Zealandia is an urban ecosanctuary just outside Wellington and a great place to walk. We got there by taking the Wellington Cable Car up the hill then picking up the free shuttle.  New Zealand didn’t have any mammals other than a few bats until humans arrived 800 years ago. First the Maoris, then the Europeans. … Read more

Lord of the Rings Tour


We took a tour of several Lord of the Rings filming sites with Flat Earth. We got to see some of the countryside too. There were four of us on the tour, all Lord of the Rings fans. Our tour guide, Dave, was an extra in the movies. (He played an orc and a Gondorian … Read more

Northern Explorer


We took the Northern Explorer scenic train ride from Auckland to Wellington as a way to see more of the country and get from one to the other. It was quite pleasant and the scenery was great. Our cab to the station was on time, check-in was smooth, and the view out the window was … Read more



We loved Wellington. It’s quirky, walkable, has some great sights and restaurants. And it is windy! Day 1: Auckland to Wellington Arriving from Auckland via the Northern Explorer scenic train, we got a shuttle from the train station to Wellington City Cottages where we’ll be staying. They’re right at the end of Cuba St, which … Read more


famous sign

As a lifelong Tolkien fan, I knew we had to visit the Hobbiton film set. It was just as good as I hoped it would be.  We visited Hobbiton on a day tour from Auckland that also included the glowworm caves at Waitomo. The bus ride allowed us to see some of the north island. … Read more



Auckland is a nice city and a good base for our day trip to Hobbiton. We opted to stay there rather than breaking the stay into Auckland and Rotorua.  Day 1: Cairns, Australia to Auckland We had a 5:45 AM flight, which meant a 3:30 AM shuttle, which meant getting up at 2:30 AM. So … Read more



Our day trip to Kuranda turned out different than expected. We thought the focus would be the markets, which turned out to be a disappointment. We did find an enjoyable walk through the surrounding area. Getting there and back was part of the fun.  We took the scenic gondola ride to get there, and the … Read more

Green Island

Green Island

Green Island is a small island off the coast near Cairns. Multiple companies offer excursions there. You can snorkel from the beach or just sit on it if you want. There are also walks and a place to eat. We’re following our usual practice of snorkeling from the beach first. It helps us get reacquainted … Read more



We enjoy snorkeling and knew we had to see the Great Barrier Reef while in Australia. We chose to access it via Cairns because it was convenient and fit our budget.  Day 1: Alice Springs to Cairns Most of our day was consumed with traveling from Alice Springs to Cairns. We picked up a shuttle … Read more

Alice Springs Desert Park


The Alice Springs Desert Park is part zoo, part garden, and fun to explore. It reminded us of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson.  We saw some animals we’d already seen, plus some new ones, like dingos and larger kangaroos. Once again we could inside the kangaroo enclosure.  They did not let us inside the … Read more