I love exploring new countries, and so my husband and I often travel to faraway places. This year, we went to Australia and New Zealand. I had been to Australia, but had never had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful islands of New Zealand. As I had one of those really big birthdays this year, we took a long trip and cruise to celebrate.
We flew Air Fiji and had a twelve hour stopover on the way there. We left our bags at the airport and did a quick tour.
We were able to tour a native settlement and visit The Gardens of the Sleeping Giant in Sabeto Valley near Nadi International Airport in Fiji.
I didn’t know that the largest Hindu temple in the southern hemisphere was in Fiji. We got a chance to visit during our tour.
Unfortunately, a cyclone was threatening and struck the island just after we left to fly to Sydney. Roy and I felt terrible for all the wonderful people we met in Fiji; they were so welcoming. The damage was extensive as Cyclone Winston, a Category 5 storm, made landfall the same night as we flew out. Flights were stranded for days soon after we left, so we were happy to have made it out safely.
We arrived in Sydney safe and sound and couldn’t believe the view from our hotel room.
Once we got over the jet lag, it was time to celebrate my birthday. This was taken before we headed over to dinner near the Sydney Opera House. There is an incredible bar there that stretches for a block, and was packed on a Sunday night.
I had visited Sydney for my job more than ten years ago, but didn’t have the time to explore the city as much as I would have liked, so Roy and I were able to wander around for a few days before we left on on our cruise. I also got to see a wonderful woman I worked with a number of years ago; It was so much fun to see Monique. Sydney was certainly one of the highlights of the trip for many reasons. I loved visiting again and Roy really enjoyed this vibrant city, seeing it for the first time.
This was our favorite restaurant on the trip: Cafe Sydney. Can you see my husband, Roy, in the mirror taking my picture?
Our first stop was Geelong. There were fun bollards all around the beach area; I understand there are about 100 near the water. Here’s Roy with a few.
We were very excited to visit Tasmania, which had one of the largest prisons that was used when the British brought prisoners to help settle Australia, beginning in about 1788. It was our only really rainy day during our trip, but we didn’t let the weather stop us from exploring the island. Luckily, before it started to rain I got to feed the kangaroos, and, of course, we went to see the Tasmanian devils. Not like the cartoons!
The old devil looks a bit cute here, but don’t be fooled…they have really powerful jaws that chew through bone!
New Zealand was just so beautiful, it’s hard to know where to start.
The beauty of Milford Sound.
The statue of Captain Cook in Gisborne, memorializing his landing in New Zealand in 1769.
The Maori people were so friendly; we learned a lot about their culture during our trip. The tongue gesture is actually a friendly and welcoming sign!
Who knew that the best hamburgers in New Zealand were from a place named after my home state?
The scenery was just stunning. This national park is fairly close to Christchurch. The tour guide told us that there is still a lot of rebuilding in Christchurch following the devastating earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. We weren’t too far from where a great deal of filming was done for the Lord of the Rings movies. There are New Zealand tours that focus almost exclusively on the movie!
We loved the vineyards and wineries in Marlborough.
The ruins of the last remaining ship that brought prisoners from England to Australia and New Zealand in Picton, New Zealand.
This is in the Kerikeri Recreational Basin Preserve and you can see an original English mission behind me. So beautiful!
We ended our cruise in Auckland and just had a day to explore New Zealand’s largest city.
We flew home through Tahiti, where we received a warm welcome. All-in-all, it was a wonderful trip.
New Zealand reminded us more of England than Australia. The climate wasn’t quite as hot, and we understand that some of the early settlers of Australia from England moved to New Zealand, as the climate was less extreme and a bit more like England (although with a lot more sun and warmth!).
Thanks for reading my blog; I think you can see how much we got to see in these two wonderful countries. Sorry there are so many photos of me–Roy hates pictures, but I got him to pose for a few.
Hope you enjoyed seeing the wonderful scenes from our trip.