Our first port stop is in Port Chalmers, on March 5, where we tour the city of Dunedin (dun-ee-din, emphasis on the ee).  Settled in 1858 by Scots, it’s population is 118,000, plus 5,000 students at the University of Otago, the oldest U in NZ. We drive through the U and see one of the old, ornate buildings.  The city is built on hills and claims the world’s steepest street, Baldwin St., yes, steeper than the one in San Fran. We stop at the ornate railway station, the 2nd most photographed building in the Southern Hemisphere – the first being the Sidney Opera House.  A gold rush on the nearby Otago Peninsula from 1861 to 1900 provided the wealth to build the beautiful structures.  At the RR station, we ditch the tour and buy tickets for a 90 minute Seaside ride on the Dunedin Railways-Taieri Gorge Railway. The rail line is owned by the City!  We get our first view of the rolling hills, woods, meadows, and sheep 🐑 farms of NZ.  The train reverses at Waitati, our seats are also reversed, and we go back to Dunedin, where we’re let off at the top of a hill behind an old church and make our way back to town and a lunch of NZ fish and chips-tasting much like those in FL.

 

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After two days at sea we arrive at the SW coast of NZ early in the morning. We see some of the sights in Fjordland National Park, cruising through Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound. It rains throughout the day, which is good for waterfall viewing.  In Milford Sound there are only two permanent waterfalls;  we see hundreds of them, all temporary, all caused by today’s rains.

 

We board the Noordam on March 1 in Sydney and head off for a 15 day cruise around New Zealand.  There are more views of Sydney Harbour as we head out to the Tasman Sea, a marginal sea of the South Pacific Ocean separating Australia and New Zealand.  Over 2,500 miles separate the two countries.  It will be more than 48 hours before we get there.t

On a gorgeous 80 degree late summer day we enjoy a cruise of Sydney Harbour, seeing the Opera House, the harbour bridge, several coves with lovely beaches and expensive real estate, and the entrance to the harbour from the Pacific Ocean.  Our narrator shares a wealth of information about the history, sights and stories of Sydney and of the convicts and prisoners from England who settled the city.

We ride the Hop On/Hop Off bus to view Sydney from the land, stopping for lunch at King’s Crossing.  The bird is a Jabiru, namesake of Tom’s airplane!

 

We go for an evening stroll to have dinner, walk through jet lag, “watch your step!” in perfect 70 degree weather under a lovely waxing moon.  That’s Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, soon to sail to Osaka, Japan.

We arrive in Australia after a 5 plus 15 hour plane ride, more comfortable than expected, and then sleep for a few hours.  Karen sets out from hotel for a short orientation walk and a first glimpse of the top of the Opera House before the sun sets.  Wonderful sights ahead!

 

On our last night at Primate Lodge Kibale we’re entertained by a group of ten young people in colorful costumes, a choral and dancing group called Snowhead Robin Chat Kibale.  They are named for a bird and also their signature song. They perform a “shaking dance” and invite us to join them.  Nora and I have fun with it.

The next morning we leave at 8 for our seven hour drive back to Entebbe. We pose with Moses and JP and thank them for a great week of their companionship. In the photo, from the left, we are Nora, Melissa, Moses, Mia, Karen, Jean-Paul, Andrea, Carol, Nyla and Melissa. Adventuresome women with another day of adventure ahead as we travel through the beautiful Ugandan countryside.