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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Trip Report Amazing New Zealand - Trip Report

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My husband and I recently returned from a wonderful 2 ½ week trip to New Zealand, with 1 ½ days in Sydney, Australia, where we picked up our flight home. We had never been to NZ before, and I had never visited Australia. We had a great time – New Zealand far exceeded our expectations, and Sydney was one of the most dynamic cities I have ever visited. We are eager to return to both. For this trip report, I will list what we did; provide a summary of what we did in each location, and then a more detailed description. I will break this into sections, as it gets quite long. Feel free to ask questions, of course.

First, a word on our accommodations and travel. Our first hotel, the Pullman, in Auckland, was provided by my husband’s work and located for convenience. Nevertheless, it worked out quite well for us. After this, I tried to book B&B’s or small hotels and to keep the price around $150 US. The dollar is strong so it was possible to get excellent accommodations close to this price. We thoroughly enjoyed the B&B’s we stayed in. The rooms were clean and comfortable, our hosts friendly, breakfasts delicious, and we were able to get personalized help with our itineraries.

We did not need a car in Auckland, but rented a car through Avis for our travel afterwards. When crossing from the north to the south island, it was very easy to return the car at the Interislander ferry terminal and pick up a new one on the other side. We even got the same type of car.
We returned via Sydney, as I was unable to get frequent flier seats for our return trip from New Zealand. This was fortunate, as it was my first time in Australia and I loved it.

Here’s a summary of our itinerary:
Days 1-5 Auckland
Day 6 Rotorua
Day 7 Lake Taupo
Day 8 Wellington
Day 9 Blenheim
Day 10 Christchurch
Days 11-13 Queenstown
Day 14, 15 Te Anau
Day 16 Doubtful Sound cruise
Day 17 Queenstown
Days 18, 19 Sydney Australia
Stay tuned for our adventures.

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    First installment - Auckland
    Days 1-5. Auckland, Pullman Hotel. Summary: Two half-day tours with “Bush and Beach,” including Auckland City and Trip to Piha Beach, Auckland War Memorial Museum, the conservatory at the Domain, Devonport and Ferry ride after dark, hike up Mt. Rangitoto, Auckland Art Gallery.

    We started in Auckland where my husband had work. We stayed at the Pullman Hotel, which was well-located, comfortable and provided friendly and helpful service. The hotel is right next to the lovely Albert Park and an easy walk to downtown including the ferry terminal, university, the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Auckland Art Gallery and more.

    While my husband worked, I toured some on my own as well as going on two half day tours, both in a small van with just a few other people. The guides were interesting and provided a good orientation to the history, flora and fauna of New Zealand. The “Wilderness Experience” tour included many interesting sites including a walk through the bush to a water fall and the lovely Piha Beach on the west coast. Piha looks a bit like Canon Beach, Oregon, with a wide beach and a big rock sticking out of it, but it has magnetic sand. The Auckland tour took us to the lovely conservatory near the Auckland War Memorial Museum, through interesting looking neighborhoods, to the top of Mt. Victoria for great views and we drove through Devonport, a sweet little ‘burb on the other side of the bay from Auckland. After this tour, my husband and I took a ferry one evening from Auckland to Devonport for dinner and we got to see the night lights of Auckland Harbor on our return – so nice. I also went to the Auckland War Memorial Museum and took the excellent tour, learning about the Maori, as well as unusual animals in New Zealand. I enjoyed the Auckland Art Gallery. I went on the gallery tour, which was a great introduction. My husband and I also joined his work group for a special afternoon trip - we all took the ferry to Mt Rangitoto, a shield volcano, and climbed it. It the newest island in the bay. You could see the black lava flows through the brush and there were great views from the top.

    We picked up our car on our last evening, to prepare for our drive to Rotorua, via Hobbiton.

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    Yes, I realize we missed that. I've heard it is wonderful. I'd also wanted to go to the bird island, Tiritiri Matangi, but didn't realize that there is basically one ferry a day to and from the island - so much to see and do! I also want to go north to the Bay of Islands on our next trip. While we missed a lot, every day was filled with fun and adventure and nice people.

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    I'm with you. So much to experience in not enough time. You're already managed to pack in a lot in your two and a half weeks. All the more reason to return. Looking forward to more of your report.

