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  #1  
Old June 25th, 2014, 01:27 PM
sabrefan sabrefan is online now
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Default Tauranga, New Zealand Shore Excursion Advice?

Will be on a Celebrity cruise visiting Tauranga, New Zealand in February 2015. Trying to decide between 3 excursions. The three choices are the following:
1. Forest Canyon Jetboat & Hella Gate Thermal Experience
2. Lake Rotoiti Hot Springs & Sailing Encounter
3. Intimate Rotorua & Thermal Experience

Would certainly appreciate hearing from anyone who has experienced any of these tours through Celebrity Cruises.
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  #2  
Old June 25th, 2014, 04:35 PM
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Default Tauranga & Rotorua??!!

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Originally Posted by sabrefan View Post
Will be on a Celebrity cruise visiting Tauranga, New Zealand in February 2015. Trying to decide between 3 excursions. The three choices are the following:
1. Forest Canyon Jetboat & Hella Gate Thermal Experience
2. Lake Rotoiti Hot Springs & Sailing Encounter
3. Intimate Rotorua & Thermal Experience
Would certainly appreciate hearing from anyone who has experienced any of these tours through Celebrity Cruises.
For our northern NY neighbor, I can share a number of insights on Tauranga and nearby Rotorua. As noted in the live/blog below, we got off of the Solstice in February. Check out these postings for more info/background and many visuals on this nice ship, its entertainment, food options, our port visits, etc. If you need more detailed info, just post on the live/blog and I will be happy provide added suggestions, answer your questions, etc.

Much depends on your personal interests, desires and travel styles. Tell us more on what you seek, your approach for such travel in these scenic places, interests in native histories, etc. Below are just a few of my visual samples to building your excitement for visiting there. Many more on the full blog.

We did the JetBoat, along with the Tranz Alpine rail to the NZ National Park on Tour KQ12 from Akaroa, New Zealand. As the one picture below proves, that was a super great experience.

Tauranga and its nearby port are "OK", but the real prize might be Rotorua. It is a little over an hour away and has great geothermal wonders, plus is the heart of native Maori culture. Our visit included Te Puia for a Maori concert. Rotorua was developed inside a crater and has 16 different lakes with very dramatic scenery, waterfalls and many other wonderful photo opportunities. Some sources call it the top tourism destination for NZ's North Island.

Cruise ships actually dock at Salisbury Wharf at the Port of Tauranga, which is in the town of Mount Maunganui. Nice mountain there and a cute resort town with lots of retiree living here. Great beaches in this area. It was 7:30 am as the time from tour pick-up in order to be back at the ship by 3:45 pm or so. Our excellent guide was Matt from Grumpy's Transfer's & Tours Ltd.

QUEENSTOWN OVERNIGHT EXCURSION??: Have you looked at and considered this option for getting off in Milford Sound, doing an overnight in spectacular Queenstown, seeing a great sampling of the NZ South Island? Need more info?

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Back from doing a 14-day Celebrity Solstice, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure on this ship and getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139
for much more information and lots of wonderful pictures on these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 63,165 views for this fun posting.


Here is a picture that my wife loved. Notice her hands and those of others in our row super tightly gripping the safety bar? That says so much about the speed and thrills while roaring up and down this amazing stretch of scenic river near Christchurch. I showed my wife this picture (and several others like this one of her where the wind was blowing her hair in the opposite direction). She liked this picture so much, that she said to put this one in her obituary (not that this need is upcoming anytime soon). It showed her having fun and she said this ride was the most fun of the whole cruise/trip. We've had lots of great moments on this trip, but one was a unique and special ride in a location that is spectacularly world-class. And, perfect weather with good friends added to the great joy!!:

[/quote]


This is one of the many scenic lakes in the Rotorua area. This is the Blue Lake. Right nearby is the Green Lake. Both are wonderful and very inspiring. A narrow strip of land separates these two lakes and provided an excellent vat age point to enjoy these sights. The Green Lake is considered as holy to the Maori people. :




Rotorua sits on a large lake created by a volcano. That volcano is not active now, but the ground under this area still creates lots of "hot action" that is highly visible and can be smelled (sulfur), too. Here is one of the local museums there in what was originally a spa. Second is a picture on these grounds of Government Garden where locals, dressed properly in white, enjoy lawn bowling and other activities. This town seemed very neat and well-organized.:







At Te Puia near Rotorua in northern New Zealand, this Maori performance starts its ceremonies outside and then we enter the Wahiao Meeting House. Fortunately (with some skill), I was in a prime front row seat to be able to get great pictures, video, etc. Plus, experience the quality for how these members share these cultural traditions.:




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Old June 25th, 2014, 05:34 PM
sabrefan sabrefan is online now
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Terry, thank you very much for the detailed response and link to your blog. Certainly appreciate help from anyone in Ohio, one of my favorite states.
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Old June 25th, 2014, 08:00 PM
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Jet boating is great fun and, if you've never done it before, shouldn't be missed. Hells Gate is on the outskirts of Rotorua and is typical of many of the thermal parks in the Rotorua area. So on Tour 1 you'd get the fun of the jet boat ride plus a look at some thermal wonders, and it's a shorter tour than Tour 3.

