At GeoVisions, we like to toot our own horn and write about our great work abroad programs, like being an au pair in Australia, or teaching in China. But every now and then, we like to change it up a bit. So when we heard about Mike and Sherri Everett’s amazing trip to Australia and New Zealand earlier this year, which included a “Lord of the Rings” tour, we wanted to write a blog about it.
For Sherri’s 60th birthday, the Cincinnati couple decided it was “time to cross something off our bucket list” and travel to Australia and New Zealand.
Their first trip was to the beautiful country of Australia. Among their stops were Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Kuranda and Tasmania. The largest city in Australia, Sydney has around 4.6 million people. Sherri describes it as “beautiful, clean and easy to navigate.” She also adds, “The various views surrounding the harbor were picturesque.” A highlight of this trip for the movie buffs was a tour that included seeing Russell Crowe’s house.
From water to air, the Everett’s covered it all in Cairns for the Great Barrier Reef. They rode on a glass-bottom boat to see the various vibrant fish and coral. And also took a helicopter tour of the GBR. The Everett’s both agree it’s even more “spectacular” from the air. (Pictured above.)
When visiting Melbourne, Sherri has this advice:
“Don’t make my mistake and pronounce it like it’s spelled. Instead say ‘Mel Burn’ and you won’t get corrected.”
(Other tidbits learned: Tips aren't expected. According to one baggage handler, they are already paid "very well," and giving a tip is a sure sign that you're probably an American. And they don't use very much, if any, ice in their sodas.)
Sherri says one of her favorite stops in Melbourne was the Olympic stadium where they now play rugby and cricket. The couple also went through St. James’ Cathedral, which they say was “absolutely gorgeous.”
“Interesting, exciting and challenging.” That’s how they describe their trip across the Tasman Sea. Sherri explains that although the cruise ship was very large, it still swayed heavily in the waters, making walking a bit of a challenge.
And of course no Australian vacation would be complete without a koala bear encounter. In the Kuranda Rainforest, the Everett’s did get to hold a koala bear. They also got to walk freely amongst kangaroos and wallabies in a petting zoo.
That’s a wrap for Australia mate - now on to New Zealand. In Fjordland, they traveled on a cruise ship through various fjords (a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs.)
“It was a very unique experience, as you were literally less than 100 yards on each side of the ship to mountains covered with snow,” says Mike.
In Akaroa, New Zealand, the couple took a tour which included stops at: Canterbury Station, Christ Church and the “Lord of the Rings” filming sites. Sherri recalls, “The tour guide we had made the site where they filmed the movie come to life for us.”
In Tauranga, the Everett’s also got to tour “Hobbiton”- the made up town where “The Lord of the Rings” was filmed. On the tour Sherri learned: “Hobbiton from the original “Lord of the Rings” was just a movie set not designed to be left in place, but when they filmed the Hobbit movies they built a permanent structure.”
Three weeks later, the Everett’s were ready to return home to their friends and family in Ohio. However, they said they had a blast. And an extra bonus for Sherri, “I got to celebrate my birthday twice- once in Australia and again when we got home since we crossed the International Date Line.”