Rotorua (Tauranga), New Zealand

Tauranga, roughly meaning safe anchorage, is recognized as the landing place of some of the early voyages and canoes from Polynesia in the 13th century followed by the British 600 years later when Captain Cook sailed into the area in 1769. 1/3 of Rotorua’s population today is Maori, the highest in NZ.

White Island with smoke billowing from its top (picture taken from a safe distance!) This is the volcano that erupted just last December 2019 that killed 21 tourists and left 40+ in hospitals with severe burns.
This is our “safe” anchorage at port in Tauranga, New Zealand.

A Maori community welcomes us to their marae – a real-life working meeting place. We’re greeted by a traditional warrior challenge to see if we come in peace or not!  Then we received a warm welcome by pressing noses and were invited into their marae to learn about their tribal lives, carvings and arts and crafts.  

The tongue is to scare the enemy. The Haka scream that the New Zealand ALL BLACKS rugby team uses is a Maori warrior tactic to scare the enemy.  It must work, they’re champions.  Really cool ;-r)

There are tours in numerous NZ cities for the Hobbiton and “Lord of the Rings” movie sets. You can have a drink at the Green Dragon Inn.

Auckland, New Zealand

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”  ~  Jacques Cousteau

Oh how I remember loving to watch the underwater adventures of Jacques Cousteau on TV in the late 1960’s. 

This picture should make a good jigsaw puzzle 😉
Known as the “City of Sails”, Auckland has the most marinas in the southern hemisphere. 1/3 of all households own a boat. There are three official languages here, in addition to English, Maori was made official in 1987 and in 2006 New Zealand was the first country to make sign language official.
Kelly Tarlton was an extraordinary Kiwi adventurer, diver and treasure hunter. He wanted to share his love of the ocean by giving the public the opportunity to experience it from a diver’s perspective. His use of transparent acrylic tunnels to provide a truly immersive underwater experience was a world first and the tunnels are now used in aquariums around the globe.
I went to the top of Sky Tower while John stayed on bus. He doesn’t like heights.
Sky Tower top in clouds
City of Sails

Bay of Islands (Waitangi), New Zealand

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.” ~ Rudyard Kipling
Early this morning I stepped out onto the balcony and was hit with a wonderful fragrance of flowers. Fruit trees maybe. We were a ways from the shore so it must have been sent on the wind. A lovely surprise. I found others had noticed it also.
Bay of Islands

New Zealand is one of the last lands to be settled by humans. It is two large islands split by the Cook Strait. Our first stop is the north tip of the North Island, the gateway to more than 150 islands that comprise the Bay of Islands.  Waitangi played a central role in the history of New Zealand.  On Feb 6th, 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was signed by British officers and Maori chiefs, granting sovereignty over the growing nation to Queen Victoria.  A public holiday since 1974, Feb 6 of each year the Kiwis (as they are lovingly called) will celebrate Waitangi Day. 

Waitangi war canoe (waka) holds 70 paddlers. The world’s largest ceremonial war canoe. After the Queen’s voyage on the waka in 1974, she designated it ‘Her Majesty’s Ship’, which makes it part of her Royal Navy.

Giant marlin on Paihia waterfront. In 1926, Zane Grey the famous American Western author put New Zealand on the map for the world’s biggest striped marlins. He himself held many world records for catching big-game fish.  He described the Bay of Islands in Tales of the Angler’s Eldorado, New Zealand.  Since this will be a short blog post, I’ll add this excerpt from that book.

“A mako shark so huge that he absolutely paralyzed me with terror emerged with a roar of water to go high in the air …. I was thrown from my chair … He looked at least seventeen feet long … A peculiar feature of the mako is that his eyes stand out prominently from the sides of his head and these were fully as large and round as half a grapefruit. They were intensely black and full of fiendish fire … he shut his jaws with a convulsive snap like that made by a two-foot bear trap.”  ~  Zane Grey

Our bus tour took us to see the country’s oldest buildings dating back to the early 1800’s, the stone-constructed Stone Store and the missionary’s wooden Kemp House in the historic Kerikeri Basin.  We then saw the Rainbow Falls along the Kerikeri River during “dry” season.  There are people hiking into the cave beneath the falls.

We then drove to the quaint town of Kawakawa, home to the quirky public bathrooms designed by world-famous artist Friedesreich Hundertwasser.  Tile art all around town.

