We just spent the last two and a half weeks in Australia and cruising through New Zealand and no amount of words could ever describe what an amazing experience we had. We arrived in Sydney on Sunday, April 2, after what seemed like an eternity on the tiny seats of our plane, but immediately realized it was worth it after seeing what a beautiful city it was. We spent the entire day sightseeing and exploring the whole of Sydney on a hop-on/hop-off double decker tour bus…twice. Amongst most of the obvious tourist attractions, we also stopped by the Opera House, Harbor bridge, and a Korean music festival for lunch on the grass to soak up the sunlight that had finally replaced the earlier rain.
The next day, we prepared to embark on the cruise of a lifetime- ten days sailing through a majority of the major cities on the beautiful island of New Zealand. We were somewhat in a shock to see that over 90% of the population was of European descent over the age of 50; nonetheless, we met some friendly and welcoming people and enjoyed the opportunity to interact with so many different people from around the world.
There isn’t enough I could say about the cruise- although many of the activities were geared towards the older population, we still had a blast partaking in many of the luxuries and amenities our ship had to offer, with a huge thanks to our room attendant, Ivan, who spoiled us rotten. We went to health seminars, played table tennis, attended acrobatic dance and magic shows, danced the night away at a silent disco party, gambled our money away at the casino, slummed in the solarium, did a bit of shopping, went to the dining hall and met another couple on their honeymoon who got married the same day as us, ate more than I ever have before in my life, watched movies and ordered room service with breakfast in bed just because, among many other exciting and relaxing activities available on the ship. In fact, one of the days was spent on-board, but sightseeing through the Sounds (pictured below); that was probably one of the most serene and beautiful parts we encountered during the trip!
Table Tennis Champ
Milford Sounds, Doubtful Sounds, Dusky Sounds, NZ
Dance & Acrobat Show! (We watched it twice)
During the middle part of the cruise, we had four days of excursions, full days from morning until evening when it was time for departure. Our first one was to Dunedin on Friday, to a brewery and then a Scottish castle where we had a traditional Scottish lunch, witnessed a Haggis ceremony, and got a tour of the castle with the history and background of its owners. Saturday was spent in Akaroa on a scenic and wildlife tour, including a gondola ride over the beautiful scenery and feeding a giraffe! On Sunday, we had two excursions in Wellington- in the morning, we got a tour of the Weta workshop where the Lord of the Rings was made, and went hiking in the forest to see where a couple of the most popular scenes were filmed. In the afternoon, we went to a free history and culture museum where we had less than half an hour to explore all the amazing parts of the museum, including learning about the history of WWII and the culture of the original settlers called the Maori people. On Monday, our final day of excursions, we stopped by Picton- this was a cute small town that reminded me of Italy. After a heritage air and rail tour with WWII aircrafts, followed by some lunch and shopping, we embarked on the ship to sail back to Australia once again.
Scenery From The Gondola
Historical Air Museum
Upon arrival into Sydney, we had a minor issue with our hotel: the location we booked was a significant distance away from the tourist spots we wanted to see…but luck was on our side, as we were able to work out a deal and get a nearby hotel; albeit not quite as nice, the location was central and it all worked out in the end. During our final days in Sydney, we went to the Toronga Zoo and saw Koala bears and kangaroos, and spent a full day on the beautiful Bondi beach- this was my favorite day because I got a chance to reflect on all our adventures while soaking up the summer sun on the beach. Although I was sad to leave, I can never express how grateful I am to have had an opportunity to travel across the globe with my soulmate, successfully survive two weeks without phone or internet access, and finally cross off my lifelong dream of visiting every continent (except Antarctica) off my bucket list!