Cruise ship brings 300 from USA
It was thrilling to think they were coming for just a day! Their cycles were already waiting at the Whitianga wharf in three large trucks. Finding their particular cycle seemed to be a quick undertaking; these travellers had done this a few times prior to Whitianga.
The cruise was designed and organised for cyclists who undertake short day tours when they come ashore. The Star Breeze used their ships tender (10m in length) to disembark and embark passengers at the Whitianga Wharf between 10.00am and 7.00pm on the Friday. This entailed 10-12 tender trips throughout the day and thorough organising by the WRC Harbour Master, our local Harbour Master, Richard Shelford-Woodcock and local operators using the wharf. Whitianga was the last cycle stop for these intrepid cyclists who had begun their tour in Queenstown about 10 days earlier.
They caught a plane to Christchurch and from there cycled with tours around Blenheim, Picton, and Nelson. The North Island part of the cruise included stops at Gisborne, Napier, Tauranga and finally Whitianga, the last stop before the Star Breeze sailed to Auckland for the travellers to fly home to their many different destinations in USA and Canada.
Riders had pre-organised their own cycle journey from a menu of options – Coromandel via the 309; catch the ferry to Ferry Landing and on to Cooks Beach and Hahei and return or on to Tairua then return; to Tairua down SH 25 including Pumpkin Hill and Sailors Grave, then back to Whitianga. There was the threat of rain which did eventuate but not for long.
There was time to browse the shops, restaurants and cafes of Whitianga when they returned but not long at all. One excruciating time-consuming task to be done by each cyclist was disassembling their bicycles and organising them to fit neatly in their own purpose-shaped containers. This was not a skill commonly shared by all those riders after a 60km to 80km ride. The last tender left at 6.00pm with the weather closing in.
Locals and riders enjoyed many brief conversations. Curiosity was high and the visitors were inquisitive, open and friendly. They would have done better with guides to take them to what they most wanted to eat or see or do in the brief time they had after cycling. We felt these cyclists would have stayed longer, taken more cycle tours, done other tours, done some soaking, eating, shopping – a few more days at the end of a racy tour.
Who knows? Could that be our near future here in Mercury Bay? 312 cyclists did it for one day. Whitianga could be the final stop over for every cyclist cruise but for a week rather than eight hours. Thank you, Star Breeze.
The luxury liner Star Breeze is owned by Windstar Cruises. In early 2005, she was rated the best small cruise ship by Condé Nast. Wikepedia.