Travel Tips & Adventures

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A Birthday in New Zealand

By Guest Author Jim Crowe

While my wife and I were on an Australian and New Zealand cruise, I celebrated my birthday on January 31. A lifetime dream for both of us, celebrating my birthday during the trip was “the frosting on the cake.”
After rising early and enjoying an early room service breakfast on our private balcony, we took a tender boat ashore and boarded a tour bus for the “Historic Hokianga Experience.”

A scenic journey to the Waipoura Forest was next where we viewed the largest Kauri tree in the world, an awe-inspiring experience. Kauri are ancient trees that can grow up to 150 feet high. (Wikipedia)

Our tour bus/guide/driver was an ex-teacher and principal. Since we are both retired teachers, we could relate and asked questions about New Zealand schools and education. Our tour guide, knowledgeable about schools, also shared cultural and language information on the Maori, the original natives of New Zealand.

The next stop was at the Crossings Hokianga depot, where we boarded a catamaran for a tour of the harbor. We saw sand dunes and sand boarders – people who surf board down the dunes into the water. This looked like fun!

We had a memorable lunch at the Oponomi Hotel with pumpkin soup and mutton as the meal’s highlights.


Memorable  Mission House Stop

Our last tour stop was the Waimete Mission House, the second oldest building in New Zealand, where the second signing of the Treaty of Waitanga took place. The Treaty, between the Maori people and the United Kingdom, granted the Maori people equal rights in New Zealand.

New Zealands 2nd oldest building - Waimate Mission House

New Zealand's 2nd oldest building - Waimate Mission House

An afternoon tea at the Mission House included tea, fruit, and scrumptious scones with jam and clotted cream – a wonderful birthday treat! We happened to mention that it was my birthday to the caretaker’s daughter during our tea.


New Zealand birthday celebration with Guest Author Jim Crowe

New Zealand birthday celebration with Guest Author Jim Crowe

Later, we toured the Mission House, Sunday school building, church, cemetery and gardens.
On our ride back to the ship, our tour guide mentioned that it was a Maori tradition for a speaker to finish his speech with a song. His speech was ended with a familiar song – the “Happy Birthday” song. When finished, he asked me to stand at my seat and had the other tour members serenade me with “Happy Birthday” in English.
On our final departure from the bus, the tour guide handed me a thoughtful gift from the caretaker’s daughter, a beautiful card with the Mission House printed on the cover.
My New Zealand visit was a birthday I will always remember and treasure.

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