Our first port on our Princess cruise was as planned, at the Bay of Islands. We chose to do a three hour round trip hike to Haruru Falls. This was our first time in the country of New Zealand, and our first time in the New Zealand forest. There were tons of unfamiliar, awesome birds and plants on the way. I so enjoyed just listening to the forest as we walked… so many bird sounds and calls, many more and much more volume than we hear hiking back home. About halfway through the hike we came to a bunch of boardwalks going through swamps filled with more familiar Mangrove Trees. It was high tide so we just saw the trees growing out of lots of water.
Closer to the falls, I found a tree filled with Cormorants and their babies. What a sight – at least six large nests throughout the tree, all filled with babies wanting to be fed, along with doting parents. Some locals told us that these Cormorants, known as Shags, don’t typically nest in trees; they like cliffs and rock faces. I still don’t know what made this tree so special as to attract so many of them. You can check them out here.
Haruru Falls are gorgeous, and reminded me of Niagara Falls in Canada. I found a little spot on a rock that was somewhat secluded and sheltered, and just sat for a few minutes and ate lunch. Elliott pointed out the little section representing the American Falls and I had to laugh because it was sad but accurate. We hiked back, looked at the Cormorant tree again, and I found a second tree a minute later with more of them! The tide was now low, and we could see all kinds of little plants sticking up out of the Mangrove waters this time.
Our second port was Auckland, also as scheduled, and the dreary, windy weather made for a low-key day exploring the city. We found a great triangle-shaped New Zealand patch for our packs with a kiwi on it, and went to grocery store to check out the New Zealand treats. We left with fake Tim Tams (our favorite Australian treat) and a big chocolate bar with Hokey Pokey bits, whatever they are! I think we later figured out they are toffee bits. Yum.
We did a loop of the city on the green Inner Link bus, just to check out the lay of the land and see all the buildings and landmarks. Towards the end, we got off at Victoria Park. There, there were big beautiful trees and fun playground equipment so we took some photos of us goofing.
We also checked out the famous Sky Tower and went inside. On a good-weather day you can do an anxiety-inducing rim-walk around the Sky Tower, which I would have loved. They canceled it though due to the high winds. They were still allowing people to *jump* off the building, and I somehow managed to get a photo of someone freefalling down, without even realizing I did so until I checked out the photo a few days later. Don’t ask.
We came back on the ship and the captain made an announcement that some bad weather was coming into the North Island of New Zealand, and we might have to change our course. He was waiting to hear from the Princess office in Sydney and they needed to contact the Princess office in Los Angeles, so he didn’t have anything definite yet to tell us.
Hike on Bay of Islands:
City of Auckland: