Rotorua - Tauranga, New Zealand
The western part of the Bay of Plenty, where Tauranga is located, extends from Katikati and Waihi Beach to Papamoa and Te Puke on the coast and south to the Kaimai ranges. Tauranga is the principal city of the Bay of Plenty – they told us in the lecture that Tauranga has more sunny days than any other place in all of New Zealand…yet look at this arrival picture – this is NOT one of THOSE days, at least not yet! Tauranga is a Maori name meaning the “resting place for the canoes”, because this was where some of the first Maori to arrive in New Zealand landed. Some of the historic attractions in and around Tauranga are; the Historic Village which features restored period buildings, vintage vehicles, farming equipment, an 1877 steam locomotive, an old tugboat, a Maori culture section and relics from the gold mining area. Funny…one of the FIRST illuminated buildings you see as the ship arrives is BURGER KING! This is one of the largest ports in New Zealand, exporting logs, woodchips, and timber products.
The morning clouds quickly cleared and after a quick breakfast, Cheryl and I were off on our own to explore the city. Off the pier, we met a middle-aged lady standing by a large bus and struck-up a conversation. Come to find out, she and her husband owned the bus company and together with their three children, made a living driving tourists around town. For a small fee of $25, she said she’d take us on a city tour – prices for the same tour sponsored by the ship were $89 – SOLD! Four other couples joined us and we were off…in a spacious 40’ bus – plenty of room to stretch out, relax, and enjoy the sights and commentary of (and about) this magnificent city. Population here is a scant 210,000 – most residents are quite wealthy – median home price is $400K, waterfront several million. Aside from the exports mentioned earlier, tourism is big business – dozens of charming cafes along the beaches and several blocks of small retail stores just adjacent. We visited a museum, rose gardens, and a few historic sites. We left the bus tour at 11:30 and spent the next several hours walking the city parks and beach areas.
The few photos posted here do not begin to capture the beauty of this small city. Similar to comments made about Auckland - clean air, impeccably clean throughout, no poverty, minimal crime, and absolutely wonderful, VERY friendly people, rightfully proud of their community. Stunning – totally stunning. The downside, again, and a repeat of Auckland – expensive! Minimum wage here is $14.50, and anyone starting a life here would need every penny.
We were back on the ship by 4:30, showered & comfortably at dinner by 5:30. Whistle blew at 6:00 and we were off for Napier, New Zealand, 300 miles south – scheduled to dock at 10am.