Tag Archive | #goin’cruising

A Rainy Day in Christchurch

A new adventure begins! We fly to Melbourne where we spend a couple of days before embarking on the cruise ship Grand Princess for a 13 night circumnavigation of New Zealand. Returning to land, our holiday continues at Phillip Island and ends with one last day back where we started in Melbourne. Join me for a round trip, on sea and on land, to destinations both familiar and new.

March 2023

Ōtautahi / Christchurch

It was rainy and cold in Christchurch but we found a great way to stay dry, on a Christchurch Tram. With interesting commentary by the drivers and 17 stops around the city centre, we were able to explore in comfort. On such a wet day we chose to alight at just a few stops on the route.

As we rode along the tram driver told us about the earthquakes which struck Christchurch on 4th September, 2010 and again on 22nd February, 2011. While the first earthquake was stronger at magnitude 7.1, the second at magnitude 6.3 caused widespread devastation and killed 185 people. Our driver explained how the city is rebuilding using construction techniques designed to withstand future tremors.

To learn more about the 2011 earthquake we left the tram at Quake City, a special exhibition by Canterbury Museum. Displays explaining the science of the earthquake and the response, from both local and international personnel, gave us a greater understanding of what happened to the city and its people.

Back on the tram, we went next to Cathedral Square. After reading about the destruction of Christ Church Cathedral, it was heartening to see firsthand the ongoing restoration work, scheduled for completion in 2027.

Other stops on the tram route included New Regent Street and Victoria Square.

New Regent Street is a wide pedestrian mall with shops, boutiques and cafés on either side of the tram line. We admired the pastel coloured Spanish Mission style buildings dating from the 1930s.

During a break in the rain at Victoria Square we saw Queen Victoria and Mana Motuhake, a Māori commemoration of the Treaty of Waitangi.

We finally left the tram at the top of City Mall. Here we stopped to pay our respects to past and present members of New Zealand’s Defence Forces at the Bridge of Remembrance, a beautiful war memorial spanning the Avon River.

It was a short walk along the mall to the Riverside Market. The indoor farmers’ market, selling local produce and artisan foods was a welcome respite from the rain. We enjoyed a hot lunch and the beer lovers sampled a local brew at the Canterbury Brewers Collective.

After beginning our day in Christchurch at Quake City, it seemed fitting to finish at the Oi Manawa Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial, located beside the Avon River close to the Bridge of Remembrance. The Māori name for the memorial, Oi Manawa, means ‘tremor or quivering of the heart’.

The curved stone wall is inscribed with the names of the 185 people who died in the 2011 earthquake.

Back on board our ship late in the afternoon, the rain finally stopped and the sky was clear again. The setting sun cast a golden glow over the water as we sailed out of Lyttleton Harbour en route to Wellington.

Walking Around Dunedin

A new adventure begins! We fly to Melbourne where we spend a couple of days before embarking on the cruise ship Grand Princess for a 13 night circumnavigation of New Zealand. Returning to land, our holiday continues at Phillip Island and ends with one last day back where we started in Melbourne. Join me for a round trip, on sea and on land, to destinations both familiar and new.

March 2023

Ōtepoti / Dunedin

After three days on board the ship we were ready to do some walking, and we had all day to explore the compact city centre of Dunedin.

We started at the Octagon, a large eight-sided pedestrian precinct surrounded by shops and grand Victorian buildings.

Two contrasting sculptures symbolise the city’s cultural heritage. Ko te Tuhono is a replica of a carved entrance at the Māori meeting house Ōtākou marae, one of the locations of the 1840  signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Nearby, a statue of Robert Burns is one of four created by Scottish sculptor John Steell. The others are in Dundee, London and New York City. Dunedin was chosen as the location for this fourth statue in recognition of the city’s Scottish history.

At the Otago Settlers Museum we learned about the two Māori settlements  of Ōtepoti and Puketai and the culture of the people who first lived here.

St Paul’s Anglican  Cathedral, constructed in the early 1900s, was damaged by fire in 2020. While the beautiful stained glass windows were saved, the chancel was destroyed. Work is underway to restore the damaged areas of the church.

The famous Renaissance-style façade of the Dunedin Railway Station was covered due to restoration works but the building was still open. The magnificent interior features Royal Doulton cherubs and foliage on the walls, 750,000 Royal Doulton tiles on the mosaic floor and stained glass windows on the mezzanine.

