New Zealand and Australia are so different from one another; each country is unique and exciting.
We were on this journey 6 years ago and the year after we had visited Christchurch we heard about the earthquake that had ravaged the town. We visited there this year (5 years after the disaster) and were absolutely blown away by the very obvious extent of the damage. Building after building had disappeared - the ones that are still standing are so badly damaged they are supported by huge scaffolding. We were told that it will be another 10 years before the re-building is complete. In order to keep some business downtown, they have constructed a shipping container mall. I was absolutely fascinated by the bank in a shipping container, a two-story café, boutiques, and general stores - all in shipping containers.
Auckland is a beautiful, calm city. There is no garbage anywhere; no one honking horns; no frenetic bustle. The whole of the North island seems to have a calmness about it. We were lucky enough to spend a night at a homestay where we were hosted by local families. It was interesting to chat to the locals about their lives, careers, family, their country and ours, the things that are the same and those that are different.
Of course the boiling mud pools, geysers, and rainbow springs are fascinating to see, hear and smell at the Rotorua Hot Springs.
The South Island has the most gorgeous scenery and Queenstown was one of our stops. Here we rode a steamboat to Walter Peak Sheep Station and were treated to a fabulous meal in a colonial mansion.
One of the many highlights was our day spent at the Great Barrier Reef. We were taken by boat about one and a half hours to the edge of the reef where there was a huge station. From here you could snorkel, go in a submarine, scuba dive, walk on the ocean floor etc., etc….oh …and have a great buffet lunch!!
There were so many sights to see, activities to take part in, including- a camel ride at sunset, a magnificent dinner in the desert under the stars, a walk around stunning Ayers Rock, cuddling a koala, visiting the Opera House in Sydney and walking across the iconic bridge.
We had one day of rain - but it produced amazing waterfalls and a double rainbow!!
Many lovely memories - and then to arrive back in warm temps was an added bonus. We had left in snow!!