Australia and New Zealand Adventure!
Kia ora! It seems fitting to begin this blog post, written on the heels of an incredible adventure, with the local New Zealand Maoiri greeting. I just returned on Monday from a magnificent journey across New Zealand and the Sydney area of Australia, where I spent the past several weeks. These locations, famous for their striking wildlife, breathtaking views, and varied animal species, have long been on my vacation wishlist, and truly did not disappoint. From cities to beaches, countrysides to rainforests, glacier snow covered mountain tops and all the friendly people and native animals in between, I found brilliant inspiration while on this journey.
Departing the USA just before Thanksgiving, I started my journey in Sydney. The architecture itself is something to experience in this amazing city, and I appreciated the bold shapes used in the construction of the Sydney Harbourside Bridge and the Opera House, with its iconic roof appearing to have wings that could almost lift it straight off the ground as it juts out into the surrounding water. The city explodes on the weekend - literally - with dazzling fireworks lighting up the sky with gold and pink bursts of light.
You don’t have to venture far from Sydney to forget you were ever surrounded by a highly populated city. The Southern Highlands, lush and green, have thick bunches of trees clumped along the horizon. Bushes and grasses grow tall, with flocks of sheep, ponies, and cows meandering through the fields. From the hilly landscape, you can see down below to the water breaking along the shoreline. The Blue Mountains, still South of Sydney, are named for their characteristic blue haze that seems to settle over the forested peaks in the distance. I viewed this magical sight from Sandstone cliffs, as I simultaneously watched crystalline streams spill over the fragmented cliffside and down towards the thick, green forests below. And, of course, I couldn’t leave Australia without getting an up-close view of a sweet koala. Though they sleep up to 18 hours a day, I got to see one little guy snacking on some leaves while lounging on a branch.
New Zealand brought equally dazzling sights and experiences. Amongst the most breathtaking: the thermal pools and geysers near Rotorua. Down below steep cliff walls covered with forest-green trees, a large light-blue lake sits shrouded in steam and smoke. It rises above the water like a low-hanging cloud, looking like the most enticing bath in the world! A short ways away, bushes with crimson, magenta, and golden leaves sprout from the ground, while tall trees blanket the sky above with an emerald canopy. The South Island of New Zealand is stunning. A perfect blue sky above, broken first by the peak of a picturesque mountain Alps in the distance, is reflected as clearly as a mirror by the smooth lake below, encircled by healthy grasses and the speckling of yellow, magenta and purple Lupines and fields of assorted wildflowers. As I rounded out my trip, exploring Fox Glacier, the rugged coastal town of Hokitika, the city of Christchurch and onto the northern island to visit Wellington and the surrounding areas. I fed sweet sheep in their picturesque pastures, experienced new towns, and took in many more lovely sights.
I find endless inspiration through traveling, from the landscape to the animals, the people to the cities, and everything in between. I was able to cultivate new relationships with locals I met abroad, and celebrate both the spirit of adventure and the spirit of Christmas with newfound and existing friends alike. I return from this trip full of joy and creative inspiration, ready to share my experiences via brushstroke and canvas!