|From the Kepler Track, overlooking Lake Te Anau and snow-capped mountains beyond.|
Inspired by tales of travel from our guests -- and an incredible seat sale too good to pass up -- your intrepid innkeepers set off for another adventure, this time to Australia and New Zealand.
We closed up shop after a busy fall season then hopped on a series of flights for the looong journey to the other side of the world.
The trip started out with sun and sand in tropical north Queensland, mixing some R&R with easy touring from Cairns to Cape Tribulation, and spending a night on a liveaboard boat on the Great Barrier Reef.
|Sun and sand to recharge after a busy season.|
|Watching the sun rise over the Coral Sea from a boat on the Great Barrier Reef.|
|Jim's bucket list: diving the Great Barrier Reef. He did seven dives over two days, including a night dive.|
|Not a diver, Jackie's happy to snorkel instead.|
|We saw sharks! Both of us saw sharks, and they didn't try to eat me!|
We were in New Zealand when the big earthquakes struck Kaikoura and Wellington but we were fortunate to be safely in Queenstown at the time, well away from danger.
|Karekare Beach, where the movie "The Piano" was filmed.|
|Wild and wonderful trees in the temperate rain forest.|
|Mountains + rivers = wateralls. We saw so many!|
|New Zealand Fur Seals at the mouth of Doubtful Sound with the Tasman Sea beyond.|
|Rushing river on the Haast Pass.|
|Franz Joseph Glacier|
|Windsurfer on Lake Wanaka. Love the colour of the glacial lakes!|
|Playing in the big boulders on Castle Hill.|
|Looking down on a lush New Zealand valley.|
|Up to the top of the world!|
The highlight of our time in New Zealand was a spectacular hike on the Kepler Track. On the 3-day/2-night hike, we covered 50km and a lot of elevational change. To make it even more challenging, the second day -- the toughest one when we cross a number of ridges over the saddle of the mountain -- we were blasted with a snow storm and 65kph winds. We managed to get a little video (below) before the worst of it. The snow was coming sideways and on the exposed ridges, we were nearly blown off our feet. Such fun!
|Climbing above the tree line, eye-to-eye with mountains.|
|We're heading for that summit behind Jim.|
|One of the ridges on the Mount Luxmore saddle.|
|When we weren't above the tree line, we were in verdant mossy forest.|
|Down on the valley floor, getting near the end.|
|The famous Twelve Apostles and sandstone cliffs.|
|Clouds, sun and mist over cliffs and ocean.|
|A mighty wind, an exhilarating view.|
|Wild cockatoos who don't mind taking a free meal from a human. Kind of like our chickadees!|
|We came across this koala in the wild while out on a hike. Of course Jim climbs the tree to get a close-up.|
|It was worth the effort for this adorable guy!|
|Hiking in the Otways. Now that's a tree!|