Not far away, Sydney’s iconic bridge was also jeered (as a “coat hanger”), but Sidneysiders eventually embraced their Harbour Bridge as well. An enormous engineering feat, the 1932 structure is still the world’s widest bridge. Some of our new-found friends walked across or joined a (3-hour) Bridge Climb expedition.

The walk is so popular, there is a similar operation at Sydney Centre Tower (www.skywalk.com.au). Sydney is blessed with spectacular Victorian architecture. The old Lands Department building on Bridge Street is a fine example. Its serious statues represent early Australian explorers and politicians.

The elegant wrought iron Palace Gates that lead into the Royal Botanical Gardens are all that remain of the Garden Palace. The glass pavilion was built for the International Exhibition of 1879, but was sadly destroyed by fire three years later.

The government convenes mid-February to late May, and again mid-September to November. The NSW Parliament enjoys a reputation for expressive and raucous debates. Visitors may enter the public gallery to see Westminster-style democracy in action.

An eclectic display of applied science, arts and relics, Ultimo’s Powerhouse Museum focuses on innovation. Many exhibits are hands-on. At the Domain, NSW Art Gallery, the state’s largest art gallery, there are interesting displays of Aboriginal, Asian, European Art and work by some of Australia’s best-known artists. The Yiribana Gallery is a comprehensive exhibition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Gallery.

Practically Speaking: Currency: Australian dollar Hours: 9 am to 5 pm Saturday 9 am to noon Info: The Rocks Visitor Centre or browse www.visitnsw.com.au PO: Adjacent to Visitor Centre Shops: The Rocks, Queen Victoria Building Buy: Opals, Australian Art Transport: Taxis are available near the pier or use light rail (Kings’s Cross Station 1 km)

Manly is a resort known as “only seven miles from Sydney, but a thousand miles from care.” But Bondi Beach is the most celebrated beach in Australia. It is only eight kilometers from Sydney and the visit to this city is not complete without going to Bondi.

Arrival Information The ship docked at Garden Island (Woolloomooloo Bay) in the Finger Wharf. There are nice restaurants in the area or enjoy a pleasant walk (daylight hours only!) through the Royal Botanical Garden to the Opera House.

Once a jolly swagman camped by billabong Under the shade of a coolibab tree, And he sang as he watched and waited til his billy boiled. You’ll come a’ awaltzing Matilda with me.

Above is first stanza of Waltzing Matilda which is referred to as the unofficial national anthem of Australia. The title is slang for travelling by foot with one’s goods in a Matilda bag much like our bag ladies in North American big cities.

The starting point for any Sydney tour is The Rocks district, cherished birthplace, not just of Sydney, but of modern Australia. The 11 ships of the first fleet dropped anchor off shore at the squat peninsula in 1788. The many Georgian and Victorian Buildings that line its narrow streets reflect the early years. Argyle Place, home to historic Garrison Church (aka Holy Trinity and the colony‘s first military church) is one of Sydney’s most delightful corners.

Start at The Rocks Visitors Centre, corner of Argyle and Playfair Streets (probably named after John Thomas Playfair who was elected to the Sydney Council in 1875), where the helpful staff can answer questions about local attractions and historical points of interest. Part of the Rocks Centre, the Sydney Visitor Centre is housed in the historic Penrhyn House which is heritage-listed.

Not far away, Cadman’s Cottage is the oldest standing home in Sydney (1816), named after John Cadman who was convicted for stealing a horse and banished for life to NSW. Pardoned by Governor Macquarie in 1821, he lived in the cottage as Superintendent of Boats until he retired in 1845.

Robert Campbell, a Scottish merchant in Sydney‘s early days, is known as “Father of Australian Commerce.” He purchased the land in Campbell’s cove in 1799. His 1838 Campbell Storehouse is another fine Rocks landmark.

Nearby Atherden Street (1880-1881), Sydney’s shortest, is beautifully landscaped. Playfair Street’s boutiques are restored homes. You can stroll along the area in between Circular Quay and Darling Harbor or walk along the foreshore between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

There was an earlier rendezvous in Sydney on April 9, 1941 involving the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. Both Cunard liners have been converted for use in troop transport during World War Two and during that time Queen made 13 visits to Sydney and Queen Elizabeth was there on nine separate occasions.

