The internet on board ship is a perfect counterbalance to the high winds. I've been online twenty minutes already and haven't managed to load a single photo yet. You'll get them all when I'm back to a reasonable internet speed.
Today I went to Macdonalds. Not to buy anything. I just wanted to look at the building. There’s a photo for you. I’ve never seen an Art Deco Macdonalds before.
Napier, NZ, was almost completely destroyed by an earthquake on 3 February 1931. In the rebuild, those in control decided to build everything in the new modern Art Deco way. Most of the centre of the city is now filled with Art Deco buildings. It looks amazing.
There’s a festival every year where everyone dresses in 1930s clothing and pretends they’ve slipped back in time. The number of people who own vintage vehicles is incredible.
You’d think that an earthquake that levelled a town and started fires that destroyed nearly everything the earthquake didn’t would be a bad thing, and it is. Except when it isn’t.
Before the earthquake, Napier was a little town on a narrow strip of land, with a large rock at one end and ocean or swamps all around. It had a fledgling timber industry but would never really amount to much. Then the earthquake caused the ground to rise 2.5 metres and suddenly there was more than 10000 acres of land available for development. It’s that added land that has allowed Napier to develop the way it has. Now there’s a thriving wine industry and orchards, cattle and sheep, as well as the timber.
The absolute best part of the day was our transport: a 1930 Oldsmobile.
Macdonalds is a popular place. I spent a chunk of this morning there again. The draw today wasn’t a special building—it was free WiFi. Before I left Australia, I contacted my phone provider and ensured I would have full access to all the features on my phone while I was away. I wanted to make calls, send and receive text messages, access the internet and email. The whole shebang. Until lunch time today, it wasn’t working at all. Not a happy camper. It turns out the bit that costs money (and makes it work) wasn’t activated. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve been in business, getting hold of the customers’ money is a bit of a priority. I find it incomprehensible that they’d set everything up except the bit that makes it work.
With that sort of beginning for the day, you can probably guess how the rest went, particularly if you know anything about my sense of direction. Basically, I don’t have one.
Wellington is an interesting city. I spent hours and hours wandering around, reading multiple maps, including Google maps when my phone finally kicked in, and still managed to get so lost I had to ask about three people every block which direction I needed to go. I swear I walked in a straight line but every single person pointed a different direction. Consequently, I rode the cable car and saw the cable car museum, I wandered down Cuba Street, and I found a shop called Bears with Attitude that I simply had to go into. With a name like that, who could pass that up?
The rest of the day was walking up and down streets, around corners and back again until I was totally confused. I looked for the museum for about two hours, only to get back on board and realise I’d walked past it three times and not recognised it. I’m told there were huge signs all over the place, but I didn’t see any.
The good news is, after all that walking, I could probably find my way around Wellington’s city centre reasonably easily next time. I’ve walked most of the streets at least three times, some more than that. I now have a list of places to visit next time I’m there, and a pretty clear idea of how to get to all of them quickly. I also met a lot of lovely, helpful people who, I’m sure, have a worse sense of direction than I do. Why else would they send me PAST the museum three times?
Not a single Macdonalds in sight today, but there were the ‘best fish and chips in the world’ and plenty of gorgeous views. Akoroa is a small village built in the mountains left after three volcanoes exploded and the sea rushed into the craters. It’s picturesque, quaint and quiet, and filled with lovely cottages. There were a series of significant earthquakes about six years ago that changed the area significantly. The most lasting change in Akoroa is that the cruise ships can no longer put in at Lyttleton Harbour near Christchurch, so they stop at Akoroa.
That means the small town in over-run with thousands of tourists during the summer, so business is going well and they’ve been able to repair most of the damage caused by the earthquakes.
Christchurch hasn’t been so fortunate. They’ve lost the cruise ship trade. Only a small proportion of the tourists from ships make the nearly two hour road trip into Christchurch. I didn’t, but I can imagine that there has been a significant impact in the city. Apparently there are numerous areas still not rebuild after the earthquakes.
The fish and chips were pretty good. They certainly know how to cook them so they’re crispy on the inside and soft and flavourful on the inside. There was no choice allowed other than battered fish, though.
Tomorrow is our last landfall before going back to sea.
I like private tours. We had a car and a driver and didn’t have to shuffle around fifty other people on a bus. It was much more comfortable. We were also able to take back roads and drive around where the buses were going, so we got to places faster and therefore stayed longer and visited more places.
Dunedin is my new favourite place for a holiday destination. It’s the most gorgeous city with sweeping views of the mountains and harbours around nearly every corner. The university dominates the landscape, a sprawling conglomerate of buildings that’s added to nearly every year. In a town with 120000 people, the university has 25000 students and 5000 staff, so all indications are the people of Dunedin are also well-educated.
Lanarch Castle is an extremely interesting place although the layout confused me. William Lanarch had six children with his first wife, yet there are only three double sized bedrooms on the second floor, and two tiny rooms (one child’s room, one for the nanny) on the third floor. It would have been a tight squeeze.
We also saw the railway station with the gorgeous tiles and stained-glass windows, and, of course, the Cadbury factory. I know I can buy Cadbury’s chocolate anywhere in Australia, but I can’t buy it directly from the source. So I spent way too much on Chocolate that I don’t need and didn’t really want, just to be able to say it’s directly from the factory.
That’s the end of the good weather part of the trip. Bad weather has moved into the Tasman Sea so we’re not going to Fiorrdlands or Milford Sound. There are gale force winds and 8+ meter waves, so it makes sense not to go down there and risk being washed onto the rocks. We’re sailing through Cook Strait instead and doing a scenic cruise through Marlborough Sound this afternoon, then we’ll be sailing straight home – in choppy seas again.
I went out on deck this morning. From inside, it doesn’t look too bad. We’re moving reasonably fast and sailing smoothly. The sea isn’t calm, with white caps everywhere, but the waves aren’t heaving. I thought a walk on deck sounded a good idea. Going out on deck was interesting but the wind was at my back so getting to the back of the ship was easy. I sat in a sheltered spot in the sun and checked emails etc. Going back to the main part of the ship was an adventure. I was nearly knocked off my feet as I stepped from my protected spot onto the deck running the length of the ship. I had to hold on to the railing to keep my feet under me. I’m sure I had a partial facelift on the way back to another sheltered spot. Apparently this is the best of it for the next few days. The winds are already gale force and are set to rise and, once we’re in the open water, the waves will increase too.