Taranaki Falls Walk.

DSC_0135_2We were unable to go near Mount Tongariro as it was covered in snow so we decided to take a hike to a famous waterfall. The Taranaki Falls took about 45 minutes to get to and we were able to walk on the very tip top of the falls and run through the very bottom. It was a ton of fun and we got some really beautiful photos.

DSC_0136_2(Water gaining speed)

DSC_0145_2(Mt Doom behind me)

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DSC_0204(Underneath the falls- it was SO LOUD!)

DSC_0215_2(It ended up being a great day, even if Mt Doom wasn’t able to be conquered)

DSC_0218_2(One thing I loved about New Zealand? The moss, it’s everywhere)

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This was such a great walk, we saw so many beautiful sites and were engulfed in trees. I wish the whole world looked like this. I guess I’ll just have to go back to beautiful New Zealand.

Maori Culture.

DSC_0338When we visited Rotorua, New Zealand, we took in the story and culture of the Maori people at Te Puia. They danced and played music for us. It was a lot of fun and they were very interactive, our friend Bryan was chosen to be the chief of a different tribe. We weren’t allowed in until Bryan was deemed safe.

DSC_0344_2(This was part of the dance that the men were performing)

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DSC_0369_2(Nick and Bryan were told to get up and dance with the tribe. I think the little boy with the red glasses stole the show though)

Similar to Hawaii, the Maori culture performs for visitors and is excited to share their history and culture with guests. I thought it was a lot of fun and would recommend it to anyone visiting the North Island of New Zealand!

Glowworm Caves.

glowworm-caves-waitom-3[6]Photo Credit: Glowworm Caves

In Waitomo, New Zealand we ventured down into the famous glowworm caves. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside so above is a professional photo of what we saw. There were thousands of tiny bits of light above us as we floated in a small boat below. It was hauntingly beautiful and quiet. We learned a lot about the glowworms, they are not as magical as you would think but interesting nonetheless. They use their light to attract food and have a long sticky string (below) that catches flies and other insects for them to eat. It’s wild, I know.

Waitomo-Glowworm-Caves-New-Zealand-Glowworm-strings-Closeup(Glowworm’s sticky string. This catches their food, much like a spider’s web)

Photo Credit: Glowworm Caves

We also walked into a separate cave called Ruakuri Cave. This was less about observing the glowworms and more about the cave formations inside. The walk was filled with stalactites and stalagmites which are created by deposits of minerals escaping slow drips of water. These ones in particular are said to be millions of years old. WOW!

DSC_0183(The illuminated spiral staircase lead us to the cave below)

DSC_0250(Look how still the water is below, it makes for a beautiful reflection. This group is referred to as “the pretties”)

DSC_0283(The hole is on piece of the cave shows the illuminated piece in the back)

DSC_0244(This is an example of how the first explorers came in to check out the caves. Scary job!)

DSC_0281(Close up of the mineral ceiling. Can you see the bits of water on the sides of it? In about 100,000 years there would be another formation just like it built from those tiny drops of water)

If you have any interest in exploring this further, the tours we took are here: Glowworm and Ruakuri. I loved them both, the guides that took us down were energetic, personable, and really knowledgable. I just love how excited they are about their culture and it’s a fascinating one.

Te Puia.

DSC_0385_2The main attraction of Rotarua, New Zealand is a huge geyser and thermal land called Pohutu. It has been ranked as one of the top 10 geysers to visit in the world by Lonely Planet. It erupts like clockwork and for 20 minutes at a time, it does not disappoint.

DSC_0382_2(A close up of the mineral rock that is continuously being added to as the geyser erupts)

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DSC_0427_2(The back side of the geyser)

DSC_0433_2(It erupted for at least 30 minutes straight when we were there)

DSC_0462(The steam in the distance)

DSC_0440_2(The thermal land also created bubbling pools of clay)

DSC_0449_2(Notice all of the steam arising from the clay)

The Earth is a crazy thing, huh? Isn’t it cool to think about what is going on below our feet every day? It’s fun to be able to actually see the activity through water or mud or clay.

Queenstown, New Zealand

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Our very first day in New Zealand was spent in the South Island in Queenstown. Completely majestic, it sits on a pristine lake surrounded by beautiful mountains and hills. It was a bit chilly that day, the clouds were rolling in quickly and it began to drizzle.

