Sun out for tourists' fleeting visit

The MS Caledonian Sky at Port Taranaki yesterday
The MS Caledonian Sky at Port Taranaki yesterday

A boat load of international cruise ship tourists enjoyed a taste of Taranaki yesterday.

After arriving at Port Taranaki under grey skies at 7.30am, passengers on the MS Caledonian Sky were treated to a fine summer's day in the region.

Its 94 passengers went on a range of short half-day tours around Taranaki.

On Ariki St the Daily News met up with passengers Shirley and Michael Watford from Kent, England.

They had just returned from the North Egmont Visitor Centre where the mountain was out in full view.

"We were very, very lucky, we were told," Mr Watford said.

Their day in Taranaki was a bit different to many of the previous nature-orientated stops on the cruise, he said.

"We're back in civilisation."

The pair were used to having just one day to explore a region. It was the nature of a cruise ship holiday, Mr Watford said.

The Caledonian was on a 14-day cruise from Milford Sound to Napier.

It arrived in Taranaki from the Marlborough Sounds and departed at 4pm for the Bay of Islands.

Blair Withers, of Withers Coachlines, said four bus loads of cruise tourists were shown a "magic" time around the region.

"The mountain showed its face, which was nice," he said.

He was confident this was the beginning of a cruise ship industry becoming established in Taranaki.

"There's going to be more here, there's no doubt about it."

Pukekura Park Tea House On The Lake put on a high morning tea for a group of 29 cruise tourists, owner Angie Orsborn said.

"They seemed to be thoroughly enjoying their time here," Mrs Orsborn said.

None of the cruise tourists decided to go for a row on the lake but they did hop on a mobility buggy to have park curator Chris Connolly give them a tour of the park, she said.

The New Plymouth Art Fair set up in the Huatoki Plaza to capitalise on cruise tourists looking to do a spot of shopping.

Fair co-ordinator Barbara Hawkins said when the MS Volendam visited in December 2011 the fair had a very successful day.

"A lot of the passengers did come to the market and they did spend," Ms Hawkins said.

But the Volendam had 1432 passengers compared to the Caledonian's 94.

This time about 15 stores had set up, she said.

The most popular items for passengers were usually small Kiwiana gifts, she said.

Taranaki Daily News