When we arrange a cruise of New Zealand and Australia, we picked a package of 15 days to maximize the number of destination ports and our staying days on the ship. Cruises allow us to forget about the hauling of luggage from one city to the next on a daily basis.
We also get to enjoy 5 star dining services with great choices of food. At dinner time, we can order extra servings of steaks, fish, and other expensive seafood. For breakfast and lunch buffets, the variety of foods and vegetables are plenty to choose from. It is important to watch our indulgences in food consumption so we will not have to take remedial actions at the gymnasium afterwards.
Our cruise started off from Auckland, New Zealand located on the North Island. Many people identify Auckland as the capital city when it is actually the city of Wellington. For those who have not taken cruises before, the ship typically arrives at a new city in the morning and leaves in the evening. Excursion tour packages can be arranged with the liner during the shore stay or one can book alternate tour packages with local companies prior to the start of the cruise. One important thing to remember – if you miss the ship at departure time, you will have to catch up to the ship at the next port at your own expenses.
New Zealand is a mountainous country with sparse populations at mostly isolated urban centres. The land is pristine and the air is fresh and clean. As expected, there are more sheep than people in this vast country. There are very strict controls to protect the environment as well. Plants, seeds, and foods are subject to inspections and there are plenty of restrictions. To bring dried Canadian ginseng to my auntie, they have to be sliced into small pieces in Canada. It was nice to get advice from the Canadian vendors ahead rather than facing confiscation of prohibited items at customs. Bringing honey into New Zealand is impossible as they have an industry to protect and their most expensive honey product is close to Canadian $200 per pound.
Residential properties are typically bungalows and historic buildings are well preserved. For even very small towns, properties are in the NZ$700K range and up (one Canadian dollar=1.14 NZ dollar). We met up with per-arranged local tour guides and they are friendly and humorous. With ten people in our group, this kind of package is more economical than signed up tours with the cruise ship.
The cruise sailed into Australia after we circled the two New Zealand Islands. We visited Hobart (Tasmania), Melbourne, and docked at Sydney. While Hobart is a small city, the other two are metropolitan cities comparable to Toronto and Vancouver. There are plenty of Chinese people in those two cities. By the way, Sydney is well known for its opera house but it is not the capital city of Australia. It is Canberra! There are many people who commute between Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney each week at different offices.
Our most enjoyable event involved the feeding of kangaroos in Australia. We encountered a small group of 30 in a small town next to a hospital in a rural setting. These are very timid animals and let us approach, feed, and pet them for a long period of time. Another excellent adventure was our visit to the Blue Mountain, a place similar to the Grand Canyon but with a forest canopy all around. There were steep tram rides and scenic trails throughout the attraction.
你可能要问我为什么不提澳大利亚海鲜？他们的无爪龙虾甜美和昂贵（$180加币 /公斤），而我们加拿大的缅因龙虾才$ 28 / 公斤。虽然悉尼的中国人口也很多（10％以上），但与多伦多相比，悉尼的中国城和其他地方的中餐都非常贵。当我在悉尼散步时，我以为我回到了万锦市。澳大利亚最低工资是18元/小时，工会势力很强，对工人的待遇很好。
How can I not mention seafood in Australia? Their claw-less lobsters are sweet and expensive (Canadian $180/kg) compare to our Maine lobsters at $28/Kg. Even through there is a large Chinese population (10%+) in Sydney, Chinese food is very expensive around China town and other Chinese enclaves when compared to Toronto prices. I thought I was back in Markham when I was walking around Sydney. The Australian Minimum wage is $18/hr and their unions are strong, thus providing protection for the workers.
Reluctant as we were, we had to travel next to Hong Kong and keep our memories of this tour to the “Down under” lands in the southern hemisphere.
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