So the next point on this amazing journey was that my parents and my sister were coming out to visit me in Australia!! How cool is that!! They were all flying into Cairns just 2 days after I finished my time on the volunteer projects. So I had to fly from Melbourne to Cairns (about 7 hours). It was so amazing that when I was looking at flights to meet up with them, a flight became available that managed to get me into Cairns 10 minutes before my parents arrived from the UK!! Incredible!! And I met them at the baggage arrivals!! It was great seeing everyone again, especially since this was the first Christmas that we had spent apart.
And so we began the Mistry Family Australia and New Zealand Adventure!
After we all arrived in Cairns, we got a taxi to Port Douglas where we had booked a family accommodation room with a kitchen so we could cook and I gotta say that it was unbelievable having Mum’s cooking!! I really did miss it!! And so I ate... and ate..... and ate..... and ate some more!! Yum Yum!!
At Port Douglas we went to the Daintree and Kuranda Rainforests where were saw crocodiles, monkeys and even a Casuary bird in the wild (looks like a colourful ostrich but it is an endangered bird)! These are so rare to see in the wild and it was so cool!! The rainforest was incredible and the wildlife was amazing. We saw so much variety and even had pictures with Koala bears at a wildlife reserve.
We also did a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef which was truly magnificent!! Neither words nor pictures can do it justice - amazing wouldn't even begin to describe it. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest living organism, is visible from space, and is one of the Natural Wonders of the World. We were able to do three dives while on our cruise tour of the reef as well as snorkel and it was AWESOME!! It didn’t take much persuading for us to wear a stinger suit, especially since a few days before, someone we hospitalized dues to jellyfish stings! Ouch!! But I have to say, these stinger suits, the only way to describe them is……. Tight!! But they did the trick and no one got stung.
There was so much to see and the weather was fantastic! Saw and swam with my first shark Whoop Whoop!! It was a grey tipped reef shark just over 2 meters long and it was great!! Also saw loads of sting rays, groupers, snappers, lionfish, eels, angelfish, damselfish and so much more!! My parents even went snorkeling on the reef and it was great to see them enjoying this amazing wonder of the world!!
We then headed down to Sydney by plane where we were there for a day and saw the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and we even had time to go and see Bondi Beach!! It seemed a lot smaller than I expected walking towards it, but once you go down to the sand and enjoy the surf, it is amazing! Really enjoyed Sydney and then the next day we were off to New Zealand!!
Now New Zealand……. WOW!! This is a country for adventure!! We flew into Auckland in the north island of New Zealand and as my flight arrived a few hours before my parents and my sister arrived so I used the time to sort out our first camper van where we would be touring New Zealand with!! It was great and our first stop was the Bay of Islands where we took a boat tour looking at dolphins, but as they were not exhibiting the correct playful behaviour, we could not swim with them, but it was still pretty cool seeing them so close. We then went to the Waitomo Caves where we did Black Water Rafting, Caving and saw the Glow Worms. This was pretty neat but a few times, I got close to being stuck in some of the cave tunnels.... not a pleasant feeling.... but super cool to get the adrenaline going!
We also visited the Wai O Tapu Volcanic park and saw one of the volcanoes erupt when certain salts are applied to it, during one of the tours. I even almost managed to lose one of my slippers by stepping on same of the volcanic clay.... I was pretty lucky, it was not boiling hot as some of them are, but my foot then smelt distinctly of sulphur for the rest of the day!! Nice!
And then came the Ice Glacier at San Jose!! Now this was Extreme!! This was one of only three Temperate Ice Glaciers in the world and this means that the glacier is formed in an area that also supports a rainforest. Mum and Dad started to scale the glacier before my sister and I did! Seeing them go up this amazing natural wonder was incredible!! And it was pretty scary going up this glacier. My sister and I were so proud!! Scaling the glacier was tough work and there were so many sights to see and challenges to overcome when crossing the glacier. There were even vertical tunnels (like chimney stacks) that we had to scale!! Whoop Whoop!! I have to say that this was one of the highlights of the trip!!
After San Jose, we drove down to Queenstown, the adventure capitol of the world and we all went on one of the Jet Boat rides!! This was insanely fast!!
And then our final stop on the New Zealand adventure was Akaroa where we really did save the best for last...... We swam with Hector’s Dolphins!!!! This was a truly exhilarating experience and one that I will never forget!! To see these wonderful creatures so close in the wild and to have them interacting and playing with you was just Awesome!! I loved it!!
And there ended the Mistry Family’s Australia and New Zealand Adventure........
My parents and my sister had to go back home and I had to carry on towards my next volunteer project. It was sad to see them go but I am so happy that they came out as we all had such an amazing time and it was fantastic to share these experiences with my family.
They had a good flight back to the UK and I had to go back to Sydney, where I stayed for a few days before my flight to the Ecuadorian Amazon for my next volunteer project – Rainforest Conservation Expedition.
On the day before I left Sydney to Ecuador, I was walking on Bondi Beach and I heard someone shout my name. As I looked around I saw it was one of the Surf Lifesaver Director Marshals that was calling me. As I walked closer to the guy I recognised him. It was one of my friends that I studied with at the University of Surrey, Dave who I met on my first day at Uni and I had not seen this guy in over 7 years!! How amazing is that. As soon as he finished Uni he immigrated to Australia and had been living there for over 7 years! I met up with most of his Surf Lifesaver friends as well as his girlfriend and her family and it was great catching up! What an amazing last day in Australia!
I absolutely loved Australia and there is so much yet to see.....
And early the next morning I was at the airport, ready to board the flight to my next volunteer project – Rainforest Conservation Expedition in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Whoop!! Whoop!!