Saturday, February 4, 2017

Ovation of the Seas - Saturday 4 February, Bay of Islands - New Zealand

Exciting day, we're at our first New Zealand port - The Bay of Island and there are many, many islands! We enjoying sailing in on our balcony and watched the tenders being setup and lowered. After a quick shower we were up to the Solarium for breakfast. We didn't have anything booked here so there was no need to rush down for a tender ticket. They did advise if you didn't need to be off early to wait a bit so there wasn't any huge queues.

Bay of Islands

Bay of lots of Islands

Tender tickets were collected from just outside the Two70 lounge and then we were asked to wait in the main lounge areas or decks, deck 4 and 5 for our numbers to be called. Not everyone listens to this and get in the way as they wait on the stairs but that's quite normal. Some people just think they can do what ever they want, when ever they want. We didn't have to wait too long for our number to be called and it was pretty quick after that to get onto the tenders. The Ovation has a dedicated area on deck 2 for tendering and debarking so this saves so much time with the tendering process. It's laid out very well and very easy to navigate. The staff were happy and helpful and made sure we were all safe getting onto the tender, being on the tender and getting off the tender. Of course, once again, there are people who choose to do their own thing and ignore the staff but the staff did a great job. The trip wasn't very long, maybe 5 minutes or so and there were shuttle buses waiting for us to take us into the main town of Paihia. We decided to walk into town, which was about a 20-30 minute easy walk along the water. It was NZ's Waitangi Day (I think it goes all month so not really a 'day') so there were heaps of police and people about. Waitangi Day is to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 - New Zealands founding document.

The tender getting ready for us
The weather was perfect, much warmer than I had expected. I ended up getting a bit burnt even though I was trying to make sure I had sunscreen on all the time. A lovely port and town, super busy with all us cruisers but everyone we spoke to were very friendly and helpful.

Heading into town - we chose to walk and not catch the shuttle bus
Found the town
I found a free wifi hotspot near the cute local library and managed to get hold of my niece. After wandering through the markets we headed over to the wharf to catch a ferry over to Russell (it's not an island). The ferries were super busy but we didn't have to wait long and ended up on the fast ferry. It was about a 7 minute trip over and a bit longer coming back as we caught the Happy ferry after a bunch of (bloody) cruisers decided to push in front of everyone. So rude! I just don't understand why people think this is ok and why they are more important than anyone else. Anyway, onto Russell we went. A sweet little town with some gorgeous houses, very expensive gorgeous houses. We did some walking around and happy snapping before resting on the grass over looking the bay and watching all the boats and ferries and swimmers and stand up paddle boarders. The only thing that was missing was an icecream. Mum has an aversion to buying things especially food when we're on a cruise and stupidly I didn't have any money with me. Well I did but I had spent it on the ferry. Not to worry, there was plenty of food back on board the ship!

Caught the Fast Ferry to Russell (it's not an island)

After catching the Happy ferry back to Paihia we slowly walked back to the tenders and made our way back to our wonderful ship.

On the Happy Ferry back to Paihia
I can see why they call it the Bay of Islands

 We'd certainly worked up an appetite so weren't we lucky that we had a three course meal ahead of us. Although, you could technically make it as many courses as you wanted. Two starters, two mains, two desserts, heck why not three desserts! We didn't go that crazy, three courses was sufficient. (ok ONE time, ONE time I had two mains but that wasn't me that was our waiter :-)) and tonight we also both had a scoop of ice cream with our dessert which I guess is TWO desserts BUT we didn't have dessert the night before so just balancing it out ;-)
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Yum yum yum
 The waitstaff and chefs did a bit of a show for us all. So lovely to see them enjoying themselves.

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