Monthly Archives: February 2017

New Zealand – Auckland – Feb 26/27, 2017

From Rotorua, we drove to Aukland, first to Waitomo, where we enjoyed a guided excursion underground through the Ruakuri Cave Complex with its fascinating natural landforms including tiny glow-worms (formally known as Arachnocampa luminosa – just in case you needed to know) that shine in the dark like stars.  Thousands of these tiny creatures radiated their unmistakable luninescent light while our expert guides provided informative commentary on the Caves’ historical and geological significance.  Unfortunately we don’t have pictures because the worms are camera shy.

We had lunch at the beautiful  Longlands Restaurant, a stunning hideaway in the NZ hills.

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Our journey then took us to the amazing Hobbiton Movie Studios where many of the Lord of the Rings and Hobit film trilogies were filmed.  It was a blast.  Leslie found ‘her people’.

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Later we travelled through rural landscapes and followed the willow-lined Waikato River and crossed the Bombay hills to Auckland, “The City of Sails”.  We were totally spoiled at the Stamford Plaza Auckland.

After breakfast, we joined our coach for a city orientation tour including views of historic Parnell and One Tree Hill.


We visited the Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand’s first museum showcasing the story of New Zealand, its place in the Pacific and its people.   Here is a kiwi, a Japanese fighter plane and an historic Maori canoe.

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Lunch was a Harbour Sailing Lunch Cruise around picturesque Auckland Harbour and we got to sail the boat! The weather has been fantastic during our whole Aussie and NZ trip and today was so magnificant with the warm sun on our faces and a breeze keeping us cool.

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This is the end of our New Zealand leg of our tour.  Tonight we fly to Sydney and then on to our home destinations.  This has been a wonderful trip.  We have seen so many sites, learned so much about New Zealand and Australia and have made life-long friends.  Thank you Women’s Travel Network and Worldwide Quest for a truly life changing experience.


New Zealand – Rotorua – Feb 25/26, 2017

We flew from Queenstown to Rotorua today.  After our arrival, we had a guided tour outside the museum and learned some of the interesting history of the pools, buildings and the grounds which have been transformed from a winderness of scrub, hot pools and geysers into the beautiful gardens of today.  Unfortunately the museum had been damaged in the earthquake of 2016 and was not open to the public.

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In the evening we visited the Maori village called ‘Te Tawa Ngahere Pa’ in the midst of Rotorua’s ancient Tawa Forest and immersed ourselves in the colourful culture of the Tamaki Maori with a cultural performance of songs, dances, storytelling and traditional feasting.  Our food was cooked the traditional Maori way on hot stones in an authentic earthen oven.  Karl was our appointed our ‘chief’ and Katie his ‘mis-chief’.

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We started Saturday with a breakfast cruise along Lake Rotorua on a traditional paddle steamer.  Here is Debbie and our captain.


After breakfast, we met our coach and guide for our in-depth sightseeing tour of Rotorua, starting with the Te Puia Arts and Culture Centre to see the renowned geothermal activity including boiling mud pools, gentle hot springs, and violent geysers including the world famous Pohutu Geyser.  Our guide Paul gave us an indepth history of the Maori discovery of Rotarura and the subsequent arrival of European settlers.

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From Te Puia, we drove to the Agrodome where we learned about the thriving sheep industry in New Zealand and were entertained with sheep shearing and dog hearding.  Sheep from different breeds strutted their stuff!  Linda was invited to milk the cows and Rookie fed the lambs.

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We enjoyed dinner at our delightful hotel right in the heart of the city, Novotel Rotorua Lakeside.  It is our last formal night together.  Tomorrow we head to Auckland.

New Zealand – Queenstown – Thurs, Feb 23, 2017

Today was a day of leisure to enjoy the city independently. A few of us took a KJet for a 60-minute thrill ride. The Kjet travels at 85 km/hr, can do a 360 and can travel in 5cm of water.



Some parasailed and ticked off that item on their bucket list.

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Others golfed at the local club or toured wine country.   Others enjoyed touring Queenstown and hotel amenities.

New Zealand – Milford Sound – Wed, Feb. 22

On Wednesday, after a hearty breakfast, we departed on our full-day tour to spectacular Fiordland National Park and world famous Milford Sound.   What a beautiful day it was.   Milford Sound holds the distinction of being the wettest inhabited place in New Zealand – and one of the wettest places in the world.  We were fortunate enough to have a rare day where it was sunny and the highest peaks and glaciers were clearly visible.  Milford Sound is really a fiord created by glacier runoff.  On the way to Milford Sound our route took us along the shores of Lake Wakatipu, one of New Zealand’s prettiest lakes, and through Mirror Lakes and The Chasm, an incredible gorge caused by torrential waterfall. At this point we were half way between the equator and the south pole.

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We drove through the Homer Tunnel which was started in 1930, delayed by the war and completed in 1953.

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Upon arrival at Milford sound, we boarded a scenic cruise ship for lunch and site seeing.


Our two-hour luncheon cruise sailed the length of the fiord right up to the 1200-foot cliffs and thundering waterfalls.   As our vessel turned at the point where the fiord met the Tasman Sea,  the sea got very rough and the winds strong.  We saw how this majestic fiord, hidden at first, unfolded before us.

Here is Mitre Peak the largest mountain in NZ at 1,692 m.  Rarely visible due to poor weather but visible today.


Here is Harrison Glacier.   Again, rarely visible but clear today.


We sailed right up to the waterfall at Sterling Falls.   They say that water from the falls will make you 10 years younger.   We all got soaking wet…we were trying for 20 years younger.



The NZ fur seals were basking in the sun.


Milford Sound, this ‘8th wonder of the world’ was a highlight of our NZ trip.  A shout out to Tish for her incredible pictures.   We returned to our hotel for dinner and relaxing.  A few of us went to Pog Mahones on the Wharf and listened to live music.  The beer, nachos and pub pies were fantastic.  Tomorrow is a day of leisure.   Some of us are going jet boating and wine tasting.

Feb. 21 Last Day. :-(


We drove almost 1 1/2 hours to the AirPort but lots to see along THE way, as always!

The Kochi airport is THE first one powered by solar energy only!


Checking in with Spice Jet Airlines.  Shirley is flying to Bombay and Shahira, Leslie and Mollie are flying to New Delhi with THE Group but staying there an extra three days. Norma and I are flying to Toronto tonight.


And we are boarding.


A huge Thank You to World wide Quest, Womens Travel Network, Sandeep and Bala for making this trip such a succes. But THE most important people are our travellers who truly made this trip exceptional. It has been a privilege to be your tour Leader on this trip. I hope to Travel with you all again sometime.  You made my job so easy and fun! Many, Many Thanks.  Life is Good !! As Sandeep would say: Blessings!!!!

Hugs, Nanette






Monday Feb 20- Kochi

We continued  to explore Kochi, a city with over 3 million people. We visited THE old Fort area (the fort was destroyed ) , an intiguing mix of ancient mosques, a 400 year old synagoge, the remains of the Raj. We visited an old Palace with amazing frescoes that survived the destruction by the Portuguese and the Dutch as in some was gorgeous but mo Photos allowed.

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“Swastika” and star of David are peacefully Side by Side.


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We are always happy when we can share a large Bottle of Kingfisher!

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Sandeep always has a surprise for us and this afternoon he arrangeert for a boat ride.

here are some often thi gs we saw, kn lading some dolphins!

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We all did some great Shopping in the local market and Leslie issnowing off a new tea cozy !!


image imageThis was our last dinner as a Group and we were spoiled with a delicious seafood dinner.






New Zealand – Christchurch – Feb 19/20, 2017

Christchurch is New Zealand’s second-largest city and the gateway to the South Island.  Bordered by hills and the Pacific Ocean, it is situated on the edge of the Canterbury Plains that stretch to the Southern Alps.  On arrival, we were transferred to our absolutely stunning hotel, the Chateau on the Park, rested up after our flight and had a delightful dinner at the hotel.  The next morning we enjoyed a guided tour of the city.  Christchurch is a vibrant, cosmopolitan place with exciting festivals, theatre, modern art galleries, and great shopping.  In the centre of the city is the gently winding Avon River.  However, it has been plagued by earthquakes over the past few years.  Sept 2010, Dec 2010, Feb 2011, and Nov 2016.   There have been 12,000 aftershocks over the past 6 years.  The quake of Feb 2011 was not as strong as 2010 but was faster, more shallow and did much more damage.  185 lives were lost and most of the city was damaged.  16,000 homes have had to be demolished and the total cost has been about 60 billion dollars.  The city is resilient and is being rebuilt but it will take time and money.

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The second picture is a memorial – white chairs depicting all 185 lives lost.


After our morning touring Christchurch we drove to Pegasus Bay Winery.  Pegasus Bay is owned and operated by the Donaldson family who were pioneers of the local wine industry.  We enjoyed lunch and (yet another delighful) wine tasting experience.  We sat outside and ate a gourmet lunch of fish, venison, oysters, potatoes, salad, gnocchi and desert.  The wine was also lovely.

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Late afternoon and evening were independent.  Some had dinner at the hotel and some went for Thai food.  Another beautiful day.

Saturday Feb. 18. Drive to Aleppey (houseboats) and Kochi next day

We started our day with an eatly morning yoga Session.

It is Shahira’s birthday today and we celebrated at breakfast as we would be on the houseboat tonight. We started breakfast with cake! Great way to start the day! Happy birthfay to Shahira and Many more in good healthy with lots of exciting Travel.

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We drove to Alleppey afterwards on the Kerala backwaters on the Arabian sea.

lunch was served once again on palm leaves and it was delicious. Nice welcome!


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We had two houseboats: one with two bedrooms and one with three.

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It was so relaxing to float along THE river Gaming out over THE luscious green paddy fields and enjoying watching village life.

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We stopped in one of THE villages and visited a Church and a wood carving shop.

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This sure is THE good life!

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Shahira admiring Ger beautiful cabin.

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Fisherman’s casting their nets in THE early morning.


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It was back to reality after breakfast and we drove to Kochi, a three hour drive along THE Coast.

We tournee Fort Kochi, THE oldest European settlement in India which retains an old world charm with heritage buildings from THE Portuguese and Dutch periods.

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We even learned how to operate THE Chinese Fishing boats! Great team work ladies!

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The day ended with a Kathakali performance, THE traditional dance of Kerala. It was more of a theatre production than  a dance.


Leslie and Amélie had matching outfits made! How cute are they?




We ended THE day by dancing to HOT HOT HOY which it is here. 32 and humid.

Tomorrow is ou last day….l :-(


Australia – Melbourne – Sat. Feb 18, 2017

Today we enjoyed a walking tour of the hidden laneways of Melbourne. Our tour was led by three knowledgeable guides who introduced us to the special sights and atmosphere of Melbourne’s beautiful laneways and historic arcades.   We saw the quirkiest cafes, independent designers, street art, architecture, and heard many historical tales about the area.   Melbourne was named Batmania by its founders.  Queen Victoria didn’t like the name and renamed it Melbourne after the Prime Minister of England at the time.

The oldest pub in Melbourne is ‘Chloes’ and it is named after a prostitute whose real name was Marie.  The artist painting of ‘Chloe’ is now worth 5.4 million dollars.  Marie died tragically when she poisoned herself.  Here is a picture of the pub sign and also a picture of ‘Chloe’.

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Here is a famous soup kitchen called The Soup Place.   Patrons buy themselve a bowl of soup, and if they feel like it, donate an additional $3 for the homeless who come around 4 pm to have a cup of soup.   Donators write their name on the wall on sticky notes.

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Here is Gog and Magog who are the protectors of the northern and southern hemisphere.


We had tea and hot chocolate at Kokoblack

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Hozier Lane is famous for it’s graffiti art.   The government offices wanted to paint over the graffiti until the Lonely Planet book mentioned it as ‘a place to see’.   Wisely the government chose to leave the graffiti alone.


It is our final night in Australia.

This evening we had a special dinner on board a converted air-conditioned 1927 tram that has become the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant.  It was a delightful experience andIMG_1209 IMG_1208

highlighed our wonderful tour of Australia.  Some of our travellers unfortunately have to head back home tomorrow.  We will miss them!   The rest of us will travel to New Zealand tomorrow.   Thank you Australia, Women’s Travel Network and Worldwide Quest for a delightful adventure!

Australia – Melbourne – Fri. Feb 17, 2017

After our short flight from Adelaide to Melbourne we were picked up by our private coach and delivered to our hotel, The Crown Promenade.

A delicious lunch was held at the BearBrass Restaurant near our hotel.  Later afternoon we travelled two hours to Phillip Island where we witnessed the nightly ritual of the fairy penguin parade.  Hundreds of little penguins emerge from the sea and waddle resolutely up the beach to their nests.  The parade takes place like clockwork a few minutes after sunset each day.  They can travel about 2 kilometers each way to their nest daily and can swim up to 100 kms each day.  Not bad for little penguins who are about 33 cms in height.   Pictures of the penguins who are coming out of the sea are not allowed because they are disturbed by camera flashes but we were able to take a picture of the babies in their roost waiting for mom and dad to return with dinner.   Here are few highlights of our penguin adventure.


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