A cloudless morning broke over Hawkes Bay, New Zealand as National Geographic Orion motored into the town of Napier. After breakfast, we were alongside the dock and set out for the day’s adventures. The historic town was damaged in a significant earthquake during the 1930s and was rebuilt all at once in the current style of the time, Art Deco. It remains one of the largest concentrations of this architectural style in the world, and it gives the whole town the feeling that it is from a different era. Some guests ventured out to take in the buildings and history of the town, while others took a longer bus ride out to the southern point of the bay, named Cape Kidnappers by Captain Cook, to view the enormous colony of Australasian gannets. In the evening, we tossed off the lines and enjoyed a beautiful sunset as we turned our backs on the North Island of Aotearoa (New Zealand) and began sailing south.
National Geographic Orion
Our destination today was Rotorua, Bay of Plenty: A neighboring town with rich cultural heritage - Rotorua nui a Kahumatamomoe. Some of the highlights from our visit to Rotorua included the visit to Te Puia. It was exceptional, featuring a comprehensive 90 minute guided tour encompassing the art school, kiwi conservatory, geysers, and captivating stories of Tūtanekai & Hinemoa told through waiata (song). The tour concluded with a scrumptious buffet filled with traditional Māori cuisine, enhancing the cultural immersion. Following our visit, we ventured into the town center to visit the picturesque lake, absorbing the natural beauty and tranquility. We then headed back to the ship to enjoy an educational session with our Underwater Sea Specialist , Gail, who presented an engaging session on kelp, enlightening us with insights into this marine life. The day concluded with the captain’s farewell cocktail hour, a briefing for the following day's activities, and beautiful dinner as customary. Later, we enjoyed the heartwarming film, The Whale Rider, accompanied by delicious popcorn and hot cocoa.