A brief description of our trip to Fiji and New Zealand, October 2019.
We passed five days in Fiji. The warmth of Fiji was therapeutic on my body. I hope to head back to the South Pacific in the future to find a sandy beach where I can snorkel just out the door of my hotel. I did that in the Cook Islands about 30 years ago and still remember the trip.
The first 51 photographs were taken in Fiji.
We arrived in Nadi, Fiji with a couple of tours of the local area (gardens and landscape), then to our hotel on the beach, “First Landing”. First Landing connotes where the Polynesian (Fijians) landed when they began exploring the south Pacific. We spent time visiting Lautoka, a nearby town; we experienced a kava ceremony and then had a traditional lunch at a Fijian Village where they sang a welcome song. We also visited the home of the “Bishop” and his family for a home hosted lunch and learned to dance “their style” and they also sang us a greeting song. On our last day we went by boat to Savala Island for a day of snorkeling. And of course, there were many vignettes throughout the trip on other portions of this side of Fiji.
Sad to leave the south pacific weather, we flew off to New Zealand for 16 days. The following 180 photos are from there. Our first stop was Wellington via Auckland.
In Wellington (the south end of the North Island) we became tourists, shopping and spending some time learning the Maori culture and visiting such places as the Te Papa Museum. We also walked through Zealandia. Zealandia is the worlds first fully fenced urban ecosanctuary situated within a 225-hectare (555 acres) valley in Wellington. Their goal is to restore this sanctuary to an area that is as near as possible to a pre-human condition (I wish them luck). It is surrounded by a barrier fence to keep out non-native species (such as rats, possums, stoats, cats, and weasels) that collectively have devastated the native flightless birds (such as kiwi’s).
We then took the ferry from Wellington to Picton, situated on the north end of the South Island of New Zealand. Travelling by bus for about 3 hours, we drove to Nelson, visiting a winery and lunch on the way.
From Nelson we travelled to the Abel Tasman National Park and Torrent Bay via another smaller boat along the coast with a few miles hike through a second growth forest. We then caught a flight out of Nelson to Te Anau via Christchurch to Queenstown and then by bus. From Te Anau we visited the “glow worm caves” which sounds hokey but were well worth the trip. We also traveled to the Milford Sound entering the Fiordland National Park. We took a “boat ride” through the Milford Sound which offered spectacular scenery, and as titled, is a fiord with “huge” steep mountains surrounding said marine waters.
From Te Anau we traveled to Queenstown via bus. Travelling by bus, for the entire trip, offers a comfortable way to see the countryside with no worries about having to drive. But, as a photographer I could not just stop the “bus” to take pictures, thus many of the photo-ops were missed.
One of our trip highlights was to take another boat ride on Lake Wakatipu to the Mount Nicholas High Country Station. This station is a 10,000-acre merino sheep farm. We witnessed their dogs herding a flock of their sheep in howling wind as a storm was approaching from Glenorchy. The most memorable part was witnessing the shearing extravagance—a dynamic choreographed show. We entered the shearing shed with reggae blaring, six men shearing, two women taking the sheared wool to tables, then the wool was selectively trimmed, a “grader” separated the wool by quality to be shipped to different locations in the world such a Italy, and then packaged for shipment. Merino wool is “super” fine and used for very expensive clothes.
One more night in Queenstown and then a flight to the middle of the North Island for a stay in Taupo via Rotorua. Here we met with a Maori shaman to hear about the Maori culture, did some side trips and then a long drive to Auckland. On the way to Auckland we walked through another wildlife sanctuary, the Maungatautari Sanctuary. This sanctuary is an ancient forest surrounded by a fence similar to that of Zealandia in Wellington. However, this place is surrounded by farmland, situated on a hill, and is truly a native forest, one of few in New Zealand due to all the land clearing for farming, dairy industry, beef, and of course, sheep. One of our last stops was to visit with our OAT guide’s, Caitlin, parents on their farm.
We spent two nights in Auckland finishing our tour, being city tourists. Then the long flight home.