The Royal rendezvous in Sydney will have particular significance for many Australian war veterans who sailed from home on the original Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth to the Middle East and Singapore. Around 40 of these now elderly veterans attended the important commemorative event on board Queen Mary 2 on Wednesday in Sydney.

It involved a special Remembrance Service, which concluded around noon just as Queen Elizabeth departed from her berth at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal. Many of the veterans who attended the event on Queen Mary 2 spoke of their vivid memories of life on board Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth all those many years ago.

We worked a bit before resting and then went to a Filipino dinner before the show time on the cello diva Sarah Jessica Maer and piano entertainer Glenn Amer after which we went to see the movie Knight and Day with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz.

Sydney, AustraliaOn February 22, we found ourselves in lovely Sydney where every day is a good day. Adding to the good day is witnessing the meeting of Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth on Sydney’s Harbour. The rendezvous and the Queen Elizabeth’s maiden visit to Sydney were made a big thing and rightly so for it had a big impact on Australia’s famous harbour city.

They had a defence force commemorative service on this reunion. It is at this point that we begged to differ with Ray’s Quote of the Day “It’s the journey that’s important, not the destination” for Sydney is quite a destination, in a class all her own.

By this time, there were 2470 guests on board. The top six nationalities represented were 1316 from United Kingdom, 582 from the United States, 168 from Canada, 100 from South Africa, 75 from Germany and 62 from Australia.

Welcome to Sydney! Sydney is the most densely populated (4.28 million) city in Australia. It was the site of the first British colony and is now the state capital of New South Wales in Australia, making it both the largest and the oldest of the Australian cities. The leader of Britain’s first fleet, Arthur Phillip, established it on a natural harbour in 1788 at Sydney Cove.

Sydneysider is a term used to refer to a resident of the city. Radio carbon dating suggests that the Sydney region has been home of indigenous Australians by at least 30,000 years. The traditional indigenous inhabitants of Sydney Cove are the Cadigal people, whose lands once stretched from south of Port Jackson to Petersham but were decimated when the region was invaded. There are survivors and some still live around the area.

While the population numbers before the arrival of the First Fleet remained debatable, about 4000 to 8000 Aboriginal people lived in the Sydney region at that time. Now the modern metropolitan area is surrounded by national parks and has many inlets, rivers and bays.

Listed as a beta world city by the Loughborough University group’s 1999 inventory and placed 16th among global cities by Foreign Policy’s 2008 Global Cities Index, Sydney has hosted international sporting events such as the 1938 British Empire Games, the final Rugby World Cup in 2003 and the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Sydney is a major destination for Australian immigrants and so is one of the most multi cultural cities in the world. The main industries, aside from the thriving tourist trade, include electronics, clothing, brewing, textiles and shipbuilding.

We took a leisurely three-hour tour with Robbie, the driver and Linda as our tour guide who said the port is the better engineering feat than the harbour bridge. She said it took the first settlers 23 years to find the Blue Mountain as we came to the red light district in Kings Cross.

She said Canberra is capital of Australia, then we came to a point where someone who was sent to Australia for stealing got his name on their dollar note. Then it was on to the exclusive district. Victoria is where a studio is $300,000 and one bedroom is $720,000.

She said something about drug addicts and prostitutes and the 66 Place Street where you can see a fountain that lights up at night. People usually say meet you at the fountain or at the Bourbon where drinks can be had 24/7. Then on to Darlinghurst Road and William Street we went.

She said that the first week of August, 75,000 people come to surf. They want to convert the main street into a pedestrian street. Then we saw the yachts which Linda said have races on boxing day. We arrived at Darling Point, then 8th clift suburb, the Double Bay, the Beverley Hill where two past presidents Clinton and Bush and Princess Diana stayed.

Then it was Point Piper which has the most expensive homes. One was $22 million dollars. Then she mentioned Cook and that in the 1800, he was the prince charming of Australia. Then on we went to Argyle Street and saw Rose Bay, the longest bay. We also saw one of the most exclusive golf clubs where there’s a 12-year waiting list.

Australia population is 22 million of which 4.5 million live in Sydney which is supposed to be the 4rth capital of the world. Linda disagreed because she said it should be Melbourne. Captain Cook she said was the first to traverse here and then she said something about Klaus.

