We arrived in Tauranga at a very civilized hour-9 am.
I was up and alert for the sail-in. I never tire of watching the Captain and deck officers and crew gently dock this lovely lady.
We had splendid views of the Bay of Plenty.
CruiseGran and I took the Tauranga Highlights tour. Our first stop was The Elms Mission Station.
It was here that it dawned on me that New Zealand is so young--even by American standards. The oldest houses there are just over 150 years old. Not the great stone and brick mansions of Europe, but simple, yet beautiful, wooden or stone homes. Inside photography was not permitted, but just click on the link above and you will be able to see what life was like for the Christian settlers who originally came to New Zealand in the middle 1800's.
The gardens are exquisite.
Our wonderful guide took us on a tour through "the bush" - so lush and green.
It was interesting to learn that the settlers planted the distinctive Norfolk pines
- with their spaced branches, triangular pattern and top that resembles a cross- so that the locations of homes and harbor areas could be recognized from far away.
Giant ferns are constantly growing.
Our guide explained to us the silver fern-
has the distinctive leaf that, when the backside of the leaf is exposed, catches the moonlight and almost glows. The Maori turned over the fern when walking through the bush to mark their way. Now it is the symbol of New Zealand.
After a short stop at the Minden Outlook,
passing kiwi fields on the way
it was on to Mills Reef Winery for a bit of a tasting.
Nice staff- a bit of wine at 11 am never hurts me- and I liked the port
so much, I bought two bottles.
I think what impressed me most about Tauranga was how man and nature have merged in such a beautiful way. I would come to realize that the Kiwis are very sensitive to their beloved land, and take great pains to live in and with nature as synergistically as possible.
The countryside beauty astounded me. Fields of grapes and kiwi vines trellised. Greens of so many colors. And those magnifient Norfolk pines standing sentry.