Today we stopped at Akaroa, a very small seaside resort about 80 kilometers from Christchurch. Many passengers went to Christchurch while others took a train trip called the Alpine Express, we chose just to stay in town and see what it had to offer. The city is in a beautiful location surrounded by mountains and the bay and is home to Hector dolphins, very small dolphins found only in this area.

One pleasant surprise was a quirky little cottage near the end of town. A hammock is hanging on the side of the house with a mannequin placed inside! Other oddities include boots near a gravestone and a row of boots all containing plants. We have some great pictures to share when there is a faster Internet connection.

Tomorrow is a sea day as we head toward our last stop in New Zealand – Auckland. We plan to look around town a bit and perhaps take a ferry across the bay to a town called Devonshire. It is supposed to be quite scenic with lots of quaint buildings and shops – we have also heard mention of a great chocolate shop!

One thing we have found very interesting is the make-up of our fellow passengers. There is a mix of Americans, Australians, Canadians, Germans, and Japanese along with other countries such as Brazil, Hungary, and Hong Kong. Most of them are much more traveled than us – there is a large number of passengers with silver or black cruise cards meaning that they have cruised with Princess 10 or more times! We have talked to many other passengers who have been this part of the world several times as well as other locations we find to be exotic such as Singapore, Thailand, and Antarctica. It isn’t unusual to talk to passengers who were in Singapore last fall, the Panama Canal in January and are now on this trans-Pacific cruise. Several arrived in Australia more than two weeks before joining the cruise, and one couple took a 20+ day cruise around Australia before joining this one! It would be interesting to find out how they find the time and finances to travel that way. Ok, never mind – I know how they find the time, most are in their 60’s and 70’s but I know it takes a tremendous amount of money to travel like this as often as many of them do.

We have learned a few things about New Zealand in the past few days –
* there is a north and a south island and New Zealanders have a little rivalry between the two
* the north island is more populated than the south
* New Zealanders are very proud of their country and maintaining its natural state
* it is cold here right now! Temperatures have been in the mid 50’s and 60’s and everyone is pleased with the excellent weather we have had!
* rugby is the most popular sport and they love the national team, the All Blacks with a passion!

We will post more when we can, so far all is going well and we are loving the natural beau of New Zealand!


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