We arrived in Wellington on a rainy Monday morning and boarded our bus for a short ride to the cable car an a ride to the top of the mountain and the Botanical Gardens. Because of the rain the walk back down through the Botanical Gardens was canceled and a visit to the covered greenhouse substituted. After a tour of the parliamentary buildings the weather had changed and we went to the Te Papa - Museum of New Zealand for a quick visit and lunch. We were back on board the ship by 4PM.

After an overnight cruise we landed on a beautiful day(Tues) in Napier, a city that was completely devastated by an earthquake in 1931. This city recovered without outside financial help bulding the new buildings in an art deco style. The emphasis on geometric patterns was incorporated into all the new buildings. We had tea at the men's club which is one of the few buildings which withstood the earthquake. This building is all wood and was able to flex with the tremors instead of breaking up. map

Another overnight cruise and we arrived on another beautiful sunny day(Wed) in Tauranga. Traveling by coach to Rotorua we went through rolling hills, dotted with cattle, fields of corn just starting and Kiwi groves protected from the winter frosts by tall hedges. At the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve we were given a guided tour by one of the native inhabitants. The use of hot springs for heating houses, cooking food (we had corn on the cob cooked in a hot pot) and learned about the symbolism of the ceremonial house. From there we went to the Realm of Tane (started by two brothers to tell about the Maori culture) and had a traditional welcome ceremony with Joe Donlon our elected chief. We had a delicious buffet lunch there around 2 PM and then stopped at a Kiwi plantation on the way back to the ship.

During the long trip on Thurs. from Tauranga to Auckland the cruise ship made a detour around White Island around breakfast time. This volcanic island was even more interesting after we listened to Alan's presentation on the volcanos of New Zealand. Most of the day was spent enjoying shipboard events. We enjoyed a fancy dinner after going to the Elderhostel cocktail party. This was our last night on board the Volendam.

The ship arrived in Auckland around 5 AM Fri. with lots of noise and commotion. Daylight revealed a very narrow berth for the Volendam which explained the use of many tugs to get it into place. We left around 10AM for a tour of Auckland - going along Quay Street to get hockey pokey ice cream in Mission Bay, visiting Mt Eden for a great view of Auckland on this beautiful clear day, and then on to the National Museum of New Zealand for a tour and lunch. We arrived at our hotel(Stamford Plaza) around 4 PM. After a shower and a short rest we met our dinner hostess, Carole Lambert, for our home visit. We had a great dinner and interesting conversation with our hostess and fellow travelers, Phyllis and Mo Gold, from California. Bed by 10:30 after preparing for our full day trip the next day to Tiritiri Matangi. We arrived back in time for the Final dinner at the Ferry Building.

Our final day was spent packing and taking a short tour on the harbour before departing on Air New Zealand for Los Angeles.