Day 1,873 of Traveling the World | Moorea, Tahiti, French Polynesia | March 20, 2023

This island! Its name, Moorea, is taken from the Tahitian words for Yellow Lizard (Mo’o = Lizard; Re’a = Yellow). We have long told people that in our opinion, this is the prettiest island in the world. Its volcanic mountains, which rose from the sea millions of years ago, resemble shark fins. The beaches are gorgeous, and the people are friendly. For this visit, we didn’t spend too much time ashore, as we are returning in 10 days or so to spend a week here.

The big shock we had, as we walked through the market in Opunohu Bay, was seeing a woman we recognized! We thought Manette was beautiful, with a crown of flowers on her head, and so we put her photo in this blog more than four years ago. Her reaction, when we showed her her own photo, is related under her photo. It was priceless.

We will have more photos of Moorea (readers are hereby warned) and more information in a few weeks when we return to what is called The Magical Island. Below is just a teeny-tiny taste!

A rather iconic view of Mt. Tohivea, taken from the stern of the cruise ship.
Some more of the French Polynesian crystal clear water.
Opunohu Bay…tropical vegetation, calm water, boats anchored in the bay…heaven.
Lucky homeowners on the bay.
The skies and water are both impossibly blue.
This is a little “living room” float, with two chairs! What a great idea.
The marketplace where the ship’s tenders dock. There are quite a few sellers, including souvenirs, clothing, and jewelry, jewelry, and more jewelry. See the last photo for their most famous commodity.
This photo is from the marketplace – four years ago! We loved her flower crown. And since we recognized her because we put her in our blog in 2018……
…we recognized “the woman in purple” as today’s “woman in green.” Her name is Manette, and we told her that we put her on our travel blog four years ago. She was astonished. We pulled it up on our phone to show her. She held onto our hands tightly and thanked us over and over, tearing up. Then we took a few photos with the three of us and showed the surrounding vendors the first photo – everyone agreed that she really hadn’t aged over four years.
Walking out of the market, we had views of the volcanic mountains and a choice of right or left. We chose right, where we got most of the ocean photos from land.
A tiny shed with a tiny mailbox attached – it says, “Lettre.” Our fledgling French (after almost two years of study) is coming in handy in these French islands. We don’t really understand this, though. We checked the nearest house and it had its own mailbox, so this mailbox wasn’t for that. Does this tiny shack get mail service? I guess we have no right to criticize. The only place we have to get mail is in a tiny mail slot in L.A. Well, at least we think that is what it is. We have never really been there.
As we walked along the road, there were many makeshift fruit and vegetable stands. This was the prettiest one, so nicely decorated.
A cool wall drawing showing the history, mythology, and traditions of French Polynesia.
St. Michael Church, adjacent to Opunohu Bay. We saw the orange roof in the distance from the ship and wondered what it was.
THIS is what most vendors were selling – Tahitian black pearls. So come here to get your reals pearls. Note the yellow lizard logo across the island. We aren’t just making this stuff up.

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Day 1,868 of Traveling the World | Kingdom of Bora Bora, Tahiti | March 15, 2023

“Beware the Ides of March!”….but only because we are, YET AGAIN, going to post photos of stunning Bora Bora. Yes, you must tolerate photos of the reef enclosed by the atoll that is Bora Bora. Be glad that it isn’t 1970, with us inviting you to “see our 7,550 slides from the South Pacific!” This is our fifth visit here, and once again we rented a scooter for four hours, used it for two hours, and took about 150 photos. We are giving you only the finest ones, of course. Even though we jumped off the scooter every few hundred yards for more photos, we were still saddle sore after two hours. And we won’t even talk about “helmet hair!” But even though the scooter was only 50ccs and its top speed was about 40 mph, we usually went slower than that but still had a lovely breeze on us all day long. Traffic was light, and the ring road is narrow. You can see a section of the road in one of the photos below and can judge for yourself.

Much like the US and Australia, Bora Bora was a prison island, a place of exile for thieves and other wrongdoers. But….be careful where you punish people! The outcasts eventually became pirates, attacking the surrounding islands. In the Tahitian language, Bora Bora’s original name, Pora Pora, meant “firstborn,” as it was the first of the Polynesian islands to emerge from the ocean. The main island, which is where we go ashore, is a ring-shaped atoll with mountains on the inside and a ring of ocean, reef, and smaller islands rounding out the circle on the outside. It is warm, humid, sticky, and stunning – a very happy place. We talk constantly about how grateful we are for this life of travel. It has truly opened up our minds and hearts to the world.

Lazy, early morning in Bora Bora – a sailboat slowly, leisurely, wandering around the islands.
Two more boats out and about.
This was neat to see! If you think “Bora Bora” is the only double-talk here, think again. This is the Windstar Wind Star! (Cruise line and cruise ship, respectively.) It is the line’s flagship and has four masts. You will see it again at the end of the blog, at sunset. Most of Windstar’s cruises are in the $400-800 range per person per night, but some of its Transatlantic cruises go for $79-99 per person per night, so those are the ones you will more likely see us blogging from in the future.
One of our ship’s tenders, the lifeboats that take us to the dock when we have to anchor out in deeper water than is available at the shore.
The water is so clear, you can see the bottom.
It is interesting that on so many South Pacific islands, pine trees coexist with palm trees.
Some over-the-water bungalows, which Bora Bora is famous for.
A small inlet framing a lone swimmer.
A short dock is on the right side.
The palm trees just tower over the shoreline.
This is the narrow ring road around the island, nicely framed by palm trees.
It’s lovely when the palm trees are bent from the wind – they look like they have been dancing.
It seems that the house on the right has its own little unconnected island.
The clouds are always mesmerizing in the South Pacific. Every weather report says it will rain all day long (on every island we have visited), and each time, it drizzles for four minutes, stops, and the sun shines once more.
This pretty photo is from the highest point in the ring road – with the word “highest” taken with a grain of salt.
Clouds and ocean were the recipe for the day.
Two little adjunct islands offshore. Here they are called “motus.”
Some more bungalows.
So many lines here – the coastline, the horizon line, and the line of clouds.
One side of Mt. Pahia, taken from the ship. Mike went scuba diving today and talked to the dive guide, who said he and a friend had been hiking up some of the hills on the island. They were interested in some harder routes on the the highest peaks on the island, such as this one and Mt. Otemanu, but they are novice climbers. They had been asking around for advice, but couldn’t find anyone who had done them. He said most of the people on the island were more interested in less active sports – like fishing.
Another side of Mt. Pahia, taken from land. It is so interesting how serrated it is.
Three swimmers in the shimmering water.
As we said, the views all day were primarily water (that changed color depending on the side of the ring road we drove), clouds, and trees.
The dazzling turquoise blue water that looks like it is connecting these two islands is where the reef breaks the surface. That color!!
The clouds look threatening, but they are like pussycats – not a bit harmful.
The one palm that fell into the ocean – and lived.
Another little motu.
A typical house, just across from a beach.
We followed one inland road to see where it went – believe it or not, this was at the end of the road. It just stops. You can see the end of the concrete.
Sunset in Bora Bora. The Wind Star came into view, and was such a surprise, with lights over the mast making it look so festive.
This photo was about two minutes before the sky went totally black, closing out another fabulous day on Bora Bora, the Firstborn Island of Polynesia.

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Day 1,864 of Traveling the World | Apia, Independent State of Samoa | March 11, 2023

The capital of Independent Samoa is Apia, and Apia is the only city on the island (all the rest are villages). We also visited here four years ago and wrote a little of the history, so we won’t repeat. But we learned a few new facts that are most interesting. Apia Harbor (photos below, of course) was the site of a naval standoff in March 1889, whereby seven ships from the U.S., Imperial Germany, and Great Britain all refused to leave the harbor, even though a typhoon was approaching. The three countries had been vying to control Samoa and none wanted to be the first to move, and lose face, in spite of the fact that Apia Harbor is unprotected anchorage and the only way to protect their ships and crews was to head out to open sea before the storm arrived.

Needless to say, the ships waited too long to take any action, and six were thrown into the reef, the beach, or each other and sank or were damaged beyond repair. A total of 200 German and American lives were lost. One British ship, the Calliope, managed to leave the port, traveling at a rate of 1 knot, and was able to ride out the storm.