All these beautiful buildings are surrounded by expansive parks and gardens.

Queen Victoria overlooks her namesake Queens Gardens and the spectacular 28 metre high Dunedin Cenotaph. Close to the war memorial is another small memorial dedicated to New Zealand recipients of the Victoria Cross.

With two beer lovers in our party of four, our walking tour of Dunedin would have been incomplete without a visit to Speight’s Brewery and Ale House. Knowing that beer has been brewed here since 1876, their expectations were high.

And they weren’t disappointed!

Joining Jo for Monday Walks

Scenic Cruising in Fiordland

A new adventure begins! We fly to Melbourne where we spend a couple of days before embarking on the cruise ship Grand Princess for a 13 night circumnavigation of New Zealand. Returning to land, our holiday continues at Phillip Island and ends with one last day back where we started in Melbourne. Join me for a round trip, on sea and on land, to destinations both familiar and new.

March 2023

Te Rua-o-te-moko / Fiordland National Park

Our day of scenic cruising in Fiordland National Park started early. An average of 7 metres of rain falls every year in the national park but at 7.45 a.m. on this day a pretty sunrise gave us reason to be optimistic. Hopefully we would have fine weather.

Even with the sun shining the air up on deck was icy cold – we were well prepared with warm coats, gloves and hats.

Fiordland National Park includes 14 spectacular world heritage listed fiords; on this day we sailed through five. The first was Piopiotahi / Milford Sound, where the steep forested slopes rise up to 1,200 metres on either side of the water. Low hanging cloud enhanced the fiord’s rugged beauty.

The tiny town on the water’s edge also known as Milford Sound was dwarfed by the surrounding mountains.

After retracing our route to leave Piopiotahi / Milford Sound, the ship sailed south along the coast before entering Te Awa-o-Tū / Thompson Sound. We sailed through this fiord and into Patea / Doubtful Sound, a journey of 21 kilometres.

Where Piopiotahi / Milford Sound was dominated by steep slopes and sheer cliffs, these waterways were broad and the mountains not quite so steep. At midday, the cloud was higher but the temperature had only risen by a few degrees.

We travelled further south again and at 3 p.m. sailed through Te Puaitaha / Breaksea Sound into Tamatea / Dusky Sound. Together these are the longest of the fiords; the ship took 90 minutes to sail 40 kilometres from end to end.

The weather changed as we entered the fiord. Even though the misty rain and fog enveloped us we stayed out on our balcony, rugged up against the bitterly cold wind. Nothing was going to prevent us from seeing this spectacular scenery.

Finally, as we left Tamatea / Dusky Sound, the weather changed again. The sun broke through the clouds, illuminating Seal Islands and Five Fingers Peninsula in the distance.

After a day of varied weather, the Tasman Sea sparkled in the late afternoon sunshine. Next stop: Dunedin!

Sea Days

A new adventure begins! We fly to Melbourne where we spend a couple of days before embarking on the cruise ship Grand Princess for a 13 night circumnavigation of New Zealand. Returning to land, our holiday continues at Phillip Island and ends with one last day back where we started in Melbourne. Join me for a round trip, on sea and on land, to destinations both familiar and new.

March 2023

Crossing the Tasman Sea

Two sea days onboard while we sailed from Melbourne to our first New Zealand destination gave us time to

  • explore the ship

  • go for morning walks on the Promenade Deck

  • watch new release movies under the stars

  • fill the champagne tower
  • enjoy drinks and desserts on our balcony
  • eat more dessert at the restaurant

  • and look out over the ever-changing ocean

especially at sunset!

Crossing the Bay

A new adventure begins! We fly to Melbourne where we spend a couple of days before embarking on the cruise ship Grand Princess for a 13 night circumnavigation of New Zealand. Returning to land, our holiday continues at Phillip Island and ends with one last day back where we started in Melbourne. Join me for a round trip, on sea and on land, to destinations both new and familiar.

March 2023

Port Phillip

In November 2022 we spent a few days exploring Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. This narrow strip of land, at its widest just 20 kilometres across, is surrounded by water on three sides – Western Port to the east, Bass Strait to the south and, on the west, the huge expanse of Port Phillip.

The largest bay in Victoria, Port Phillip covers an area of 1930 square kilometres. It may be large but it’s also very shallow, with half being less than eight metres deep. Opposite Mornington Peninsula is the Bellarine Peninsula, its coast just visible on the horizon.

