We woke this morning to fog everywhere. An announcement shortly before we were due to dock told us that the Port of Dunedin was closed, and we weren’t going anywhere. The fog started to lift after about an hour, and eventually we have docked just now two hours late. That meant that we have missed our wildlife cruise, but we’ll head into town and see if there is something else we can do.
Coming into Port Chalmers where we docked was stunning. With the fog lifting, the sun started to shine, and vibrant green hills emerged from the fog. I was surprised at the green – probably because we haven’t seen green hills around Melbourne for a while; it was beautiful. Lots of sheep on the hillsides, and plenty of birds.
The port itself has a section with a huge number of logs, and a large wood chipper right beside. While we were waiting for the shuttle bus, a tractor started work on the pile of wood chips, pushing them in some sort of way that made sense only to the driver. We saw these piles of wood at all the ports where we docked in the commercial area, and quickly realised that forestry is a key export for New Zealand.
Of course, everyone tried to get off the boat at the same time, which caused a little confusion initially, but Celebrity staff were on had to direct us, and there were two gangways operating, so it took about 10 minutes to disembark. Then we arrived at the shuttle bus stop to see the last one going, so we had about another 10 minute wait. Some people around us were getting annoyed by having to wait, but I wonder why anyone would expect anything different when around 2000 people try to disembark at the same time.
The trip to Dunedin was along the water, and was a bit bumpy (bus driver was going quite fast), and we arrived in the Octagon around 11.30am. We headed off to the wharf first to check to see if the promised refund was indeed okay, and it had already been processed – that’s impressive. To get to the wharf, you walk past the Dunedin Railway Station which is a grand building, over an overpass, and into the wharf area. There’s a skate park under the overpass, and there were quite a few children/teenagers using it. But it is such a dismal location – sandwiched between the railway station and the wharf area – you think the city could find a nicer place for them. The wharf area isn’t particularly attractive, and certainly not one of those renewed wharf areas common in many cities. The Railway Station is an unusual building for a station, and well worth a look, as are many of Dunedin’s other buildings.
We headed back to the town to find a bank to get some NZ dollars, and then had lunch at a pub called The Terrace – real mince burgers instead of processed patties was a good start, and the servings weren’t too huge. Then we wandered down the main street to see if we could find a bookshop because Alan wanted to buy a book on Maori culture, so we spent some time browsing before heading off for the Cadbury factory tour.
It was raining by this time, and we ran into our butler, Alex, while waiting for some lights. He had three hours off to get into town and do some shopping. The Cadbury tour was good (about an hour or so). You have a look around a little museum type area, and are then met by a guide who takes you through the factory – we saw chocolates being made, but others didn’t as they went later in the day when the machines were being cleaned. You do get chocolates on the way, plus the shop has really cheap chocolate, so we indulged. You can’t take in any bags, and have to take jewellery off – it’s all stored in a locked cupboard for the duration of the tour. I have to say though, that the service onshore, compared to the service on ship, are often miles apart, with some people being very perfunctory about their jobs, without even a smile. That said, it’s a well organised tour.
We headed back to the ship then, and managed to get standing room on the shuttle that was waiting to leave. As we started off, one of the Celebrity crew stood up and gave me his seat – beyond the call of duty I think. Back on the boat, we had some afternoon tea, then off to dinner. Another great meal and good company. They had cherries jubilee tonight – very nice. We bought the photo taken with the captain at the Captain’s Club party – not great, but okay – and then headed to the show, which was a Christmas show. There was a segment with the younger children who had been attending the Fun Factory, and that was good. Lot of people comment on the entertainment, but it’s been on the whole, been pretty reasonable.
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