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    Day 6. Rotorua, Silver Fern Hotel. Summary - Hobbiton (en route), Tamaki Maori Village, walk around lake at Museum, visit to Rotorua Museum of Art and History

    We picked up a rental car the evening before leaving Auckland, and left in the morning for Rotorua, via Hobbiton. We brought our own GPS for the car and were glad we had it, as the Shire is off the main road and would be hard to find without GPS.

    It is true what we had heard – it takes longer to get places than you think. Partly, it’s that the roads are often hilly and twisty and two lane so you often don’t get to go the speed limit, and partly because there are so many great photo opportunities.

    We got to the Shire in time for lunch at the café just outside of Hobbiton. It was quite good.

    You can only go to Hobbiton on tour and reservations are a good idea if you have limited time, as the tours book up in advance. We booked online the day before with no problem, but people trying to book on arrival had a 1½ hour wait for the next available tour (and this was before the school holiday).

    Hobbiton was truly lovely. It was hilly, with lots of flowers, gardens, and many, many hobbit holes, each uniquely decorated. There are hobbits who make honey, bread, who go fishing, there are hobbit clothes hanging on the lines, flowers, a May pole and so much more. Our guide was excellent, telling us the history of Hobbiton and sharing stories of the filming. The highlight was our visit to the Green Dragon, where we had a choice of hobbit drinks, including beer. The Green Dragon is on a lake, near the hobbit’s mill and is decorated in pain-staking detail – so hobbit-like. A great trip and well-worth the money.

    After our tour, we drove on to Rotorua, which smelled like sulphur as we arrived (more interesting than annoying). We checked into our hotel and had about an hour before being picked up by the bus that would take us to the Tamaki Maori Village, for a wonderful evening. The guide on the bus told us what to expect and asked for a volunteer to be chief for our tribe (bus). There were a few other buses that came and each had a chief. We were greeted in the traditional Maori fashion, according to custom, and our chiefs represented us. We split into groups so it didn’t feel crowded and proceeded to “stations” in the village/forest where we learned about different Maori crafts or games. Each of us got to participate. My husband got to learn the Haka, the war dance that the All Blacks do at the beginning of their rugby games. I was surprisingly adept at a stick game.

    The dinner was a “hangi” feast, with a Maori performance – and yes, similar to a luau but more of a personal experience than any luau I’ve been too. We met very nice people from around the world at our table. It was a most interesting and pleasurable evening – highly recommended.

    Day 7. Morning in Rotorua. Afternoon, Wai-O-Tapu, Huka Falls, Lake Taupo. Gables Lakefront Motel, Lake Taupo.

    In the morning, we drove to Lake Rotorua to walk a bit around the lake on a boardwalk path near the museum. We could see the steaming vents a bit off the path. Fortunately, an elderly gentleman encouraged us to get off the path and go see the vents, which we did and that was fascinating. He explained the geology and showed us mud pots and other sites right at our feet.

    Afterwards, we went to the Roturua Museum of Art and History. We went on the free tour offered by the museum, which was excellent. We learned a lot about the beautiful building, which used to be a health spa/treatment facility. We also got to go to a perch on the roof and look over the city and lake, as well as into the basement to see some of the old treatment rooms and the buildings underground works. We watched the short film of the history of the area, including the volcanic eruption, had lunch in the café at the museum, then headed off for Wai-O-Tapu, which is a natural geothermal area with boardwalks and walks through the naked earth, full of steam, colors, and amazing geological features. Back on the road to Lake Taupo, we made a brief stop by Huka Falls, which is a lovely park and rushing falls. We realized we’d have enjoyed a longer stay in Te Anau and a bike ride to the falls. On to the Gables Lakefront Motel, where our rooms were spacious, we had our own hot tub, and had a great view of the lake. Management was friendly and we could have stayed longer.

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    Glad you enjoyed Hobbiton. I always suggest it to visitors from overseas even if people are not huge fans as it is so well done with amazing attention to detail.
    Tiritiri Matangi is an awesome trip - pity you did not make it but plan for it next time.

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    Sorry for the long delay! I had trouble with my login- long story - and gave up. Now I see I'm back in so will finish with a VERY long post.

