Sydney to Auckland

We sailed from Circular Quay on 11 April aboard the Celebrity Solstice, bound for New Zealand. The Harbour was alight with myriad colours; from the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Opera House and beyond.

Life aboard ship is, as always, wonderful and we had two full days of activities to enjoy before dropping anchor in the Bay of Islands on New Zealand’s north shore. Tenders were provided to take us from the ship to the delightful township of Russell.

We climbed about a kilometre of steep winding road before commencing a further ascent of some 65 steps to the flagstaff and the most wonderful views of the Bay. There we learned about the early days of Maori occupation and the signing of the treaty with the British in 1840.

Our guide, a proud Maori, enthralled us with his historical knowledge of both his people and place. He then walked us to New Zealand’s oldest surviving church, Christchurch and finally to a French connection in the Pompallier Mission which was established by a Priest from Lyon, in the early 1800s.

Set amongst beautiful flowering gardens, the building was used as a printery and tannery. Today visitors can witness the process of ancient printing and book binding, the covers of which were produced using the tannery’s leather. We then caught a local ferry across to the town of Paihia where we walked through local craft markets and lunched at Jule’z. All in all, a lovely way to spend a few hours.
Our next port was Auckland. The sky was overcast but we managed to avoid the rain which descended shortly after we departed. We spent a few hours walking around the city and were particularly impressed with Albert Park which is set high above the hustle and bustle and populated with the most amazing hobbit-like trees. The views over Auckland are wonderful and at its centre stands a bronze statue of Queen Victoria, surrounded by colourful flowering plants.

When in Auckland… or anywhere for that matter, we found a Starbucks and had coffee. Then it was back to the ship and the start of four days on the high seas.