During my mid-year break at Sydney Uni in 2006, I traveled for 3+ weeks in Western Australia and the Kimberley. The most economical and safe way for a solo female traveler to take on the rugged backcountry in Australia is to join a tour group, so I threw a few G’s at Western Xposure to take me from Perth to Darwin during the Aussie winter.
One of the first things I did on my month-long trip through New Zealand was the Tongariro Crossing. Renowned as the best day hike in the country, it takes you on a 12-mile journey through volcanoes, lakes, and a very Mars-like terrain; past active volcano Mt Tongariro, Mt Ngauruhoe, and – most gorgeous of all – the Emerald Lakes.
In April of 2006, I took one of those trips that leaves you with mental images and memories permanently etched in your mind. I traversed the Australian Outback, from Adelaide northward to Darwin, in 10 days.
I went to the Great Barrier Reef and I didn’t scuba.
I didn’t make the typical backpacker’s pilgrimage up to Cairns to play in the jungle or go skydiving on the coast, nor did I go sailing in the Whitsundays.
I distinctly remember sitting in a shuttle bus outside Sydney Airport about to commence my semester abroad in Australia, gazing up at the palm trees lining the parking lot, when I made a decision: I would extend my stay and live in Sydney for a full year.
Ah, New Zealand: land of lakes, mountains, fiords, adventure sports, Lord of the Rings, sheep, and colorful thermal pools.
On the latter front, the North Island is home to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, where volcanic activity manifests in brightly colored pools and geysers.
Well, this one was a long time coming. I find myself flashing back to Sydney on a weekly basis, so it’s all too appropriate that I share one such flashback on ye olde blog.
New Zealand is just ridiculous. It’s one of those places that’s endlessly blessed with natural beauty. She couldn’t take a bad photo if she tried.
I spent 4 weeks in New Zealand in January/February 2006, just before starting my year abroad at Sydney University.
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