    Day 8. Napier, Wellington, harborfront, Joyce’s B&B.
    We headed out for a lovely drive to Napier. In Napier, we walked the streets looking at the Art Deco Buildings, had lunch, then headed on to Wellington, where we arrived in the late afternoon. Our B&B was in a lovely house and our room was quite large and comfortable. Our hosts, Phil and Joyce, gave us ideas of where to eat and we walked down the hill to the restored wharf area, which has restaurants and shops as well as wonderful harbor views. We enjoyed walking along the harborfront, seeing the interesting bridges, buildings, and other artistic touches. We ate at the Crab Shack, a really wonderful restaurant suggested by our hosts.
    Day 9. Wellington, WETA Cave, Te Papa Museum, Interisland Ferry, Blenheim. Marlborough Botanica B&B.
    After a good night’s sleep and great breakfast at our B&B, we headed to WETA Cave, where we had booked the first tour of the day, at 9 am. Again, good to book in advance. We just booked the day before, but several tours were sold out already when we booked. Also, good to book the first tour of the day when you are almost able to find street parking and it isn’t so crowded. The tour was fascinating, taking us to the workshop’s museum, where our guide explained how the costumes, masks, sets and props were created and the films they were used in. It was fascinating to see how they turn ideas into reality, through artistry, clever use of materials, attention to detail, and ingenious filming and editing. We also watched the movie of the history of the WETA Cave, learning how the studio got its start and of the many films they have been involved in. We later went to two museums that had exhibits developed by the WETA workshop and appreciated them much more after learning some of the artistry and craft that goes into creating the lifelike figures.

    We then drove to the Te Papa museum, where we went to the Gallipoli exhibit designed by WETA Caves. The exhibit has huge, larger than life figures of people who served at Gallipoli and brought home the scale of the tragedy. We had a greater appreciation of the figures after having gone to the WETA cave and learning how workshop artists create the lifelike people. We visited some of the other exhibits as well, especially an excellent exhibit on the Maori.
    After lunch at the museum, we headed for the Intercoastal ferry. We easily found the drop-off point for our rental car and boarded the ferry for the south island. We had paid for the special lounge on the Intercoastal. It was very comfortable and quiet, and included food, drinks, lounge seating, magazines, tv. We enjoyed this, but I have to say that the other seating on the ferry also looked pleasant.
    It was easy to find our new rental car when we arrived in Picton. In fact, it was the same type as we had had on the north island. Off we went to Blenheim, where we stayed at the Marlborough Botanical B&B. This is in a lovely home and our room was very comfortable. Our hostess, Claire, greeted us with homemade honey. We enjoyed touring her beautiful garden and seeing her bee hives.
    Day 10. Morning in Blenheim, winery, Omaka Aviation Heritage Center, drive to Christchurch Christchurch via seals at Ohau Point, overlook park in Christchurch. Finley Banks B&B.
    In the morning, after a great night’s sleep and delicious breakfast, Claire provided excellent suggestions for our short time in Blenheim, directing us to a little place, Burleigh Pies, to buy delicious pies, the Omaka Aviation Heritage Center and she recommended we do a tasting at Lawson’s Dry Fills Winery, which was en route – all great suggestions. She also suggested we take a break at Ohau Point, were there is a seal colony, and with a short walk, we could see baby fur seals swimming in a small river that flows into the ocean.
    The Omaka Aviation Heritage Center, in little Blenheim, is a gem of a museum. We were fortunate to arrive in time for Bruce, who is a volunteer, to give us a tour of the museum. Peter Jackson, of Lord of the Rings fame, donated a lot of the WWI planes on display and WETA workshop did many of the displays, like at the Gallipoli exhibit at Te Papa in Wellington. The displays were action scenes with people in them, and based on real events during WW1. They were incredibly lifelike. I had not expected to be so interested in an exhibit on WW1 planes, but between our tour and the exhibits, it was fascinating.
    On the road to Christchurch, we stopped at Ohau Point and walked up the path, as Claire had suggested. We were able to get incredibly close to the fur seals in their natural habitat. There were plenty of seals and we enjoyed the path up the river that led to a waterfall and pool, where the seals were swimming.
    We arrived at the Finley Banks B&B in Christchurch in the early evening, after the major sites were closed. We knew we’d have little time in Christchurch, as we had a long drive ahead the next day, to Queenstown. Our host gave us some ideas for things we could do quickly, including directions to a park with a great overlook of the city and suggestions for a restaurant in town. The overlook was wonderful and restaurant great. We had a good night’s sleep, great breakfast the next morning and were off for Queenstown.
    Day 11. Queenstown. Lake Tekapo, Mt John’s Observatory, Views of Mt. Cook over L. Pukaki, Chalet Queenstown B&B.
    The drive to Queenstown was awesome. This is the one place I wished we’d had more flexibility in our plans, as Mt. Cook was clear and we could have visited it, had we had the time. Nevertheless, it was a full day full of beauty and great photo ops. The alps came into view and we had to stop for photos. The lupines were in full glory, in blues, purples, pinks – so beautiful. At Lake Tekapo, we were in awe of the views, taking photo after photo, including of the little church. We drove on to the Mt. John Observatory – on top of the world. I should add that we live in the Pacific Northwest, and have seen great beauty in our corner of the earth so we’d wondered if New Zealand would really impress us. It did. At the Mt. John Observatory, we got coffee and hot cocoa at the café at the top and took amazing photos of the incredible scenery. Even as we drove down, there was lovely scene after scene – people riding horses, more lupine in front of the mountains, so much beauty. Then we drove by Lake Pukaki in front of Mt. Cook and the mountain was reflected on the lake. We’d heard the mountain was barely out, but there it was. We stopped to enjoy the scenery and took many more photos and continued on to Queenstown and the Chalet Queenstown, our B&B for the next three nights.
    We walked into the center of Queenstown for dinner and were taken aback by the crowds. Queenstown is a very developed tourist town. There are many restaurants, bars, all types of shops, and many tour outfitters, and more. Lots of action is on the streets as the weather was inviting and there is lots of outdoor seating. We heard it gets even more crowded at other times of the year, such as Chinese New Year - hard to imagine.

