Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
|The glass widows in the front provided an gorgeous view of the ocean.|
Next we took a glass bottom boat ride over the reef area and saw lots of fish and interesting coral. I took a dip in the South Pacific Ocean. Such beautiful water! I was going to post a picture of me in the water, but me in a bathing suit… it’s just not a pretty sight.
|View of part of the resort from our glass bottom boat ride. We were on the 3rd floor of the building to the right.|
A few words about Grand Circle… This has been a great experience for me. I can see why Bonnie has chosen to travel with this company for several of her trips. They planned a packed itinerary for us with a total of 7 flights. All went smoothly without a glitch. As you can see from the pictures, we had great accommodations with wonderful views. The cultural exchanges were interesting and enriching. But most impressive was our tour guide, Lynda Keene. Being a native of New Zealand and part Maori, she had so much insight into the indigenous cultures on our tour. She was upbeat and made every effort to meet our needs as they arose. She provided so many little extras throughout the trip. Although she hasn’t spent time in the classroom, she is a true teacher.
|Bonnie, Lynda, Little Brownie & Sheila, at our farewell dinner|
- Our dinner at the ranch in Cairns
- The Opera House experience and harbor cruise in Sydney
- Spending time with our new friends, Ann and Lynn, in Christchurch
- The glorious beauty of the Queenstown to Milford Sound bus ride and cruise
- Our chance at the helm sailing in Auckland
- The cultural experience with the villagers and school children in Fiji
|Parting shot in Fiji as we headed to the airport.|
Friday, October 15, 2010
This morning I headed out with the group to the Kula Eco Park. About a third of the group, including Bonnie, opted to take the morning off. The park is trying to bring back the endangered iguana and peregrine falcon population. Local plants and animals can also be found on the grounds of the park. It also serves as a place for school children to learn about their environment.
|The park is named after this Kula bird|
|The Fijian Crested Iguana on my head is endangered. The one on my shoulder is the Fijian Banded Iguana|
We saw the flying fox, or the fruit bat, in both Australia and here in Fiji. At night you see them flying around, but during the day they are hanging from the trees. We saw them up close and personal at the Eco Park, but here they are hanging from the trees at our hotel.
|Flying foxes at Kula Eco Park|
A few words about Fiji… It is definitely a third world country. There are many poor people here with an unstable government. The Shangri-La Resort is beautiful on its 50 acres, but once out of the resort area you see the poverty. There are few paved roads, except for the main roads; and the homes range from cinder block with tin roofs to simple tin houses. While riding to the Eco Park, we saw men plowing their fields with oxen. A bridge in town is washed out and not repaired. But the attitude of the people is carefree and “senga na lenga” - no worries.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
|Here are peppers and ginger. Other areas were filled with tropical fruits and many other vegetables.|
|Bonnie is greeted with a lei.|
|Our Lunch - Sitting on the floor was a real challenge!|
The girl on the right was my host. She did a traditional dance for our group.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
|A boat just like ours.|
|See Little Brownie?|
Monday, October 11, 2010
|Deer in the background|
|We boated so close to these falls that I got very wet!|
|Maori greeting or farewell symbolizing the exchange of the breath of life|
|On the top of Mt. Eden overlooking Auckland|
Saturday, October 9, 2010
We had a beautiful bus ride from Christchurch to Queenstown seeing the New Zealand countryside first hand. The long bus ride was nicely punctuated with "comfort stops" and stunning vistas. The Southern Alps, vineyards, and grazing sheep were only surpassed by the view from our room on Lake Wakatipu.
|View of lake from our room|
Today we took a steam boat across the lake to Walter Peak Sheep Station for a guided farm tour. Here they demonstrated how their sheepdog herds the sheep, as well as a demonstration of sheep-shearing. Again we had a beautiful setting for this informative day.
|Can you see that the lamb still has its tail?|
|I can identify with this little guy.|
|The house on the farm|
|View from the farm house|
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
When we arrived in Christchurch we were whisked away to the International Antarctic Center just in time for the feeding of the Little Blue Penguins. For nearly a century, the city has been a center for exploration and research of the “Great White South.” During the drive to our hotel, we took a brief city tour. The vegetation here reminds me of the Seattle area with the camellias, rhododendrons, daffodils, and trees all in bloom. It will be a relaxed night so hopefully we can recoup from our busy pace.