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  • Day17

    Diversion to Oban!

    February 6, Tasman Sea ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Over the past two days at sea, we have continued to enjoy our relaxing time on the Noordam. We have made good use of the Spa, and the high standard of food has been maintained. There is complimentary Room Service, and we enjoyed breakfast served in our Stateroom. We have met some lovely fellow passengers including two nice couples from Germany who lamented our departure from the EU. Campbell and I have spent time people watching, and likening some of our fellow passengers to celebrities. So far we have encountered Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, an elderly Doris Day, and Theresa May enjoying her retirement!

    After a relaxing two days at sea, we were looking forward to arriving at Milford Sound in New Zealand’s fjordland today. However the Captain announced last night that due to recent flash flooding, resulting in landslides and hundreds of tourists being trapped in the area and having to be rescued by helicopter, a State of Emergency has been declared, and we were sadly unable to visit the area 🙁. However, as an alternative, the Captain was pleased to announce that we would instead be diverting and making an unscheduled visit to Oban! I thought at first that this was a bit much of a detour, until I realised it was the small port of Oban on Stewart Island, New Zealand’s largely forgotten third island. Although a reasonable size, the whole island has a population of only 400 and, with no predators, it is a bird sanctuary and home to hundreds of different species, including kiwis.

    To access the island required taking a tender to shore. The number of passengers coming ashore from the ship more than quadrupled the whole population. Today was a holiday - Waitangi Day - the national day of New Zealand. The main activity on the island appeared to be the annual Man of the Year contest. This involved burly locals competing in a variety of testosterone and beer-fuelled activities on the beach. Campbell and I were going to enter but didn’t want to show them up.

    I took a lovely (but steep) walk up to Observation Rock where I had fabulous views over Golden Bay towards the island of - wait forever it - Iona. We visited the tiny local museum, which reminded Campbell of the one at Invergordon - minus the major attraction of the Iron Lung.

    We were disappointed not to have made it to Milford Sound, but after seeing news footage on TV could understand why. We’ll just have to come back.
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