And the Final Stretch (of the cruise)

To finally finish off the details of our trip...

Day 8, November 28, was in Tauranga, a really great port city that we thoroughly enjoyed. We got off the boat early and climbed Mt. Maunganui. It was a fun little trek up and the view was beautiful first thing in the morning.

Here's some ferns we saw growing along the way.

And a celebratory photo at the top.

Mt. Maunganui is at the end of a peninsula and it was fun to see where our boat was docked.

As we were coming down we saw that there were people that would climb up and then paraglide down. 

We got back to the boat in time for our scheduled excursion to kayak on Lake Rotoiti, see glow worm caves, and sit in natural hot springs that are only accessible by water. I loved the covers they gave us for the kayaks because it kept any water from getting inside. They also made me feel like a little teapot, short and stout...

The birds that were swimming around the lake in this picture were black swans.

We had some fun at the hot springs by getting out of the hot pools and then going to the end of the dock that you see behind us and sliding off into the cool water. 

On our drive back the the boat I got some funny pictures of road signs since we were going through many of the kiwi fruit fields. They all had cute pictures and clever sayings. This one says, "Make sure it's safe to overtake."

Here we are back at the beach before making our way back to the boat. The photo was taken by some friends we made on the excursion, Gina and Scott. They were a lot of fun and laughs throughout the day. 

That night after dinner we played the Love and Marriage Game show for the whole ship to see.  Cameron caught a photo from the stage here as things were getting started. We didn't win, but came in second place!

Day 9, November 29, we arrived in the great city of Auckland. We again got off the boat early and did some exploring before our excursion was scheduled to begin. We got pictures of the tower and looked around the harbor before heading back to the boat.

Our excursion for the day was the AWESOME adventure of Canyoning.  There are a few pictures here from our camera, but all the water pictures are at the bottom of the post so don't miss those! 

We drove way out of town and changed into our gear in this shed type place. When we were suited up we drove into the canyon and hiked for 30 minutes to the starting point. It was just exciting to be jumping off huge rocks and just making your way down the canyon in the stream. The ironic part was that one of our guides was named Elise and we were going down the Cohen stream.

Here we are at the end of the day when our other guide, Neal dropped us back at the port, still alive :)

After getting cleaned up we got some fun pictures around the boat as we sailed away from Auckland.

After dinner we went to the show were I participated on the stage by sitting on a jugglers shoulders while he was on a unicycle. We had a video but no pictures... After the show we played the Quest in one of the lounges. We had Scott and Gina (our friends from the day before) on our team as well as a really ambitious couple, we won the game since we were so fast and finding everything and getting it to the front table. Here's our celebration picture- What a great day!

Day 10, November 30, we were at the Bay of Islands, our last stop before going back to Australia. Again it was another adventure day where we took a bus ride to some sand dunes you can see behind me in this picture.

It was pretty cool because you would hike up the hill and then take a boogie board and slide down the hill like you were sledding in snow.  You just had to be sure that you kept your mouth closed as you went down face first :)

After being at the dunes for awhile we had lunch at a little hotel/restaurant and then a bus tour through the other little cities on our way back to the boat.

One of the places we stopped on the way back was the Hundertwasser toilets.

They are some pretty famous and elaborately decorated public restrooms and were named after the artist that created/decorated them.

When we got back to town we were pretty tired as you can see and needed a rest before getting back on the boat. Good thing we found these really comfortable benches.

Days 11 & 12, December 1 & 2, we spent at sea just relaxing and recooperating after so many full days of adventure and non stop action. We played mini golf, scrabble, napped, and took it easy.

Day 13, December 3, we got back to Sydney. It was weird to be docked but not 'finished' with our cruise. Our boat basically functioned as a huge hotel and restaurant right there in Sydney Harbor. We got off and explored the Rocks area around the Harbor which is where most of the settling was done originally and is now lots of cool museums and little cute shops.

We walked across the Harbor Bridge and explored a flea market on the other side and also found a little amusement park. It was funny to have it be so hot and sunny and hear them play Christmas music.

After eating lunch on our boat we caught a ferry at Circular Quay over to Manly Beach.

There were some cool things going on like surf lessons for little kids and lots of people just out enjoying the day.

We hiked around to Sherry Beach and then to North Point, a Sanctuary that used to be a military installation. It was perfectly situated because you had the ocean on your left and a view into the harbor and city on your right.

Right along the beach there were some pools full of ocean water that people could swim in but not have to deal with the waves.

That night we reminisced about our time on the Radiance of the seas and snapped lots of photos being right in the heart of Sydney.

Here's the rest of the photos from Canyoning. I neglected to mention that Cameron and I were typically the first ones to jump and liked being the 'fearless ones' in the group.

You can't tell in this one, but there's an eel right next to me in the water.