Sunday 4 February -- Countryside tour

Photos of the Day
At breakfast in the ballroom, we met several more people, all from Canada or the U.S. There are apparently about 100 of us on this pre-cruise segment. On board the bus,  we began with a city tour -- it's a rapidly-changing and -growing city, particularly around the harbour, where the upcoming America's Cup (in 2021) is causing lots of activity.
At the memorial on Bastion Point, we wandered through a beautiful garden and enjoyed harbour views
Northward from the city centre, we passed through areas of vineyards and market gardens, that we're told are disappearing under urban  sprawl.had great views from a roadside stop, of the Tasman Sea, with long beaches, surfers, and gannets on small rocky outcrops.At the next stop we walked to an overlook where we had close-up views (and smells) of the gannet colonies, right on the mainland. That's rare; there's only one other gannet colony in the world not on an island (yes, we know that NZ is on islands, but they're big enough to count as mainland apparently). We could look down on beaches and many surfers. Houses at the top of the cliffs look very precarious.
Winding roads. Green hills. Great beauty.

Our last stop of the day was the beautiful Haumoana, a sheep and cattle farm with a small herd of fallow deer, perched on a hill with amazing views. We had cold drinks, visited the deer, then watched a sheep being sheared. She objected at first, then seemed to remember she didn't actually mind the process. The dogs were sent into a field to  show us how they herd the sheep. it's always amazing to see how they can get the sheep moving in the right direction, based on whistled commands. The sheep run about in a rather amusing way. Lunch was delicious,  accompanied by wine or beer. By the time we finished it, it was time to get back on the bus. This lovely spot was one of the best lunch stops ever!

It rained most of the way back to the hotel, but we still got a great view of the big marina and the Auckland skyline from the motorway, a new perspective.

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