Departing the Bay of Islands yesterday evening, we enjoyed a very calm and pleasant overnight voyage down the New Zealand coast to Auckland, where we have our 3rd overnight. Auckland is a beautiful city, with many similarities to Vancouver.
Read on for our impression of the local Ho-Ho bus and the evening cultural performance.
With a countryside tour tomorrow, we planned to spend the day on the local Ho-Ho bus, which commences operations at 09:00. They usually have a stop right outside Queen’s Wharf, but the construction of a pedestrian zone at the waterfront has dictated the stop is now about 1/2 mile from the ship.
- Tour type – Private excursion
- Tour name – Auckland Explorer Bus (Yellow Ho-Ho bus)
During my research, I only identified 1 Ho-Ho bus, the yellow ones, which have 2 routes, plus the ferry trip over to Devonport. Driving around the city, we noted another option – Red Ho-Ho bus. While we can’t comment on the red bus, we did note they are partially open up top, which affords better photos. The yellow buses are fully enclosed and the windows on our bus weren’t clean. Apologies, but no photos from the Ho-Ho bus.
We started at stop 1 on the red route to stop 6, where our bus changed to the blue route. We elected to stay aboard and upon return to stop 6, it reverted to the red route. Therefore, over 2 hours we covered both routes on the same bus. These are our observations:
- Comfort – The driver thought he was Jackie Stewart, racing between stops, then taking a few minutes break every 3rd or 4th stop. On the top deck, hanging on was definitely a requirement for remaining in the seat. Another couple mentioned the same issue at breakfast the following day.
- Audio – no quiet vox sets are provided, so the audio is only in English and comes through the P/A system. The driver does not talk, as everything is recorded. Compared to other Ho-Ho buses the content was rather minimal and occasionally out of sync.
- Stops – The 2 routes have a number of very interesting stops, with many requiring multiple hours to visit the attraction:
- Sea Life Aquarium with shark tunnel
- Parnell Rose Gardens, with > 5,000 roses
- War Memorial Museum, which also has cultural performances
- Eden Park – park land and National Sports Stadiums (Rugby & Cricket)
- Auckland Zoo, Museum of Transport & Technology and tram car
- Queens Street shopping
- Sky Tower
- Devonport return on ferry
- Some of the above attraction could easily take a full or 1/2 day, so on the 1-day ticket, we could probably have visited 1 or 2 attractions. If signing up for a 2-day ticket, you could visit more attractions, but I doubt you could stop at each one and do it justice.
Auckland is a truly an amazing city and undergoing very similar changes to Vancouver. The gentrification of the CBD and surrounding area is well underway, with thousands of new condos and the supporting infrastructure for those returning to live downtown from the suburbs. As we drove around the suburbs of Epsom and Mt Eden it was akin to the West end of Vancouver, with some older, large and stately homes (mansions).
Since Judi was hurting today, we disembarked at stop 8, walking down Queens Street, stopping at a grocery store for a couple of items, before returning to the ship.
Back on board, we headed down to the thermal spa on Dk 1, which was very quiet. I enjoyed the steam room, hot tub and thermal spa, while Judi stuck to the spa and hot tub. We then lay on the ever so comfortable loungers, reading Kindles. After a couple hours of total relaxation, we headed back to the cabin.
After dinner we attended the destination cultural performance, from a local Maori dance company.
This was an excellent cultural performance that was very similar to the show we watched yesterday at the Waitangi Cultural Grounds. Judi did comment that this one was less aggressive in the movements, especially with the spears.