This Blog is based on photos and notes taken by Alex Reid during a cruise from Sydney around New Zealand in Nov/Dec 2015, with Trevor & Liz Parry.

Click on any image to get a higher-resolution version.

Tuesday, 24-Nov-15: Depart Sydney:
We've travelled to Sydney for us to take a cruise around New Zealand, along with Trevor & Liz Parry, aboard the Dawn Princess, followed by a couple of days sightseeing in and around Sydney, then a 2-day AARNet staff meeting in North Ryde.

Leaving Sydney Harbour:
Dawn Princess berthed at Circular Quay (this was actually after we had returned).
Our cabin aboard the Dawn Princess.
The corridor outside our cabin - goes on for ever!
We actually boarded at White Bay, and so had to sail under Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Waved to some folk who were doing the bridge climb as we went under.
Then off towards the open ocean, leaving the Bridge and Opera House behind.

Wednesday, 25-Nov-15:
This was a full day at sea, crossing the Tasman Sea to New Zealand (affectionately known as "The Ditch", separating the 2 countries).
I/we filled in the time going to a lecture on Dunedin & Akaroa; playing table tennis; having lunch; going to another lecture on Maori culture; going to the gym; having dinner; being entertained by a singer, Claude-Eric.
Crossing the Tasman Sea.

Thursday, 26-Nov-15:
Another day at sea; it included lectures on Wellington, Napier and wild life.

Friday, 27-Nov-15: Fjordland:
We entered Milford Spund, the most spectacular of the fjords on the New Zealand South Island West Coast, at 7am, sailed up it, stopped at the head, turned around, and sailed out at 9am. The night before there had been a storm, which would have prevented us from entering, but it had subsided by the time we entered; and the waterfalls were as a result spectacular! Though there was cloud cover so we couldn't see the mountain tops, eg Mitre Peak.
Cruising up Milford Sound.
So many waterfalls!
Huge amounts of water falling.

After leaving Milford Sound and cruising down the coast, we entered Thompson Sound at 11:45am; this led to Doubtful Sound which we left at 12:45pm.
Thompson/Doubtful Sound.

Entered Breaksea Sound at 2pm, leading to Dusky Sound, which we left at 3pm.
Breaksea/Dusky Sound.

Then the rugged coastline of the open sea at the foot of New Zealand.
Coastline south of the fjords.

Meanwhile, Australia was playing New Zealand in the third cricket test match - Australia won it by 3 wickets, winning the 3-match series 2:0.

Saturday, 28-Nov-15: Dunedin:
Arriving at Port Chalmers, the port for Dunedin, we took the local hop-on hop-off bus which came to the Quay, which then took us into Dunedin, passing the Station, the Octagon (city centre), Knox Church, Baldwin Street and the Botanic Gardens (where we hopped off for an hour's walk through the gardens). Then got back on and passed the University, the Museum, and the Station (where we got off). After walking around the Octagon, we watched bagpipes being played, visited the Cathedral, had coffee, and then caught the bus back to the port.
Port Chalmers - big on wood exports.
Dunedin Railway Station.
Knox Presbyterian Church.
Baldwin Street - the steepest street in the world, 1 in 2.86 at its steepest.
It must be the steepest - it says so here.
Dunedin Botanic Garden.
Dunedin Botanic Garden - lots of rhoddies, etc.
Dunedin Town Hall and St Paul's Anglican Cathedral.

Sunday, 29-Nov-15: Akaroa:
Today we anchored in the flooded caldera of an extinct volcano, which constitutes Akaroa Harbour. Akaroa was originally a French settlement, and there's still quite a lot of French influence, eg in the architecture, culture, language. We took the tender to shore and walked around the very pleasant settlement. BTW, the reason for visiting Akaroa (lovely as it is) instead of nearby Christchurch, was that Christchurch was still recovering from the severe earthquakes that destroyed many buildings in Feb 2011. I believe that Lyttelton Harbour (Christchurch's port) was unable to have us berth there yet.
The entrance to Akaroa Harbour.
Part of the "walls" of the caldera, with our ship in the distance, on the Left.
Attractive wooden houses.
A lot of lovely gardens, flowers.
A beautiful rose bloom.

Monday, 30-Nov-15: Wellington:
Today we reached Wellington, the New Zealand capital (Auckland is by far the largest city in NZ - they say Sydney is the 2nd-largest NZ city!). Here we first walked to the Te Papa Museum, which is well worth a (prolonged) visit, passing the NZ Parliament on the way. It took about 35 minutes to do the walk, and we took a taxi back at lunctime.
Part of the Parliament building called the Beehive (which many locals consider to be the 4th most ugly building in the world!).
Near the parliament is a marvellous wooden government building that looks for all the world like it's built of stone.

NZ was in the midst of a Referendum on changing the flag, with these alternatives provided to vote on. It surprised me enormously when they voted to keep the current flag - I thought the one on the far Left was wonderful.
A billboard with the alternative flags displayed.

On arrival at Te Papa (full name Te Papa Tongarewa, which means "container of treasures"), we spent 2+ hours but could happily have spent much longer. We took in not just local artifacts, etc, but also an earthquake house, and a special exhibition (developed in conjunction with Weta Studios) commemorating the Gallipoli campaign in the Dardanelles in WWI, starting in April 2015.
An animated pictogram of the Anzac Cove landing.
Overview of the peninsular and landing site(s).
Larger-than-life model of medico during the fight.
A typical Maori meeting house.
The earthquake house - enter and be shaken!

