Today is a good day! My iPhoto library is done and I found my photo stream in the clouds! What a wonderful day. We had our usual breakfast at Starbucks.
Off we went to my cute Doctors appointment....the cardiologist...everything is fine and structurally my heart is normal ....for those of you who think I am heartless....my doctor says you are wrong....yea for the doctor!
I got a new mouse and I was able to pay for it using my iPhone! I can't believe it...then I put it in my purse and just walked out the door. I am so special and so TECH savvy!
Where we did not go today....but the Amsterdam did!
Day 34 Tauranga, New Zealand February 8, 2013 Friday
The port of call for today was Tauranga, New Zealand. Just a three hour drive south of Auckland, Tauranga is totally different from the big city. Tauranga has population of 116,500 lucky people. To be more precise, the Amsterdam was docked in the beachside suburb at Mount Maunganui, with a smaller population of 15, 600 of even luckier people. We say that because this resort-like town is situated on a narrow peninsula, which is surrounded by Pilot Beach and the Main Beach of the Pacific Ocean. The focal point of this suburb is Mount Maunganui, an extinct volcano that rises up 232 meters high (761 feet).
A popular tour out of this city is Rotorua, a national theme park with geysers and sulfur pools. The Maori Arts and Crafts Institute is also we decided to stay here and enjoy our day exploring this little bit of paradise.
The weather was as good as it gets........warm, with a cool breeze. We actually made two trips walking to two beaches and then a hike through the town center. The tide was out at Pilot Beach, close to where the ship was docked. Again, we were not alone, since the Europa had already beat us to the pier early this morning. This gentle section of beach is suitable for families with small kids. While a few little ones romped in the surf and dug holes in the sand, we spotted three foot long octopi swimming in the shallow water. We did recall on our last visit here that we saw fishermen hoisting these octopus out of the water at Salisbury Wharf. Must be a feeding spot for these strange-looking creatures. Assuming the locals know of the presence, they must also know they are the harmless type.
At the end of this beach was the looming Mount Maunganui, with a "free" hiking track around the base, reportedly a 45 minute walk. It is possible to summit the peak, and we later found out that friends Bill & Leta did just that. You would never guess that one of them is nearing 80. With one of us still nursing a sore leg, we turned right instead, and headed across the peninsula to the real beach with the waves and miles of scenic coastline. This is the spot for volleyball tournaments, surf life saving events, skydiving, various exhibitions, and swimming in hot salt water pools. Benches were numerous for relaxing and watching the world go by.
There is an island connected by a narrow pathway from the beach. We walked high enough on this island to get some really good photos of the cliffs and beach below. Some fellows were fishing from the volcanic rocks, but we never did see what they were catching. There were a few surfers, some brave swimmers (waters look very cold), and many sunbathers. Dogs were allowed on one side of the beach, and it was fun watching them romp in the waves.
The nearby downtown section was really one main street lined with cafes, bars, small boutiques, and souvenier shops. Again, we were shocked at the high prices of everything from beer to clothing. Maybe that is why there were so many second-hand stores selling used clothing for half price. A very unique type of clothing here is made from the wool of possums. Sounds weird, but the sweaters and socks were really soft and nice, if you can get past the "possum" thing. A poncho made from this fur cost about $199. NZ dollars.
The best buy we found was the generous scoop of hokey pokey ice cream for less than half of what we paid in Auckland. Perhaps it was not as creamy, but every bit as good. It was the perfect way to end our visit to this lovely part of New Zealand.
Sailaway was around 6pm, and of course, we joined the crowd at the aft pool to listen to the live band and take photos as we left. More than half of the passengers were eating dinner, so there were fewer people back there. Once the ship was out of the protected harbor, the wind drove the rest of the folks inside. It was really cold.
Our hosts, Lucia and Henk, joined us for dinner. They are such delightful people, and are always a pleasure to have with us all. Tomorrow we will be on a tour with them in Napier, another short ride down the east coast of the North Island. And we are sure to have a great time.
Mary Ann & Bill
Day 34 Tauranga, New Zealand, photos from Jeff's blog, World Adventures
Today was a wonderful day exploring the Mount Maunganui area…. It was a very active day which started by climbing to the top of Mount Maunganui… great exercise and a magnificent view. We then headed back down and ran into Brad, Gloria, Fred & Carol who were just completing the trails circling Mount maunganui. We stopped for some refreshments and then walked through town checking out the beach and shops. After lunch, I decided to head back out to Mount Maunganui and took the trail around the base… wonderful scenery! It turned out to be just a beautiful day while staying pretty close to the ship…. Tomorrow, Napier, New Zealand.