A Magic Sunday in Wellington

Wellington is just across Cook Strait from Picton, the Interislander ferry takes about three hours to get there but for us on Explorer of the Seas it was an overnight journey. A few days later we attended a Q & A session with the Captain and some of the senior officers and a passenger asked why it had taken us so long to get there. I loved the answer which was “We are on a cruise.”

We arrived in Wellington very early though and after a short bus ride from the freight terminal (more stacks of timber) we reached the Visitor Information Centre where volunteers were waiting to meet us and help us find our way to wherever we wanted to go. We only had until about four o’clock in the afternoon to see as much as we could of Wellington and believe me that is nowhere near enough.  Naomi and I both wanted to ride on Wellington’s famous cable car and as it was Sunday and we’d heard there were markets on the waterfront we wanted to see those as well.

We were directed to the waterfront by way of an interesting bridge which the lady from the Visitors Centre told us was designed by a Maori artist.   It is a public artwork and was opened in 1994. We liked it very much.


We passed by a statue depicting rugby players. New Zealanders really love their rugby. Last year New Zealand hosted the rugby World Cup which they won.

 

Rugby sculpture Wellington
The Rugby sculpture.

Down on the waterfront we found one market which was just setting up, it seemed to be mostly produce and craft, the other one which I had read was more of a bric a brac market was supposed to be in a nearby building. We found the building but not the market so it appears we were misinformed again. I took some photographs anyway although it was a little bit overcast and dull.

Next we made our way through the city to the terminus of the cable car near Lambton Quay. There was already a long line of people waiting to ride on it. When I say long I mean the queue stretched out to the street. Unfortunately, although we didn’t have too long to wait it did mean that the car was very crowded and it was not easy to take pictures. After a short trip we arrived at the upper terminus and spent some time taking pictures of the cable car descending and then went to visit the Cable Car Museum next door.

A nearby cafe was our next stop for lunch and then we went for a walk in the adjacent Botanical Gardens. We didn’t try it because we had return tickets but you can walk back through the Botanical Gardens to the city. It’s all downhill so easier than going the other way. I definitely want to do that next time I am in Wellington.  We passed the Carter Observatory and an interesting structure called “The Sundial of Human Involvement”. It works by using a series of fixed points around an ellipse and then it takes a person standing on the right day and month within a figure eight on a brass slab to point out the correct time. In effect you become the hands of the clock. It sounds weird but we tried it and it works.   Neither of us had ever seen anything like this before but when I googled it just now several came up including some in Australia so apparently Wellington’s is not unique.

Sundial, Wellington NZ
Sundial of Human Involvement, Botanical Gardens Wellington
Wellington view
View from the Botanical Gardens.

We enjoyed the view of Wellington from the Botanical Gardens and explored a little before heading back to the Cable Car as we knew our time was short.

The cable car was not as crowded on the way down so we were able to enjoy the ride seated. Naomi was lucky enough to bag the front seat as she had her video camera. She was able to record most of the journey down to the city. I’m still waiting to see the movie but she tells me it came out quite well which she was pleased about because the camera was new for the trip.

As we were now in the CBD we walked around some of the main streets admiring the old buildings before stopping for a cold drink then we made our way back to the waterfront. It was now very bright and sunny and Naomi was keen to revisit some of the places we’d passed earlier when she felt it was too dull for filming anything.  We had a wonderful stroll through the waterfront precinct where many of the old buildings house cafe’s and businesses. Lots of people were out and about making use of the space. We passed two gaily painted pianos which were available for the public to play. I have heard of these street piano’s, I think they have appeared in cities all over the world but again this was the first time I’d seen any.

One of the old buildings we admired.
One of the old buildings we admired.
Clarries Museum. Wellington
Sadly I did not have time to find out what is in Clarrie’s Museum.

It is very hard to describe how a simple walk could be so enjoyable but I fell in love with Wellington that afternoon. I love the architecture, the water, the quotations that I saw painted on various buildings and the way that the people seemed to enjoy their city. Even the dogs were having a good time.

