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Second leg of my World Cruise - Lima to Sydney

29 January to 1 March 2008

Leaving Lima, we sailed for the Pacific.
Lima city square
Five days later, Easter Island loomed ahead. We were unable to land, a great disappointment. The sea was fairly unsettled, and tendering was impossible. Ships we had expected to come for us never materialised. However, Fred Olsen Snr. came aboard, with his family, for a holiday. Easter Island
Instead, we had to be content with views from a distance. The "Rugby Team" of the Moai is clear. 30-odd years ago a severe storm uprooted many of these huge statues (the largest weighs 90 tonnes), and Japanese workers "re-planted" them in a straight line - a slightly odd thing to do. No-one really knows for certain the origin or purpose of the Moai but theories abound. Easter Island
Then two more days at sea, and Pitcairn Island. The total population of Pitcairn is 47 (yes, forty-seven), and it was never planned to land there. The island is hilly and muddy, and the only form of transport is the quad bike. Pitcairn Island
There's not much by way of a harbour, and the island is steep. Imagine trying to off-load several hundred passengers! Pitcairn harbour
So, if we couldn't go to the island, the Island came to us! 40 of the 47 spent the day on board, setting up their market-place to sell locally sourced polished wooden trays and carvings, clothing, postcards and whatever tourists will buy! Friendly, outgoing and interesting people, with a unique story. Most bear the Christian or Adams surname. Well worth looking it up. islanders by boat
Two more days sailing and we just had to see an atoll. This one is called Fakarava, one of the Tuamotu islands in French Polynesia, and consists of the coral reef surrounding a sunken volcano. So we entered a lagoon of the most electric blue water, and blistering heat. Hats or umbrellas essential!

The story is that President Mittérand was due to visit the atoll a few years ago, so the road was resurfaced. He never came, but the road is fine!
Kakarava
The map shows the atoll. It's a rectangle about 60km by 25km, and at the largest village, Rotoava, its width is about 1km The ship entered through the gap at the "top" and anchored a couple of hundred yards off-shore. Navigationally, it was apparently rather harder than it looks! I've simplified the map somewhat to clarify the scale of things. map of the atoll
This is the Pacific (outside) side of the atoll. Coral is extremely sharp to walk on; if it's brown or lying bleached on the ground, it's dead. Living coral is multi-coloured, has fantastic shapes, and was impossible to photograph under-water by a non-swimmer! the Pacific side of the island
And so to Tahiti, land of grass skirts and dusky maidens. No, didn't see one! Actually Papeete is just another busy town, and most tourists make for Moorea and other South Pacific islands. Moorea is just a water taxi-ride away and has the beaches, restaurants and those other delights (so I'm told). Papeete, Tahiti
Papeete has a large commercial port, both for tourism and for industry. Here is part of the industrial part, with Moorea in the distance - looking towards Moorea
and here's the much nicer view towards the island. looking to the island
Bora-Bora is one of those other Pacific islands frequented by tourists, but I must admit that I didn't see the best of it! Bora-Bora
Nevertheless it's certainly thriving, and has a very dramatic skyline as you sail around it. Bora-Bora
Hmm, I guess I could probably enjoy a holiday in a seaside hotel like this...

It's not quite the same as Blackpool!
seaside hotel
Rarotonga is the capital of the Cook Islands, and the youngest - hence its craggy skyline. Scientists reckon that it has been inhabited for 5,000 years. So they're well used to visitors, and the welcome was more than warm. But a couple of weeks before we arrived they'd had a storm, and one ship was blown on to the entrance and wrecked. Rarotonga harbour
Well, it's a grass skirt, but not quite what I had in mind! warrior's welcome
To see the interior you need a Landrover, so we had three. Most of the time some of the wheels were near the ground... In fact, this is about the flattest piece of land we saw on the trip. Rarotonga is widely thought of as the loveliest island in the group, - landrover trail
- and this is what you expect to see - a small lagoon, golden sands, translucent water - view from the hills
and children from the nearby school having lessons in the sea! True - they were learning about hospitality and welcome, and came across to practise on us. school-children in the sea
Our driver/guide showed us the area where tribal chiefs were crowned in the past. chief-making stone
We arrived in Tonga with the QE2 on her last voyage. Our visit was sabotaged by QE2 staff who "stole" the tour coaches and prevented any of the Black Watch tours taking place. Questions are being asked in high places! Next morning plans were being laid over breakfast for raiding parties and torpedoes! QE2 in Tonga
The King is having his palace redecorated, so he's happy. Most passengers remember Queen Salote who attended the Queen's coronation and wowed the nation with her beaming smile. Things have changed somewhat...

