A Travellerspoint blog

Dunedin New Zealand

Dunedin New Zealand is located in the Southeast of the South Island. Its name means Edinburgh in Gaelic as it was settled by the Scots in the 1840's as they fled religious persecution in Scotland. Dunedin is the fourth largest city in New Zealand but it is surrounded by lovely countryside. While we were there we took a tour out into the surrounding area including the Otago peninsula.

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We saw beautiful beaches with hardly a soul on them.

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Kevin took this picture of a road we were driving down and I thought it was a good example and gave a good perspective of what the area and roads looked like.

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Rolling hills everywhere and many covered with sheep! The bottom picture is an old limekiln. Apparently limestone would be burned in this kiln to make lime that could be used for many applications including adjusting the pH of agricultural fields.

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My favorite part of the day was when we got to see the New Zealand sea lions on the beach. These are the rarest sea lion in the world. They sleep on land during the day and and hunt in the ocean at night. The female is the lighter colored one. Isn't she gorgeous!?!

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I love how this picture shows how fuzzy he is!

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When we got back to Dunedin we went to the steepest street in the world. As we were driving over to it I kept thinking that our guide was going to tell us that we were already driving on the steepest street. A lot of the streets in that area are extremely steep. So while we didn't actually drive down the steepest street in the world we got a very good feeling of what it would be like and that was enough for me. Eeeek!

Unfortunately, we didn't get to spend as much time in the port of Dunedin as we had planned. The schedule of our New Zealand cruise got a little screwed up because our ship was a day late picking us up in Sydney, due to bad weather in the Tasman Sea. I won't get into all of the details, but it was basically like a domino effect cutting the time in many of our ports short. The moral to this story is that vacation is just like life, it's not perfect and we need to be flexible and look at the bright side of things so that negativity doesn't weigh us down. Stay positive wherever you may be today! Thanks for reading, Jill

Posted by kevinjill 14:49 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Fiordland National Park New Zealand

New Zealand is made up of two islands, North and South Islands. Our cruise around New Zealand started in Sydney Australia and sailed, for two days, across the Tasman sea to the South West corner of the South Island where Fiordland National Park is. You will see me use the terms fiord and sound interchangeably in this post, although technically they are not exactly the same thing. Specifically, fiords are carved by glaciers and sounds are valleys that fill with water because they are below sea level. The sounds that we visited on this trip were named so by mistake. Fiordland was named so in an attempt to correct this error.

We were able to cruise through three different fiords the day that we cruised Fiordland National Park. The weather was not what I would call perfect, but I'm told that it was about as perfect as it gets in this part of the world. Known for their rainy, cloudy weather, the fiords were partly sunny the day we visited.

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The first fiord that we got to go into was Milford Sound. This fiord is the most well known of the fiords in Fiordland, probably because of it's location (it is accessible by road or boat) and because of its grand peaks. The sun was rising as we entered this sound and the mountains rising from the ocean were breathtaking. It reminded me of driving through Franconia notch in New Hampshire's White Mountains, but being in a boat instead. In Milford sound the cruise ship had to make a u turn to exit the sound back into the ocean.

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I took the two photos above, with the small tourist boat and from the deck of our cruise ship, to show the scale of the fiord.

One thing that I learned about the fiords is the unique water climate that they have. There is a layer of fresh water on top of the sea water. This allows species that usually live deeper in the sea to live up closer to the top.

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The second sound that we got to see was Thompson Sound. We were able to cruise straight through to Doubtful sound and out to the ocean without having to turn around. It was a little more cloudy with some showers, but that was okay because we got to see a rainbow!

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The third and final fiord we visited by entering Breaksea sound and sailing through to Dusky sound and back out to the ocean. This was the southern most fiord that we visited in the park and more difficult to get to see unless you are on a cruise ship or in the air.

I hope this gives you some idea of what we saw while cruising through Fiordland National Park on a cruise ship. The pictures don't do it justice. As I mentioned before, the views were breathtaking, and I don't use that term lightly. Kevin and I are doing well and we hope you all are too! Thanks for reading, Jill

Posted by kevinjill 18:22 Archived in New Zealand Tagged sound fiord Comments (1)

The Blue Mountains and Featherdale Wildlife Park

When we were in Sydney we took a day trip out of the city to The Blue Mountains and the Featherdale Wildlife Park.

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Our first stop was a place called Scenic World in the Blue Mountains. At Scenic World there are three rides that transport people amongst the cliffs and valleys: the railway, the steepest passenger train in the world, and the cableway that transports passengers down a cliff to the Jamison Valley below, and the scenic skyway that transports people between two cliffs. Mom and Dad rode the railway, cableway and skyway.

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Kevin and I took a walk to a look out, where we took this photo of the sky way crossing between the two cliffs, and a pretty little waterfall.

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The Blue Mountains are named after the blue haze that hangs over them. The blue haze comes from the evaporation of the oils from the leaves of gum trees (eucalyptus) that are abundant in this area.

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This is a picture of the rock formation known as the three sisters. It is named after an Aboriginal legend where three sisters, fell in love with three brothers from another tribe. The sisters weren't allowed to marry into another tribe, so it started a conflict between the two tribes. In order to protect the sisters, a witch doctor from their tribe turned them into stone. Unfortunately, the witch doctor was killed before he was able to reverse the spell, leaving the sisters to remain in stone.