There are two museums located at the waterfront, the Wellington Museum which is housed in an old Bond Store on Queens Wharf and showcases the history of the Wellington region and at the other end the very modern looking Te Papa Tongarewa which is the National Museum and Art Gallery of New Zealand. Everyone says that the Te Papa is a “must” when you visit Wellington. I like visiting museums but on this visit we chose not to go because had we visited the two big museums we would not have had time to see anything else.  There are also ferries that go to other parts of the city and local trains which we would love to take so another visit to Wellington is going to be a “must”.

The Te Papa -National Museum and Art Gallery of New Zealand.
The Te Papa National Museum and Art Gallery of New Zealand.
The Wellington Museum
The Wellington Museum.

 

When we reluctantly headed back to the Visitor Information Centre to browse in the gift shop before catching the shutle bus back we were surprised to find that there was another cruise ship in town. It turned out to be “Radiance of the Seas” a younger and smaller sister of our  Explorer of the Seas. We’ve seen Radiance before in Sydney but it was a treat to see the two ships together on the wharf and to sail past her when we left at around five o’clock. Our last sight of Wellington was one of a small orange boat enthusiastically doing “donuts” before leaving us. A fitting end to a very happy day.

 

 

 

Information

For those of you who would like to know more about the places we visited or Wellington in general here are some links to explore.

Heritage Trails – http://wellington.govt.nz/recreation/enjoy-the-outdoors/walks-and-walkways/across-the-city/heritage-trails

City to Sea Bridge – http://www.sculptures.org.nz/tours/civic-square/city-to-sea-bridge

Rugby Sculpture – http://www.sculptures.org.nz/tours/civic-square/the-rugby-world-cup-celebration-sculpture

Kupe Sculpture – http://www.sculptures.org.nz/tours/waterfront-tour/kupe-statue

Wellington Botanical Gardens – http://wellington.govt.nz/recreation/enjoy-the-outdoors/gardens/botanic-garden/visitor-information

Wellington Museum – http://www.museumswellington.org.nz/wellington-museum/

Te Papa Tongarewa – https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/

 

 

Explorer of the Seas Tour – Part Two

At the end of the last post we were resting our feet in the Star Lounge on Deck 5. Most likely  there will be some activity going on in a portion of it so if we don’t want to get shanghaied into joining in we’d best move on. Here is a better picture of the Star Lounge taken by Naomi on one of her early morning walks. Mine was taken when we went there for Muster and the lighting was a bit dim.

Explorer of the Seas The Star Lounge, photo by N. Bovill
The Star Lounge, photo by N. Bovill

The Grand Promenade is the main thoroughfare through the ship and is like a street lined with shops and cafe’s. It’s quite hard to imagine you are on a ship when you are there as it is more like a shopping mall. Above the Promenade is an atrium which stretches several decks. You can have a cabin with a window overlooking the Promenade but if you like to go to bed early I would not recommend it as the Promenade is often the venue for evening parades and parties some of which start after 10pm.

Here are two views of the Promenade, one taken on our first day by me and another taken by Naomi very early before anyone was about. They do change the lighting on the Promenade at different times. At night it is more blue. The small balconies are a good spot to watch the parades from.

Explorer of the Seas The Promenade Deck 5
The Promenade Deck 5
Promenade early morning NB
The Promenade in the early morning. Photo N. Bovill
Looking up.
Looking up from Deck 4.
Explorer of the Seas -The Promenade in the early morning. Photo N. Bovill
The Promenade in the early morning. Photo N. Bovill

The shop with the red awnings is the Cafe Promenade. It is open 24 hours a day and we sometimes went there in there for a snack. They had sandwiches, cakes, cookies and you could either make your own tea or coffee or for an extra charge have a cappacino or a latte or whatever you fancied. Cafe Promenade as also the place to buy Ben and Jerry’s ice cream which we were keen to try having heard so much about it. It was good ice cream but New Zealand ice cream is still our favourite. The cafe was often quite busy especially after a show but we could usually find a seat inside even when the tables outside were full.

The Cafe Promenade - Explorer of the Seas
The Cafe Promenade where you can get tea, coffee, snacks and ice cream.

The Crown & Kettle is supposed to be an English Style Pub and while it looks the part it was not really what we expected. We had hoped there would be food served there but it was just a bar and the folk singer that occupied it most nights kept us away. We had been hoping for darts and piano singalongs I suppose.


