Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tauranga, New Zealand

Our next port was Tauranga, the most populous city in the Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of New Zealand.  Again, we decided we'd just walk around and see the sights on our own rather than taking an organized tour.

 Funny to think it was November and so sunny and warm with flowers blooming everywhere.

We were walking along and came to some steps on the side of a hill.  After climbing a bit, we were rewarded with a grand view from above.

 Loved all the huge trees!

Much of the countryside around Tauranga is used to grow a wide range of produce such as kiwifruit and avocados.  

As usual, we had to stop at a coffee shop to have a snack and check the internet.  Rich got in the habit of having a "flat white" while we were in New Zealand and Australia.  I stuck to hot tea since iced tea does not seem to be popular.  In fact, though we usually patronized local establishments, we stopped at a Starbucks for internet and I thought, "Okay, I can get iced tea HERE!"  But no.  I was told "They tried it here and it just didn't go over."

The other interesting thing is that wifi was not completely free and unlimited. In most places, you had to buy something, which I totally understand and don't mind,  and then you'd be given a code to use.  We were typically  given 30 minutes or a certain number of megabytes, which, I suppose, keeps people from camping out in the shop for hours on end.

 We took a bus to two different parts of town and browsed some cute little shops.

These carvings are part of the Matariki, the Māori name for the small cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, in the Taurus constellation.

The appearance of the Matariki constellation in the northeastern sky in late May and early June signals the beginning of the Maori new year.  This is a time of new beginnings when prayers are offered for the health of the soil, the seed and the harvest.  If the stars are clear and bright, the year will be warm and fruitful; if the stars are hazy, a cold winter lies ahead. 

 We passed these young people happily making graffiti art and noticed the sign below.
A long boat

What a nice Post Office!
 I had to get a picture of this store, since I believe that Rich does have a 'mag addiction'--especially cooking mags.  :)  Yes, we went in, and yes, he bought some more.

 Lots of cool murals on the streets

along with some friendly police officers.  The people were, without fail,  very welcoming and talkative and didn't seem to mind tourists hanging around.  After a fun day exploring and soaking up the sunshine, we returned to the ship where an odd surprise was waiting for me.  Come back tomorrow and hear all about it! 

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