During the afternoon we took a coach tour which took in numerous Lord of the Rings locations, the Weta Studios (where much of the special effects were created), and Mount Victora, giving splendid views over the city.
The huge Orc Lord Azog guards the entrance to Weta Studios.
Gollem and other creatures are also present.
A forested area on Mount Wellington was the location for a scene where the Nazgul tried to attack Frodo.
A panoramic view over Wellington from Mount Victoria.
Wellington is one of the windiest cities in the world (after Chicago, before Perth?).

Tuesday, 1-Dec-15: Napier:
Travelling up the East coast of the North Island of NZ, we came first to Napier. Napier is the Art Deco capital of NZ, because the town was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt in art decoo style.
We departed Napier at 2pm, and the afternoon was occupied with usual activities: lunch, gym, table tennis, video on Fjordland, talk about Bay of Islands, 2 lots of entertainment, dinner...
Rows of art deco buildings.
Napier Trinity Methodist church.
St Paul's Anglican cathedral.
Inside the cathedral.
The six sisters, the only houses to survive the earthquake.
Vintage cars sustain the art deco image.
Trevor Parry found a public piano to play.
An art deco fountain.
Lily pond in the gardens.
A lily flower in the pond.

Wednesday, 2-Dec-15: Tauranga:
We used the local hop-on hop-off bus to get us into town, and we got off at the Elms Mission House mid-morning for a guided tour, followed by strolling around the grounds and then visiting a nearby rose garden. We got back on the bus at lunchtime and made our way back to the ship.
In the afternoon, I ventured out again, walking into town, and then around Mount Manganui, and then up the smaller Mt Drury.
Meanwhile, the Parrys took a tour to Matamata to see Hobbiton - we didn't do this, as it was quite expensive and we were booked to travel around NZ by car in 14 months' time, when we fully expected to go there ourselves (see
Elms Mission House.
The dining room of Elms Mission House.
The rose garden.
One beautiful rose bloom.
Pohutukawa trees.
Pohutukawa tree blossom - often called NZ's Christmas Tree.
A panoramic view over Tauranga from Mount Manganui (ship just visible on the Right).

Thursday, 3-Dec-15: Auckland:
Once again, we made good use of the local hop-on hop-off bus service, using the Red line as well as the Blue line. Initially, we took the Red line bus past Bastian Point, Parnell Rose garden, and Holy Trinity Cathedral where we dismounted. After a visit there (beautiful school choirs singing in the Cathedral) we got back on to get to the Museum, where we transferred to the Blue line to get to Eden Garden, where we wandered round the gardens (formerly a quarry). Thence via Blue line again to Eden Park, Spring Gardens, the Zoo, MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) and back to the Museum. We got off to visit the Winter Gardens (temperate and tropical greenhouse flowers). Back on the Red line we went to Parnell Village, Civic Theatre, Sky City (the high communications tower used for bungey jumping), Viaduct Harbour (to see the America's Cup contender), and the Ferry Building.
Thence a short walk back to the ship.
Auckland CBD and waterfront from the ship as we departed.
View of Auckland CBD from ship, with Customs House in foreground.
Auckland Cathedral.
Auckland Cathedral interior.
Parnell Rose Garden.
Eden Garden.
Eden Park houses (a posh neighbourhood).
Wintergarden - one of the greenhouses.
Wintergarden floral displays.
Wintergarden floral displays.
Wintergarden floral displays.
Wintergarden floral displays.
Wintergarden floral displays.
A silver fern - whence NZ sporting teams get their name.
Auckland Tower.

Friday, 4-Dec-15: Bay of Islands:
The Bay of Islands, on NZ's NE coast, was first explored by Europeans when Captain James Cook came and spent a while here in 1769. He counted 140 islands, but today's count is only 88, as to be an "island" it must be above water at all times and have some vegetation. The French landed here in 1771, and many of their sailors got sick. They had no understanding of the local langauge (unlike Cook who had a friendly Maori prince to help him). A big battle ensued with the French killing 200 Maoris. They stayed here for 3 months, and tried to claim New Zealand for the French.
It is famously the site for the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, which was agreed to by the British and all the Maori chiefs in 1840. Sadly, that didn't mean that all was happiness between the locals and the British - it turns out that the Maori translation is somewhat different to the English - war broke out in 1845 and lasted 6 years. Even today, although the treaty is often held up as a model of agreement between indigenous and colonials, many feel it doesn't do the locals justice. But it did give Maoris rights as "British Subjects".
HMS Ngatokimatawhaorua waka taua (canoe war, the largest in the world). Built in 1940 to commemorate 100th anniversary of signing of Treaty of Waitangi.
Maori Meeting House.
Carvings inside the Maori Meeting House.
The Treaty House, where the treaty was signed. Home of James Busby, the official representative of the British Government in New Zealand.
The original New Zealand flag.

Approaching the "Hole in the Rock".
Creeping closer to the Hole in the Rock.
About to sail through the Hole.

Alex Reid