Then on to suburb we went where there is the most exclusive school. There’s the Sacred Heart Girl Catholic School where Tom Cruise waited for Isabella to come out of school. Catholic schools are subsidized and cost $40,000 a year, perhaps per child. They say that a child from kindergarten to university costs one million dollars.

Then it was Vaucluse when she mentioned the 6 to 92-year old convicts were sent but words were exaggerated. The original Vaucluse house after which the area was named, was built by Sir Henry Browne Hayes who was sent to New South Wales for kidnapping a wealthy Irish banker’s granddaughter. Now it is a residential area and ranks among the top five most expensive districts.

Here’s one of the finest harbour in the world, so said the captain. Then it was Watson Bay. We saw the suicide point where a man was honoured to have saved 150 lives among those thinking to commit suicide. He was known to have invited them for tea to reconsider their decision.

Then we saw the army and navy places. Phillip is said to have built a lot of churches to make people feel welcome. There’s no high-rise in this area. This was where we were told there was an accident where only one survived and she mentioned the lady star of the sea. During the whaling season, people come to South Tasman Sea which is part of the Pacific Ocean.

Then she mentioned about McCleary and we saw a building that was redone with apartments inside. The 5th governor was responsible for the fantastic building who worked with architect Greenway. He was sent as a convict but ended up in the currency.

Then there was the white cliffs of Dover cemetery. She mentioned also a man with $7 billion empire who left it to his son who was a drift but married a strong woman. Then on to Dudley Page Reserve where they charge $25 a head to stand there on New Year’s Day. It is supposed to have the best view of Sydney’s treasures.

We saw the Butterfly House made of glass with no straight lines in the house costing 6.5 million dollars which is cheap because others went for 7 to 8 million dollars. But now of course there’s a real estate slump. Woolloomooloo means baby meal kangaroo but the English translation is toilet.

Then on to Bondi beach although Manly is their famous holiday resort area. The fabulous ocean waves and beaches (lined by Norfolk Pine trees from Norfolk Island) have great fish and chips and only a 30 minute ferry ride from Circular Quay. Captain Cook got the first aboriginal sighting and their physique is manly, thus Manly Resort.

Also visit the Aquarium and sharks! Walk through the pedestrian mall, The Corso, to get to the Ocean beaches (see timetable). Since 1975, those born become little nippers. It was a chauvinistic society. Linda said something about the bush by the Blue Hill Mountain.

In 1907, the oldest soil conservation service of Iceland was formed and it is the oldest one in the world. We failed to see what this has got to do with Sydney. In 2006, 80% of the bananas was lost. The price went up to $1 a kilo up to $15 a kilo.

In preparation, she said we will not be allowed at the Surf Club and we saw the Surf Life Saving Club. In the 1800s, it was illegal to swim during the day in Bondi Beach because they don’t want to show the flesh but next door is Nick’s Restaurant. The prices there are high.

In the 1930s. Bondi Beach was the first to go topless and all beaches are so now. Is it a coincidence that nearby is the navy? The bikinis now have to be a certain depth and inspectors are around who will fine you if you do not comply. It’s more litigious now than other parts of the world.

Captain Cook Coffee Cruise departs daily from Jett #6 at 10 and 2:15 daily. It’s a must-do to cruise the harbour, the heads and middle harbour. It is the most popular as it is the only one allowed in the middle harbour. Get a what’s-on-book from the concierge or Visitors Bureau (Rocks) and this is full of discount vouchers for most of the major attractions - savings from 10 to 20%.

All of Sydney stand on sandstone so it’s been called the rocks. Bondi Junction has the largest shopping center called Westfield. It‘s the best one and the first one to add camping. You can get lobster salad for $20. It has 5 km of bicycle ride, trade, open-air where Jackson and Kidman learned to ride their horses for the film.

Then we came to a grand suburb where the prime minister used to live. After that, it was Hollington where we got free initial advice on insuring or selling art and antiques. Woollahra - they like to shorten words and add an a at the end. This is for its tree-lined quiet residential streets and shopping. To the left is the church where they’ll put apartments. Something is missing for the working class. The rich gets 900 dollars a week of disposable income while the have-nots get 500 so there’s more gap now.