While its 264 kilometre coastline is dominated by the cities of Melbourne and Geelong, there are several pretty seaside towns around the bay. We stayed at the peninsula’s largest town Mornington where the views of the bay were superb, especially at sunset.

The two peninsulas end at Point Nepean on the east and Point Lonsdale on the west. The 3.5 kilometre gap between the points, called The Rip, forms the only entrance to Port Phillip. One day we drove out to Point Nepean National Park and hiked to the end of Point Nepean.

We watched in fascination as large vessels negotiated the tricky waterway, guided by experienced Port Phillip Maritime Pilots.

In March this year, it was our turn to sail across Port Phillip on the cruise ship Grand Princess. We said farewell to Melbourne and left Station Pier at 5 p.m. before sailing in a south-eastly direction alongside Mornington Peninsula.

It took almost three hours before we arrived at The Rip. After seeing this narrow entrance from land, it was fascinating to be on the water as we sailed through between Point Lonsdale and Point Nepean.

We could even see where we had stood watching the container ships pass by.

Due to large variations in depth and tides, the Rip is notoriously dangerous. As we left the sheltered waters of Port Phillip and entered Bass Strait, the ocean changed almost immediately and we were glad to know there was a skilled pilot on board.

We took a south-easterly course across Bass Strait towards Tasmania as the sun set behind us. It was time to settle in and enjoy our sea days on the way to New Zealand.

With this last ocean sunset photo, I’m joining Denzil for his Nature Photo Challenge #11: Yellow

I Like Your Office!

Canada #6 Butchart Gardens Boat Tour

Meet Mark.

Four years ago, he moved to Vancouver Island for a break from his demanding city job. Smiling broadly as he welcomes us, Mark says “I came for a year and never left.” These days he comes to work at Tod Inlet, where his office is a little electric-powered boat.

Mark takes visitors on guided tours from Butchart Cove past Gowlland Tod Provincial Park to the edge of Brentwood Bay. The inlet, sheltered by dense stands of arbutus, garry oaks and douglas firs, is a haven for wildlife and with Mark’s expertise to guide us we see plenty.

An inquisitive seal surfaces for a just a few minutes and watches us watching him, before disappearing again. Egg yolk jellyfish and moon jellyfish drift silently by, going where the current takes them. High above, a bald eagle surveys the scene as if he rules this part of the world.

Mark talks about the Butchart family and fondly describes them as “people of vision and values”. The remnants of their cement factory are almost hidden in the forest, but in the water old timber pilings remain. They’ve been repurposed – bird boxes placed on top house the growing population of purple martins who migrate from Brazil each summer.

We cruise a little further, rounding the bend into Brentwood Bay. Here we see beautiful homes on the hills and can only imagine living every day with a view as amazing as this. Mark turns the boat and idles for a while, pointing across the water to the mountains in the distance. “This is true BC scenery,” he says and we can hear in his words his passion for this place.

We’re sorry when our 45 minute tour comes to an end and, before we return up the hill to the busyness of Butchart Gardens, we linger on the jetty. Like Mark, we would love to stay much longer.

No Rain On Us!

Exploring England #24

It’s often wet and windy in the Lake District but the sky was blue, the sun was shining and a warm breeze was blowing the day we visited Lake Windermere. Of course this meant that many other people were also taking advantage of the glorious weather. Lake Windermere is England’s largest natural lake so there was plenty of room for everyone.

A leisurely cruise is a great way to enjoy the lake and there are several ticket options. We chose a route around the southern half of Lake Windermere with the addition of a vintage steam train ride from Lakeside to Haverthwaite and back. After a short wait on the quay at Bowness-on-Windermere, we boarded the steamer Tern and found a sunny spot on the deck.

Ours wasn’t the only craft on the water – canoes, sail boats and small ferries loaded with tourists all passed by.

The shores of the lake are lined with dense woodland punctuated by small stony bays. Some give respite to weary sailors or shelter to watercraft while others are filled with beautiful homes and boutique hotels.

After 45 minutes of smooth sailing we docked at Lakeside, at the southern end of the lake. Billowing clouds of steam led us to the little train, waiting for us to board for the next leg of the journey. The railway line follows the course of the River Leven through the scenic Leven Valley. Contented sheep grazing in the lush fields hardly looked up as the train clattered past on its way to Haverthwaite Station.

