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Home > Member Reviews > Mountains123's Port Reviews of Sydney (Australia),, Melbourne, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington

Mountains123's Port Reviews of Sydney (Australia),, Melbourne, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington
Diamond Princess cruise in December 2012
Member Name: Mountains123
Cruise Date: December 2012
Embarkation: Sydney (Australia)
Destination: Australia & New Zealand
Member Review: Mountains123's Diamond Princess Review
Sydney (Australia)
Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Great city - lots to see! Stayed at the Amora Jamison - very nice hotel with a large room, comfortable bed, large tub and separate shower; small, but nice gym with two treadmills and water/towels supplied. Excellent breakfast buffet and great location from Opera House, etc.

First, we always find the Harley-Davidson dealer to buy t-shirts and used the subway/metro - very easy and fast. Very extensive subway system.

Went to the Harbour Bridge early evening, not the climbing tour - just walked across - still have great views and nice skyline, and it's free. Note: lots of steps.

Took the ferry to the Sydney Toranga Zoo - 15 min. ride, buy combo ticket at ferry dock and save 10%. Zoo on a hillside so expect to go uphill and downhill. Very enjoyable, including an area where you can walk around with the wallabies and 'roos. The Tasmanian Devil was cute as could be, too.

Sydney Opera House - very crowded, saw the outside, not the inside due to shows being performed in all the theaters so no tours were being done. If an inside tour is a must on your list, do this first so you don't run into this issue.

Restaurants - pricey to us - ate pasta, fish, gelato, cafeteria, and asian dumplings/noodles - all very good. If you like ginger ale, try the ginger beer (non-alcoholic).

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Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Very nice, pretty city. If you can walk, highly recommend walking from dock into the city - there is a very nice walking/biking path through neighborhoods/small parks and it follows the tram path. Turn right to go along the riverwalk (on either side) to the CBD. We went up the Sky Tower to see the view and take pictures - it was a beautiful, clear day. There would normally be a free CBD tram around the city, but it was not running this particular day due to a memorial for Lady Murdoch who had died earlier in the week. One interesting bridge we crossed near the train station had glass panels with all the countries that had immigrants into Melbourne. Wondered around and took the tram back to the dock ($4NZ each) - small supermarket at the dock if you need supplies.

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Larnach Castle Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Once back at the train station in Dunedin, board a bus for a scenic ride up the hills to Larnach Castle (not really a castle, more like a mansion) - short tour thru the mansion and beautiful grounds. You can take the narrow stairs (you must be mobile) up to the overlook and see even more around Larnach Castle. Very interesting history of the family who built it. Note: There is no free time if you see both sights (train and castle) to do exploring/shopping.

Taieri Gorge Railway Rating: 5+ out of 5+
Definitely worthwhile to take the Taieri Gorge Railway to see some of the scenery in this beautiful country - takes you from Port Chalmers (dock) thru Dunedin thru farmland thru high hills/forest areas and back again. You are served tea/coffee there and a delicious box lunch with sandwich, salad, cheese, dessert on the way back. Train station is beautiful. Note 1: Yes, you can pick up the train in Dunedin, but you must get there first from the ship and it's about 30 mins away; if you take the ship shore excursion, so it may cost alittle more, but with less hassle and you have first choice of seats. Note 2: There is no free time if you see both sights (train and castle) to do exploring/shopping.

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Akaroa Rating: 5+ out of 5+
Ship actually tendered at Akaroa due to earthquake damage at Christchurch. We did not actually take a tour, just walked around. They have a small town with tours to Christchurch, see dolphins, penguins, etc. They have a nice little park with a WWI war memorial and the largest roses I think I have ever seen. That is near a site with a statue of an artist painting an open frame so you can pose as if he was painting you and your friend can take a picture over the artist's shoulder. The town is full of beautiful trees and many different flowers so do walk around. Walk down the road to the lighthouse and keep looking in the bay to (hopefully) see dolphins swimming - I did. The lighthouse is small and pretty and for $2.50NZ you can go up to the top and look out. Very beautiful, peaceful little town!

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Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
Another pretty city in NZ. We walked around on our own - the ship docks about .5 miles from the train station and town so it's easy to walk to, although they do have a shuttle for $5NZ one way which stops in middle of their shopping district. We walked to the Streetcar and bought a ticket to go up (~$8NZ each?) - short ride, but nice. At the top, we saw the Streetcar Museum, including an old car you could get into and sit. We walked down the hill through the Royal Botanical Garden - lots of plants, not as many flowers as I expected until the Rose Garden - very nice and the Rose Garden at the bottom was beautiful. We also went to the Wellington City and Maritime Museum - free - very good displays of Wellington history and artifacts from the city and sea housed in their old Bond Warehouse - very interesting. Very enjoyable city.

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Port Rating: 5.0 out of 5+
We took shore excursion for Maori Cultural Experience. Drive 90 minutes through the beautiful countryside with kiwi orchards and farmland. A little ways out of Rotatora? we picked up our Maori guide and continued to the cultural center - a small Maori village. Two buses - each picked a chief and we participated in a traditional Maori greeting ceremony. There are several Maori huts where the representatives explained a part of their culture - weaving, dance, wood carving, fitness, warrior displays. We then saw a show with traditional song and dances. Our lunch was a buffet with wonderful food, including the best lamb we had on the trip, and some traditional Maori dishes and a traditional NZ dessert of Pavlova. The Maoris are a wonderful people and emphasized their tradition of family and living in peace and harmony with other peoples and the environment. Note: Tauranga itself is a pretty little town and the ship docks right on the beach, not a shipping dock, where you can see the people swimming, surfing, and having picnics. There is a little free time once you get back to do some walking around or shopping in town since you docked right in the middle of town.

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Port Rating: 4.0 out of 5+
Biggest city in NZ and we again went to the Harley-Davidson dealer to buy t-shirts. Some litter and homeless people than anywhere else, but still a nice city. We didn't do much here because it was our debarkation port and we were probably worn out after 21 days, and we bought our transfer through Princess since they have a very nice hospitality floor in the Sky Center/Convention Hotel in the middle of downtown. It is right down the street from the docks and shopping area in downtown and you can leave your carry-on luggage there and walk around. The hospitality floor included free wi-fi, water, coffee, tea, and cookies and you can relax there while waiting for your bus to the airport if you were done walking around. The drive to the airport is about 20 mins. and goes through some of the Auckland neighborhoods, very nice.

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