Hikes and Hot Pools

The morning we were scheduled to arrive in Tauranga, we woke up to room service and then the captain’s announcement that we had not made it in to the port after all. The winds were just too strong for a ship the size of ours to get safely to the pier. I was bummed, because it was my favorite of the ports when it came to the possible activities! The captain said we would try to make it to the port again at noon, and if that failed, again in the evening.

We ended up getting a bonus sea day, which we made the best of, working out at the gym, taking a bonus dance lesson, winning a bottle of bubbly at the Jeopardy Game Show, and playing Pictionary. Elliott and I were decent and each got to draw a few times, and we learned that both sand dollars and wing tip shoes are not things Australians are familiar with! In the late afternoon, back at our cabin, we had a new itinerary for the rest of this cruise. We were getting to Tauranga the next day now, and the loss of the day and bad weather in the South Island meant we’d be skipping Fjordlands and substituting Picton for Dunedin. A day of “scenic cruising” in Fjordlands national park was supposed to be one of the highlights of the trip, so we were a little disappointed.

The next day we did make it to Tauranga after all. We walked off the ship into the town and started out by climbing the very steep Mount Maunganui. The climb and views were awesome! We took endless photos of sheep and baby sheep. The sheep and green everywhere reminded Elliott of Scotland. After we climbed all the way up, bothered lots of sheep, got some photos and climbed back down, we walked along another trail that went around the bottom of the mountain. There were cool step-up structures wherever the path crossed a fence so that we could step over, but the sheep couldn’t. When we turned around we were right along the beach, and there were shells everywhere, so we climbed down and started sifting through them. I found a ton of cute little shells, and Elliott found a couple bigger ones that were very pretty. We finished the morning up with some thrift store shopping in town.

After lunch we walked to Leisure (Moturiki) Island and followed the trail to the end of it. We were looking for an alleged blowhole, but it was not blowing despite the high tide, and no one there seemed to know exactly where to find it. Then we spent the afternoon at nearby Mount Hot Pools. The pools are naturally fed by underground hot springs, and we had lots of fun swimming in the warm and hot pools and spas in the windy cool weather. We kept going from one to another since the “Active Pool” was perfect for me but cold for Elliott, and the “Passive Pool” was a bit hot for me. Actually, both of us kept getting really sleepy in the active pool! We tried one of the spas too, and it was super hot. It made me feel like I was just going to pass out!

Back on the ship in the evening, we went up on the pool deck to watch The Great Gatsby movie. Our ship showed “Movies Under the Stars” every night, and provided popcorn, cookies, and as may blankets as you needed. We got lots of popcorn and bundled up in about seven blankets!! It was fun and so nice to cuddle like we do at home. And the movie had Peter Parker from Spiderman as its narrator, which I enjoyed.

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