A Travellerspoint blog

January 2018

Sydney to Auckland

Port Chalmers/Dunedin

sunny 70 °F

We arrived at Port Chalmers, about 20 minutes from Dunedin about 8:00am this morning. Dunedin (Māori: Ōtepoti) is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the principal city of the Otago region. Its name comes from Dùn Èideann, the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. The urban area lies on the central-eastern coast of Otago, surrounding the head of Otago Harbour. The harbour and hills around Dunedin represent the remnants of an extinct volcano. The city suburbs extend out into the surrounding valleys and hills, onto the isthmus of the Otago Peninsula, and along the shores of the Otago Harbour and the Pacific Ocean. Dunedin was the largest New Zealand city by territorial land area until superseded by Auckland on the creation of the Auckland Council in November 2010.

Our tour today was aboard the Taieri Gorge Railway. Departing from Dunedin’s beautiful railway station the Taieri Gorge Railway begins its scenic journey into some of New Zealand’s most ever-changing, spectacular and iconic scenery. The train travels through the Southern parts of Dunedin city until it arrives at Wingatui junction where it turns off onto the Taieri branch. From here the train sneaks across the Taieri Plains and climbs into the Taieri Gorge, a narrow and deep gorge carved out over aeons by the ancient Taieri River. The train negotiates the gorge with ease as it travels through ten tunnels and over countless bridges and viaducts. This is a wonderful adventure, well worth every penny!

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Posted by rpickett 20:09 Archived in New Zealand Tagged dunedin Comments (0)

Sydney to Auckland

Fjordland National Park

overcast 60 °F

Our adventure today was cruising Fjordland National Park. The fourteen fiords that fringe this south-west corner of the South Island were 100,000 years in the making, with the final details added during the most recent ice age just 10,000 years ago. The Maori attributed the creation of the fiords to a giant stonemason called Tute Rakiwhanoa, who hued out the steep sided valleys with his adzes. On all sides of the fiords, spectacular waterfalls tumble incessantly as the region's plentiful rainfall finds its way to the sea. Described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’, Milford Sound is always spectacular - daily scenic flights and cruises reveal its beauty to visitors. At 421 metres, Doubtful Sound is the deepest of New Zealand’s fiords. It’s a haven for nature, with resident bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins. The remaining two-thirds of Fiordland National Park are covered by virgin beech and pod carp forest. A 500 kilometre network of walking tracks allows visitors to explore the primeval world of mountain peaks, alpine lakes and moss-carpeted valleys. In 1990 Fiordland was listed as a United Nations World Heritage site and given the name Te Wahipounamu - 'the place of greenstone', after the area's most treasured mineral resource.
The interesting part of the day, in addition to the wonderful narration by a retired park ranger was passing two ships in the Fjords, Royal Caribbbean's Ovation of the Seas and Ponant's L'Austral. Although cloudy and misty at times, the scenery was spectacular.

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Posted by rpickett 19:13 Archived in New Zealand Tagged park national fjordland Comments (0)

Sydney to Auckland

Cruising to Fjordland, New Zealand

semi-overcast 68 °F

Our first two days have been spent at sea transiting southeast toward the west coast of the Southern Island of New Zealand. The first day was rather quiet and we enjoyed the comfort of our cabin.

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On day two in the morning we had the standard cruise vegetable carving by three very talented Philipino chefs. In the space of a few minutes they created some very imaginative creatures!

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The highlight of the day was learning the New Zealand National Rugby Team "All Black Haka". If you have seen the Kiwi's play, it is quite a show. The All Blacks have been doing a traditional Haka for about 100 years, with the current version the last 20 years ago. A Haka is a Mali tradition for just about every type of occasion....some are scripted, some spontaneous. It was a blast!

