Saturday, January 1, 2011

A/NZ - At Sea - White, Hole in the Wall, and Mercury Islands - Day 29

We are in the home stretch. This is our last day of cruising before we get to Auckland.
Today, we will be cruising by a number of small islands. The first is White Island. Capt. Cook wasn't the first European to the island, but he did give it the name, White Island. The name reflects the color of the sulphur crystals that are on the floor and walls of the volcano. The volcano is the only active one in New Zealand. There were several commercial attempts of mine sulphur for fertilizer from the island, but all failed. There is very little vegetation on the island due to the toxic fumes. There are colonies of birds that have found places to nest away from the fumes.

The white areas are where the birds nest on gravely spots.

A larger nesting area.

You can take a helicopter tour of the island. Walking around the island has been compared to walking on the moon.

You can see the small red helicopter on the ground.

The same picture enlarged and cropped for a better view. I guess I held the camera fairly still and then utilized all of the image's resolution to get this shot. You can actually see the people outside of the helicopter.

The back side of Hole in the Wall Island.

The sea is littered with little islands in this area. I am sure glad we have modern navigation equipment on the ship to avoid hitting something just below the water.

Hole in the Wall Island.

From rugged rocky terrain to gentle grassy hillsides.....never a dull moment.

The Frans Hal Lounge just before the going away program.

The host was the Cruise Director, Jimmy Lynett. We got all the instruction we needed for disembarking the following morning in Auckland.

Representatives from all the various functions on the ship were there for a musical goodbye.

The crew was absolutely fantastic throughout the entire time we were on the ship. Many of the crew members are from the Philippines and Indonesia. They have trade schools in those countries that train people to work in the cruise industry. All the chef's were graduates of the schools.

Everyone was sincere and energetic with their goodbyes. Even though the crew goes through this every two weeks with a new bunch of passengers, they still make you feel like they are going to miss you. You do get to know many of the crew and they greet you by name whenever they see you. I never saw a crew member having a visibly bad day. They were always cheerful.

We are in Auckland tomorrow morning.

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