Earlier this month I traveled across the world to Sydney, Australia to keynote at Affili@Syd thenÂ stopped by Christchurch, New Zealand before heading back home. It was my first time visiting these two countries, so I thought I’d let you know how it went.
When you think about Australia, you will most likely think of the outback and kangaroos… so did I, but I was actually on the other side of the country and stayed in Sydney, which is a very large city and nothing like what might pop into your head when you think of Australia. Once arriving, I found out that the airlines left my luggage back in the USA and it would arrive the next day, so this gave me the opportunity to check around the city and pick up some necessities. Being from the US, I’m used to seeing well known department stores like Target, Walmart, fast food chains all over the place and just being familiar with my surroundings. However, you won’t find many (or any) of these in Sydney… and I actually only came across a few McDonald’s and one Starbucks when walking throughout most of the City.
Sydney is of course most well known for the Sydney Opera house. I was staying at the Westin hotel and it was a decent walk to the harbor where you could see the Opera House, visit the market place and other cool attractions in the area. This photo is an awesome view of Sydney from the harbor then into the city. (image source)
During my time in Sydney I realized the people that live within Sydney were extremely nice. After spending a few days in Sydney, Australia, it was time to head over to New Zealand for the first time.
Christchurch, New Zealand
I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand, especially after the filming and documentaries on Lord of the Rings and all of their NZ filming locations. Flying into the country was simply gorgeous. You could see the mountains, valleys, endless fields of sheep and more. Arriving in Christchurch, it was a different story. I was staying at the Millennium Hotel which is right in the middle of Cathedral Square, which is one of the main focal points of the city. Once you walked a few blocks outside of the square, you were right in the city area with office buildings and stores everywhere… completely different from the atmosphere flying into the country.
As mentioned, Lord of the Rings was one of the best things to happen to New Zealand because of all the attention and new tourism. Since the movie was filmed throughout the whole country, it would be quite the task to visit all of the movie sites, but I did get a chance to visit Edoras where Rohan was filmed in the movie. It took a few hours to get out into the mountains, but it was great to actually get outside of the city.
I also made time to visit the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. It was only about 20 minutes from the hotel and $50 taxi fare each way to and from the zoo. The Willowbank animal reserve was only $25 per person, but well worth the taxi fare and one of my favorite zoos I’ve been to. I was actually one of the only people there and got to spend plenty of time there and all of the animals were running up to me as I walked around the park, hoping for some food. Right now it’s winter (temps around 50 degrees F) in Australia and New Zealand, so not many people visit the reserve, but it was nice weather for me (being from NJ / NY area). The wallabies (pic to right) were the best, as they were so friendly and would eat right from your hands and let you pet them.
With my remaining time in New Zealand, I visited several other destinations and tried to book a helicopter tour at Mt. Cook. It was a four hour ride to get there, then within a mile of the airport, there was a blizzard and it was canceled.
I only had a few days in each country, but there was so much to see and do, both Australia and New Zealand were amazing. On my next visit I’ll make sure to leave more time to visit outside of the main city areas.