The Oxford Street is a great place to shop. The Paddington Market is where the obscure designers have their start and Oprah was there last November and what a shot in the arm was that for the economy and for the Captan designer who sells captans at $400 each. Parking is $70 a day so they just use the bus line or you get a double demerit especially at Christmas or bank holidays and if caught without a seatbelt. Darlinghurst is one of the highest points in the city where the gay and lesbian have a mardi gras, a month-long celebration which is good for tourism. St. Patrick’s Day is known for drinking and sports.

Then she mentioned about vegemite which no Australian house is complete without it. They spread this on buttered toast and is one of the richest vitamin B source in the world. The children grow up on it but Linda finds it revolting.

Hyde Park is a large park in Sydney with 16 hectares in area of lovely gardens. Two days after Governor Macquarie dedicated the park for amusement and recreation, it became the place for Australia‘s first official horse race meeting in October, 1810.

There’s an alcohol-free zone where consumption of alcohol is prohibited. Some say Australia is known for its drinking culture so have fun drinking but don’t drink in streets and parks that are clearly marked as alcohol-free zones. She said there are 16 different beers.

At Downing Centre, it’s $5 for the monorail but $9 is an all-day pass. Then there’s the building that looks like a ship. At the Chinese Place, they have the largest Chinese Garden outside of China. Linda pointed out the IMAX Theatre. Ice Cube is a reasonable restaurant and the aquarium next door has a fabulous wild life world.

In 2008, something was flattened and renamed Durango Road where when the pope came, 200,000 young people came and put the city on a locked down. We saw the apartment Nicole Kidman bought but since sold for $26 million. The Garrison Church is very much a military one for the door is like an upside down helmet.

Condos are 2.5 million dollars and then sold at 4.5 million. Then there’s the Sydney Theatre Company with the Dance Company. At this point she said something about the100,000 people who died of bubonic plague. It must be in 1900 when the bubonic plague struck some cities in Australia and 103 died in Sydney so we must have misheard Linda when she said that about 100,000 died of this.

Then she pointed to the Luna Park that’s based on the Coney Island. They also have one in Melbourne. Apparently, Luna Park is protected by government legislation and several of the buildings there are listed on the NSW State Register and the Register of the National Estate. It has been used for filming for some television shows and movies as well.

The Harbour Bridge took nine years to build and was completed in 1932. There are eight lanes of traffic and you can climb to the top. Then we saw the most expensive hotel. At the rocks, the shortest street is behind a shabby- looking building.

We also saw Playfair Foundation Park Bridge Street which is Linda’s favorite street. Then there’s the custom house and every newspaper company. There are free buses, blue and white that run from7 to 7. You can go through Circular Quay, Thomas Moore, the triangle obelisk.

We also saw the Department of Education, Museum of Sydney, Intercontinental Hotel, McQuarrie St., state library, Sydney Hospital designed by Florence Nightingale, the Mint, 600 convicts with clock that is a fabulous museum, then the Land and Mortgage title.

We learned more interesting facts about Sydney on February 23: About 4.5 million people visit the Sydney Opera House each year. The Fish Markets of Sydney is the 2nd largest in the world, when variety is considered. In 1932, Francis De Groot, a retired calvary officer, managed to get himself selected as part of the honour guard at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

When the ribbon was about to be cut, he galloped forward on his horse and slashed the ribbon with his sword, declaring the bridge open in the name of the decent citizens of New South Wales. The ribbon was then tied back together and the ceremony continued. De Groot was carried off to a mental hospital, declared insane and later fined for the replacement cost of one ribbon.

Sir John Robertson, five times premier of New South Wales, drank a pint of rum every morning for 35 years. He later said: “none of the men who have left footprints in this country have been cold water men.” The third Australian Prime Minister, Harold Holt, went for a swim at Cheviot Beach, near Portsea on 17th December 1967, and disappeared. They call this event as “the swim that needed no towel”.

After breakfast, we left to explore Sydney on our own for the tour already took us every where and so we had a good view of the Bondi Beach, and the Blue Mountains. On our walk we saw up yonder the Opera House which is a famous landmark in the whole wide world. This we think is the heart of the lovely thriving city.

We walked to the stairway that would lead us to the Botanical Garden which is just wonderful. It has so many things among which are the succulent garden, the palm house, Sydney fernery, the Rose, Oriental, and herb gardens.

