Tuesday 14 March 2017

Azamara Journey - Akaroa

New Zealand isn’t coming out of this cruise very well, so far. The weather has been a huge disappointment to the passengers (and to most Kiwis ashore, it must be said) – some of the Australians are already looking forward to getting to Tasmania and some proper sun at last (which must also be a first, given how most mainland Aussies regard Tassie). Of course, the scenery, when visible through the mist and rain, has not been at its best.

The Captain seems a jolly sort and much more hands-on with the passengers than Tony the Hotel Director, who has been pretty much invisible – to the bitter discontent of the solo travellers, who on past experience expected much more personal attention, and are feeling neglected. Even the Captain, though, has been disgruntled by the weather information he’s been supplied by the NZ authorities. Apparently, the Tauranga storm turned out to be far worse than he was advised, and he would have taken other action had he known what it would be like – and thus, presumably, avoided the flooding of several suites up on Deck 8, which necessitated the replacement of the carpets.
Last night was bumpier than he was expecting, too, with much stronger winds. Being down on Deck 4 here, though, we got a smoother ride than those higher up; and we’re midships too, which helps. Even anchored today in the harbour, the engine was running to keep the ship steady – as a rock, actually, so well done whoever was at the wheel. The tenders gallantly made repeated 5-minute trips to the jetty, periodically disappearing in clouds of spray as they bounced over the whitecaps.
But eventually the weather improved enough to get ashore – though not enough to do the dolphin swim that was originally scheduled which, given the temperature, was a small mercy – and I strode along the waterfront and up Rue Balguérie past its pretty little wooden cottages surrounded by lavender hedges to the Giant’s House with its fabulous garden.
Josie Martin has spent 20 years playing/working hard both landscaping and planting her colourful garden, the framework for which is a huge collection of mosaic paths, walls, figures and fountains. She’s used pebbles, broken china and tile, ornaments, glass and mirror to make patterns and decorate people and animals, steps and seats, sculptures and archways. It’s fun, pretty, amazing, arty, colourful and impressive, and very well worth going to see. 
I got really bored and crabby hanging around on board after lunch, waiting for the weather to improve - but once I got ashore and had a good wander around Josie's garden, getting up close with all her amazing works, my mood improved 100-fold. So thanks for that, JM.

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