    Day 12. Queenstown. Visit to Arrowtown, TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Farm for dinner.
    In the morning, we drove the short distance to Arrowtown. We strolled through the town, with its picturesque main street and stopped in at the Lakes District Museum, which included a lot of information and artifacts from historic Queenstown. The museum also has a recreation of a historic town in the lower level, which was impressive. We walked past the shopping area into the historic residential area and enjoyed a cup of tea and snack in the lovely backyard of a little café, with roses and other blooming flowers surrounding us. We then walked to the river, which was very pretty, especially with the lupines in full glory. We visited the historic Chinese settlement, which was interesting and also picturesque. Then we returned to Queenstown.
    In the late afternoon, we went on the TSS Earnslaw to the Walter Peaks Farm for their barbeque dinner and farm demonstration. This was an amazing trip. First, the Earnslaw is a fascinating ship. It was built in 1912 and is a rare coal burning steamer. It has a small museum of photos, as well as a vintage look throughout – full of character. The views out the windows and from the decks are also great. We thoroughly enjoyed the boat ride. The Walter Peak Farm was lovely, full of flowers. The barbeque was way more than a barbeque. It was a huge and delicious buffet dinner with an assortment of salads, vegies, breads, cheeses, fish, meats, desserts. The farm demonstration included a great sheep dog demonstration of herding skills, as well as a sheep shearing. The man who did the demonstration had a great sense of humor and was full of interesting information. Back on the boat, we enjoyed a sing-along of many songs I was familiar with from growing up. I highly recommend this trip – it was expensive but worth every penny.

