Anna Down Under

Mom and Dad, you should be so proud of us. Two sisters, in a car for 24 hours over seven days… and we did not kill each other! I am happy to say that we have come a long way from the days of our bickering road trips!

Anna Down Under: New Zealand

I am so thankful that not only did Anna get to visit Sydney, but Anna, Mo and I all got to experience New Zealand for the first time together as well! We drove the entire West Coast of the South Island and experienced the charm, beauty, and simple living that makes up life in New Zealand. This was our road trip route:

New Zealand Roadtrip

Anna arrives in Sydney (looking pretty darn good after 24 hours of traveling)!

Sydney Queenstown

We all flew straight from Sydney to Queenstown. Early the next morning, we started the four hour drive to Milford Sound. We followed a map with suggested places to stop along the way, some of which included seeing the mountains reflected at Mirror Lake, driving through a massive mountain via Homer Tunnel, taking in the views in various mountain valleys, drinking glacier water at Monkey Creek, stopping at Gunn’s Camp (an old mining camp), and more. We were making great time until we got caught in a “LAMB JAM.” Absolute sheep chaos!

Road to Milford Sound Road to Milford Sound Road to Milford Sound Road to Milford Sound Road to Milford Sound      Road to Milford Sound Road to Milford SoundRoad to Milford SoundRoad to Milford Sound Road to Milford SoundRoad to Milford Sound

We arrived at Milford Sound just in time for our boat cruise. Pictures just don’t do it justice. It was a glorious sight to take in and we had the perfect day. It rains almost everyday, but we were fortunate enough to get sun and blue skies!

Milford Sound Milford Sound Milford Sound Milford Sound

We drove back to Queenstown the following day and spent the day enjoying the hiking trails, lakefront walk, food and unbelievable scenery. Anna even made friends with a “Kiwi!” (well, a stone one at least!) Kiwis are an endangered bird found only in New Zealand. (Fun fact: “Kiwi” is also a term for people who are from New Zealand). Everywhere we ate was so wonderful… especially the burgers from the famous Fergburger. We at first questioned why a small burger restaurant was famous, but after our first bites… we figured it out.

Queenstown Queenstown Queenstown Queenstown

Our next stop was Glenorchy, a small town outside of Queenstown, where various locations were used to film Lord of the Rings. We stopped to take pictures of Isengard, Amon Hen and drove through the “Misty Mountains.”

Glenarchy Glenarchy 

After a windy drive through national parks, farms and mountains, we reached our destination of Franz Josef. This was a definite highlight of our trip! We took a helicopter to the top of the Franz Josef Glacier and did a two hour hike on the top of it. We strapped on our “crampons” (special boots for walking on ice) and got an incredible up-close experience.

Franz Josef Glacier Franz Josef GlacierFranz Josef Glacier   Franz Josef Glacier  Franz Josef Glacier Franz Josef Glacier Franz Josef GlacierFranz Josef Glacier Franz Josef Glacier

Our last stop in New Zealand was the capitol city of Wellington. We did a sunrise hike to the top of Mount Victoria for a stunning view of the city and managed to even find a couple of Hobbit trolls! The Hobbit trolls were part of Weta Workshop, a creative design and production studio that has worked on Lord of the Rings, Avatar, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more movies. Our tour of Weta Cave walked us through the inspiring process of how an idea becomes real life. We saw various props, weapons and costumes that were used in movies, such as what the Hobbit actors wore as Hobbit feet!

Wellington Wellington Wellington

Anna Down Under: Sydney

Anna was thrilled about getting back on a plane (well, not quite… but the free wine and ice cream helped!), and three hours later we arrived in Sydney! Mo had to stay in Wellington a few extra days for work, which gave Anna and I time some really special time together.

We admired the enormous trees and picnicked in the Royal Botanic Gardens with the obnoxious squawking cockatoos (Anna’s favorite!)…

SydneySydney Sydney

Of course, went to the zoo, where Anna made lots of new little friends…

Sydney Sydney

Walked the 6K Coastal Walk, and ate lunch at a bookstore cafe


Saw the VIVID Lights festival in Sydney…

Sydney SydneySydney

Hiked trails in the Blue Mountains


Took a tour of the Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House Sydney Opera HouseSydney Opera HouseSydney Opera House

And surprised Anna on her last night with a Roosters vs. Storm rugby game!

SydneySydney Sydney

SO MUCH FUN. These pictures are just a small glimpse of the fun we had together! It was so wonderful spending time together, making dinners together, catching up, having good talks, laughing together and experiencing the beautiful countries of New Zealand and Australia. Although it went by too quickly, I am truly thankful for the two weeks together and all of the amazing memories that we now share and will cherish for the rest of our lives.

What’s on for Mo and I in June? Absolutely nothing! We have a nice, chill month to look forward to. With that said, the Dubovoy Hotel is now booking reservations… who’s next??!

4 thoughts on “Anna Down Under

  1. Paula, you do an incredible job of detailing all of your life down under. Especially all your trips. You guys have done an incredible job of taking it all in. Just reading about all the adventures you are having makes me tired but we are sooo thrilled for you guys as you make the absolute most of life there while you are there!!!!! Keep up the great posts and pictures!!!!


    1. I’m so glad that you enjoy them and they’re a great way for me to document our trips as well! Luckily we have a quiet month ahead to prepare for moving back to Chicago 🙂 hopefully we can come and visit soon!!


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