Thursday 18th December 2014
Here we are in the Tasman Sea again, having in the meantime circumnavigated the the North Island of New Zealand. We are heading back to Sydney now, the port from which we left ten days ago and our estimated time of arrival is on Saturday 20th December.
Our luxurious cabin aboard the ship
The cruise aboard this magnificent ship has been wonderful and though it has rained occasionally, as I remember it was always prone to do in New Zealand fifty years ago, this hasn’t spoiled our experience too much, as it has thoughtfully only commenced during our shore leaves just as we were returning aboard.
The ‘Voyager of the Seas’ berthed at Auckland
There was only one occasion when the weather was a little less discriminatory and that was on the day we docked at Tauranga when the rain began soon after we berthed and continued throughout the day till we sailed.Janis and I arrived back at the ship in this case thoroughly wet through having climbed to the seven hundred feet or so summit of the local Mount Maunganui.
Of the five ports visited in five consecutive days only Auckland, our first port and Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, were of any size. The others, Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty, Napier in Hawke’s Bay and Picton our only port in the South Island, were really not much larger than villages.
Auckland and Wellington are graced still by much of the Victorian architecture that displays their early British heritage and Napier, which unfortunately was completely destroyed by an earthquake in the early 1930’s, was rebuilt completely in the Art Nouveau style popular at that time. This is now listed and the town looked very spruce since the exterior paintwork has been maintained so well ever since. During the ship’s stay there the passengers were rightly entertained in the streets by musicians and singers imitating that Gatsby style period. Many fine pre-war motor cars were there as well waiting to be hired with suitably dressed chauffeurs.
Art Nouveau street in Napier
Statue of ‘Pania of the Reef’ today
The same spot in May 1958 with crew of MV‘Imperial Star’
Of course I took my camera ashore on all occasions as there was many strange birds and flowers to record.
During our shore leave in the last port of call Picton, Janis and I boarded a small aeroplane on floats and were treated to a thirty minute flight around the creeks and islands in the area.
Flying a bit bumpily at an altitude of 1000 feet the thick tree covered promontories and sandy bays, mostly untouched by Human hand and the water so clear that one could see beneath the surface to great depths, could be appreciated so much more. It was magnificent.
But now we are on our way back to Australia, for Sydney Airport on Saturday afternoon, to catch a plane to Perth in Western Australia, where we have been invited to stay with Janis’s father till after Christmas. That will be wonderful too as it was 1968 when I was last in this city.
So how are you old friend? Looking at the BBC weather forecasts in your area over the last few days, it doesn't seem that you would have suffered too much from the freezing cold as temperatures seem to have hovered above freezing point day and night. Long may it continue.
I think of you a lot and miss you of course. This is the longest that you and I have ever been apart. I know your leisure batteries are suspect and I have arranged for Rob the engineer to come aboard a bit later on to change them ready for next year’s cruising. So when he clumps aboard don’t worry old girl and you will feel so much better when he’s done the job.
The midships shopping area etc of ship
In the meantime I’ll sign off and write again probably from Perth. Since there is no economical wi-fi aboard the ‘Voyager of the Seas’ it is not likely that this letter will be forwarded till we arrive in Sydney. But the date shown at the top is the date of writing.
Goodbye for now old friend
Old Salt the Ancient Mariner