Royal ship leaves Wellington

06:32, Feb 19 2011
Queen Elizabeth
The Queen Elizabeth arrived in Wellington about 6.45am.
Queen Elizabeth
The Queen Elizabeth arrived an hour ahead of schedule.
Queen Elizabeth
Residents watch the Queen Elizabeth arrive in Wellington.
Queen Elizabeth
The Queen Elizabeth arrives as the sun was rising.
Queen 1
The Queen Elizabeth left Wellington about 7pm.
Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth leaving Wellington harbour.
Queen Elizabeth 3
Several small vessels sailed into the harbour to farewell the Queen Elizabeth.

The Queen Elizabeth, one of the world's newest cruise ships, attracted hundreds of people to Wellington's waterfront today before leaving 12 hours after it made an early entrance to the capital.

Take a look at the view from the ship's bridge

Check out a virtual tour of the ship

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth

It blew it fog horn several times while leaving Wellington harbour bathed in the afternoon sunlight.

The Queen Elizabeth glided into Wellington harbour this morning as the sun was rising. It left tonight about 7pm on its way to Sydney.

Carrying more than 2000 passengers on its maiden trip to the Pacific, it will bring an expected cash injection to the city's economy of $1 million during its few hours here.

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The new Queen Elizabeth is the second-largest ship to be built by Cunard, the company that built the Titanic.

The largest was the Queen Mary 2, launched in 2004, which held the record for the world's largest passenger ship for several years. At 294 metres long, the Queen Elizabeth is 50 metres shorter than the Queen Mary 2.

It would arrive and depart from Wellington at high tide, though regional harbourmaster Mike Pryce said that was coincidence.

The maximum draught - the depth of a ship below water - for entering Wellington Harbour was 9.8 metres, plus the height of the tide. "The draught of Queen Elizabeth is only 7.9 metres ... so she could arrive and sail at low tide if she had to."

Displacing, that is, weighing 90,900 tonnes, the ship cost more than US$360 million to build. As tall as a 21-storey building, its 12 passenger decks feature nearly a dozen restaurants and cafes, two outdoor swimming pools, an 800-seat theatre and a two-storey library with about 6000 books.

Passengers drink a thousand bottles of wine a day and eat 55,000kg of scrambled eggs a year.

When it leaves Wellington tonight, the Queen Elizabeth will head to Sydney to meet up with the Queen Mary 2. It will then cruise around Asia before returning home to Southampton.

Tourism New Zealand spokeswoman Anna Fennessy said cruises could boost New Zealand's economy by $305m this year.

The Dominion Post