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My favorite stop of the day was the Featherdale Wildlife Park. I wish we had more time to spend here because this small Park is full of Australian animals. My main objective was to see koala bears and kangaroos before we left Australia. We headed straight for the koala bears first and we got to touch one and have our picture taken with him. He felt soft, but not as velvety as I thought he would be. Koalas are nocturnal so most of them were sleeping in the trees.

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The kangaroos were awake and they were hungry. We got to feed kangaroos! I could have fed them all day long. They would just hop right up and eat out of our hands. I would definitely recommend the Featherdale Wildlife Park if you're ever near Sydney, especially if you love animals as much as we do.

It was fun getting to see some of Australia. I hope you've enjoyed seeing a little of what we did while we were there. Up next: New Zealand!

Posted by kevinjill 14:15 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Cairns Australia continued

The Wet Tropics Rainforest

It's been two weeks since we've been in Australia. We've been around New Zealand on a cruise ship and are now about to get on another cruise ship to sail across the Pacific Ocean to San Diego. But I still have stuff to share with you about Australia...better late than never. When I last wrote I mentioned that Cairns has two World Heritage listed sites. On our second day in Cairns we got to see the second site, the Wet Tropics Rainforest. We visited the Aboriginal Cultural Park, Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, and Kuranda Scenic Rail.

I didn't get many pictures of the Aboriginal Cultural Park, but it was very interesting and well organized. We watched a video of the history of the aboriginal people from this area, and saw a short performance of their belief of the history of their creation, dancing and music, and demonstrations on their way of life.

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After the Cultural park we took the cableway over the rainforest to the village of Kuranda.

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The cableway has a couple of stops where you get off, walk through the rainforest and transfer to the next cableway line. Above is a picture of Barron falls. Unfortunately, there had not been much rain, so the falls weren't quite as spectacular as they could have been, but it was still pretty. There was some kind of cricket chirping at different times when we were in the rainforest that was absolutely defening. I asked someone what was making the noise, but they didn't know other than it was a cricket.

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Kuranda is the mountain village that the cableway and the railway go to. It's a nice area...touristy, but nice. I wish I had taken a few photos of it. There are quite a few activities to do there and Kevin and I decided to visit the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, in search of the beautiful sapphire blue Ulysses butterfly. Unfortunately, there weren't any Ulysses butterflies at the sanctuary at that time, but we did see a lot of other pretty butterflies. (From top: Cairns bird wing, common eggfly, monarch, and one I don't know the name of :))

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We took the railway back to Cairns and you'll never believe it, but we saw the elusive Ulysses butterfly as we waited for the train to take off. I couldn't get a picture because they were too far away, but google image these butterflies, they are brilliant. It was quite hot that day. Kevin said it was only 86 degrees F, but it felt much hotter, I'm assuming it felt hotter because the humidity must have been high. On the way back, on the train, they handed out cooling towelettes. We were pretty punchy by then, so you may have seen some strange pictures on Facebook that day,of us in hysterics, with our towelettes on the train.

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There were some pretty views of Cairns and the coast on the way back down.

That was a fun day. It's fun to look back on it after a few weeks. I hope everyone at home is happy and healthy. We're very thankful that we are on this trip and are enjoying every day. Thanks for keeping track of us!

Posted by kevinjill 18:32 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

Cairns Australia

Cairns is a city in Northeast Australia. It has two World Heritage listed sites, the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rain Forest. Cairns, in the North of Australia, is generally warmer than the South of Australia because it's closer to the equator. At first I had a hard time understanding why it would be hotter in the North than in the South, since that's not what I'm used to coming from the Northern Hemisphere, but when I thought about where the equator is located it made more sense.

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Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef is the only living thing on earth that can be seen from the moon? We got to go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef the first day we were in Cairns. We took a one and a half hour boat ride (about 35 miles) on a tri hull catamaran out to a two story pontoon located on Agincourt Reef. The first picture above are the waves breaking on the continental shelf and the second picture is the 2 story pontoon at the Reef. From the pontoon we could snorkel, scuba dive, helmet dive or take a semi-submersible or a helicopter ride to explore the reef. Kevin and I snorkeled and we decided to rent an underwater camera so we could try to show you what we saw.

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Kevin and I have snorkeled a few times before and this was definitely the most fish and the most different types of fish we have ever seen in one small area. I have read that there are 1,500 different types of fish at the Great Barrier Reef. The water wasn't as clear as I thought it would be, but I believe that it is more clear at different time of the year. It was also difficult to get good pictures because we were quite a ways above the coral, so we were more looking down on the fish than swimming amongst them, for the most part. I've snorkeled at other places in the world where I've been swimming right on top of the coral and the fish have been swimming along side of me.

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You might be wondering what Kevin and I were wearing while we were snorkeling if you saw any of the pictures of us on Facebook. Our tour company recommends that we wear Lycra body suites to prevent jellyfish stings. When they first mentioned this, on the boat ride to the reef, it made me a little nervous. I never saw a jellyfish while we were snorkeling and to my knowledge nobody got stung while we were there.

I'm glad we got to go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef and that we rented the underwater camera. I'm not sure if I would use an underwater camera again, but it was fun to try. We're supposed to be snorkeling in the lagoon when we get to Bora Bora. It will be interesting to see what it's like there. Cheers! I hope everyone is having a good winter.

Posted by kevinjill 15:59 Archived in Australia Comments (2)

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