Had a friend puck us up and we went downtown to see the Shrine of Remembrance, drove past Federation Square, loved going to the Queen Victoria Market, walked along the river and had lunch there. We ended the day with a drive along the coast.
We took the Back to Nature Tour with Chris as the owner//driver. I would highly recommend him and his company. I booked with him about 4 months ago and we came up with a custom itinerary that included a catered box lunch (we ate at a deserted beach) , visit to the Penguin Reserve to see the yellow eyed penguins, a visit to the rookery to see the Royal Albatross birds, a city tour that included a stop at the Dunedin Train Station. We had two vans in our group. At the end of the day we asked if one van could return those who wanted to go back to the ship and the other van would take those who wanted to do shopping in town for one hour. Those of us who did the shopping paid an extra $5 - well worth it when I saw how long the long was in Dunedin to get on the HAL shuttle - friends of ours waited 45 minutes!
The port isn't Christchurch but rather Akaroa. A quaint little hospitable town on the coast. We had made prior arrangements to go on the Up Close Coast motor boat tour of the harbor for 2 hours. We got up close to a blue penguins, dolphins that entertained us and various sea birds. IT was delightful to be out in the sun and in the open air. We had lunch afterwards at a deli toward the left of town. We purchased BNew Zealand woolens at a wool shop on Church Road - things are not inexpensive but she will ship items home to you and that will save the GST (tax). My husband found some hiking trails to the right of town.
I had made arrangements ahead of time to take some members of our Roll Call on a private Highlights Tour of Te Papa Museum - some likened it to the Smithsonian Museum but not as large. Our tour began at 9:30. We took cabs from the port, where there were plenty, for a cost about $15 per cab. Our tour lasted about 90 minutes. We hung around the harbor after the tour and saw Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior boat. Kids and adults were jumping off the dock into the water. It was fun around the pier.
Afterwards we walked downtown Wellington and took the cable car up to the top and walked down through the Botanical Gardens. It was a much further walk than we had anticipated.
We had a great time in Napier and I attribute much of that to being in Napier during the Art Deco festival. Old cars from the 1920's and 1930's were there. Tents were set up where the participants wore period clothing. They even had a Soapbox Derby going on.
I went with Ross, the driver, on the Wine and Views Tour. We went to two wineries (Mission and Church Road) and sampled their wines. We were then given a choice as to whether we wanted to go to a third winery or go out in the country for the views. We went to the top of a hill to an area that was readied for us with a large tarp over it, a handmade picnic table and bench. Ross took out of his picnic basket wine, glasses, cheeses, crackers, figs, etc. We drank, admired the views and listened to Ross' stories of the wineries and how they integrate sheep into the growing of the grapes.
We had a short day here in Napier and I had wished it was longer. When we got back on the ship there was an aerial show. Bi-wing planes and equivalent of the Blue Angels. A great day!
We booked with Carlton Tours and had two vans. I would recommend having Tim, the owner, as your driver. We had the other driver and although he was very good, Tim was just that much better. He picked us up promptly and off we went through the town toward Rotora to Kiwi 360 where they have a commercial operation in growing kiwis. I found that I loved the golden kiwi. I was able to buy juice and a few other things in their gift store. We went to the area where the geysers were (I really think there was only one and we were lucky to be there when it was erupting) and see the mudpools. The ones in Yellowstone are so much better. We went to the Maori Cultural Center. I think I was expecting something much larger than what was there - that doesn't mean it wasn't good and in fact, it was. There is a building where Maori dancing occurs. We were given instructions prior to going in and of course, some people just don't think rules apply to them. We walked around the grounds and Tim explained much to us.
We drove back a river where they go white water rafting. Very fast moving water. For lunch we ate a lakeside cafe, a very enjoyable view. In fact a paddleboat was docked very close to the cafe.. We continued to drive through the area to see how they use the thermal water - heating, public baths, etc. We even watched a lawn bowling game