As the sunsets, we are departing Bay of Islands

Suva, Fiji

Nautical Term of the Day  –  Over the Barrel

The most common method of punishment on board a ship was flogging. The unfortunate sailor was tied to a grating, a mast or “over the barrel” of a deck cannon.

Reminds me of Mutiny on the Bounty

Suva is the largest city in the South Pacific and capital of the Fijian archipelago of 330 islands. It is the most multi-cultural and multi-racial in the South Pacific, a very welcoming people to all.  The true story of the Mutiny on the Bounty lands here in 1789 and the rudder from the HMS Bounty is found in their museum. After Fijians were converted to Christianity in the 19th century, the practice of cannibalism disappeared. 

We went to experience some local culture and customs and found the people to be warm, friendly, and good rugby players (but as we will find out in New Zealand, not as good as the All Blacks.)

Our Bus being welcomed to the Sawani village Fijian style, by their warriors.

Tongatapu (Nuku’alofa), Tonga

We bypassed Rarotonga, Cook Islands due to a strong storm and went to Tonga early.
“After every storm, there is a rainbow. If you have eyes, you will find it. If you have wisdom, you will create it. If you have love for yourself and others, you won’t need it.”

The highest elevation of Tongatapu, the largest of the 169 Tonga Islands, is 213 feet.  Its flat tropical landscape is composed of coral limestone with fertile volcanic soil.  Nuku’alofa is the cultural and political capital of Tonga and hosts the wooden Royal Palace built in 1867, the Royal Tombs and the spot where Captain Cook first landed in 1777. 

George Tupou I was the first King of Tonga and was converted by Methodist missionaries in 1831.  A 50 year civil war in Tonga was ended by the King in 1845 as he united Tonga into a Kingdom under a Monarchy which is today, the last Polynesian Monarchy. 


The welcoming beat of the Tongan drum greeted us as we arrived at the Ancient Tonga Cultural Center where we thoroughly enjoyed learning about their customs still followed and celebrated.


Tapa Cloth worth thousands of dollars each (that size). Labor intensive, artistic and ceremonial. While riding around the island, I saw numerous people on the street wearing the woven mats and/or tapa cloth.
We were served cooked purple sweet potato, tasty cassava root and chicken wrapped in taro leaves roasted. Very good 😉

Bora Bora (Vaitape), French Polynesia


Nautical Term ~ of the day ~ Slush Fund

A slushy slurry of fat was obtained by boiling or scraping the empty salted meat storage barrels. This stuff, called “slush,” was often sold ashore by the ship’s cook for the benefit of himself or the crew. The money so derived became known as a “slush fund.”

Bora Bora is called the “Pearl of the Pacific.”  Surrounded by a lagoon of turquoise waters and a barrier reef, it is situated in the volcanic crater of its origin.  Bora Bora and Tahiti are the most famous of the Society Islands archipelago in French Polynesia which has a total of 5 archipelagos. 

Bora Bora’s center is marked by twin peaks with Otemanu, the highest at 2379′.
Can YOU find any?
Might as well forget this page, except…

Giant Moray Eel!

How about the Scissor-tail Sergeant? There’s a big Parrot fish (maybe) in above photo, just a tad right of center!

Have you heard of a Double-Saddle Butterflyfish?

Small islets with water bungalows are synonymous with Bora Bora.

Can you find 9 land crabs? The bus actually stopped for us to see these crawl out of their holes for food that was tossed near the empty-looking holes.
I was looking forward to a Bloody Mary drink but they were closed for renovation. It became famous after the movie South Pacific. (I didn’t know I left my glasses on)

Tahiti (Papeete), French Polynesia

Approaching Tahiti

We don’t want you to think it’s all blue skies here 🙂

Rainy day activities 🙂 And tomorrow the sun will come out for my walk in the park 😉

Tiki guarding the fruit basket!

Now for some serious shopping!  The Tahitian Black Pearl only comes from the Tahitian Black Lipped Oyster, lower center photo. They can take up to 3 years and sometimes more.

My black pearl earrings and mother of pearl necklace with pink pearl in center at a Polynesian supper on board the ship. Check out the fish we had!
Have you ever had dragon fruit? Tastes a little like a combo of cantaloupe and kiwi.

