Day 28

We had a lovely day in Bay of Islands, New Zealand. It started out cool and foggy, but the fog lifted, the sun came out, and temps were in the mid 70’s. Tenders brought us to Waitangi, where in 1840 the Maori chiefs and British Crown signed a treaty that became the founding document for New Zealand. Tomorrow, February 6, is a national holiday commemorating this, and already we noticed crowds of people descending on this small town, preparing to camp out to celebrate this event. The actual Treaty House was blocked by security until after the reenactment of the signing so we couldn’t get photos.

We departed the pier on a lovely air-conditioned bus for a short drive to the Kawiti Caves, owned by descendants of the Maori chieftan, Kawiti. The cave’s stalactites and stalagmites were fascinating, but the true highlight was the spectacular display of thousands of glowworms illuminating the ceiling. From a distance, the glowworms’ blue-green taillights resemble a galaxy of stars in the inky blackness, a virtual Milky Way of evening stars. They produce single-string webs to trap small flying insects. Photography was not allowed in the glowworm area, because light startles them and makes them shut off their lights (so we were told). Boardwalks were throughout the cave, so walking was easy.

Following this, we spent about a half hour in the cute little town of Kawakawa. This is New Zealand’s only town with a railroad track running down the main street. We got to see it in action. Kawakawa is better known for its whimsical public bathrooms, designed in 1998. The facilities feature cobblestone floors, colorful mosaics, copper handiwork, and inlaid glass bottles. This definitely deserved some photos.

Next stop was the Puketi Forest where we walked along a boardwalk trail to see a number of Kauri trees, a towering species that could rival California’s redwoods in height and girth. This was a beautiful walk, and only took about 25 minutes to walk and take pictures.

On the return trip, we made a brief photo stop opposite the Kemp House, New Zealand’s oldest building and the Stone Store, which were constructed in the 1830’s by an ex-convict stonemason.

We returned to the ship in time to see the last quarter of the Super Bowl game, being shown in the theater. It was exciting until it wasn’t. The Eagles fans were happy, though. We retrieved our Regent points and redeemed them at the Game Room for a Regent Logo sweatshirt for Mac. The remaining points will be carried over to the next segment for more treasures.

During dinner at the Italian Sette Mare at the stern of the ship, we were able to watch the sunset. I got several good pictures of sunset over Bay of Isles, New Zealand, from the rear patio deck that I will share with you.

Tonight is the last night for those passengers leaving in Auckland. You see their packed suitcases outside their staterooms and it is a sad reminder that familiar faces and friendships are departing, while on the other hand, tomorrow will bring a whole new crowd onboard.

Piano entertainer, Kym Purling, played a wide range of popular and familiar tunes arranged in his own jazz compositions. No wonder he is an internationally renowned and world class pianist, composer, arranger, and performer while also serving as musical director and conductor for Broadway shows. He is an amazing talent.

Well, tomorrow is Auckland.

Yours in travel,

Pat & Mac