A later docking in Port Chalmers today, which is just as well as Luke and I stayed up late watching Romancing the Stone, which I’m sure I saw at least five times when I was a kid but remembered almost nothing of this time around. It had not aged well, if you’re wondering.
I’ve managed to get through four books since the cruise started and would probably have managed another two but for headaches and Luke wanting to go do things outside our room, which is a good thing but I’ve just started a new and excellent author, T Kingfisher, and I’d happily lie in bed all day reading. Plenty of time for that when I get home, I guess!
Port Chalmers/Dunedin is another of the ports, like Lyttelton/Christchurch and Picton/Marlborough region, where you have to pay quite a bit and spend time getting to the main attraction. It’s a bit annoying, more so if you’ve come from a lot further than Australia and want to see as much as possible. I guess if you were really desperate to see heaps of NZ you probably wouldn’t do a cruise. I hadn’t really thought a lot, prior to boarding, about the demographic of people who would be on the ship but there are a lot of people of all ages with mobility issues and it really is an ideal way to travel if you struggle with stairs, packing, going distances, etc as not only is everything flat with lots of lifts but there’s lots of people to help. Mum has complained about walking along all the corridors but also commented that she feels like she has gained some fitness too, which is not what you expect from this type of holiday.
The weather is a lot chillier today, we sat outside with Mum and Michael for a short while at 9:30, Michael is keen to get into Dunedin as he and Izaac have had Covid and stayed in their cabin since Auckland. Michael’s very first Covid bout too, poor guy! Still, it was very mild and passed quickly. I don’t think Izaac showed many symptoms at all.
Everyone else decided to go into Dunedin, but Luke and I left the ship at about 11 and walked through the port buildings to the Main Street of Port Chalmers, which runs uphill. The very first building was holding an indoor craft market so we went in to have a look and ended up buying a couple of things and chatting to some locals, one of whom was a possum skin dealer. Possums are a pest in New Zealand and I can’t imagine why anyone would bother bringing them from Australia, but killing them is illegal at home so when people want possums skins for Indigenous rites, such as cloak making (a family at my school organised this for all our indigenous students, it is used all the time in ceremonies) they get them from trappers here.
After the markets we walked around town a bit, then up to a garden and lookout on one side of town. It would have been amazing to see when all the rhododendrons were out, but as it was the Japanese maples were very pretty and it was a good place to get a different view of the ship, looming over it while it looked over the town!
Then we walked down the harbour and up to the lookout on the other side of town. We got there just as the ball dropped; a ball drops from a tower to allow people with pocket watches to set their timepiece to precisely 1pm. Apparently it fell into disrepair for quite a number of years but the historical society raised $50,000 to rebuild it. Money well spent? Probably not, but it’s a thing and we saw it.
After a quick wander around a small and boring sculpture garden that also apparently cost a lot of money, we walked back to town and managed to get the prime window seat at the most charming-looking pub (The Portsider). Luke was much more thrilled by this than the ball drop.
They had a wide range of beers and several delicious ciders. I’d recommend popping in to try some if you’re in the area, the lady behind the bar knew a lot about each of the selection.
They also had good wifi so I spent quite a while drinking cider and updating the blog. If I manage to get some done during our waiting time in Sydney I’ll have completed it all before I get home and that would be very satisfying!
In the evening Mum, Dad, Michael, Luke and I met up at the buffet for a few drinks before we visited the Asian-themed Harmony restaurant onboard. It was fairly quiet but the food was nice, with the red bean brûlée standing out as particularly good and an interesting take on French brûlées. We had three bottles of wine between us and many laughs, particularly at Dad’s stories and Michael making fun of Luke having a small sized head while my family all have massive heads. Apparently now that he has married in he’s fair game for teasing;-).
After Mum and Dad headed to bed, Michael, Luke and I hit the dance floor in the piazza, and then had a bottle of red wine before going to the casino lounge to talk for a while. I went to bed early and apparently missed out on the part of the night where they went to the Hollywood Bar at the top of the ship and Michael ended up trying to restrain a guy who was being aggressive to staff members, shouting and gesturing at them. Eleven years as a publican came to the fore and he tried to stepped in but fortunately Luke rerouted him. Michael had apparently forgotten it until security turned up at his room the next morning and told him that, although he was trying to do the right thing, it wasn’t the ship’s policy to encourage patrons to lay hands on other patrons. A bit of excitement, I suppose!