The other bit of history we learned was from the ship’s lecturer on all things South Pacific. Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, lived here for the last several years of his life and died here. He had married a divorced woman, Fanny Osbourne, in 1880, when he was 30 years old. He was very sickly, and it is thought that he had tuberculosis. He was advised to move from Scotland to a better climate, possibly near the ocean. With his wife and her son, he traveled to destinations around the world. Within a week of arriving on this Samoan island, he bought 800 acres and decided to build a house. Stevenson was always seeking new adventures, and he thought the island would be good for his health. He was adored by the locals, as he was concerned for their well-being, and was very active in local politics. He loved Samoa – Fanny not so much, but she was determined to stay with him and help with his health concerns. Consequently, the chiefs built and dedicated a road with the loveliest name here: The Road of the Loving Heart. Isn’t that a great dedication to someone so beloved? We visited his home and estate just outside of the capital, and the entry road is Robert Louis Stevenson Avenue, but Road of the Lovely Heart is awesome. We traveled there by taxi (the 44-year-old taxi driver has 11 children!), and he was also going to take us to a nearby waterfall. But the rain came, finally, after threatening all day, and he said it would be flooded and unwalkable. So he took us to the island’s nicest resort because he wanted us to see a beautiful place while we were here. His name was August. Just lovely.

Apia lies in the South Pacific, of course. We walked along a coastal walkway for a while, catching some lovely photos.
We were very taken by the clouds all day long.
With all the clouds, there was a chance of rain, naturally…and it eventually poured, but only for about 10-15 minutes, and then it was done.
Immaculate Conception Cathedral, opposite the waterfront. The ceiling inside is all native wood, and so impressive. In the dome, traditional Christian figures are mixed with native people, which we loved.
The 14 Stations of the Cross, rather than being plaques, were incorporated as stained-glass windows around the body of the church, each framed in the grape leaves design.
In the US, bird of paradise plants are blue, orange, and yellow. Here, they are a single golden color.
Several things jump out here: the sign says Immigration Office, but this is now a furniture store. Sandbags are placed in front of the doors, but two women told us they were placed for rains and flooding that occurred in early January. And, it is never open – you must call them and have them open up if you just want to browse. A hard way to make money.
Robert Louis Stevenson Avenue, the entrance to his estate just outside of Apia.
When Stevenson was alive, his house was just the central part. The two wings were added when government officials lived there.
A peek inside the mansion.
These red Hawaiian Ti plants surrounded the house, and were placed in decorative circles like this.
The taxi driver took us to Taumeasina Island Resort in lieu of the flooded waterfall, where the pool is framed as you look out.
Part of the resort’s beach, just after rain.
These next three posters in the local pharmacy were hard to believe, as pharmacies generally don’t display notices with any kind of sense of humor.
…more sarcasm to drive home a point…
And joking about taking Valium is just amazing to us.

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Day 1,863 of Traveling the World | Suva, Viti Levu, Fiji | March 10, 2023

Delightful Suva, capital city of Fiji on the main island, Viti Levu. We heard many more greetings of “Bula!” from most people we passed. And, of course, you must answer each person. This in turn gives them the opportunity to engage in conversations with us, which many did. Everyone here is unusually friendly, open, and curious.

The original intention in forming the City of Suva was that it be developed as a cotton farming industry center so as to pay off debts owed to the US. This was the idea of the Bauan chieftain, Seru Epinesa Cakobau, but both the land and the climate proved to be unsuitable for growing cotton.

At the large public market across the street from the port, we saw many unusual fruits and vegetables. We met Karuna, who sells produce there. She was very friendly and gave us all sorts of information. It was a little slow when we were there, but she said on Saturdays, the place is jumping! You can see her photo below in not one, but two photos.

So, we wandered around, as usual, taking photos of things that caught our attention because they were beautiful, or fun, or funny, or unusual. If you have read our blog before, you know that we don’t do the usual travel blogs, and we don’t make money on this, of course. We just write it for our friends and families and as a diary for ourselves. We looked back at our blog of our visit here four years ago, and are always surprised by the information that is there (but that we certainly wouldn’t repeat!).