There are also shops on the Promenade. We liked the shop selling souvenirs and bought quite a lot of things in there both for ourselves and for gifts to take home. There was another store selling duty free alcohol although rules on board ship are strict about that. You can buy it but you can’t have it until you disembark I believe. There were also stores selling jewellery, handbags and watches. In fact the watch sale became a bit of a joke because they seemed to have a watch sale just about every day. The prices were not bad but neither of us needed a watch.

One of the shops on the Promenade.
One of the shops on the Promenade.
There were always sales on board.
There were always sales on board.

I had intended to go on to the dining room from here but after all that shopping I think we’ll take the elevator or the stairs up to our cabin on Deck 7 instead and leave the dining room for later.

Decks 6, through 10 are predominantly staterooms so we didn’t take pictures there. Deck 7 houses the Library and Card Room which we thought would be a quiet place to play Scrabble but it turned out to be quite busy. The ships four sets of Mah Jong were always in use. I had not realised that Mah Jong was such a noisy game.

Every couple of nights Jayson our cabin attendant would leave us a towel animal. We were not that good at guessing what they were but they were very good.

While we are here say hello to Naomi’s new teddy bear. She wasn’t going to buy any more bears she said but what is a bear collector to do ?

Explorer of the Seas Teddy Bear.
Explorer of the Seas Teddy Bear.

The next post in this series will be about our Indian Lunch and tour of the galley and you will meet our favourite waiters.

Holiday Break

12386.jpgDear Blogging Friends

As you know I am heading off on a cruise holiday with my sister today. I will be taking my tablet to check emails and Naomi plans to take a laptop but we have been told that internet on board ship is slow and expensive so I am not expecting to be online very much for the next two weeks. I do expect to be taking a lot of photos so when I get back there will be the online equivalent of the holiday slide night on this blog. You have been warned :).

In the meantime I have scheduled some posts on both my blogs which I hope you will enjoy.

 

The Sail Away Sisters

My sister said when she saw this book she had to get it for me.
My sister said when she saw this book she had to get it for me.

Dear Blogging friends

For some time now I have been holding out on you. I’ve been keeping a secret and now I want to share it with you all. My sister and I are going on a cruise next year.

We started planning it in late April but both of us were scared to say anything to anyone in case we jinxed ourselves. There were obstacles to be overcome. My sister  did not know if she’d be able to get leave from work. I didn’t have a valid passport, we had to save up enough money to pay for the holiday and of course there is the uncertainty over my Hubby’s health.

Gradually we are getting there, we’ve both been saving hard and selling a few things on eBay to make a little extra cash. My sister’s leave has been approved and I have applied for and received my brand new passport. Hubby’s health is still a cause of concern. When we began to plan this I had no idea he would be in hospital for so long. I have no idea how well he will be in six months time  but decided to go ahead with the plans anyway. I will worry of course but I’ll make sure that he is taken care of. I feel that I really need a couple of weeks break from stress and worry because we still have a very long way to go .

We will be sailing from Sydney in February of next year on Royal Caribbean’s “Explorer of the Seas” for an 11 day cruise to New Zealand. We’ve both wanted to go on a cruise for ages and have often talked about places we’d like to go but usually our talks would end up as fantasies about sailing across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary rather than cruises we could actually afford to do right now. One day my sister sent me an email about this New Zealand cruise which she’d seen an advertisement for saying that it would be a nice trip to do. I decided to pop in to a travel agent next time I was in Hobart and ask about prices to see if there were any better deals than the one in the ad and my timing was just right. There was a special. Buy one fare and get the second one for half price. The very helpful young man at the travel agent did some calculations for me and I was able to give my sister actual costs and say. “Could you save this amount by the end of the year? She thought she could.

Explorer of the Seas

We haven’t been on a holiday together since we went to Sydney in 2012 and we’ve never been overseas together. We decided that the time had come and committed ourselves to the trip. Since then talking about and planning for our holiday has kept us both going through all the trials of this year. We just can’t wait to go although I feel like I won’t really believe it’s happening until we’re in the plane flying to Sydney.

In my next post I’ll show you the “Surprise Present” my sister had been working on since we booked the trip.

Nautical themed Surprise
Nautical themed Surprise