I am a first time cruiser from Australia. I had never been to NZ and decided it was about time I got off my backside and had a look. We boarded the Statendam in the evening after a delay. Not the best start but we were shown around Sydney and well looked after by the ship.
The first day of our fortnight trip was at sea. It was very calm and great food and entertainment was on board. The staff seemed very helpful and it was a great start to our holiday.
We arrived in Melbourne and my wife and I had a look around a city we were quite familiar with. My wife was born here and we enjoyed showing a couple from the ship around the city.
Day four and we arrived at Burnie in Tasmania. I'd always longed to visit this little piece of Australia. We took a guided walk and learnt about the various species of plants and wildlife that lived in the area. I probably learnt 100+ things from our guide Jody that I never knew of my own country. The funniest thing happened when returning to the ship -- a young man cycling down the road decided to get the attention of a pretty girl hanging her washing out. He must of whistled at her thinking he was going to fly past and she would hardly notice, instead he lost control of his bike and ploughed into a bush much to the girl's amusement. It proved to be quite a bonding momment for our small group!
The crossing of the Tasman was remarkably calm. I was surprised because I had heard of how rough it can be. We were experiencing fine weather. We arrived on the Fiordland coast and visited Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sound -- absolutely beautiful. The mountains rose from the water as steep as you could imagine. There were great scares in the vegetation from tree avalanches that would of peeled off like bananna skins. It was supposed to be a rain forest but we were basking in sunshine -- what a treat.
We arrived in Dunedin, Port Chalmers, a beautiful port of call where we had booked a city and wildlife shore excursion with Back to Nature tours. Our guide was an enthusastic chap whom bonded with our small group immediatley. I had pre-booked this tour through a recommendation I had received on a message board. You will find that booking direct with local buisneses saves you lots of $$. We went to the steepest street and took a tour around this beautiful city rich in architecture, some of which was a cross between Victorian and Australian! The wildlife here is amazing -- the Royal Albatross and yellow eyed Penguins are wonderful to view. We were sad to say goodbye to Dunedin and our guide who really made our day.
My wife became ill for the next two days, she had severe stomach pains as did a couple of other people on the ship?? I think she ate something a bit off. Anyway she was fine by the time we got to Wellington. What a wonderful place. I recommend just walking around this wonderful city, there is so much to see and do.
The weather was fine, still no hint of rain. The weather made the comedian's dire performance easy to handle. We just left after we realized he wasn't going to make us laugh.
Tauranga is one of the most beautiful places I have seen. The drive along the coastline to the marae we visited was juast magical. The maori performance at Paparoa was equally satisfying and highly recommended.
All in all a fantastic cruise from start to finish, can't wait to get onboard a ship again in the future.