Wednesday, 7 Feb -- Tauranga

Photos of the Day
We had been warned that our suite was in a part of the ship that experiences a great deal of vibration, so were a little concerned that sleep might be difficult. Fortunately, it wasn't a problem, so I think we'll be OK for the 19 nights on board.
We hadn't been able to book a tour for today, but were wait-listed, so we grabbed a quick breakfast and went to the theatre -- just in case. Luckily, 2 tickets were returned in time for us to get onto the Maori Culture tour. Our effervescent driver and young Maori interpreter were both terrific. First stop was a Maori high school, where we had a practice run of the traditional welcoming ceremony,

followed by a demonstration of dancing and warrior moves. The latter reminded me of the kind of routine we saw at Tai Kwon Do, but involving spears and ferocious facial expressions.
From a high vantage point at Minden, we could see down over the whole area, including one or two kiwi fruit orchards. We learned that there are now far fewer sheep in NZ than formerly, more cattle, and more growing of crops such as kiwi fruit.
Our last stop was at a marae (home area of a Maori extended family), where we expeienced the welcoming ceremony "for real". We had to sing in Maori, which we'd been practicing on the way. Our host explained much about the origins and traditions of the Maori, we visitied their large common space, then moved to the dining hall for drinks and cookies. The family members are carvers in bone and a type of jade and had some of their work for sale.
After lunch on the ship, we relaxed for awhile, then watched as we sailed out of the harbour past a high, rugged island where someone was hang-gliding. The captain announced that there will be 2 metre swells tonight -- that should be fun!
We found another couple for Trivia, but only managed a 4th place finish. I'm sure we can better that! At dinner we recruited Ann and Gerard to join the team. Hopefully 6 minds will be better than 4.
The entertainment tonight was an Australian stand-up comic. Very funny. By the end of his routine we could certainly feel the effects of those waves! We'll be rocked to sleep tonight.

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