You may remember Queen Salote at the Queen's Coronation, and her refusal to use an umbrella in the rain. Tongan etiquette forbids the use of an umbrella in the presence of a higher ranking person.
King's palace
The coral reef is clear here, and even though the water inside was fairly calm, there was an amazingly strong current. The current flow would support you "sitting" in the water against it. coral reef
And we nearly had a storm. It came out of nowhere in just a few minutes, and passed us by. dark storm clouds
Two days later, Auckland, New Zealand, three weeks to the day from leaving Lima. I had never comprehended the sheer size of the Pacific Ocean until this trip, and I'm amazed at how long - days on end - we might sail without seeing another ship. Auckland harbour
We berthed in the heart of the city, next to the 1922 Ferry Building (unmistakeable here). It was extensively refurbished in the 1980s and officially opened (for the first time!) in 1988.
I've been very hesitant so far to show you churches, but this is worth looking at. "Old" St Mary's Cathedral was built in wood and finished in 1897. The foundation stone for the Chancel of a new Holy Trinity Cathedral was laid in 1957, but the money ran out and St Mary's continued in use, serving as the Cathedral until 1973 when the Chancel came into use. Old St Mary's Cathedral
In 1981 St Mary's was picked up and brought across the road to its present position by Holy Trinity Cathedral, and is still used for special occasions. The Nave of Holy Trinity was begun only in 1991 and opened in 1995. The chancel is Gothic, but the nave is a Polynesian design, and wonderfully light and colourful. the new Cathedral
So there is the Cathedral in all its colour and openness.

All the "holy furniture" is on a platform lift, so a variety of settings can be arranged: concerts, lectures, dance, and of course worship.
the interior of the cathedral
Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland, with "Old" St Mary's beyond.

A fascinating and atmospheric place to spend part of my 70th birthday!
the exterior of the cathedral
And now to Wellington, capital of New Zealand. For six of us, the Indian Embassy opened its doors on a Sunday morning to issue visas. Nice people! If they hadn't, we'd have been on the next flight home from Sydney. Really! Wellington
Have you been to Guildford Cathedral in Surrey? Wellington Cathedral is almost a copy. Same basic (ugly!) shape, but rather different inside. Wellington Cathedral
In fact, the interior of the Cathedral is not Guildford so much as Coventry, with a tapestry by Graham Sutherland and etched glass by John Hutton, as at Coventry. There is also a Cross of Nails displayed on the choir stalls, a gift from Coventry Cathedral. inside the cathedral
Interestingly, we visited the cathedral on the very day on which six years earlier the Queen had unveiled a coronation stone. coronation stone
This is a former Government building and the largest wood-framed building in the southern hemisphere. Part of the reason for this is the frequency of earthquakes, and when this was built, wood was the best (and most plentiful) material to use - it probably still is. former Government offices
Lyttelton, the harbour for Christchurch. The inevitable container port, and the ancient timeball. In the days of sail, the ball would be raised up its pole towards 1pm, and on the stroke of the hour it would be dropped, and a cannon fired. (No, not midday (except in the USA) because at midday the observatories would all be busy taking readings.) Christchurch harbour
How awfully British!
The Botanic Gardens and the Peacock Fountain. This is a pleasantly picturesque city, without the busy-ness and hurry that you find so often. This is a city to sit in, to watch jugglers in the city square, to lie on the grass in a park. And it does have the climate to go with such laziness! gardens and fountain
City Centre, with the cathedral, the trams and lots of people standing about. There's some street entertainment, hot dog stands, and a small market. city centre
All around, there is evidence of the islands' volcanic past. volcanic hills
Dunedin. We docked at Port Chalmers, some ten miles from the city, and travelled in by coach along the Otago harbour, formed by an extinct volcano. Dunedin is New Zealand's oldest city, with a very strong Scottish heritage. It grew to prominence when gold was discovered in the 1860s. Dunedin
Larnach Castle is the only castle in New Zealand. It was built in 1871 by William Larnach, an ambitious Scot, for his wife Eliza, and he then more or less left her to her own devices to attend to his business affairs. The story is not a happy one. Larnach Castle
A bit of trivia. Baldwin Street is reputed to be the steepest hill in the world, with the steepest section at 1 in 2.86.
Mysterious, brooding, dramatic, breath-taking - how else to describe the Fjords? entering the fjords
Words cannot do justice to this... the fjords
Even when it's pouring with rain, the beauty and the grandeur don't diminish. fjords
It was one of those days when almost everyone I met was saying "Wow!" Unforgettable. fjords
And so to Sydney, and the end of the second leg. We docked in Circular Quay, which lies between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Not bad, eh? Sydney Opera House

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