Reading directly from the ships log, this is how Day 6 began…

At 0638 the local pilot embarked the Sea Princess to assist the Bridge team with our approach into Tauranga.  At 0720 all pre arrivals checks were completed and Sea Princess was ready to come alongside starboard side to quay at Berth Number 1.  At the same time, we made our one tug fast to assist us with the swing just off the berth.  Then at 0733 the first mooring line was sent ashore and at 0744 the mooring parties had finished securing the vessel to the bollards on the quay. 

During all this going on, we had to listen to what would become a very repetitive message about the local customs authority requirements etc.  By the 3rd port, you basically could have quoted the entire message as they feel it necessary to play it 3 or 4 times prior to each disembarkation.

Tauranga was a much anticipated stop for us, as it’s the destination that takes you to Rotorua & the active geothermal areas.  We chose a 9hr tour that took us to Wai-o-tapu Valley, then onto the Lakeland Queen for a buffet lunch and Maori performance, before heading to Rainbow Springs where we saw an actual Kiwi (the bird, not the people or the fruit) as well as a lot of rainbow trout and other cool species.  The tour guide/bus driver was really great, with a wealth of information about all areas we covered during the day.

Some of the colours (& smells) experienced on this day were absolutely amazing.  We had been warned that the smell of hydrogen sulphide was intense.  You did get used to it quite quickly though.  The min temp of these geothermal pools was 80 degrees celsius.  It was quite cool when we disembarked the Sea Princess, but as we got higher and further inland, the temps dropped even lower.  It was quite strange shivering besides the boiling bubbling mud pools and then steaming volcanic pools.

After boarding the bus just prior to lunchtime, we made our way to the Lakeland Queen, a locally built shallow draft vessel, where we enjoyed a super delicious buffet lunch and a very entertaining Maori performance.  They were very good, but funny too.  I’d say traditionally the guys don’t wear jox under their outfit, but we were all pretty happy they did.  LOL.  They asked for volunteers to come up, so of course that’s when Terry & I were most engrossed in our lunch, so we didn’t get ‘chosen’.

As soon as lunch was done, we jumped back on the bus and headed to Rainbow Springs.  This was basically a zoo/funpark that the kids would’ve loved to have had more time at as they had lots of fun rides in a different area of the park that we didn’t go to.  We went into ‘Kiwi House’ and saw a real Kiwi (well, everyone else saw it, I didn’t, but hey, I’m used to that.).

One thing that they most talked about at the zoo was that their rainbow trout pools were filled from a natural underground spring that comes down off the mountain.  It was delicious tasting water… don’t worry, we only tried it out of the bubblers or straight off the rocks, not out of the trout pools.. LOL.

We were pretty keen to get back to the Sea Princess at the end of this very long day.

The ships logs read ….

At 1708 all passengers and crew were back onboard.  Shortly after, the mooring lines were let go and Sea Princess began thrusting off the berth.  Once clear of the harbour and surrounding port limits, the pilot disembarked and we started to proceed on Easterly and then Southerly courses towards Napier.  

We enjoyed the later arrival time into Napier on Day 7 as it gave us a sleep in after the big day in Tauranga.  We lazed on the deck and enjoyed the gorgeous sights coming into Napier.  The ships log read as follows…

As Sea Princess neared Napier, the Ship’s Officers and crew prepared the vessel for arrival.  At 1041 the local pilot boarded the vessel and once he familiarised himself with the ship we began making our final approaches towards our berth.  Just outside the breakwater, the Captain swung the vessel through 180 degrees and manoeuvred the vessel eastern to come alongside starboard side to quay.  At 1208 all lines were made fast.  

It was pretty fascinating watching both from our stateroom window, and up on deck, how the boats assist us making out way into the harbour.

Napier is a closed Port, so we’re all required to board shuttle buses into the City centre.  It’s a fairly small city as we basically covered the entire thing on foot that day.

The beach at Napier was GORGEOUS !!  The ‘beach’ was a fascinating combination of black sand & black rocks/gravel.  Not so comfy to walk on I’ll say that right now.  We explored the city streets, had a super yummy, and way cheap, lunch at a coffee shop before giving into Master 10s pleas to play putt putt.  He asks ALL the time at home and we don’t really have any interesting ones near us, so we thought it was a good opportunity.  I mean seriously, check out that view behind.  We did also find this amazeballs skateboard/scooter park, but we thought it wasn’t worth the risk of injury.  Master 10 was a tad disappointed about this decision.

We boarded the shuttle bus to head back to the Sea Princess and found some interesting old cars (& their owners) back at the port.  DH enjoyed asking a few questions about ‘what was under the hood’ etc.

From the ships log..

All passengers and crew were confirmed onboard by the security officers at 1829.  At 1838 all pre-departure checks were complete and shortly thereafter all mooring lines had been let go as Sea Princess began thrusting off the berth.  Once out of the pilotage area the pilot disembarked at 1912. Sea Princess set various Southerly courses towards Wellington. 

We’d decided to make this night about celebrating Miss 14s grade 9 graduation dinner.  We ‘presented her’ as in we just said out aloud (ha ha) her awards and merit certificates.

We then enjoyed a relaxing, but getting rather chilly, Movie under the Stars that evening.

With a local Pilot onboard at 0629, the Bridge was preparing for the arrival into Wellington.  At 0742 the first line was sent ashore and Sea Princess arrived in Wellington.  At 0758 it was confirmed all lines were fast, and we were safely berthed and with clearance granted, gangway operations were able to commence and passengers could disembark.  

(I thought it was interesting to notice how different the logs sounded when quite obviously written by different officers on the bridge.)

We had made a plan to disembark early in Wellington and make our way into the city via the shuttle service (which cost $50) to secure a hire car and head off for adventure.  It didn’t happen as smoothly as we would have liked, but we were in a car by 10.30.  It was a little funny when we were collected in the city by the hire car shuttle bus to take us back to their premises, passing by the Sea Princess as we went…. so basically we headed in the WRONG direction going into the city, and had we planned ahead and booked the hire car prior to arriving in Wellington, they could have collected us from the port and we could have saved ourselves $50.. oh well, lesson learnt.  It was a predictably cold, rainy and windy day in Wellington, but being in the car most of the day kept us protected from that to a large degree.

First thing we found was a totally cool park, so we spent a little time there before heading off on our set course which was to be a roundtrip of 6hrs.  We managed to see lots of gorgeous sites in that time, as well as taste the local delicacies at McDonalds.  :0)

Sorry, those pics are way small.. sorry about that.

Getting back to the ship proved a little stressful as we had to make our way back to the hire car place from memory.  We didn’t have the forethought to organise an international SIM so we had no maps on our phones, no directions etc, only the paper map we got from the hire car place.

It was getting a little close to the wire, but in the end we really had a half hour to spare.

With all passengers confirmed onboard at 1733, pre-departure checks were carried our and fully completed by 1750.  Sea Princess let go her lines at 1756 and set various Southerly headings towards our anchorage at Akaroa.