We’ve been asking travel bloggers to share their most memorable travel experiences and they have not disappointed! This post is all about Australia and New Zealand so get ready to take notes.
1.Hiking Lake Moke, New Zealand
One of my most memorable travel experiences would have to be in beautiful New Zealand. What I saw was almost unbelievable and one of the greatest encounters I’ve had during all my years of travelling. This stunning country is literally bursting with pleasant surprises!
I’m talking about a little-known attraction called Moke Lake just 20mins drive from Queenstown. The tranquillity here is a nice diversion from the bustling adrenaline capital of New Zealand’s South Island.
Perfect weather conditions during my visit made me feel so fortunate – a clear, yet cool winter’s day without wind. Not even the slightest breeze to create ripples on the lake’s surface. This combination brought Mother Nature’s giant mirror to life before my eyes and I was completely mesmerized. Never had I been anywhere with water so still and air so silent!
There were a few hiking tracks of varying lengths to choose from surrounding Moke Lake so I could experience this wonder from different viewpoints. The easiest loop track took me 1½ hours and was mostly an easy hike. In parts there were steep hills where I needed to catch my breath but nothing too extreme. It had recently rained so there were muddy sections and some bonus little waterfalls beside the track coming off the mountains above. This capped off an otherwise perfect visit.
A final tip for visiting Moke Lake (and I highly recommend you do!): Bring plenty of drinking water, especially during winter because the water pipes at the nearby campsite freeze. If you plan your visit during summer months, bring plenty of insect repellant as the sandflies can be nasty.
Moke Lake is the ultimate example of why we should experience nature’s raw beauty. Who needs Photoshop when the scenery looks this good?!
2. Hiking to Mount Warning (NSW), Australia
Mount Warning is the highest point (approx. 1 159 m) in the most easterly part of Australia, and therefore it is said to be the first place to hit the sun in Australian mainland. Hiking here to see the sunrise is popular thing to do, which is also what I chose to do – and I was not disappointed.
I did the hike with a group of friends from the farm where I worked at that time. We decided to hike to the mountain in the evening and spend the night at the summit to make sure we would see the whole sunrise. We started hiking around 7 pm, a little before the sunset. It was almost full moon and the sky was clear, so most of the hike our path was actually lighted by the moon! As soon as we climbed above the clouds the views were truly magical – you could see the summits of the smaller mountains in surrounding area and the the moonlight was reflected from the clouds below us.
Although the path to the summit was amazing the absolute highlight was the sunrise itself. We woke up around 4 am when the first hikers started to arrive to the summit and the sky started to be painted with different shades of red. From the summit we had panoramic views to the surrounding areas, all the way from Byron Bay to Gold Coast on the coast side, and to the smaller mountains on the inland side. It took almost two hours for the sun to be completely up and during this time the color of the sky changed its colors from all the tones of red, orange and yellow. The sunrise in Mount Warning was definitely one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen.
3. Wave Rock, Australia
I spent 6 months in Australia as an au pair. During this time I experienced a lot of cool things like surfing, cliff jumping, petting kangaroos and seeing dolphins next to me while I was cycling along the Swan River. However my most memorable trip was visiting the Wave Rock in Western Australia. I remember when I first came across this rock on 9gag. I though it looked really cool, so I googled the location. I sadly acknowledged that it was on the other side of the world, meaning I would never see it with my own eyes. I was 16 at the time and while I dreamed about overseas travel it wasn’t really realistic to me at the time.
3 years later there I was pretending to ride the Wave Rock, snapping pictures for my Instagram. Life can be crazy sometimes! It was an 8 hour round trip drive from Perth. Quite a long way just to see a rock! But it was so worth it! Not just because I think this rock looks really interesting. Me being there, represented that dreams can come true if we work hard enough for them! Our road trip went through empty Aussie roads, which was quite the experience in itself. I saw the famous yellow kangaroo signposts by the road and wind powered irrigation water pumps that I heard so much about. Apart from Wave Rock we came across another cool rock formation called the Hippo’s Yawn and in Mulka’s Cave we saw amazing hand prints. What an Aussie adventure it was!
4. Visiting White Island, New Zealand
When you visit New Zealand’s most active volcano it is no doubt a memorable travel experience and exploring White Island was exactly that. Unfortunately, it is not the most accessible location due to being privately owned as well as being a scenic reserve. Only authorised tour providers have permission to stop at White Island, so you will need to book through one to visit. I decided to go with White Island Tours who operate out of Whakatane. Though, if your budget is not so tight it is also possible to visit White Island on a helicopter tour from Tauranga or Rotorua.
The morning we departed for White Island the sun was shining and the oceans were calm in Whakatane harbour. Jumping onto the launch with White Island Tours we were given helmets and gas masks to keep us safe in the harsh environment we would soon be venturing into. Dolphins follow the boat as we make our way towards the island, playing in the waves and jumping up. Soon White Island appears in the distance, easily recognisable by the thick smoke flowing high into the sky.
As we land the collapsed carter walls allow us to easy enter and explore the barren landscape. Sulphur vents dot our surroundings pumping out smoke making it exceptionally difficult to breathe. I have never seen a place like this before, so empty with no life apart from the occasional seabird and tour group which visit. The plant life is minimal and even the grass has difficultly growing on the outside of the carter walls. Walking up to the collapsed lahar provides a great view of the island itself. The bright yellow, orange and green colours which make up the landscape do not seem natural, though due to the chemicals and sulphur it covers the ground they have thrived. I don’t think I will ever come across somewhere similar to White Island and I honestly don’t expect to, it’s like walking on another planet.
5. Bruce Belcher’s Crocodile Cruise
Australia is world renowned for bustling cities, fabulous beaches, world class dining, epic natural beauty and deadly critters. Home to some of the world’s most deadly snakes, spiders and jellyfish, visitors are right to be a little wary. One of the most feared is the saltwater crocodile, or salties as we call them. Salties inhabit the waterways of northern Australia in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The safest way to see a saltie up close and personal without becoming lunch is on a cruise and Bruce Belcher’s Crocodile Cruises in Tropical North Queensland are one of the best. Your one-hour cruise will take you through the Daintree Rainforest in the World Heritage listed Wet Tropics. The comfortable, fully-equipped small boats are especially designed to navigate the shallows and hug the banks where the crocs hang out. Croc spotting is not easy as these guys are masters of disguise and blend almost seamlessly into the muddy mangroves. Binoculars are supplied to help find the elusive beasts and Bruce Belcher’s even supply teeny tiny ones for the littlest of cruisers. Look out for ‘the big guy’ (pictured).
He’s hard to miss! If your croc spotting skills are not up to scratch, your eagle-eyed captain will point them out so you don’t miss a thing. Bruce Belcher’s is a family run business that has been operating since 1987 and they take pride in providing a personal experience to each guest. The informative commentary and personal stories brings the experience to life. Cruises run multiple times per day and the midday cruise comes complete with lunch. If you find yourself in Cairns steal away from the Great Barrier Reef for a spell and hop on a Bruce Belcher cruise. It might just be the highlight of your trip down under!