Perfect day in Downtown Suva!
Our cruise ship, the Oceania Regatta, docked for the day.
We asked a local what this tree was with the pretty orange blossoms. He shrugged, and said, “we call it a rain tree.”
The ship passengers were met by a Police Band playing Sweet Caroline. In Fiji, police officers wear skirts with a serrated hem, as you can see. They returned to serenade us upon our departure!
Some boats just dying to get loose and head into the ocean, where they belong.
A pretty display of produce for sale. (You will meet the pretty owner in a minute!)
We didn’t know what the white root was, nor the bundled reddish tubers….
…so we asked Karuna! Very vibrant and eager to speak with us, Koruna quickly became our Fijian friend and font of information. The white root in the previous photo is cassava, the most cultivated and consumed crop on Fiji. The reddish one is dalo, which we know as taro, another huge seller in Fiji.
A long shot of the whole market.
These perfect bunches of small bananas came directly from the trees.
We get very spoiled in the US with very nice-looking fruit and vegetables. Like with these coconuts, Fijians salvage the good ones and pay a much lower price for their scavenging.
Every fruit or veg sold in multiples were marked with a dollar amount “per heap.” We would say per bunch or per basket, but everywhere we saw heaps (i.e., heaps of heaps).
Many shots of eggplant for sale were taken by us. We don’t know why, just that they looked so colorful and uniform, and were displayed so neatly.
Long, LONG string beans! We have never seen any like these!
These necklace-leis are laced with candy, something we have seen previously in this part of the world. They are popular with children.
We asked the woman selling this beverage if it was KAVA, the local, commonly-used, slightly psychoactive drug. She said no, it was herbal medicine!!
Really – American sports figures are revered throughout the world. We rarely see local sports stars on shirts as we travel.
The shoe repair man. We asked if his hands had blisters from pushing needles through thick leather. Nope! He showed us his unblemished hands.
Presumably, this should say, “best stitchers,” unless it means they leave people in stitches?
Yum! Have you waited all of your life for tuna sausages?? We suspect there is a reason they are not common around the world.
We are presuming that this is a public bus since there is a sign saying, “No cash.” Very unusual to see “Jesus, No Other Name, No Other Way” on a bus.
This pretty walkway, just across from the port, is called the Refurbished Terry Walk and Newly-Constructed Public Convenience, since at the end, there are public restrooms.
They are just paper rabbits (getting ready for Easter!), but they made for a lovely space decoration.
How could we NOT photograph the Awesomeness Glory Boutique?
There are an awful lot of signs and messages in Fiji about avoiding corruption, scammers, and now – skimmers, on an ATM machine.
How often do you see spearguns for sale in the US???
One of the remaining balconied buildings from Fiji’s colonial past.
Handmade wooden masks and other items were for sale along the ocean walkway. A young man carving a wooden totem here handed it to us and urged us to “just take it.” We explained that we don’t have anywhere to put such things, being homeless, and so he relented.
A colorful array of children’s blow-up animals.
Ready for a kiss!
A silly mascot outside a coffee shop.

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Day 1,862 of Traveling the World | Lautoka, Viti Levu, Fiji | March 9, 2023

We were bullied today!!! Oops – we mean, BULA’d!! “Bula!” is the hearty greeting that most strangers we passed on the street said to us. It literally means Good, but is casually used as Hi! If you ask how someone is doing, they will repond, Bula bula, meaning Good, good. Even though the city is fairly large – certainly not a village or town – being greeted the entire time we walked Lautoka made it feel like a community where everyone knows everyone else. Very sweet, in fact.

We were here four years ago and wrote a blog then about the history of Fiji, and Captain Bligh’s sighting of the island, etc. So we won’t repeat that. The major industry in Fiji is sugar cane, and Lautoka is the base. Here in Lautoka can be found the industries, headquarters, the largest sugar mill, modern loading facilities, and a huge wharf. We visited some local shops and a supermarket (as they always give a good representation of the culture – what the local people eat and buy). We were asked for money a few times, but we never did get local Fijian currency, just paid with a credit card for everything we purchased. We told one man – sorry, we don’t have Fijian money. He said he would take ANY money. We told him we only had credit cards. He looked at us, sighed, and said, “Okay, okay, I’ll take one of those!”

Everyone greeting us with the Fijian Bula but spoke in English. We were surprised when talking to some of the locals, finding that some who were born and raised there didn’t speak fluent Fijian. Apparently Hindi can be as important as Fijian, and English seems to be the lingua franca. We encountered lots and lots of smiles – a very happy people. It was a very enjoyable day re-visit for us.

