I offered to sell her back some of her stash on the ship – but she didn’t find that particularly funny.
Back in Paihai after the 20 minute ferry ride, we spent some time shopping in the local craft market. We learned later that this was a local holiday – but the shops opened anyway and they set up the craft market for the cruise ship passengers since there were 2 cruise ships in port with lots of customers.
We continued up and down the streets, covering them all in about 1 hour. You can easily see everything in both towns in about 4 hours. We enjoy sampling fish and chips around the world and have yet to find any better than in small town in Scotland we discovered on our August 2014 knitting cruise thru Ireland and the UK. We came across Vinnes Fish and Chips and decided to give them a go. They were good, but not in the same league as the fish and chips in Scotland.
Time to head back to the ship and we ended up being on the last tender of the day.
Sailway was fun and we caught up with friends and compared notes of what everyone accomplished during the visit. It was very easy to book excursions ashore – on the spot – with the expected savings from booking thru HAL. Gene Young stopped by and gave us a preview of the next batch of entertainers – Comedian Rita Rudner will be joining us soon and she is expected to be a big hit.
The spotlight show is at 7:30 and is an encore performance of an earlier show. In this case it was La Musica – Adam Press and Lisa Pearson – who will be performing for the last time as Lisa plans to return to her “day job” and start plans for being a mother. They had remarked to me earlier that they wish they could get a video of their last show and I offered to shoot it with my HD Camcorder. I used my tripod and was allowed to film from the sound and light booth which gave me a great vantage point and the video turned out great. Unlike previous cruises there are no announcements restricting photographing or videoing any show – people have used common sense and keep their flashes off – without having to be asked. Their show was wonderful and they closed with a beautiful rendition of “Time to Say Goodbye” which brought tears to Lisa’s eyes as she sang the final notes. The audience erupted with a tremendous standing ovation as they closed out this chapter of their entertainment career.
The highlight of dinner was dessert. One of our table mates ordered “nothing” for dessert. Well the ever, clever HAL waiters, gave her exactly what she ordered – a dinner plate decorated in chocolate icing with the word – “Nothing”. What a sense of humor by the wonderful waiters. Every meal has been a joy.
The evening show was an encore performance by Bayne Bacon and Strings Alive who both performed new shows and were very good as expected.
After the show, we noticed very clear skies and scurried up to deck 10 above the Crows Nest where it was quite dark. We laid on deck chairs and after our eyes adjusted we were rewarded with an incredible view of thousands of stars – the highlight being a nice view of the Southern Cross.
Auckland is over the horizon and another busy day awaits.This entry was posted in Uncategorized