The small town we walked around in Bay of Islands felt like a little NSW south coast town, but Tauranga (To-wrong-ah… I think! Pronunciation seems to vary from person to person) was much bigger and this was the first place we stopped where the ship was at a quay. It is far quicker and more pleasant to just walk off the ship, and I wouldn’t be surprised if most people with mobility issues or very small children didn’t alight in Bay of Islands at all. It felt like almost everyone went off to do things in Tauranga but, being a city of 100k people, it absorbed the horde much more easily.
Mum and Dad told us to go do our own thing, so Luke and I met up with Michael and Izaac and had breakfast while waiting for the crowd to abate somewhat, leaving the ship at 10am.
There were only two things I wanted to do at this stop: go to a supermarket and go to the hot springs. Luke found a supermarket a 30 minute walk away so we set off and got coffee along the way. $5 for a small cappuccino was a bit steep and we worked out that the currency conversion fee pretty much wiped out any gain from our $AUD being slightly stronger against the $NZD.
We saw some interesting sights (well, interesting to me) such as:
Not one but two doggie daycare vans.
A lovely mural.
A second hand vinyl and book shop.
Michael and Izaac decided to use the McDonalds wifi to sort out phone reception issues so Luke and I continued to the New World supermarket. I love looking at everyday things in new countries and, although most items were pretty similar to home, we did load up on fancy Whittakers chocolate and we admired the artwork on the ‘Snackachangi’ range of chips. I’ve never seen anything like it and totally regretted not buying any once I got back to the ship.
We rendezvoused back onboard before heading to the Tauranga hot water pools. They were a short walk down the beachfront and around a corner, right at the base of Mount Manganui.
Luke used his technology superpower once again and got us in twice as quickly by using the self-serve ticket machine rather than waiting in line for a cashier. Inside the pools were quite small, maybe about half a proper Olympic-sized pool spread over several smaller pools. There was one lower temperature pool and several pools that were almost 40 degrees C, which is HOT! I couldn’t get into the really hot one until I’d adjusted a bit in the temperate pool.
All the pools were quite crowded but no one was being very silly and there were lots of lifeguards and signs about not staying in the hot pools for too long.
If you’re reading this and thinking of going to the pools, I couldn’t tell you when they would be quiet… maybe first thing in the morning? We all agreed that if we were locals we’d be there every day. There are a couple of small adult-only pools off to one side but we had Izaac (13) and the main pools were pretty settled anyhow.
We sat for a while in each and chatted, admiring the view of Mount Manganui that loomed up dramatically right over our heads, shrouded in mist.
After about 40 minutes we’d had enough and walked back to the ship along the shore. It’s such a pretty area, if I came back to New Zealand I’d definitely return and walk the circumference of Mount Manganui. We got an amazing view of it as the ship left that evening. Clouds poured around the summit and we could see people around the shoreline waving us off and probably glad that the blight was gone ;-).
After watching the view slide by we had a plate of buffet food in the Wake Bar and then Luke and I watched a recording of the Auckland information talk from the comfort of bed. All in all a lovely day and I’d happily come back to Tauranga.