Sunset over the South Pacific as we made our way to Lautoka. The sunsets and skies have been just magnificent.
The morning we arrived, we took this shot from the ship. The island in front looks like the head of a floating alligator. The islands in the distance are the Yasawa Islands, quite a few that form a northward chain in the South Pacific.
This is Jotamena, working at the port. He was happy to pose for us in full Fijian “formal” dress. He asked for a “cut” when we publish his photo. We told him, “we make no money from our site, but we will make you famous!” He laughed heartily.
The median has been planted with Royal palms, a unique feature in the city. Railroad tracks still run through the middle of town. Last time, we captured a train filled with sugar cane here in Sugar City, but none today.
These nice signs were placed wherever the sidewalk had been modified for access.
Be tidy. A good motto for life!
Inside the Bargain Box, all the signage is in English. We bought a pair of scissors for a few dollars, but the ship wouldn’t allow us to take them to our cabin because they were more than 4 inches long. What did they think we were going to do with scissors???? We can take a steak knife from the dining room any time if we had nefarious ideas. Silly. (They will return them to us as we leave the ship.)
As in all parts of the world, American sports teams items are everywhere.
A view down Vitogo Parade, the main drag.
Apparently, Praful Patel does it all – financial advisor, tax agent, and data processing! Keep flexible to maximize your earnings!
He looked SO odd to us…..(and not only because he is only half there).
There are some huge, old, lovely trees downtown.
This mosque was quite large, in the center of town. Its imam for 25 years was killed in the 2019 Christchurch Mosque shooting.
The Fiji dollar is worth slightly less than half of the US dollar. The $6 lamb curry is US $2.68…quite cheap for lunch! But the typical annual salary here is just under US $8,000.
It was unusual – many of the stores showed parents and two children, like this, wearing identical patterned clothing.
The closeup of the little boy is a little creepy…..
These colorful women were just hangin’ out in their everyday clothing.
Sugar City Mall – we didn’t know what to expect.
Not much, as it turned out. There were a few stores and this large toilet area they call “public convenience.” As you can see, it costs less than 10 cents US.
Chicken guts?? No, thank you.
The chicken feet – about $1/pound.
Don’t know what it means, but we liked the name of this store.
Lots of signage about what you can’t do.
We think she was (gasp!) sitting for free, but it looks like she doesn’t much care.
Lots of signs around town about protection from corruption.
This is Prit, employed in the local supermarket. She lived with her family for 30 years in Sacramento! When her husband passed away, she returned to her homeland, Fiji. She talked with us for a while and was just lovely.
HUGE local avocados – they would cost about $1-2 each.
A tongue painter – Vampire Blood Gum. We can just imagine!
Never having heard of mustard oil, we found out that it is popular in Asia and may be the best oil for your health. It has huge benefits for your heart!
Also in the supermarket were these disposable plates made from sugar cane pulp, in the city noted for sugar cane! Bravo!

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Day 1,851 of Traveling the World | Sydney, Australia | WorldPride/Mardi Gras Parade | February 26, 2023

Wow. Just….Wow. 12,500 marchers. 208 floats. 500,000 spectators. 900 police officers (on duty; others were in the parade!). The parade last night was a wild time! People around us were from various places in Australia and from around the world. Sydney was celebrating its 45th annual Pride celebration, and advertising was promoting the events as LGBTQIA+.

Since we returned to Sydney a few days ago, we noticed rainbow striping on crosswalks and in many shop windows, thinking only that it was because February is Gay Pride Month. (We have since discovered that so are June and October!) Then we started to hear about a big Mardi Gras/Pride parade on Saturday night. When we researched it, we only then found out that Sydney was hosting WorldPride, which initially occurred in Rome in 2000. (Pope John Paul II was NOT pleased, however!)

Yes, we know – purists are saying, “Mardi Gras was last Tuesday!” Get over it. Combining two highly decorated, costumed, and glittery events made it all the more fun. No Mardi Gras beads were thrown, though – just confetti. And there were fireworks at the end of the parade. Walking around several hours prior to the parade start, we met and saw all sorts of people in costume. All were friendly, smiling, and happy. The mood of the parade was very happy! It was a fun time. The photos (and one video) below prove it!