Marquesas Islands (Taiohae), French Polynesia


“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable.  It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”   ~   Clifton Fadiman

I wonder if that was what Herman Melville thought when he landed here in the 1840″s and was greeted by cannibals.  I decided not to write on the lecture that was given about cannibalism!

The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest and deepest ocean. It is twice the area of the Atlantic and contains almost 3X as much water.  Over half the world’s population lives on its shores.  Civilization was built on salt and, therefore, the sea.  Without salt, humans would not have been able to preserve meat, fish and seasonal food for storage or transport.  So valued, salt was regarded the same way we regard currency today.  In fact, the word “salary” is derived from sal, the Latin word for salt.

In 1521 the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan made the first known crossing of the Pacific Ocean who then named it the “peaceful sea”.  We just crossed 7 days of it and it was peaceful for us, on this trip. 

Approaching the first island of the Polynesian archipelago. It has more than 100 islands, 67 of which are inhabited. Polynesia  means “many islands”.

After writing about the “Peaceful Sea,” we got word from the Captain that we will bypass the Cook Islands, (I’m writing this after Bora Bora) as there are poor weather conditions, and go straight to Nuku’alofa, Tonga.

The tattoo is to indicate maturity and/or signify status or standing in your community. They also tell family history and therefore very unique per person.  Around 200 AD voyageurs from Samoa and Tonga settled in the area of Marquesas. Over a period of more than 1000 years one of the most complex Polynesian cultures evolved – Marquesan.  Marquesan tattoo designs, which often covered the whole body, were the most elaborate in Polynesia.  A legend is that European sailors liked the Polynesian tattoos so much that they spread extremely fast in Europe because the sailors emblazoned the tattoos on their own bodies.     

Flowers are lovely.  And Tikis are everywhere!

In 1846, Herman Melville (who also wrote Moby Dick, 1851) wrote Typee, about cannibalism that he encountered on his visit to this Nuku Hivu island. It was not believed and not published for many years.  A hundred years later, 1946, James A. Michener wrote Tales of the South Pacific, later to be made into a Broadway musical and movie South Pacific.

“I have often been mildly amused when I think that the great American novel was not written about New England or Chicago.  It was written about a white whale in the South Pacific.”  ~   James A. Michener

John’s birthday cake from Viking. A nice surprise.

San Diego & LA + Pacific Map

Sailing into San Diego Harbor at 5:24 am. That’s it folks! I spent the whole day shopping, no tours.
Our only tour in LA, the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Most beautifully, creative architecture.
The wood used to cover the walls and the pipes of the huge pipe organ is Fir. We attended a lecture in this room, just fantastic.


Those are wood covered organ pipes and I would love to hear them some day.

The planning of the building took decades with $50 million first being donated by Walt Disney’s widow, with the final cost of the building being $274 million.  Besides the magnificent architectural design by Frank Gehry, the acoustical architecture, by acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, was integral in making it the dream they envisioned. 

Note the huge bell around 9 o’clock on the outside ring of the orchestra, it’s very large and a lot of us noticed when it was hit, it took 5-10 seconds for us to hear it, and it was in the right place in the song. We all understand the physics but it’s so cool to see, I mean hear. Actually both!

Now the Program: 

Zubin Mehta, conductor

Los Angeles Master Chorale

Mahler          Symphony No. 2 in C minor, “Resurrection”


Bye, Bye USA, we’re off to see the rest of the world! 😉
And here is our next leg of the trip. We left LA Jan 5th and arrive Sydney, Australia, Feb 11.

Many 4-month-friends left the cruise at LA too.  Mega served us happily for four months as did Vicki, our Cruise directer and very funny lady.  Vicki received an engagement ring at the end of one of her shows as her boyfriend came out on stage and knelt down on one knee and……  and we’re all invited to the wedding 😉

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula. Fishing boats heading out at 5:50 am. From the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific Ocean which is right on the other side of the rocks.
The same shot at 5:37 pm with the boats returning and a sunset dinner cruise on its way out. The arch is locally known as ‘El Arco.
“God’s LOVE is like an Ocean; you can see its beginning, but not its end.” ~ Rick Warren
This is our Yellow Submarine for more fish viewing while staying dry!
Ed and Bernice with us. Good buddies on the ship.

I think we only saw maybe 2 or 3 of the fish on the card of possibility.

I finally got some photos of a Pelican up close and in focus!  I’ve been trying to do so unsuccessfully since the Caribbean.