    Day 13. Queenstown. Gondola and luging at Bob’s Peak, ½ day Private Discovery Tour to Glenorchy and Paradise
    The next day, we went up on the gondola to the top of Bob’s Peak. We enjoyed the amazing view, including seeing the many paragliders float through the air. We had time for two luge trips, one the beginners and the other the advanced. The second luge I got was very noisy when I braked which seriously detracted from the fun. My husband had a blast. We spent way more time at the top than we had expected and could have stayed longer, but had to get back for the trip we had arranged with a guide to Glenorchy.
    The guide, Charles, from Private Discovery Tours, arrived right on time and off we went for an afternoon exploring Glenorchy and Paradise. We could have driven on our own, but we wanted to be with someone who knew area and could take us to wonderful photography locations as well as give us information on Lord of the Rings film sites, the economy, history, and basically provide us with a better grounding in the region. We were very glad we went on a guided trip. Charles was able to take us through absolutely beautiful private property we could not have accessed on our own, take us up a mountain road for fabulous views and share his knowledge about the area. This included a trip to a working sheep farm where he explained more about the economy of sheep farming and the shearing process. While we had seen a demonstration at Walter Peak’s, we got more information on how shearing is done in season (not just for tourists) and got a sense of its massive scale of how its done on a massive scale. We also enjoyed tea and cookies in the mountains. Another great day in the Queenstown area.
    Day 14. Queenstown, Kiwi Birdlife Park. Te Anau, Fiordland Lakeview Motel and Apts
    I was about to leave New Zealand without seeing a live kiwi, so In the morning, we went to the Kiwi Birdlife Park, at the foot of Bob’s Peak. While it is somewhat costly to visit, this is part of a much larger conservation effort, so you feel virtuous contributing to the cause of saving the flightless birds. We spent about 3 hours there. We went to the bird/conservation show, which was excellent and also to a kiwi feeding, also great. We enjoyed the walk through the woods and seeing other birds of New Zealand.
    In the late afternoon, we drove to Te Anau to be better positioned for our upcoming trips with Real Journeys. I had been unable to decide between the two fiords, so we decided to visit both Milford and Doubtful Sounds. It was a great decision.
    We spent the next two nights at the Fiordland Lakeview Motel, which was very well located. We had a spacious one-bedroom apartment with a great lake view. It wasn’t the most updated place we stayed but was quite comfortable.
    Day 15. Te Anau. Milford Sound Nature Cruise with Real Journeys, Te Anau Glowworm Caves
    We decided not to drive ourselves to Milford Sound, but to go with Real Journeys. Their bus was full size but not full. It had glass at the top, which turned out to be great for looking up at the steep mountains. The bus picked us up at our hotel at 8 am, though it turns out our hotel was not located far from the Real Journeys office on the lake. Still, it was a rainy morning, so it was nice to get picked up. And so our trip to Milford Sound began. The driver explained some of the history and geology of the area. The clouds were threatening and dramatic. We stopped along the way at scenic points and had an opportunity to take photos and enjoy the beauty.
    Once at the Sound, we boarded the Real Journeys boat for the nature tour and were off in the gorgeous sound. It is true that there are hundreds of awesome waterfalls when it rains. Very, very dramatic. We were fortunate that it was not socked in and even cleared so we could see some blue in the sky as the morning passed. After the boat trip, we were taken on a lovely walk along the water’s edge – again, gorgeous views, beautiful flowers – awesome trip. We returned to the hotel around 5 pm.
    Since I’d missed seeing the glowworms in the Waitomo Caves area, we’d already booked an evening tour with Real Journeys to see the glowworms at the caves at Te Anau. I’m glad we booked ahead as I’d probably have bagged it if I’d had a choice that evening, and that would have been a mistake.
    We picked up the boat across the lake at the Real Journey’s building just down the street. The boat ride was fun – met nice people – and arrived at the gathering point across the lake. Real Journeys split us into smaller groups and we entered the cave with our assigned group and a guide. We had an interesting walk through the cave to the point where we boarded a boat and were instructed to site quietly. The cave is pitch black except for the glowworms. Over time, our eyes adjusted, and by the end, we returned to the area we had begun and could see many, many more glowworms. It was like looking at the night sky. Back at the gathering point, a naturalist explained more about the glowworms and presented an excellent slide show about them. Then back on the boat to Te Anau. We were amazed by the glowworms and so glad we had found the energy to do this after our trip to Milford Sound.
    Day 16. Doubtful Sound Overnight with Real Journeys
    The next morning, we drove less than ½ hour to Manapouri to begin our overnight on Doubtful Sound. We ate a good breakfast at a little shop in a country store in Manapouri then found our way to the Real Journey parking lot where we left our car overnight and joined the people boarding the boat across Lake Manapouri to the motor coach that would take us to Doubtful Sound. We started making friends with the other guests on the boat across, exchanging contact information. Throughout our overnight adventure, we met many people from around the world who we really enjoyed talking with.
    At Doubtful Sound, we boarded the boat for the overnight. Our stateroom had a double bed, bathroom with a shower, big window and was clean and well-appointed, though the bed could have been more comfortable. The boat had a large eating/meeting area and lots of decks and places to be outdoors, undercover and in the elements.
