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May 23rd
2010
written by Alonna

The Blue Mountains are a 2 hour train ride from Sydney and full of great scenery and hiking. We spent a few days in the small town of Katoomba to enjoy the area. I had thought that “Blue Mountains” was just a name, but looking out over the valley the mountains really are a misty blue color.

The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains

One of the days we hiked to Wentworth Falls, one of the more interesting waterfalls I’ve ever seen. We hiked across the top of the waterfall, then down really steep stairs to a middle level, and then across the valley on a path along the cliff. It was very cool.

Another day (more…)

May 20th
2010
written by Alonna

Ben and I took a snorkeling tour of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  This was by far the best snorkeling I’ve ever done, the fish and coral are straight out of a National Geographic special.  There are tons of fish in all sizes, shapes and colors.  And the coral is beautiful  – I didn’t realize it could be so varied and colorful – purple, blue, red, orange, etc.

The Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef
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May 15th
2010
written by Alonna

Who knew that part of Australia is a tropical climate with beautiful sandy beaches and rainforests? Ben and I spent 10 very relaxing days in the northeast part of Queensland, where the Great Barrier Reef is just off the coast. We stayed in a small town called Palm Cove in a cute little apartment near the beach. Here’s a few photos from the area… (more…)

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May 11th
2010
written by Alonna

Ben and I have spent the last week relaxing near the beach in beautiful Palm Cove, Australia.  One day I walked around the nearby zoo, which had a few of the Australian icons like kangaroos and koalas.  I think kangaroos slightly resemble deer, but with long hind legs and short front paws.  And when they run they really have a spring in their step!  Apparently kangaroos are all over Australia and you can even eat their meat.

The best part of the zoo was the koalas (more…)

May 9th
2010
written by Alonna

Australia is the last country on our Round-the-World trip. The first stop of our 3-weeks here was Sydney, where we couchsurfed (thanks Elizabeth & Mitch!) and explored the city for a couple days.  We spent a nice day hanging out and walking around Sydney harbor.  The next day we visited Bondi Beach, famous for it’s pretty blue waters and great surf. Here’s a few photos… (more…)

May 5th
2010
written by Alonna

Leaving the beautiful West Coast, Ben and I headed towards Wanaka on a scenic drive past mountains, rivers and lakes.


 

Wanaka

We immediately fell in love with Wanaka. Just 2 hours drive from the utlra-touristy Queenstown, we found it to be a low-key oasis with beautiful scenery, a cute and live-able town, and plenty of fun outdoor activities to keep anyone happy. If we ever decided to live outside the US (unlikely), I’m pretty sure this would be the place.

We stayed a few nights in Wanaka, enjoying (more…)

April 25th
2010
written by Alonna

The West Coast of New Zealand is beautiful! We spent a few days between Westport and Haast enjoying the scenery, good weather, and fun activities. Here’s some highlights…
 

Caving Adventure

Not knowing much about it we randomly signed up for a cool-looking caving tour, and it turned out to be worth it. The cave is undeveloped; only a guide rope has been added. We entered armed with wetsuits, headlamps, and a small inner tube in tow. The cave formations were very impressive, and part way through we turned off our lights in the middle to see the absolute darkness in the cave. Then we descended to the lower level of the cave which has water that flows into the nearby river. We boarded our inner tubes, turned off our lights, and floated through the cave with millions of “glow worms” lighting up the cave ceiling above us. Glow worms are small worms that live on rocks and catch insects with tiny sticky threads hanging down. And, their bums light up! Floating through the glow worm cave was magical.
 

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April 20th
2010
written by Alonna
Franz Josef Glacier - below the clouds

Franz Josef Glacier - below the clouds

A popular stop on any New Zealand itinerary is the Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers. We arrived yesterday to cloudy skies and a poor forecast for the next few days. Since we’ve seen our share of glaciers, we decided just to do a long day hike for the exercise and leave the next day, whether or not we saw the glaciers in all their glory.

Peaking out the campervan window this morning, the skies looked clear and I was hopeful for good weather. We rushed to get ready and hit the trail by 10am for our 10 mile 4000 foot elevation gain hike. After three hours of strenuous hiking through rough terrain we ran into cloudy skies and figured we wouldn’t see a thing the rest of the day. In fact, two other couples we met on the trail turned around early to head back. But we were in it for the exercise, so we trotted on.

New Zealand above the clouds

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April 15th
2010
written by Alonna

I’m absolutely in love with New Zealand. This country is beautiful, fun, sweet, charming and exciting – and we’ve only just seen a very small part of it.

Beautiful New Zealand

Beautiful New Zealand

Ben and I arrived in Christchurch, New Zealand last week via a long set of flights from South Africa. At that point we had no idea what to do in New Zealand, so we found a hostel and hunkered down for 4 days to plan and get over our jet-lag. I don’t have a single photo of Christchurch, but it’s a really great city right next to beaches and mountains with a cool downtown.
 

Campervaning

Jucy Cruiza Campervan

Jucy Cruiza Campervan

Our time in Christchurch ended with us setting out to explore the South Island for 2 weeks in a “Jucy Cruiza” campervan. Campervans are really popular here (more…)

April 13th
2010
written by Alonna
Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand

Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand

Ben and I have searched the globe for good mountain biking, but have failed to find anything worthwhile outside of the US… until now. Yesterday we rented full-suspension bikes and rode one section of the Queen Charlotte Track near Picton, New Zealand. The scenery was gorgeous and the riding was awesome. We will definitely be mountain biking more during our next 3 weeks here. (more…)

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