Monday, February 25, 2013

Down Under, Part 2

Second stop on our trip was tropical Cairns, Australia.

We spent two days out on the water, snorkeling and diving the Great Barrier Reef. It was everything you see in pictures and movies, and even more. The colors were absolutely amazing. We saw tons of different fish, varieties of corals, reef sharks, turtles, and more. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. And something that cannot be accurately described by words.

The third of three days we had in Cairns was spent in the Australian rain forest and at the small village of Kuranda. We took the skyrail up over the tops of the trees to Kuranda. It made two stops along the way, which allowed us to walk through some areas of the rainforest.

Once we got to Kuranda, we got to see all sorts of Australian wildlife, from butterflies to kangaroos and wallabies to dingos and koalas and crocodiles and a cassowary. We even got to pet the kangaroos and wallabies, as well as hold a koala!

We then took the train back down to Cairns, with a quick photo op at Barron Gorge along the way.

Last stop on the trip: Sydney!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Down Under, Part 1

First, I'd like to thank everyone to voted for our picture on Facebook from the last post. We ended up in 2nd place, which won us $250!

It's been a while since my last post. This time I actually have a reason other than just being a slacker. We were on vacation! We spend 2 1/2 weeks traveling to New Zealand and Australia. Over the next few posts, I'll give you all a brief overview of our trip! Then back to the house stuff.

We started our trip in New Zealand on the north island. We visited Rotorua to see all the geothermal activity. It's similar to Yellowstone in the states. We also went to the Polynesian Spa and had mud wraps. Definitely a great treat after two days of flying/traveling.

Then we drove up to Auckland. We stayed at a friend of my mom's place (Thanks again Rhonda for the hospitality and showing us around!) Here's an early, foggy morning view from her house. Stunning, right?

Our first day in the Auckland area, we took the ferry out to Tiritiri Matangi Island. It's a wildlife sanctuary island, that is even home to endangered Takahe. We hiked the island from about 10am to 4pm.

We then took the ferry back to Gulf Harbour. That evening we did some more light hiking around Shakespear Park. We saw the sunken ship at Okoromai Bay, a parent and baby endangered Dotterel, and of course token New Zealand sheep.

In our last day in New Zealand, we went to the Auckland museum. We started with the volcano exhibit, which has a neat simulator of a volcanic eruption near Auckland. We also spent a good amount of time in the Maori exhibit and seeing the Maori cultural show.

After the museum, we split with our wonderful tour guides and hosts. We went to the sky tower, while they spent a bit more time at the museum (It was a bit of an overcast day. Not the best day for the sky tower, but the only day we had). Luckily the cloud cover and fog had receded a bit allowing us to see from the top.

We were supposed to have a sunset kayak tour to Rangitoto that evening. But, unfortunately, it had to be cancelled due to weather. The winds (and waves) were just too high for it to be safe to kayak. As sad as we were about the cancellation, safety is always top priority. Better not to have done the tour than to spend the rest of our trip in the Auckland hospital.

There is plenty more to do on the north island, and we didn't even make it to the south island, but we feel pretty satisfied with what we got done in our time in New Zealand.

Next up: Cairns, Australia.