The heritage station dates from the mid 1800s and once serviced the nearby village of Haverthwaite. Today it services modern railway enthusiasts, who enjoy the nostalgic feel of the 19th century platform, complemented by a traditional Punch and Judy show.

Instead of relaxing with the dozens of other tourists, we ventured beyond the platform where we discovered a happy surprise behind the children’s playground.

A winding woodland path led us uphill through the trees to a small lookout, from which the view was anything but small. From our hidden vantage point, a vast expanse of green fields stretched away to the hills in the distance and a lighthouse overlooking Morecambe Bay.

The train whistle beckoned and we climbed aboard once more for the return trip to Lakeside, where the steamer Swan was waiting to sail north.

By the end of the day the breeze had lost its warmth, but the sun was still shining as we arrived back in Bowness. Lucky for us because, true to form, the next day it was raining at Lake Windermere.


A Loo With a View ~ The Cruise Edition

Goin’ Cruising #10

Tropical loos with ocean views

Along the Queensland coast.

With palm trees, sand and sun all round

Which do you like the most?



The Lagoon, Airlie Beach



Airlie Beach



Cairns Esplanade



Market Park, Port Douglas



Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas


And if you need to find a loo

when you’re back on board the ship,

There are loos with views on every deck

to get you through the trip!



Pacific Ocean, The Dome, Pacific Dawn

In The Kitchen

Goin’ Cruising #9

Day Six – Willis Island/Sea Day

After enjoying our visits to Airlie Beach, Cairns and Port Douglas, a day at sea provided a welcome opportunity to relax. We shopped at the duty free stores, lost yet again in the tie break of the Cake and Coffee Trivia competition and went for our morning walk around Deck 14. To maintain this demanding schedule we needed sustenance,  and it was provided by the delicious food at the Waterfront Restaurant.


We ate almost exclusively at the Waterfront during our cruise, and every meal was excellent. We were delighted by the efficiency and grace of the restaurant staff and amazed at how quickly we were served. We wondered how all this food was created day after day; with more than 1500 hungry passengers on board Pacific Dawn the demands would be enormous.  So when the chance came to experience first hand how all this wonderful food is created, we joined in with equal parts enthusiasm and curiosity.

First we went to a culinary demonstration in the Marquee Theatre. Executive Chef Alexander Keck and Maître d’Hôtel Darren Cholerton entertained us with a humorous commentary, often poking fun at each other while creating Broccoli, Scallop and Bacon Risotto and Crème Caramel.


While the dishes were cooking, we learned that all the food served on board Pacific Dawn is sourced in Australia and, for a seven day cruise, 250 pallets of supplies are delivered to the ship.


The scents wafting from the cooking station on the stage were enticing and we eagerly raised our hands when Entertainment Director Zoltina-J asked for taste testing volunteers. Mr ET was among the lucky ones to be chosen and he joined the others on stage for a close up view of the cooking.


His verdict on the risotto: “10 out of 10!”



When the demonstration was finished we headed to the Waterfront Restaurant for a behind the scenes walk through the kitchen, where staff members were busy preparing the lunch menu.



Of course, when food is consumed, there is always washing up to be done. Around 32 000 plates and 30 000 pieces of cutlery are washed every day. We made sure not to stop in the cleaning area in case we were conscripted!


Later, when we returned to the Waterfront, we sat down for lunch not just with healthy appetites but also a deeper appreciation of those who helped to bring such delicious food to our table.


A Speck in the Ocean

Goin’ Cruising #8

Day Six – Willis Island/Sea Day

We farewelled Port Douglas and sailed overnight in an easterly direction, out into the Coral Sea. Our destination was Willis Island, a tiny speck of land 450 km from the mainland. From our vantage point on Deck 7 of Pacific Dawn, the island seemed completely alone in the open ocean, but it is actually one of three small sandy coral cays.


The whole island is 500 metres long, 150 metres wide and at its highest just 9 metres above sea level, although from  a distance it didn’t even look that big.


A cluster of buildings house a weather monitoring station for the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and the four meteorologists who live there provide vital weather data, especially during cyclone season.


The sky above the island is filled with dozens of large seabirds, one moment soaring high and the next swooping low over the water. Some came close to the ship, flying over and around us as if they were inspecting the intruders in this isolated place.