Tour 3 also takes you to Rotorua's thermal areas, and also gives you a glimpse of Maori culture. However it's a much longer tour.

Although I haven't done these exact tours I do know the Rotorua area very well and I'd recommend either of these tours from the sightseeing details provided. It all depends on whether you want a jet boat ride or not.

By the way, there is nothing wrong with the other tour, Rotoiti is a very pretty lake, but if this is your first trip to NZ I think you'd get more out of the other two tours.
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Old June 25th, 2014, 09:19 PM
sabrefan sabrefan is online now
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OzkiwiJJ,
Thank you very much for the advice. Since Photography is a hobby of mine, which of these two excursion would you consider to show the most natural beauty, jet boat & hells gate or intimate rotorua & thermal experience? The jet boat does sound like fun but camera lenses don't always get along with spray from water.
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Old June 25th, 2014, 10:26 PM
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Probably the Intimate Rotorua one. As you say, jet boats and cameras are not a good combination. Plus that tour is a lot shorter.

From what I read about the tour, first you go to Waiotapu thermal area, which is just to the south of Rotorua. It's my favourite of all the thermal areas. You'll see some beautiful and unusual scenery there. You should get some great photos.

The you go out on Lake Rotorua for a lunch cruise. This lake isn't quite as spectacular as some of the others in the area but if it's a nice day you'll get some lovely views of the town and the edges of the volcanic caldera in which Rotorua sits. Can't remember exactly where the Lakeland Queen goes on that lunch cruise though and how close it gets to the shore. I assume you'll be carrying a decent telephoto lense though.

Whakarewarewa is also very interesting, with Maori culture and thermal activity, and should also provide some interesting photo opportunities.

I hope you enjoy whichever tour you choose. Tauranga and Rotorua are lovely parts of NZ. One day really isn't enough to do them justice.
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Last edited by OzKiwiJJ; June 25th, 2014 at 10:27 PM.
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  #7  
Old June 25th, 2014, 10:50 PM
sabrefan sabrefan is online now
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OzkiwiJJ,
Thank you for the additional advice. Looks like the Intimate Rotorua excursion will be the one. I do have a very nice Canon 70-300mm lens to use on this trip. Can't to go on this adventure. Will also be spending 3 days in Melbourne and 2 days in Sydney before the cruise plus 2 days in Auckland post cruise. Thanks again for your help.
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  #8  
Old June 26th, 2014, 12:42 AM
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Nice lens!

Plenty of good stuff to photograph in Melbourne and Sydney. It's worth trying to do a day trip up to the Blue Mountains from Sydney. Spectacular scenery there.

Also if you get a chance do a day trip to Waiheke Island when you are in Auckland. There's a regular ferry service, and a bus service on the island. There's some stunning scenery there too, and some very good wine.
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Old June 28th, 2014, 07:58 PM
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Default Jim Archer Tour

Hi-
Wife & I did a tour with Jim Archer Tours in March while on the Solstice and it covered everything/place Terry writes about and we really enjoyed being on a small tour. Sorry, I do not have a link to their website but you can Google or check out Tripadvisor, which is where I found them. Enjoy, the NZ/Australia cruise is great!

Chris
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Old July 8th, 2014, 05:21 PM
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This tour looks like a good one, its authentic and seems more genuine than most going around at the moment - with a real inground hangi as well ... not many are offering that. Get to see geothermal activities as well.
http://www.mitai.co.nz/cruise-mitai/
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Old July 9th, 2014, 10:32 AM
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Default Waiheke Island??!! Thermal Experience??!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by OzKiwiJJ View Post
Also if you get a chance do a day trip to Waiheke Island when you are in Auckland. There's a regular ferry service, and a bus service on the island. There's some stunning scenery there too, and some very good wine.
Quote:
sabrefan: Thank you very much for the advice. Since Photography is a hobby of mine, which of these two excursion would you consider to show the most natural beauty, jet boat & hells gate or intimate rotorua & thermal experience? The jet boat does sound like fun but camera lenses don't always get along with spray from water.
Appreciate these added posts and excellent points/post, especially for the wisdom of visiting Waiheke Island. We spent a day there, including visiting an exclusive outdoor art display. Let me know if anyone needs added info on that potential on Waiheke Island.

That thermal experience was excellent to see and do when we visited the tribal location with the dancing and other excellent Maori background. Below are a few visual examples to consider as "proof" for its wonderful experience!!

