Sunday, 5 June 2011

Tauranga Port of Call

Volendam docked at Mount Maunganui, Tauranga
Our first port of call on this cruise was Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. The 'Volendam' docked at the seaside suburb of Mt Maunganui. There were three cruise ships in port that day, so I imagine the cash registers of the local businesses and tour companies were ringing non-stop!  
  Many of the ship's passengers piled aboard coaches to be whisked away to Rotorua for the day, to see erupting geysers, boiling mud pools and a sampling of Maori culture.  Others headed off to Te Puke to tour a kiwifruit orchard and to taste kiwifruit products such as chocolate, liqueurs and wine.
   We decided to stay in Mt Maunganui and visit friends on this glorious day. We had coffee at a cafe on the promenade opposite the popular surf beach. Despite the high-rise apartments and luxurious houses in the area, the Mount has a laid-back feel to it, as if the real importance of the place is based on the sun, sea and sand.
   Lunch was in the sunny courtyard of a main street cafe that had glass cases filled to overflowing with baking - those old Kiwi favourites such as Afghan biscuits, Melting Moments and Eccles cakes.
   Because of the narrow harbour entrance and strong currents, the 'Volendam' had to leave strictly on time to meet the window of opportunity that high tide allowed ships to depart. We sailed close between long, low Matakana Island and Mt Maunganui, waving goodbye to all the people who were standing on top of the mountain.

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