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From Auckland to Sydney Part III: Dunedin

Dunedin, Fiordland National Park and Sailing across the Tasman Sea

PART III

DAY 9- Dunedin, New Zealand (1/10/05)

An overcast sky greeted us as we arrived at the dock in Port Chalmers, 7 miles from the city of Dunedin. Dunedin was settled by Scottish pioneers and is the fourth largest city in New Zealand. Even with the early morning cloudiness, the dark green hills and valleys, Victorian buildings and churches were a lovely sight to behold.

Our tour this day was somewhat different from the others we had chosen. “Town & Country by Train” was described in the tour package as a “trip back in time” and that statement was so true. At 2:00pm we stepped off the gangway to sunshine (Yeah!) and boarded a vintage train for a ride along the coastline of northern Dunedin. The Taieri Gorge train had been reserved exclusively for Princess Passengers so we had the cars to ourselves.

Mom and I chose two seats with a table by a large picture window. The table had been set for a meal and beverages. As the train started off down the track, our coach hostesses served us our choice of orange juice, champagne or both (mimosas). With our mimosas in hand, we watched the harbor and parts of the city go by as we traveled along the railway line. Over the next 3 hours we were treated to beautiful countryside and dramatic coastline views while listening to informative commentary from the train engineer. The emerald green water of the ocean and the white sandy beaches extended for miles and large ranch-styled homes could be seen along the hillsides.

Afternoon Tea was served halfway through the trip at a turnaround point. We had a choice of tea or coffee and were given finger sandwiches, tea cakes and scones to eat. A pretty yellow flower was included with our meal. I saw those flowers on the jackets of many passengers after that trip (including mine). It was a nice reminder of a lovely afternoon.

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SAILAWAY was also very different on that day. From inside our cabin, we could hear the sound of music from outside. When we went out on the balcony, we could see a Bag Pipe band in full Scottish regalia serenading us from the dock. The music was lovely and very moving as well. What an appropriate sendoff from a wonderful city and beautiful country! As the ship moved slowly out of the harbor, we could see hundreds of people lining the shore, waving goodbye. We all waved back as the largest cruise ship to ever visit New Zealand headed toward the Tasman Sea and Australia.

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DAY 10- Fiordland National Park, Day at Sea (1/11/05)

Leaving the mainland of New Zealand, we entered Dusky Sound, part of Fiordland National Park. This part of the Tasman Sea is lined with 6000 and 7000 foot mountain peaks, some capped with snow. What was so stunning about the mountains was that they raised high into the sky and went down straight into the ocean. I had never seen anything like it before.

All day long we sailed through the park. With a bright blue sky and deep blue water as a back ground, the green tree covered mountains were a sight to behold. As we entered Milford Sound in the late afternoon, we saw a waterfall rushing out of the side of a mountain and lots of smaller ships cruising by. Our cabin television showed views from the ship’s deck cam as the voice of a local guide described each vista and told us about the history of the area. We were told to keep an eye out for dolphins and fur seals but we never could see them. There were too many things to look at and photograph. Our cameras got quite a work out that day! Of course, pictures could never come close to seeing the real thing.

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DAYS 11 and 12, Crossing the Tasman Sea (1/12-13/05)

The first day crossing the Tasman Sea was “a little rough” as some would say. The weather was chilly and rainy. The sea waves were high. Many of the Aussies on board told us that this was normal but we were all hoping for better conditions later on. The movement of the ship didn’t bother me at all. I have very good sea legs, but Mom had a tough time the first day.

We developed a routine during the crossing that worked pretty well. Our mini-suite was very spacious and comfortable (we had a bathtub and two TV’s!) so we spent a lot of time relaxing and reading or watching movies in the cabin. After room service breakfast, we’d go to the internet café and send messages home. My husband Reginald got a daily report on our activities and I got comfort from knowing everything was Ok at home. The rest of the day we spent at the indoor Lotus Pool or at a wine tasting (my favorite) or some other onboard event mentioned in the Patter that day.

We had “Anytime Dining” so we ate at a different restaurant almost every night and then we went to the Princess Theater or the Explorers Lounge to see a comedy show or musical production. The entertainment options were endless and changed every 3 to 4 days. All the shows were very good and they kept us out of the casino, which was not.

The best part of the Tasman crossing was the chance to meet and talk to a lot of great people including several Australians. At almost every meal we would strike up great conversations with our fellow passengers that would be entertaining and fun. We learned a lot from our new Aussie friends and I think they learned a lot from us. Before we knew it the sea days came to an end and we were heading into our first Australian port of call, Hobart, Tasmania.

END OF PART III

Posted by Gerriv 12:51

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Comments

Since you mentioned the wonderful Aussies and Kiwis whom we met, we must mention our new "Aussie Cousins" Diana and Stephen Lee with whom we stay in touch, and your telephone pals as well. They might read this one day and we want them to know we think that they are super!

by Jo Grant

Yes indeed! Diana, Stephen and my friends Leslie and Gisbert. I miss seeing them all, but maybe one day we will go back to Australia for a visit with our friends!

by Gerriv

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