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Our Travel Adventures

Welcome to the Adventures of Larry and Connie Farquhar.

Day 26 - "Epic" New Zealand Adventure 2022

20221018_11382_20221019-070111_1 Connie and Joyce Going Māori
Flag of Tahiti
Papeete, Tahiti
We hadn't made any definite plans on what to do in Tahiti. Originally, we tried to get a daytrip to visit the nearby island of Moorea, but that didn't pan out. They were already fully booked for the trip we wanted to take. We arrived in Papeete, Tahiti in the afternoon, with the ship staying in port for a couple nights. Bob and Joyce took a few short walks off ship. We tried to rent a car for the day, which would allow us to have a full day exploring, but since it was a last-minute decision, no rental cars were available. The next day, Bob and Joyce found us a half-day "circle tour" bus trip around the island of Tahiti, French Polynesia, leaving that afternoon. This would be better than nothing.

The tour was full, with over 30 people on board a comfortable bus. This was a 4-hour trip, stopping in 5 different locations. Unfortunately, we were only allowed 5 to 10 minutes at each location. 

Our first stop was at the "Arahurahu marae". Arahurahu marae is an archeological site that was restored in 1953. It is a site that reflects part of the maohi culture that thrived in French Polynesia before the arrival of the first Europeans. Typical of the ancient cultural centers, there is a tahua (sacred square),a patu (surrounding wall), un ahu (altar), red unu dedicated to the taura (wooden sculptures dedicated to the guardian spirits). It was interesting, but we were so rushed we didn't know what we were looking at until I researched it later on the Internet. Our next stop was at the "Grottos of Maraa". This grotto features a lake of black water that creates an optical illusion - the cave appears much smaller than it actually is. Then it was on to the "Water Gardens of Vaipahi". A great variety of trees and plants with various walking trails. However, we didn't have much time, we barely had time to explore one short trail.

Further around the island, we stopped at the "Faarumai Waterfalls". Faarumai Waterfalls, located in the village of Tiarei, is accessed by a short hike through the forest. There are actually three beautiful cascades to enjoy. The first is called Vaimahutu. If you walk for another 20 minutes or so, you reach the second and third falls, called Haamarere Iti and Haamarere Rahi, respectively. Again, we were rushed that we had time to view the first waterfall, but that was it. Our last stop for the half-day bus tour was at the "Arahoho Blowhole". From the parking area, it was a short walk to the "blowhole". Not what I was expecting. Yes, there was a hole in the rocks that made a loud rushing noise when the large waves came in, but no water spray. A bit disappointing. I'm sure if we stuck around long enough, water would have blown out, but since it was raining and cold, we didn't stick around.

Although the bus tour wasn't spectacular, it was better than not seeing anything in Tahiti. The best part of the bus trip and the various stops was the ability to have wonderful views of the ocean and vegetation. We had toured the entire circumference of the island. We had seen the various housing, beach cottages, and several small towns. Tahiti wasn't anything that I expected. There aren't many public beaches. What we did see were very small. I had this vision of a beautiful, tropical paradise with wonderful beaches and palm trees. Yes, there are palm trees and small, beautiful beaches, but nothing like I visioned. I'm glad we visited Tahiti, but I don't have any desire to return.

The next 5 days were at sea again without any port stops. We got back into our daily routine of breakfast, Larry in the hot-tub and Connie crocheting, lunch, Larry taking a nap with Connie crocheting. Early evening, we'd usually meet with Bob and Joyce to play games, have dinner, then usually watch the evening stage show. Life can be rough on a cruise ship. 

Connie and Joyce
Canada Thanksgiving Drink
Enjoying the Cruise!
Connie's Crochet Pillow Cover
Champagne Pyramid
Connie's Crochet Pillow Cover
My Birthday Gift from Our Room Steward

We finally arrived in New Zealand on Saturday, October 15th. Although not originally planned, Princess cruises added a stop in Tauranga, NZ since they had to remove the planned stop in America Samoa. Since we were going to be in New Zealand for almost a month, we didn't bother getting off the ship. Besides, there wasn't much to do in the local area. Bob and Joyce did go on shore and made a hike around a small mountain (hill) near the port.

The next day, Sunday October 16th, we arrived in Auckland. This is where "Phase II" of this epic adventure started. Disembarking was early morning and went smoothly. The ladies stayed in port with the luggage, while Bob and I walked the 20 minutes to the car rental. I reserved us a large van to use for the month. We had to wait almost 2 hours before the van was ready. Once in possession of the van, we drive back to the port and loaded up. Our first night was spent at the "Airdale Boutique" hotel in downtown Auckland. I was a little nervous about driving on the left side of the road, with the driver's seat on the right side of the van, in downtown traffic. But everyone helped keep an eye out for hazards and insured I stayed to the left.

We walked around a bit and had some delicious chicken for dinner. The next day, we had a 4-5 hour drive to "Bay of Islands". We stopped at a few viewing points along the route, enjoying our first views of the New Zealand countryside. Yes, it's as beautiful as everyone says it is! One of these stops was at the "The Kauri Museum". The Kauri are among the world's mightiest trees, growing to over 50 m tall, with trunk girths up to 16 m, and living for over 2,000 years. I wasn't expecting much from a museum on a tree, but I was very impressed with this museum and the tree.

We finally arrived at our destination and spent a couple nights in the town Paihia at the "Kingsgate Hotel Autolodge", directly across the street from the bay. For dinner, we all enjoyed our first "Fish and Chips" dinner in New Zealand. Yumm! We spent the next morning visiting the "Waitangi Treaty Grounds", which is the protected site of the signing of the first accord between the British Crown and the Māori people. It's where "New Zealand" (as we now know it) was born. We viewed an informative museum and learned a great deal on how New Zealand became a British colony. We then enjoyed a guided tour of the grounds and various exhibits. We were also entertained by a cultural performance. We now understand a great deal more on the history of New Zealand, but I'm sure this is just the tip of our lesson. After enjoying a picnic lunch, we visited the "Haruru Falls" and the "Rainbow Falls" located in nearby towns.

Today, Wednesday October 19th, we made the 4-hour drive back to Auckland. With just a couple stops along the way, we arrived at our next stop for the night at the "Alpers Lodge" in New Market (suburb of Auckland). Nothing fancy, but a comfortable place with very high-speed Internet. Tomorrow is a short drive to the town of Hahei. 

Location (Map)

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Tuesday, 29 November 2022