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Back from doing a 14-day Celebrity Solstice, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure on this ship and getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139
for much more information and lots of wonderful pictures on these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 65,053 views for this fun posting.


Here are a series of different views of the dramatic geyser, water and bubbling rocks/mud as featured at the Te Puia thermal displays. Very interesting and tied to the activities of New Zealand. It is called the "Shakey Isle" because there is lots of steam, hot rocks and superheated water right under the surface of these lands. The biggest at Te Puia is Pohutu Geyser. Pohutu means "Big Splash"!! It erupts 10-25 times a day and shoot up to 98 feet in height.:













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Old July 9th, 2014, 05:39 PM
patrinka patrinka is offline
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Default Waiheke

Hi Terry,
We will be in Auckland for two days after our cruise. We plan on going to Waiheke Island for one of the days. What did you do there? How did you get around the island? Were you on a tour or on your own?
Any advice would be great.
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Old July 9th, 2014, 10:53 PM
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There is a regular ferry to Waiheke and a very good bus service on the island.

This combination is probably the best way to see Waiheke. http://www.fullers.co.nz/destination...lorer-tour.php
It combines the ferry, a shour bus tour, plus unlimited bus travel.

It's a lovely place to visit, I've been there a number of times. Good food and wine as well
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Old July 11th, 2014, 12:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cwtravel View Post
Hi-
Wife & I did a tour with Jim Archer Tours in March while on the Solstice and it covered everything/place Terry writes about and we really enjoyed being on a small tour. Sorry, I do not have a link to their website but you can Google or check out Tripadvisor, which is where I found them. Enjoy, the NZ/Australia cruise is great!

Chris
I did two tours with Jim Archer in February. Great tours! NZ is beautiful.
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Old July 11th, 2014, 08:42 PM
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Default Waiheke Island Fun, Details!!

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Originally Posted by patrinka View Post
Hi Terry, We will be in Auckland for two days after our cruise. We plan on going to Waiheke Island for one of the days. What did you do there? How did you get around the island? Were you on a tour or on your own? Any advice would be great.
Appreciate this above follow-up. For our one day trip there with another couple on Waiheke Island, we had a great, fun time. On my below-linked live/blog starting on page 12 with post 236, you can see lots of visuals and details on our "adventure" here on Waiheke Island. Below are a few visual samples. We had a rental car and did stops on the far eastern part of the island at a winery and at an incredible outdoor sculpture garden at a private estate.

We went to Connells Bay Sculpture Park at the eastern side of Waiheke Island. It provides visitors an opportunity to experience large outdoor contemporary sculpture by some of New Zealand's best-known sculptors. Heralded by Lonely Planet as "one of the greatest properties we've ever seen", the 60-acre coastal property is the vision of owners John and Jo Gow who wanted to unite art with nature. The owners have created the sculpture park by planting sweeps of native trees on the natural landscape to create special places for commissioned site-specific and purchased New Zealand art. The Sculpture Park currently contains 28 works in differing scale and media, and each of the commissioned sculptures tells a story about its existence.
You can see more details and booking options at their website of:
http://www.connellsbay.co.nz

We set up this trip to Waiheke Island on our own. When getting the Fuller Ferry tickets, be sure to ask for the senior discount. Saves a few dollars, if you are "seasoned" citizens as we are blessed to be.

Waiheke Island is 11.0 miles from Auckland with trips taking about 35 minutes. There are nearly 9,000 permanent residents plus an estimated 3,400 who have second or holiday homes on the island. Most live in the western area closer to Auckland and its connections. It is New Zealand's most densely populated island and is the most accessible offshore island. There is regular passenger and car ferry services. Waiheke translates as "the descending waters" or "ebbing water", tied to when a Maori explorer landed on the island. The island is 12.0 miles long from west to east with varied widths from a half to 6 miles. Its surface area of 36 square miles. The coastline is 83.0 miles with 25 miles of beaches. The port of Matiatia at the western end of the island. Waiheke is very hilly with few flat areas, the highest point being Maunganui at 758 feet. The climate is slightly warmer than Auckland, with less humidity and rain and more sunshine hours.

Waiheke Island has become known as New Zealand's "island of wine", home to winegrowers who have matched the maritime climate and ancient soil structures for classical grape varieties to produce red and white wines with distinctive varietal character. Waiheke's climate are well suited to growing Bordeaux wine-type grapes, with also some Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc varieties considered to be good. Waiheke winegrowers regularly win awards for Syrah.

