It was a quick overnight run from Auckland to Tauranga, waking up before dawn— which we have now become accustomed to— and somehow knowing we were pulling into port, I suppose in the same way that seabirds know what direction to fly in, when they are out in the middle of the ocean.
Tauranga is the largest city in the Bay of Plenty, fifth most populous city in NZ. When we sailed into harbor that early morning, it felt as if we were entering the leeward side of an island in the NW or the US, a haven for sailboats tucked in along the bay, protected by barrier islands with stands of conifers pushed up against the shoreline. It was hard to believe this was a major city with an active port for cargo.
I was using this time to post from the previous day, watching the sun rise and bringing Mount Maunganui into view. It would be our destination in the short stop over, downtime after a couple of full days.
During breakfast, we watched the ship run through their muster drills and launch practices. The only thing missing was a good fireworks band, with cascades of kettle drums in choreography to it
The bay of Tauranga looks as if it were built yesterday, the bay side of this spit of land lined with modern apartments and homes. There is a beautiful planked walkway that snakes its way alone the water toward Mount Maunganui, which is about a half mile or so from the ship. Here we saw lots of families with kids on paddle boards and canoes, their day packs sprinkled like gardens along the shoreline.
The trail around Mount Maunganui starts off rather unsuspecting. There are two ways to start: clockwise or counter clockwise. We chose clockwise, still being from north of the equator. All the kiwis seem to start counter clockwise.
On that note, it’s funny trying to get used to walking on the left here, the city sidewalks as well as everywhere. It must drive the kiwis crazy when ships pull into port and the passengers, oblivious to the Coriolanus effect, continue to hang onto their misdirection. But they are good natured souls and would not say anything… but you can hear them whispering… yeah.. yeah.. nah….
After circling the island (16,000+ steps), you come to the Pacific side of Tauranga, a beautiful beach town with bars, restaurants and great surf.
Onward to Napier, where we will have a sea day in between.