“All creatures welcome.” We liked that.
“Love wins.” We liked that, too.
Are those great wings, or what? For some reason, LOTS of people were wearing wings.
Decked out in gold! The tiara is great.
Another angel, and the white headdress on the left is fun. This is just a random selection of people crossing the street, on the way to the parade.
…a Glam Event…
The man in red. He was going for that adorable look.
This is Rose, yet another angel. Even with all of the great costumes, people were lining up to take photos with Rose.
The City of Sydney added rainbows to their street signs for WorldPride.
This is just one of the rainbow walkways we encountered.
There was a long line of people waiting to have their picture taken…as an angel with rainbow wings, of course!
…just walking down the street…
The parade started with 20 minutes of Dykes on Bikes! (There were also Boys on Bikes.)
More rainbow colors!
These are the First Nations paraders. You can see the head of what was a 50-foot-long uh, caterpillar? Just a guess.
The 78ers…who were at the first march
45 years ago.
“Out of the bars and onto the streets.” They have come a long way.
This was a bus for the older people who couldn’t walk the entire route. The bus was festooned with various banners – we agree with this one.
These rainbow nuns are the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.”
These two posed for the crowd. Fabulous wardrobe!
“Black Trans Lives Matter.” Everyone – and we mean EVERYONE – was included in this parade.
More wings!
This group walked with ice cream cones. Their float said, “Oxford Street, You’re So Sweet,” and shone different colored lights on the dancers. (The parade took place on Oxford Street.)
These skimpily-dressed men were a BIG hit with the crowd!
In two years, the festivities will take place in the US capital.
…followed by Amsterdam in 2026.
These are ACON health care workers, the largest health care agency for LGBTQ people in Australia.
Another bus for folks who couldn’t walk the route – each door had someone in costume waving and smiling.
They said it – we didn’t!
The Brazilian Fruits all danced with these luminous wings.
Everyone expressed themselves very well.
This group is LOVE MAKES A FAMILY – moms, dads, and kids all wearing inflated unicorns.
The Sydney Dance Company float.
The Southeast Asia float.
This group added lights around their signs.
This is the Queensland Team Rainbow, Club Lime float.
A very, very bright and vibrant truck.
She has legs that don’t seem to end!
Rainbow Babies & Kids.
A short video of the Dykes on Bikes.

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Day 1,847 of Traveling the World | Wellington, NZ | February 22, 2023

Yet another country whose biggest city is NOT the capital! Wellington is New Zealand’s seat of government, not Auckland. The city is very walkable, very compact and accessible. We stayed here for seven days since we had to reroute around Cyclone Gabrielle, which was two days more than we had planned. And five days would have been about right. But we were more than glad to be out of direct contact with the rains, wind, and flooding. We feel for people who lost everything and are now displaced. Having visited Wellington four other times, we didn’t necessarily have to go out every day, so we took time to do some planning AND work on our taxes, which we filed yesterday. So – time well spent!

The most dramatic feature here is the waterfront. Wellington sits on a bay just 14 miles from the South Island, separated by the Cook Strait. The city feels very youthful, as the university is here, as well as many bars and restaurants. We have visited its two biggest attractions, the Te Papa Museum and the Cable Car to the Botanic Gardens, several times, and wrote about them previously, so didn’t want to repeat those experiences. There were some churches we had not seen on previous trips, and we included a few photos below. We caught some whimsical signs around town, as well. There is a very delightful pedestrian mall called Cuba Street that has many restaurants and retail shops – it was jammed with people every time we were there. Tomorrow, we return to Sydney for a few days before catching a cruise to Tahiti.

We are happy to be on our way again (as we always are), but we do have to say that it is always a pleasure being in New Zealand. The folks are polite, friendly, and very civilized. They don’t cut in line and rarely even jaywalk. We have only driven, walked, and taken Ubers here, but we would be surprised if we we ever had to argue with a cabbie over a fare.

Wellington Harbor is always picture-perfect, with dazzling blue water and dazzling blue skies dotted with clouds.
This is the other side of the harbor – so pretty!
Now the Academy of Fine Arts, this building formerly housed the wharf offices and Harbour Board.
Farther down the harbor, this area is called Oriental Bay.
We believe someone knitted this post cover at the harbor just for fun!