The voyage was bought in August 2017 for a February-March 2018 Sydney to Sydney via NZ, 13 nights. The itinerary date above says Auckland 9 nights, wasn't an option as Auckland was off the itinerary anyway and we had two days in ... Read More
The voyage was bought in August 2017 for a February-March 2018 Sydney to Sydney via NZ, 13 nights. The itinerary date above says Auckland 9 nights, wasn't an option as Auckland was off the itinerary anyway and we had two days in Tauranga instead.
I enjoyed the surprise birthday present in January and that followed through with the experience. From the Captain to the waiters and cabin staff, anywhere I saw a staff member in fact there was always a friendly acknowledgment. The Captain's meet and greet was slightly bewildering, once the photo was taken with the Captain we sat at a table for four and all of us were ignored by the waiters, it really was only a meet and greet with a not even drink at least.
The cabin was smaller than I expected but plenty of storage and a very comfortable bed more than made up for that which I've read in other reviews. We had lovely companions at our table for six, attentive waiters who remembered small details.
Milford Sound and two others were a spectacular sight, Dunedin was a self chosen itinerary where my husband went to the Speight Breweries tour very close to the Octagon and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Plenty of shops and cafes kept me occupied until he returned. A visit to the Albatross Colony will be next on our list.
Akaroa is a pretty port, approximately 65kms north of Christchurch, tenders required. We chose to book the bus to Christchurch and have a quiet day wandering around the CBD. The onboard documentary showing the Wizard and Christchurch Cathedral is totally out of date, maybe 20-30 years judging by the fashions. Nothing could prepare us for the damage done, almost 7 years to the day, by a strong earthquake.
However, on a different channel on our television, the onboard travel advisor did make strong references to the damage inflicted so we weren't totally surprised, just overwhelmed by the sights in the CBD.
Wellington is a beautiful city and a brief shuttle ride from the berth. We chose to visit Te Papa which was an enjoyable experience in a modern museum. The Cable Car in the heart of the CBD was a nice surprise with a view of the city and harbour.
Two days at the Port of Tauranga was also a pleasant time, the advertised Port of Auckland experience is cancelled for the time being and the extra day in the previous port gave us the opportunity to visit Hobbiton, all Lord of the Rings fans would enjoy the walk around a well set out film set with enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides giving us an insight to various scenes filmed there. We chose the day trip, the evening trip involves a meal on site and I'm sure it is a super experience listening to others who came back on board later in the evening.
Our second day was again perfect weather and we explored the town which was also a relaxing time. Others visited Rotorua for different cultural events which was interesting for them, we had already visited all the attractions across the Bay of Plenty region in our own time prior to joining the Queen Mary 2.
Bypassing Auckland did not worry me at all, we have plenty of good memories of the largest city in NZ. The Bay of Islands were waiting for us, north of Auckland. Paihia is a small town of around 5000 residents and the gateway to the tip of NZ, plenty of various tours are available including deep sea fishing, diving, boat and cruise tours etc. We chose to visit Russell and, for ourselves, visit a beautiful little church and graveyard which gave us plenty of history of the region. For more history of NZ, a trip to Waitangi Treaty House was considered but we chose the launch trip, 20 minutes perhaps, to Russell instead.
Personally, I did not want the voyage to finish, 13 nights passed too quickly and the experience for us both was most enjoyable. I imagine we shall join the Queen Mary 2 in the future, maybe we'll look at the other two Queens, for now we have memories of an almost perfect experience. Read Less