It was also good to note that they have devoted a garden for the rare and threatened plants. We were given a map at the reception where the friendly receptionists showed us how to go around which made it easy for us to explore the place.

After our visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain, we walked to St. Mary’s Cathedral where we said our usual prayers, plus some more for the victims of the flooding. We bought some souvenirs here but wait, it’s now 3:15 pm in Sydney and still people in Toronto are asleep or should be sleeping at12:15 am; we’re a good 15 hours ahead.

St Mary’s Cathedral is the Mother Church of Australian Catholics - a place of worship, prayer and quiet reflection in the middle of the city. A brief history of St. Mary’s unearthed the fact that in 1820 Fathers John Therry and Philip Conolly arrived as first official Catholic chaplains to the colony of NSW.

Pearls of the Pacific - Sydney to Hong Kong in 25 DaysFebruary 22 - March 19

Sydney, AustraliaWe repeated the word wow often not only because of the scenery but also because of the friendly and hospitable people. It’s time to say good bye Wait a minute, we refused to say goodbye. Instead it’s farewell and so long because we are definitely coming back again.

How can one not want to come back to this vibrant city just like New York, which is also as open-minded and carefree as San Francisco and with a magnificent setting as Rio de Janeiro‘s? No, we certainly have to be back was deep in our thoughts as we left Sydney, setting a south easterly course out into the Tasman Sea.

On February 24, we made our way towards the Cook Strait which divides New Zealand’s North and South Islands. There was no line dancing but the professional international dancers taught us some more of the slow waltz. At night we just saw the repeat of the West Side Show by the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers after which we danced at the Queen’s Room.

It was Rolyne’s (our first daughter) birthday on February 25 so we were thinking of her while we had breakfast and wishing her well. Then we had line dancing with James just before the salsa lesson and lunch. After which it’s formal dinner and we saw the movie The Unstoppable starring Danzel Washington and then had a look at the Royal Court Theatre show on the International vocalist Cheryl Sinclair. She is some fine singer.

At this point we were politely reminded of two things. One is on the New Zealand currency which is available on the foreign currency machines on board which is really great for that was a great time-saver when we did not have to stand in long lines at the shore.

The second reminder was on the noise in guest areas. We are to respect our fellow guests at all times by not slamming doors and keeping the noise level in the corridors as other guests may be resting. It is a small courtesy but a long way of ensuring everyone has a relaxing voyage.

We were also informed of the New Zealand Quarantine and Arrival Information. Essentially, the regulations prohibit the removal of ship’s stores from the vessel. Items that cannot be removed are meat of any kind, fruits and vegetables, prepared meals including sandwiches, flowers, seeds or plants, dairy products and any other consumable food item.

Christchurch (Lyttelton), New ZealandWe were supposed to be here on February 26 after cruising the Tasman Sea on February 24 and 25 but the earthquake hit it the day before with around 65 or more fatalities. The Captain therefore made the wise decision to make a small change in the itinerary to go to Wellington instead. We got ready for Wellington by reading the materials sent to us by QM2.

Wellington is less known for its dedication to preserving and restoring native flora and fauna. Not many capital cities can boast major conservation success stories in the heart of the city, but in Wellington, dedicated volunteers have created a special place to hand down to future generations.

Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience is a scenic oasis covering 225 hectares of a forested inner-city valley. It’s surrounded by a predator-proof fence that excludes non-native animals and on a bush walk in this “living ark” tui, kereru and kaka will almost certainly be seen, and you might even spot endangered tuatara, little spotted kiwi, saddleback, hihi and giant weta.

Another accessible sanctuary is Matiu-Somes island, the largest of three islands in the northern half of Wellington Harbour, which was once a quarantine station for humans and animals, and an internment camp and defensive position during the World Wars.

The island can be reached by ferry but for an interesting introduction, take a Ship ’n Chip tour offered by the Museum of Wellington City and Sea. It includes an informative tour of this excellent museum, a fish and chip lunch and the ferry ride to the island.

The Museum of Wellington City and Sea gives an intriguing sight into Wellington’s history, while further along the waterfront Te Papa, the museum of New Zealand, is a magnificent showcase of art, artifacts and interactive interpretations of the entire nation’s history, life and culture.