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Posted by rpickett 18:32 Archived in New Zealand Tagged to cruising fjordland Comments (0)

Sydney to Auckland

Underway from Sydney

sunny 70 °F

Our hotel, the Ovolo at Wooloomooloo is one of the top hotels in Sydney, located in a former warehouse in the Wooloomooloo district. The building itself is on the Australian Historic Register because of its storied heritage. In addition to the hotel rooms, there are also apartments in the building, one of which is owned by Russell Crowe, but he did not invite us to dinner last night.
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We checked out of the hotel just after 11:00am and our driver met us at about 11:25am. It was about a 20 minute drive to the modern cruise terminal and we check in and boarded in a total of about 15 minutes. About as smooth as you could get.

After the standard muster drill we got underway for one of the great cruise departures in the world. We commented that it rivaled getting underway from Stockholm, which was truly spectacular. Of course the highlight was passing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Under the direction of Dr John Bradfield of the NSW Department of Public Works, the bridge was designed and built by British firm Dorman Long and Co Ltd of Middlesbrough and opened in 1932. The bridge's design was influenced by the Hell Gate Bridge in New York City. It is the sixth longest spanning-arch bridge in the world and the tallest steel arch bridge, measuring 134 m (440 ft) from top to water level. It was also the world's widest long-span bridge, at 48.8 m (160 ft) wide, until construction of the new Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver was completed in 2012. It was fun to see the folks on top of the bridge. One of the more popular Sydney attractions is taking a tour to the top of the bridge!

The next two days are at sea, before arriving at Fjordland in New Zealand. We also move our clocks ahead two hours over the next two nights.

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Posted by rpickett 23:22 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney Comments (0)

Sydney to Auckland

Syndey

semi-overcast 72 °F

Our adventure for January is a cruise from Sydney Australia to Auckland New Zealand aboard Princess. I have been to Australia several times but have never been to the land of the "All Blacks".
I flew to San Francisco on New Years Eve to meet up with my cruise buddy who was visiting his daughter in Oakland. After a quiet day watching football, we boarded a Qantas flight for the 13.5 hour trip to Sydney. Their business class service was excellent, and we landed at 6:30 in the morning on January 3rd. Skipped January 2nd this year because of the Date Line.

Our driver was waiting for us and we headed to our hotel in the Wooloomooloo district of Sydney, on the water and next to the Botanical Gardens. Since our room was not ready, we decided to take a stroll over to the Sydney Opera House through the Gardens. It was a great way to stretch a little!

The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the building was formally opened on 20 October 1973 after a gestation beginning with Utzon's 1957 selection as winner of an international design competition. The government of New South Wales, led by the premier, Joseph Cahill, authorised work to begin in 1958 with Utzon directing construction. The government's decision to build Utzon's design is often overshadowed by circumstances that followed, including cost and scheduling overruns as well as the architect's ultimate resignation. The building and its surrounds occupy the whole of Bennelong Point on Sydney Harbour, between Sydney Cove and Farm Cove, adjacent to the Sydney central business district and the Royal Botanic Gardens, and close by the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Though its name suggests a single venue, the building comprises multiple performance venues which together host well over 1,500 performances annually, attended by more than 1.2 million people. Performances are presented by numerous performing artists, including three resident companies: Opera Australia, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. As one of the most popular visitor attractions in Australia, more than eight million people visit the site annually, and approximately 350,000 visitors take a guided tour of the building each year. The building is managed by the Sydney Opera House Trust, an agency of the New South Wales State Government. On 28 June 2007, the Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The first farm by European settlers on the Australian continent, at Farm Cove, was established in 1788 by Governor Phillip. Although that farm failed, the land has been in constant cultivation since that time, as ways were found to make the relatively infertile soils more productive. The Botanic Gardens were founded on this site by Governor Macquarie in 1816 as part of the Governor's Domain. Australia's long history of collection and study of plants began with the appointment of the first Colonial Botanist, Charles Fraser, in 1817. The Botanic Gardens is thus the oldest scientific institution in Australia and, from the earliest days, has played a major role in the acclimatisation of plants from other regions. After a succession of colonial botanists and superintendents, including the brothers Richard and Allan Cunningham, both also early explorers, John Carne Bidwill was appointed as the first Director in 1847.

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Our driver on the way into the hotel suggested we get a hot dog at Harry's Famous Pies - it would make Coney Island jealous!
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Posted by rpickett 21:16 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney Comments (0)

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