Our Trip To New Zealand & Australia

We just got back from vacation in New Zealand and Australia for 18 days. We had the best time. We flew into Auckland, New Zealand and boarded a cruise ship that sailed all throughout New Zealand and Australia. Our cruise ended in Sydney, Australia and we stayed a few extra days and explored the sites there before heading back home. We had an amazing trip. Both countries are so beautiful and the people in New Zealand and Australia are so friendly. We missed everyone very much and wanted to share pictures and a little journal of what we did each day.

We flew Air New Zealand it was the BEST flight ever. Each person had their own individual TV and there were several movies, album, and TV shows to entertain us on the long flight. The food was so good on the plane and the stewards and stewardesses were so friendly. No wonder Air New Zealand won best airline of the year for 2010! We stayed at the Hyatt Regency while we were in Auckland.

Auckland, New Zealand: We arrived very early and checked into our hotel, cleaned up, then rode the Auckland Explorer Bus. It is a hop on/hop off sightseeing bus and we were able to visit the Ferry Building, Bastion Point, Kelly Tarltons Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World, Parnell Rose Gardens, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland Museum, Parnell Village, Civic Theatre Corner, Sky City and Sky Tower, Victoria Park Market, Americas Cup Viaduct Harbour, Eden Garden, MT Eden, Eden Park, St. Luke's Shopping Center, and Auckland Zoo. It was so much fun and the bus was the best way to see everything in one day. We ate lunch in Parnell Village at Verve and it was very good.

Tauranga, New Zealand: In Tauranga we signed up for an excursion. We traveled to the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Valley, where the "Sacred Waters" include mud pools, geysers, and volcanic lakes. We toured Rainbow Springs, home to lots of animals and we rode a gondola up to Mt. Ngongotaha and enjoyed lunch and the sweeping views of Rotorua.

Christchurch New Zealand: We explored the city on our own. We rode a tram around Christchurch and saw the city sights. The tram took us to Cathedral Square (the heart of Christchurch city), Punting on the Avon, Christchurch Art Gallery, Clock Tower, Hagley Park, Cranmer Park, Christchurch Casino, Victoria Square, and New Regent Street. We ate lunch in Cathedral Square at Fritz's Wieners and we loved it!

Dunedin, New Zealand: We signed up for another excursion. We explored the untamed Otago Peninsula on an eco-style tour on an 8-wheel drive argo vehicle. It was so much fun riding on those 8 wheel argo vehicles. We visited Penguin Beach, where we saw seals and penguins. The seals were just feet away from us. We could walk right up to them and take pictures, but were not allowed to touch them. The seals were not scared at all. The penguins kept hiding in the sand down on the beach. We also visited a small aquarium that featured sea animals found in the local waters.

Hobart, Australia: We went on an excursion that visited apple orchards south of Hobart and were able to sample the best apples we have ever tasted! We also visited Bonorong Wildlife Conservation Center. This was our first day feeding kangaroos, seeing koalas, Tasmanian devils, and other animals. This excursion was so much fun and probably one of our favorites!

Melbourne, Australia: We arrived in Melbourne on Australia Day! Basically it's like our 4th of July. People were dressed up everywhere and having so much fun. People, stores, the entire city, the cruise ship... everything was decorated for their big day. It was so much fun to be in Australia during their big holiday. It was an experience I will never forget. On our excursion in Melbourne, we traveled back in time to relive the 1850's gold rush at Sovereign Hill, which is an old "boom town" where you can take tours of the gold mines and even pan for gold in the river! We also toured Ballarat Wildlife Park, home to koalas, kangaroos, and several other animals. We were able to feed kangaroos again, and at this wildlife park Blake and I paid a little extra to be able to go into the koala habitat. We were in our own little area where it was just me, Blake, the trainer, and 3 cuddly koalas. I loved it! This was my favorite excursion.

Sydney, Australia: We arrived in Sydney and got off the cruise ship. We met Steve & Nikki for breakfast at Pancakes on The Rocks. Steve & Nikki were just starting their Australian vacation. They were in Sydney for a few days before we arrived and were getting on the same cruise ship that we had been on, traveling the opposite route back to Auckland. Our first day in Sydney, Blake and I rode the City Sightseeing hop on/hop off bus and explored all the major sights of Sydney. The bus took us to 30 stops, but some of the highlights were Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Bondi Beach, Circular Quay, The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Kings Cross, Power House Museum, Star City Casino, Maritime Museum, Chinese Gardens, Sydney Aquarium, King Street Wharf, Campbell's Cove, Queen Victoria Building, Woolloomooloo Bay, Botanical Gardens, Hyde Park, and Australian Museum. We rode the bus all day and saw everything. We spent lots of time at the Sydney Aquarium. It was a beautiful aquarium and probably the best one we have ever visited. We ate dinner in Darling Harbour at The East (Chinese) on the pier right by the Sydney Opera House. We ate outside under the moonlight and had a wonderful view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and watched the cruise ship sail away that evening while we waved goodbye to Steve & Nikki.

Day 2 in Sydney: The morning started off early with the Sydney Bridge Climb. It was so amazing. We wanted to do it early in the morning to beat the afternoon heat. It is summer in Australia right now and it gets very hot and humid there. The bridge climb is a MUST if you ever go to Sydney. We worked up an appetite and shared lunch at CQ Cafe by the harbour. Afterward, we spent the day at Taronga Zoo. This zoo is 75 acres and we walked the entire thing. It was the best zoo we have ever been to. They had every animal you can possibly think of and it was just wonderful. We fed the giraffes at the zoo, because Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, and their daughter Sunday were just at the zoo on December 31 and did the giraffe feeding (I saw it in People magazine a few weeks back). After the zoo, we went up to the top of the Sydney Tower to take in the panoramic view of the city from one of its highest points. After the tower we were on a mission to find Il Porcellino, which is a copy of the historic lucky pig statue in Florence, Italy. When we were in Italy a couple of years ago, I really wanted to rub the pig's nose for good luck and I never got the chance, so we were determined to find the Australian version! The statue was given to Australia from Italy as a link of friendship between the 2 countries. Blake and I rubbed that nose for lots of good luck! We had dinner at a pizza place called Ship Inn. Vance and Ashley recommended it since they ate there on their honeymoon. Thanks Vance and Ashley for the recommendation!

Day 3 in Sydney: We started the day off at the Sydney Wildlife World. We were able to have more quality time with koalas and see kangaroos up close again. The wildlife park was beautiful and so much fun. We ate lunch at Pontoon in the Darling Harbour. We spent the rest of the day walking around the city sightseeing and shopping. We went to mass at St. Patrick's Catholic Church and had dinner at Alfredo's. Dinner was amazing! It was authentic Northern Italian food and reminded us a lot of Parma in Fresno. On the menu they had rock melon (cantaloupe) with prosciutto. Of course we had to try it and it was so good. We asked the owner about it and they had never heard of the word cantaloupe.

Overall, it was a wonderful trip. It was so much fun sightseeing and visiting a different part of the world we had never been before. All the people we met were so nice and it was great to go to different countries where they speak the same language for once! If you ever have the chance you should definitely go visit. Sydney has everything, so you could just go there if you don't have the time to travel around the continent. After you look at the pictures, I'm sure you will be able to tell that my favorite thing was feeding kangaroos and being as close as possible to the koalas. What a great trip! Thanks Garrett & Ashley for the gorilla-pod you gave us for Christmas. We were able to get several pictures of the two of us together without asking anyone to help!

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