Sydney, Australia & New Zealand November 2008

November 22, 2008 - December 21, 2008
Saturday, November 22 - Bilbao - Frankfurt
Sunday, November 23 - Frankfurt - Singapore - Sydney
Monday, November 24 - Sydney
Tuesday, November 25 - Sydney Blue Mountains
Wednesday, November 26 - Sydney
New Zealand
Thursday, November 27 - Sydney - Auckland
Friday, November 28 - Auckland
Saturday, November 29 - Paihia - Waitangi - Haruru Falls - Whangarei
Sunday, November 30 - Poor Knights Islands - Whangarei
Monday, December 1 - Paihia - Cape Reinga - Opononi
Tuesday, December 2 - Waipoua Forest - Rotorua
Wednesday, December 3 - Rotorua
Thursday, December 4 - Taupo - Huka Falls - Craters of the Moon - Tongariro
Friday, December 5 - Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Saturday, December 6 - Wellington - Picton - Nelson
Sunday, December 7 - Abel Tasman Natioanl Park
Monday, December 8 - Punaikaki Pancake Rocks - Tauranga Bay - Franz Josef Glacier
Tuesday, December 9 - Franz Josef Glacier
Wednesday, December 10 - Franz Josef Glacier
Thursday, December 11 - Fox Glacier - Haast Pass - Wanaka
Friday, December 12 - Mt Aspring - Queenstown - Te Anau
Saturday, December 13 - Milford Sound
Sunday, December 14 - Doubtful Sound
Monday, December 15 - Dunedin
Tuesday, December 16 - Moeraki Boulders - Oamaru
Wednesday, December 17 - Mt Cook - Tasman Glacier - Christchurch
Thursday, December 18 - Kaikoura
Friday, December 19 - Christchurch - Sydney
Saturday, December 20 - Sydney - Singapore - Frankfurt
Sunday, December 21 - Frankfurt - Munich - Bilbao

Sydney, Australia & New ZealandKia Ora!!!
This trip to Sydney and New Zealand really surprised me. I wasn't expecting to be so absolutely awestruck by New Zealand: its landscapes, wildlife, people, and the atmosphere.

Right now I have the bug to travel to countries with cultures that are different from the European/North American. I like to travel to countries where I'd learn about a new culture, something totally different from what I'm used to, like Africa and Burma. When we decided to go to New Zealand I thought that since it's a westernized country and all I'd heard about it was that there was only nature, I wasn't very excited (don't get me wrong, I'm always excited for vacations, but I figured that this one was going to be like traveling around Europe or the United States, nothing adventurous). Well, I was totally wrong!!!!

This is also the first trip where Satcha and I didn't have a set itinerary or guide or anything reserved. It was a "fly by the seat of our pants trip".

Starting from the beginning:

We traveled 29 hours from Bilbao to Sydney. The trip wasn't as bad as I expected. We flew with Qantas and between the movies, tv programs, video games, meals and sleeping, the trip there went by pretty fast. Arriving in Sydney I wasn't that tired either, I don't know if it was just the adrenaline running from the excitement of being in Australia or what!!

Harbour Bridge & Opera HouseWe started the trip with 3 days in Sydney, Australia. I didn't know what to expect of Sydney before getting there. But I soon saw what a beautiful city it is. It's a big city, with skyscrapers, a business-like-atmosphere with businesspeople walking around in their suits with briefcases; there were a lot of different types of people from different cultures. It reminded me a lot of New York. But, it's also got the Sydney Harbor. WOW!!!! The Opera House dominates this area. It's a sight that you can't look away from. We took a ferry into the Harbor and saw the Sydney skyline from there. It's amazing seeing the skyscrapers from the Harbor and then sticking out in front of them the Opera House.

There are a lot of things to see around in and around Sydney. The Royal Botanic Gardens is a huge park in the middle of the city with bats in the trees and it seems like all of Sydney takes jogs through there. About an hour away from the city center are the Blue Mountains, a beautiful mountainous region. Manly and Bondi beaches are gorgeous white sand, blue water, huge surfing wave beaches.

From Sydney we flew to Auckland, New Zealand (North Island) to start our adventure. We traveled North and South Island.

Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland Lady Knox GeyserThe North Island was warm and sunny. We went scuba diving in the Poor Knights Islands, saw bottlenose dolphins, went to Rotorua: a city with a lot of geothermal activity like geysers, craters, steaming land, etc., learned about the Maori culture, trekked beautiful snow capped mountains in Tongariro National Park, and then took a ferry to the South Island.

The South Island was cooler and wetter than the north, as it's only Milford Sound3000km/1864miles from the Antarctic. In South Island we visited Abel Tasman National Park and saw their fur seal colony, saw and hiked on glaciers, took cruises through Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound fiords, saw New Zealand Yellow-eyed penguins and blue Penguins, trekked in Mt. Aspiring National Park, saw Mt. Cook and the Tasman Glacier, tasted 300 year old ice from the Tasman Glacier and took a cruise to view sperm whales in the Pacific Ocean.

The landscapes were beautiful and indescribable. Every body of water of New Zealand is an awesome color of blue, either turquoise blue or sky blue. The food was delicious: the green-lipped mussels are the best mussels I've ever tasted and the white wine was wonderful. I don't know if the pictures that we took do justice to what we saw or felt in person. I just remember having the feeling of being mesmerized by everything at all moments.

Franz Josef GlacierIt's impossible to pick a favorite site from New Zealand. I think everything I saw has incredibleness to it that I've never seen or experienced before. But, I think the site of that most impacted me was the Franz Josef Glacier. When we were hiking on it, hearing the ice break, seeing the turquoise blue ice, it felt surreal - jaw-dropping.

There is something magical about the people of New Zealand, also. I found them to be incredibly nice, genuine people. There is something very special about them.

There is something enchanting about the land and people of New Zealand that is very difficult to describe if you haven't been there to experience it. All I know is that every time I think about New Zealand or try to explain it to someone I get a huge smile on my face!!!

Cheers Mates!!!

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Phil Thomas Lierganes said...

Fantastic Trip!

Really enjoyed reading it, pictures are amazing, good luck with the next venture wherever that maybe!