Friday, February 11, 2011

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

 This morning stared very early for both of us. Jai was here with our breakfast at 7:00 AM since I was heading in to kayak at 8:00. I left Mom behind and joined the group of about 20 fellow guests who were also going kayaking. A few brave souls were going skydiving, so I bid them “via condios”. We had about a 10-minute tender ride before arriving at the pier and then had to walk about 700 m to the departure point. We were all outfitted with either dual one or two person kayaks. Since I am rather independent, I opted for the single kayak. These were slightly different than what I used in Puerto Rico a few weeks back as these had pedals for steering as opposed to just using the oars. I’ll have to say it seems like it would be easier, but it took a bit of getting used to. We had to paddle about 45 minutes before arriving at the waterfall.
We did have a few stops in between to look at the various wildlife. The water was fairly smooth, but had been churned up due to recent cyclones. After enjoying some time at the waterfall we did come ashore for a brief break with snacks. The sun is extremely strong here due to the lack of ozone overhead. After a 30 minute break it was time to paddle back. The wind was against us, so it was not as easy as it would seem. We arrived back in time to get on the tender and head back to the ship. It was already 1:15 and we had to meet at 1:20 in the Theatre for the afternoon excursion. I changed clothes quickly, grabbed Mom, and headed out. We ended up waiting a bit, but were soon on our way to the Waitangi Meeting House where the treaty was signed in 1840. The Maori influence here is seen all around. We enjoyed a tour of the grounds and of course seeing the intricate carvings on the Meeting House. 
We saw an enormous fig tree on property and enjoyed some of the fresh figs that were just ripe. From there we went down to the shoreline where they had a number of the “waka” or war canoes. 

We were also fortunate enough to see many of the arts and crafts at are indigenous to this area and of course the Maori culture. We had high tea this afternoon, which was also lunch for the two of us. The food was fantastic! This was followed by a traditional Maori welcome featuring the songs and dances of the local Maori tribe. One of the signature greetings which is meant to either scare off or introduce yourself to other tribes is that sticking out of the tongue and opening your eyes very wide. It is certainly something to see. 
They even had an "opposing tribe" arrive via canoe. 
I can’t believe I’m even going to write about this, but they had something called the “Super Loo”. It was an outdoor “port-o-potty” that was incredible. I have been in some really nice ones before, but this was complete with running water, flushing toilettes and even artwork!!  I should have taken a picture as we were both really impressed. About 5:30 we headed back to the ship. The seas were a bit rough and somewhat challenging to disembark. Mom did great, not only on the tender, but on the entire trip this afternoon. I think she is ready for anything. We were trying to decide what to do for dinner and managed to get reservations at “Stars” which is a small tapas restaurant and jazz club. I think we were able to get in since tonight is the last evening for about ½ of the ship. Dinner was incredible. The food was such small portions, but every bite was delectable. We are already looking forward to our next dining experience there. Many people come there just for the jazz music. 
We opted to head back to the bar and listen to our favorite Eric O’Bach. We have truly enjoyed listening to his music and will continue to do so. 
Clifford, our favorite bar waiter is leaving tomorrow in Auckland for his 3 month hiatus. We will really miss having him as he always remembers what we drink. We called it an early evening, so to speak, though it is already after midnight. 
On the way back to our room we noticed all of the suitcases that are put out for those that are leaving. Tomorrow we arrive in Auckland and I turn a year older. 

1 comment:

Courtney Kaefer said...

HAppy Birthday from The Kaefer Family!!!!! We will have a Magnum of Champagne to celebrate next time I see you. Hope you are having a fabulous time (it sounds like you are) and hugs and kisses to your mother.