If you want to delve further into New Zealand history and culture, significant national collections are Archives New Zealand in Mulgrave St. and the national library (embracing the Turnbull Library) in Molesworth Street. Free guided tours of the parliament buildings run on the hour, starting at the Beehive Visitor Centre.

Wellington is a compact city, so if you stay somewhere central (Citylife in Lambton Quay is a good example) the waterfront and many attractions will be within walking distance. The hotel is close to the lower cable-car terminal, and a ride in this iconic vehicle to the Botanic Gardens gives wonderful views of the city and harbour. Another car-free option is to hop on and off the CitySights bus, which does a sixty minutes loop around twelve great attractions.

After browsing the gardens and visiting the Cable Car Museum, drop into Carter Observatory to learn about the southern skies through its new planetarium show. The show is complemented by an interesting collection related to astronomical history and excellent multimedia exhibits show how early Maori, Polynesian, and European settlers navigated to our shores. Wellington’s culture and coffee cannot be ignored so sip a hot strong coffee somewhere like mojo, Café Italiano etc.

There are great beaches for beachcombing and strolling, or swimming and surfing. Oriental Bay is a city favorite, while across the harbour there’s pretty Days Bay. To the south at rugged Red Rocks you can see the fur seals or watch the inter-island ferries passing by.

Also in Wellington, we stepped back in time on a tour of its oldest original cottage and its garden to experience family life in colonial Wellington. Built in 1858 by William Wallis as a home for his family, this charming cottage typifies the elegant late-Georgian style of houses built in Wellington through to 1870.

Original furniture, objects and even wallpaper from the Wallis family remain in the cottage with careful restoration showcasing the construction techniques and materials of the era. The heritage garden, (available for wedding, functions and meetings) shows how these early settlers mixed flowers, vegetables, herbs and fruit trees. Morning and afternoon teas can also be arranged.

The above is in contrast to our stay in Auckland in two days when we went on separate ways the first time because Evelyn had the tour on the highlights of the city while Roger went to the America’s Cup.

Wellington’s earliest name comes from the same Maori legend. The Polynesians knew their community as Te Upoko o te Ika a Maui (the head of Maui’s fish). Directors of the New Zealand Company named it Britannia, but it was later renamed for Arthur Wellesley, first Duke of Wellington (who led the British army against Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815). He was also a British prime minister.

The landmark Old Government Building, now Victoria University’s Law of Faculty, is the world’s second largest wooden structure. The Kelburn Cable Car ride is only six minutes long, but ride it and you will surely fall in love with the scenic New Zealand capital. Departures for the Southern Hemisphere’s only cable car leave from Lambton Quay opposite Grey Street. The sleek red car ascends a sheer grade in the elevated Kelburn District.

Near the station, Wellington Botanic Garden is known for its fragrant Lady Northwood Rose Gardens and Begonia House. Ascend nearby Mt. Victoria to enjoy a perfect view of the city and bay. National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is unlike any other collection.

The Pacific Gallery examines nearby cultures and follows Pacific migration routes, from Philippines and Indonesia to Australia and Polynesia (and New Zealand). Rotating exhibits explore art, New Zealand events and celebs. The City of Wellington Museum, in the restored 1892 Bonds Store (Customs House), follows early capital development and the relationship with the sea.

A giant cinema screen introduces the visitors to the story of Wellington’s past and present before projecting the city’s future. Plimmer’s Ark, an extra display hall, is adjacent to Queen’s Wharf. It played a significant role in Wellington’s development. For more information, browse to http://wwwmuseumofWellington.co.nz

Adjacent to the National Gallery, the National War Memorial is a poignant tribute to the 16,000 young soldiers who died in WWI and 11,000 who followed in WWII. Gothic style St. Paul’s Church, on Mulgrave Street in Thorndon was hewn from native totara, matai, rimu and kauri woods. The cathedral features superb stained glass windows and subdued interiors, with high wooden arches.

Central Wellington’s identified building, restored as Colonial Cottage Museum was constructed by carpenter William Wallis in 1858. Displays show how early British colonists lived. Edwardian Antrim House, built for the founder of Hannah’s Footwear, is listed on the New Zealand National Historic Places Trust. The grounds and part of the Boulcott Street home are open to visitors. Weta Cave offers a free glimpse at the now-famous “Wellywood” film industry.

