Friday, December 24, 2010

A/NZ - Napier, New Zealand - Day 27

You never really know what you have signed up for with shore excursions until you are there. You can read the Holland America information about the tour as best you can and you can research the area via books and Internet all you want, but you never know exactly where the bus is going to go. For the most part, we have been very happy with what we have done and generally feel like we got good value for the cost.
Today, we started with a visit to an orchard. This is where you might expect to go if you sign up for a "Town & Country" type tour. We rode around in a tram and looked at dozens of different kinds of fruits growing in the orchard. They did have an impressive variety of growing things.

Here is a tree with some of those things growing on it. I think these are apples. They had about 20 different kinds of apples.

You know you are in trouble when the highlight of the tour is a hairy pig. I have never seen a multi-colored hairy pig before. I may have just lead a sheltered life, but this was a first. I know that all pigs have hair, but this one had lots of hair......enough to comb. After watching the pig eat apples, we went back to the house and had tea and ate apples.

It was cloudy for the early part of the day. We were headed for a mountain lookout next and there was much concern that it would be so foggy at the top that we wouldn't be able to see anything. Fortunately, we had to drive for about 40 minutes to get there and it did clear up very nicely. However, about half way up the mountain, our bus blew a tire. It sounded like a shotgun blast when it went and you can see in the photo that it wasn't just a little hole. We limped about 500 yards to a wide spot in the road for repairs.

Now, you might think that this was a catastrophe, but it really wasn't. I was ready for something different and a little exciting after the orchard.

We were on our way to the highest point on this mountain when the tire blew. You can see the tiny road on the right side of the mountain. We had to have a motorcycle escort go ahead of us to clear the road because there wasn't room for the bus and any other vehicle on the road at the same time.

Sigrid checked out the sights as the bus tire was being changed.

I had never seen a bus tire changed before.......two firsts in the same day! You do it the same way as you do a car tire except you have to use bigger tools.

Fortunately, they had a spare.

You can see the look out way up on the top if you enlarge the photo. It is hard to believe that we will be able to get up there on this big bus. Note the steep sides of the mountain. It is 1,000 feet down to the base.

We got the tire changed and drove up to the top. Sigrid and others had grown tired of waiting for the bus so they walked up the road to the top. She was still sweating when we got there but had a great feeling of accomplishment........sort of like climbing Mt. Everest but on a smaller scale.

We enjoyed the view for about 20 minutes. It was a great view. You could even see the snow covered mountains way off in the distance.

The countryside was spectacular.

What goes up must come down. It seemed worst going down because you could see how small the road was going down. When we went up, all I could see was the blue sky. Look through the bus windows to see the tiny road and approaching hair pin curve. Now, I am really having a good time.

Looking back up at the mountain from the valley floor. I still can't believe that we rode a big bus up there.

Things calmed down at the next stop. It had been days since our last chocolate factory so we were ready.

Napier was hit with a huge earthquake in 1931 and most of the town was leveled. When they rebuilt, they used a simple Art Deco style of architecture. There were lots of interesting buildings in town that I would have loved to photograph, but the bus never stopped.

We were met at the ship by a Dixieland style band and ice cream. A happy surprise after a long day.

There were also some really nice old cars parked at the gangway. I stopped for a while to admire them.

On balance, it was a good day. Tomorrow is Tauranga.

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