The Eyewitness NZ book cites this island's "alternative" reputation known for its artisans and organic farms. National Geographic cites its "fine bays and beaches". Frommers, in its five pages of details, gives the island three stars and notes it as a "divine little paradise". They rate this island's Onetangi Bay as one of the seven best beaches in all of NZ. It is rated as a "Fodor's Choice" and they note how it has been transformed from a once sleep spot and hippie haven to a more upscale escape. Fodors gives high marks for dining to Te Whau Vineyard (with their Bordeaux blend), Mudbrick Vineyard and Cafe and Vino Vino. The NZ Insight Guide credits the high-speed catamaran for making this island easier to reach and notes that many of craftspeople on this island are "world-class". Shopping opportunities??

Waiheke Island's biggest demographic groups are 82% European, 12% Maori, 4% Pacific Islander and 2% Asian. It is highly diverse, with the creative sector (artists, musicians, scientists, writers, poets and actors) and "eccentrics" strongly represented. Around two thousand people commute daily to Auckland for work. The main employment sectors are hospitality (23%) and retail (15%) followed by education, agriculture/horticulture and healthcare (10% each).

Much of this info is from
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waiheke_Island
You can go to this site or use Google.com for much more detail and background on the various wine places there, beaches, added history, etc.

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Back from doing a 14-day Celebrity Solstice, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure on this ship and getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139
for much more information and lots of wonderful pictures on these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 65,514 views for this fun posting.


Here one of the many great views on Waiheke Island. Lots of varied hills and great water views, including this picture showing the twisting and turning roads on this island. Some paved. Many not. This shows one of those "unsealed" roads that requires slow speeds, much care, etc.. Unsealed is clever term to describe just a basic dirt road. Plus, the fun of driving on the "wrong side".:




At the Man O' War Winery, their main building was overlooking the beach as a part of its scenic location. This picture shows friends Ed and Karen from Central Ohio enjoying a tasting plate with a variety of good food items, plus, of course, their wine that is produced on this scenic island. Great way to do a "lunch break" and soak up the style, character and beauty for this artsy island. Their website: www.manowarvineyards.co.nz.:

[/quote]


We started with owner Jo Glow picking us up promptly at 2 pm at her hilltop gate. She first took us to see a large reception area with many original models or machetes prepared by the artist prior to producing each work. Here is one of the first art pieces we saw at the start of our tour near this reception building.:




This is a uniquely-crafted piece of special stainless steel that had been made into a metal leaf that can move and shift with the wind.:

[/quote]


Here is a picture from Waiheke Island's two kilometer stretch of white sand on Onetangi Beach. Here are Karen and my wife Penny sitting, enjoying this nice setting before our return to Auckland.:

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  #16  
Old July 13th, 2014, 07:42 AM
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WE went white water rafting at tauranga (Ships Excursion) and it was wonderful.
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Old July 27th, 2014, 10:35 AM
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Our jet boating tour just got cancelled on the solstice January 4th 2015, not happy at all...
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Old July 27th, 2014, 11:30 AM
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Default Which Port Stopped Dropped??

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Originally Posted by 20thAnniversarycruise View Post
Our jet boating tour just got cancelled on the solstice January 4th 2015, not happy at all...
Has Celebrity dropped the JetBoat option during the Tauranga port stop and/or at Akaroa, too?? Maybe/hopefully, it will get added back later.

THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Back from doing a 14-day Celebrity Solstice, Jan. 20-Feb. 3, 2014, Sydney to Auckland adventure on this ship and getting a big sampling for the wonders of "down under” before and after this cruise. Go to:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1974139
for much more information and lots of wonderful pictures on these amazing sights in this great part of the world. Now at 68,334 views for this fun posting.
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Old August 22nd, 2014, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by 20thAnniversarycruise View Post
Our jet boating tour just got cancelled on the solstice January 4th 2015, not happy at all...
We have been able to rebook the jet boating tour...they changed the name and put the price up slightly...sign

but we are still thrilled to be booked on it...

heres hoping they leave the rest of our tours alone
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Old November 22nd, 2014, 01:49 AM
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Default Rotorua Geyser tour with Learning Journeys

We just got back this week from our Australia/New Zealand cruise and had a wonderful time...great weather, and beautiful sights. If one of your ports of call is Tauranga and your looking for a great private excursion I would highly recommend the Rotorua Geyser tour with Learning Journeys.

Simon met us as we got off the ship at 8:00 AM and 10 hours later he dropped us off, worn out but happy. If your looking for more than just the usual sights seeing information Learning Journey is the tour company to use. Simon gave us all the usual tourist information as we went along, but included the historical detail, cultural (past & present) changes, geological activities, economical impacts and some ‘not politically correct’ information that made the experience come alive.

An hour after the tour started it was evident that Simon use to be a teacher (and my guest is a pretty good one). There were 10 of us in the group and he answered everyone's questions. He is a wealth of knowledge and information and genuinely excited to share it with his guests. I can’t recommend Learning Journeys enough...if you really want an in depth explanation to what your seeing call Simon...you wont be disappointed.
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