Practically Speaking Currency: New Zealand dollar Hours: 9 am to 5 pm Saturday 9 am to noon Info: Manners Mall or www.wellingtonnz.com PO: City Square, Rail Station Browse: Manners Mall Buy: Made in New Zealand, British Imports, woolens. Arrival Information: The ship docked at Aotea Quay about a mile from Central Wellington.

Parliament Wellington’s government complex, each reflecting the style of the period in which they were built. The beehive is likely the first thing you will notice. The hapless designer bore the brunt of many disparaging remarks about his work.

The unusual building houses the ministerial offices (executive branch) and is one of those strange architectural works that residents joke about, but also view as a deep source of pride. Some Wellingtonians have described the structure as an “alien spaceship” - but they won’t let you miss it and they are secretly proud of the building.

The General Assembly Library, completed in 1897, is a masterpiece of Gothic design and it presents a shocking contrast to the round beehive. The most staid structure in the group offers research services for government officials. There is also a public reading room.

The central structure, at the intersection of Bowen Street and Lambton Quay - a 10-minute walk from the Civic Square - is Parliament House, home to the representative body for the people of New Zealand. Fashioned from granite and marble in Edwardian style, the chambers were completed in 1922. Bowen House, which was the temporary Parliament House is still used as government office space.

Haere Mai Te Whangnui a Tara! Wellington, New Zealand’s cosmopolitan capital city, is located at the southern tip of North Island and at the physical centre of the country. You could say that all roads lead to Wellington - as do all ferries cruising over from the South Island about 60 miles across Cook Strait.

According to Maori legend the two main islands of New Zealand are actually the great canoe of Maui (the South Island) and the great fish he caught (the North Island). Wellington Harbour is the mouth of that huge fish. So where did the city’s name come from? From Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington and British Prime Minister from 1828 to 1830.

Like later European visitors, early Maori explorers named things after themselves or their family members. Their name for Wellington Harbour, Haere Te Hangnui a Tara, is derived from Tara, a grandson of Kupe and ancestor of several local iwi.

Until the early 20th century, Maori referred to the North Island as Aotearoa, (commonly translated as “the long white cloud”). In modern Maui usage, this has become the name for the whole country of New Zealand. Though a geographic hub, Wellington is surprisingly compact: it is nestled between the harbour and steep forest-clad hills, and is wonderfully walkable.

We arrived at Wellington on February 26 while we were having breakfast. We got ready and it was easy because we left home the easily-wrinkled stuff for we knew our suitcases love only the foldable stuff, just the basic. We prefer this low-maintenance way to cruise around the world. We therefore took the bus in no time to the center of Wellington which is known as the capital of conservation. This nation’s capital is also known for its café culture, busy events calendar, and cultural attractions. The revamped water front area leads from the cruise dock at the eastern edge of town to the must-see Te Papa museum in the west. A stroll along the quay is filled with surprises. There is a grassy playground for children, large-scale sculptures and the wooden walkways.

We crossed the street and had a choice of cafes and shops. Foodies love this for its wide range of dining options (there are some 400 restaurants and counting.) Note that coffee has recently replaced teas as the beverage of choice and New Zealanders have their own lingo for coffee drinks - Hat white (not a cappuccino, but similar) short black (espresso) and many more.

We were given a booklet called Wellington, “The Official Visitor Guide” and it has a wealth of information on the features of the different attractions like the museums and galleries, shopping, stage and screen, restaurants, cafes and bars, accommodations and useful information.

We did some work in the afternoon after a bit of rest, went to the elegant casual dinner right after the mass. Then it was on to see the movie Australia starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman and then took a peek at the Royal Theatre presentation of the juggler man and Mr. Iglesia, a former member of the award-winning Los Paraguaynos.

We went line dancing after breakfast and worked a bit before going to the ballroom lessons and other activities on February 27. It was announced that the Pager System would be turned off while in Auckland as this system operates in a frequency that interferes with Auckland Search and Rescue Communication Stations so for butler assistance, we were advised to call room service. And we thought room service was only available for meals and such.

Then it was also announced that international travellers seeking to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program would be subject to enhanced security requirements and required to complete an Electronic System for Travel Authorization. After dinner, we went to see Vanity Fair which was a repeat and then the movie called Stay Low. We got ready for Auckland by reading the materials sent to us by QM2.