We crossed the International date Line on our way here, clocks went forward 23 hours and I write from the future for most of you, excepting those in Australasia of course.
After some days at sea, our feet on dry land, once more. Our arrival in Nuku’Alofa, Tonga was delayed though. After working our speed for an ETA pilot at the inner boarding ground, we arrived to find a ‘queue’. The ‘Seven Seas Mariner’ was on our berth, the ‘Marina’, which was going in before us, had to wait for the pilot to get off the “SSM” before he could board and then, finally, we would berth.
We ‘killed’ time, waiting outside the reefs until it was time to start our entry, a winding, twisting route through the outer reef and then several alterations to avoid shoal patches and more reefs, before we arrived in deeper the water of the lagoon and our berth.
It was at 8 p.m. that we docked at the Vuna pier, a welcoming committee of the Tonga Police Brass band and Tongan dancers waited for us. Guests were treated to almost an hour of wonderful music and dancing.
As soon as the gangway was in and the authorities had cleared the ship, guests were ashore. It was Saturday evening and the town, just a short walk away, beckoned. Tonga observes a strict “Sunday Law”, everything closes at 11 p.m. on Saturday night and doesn’t reopen until Monday morning, so they had a lot to squeeze in during the 3 hours remaining to them.
Sunday was a day of rest; families gathered together and went to church, before having meals together and whiling away the hours. We hired a car and decided to explore the island. In every village we passed, the sounds of singing could be heard from churches, it sounded more akin to a choir than a ‘congregation’, boy can they sing.
Whilst I drove, (on the left-hand side 🙂 ), the 3 ladies, Karen and 2 guests, Leslie and Peggy watched the scenery go by. I stopped often, taking photos of course.
The reefs are littered with wrecks
Captain James Cook landed here in 1777 and it is commemorated by a plaque at the site where he met with the King of Tonga. The banyan tree under which the meeting took place, has long since disappeared, so concrete and the plaque have to make do.
We pass families walking to, or from church and the opportunity for some photos.
We stop at Tonga’s most famous object, an ancient trilithon, dating back for 1200 AD, similar to some of the more familiar (to me), stones at Stonehenge in U.K.
It is here that we meet a ‘Kiwi’, or New Zealander, a gentleman, (Policeman as it turns out) who is showing a friend round with his wife. He offers to show us some of the other sights, so we follow his vehicle. It’s just as well he’d offered, some of the places, we would have never found; down rough tracks or through long grass, they were poorly signposted, (if at all) and we would have missed them.
We had to drive down this kind of track to see some sights
A natural Land Bridge
A hidden restaurant for lunch
Then onto various sights and sounds and I leave you with a selection of photos.
Finally, a video of Violet and a lovely photo of Emily
We leave for Auckland later this afternoon, in the meantime, the ship is preparing for a Super Bowl extravaganza!