First up for today was our only booked excursion, the jet boat! We had to meet in the onboard theatre, get a sticker put on our shirt then get to the meeting point just off the ship. We walked less than a km with our guide, Lucy, to the little jetty where the jet boat was tethered. The boat was driven (captained? Piloted?) by Nate, who had apparently been doing the job for 14 years and was yet to tire of it. Jet boats were invented in NZ and they get up to speeds of 100kph. We also got to experience what was essentially a handbrake slide, a 180 degree spin that sprayed water over everyone in the boat multiple times. It was super fun and Nate had a laugh at Dad, who had found goggles in his bag (according to Nate the first person he’s ever known to bring goggles on the jet boat) but didn’t manage to get them on until the very end. I don’t know why Nate thought it was so funny, from the moment the boat sped up I’d wished I had brought googles too, the worst thing about the ride was 100km wind in my eyes making them water and getting salty sea water splashed in my face. If you’re reading this and thinking of doing this excursion, take goggles!
Anyhow, despite stinging eyes, we laughed the whole way and it wasn’t at all scary, just very, very wet! I wore my raincoat, but wished I’d tightened the wrists and zipped it up properly because the angle of the water coming in meant it flew in every gap and down onto the seat, soaking all our underwear. Really, the best outfit would’ve been swimmers with a light windcheater. I hope this information is useful to someone!
We returned to the ship for a shower, noting the weather was getting finer. Entry to the ship was through the port authority building and there was a souvenir shop set up inside. Unexpectedly, the prices here were excellent (4 NZ themed tea towels for $35!) and the lady at the counter said they get that comment a lot.
After a much-needed shower, Luke and I walked into Auckland. We’d thought to go to the art gallery and the Weta Workshop but then decided against Weta since we hadn’t seen the films the exhibitions were based on. This turned out to be a mistake, as Michael and Izaac went and said it was excellent plus it turned out they did have artefacts from “Lord of the Rings” on short loan from the bigger Weta Workshop in Wellington. So if you’re in Auckland, and particularly if you have kids or are interested in special effects in films, make sure you go.
The walk to the gallery wasn’t far, although mostly uphill, and the front of the building has a beautiful portico of wood. We checked our bags, noted the ‘free wifi’ sign and went for a wander. In the gallery there was a group of Māori women doing a live demonstration of printing on fabric and singing.
It was beautiful in every way! We looked at more printing in traditional techniques by a lady named Anna White, whose work was also influenced by Japanese block printing. It was very beautiful and on a very large scale.
We also saw many paintings and photographs, my favourite was this contemporary portrait.
After the gallery we took a walk through the park behind the building and admired the huge Morton bay fig trees, and bright flower beds that contained many impatiens and miniature sunflowers.
We retrieved our bags from the gallery and enjoyed their free wifi for a bit before wandering back to the ship, stopping to buy six kinds of SnackaChangi chips on the way. The artwork is magnificent and I’m going to put them up on the toilet wall at home!
I’d had a headache on and off all day so I had a nap when we got back. In the evening we had dinner in the Concerto dining room then caught the last of the sunset over Auckland as the ship sailed out.