I can't wait to meet these little fellas! They always look like they are smiling, and apparently love to take selfies with anyone who is game. How fun is that!
This is the quokka - the world's happiest animal!
About the size of a cat, quokkas are marsupials found only in Western Australia, almost exclusively on the beautiful Rottnest Island, just off the coast from Perth.
Photo courtesy of Kakslauttanen
Simply put, the Aurora Borealis and Australis are the Northern and Southern Lights. These mesmerizing, beautiful green, blue, red and purple lights that flash over the polar skies. As we move into the winter months, they become more and more visible in the polar regions.
Have you ever wondered what these "lights" really are? I never put a lot of thought into it until I listened to a presentation by a photographer who was taking a group to Norway on a winter cruise. Not being a scientist, the discussions around solar flares, magnetic fields, electrons and who knows what else could have made my brain go blurry. I appreciated his simple presentation in layman's terms, and found all of it to be quite fascinating. I'm certain you will too.
Photo courtesy of New Zealand Tourism (Lake-Wakatipu Queenstown)
I know if you were to ask a Kiwi or anyone who has experienced the wonderfulness of New Zealand, they would give way more reasons why you'll fall in love with the country. Wonderful, proud, friendly people, stunning scenery, unique flora, fauna and wildlife, the land of Bilbo Baggins and the Shire, caves lit up by glow worms, delicious food and wine - these just a few.
Top reasons why you'll love a visit to Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud:
The land Down Under is a destination on many a bucket list. It’s consistently voted as one of the top 10 most desired destinations in the world. So much to see. So much to experience.
Having been there, I know it’s truly a great place to explore. But Australia is a big country – about the same size as the lower 48 states. Sydney to Perth is about the same distance as New York to Los Angeles. When planning a trip here, especially your first visit, one of the hardest parts is deciding where to start, what cities and regions to include.
Much of this depends on what experiences you want to have, what stories you want to bring home. Following are top experiences you can build your memories around.
Sometimes a rail trip is just what is needed to thoroughly enjoy the scenic surrounds. No driving, no constant stopping to get that photo, travel through areas where roads don't or can't go. Sit back in luxury, relax and enjoy the ever changing scenery and wildlife (instead of watching the road).
10 epic train adventures to inspire you:
Seeing wildlife in their natural habitats can be a life changing, soul stirring experience, not only for animal lovers but all types of curious and adventurous travelers.
Wildlife themed itineraries are best experienced in small group settings – whether they be private or small group land tours or small ship cruises, taking you into areas less visited, less accessible. Small groups lend themselves perfectly to a better learning environment while contributing to the conservation and protection of species. Sustainable tourism - the best way.
Following are 7 top itinerary picks – one on every continent. Photo credit above: Lindblad Expeditions
The city of Auckland is full of diversity and personality. It is also New Zealand's largest city with a population of nearly 1.5 million. If you're looking for somewhere exciting to go to on your next vacation, Auckland is the place to be.
Why do you ask? Below are some of the top reasons why you shouldn't miss the opportunity to visit this magnificent city.
Photo courtesy of New Zealand Tourism - Rob Suisted photographer
Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s South Island is one of those places that stays with you once you’ve experienced it. And has you longing to come back for more.
Untamed, pristine wilderness. It’s simply stunning.
I know. I was here over twenty years ago and out of 40+ countries I’ve been to, to this day it remains as one of my top travel experiences. Ever. Can’t wait to get back.
Welcome to Tassie! Australia’s smallest state, it is often overlooked as a destination. It shouldn’t be, with so much to see, do, experience. It also boasts having the cleanest air on earth. That in of itself sounds especially inviting.
Here are my other top reasons why you should visit (not listed in any order of importance).
Courtesy of The Brando
The world is full of amazing destinations, amazing accommodations and amazing experiences that come along with them, by land and by sea. Here are 7 of my favorites:
Whether you are looking for a short getaway, to tick off a lifetime dream experience or explore new destinations, there are no shortages of beautiful golf courses around the world for you to enjoy. Fun and exciting trips just waiting for you to create lifelong memories – for yourself, with family and friends.
There’s a reason the classics are the classics. We love the romance and filtered light of Venice, Kyoto’s temples and gardens, that view of Machu Picchu. But with popularity comes the strain of overcrowding: stress on fragile environments, landmarks, and local infrastructure – and an annoying lack of elbow room. Seasoned travelers know how best to see the favorites, visiting in the off-season, taking two wheels, hiking hidden trails.
But for many iconic destination, there is a place less traveled that is just as cool.
Here are 7 less-explored counterparts to popular destinations that are just as fascinating and fun – proof that when it comes to where to go next, there’s always a new hit to discover.
Excerpt from the Ensemble October monthly magazine - written by Craig Tansley;
Photo courtesy of New Zealand Tourism - taken by Chris McLennan
Perhaps you’ve tasted a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc like Oyster Bay, but little else is known about the country’s wine throughout North America. While Australian Shiraz and Chardonnay hog the Australasian limelight, New Zealand is home to some of the world’s best wine in the world’s most unique vineyards. We share some of the secrets…
Photo courtesy of Tourism Australia
I love the ocean. I am fascinated by the creatures that call it home. I enjoy snorkeling, and someday I'll learn how to scuba dive to get an even closer look. As with many other places on this earth, some things you need to see with your own eyes. Pictures just don't do it justice.
Whakatane Ohope International Golf Club - photo courtesy of NZ Tourism - taken by Strike-Photography
Despite being a relatively small country (about the size of Oregon or Colorado), it's quite easy to spend months exploring New Zealand's north and south islands. So much to see, experiences to take in, food, wine and people to meet.
One special touring route is a drive down the beautiful east coast on New Zealand's Pacific Coast Highway. Check out this itinerary between Auckland and Napier.
Australia's largest state, WA for short, stretches over a third of the nation, borders two oceans and has more pristine beaches than any other state. And with only 10% of the nation's population, it is far less crowded than Australia's eastern states.
Nature and aquatic wildlife, pioneer history, Aboriginal Australia and food, wine and beer experiences are just a few reasons that attract visitors to WA.
New Zealand is blessed with numerous wine regions, on both the North and South Islands. Lucky for those living in or visiting Auckland, one is a short 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland - Waiheke Island.
With it's warm and dry weather, this 12 mile long island is a great spot to grow a variety of wines. Waiheke is home to 30+ boutique wineries and award winning wines, including Bordeaux style reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc), Syrah and even some Chardonnay.
Whether you are short on time or have a few days, Waiheke is well worth a visit.
I had the opportunity this week to learn more about New Zealand's Maori culture. A fascinating hour, well spent.
The speaker, a Maori himself, comes from a family with a long history of promoting this island nation. We were treated to a number of wonderful pictures, paintings and stories, including ones of his great grandmother dancing in New York City promoting New Zealand's culture. I wish I could share them here, but they were pictures from his own photo album.
Last week I shared the first part of our three week itinerary on the North Island. This week continues with the South Island portion of the itinerary.
We gave up our car in Wellington and hopped on the fast ferry which took us across the beautiful Cook Strait into Picton. Here we picked up another car and headed off to Nelson. We didn't include time to go into Abel Tasman Park, but Nelson is the perfect base for those who want to explore the park and boutique wineries in the area.
At a recent meeting we were asked to share our most favorite travel experience. Well, I certainly have been very fortunate with respects to travel, having been on numerous memorable trips to spots all around the world (six continents and counting!). So when it comes to a favorite, I have several, for very different reasons.
But when pushed to choose only one, I consistently come back to the same, one destination.
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder