We started the trip out in style. A limo picked us up at our house at 4am and delivered us to the airport. What a luxury!
Snoozing in the limo.
Arrived at LAX to spend one night before our 12 hour flight to the other side of the world.
In front of the iconic Encounter Restaurant at LAX where we planned to have dinner later.
It was fun having dinner in such a cool environment. Great way to start the trip. The food was great, a precursor to what awaited us on the cruise.
Priority check-in at LAX was nice. No line, no waiting.
All the amenities and great food made the 12 hour journey bearable. Exactly like first class, except our seats didn't recline all the way.
Landed in Auckland, New Zealand where we took another 3 hour flight to Sydney.
We had crossed the international dateline. We left LA on Dec 31st and arrived in Auckland on January 2nd.
When we checked into our room, we found a nice champagne and cheese greeting with a note from the concierge at the Four Seasons.
Our favorite restaurant, right across the street from the Four Seasons, Jacksons on George St, an irish pub.
We ate dinner there three times. Lamb shanks, shepherd's pie, beer, etc.
Early the next morning I took a walk to photograph the Sydney harbor area before the city woke up.
Didgeridoo buskers in Sydney harbor.
Intrepid climbers of the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
The famous Sydney Opera House needs no introduction.
These are masked lapwings.
I could not find out what the significance of the underwear is, hanging from the umbrellas at the Opera Cafe.
Love the sign, "Please walk on the grass".
Darling Harbor was full of these harmless jellyfish.
The mesh covered dome is where we were scheduled to go for our Australian Wildlife Encounter.
At the Wildlife City Zoo in Darling Harbor for Breakfast with the Koalas
The laughing kookabura
The guide got Georg a feather from the kookabura enclosure.
These parrots were courting to the music of Nessum Dorma
The harbor area was bustling with life in the evening.
View from our room at the Four Seasons. Watching our ship come into port.
After five days in Sydney we finally boarded our ship, Regent Seven Seas' Voyager.
We were greeting with a glass of champagne.
Our luggage had already been delivered to our cabin.
A chilled bottle of champagne, fruit and flowers awaited us.
We had our own espresso maker in the room.
I don't even have a walk-in closet at home!
Chilling on our balcony with a view of Sydney harbor.
Romantic dinner in port with a perfect view of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
One of the excellent performances, but we didn't attend many evening shows since we got up early for our tours.
Our first tour to the Blue Mountains and a thrilling ride.
The Three Sisters at Blue Mountains.
Another tour of the harbor area and Manly Beach.
January is their summer season, opposite of ours.
In the morning, my quiet time staring at the water.
We could have anything for room service, anytime we wanted. All inclusive.
Lunch the first day was an Australian buffet on the pool deck, which included grilled kangaroo and crocodile among other things.
The corks on the hat are a joke, but in some outback areas of Australia the flies are really BAD.
Teatime in the lounge with live piano music.
Pavlova, an iconic Australian dessert.
One of the restaurants onboard. Two required reservations: Prime 7 and Signatures, which were amazing, but the food in La Veranda was every bit as good.
Check out this menu.
My lobster salad appetiser.
Prime 7 restaurant.
My apps were fois gras sliders AND ahi tuna tartar
Butter poached lobster and Beef Wellington!
In Wellington, we took a morning tour of a beautiful winery.
When we got off the ship in Picton we were greeted by women who gave each of us a little bouquet of flowers.
One too many tours for Georg.
I love the cloud formations. We spent the day cruising in Picton.
And I was up at daybreak to catch this magnificent sunrise.
We were woken up by how bright the moon was, shining into our room.
It's amazing how large the rhododendrums get there!
After lunch we were treated to a ride on a "punt" on the Avon River in Christchurch, which is recovering from a recent earthquake.
Another friendly wave...
New Zealanders are the friendliest people I've ever met. They teach their children to wave at strangers.
I really liked this sparkling Reisling!
It was the only port in which we had to board tenders (the orange boats) to get ashore because the water was too shallow in port.
The next morning, arriving in Akaroa.
Back on board of the Voyager.
So, this is where the chocolate comes from??? One of their factories.
The historic train station in Dunedin.
I have never seen these cloud formations anywhere else in the world.
I like this billboard!
Arrived by bus at Nature's Wonder's Wildlife Safari for an exciting ride on 8 person Argo vehicles.
We had a distant glimpse of a little penguin making a solo exit from the sea. We were also able to watch little baby penguins hiding in crevices in the rocks. We were not able to photograph them or make any sound, so as not to frighten them away.
And then it was off to Pencarrow Lodge for tea and refreshments followed by a sheepherding demonstration.
On the way back we saw this ship which had sunk and they pulled it out of the sea.
We made our sad goodbyes, with promises of a visit from him in the States.
After our tour, we had the extreme pleasure of meeting an old friend we hadn't seen in over 25 years, who was born in New Zealand and lives in Wellington.
Zane picked us up at the ship and took us out for the afternoon.
We were able to see Parliament (which was not in session), which is where he works.
And it was back to the ship for a champagne and caviar reception in the Observation Lounge.
I LOVE caviar!
We actually caught a glimpse of a whale!
At dinner in La Veranda, we had local New Zealand green mussels. It's the only place in the world you can get them. They are huge - three times the size of the mussels we normally get. I personally devoured two dozen.
This was "almost" too pretty to eat.
Another amazing sky at night from our balcony.
The next day there was a seafood buffet on the Pool Deck. I was in heaven.
Made to order Pad Thai.
King crab legs and...
Kiwi can be a fruit, a bird and also what they call New Zealanders.
This is the way they grow, off the ground protected by the wind by large hedges on each side.
There is a continuous bike path that starts at the tip of the North Island of New Zealand and goes all the way to the bottom of the South Island. How cool is that!
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Yellowstone on steroids! The mud and the waters are considered to be very therapeutic and healing. You can buy the mud in packets to use for facials.
You see a lot of barefoot people in the city - no rules against it in stores.
Arriving in Auckland in the wee morning hours.
I have never seen such amazing colors naturally occurring in nature. These photos are not touched up in any way.
A cruise and lunch on a paddleboat, with a Maori performance.
A huge rock of jade, which is supposed to bring luck if you run your hands over it.
This is my favorite hotel of all time!
We had a balcony overlooking the lounge and eating area.
I'm going to call him Georgie-Pie from now on.
Our last day in New Zealand, we took yet another ferry to explore.
Who crochets covers for trees?!!!!
Our last lovely lunch at a French restaurant.
Back at the Auckland airport getting ready for our 12 hour flight back home to snow and frigid temperatures.
Our final nod to luxury, as our limo driver met us at baggage claim and wouldn't let us lift a finger.
We could get used to this, haha! What a wonderful journey we had. Thank you Lord for the opportunity to do this. These are just a few of the 1800 photos I took. Weeding them out was difficult, like choosing between one's children. If you made it this far, hope you enjoyed them.