DSC_0620(On our walk around the lake, there were dozens of benches inviting us to take in the scenery)

DSC_0562(When we arrived, the clouds started moving towards us rapidly, bringing the rain)

DSC_0639(That’s it, tiny Queenstown)

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DSC_0748(We found this great bridge on our walk)

DSC_0770(A tiny little duck not far from his family)

 Queenstown was my favorite city that we visited on our trip. It has a lot of fun activities for tourists and is filled with foreigners looking to live somewhere beautiful even if only for a few months.

New Year, New Attitude.

DSC_0292When I was in New Zealand (Waitamo to be exact), we stayed on a mini farm with some very silly animals! They had so much personality and it was so easy to take photos of them. Looking back on these pictures, I think it is important to remind yourself to let loose and have a little fun, enjoy life!

DSC_0296(This guy. I couldn’t get one serious photo of him, not one)

DSC_0301(These guys. Real sleepers, I could learn a thing or two from them)

DSC_0293(He was just pretty. Kind of intimidating but also seemed to be the guy in charge).

If you get a chance to hang out with tame animals, take it. It’s a lot of fun to explore their personalities, every animal is so different.

I Love Pom Poms.

DSC_0039_2My favorite trend of the year is easily return of the pom pom. I found this great store called Dotti in Queenstown and knew this is what I wanted to scoop up!

DSC_0040_2(I want to find a pom pom maker and add them to pillows and even simple tees)

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DSC_0043_2(Great lace detail on the top of the shirt)

DSC_0034_2(Earrings: Kate Spade)

I am looking forward to finding more pieces with subtle pom poms. I think it’s a fun way to add some flare to basic pieces.

Queenstown Botanical Garden.

DSC_0653We took a refreshing walk around part of Queenstown’s Lake Wakatipu which held a frisbee golf course, botanical gardens, and a beautiful view of the lake (photos coming soon). We captured some great shots of the flowers blooming during a light drizzle on this brisk Summer day in New Zealand. God, I loved New Zealand.

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DSC_0658(Fresh drops of rain falling from the rose leaves)

DSC_0676(Bees were everywhere, grabbing up all of the pollen)

DSC_0682(My favorite part of a rose’s life, just starting to bloom)

DSC_0734(Lastly, my very very favorite flowers were these oversized peony looking flowers. So beautiful!)

I think there is no better place to be than a place covered in flowers.

Welcome to Mordor.

DSC_0065_2Part of the plan (not mine) was to hike through the Tongariro National Park up to Mt Ngauruhoe, also known as Mount Doom. I’m sure you remember the infamous journey Frodo and Sam made to destroy that infamous ring, I just wasn’t ready to fight off all those Orcs! Luckily for me (sadly for Nick and Bryan) the mountain was covered in snow and high winds in a bit of unusual Summer weather and we just weren’t prepared for something like that. We were able to do another beautiful hike (photos coming soon) but here are some photos of the beautiful mountain range.

DSC_0076_2(“The area has jagged volcanic rock formations and eerie barren landscapes, ideally suited to Mordor’s hissing wasteland.”)

DSC_0072_2(I said “hello” to the neighboring cows but they hated me)

DSC_0242_2(“Much of Frodo and Sam’s journey into the land of Sauron was filmed on and around the Tongariro National Park“- super cool, huh?!)

DSC_0244_2(I can’t explain how overwhelming it was, I can see why Peter Jackson chose it for the movies)

I’m not much of a hiker but from what I hear, this is a really great trek! It is also an active volcano which can be a little scary but also pretty cool if it doesn’t erupt while you are walking across it. 🙂

Craters of the Moon.

DSC_0256_2In the North island of New Zealand, we visited Craters of the Moon in the city of Taupo. It was a 45 minute walk that showed off all of the thermal activity including bubbling craters and steam vents. You could hear the water under the Earth bubbling which in turn created all of the steam. It was unreal, like something out of Jurassic Park. They call it “Gollum’s Lair” in our guide book which isn’t exactly accurate (as they didn’t film that there) but it was fun to think that he lived there.

DSC_0283_2(The steam was huge and went high into the sky)

DSC_0301_2(Just take a look at all of this thermal activity!)

DSC_0325_2(Bryan and I walked into the steam and my sunglasses got all fogged up and blinded me. It was fun!)

DSC_0332_2(Each of those small holes created a ton of steam and were pretty loud as well)

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Just another natural wonder in New Zealand. Such fun, I can’t wait to go back!