    The weather was quite overcast and sometimes raining. We were glad we had gotten to see the tops of the peaks on Milford Sound when the sky had broken the day before. Like on Milford Sound, there were many waterfalls and spectacular scenery. A naturalist on board explained the geology, the flora and fauna and provided expert guidance to the Sound as the boat went by waterfalls, New Zealand fur seal colonies, and other beautiful sights.
    In the afternoon, we had a choice of adventures. My husband chose to go on the flat boat which was good for shooting photos, while I chose to go kayaking in the Sound. Great, great experience sliding silently through the waters getting to explore the shoreline up close. The Real Journey guides were truly excellent and very friendly.
    Dinner was a huge and delicious spread.
    Day 17. From Doubtful Sound back to Queenstown. Larch Hill B&B.
    The next morning, it was still overcast but you could see the clouds hovering over the water, the cliffs, and they were part of the drama of the landscape. Breakfast was delicious. The boat went to a lovely part of the Sound and we had 5 minutes of complete silence to hear nature. Since it was raining, this was most of what we heard. Still, it was hard for it not to be spiritual in such a lovely setting, with wonderful people from around the world, and how fortunate we felt we were.
    The Doubtful Sound overnight was expensive, but well worth the cost for the experience – the calm, the natural beauty, the interesting commentary, lovely boat and food, kayaking, and the warmth of our fellow passengers.
    We arrived back at our car around noon and returned to Queenstown where we checked in at the Larch Hill B&B. This is another lovely B&B bedecked in flowers, located a bit further from town center. Our room had a lovely lake view.
    At about this point, I realized I’d made a mistake with my itinerary – I had not realized we could fly from Queenstown directly to Sydney, where we needed to pick up our flight back to the US. I won’t go into all my refiguring. Suffice it to say, with great difficulty and many hours, we were able to get reservations directly the next day from Queenstown to Sydney. I was very appreciative of the kindness of our B&B host and hostess who allowed me to use their phone and helped me as much as they could. We walked to a restaurant at a nearby hotel that evening and generally relaxed.
    Day 18. Queenstown to Sydney. Queenstown, Botanical Gardens. Sydney, Intercontinental Hotel
    The next morning, after a delicious breakfast at the B&B, while my husband stayed behind to respond to work emails, I followed the suggestion of our hostess and walked into town along the lakefront through the Queenstown Botanical Gardens. The walk was lovely and the Botanical Gardens were very peaceful and quite different from the hub-bub of downtown Queenstown. I enjoyed seeing some of the “holes” in the 18 hole frisby golf course in the park, the lovely views, and finally the more formal part of the gardens with flowers, ponds, geese – a wonderful way to spend the morning before a flight.
    Queenstown Airport was small and processing was quick and efficient. We said good-bye to New Zealand and flew on to Australia.
    I was completely surprised by Sydney. I had thought it would all be new but saw many picturesque old buildings and residential areas as the cab drove us through the city. The Intercontinental was lovely. It was built around the historic treasury building, which adds grace to the common lounge area and overlooks the opera house. This turned out to be the perfect location for our upcoming 1 ½ day adventure in the great city of Sydney.
    Day 19. Sydney Opera House Tour, Manly Beach
    After a most comfortable evening, we awoke to an amazing breakfast in the hotel in the morning. The spread was more than one could eat even with one’s eyes. The concierge was most helpful in planning our day, recommending things we could do with our short time.
    We walked the short distance to the Opera House and lucked onto a tour right away. The tour was excellent, taking us into some of the venues in the opera house and the guide talked about the history, architecture, and controversy about the building as well as how it is used today. What a great tour!
    Afterwards, as suggested by the concierge, we got on the ferry to Manly Beach. This took us out in Sydney Harbor and we had a chance to see the skyline, opera house and harbor bridge from the water. Many on the ferry were taking photos. In Manly Beach, we stopped in at the tourist information center at the ferry and got information on various walks. We walked the short distance through the town to the beach, where we found a lunch spot (among many) and walked on to Shelley Beach. We enjoyed the little sea sculptures along the rocks, the water dragons (a type of lizard like a bearded dragon), seeing the swimmers, surfers, standup paddleboarders, snorklers, divers – what great spot! We walked through the brush to a cliff overlooking the beaches and had a grand time before returning on the ferry to Sydney, arriving at dusk. No time for the many other adventures I had planned. We had dinner outside near the opera house, where thousands of people were outdoors enjoying the great weather, drinks, dinner, music.
    Day 20. Sydney Royal Botanical Gardens and Flight Home
    We had an afternoon flight and the hotel allowed us a late check out. In the morning, we went to the botanical gardens to find Mrs. Macquaries Chair and the view of the opera house from that perch. We spent hours exploring the Botanical Gardens, including enjoying breakfast at the café in the gardens. Then it was off to the airport with dreams of returning to Sydney, seeing more of Australia, and seeing more of New Zealand. What a great part of the world!

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