Well it’s finally here, the last part of my trip to the Great Down Under! After my trip to Australia, I flew over to New Zealand and met up with my cousin Ben. Ben is form LA, but while I was booking my trip a few months before the trip, I nonchalantly suggested he come with me. Before I knew it, he was looking at flights to New Zealand, booking said flights, and then all the sudden I had a travel buddy for my stay in New Zealand!
There are many similarities in culture with Australia and New Zealand and the differences were big and small at the same time (to me at least). To get an idea of the difference, I would say Australia is like Los Angeles and New Zealand is more like Seattle. Our 1st stop was Auckland, the bustling metropolis of the small island nation. It’s big city with a small town feel. Everyone we talked to was so kind and welcoming to us as we wandered the hilly streets. There are TONS of park where you hike up ancient volcanic cones (small volcanic cones but still challenging) where you can get great views of the city. After a few days in Auckland, we made our way to the middle of the north island to a place called Rotorua. Rotorua is FULL of volcanic activity. So much in fact there are giant sulfur pits in the public parks. Pillars of steam and the constant smell of eggs emit 24 hours a day. After being there for 24 hours, we got used to smell of egg and the small city on the edge of a giant lake was ours to explore. There were A TON of outdoor activities to do in Rotorua. We went to Hobbiton (where they filmed The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings), went Zorbing (being rolled down a big green hill in a GIANT inflatable hamster ball full of water), went zip lining through the rainforest where we learned all about the wildlife and animals of New Zealand (maybe one of the best things we did on the trip), and hiked the Tarawera trail to Hot Water Beach (where the hot springs pour in to Lake Taraweara). Again, I could go on and on about all the adventures and things we saw and experienced, but showing you is way easier. Enjoy a glimpse of the STUNNING little island country known as New Zealand!
So it’s now time for part two of my trip to Australia: My stay in Sydney. Sydney was such a lively and vibrant city. It was the perfect balance of historic and modern. I loved just wondering up and down the streets and just taking in all the amazing architecture and beauty Sydney had to offer. Just a short train ride and then a quick bus ride away was Bondi Beach. The closest thing I could compare it to something stateside would be Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk except no rides, super clean, more surfers. Muralists have painted all the walls along the beach and they had THE COOLEST swimming pool right next ocean. It was absolutely beautiful. After a full few days of exploring Sydney, I hopped on a train and went to meet my new friend Elise, a local aussie, who wanted to show me something most tourist who visit Sydney don’t know about: The Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains are about an hour and half train ride from downtown Sydney out in the Australian “Bush” (aka: the wilderness). Elise was THE BEST tour guide and told me SO many amazing things about her country’s history, all about the native floral and fauna, and took me to all her favorite spots which of course were off the beaten path so we literally had KILOMETERS all to ourselves. They are called the Blue Mountains because of the blue gum trees that cover all the mountains. As you look out in the distance, the blue gum leaves reflect the light of the sun, making the mountains off in the distance appear blue. Cool, right? After we explored all the mountains had to offer, Elise made sure I got to try a proper Aussie pie at her favorite Bakery. Aussie Pie is very different from American pie. For one, they fill their pies with mince meat and a sauce I would describe as a barbeque sauce, but more tomato cased and not as smokey flavored. Elise told me I had to add Tomato Sauce (aka: Ketchup) to my pie which did make it quite delicious. I could literally go on and on about all my adventures and the beauty of New South Wales, but it’s better to show you a glimpse of what I experienced. Enjoy!
So after I shot Daniel and Jennifer Destination Wedding, I had the opportunity to explore the amazing little town Port Douglas and surrounding area. Imagine the quaintest little beach town you can imagine and put it right on the edge of a dense rainforest and you’ll get an idea of what Port Douglas looks like. It was one of the more unique areas I’ve ever been to full of amazing floral and dangerous fauna. The mangroves, basically a salt water swamp, were home to salt water Crocodiles and giant jellyfish. The rainforest was FULL of plenty exotic animals and birds. We got to the Cairnes Wildlife Zoo and got to see all the Australian animals including dingos, salter water crocodiles, parrots, snakes, and my 2 favorites, Koalas and Kangaroos.
After exploring the local land animals, it was time to head out to ocean and see one of the natural wonders of the natural world, The Great Barrier Reef. Now why I’m quite happy with these photos, they are merely A GLIMPSE of what I actually saw while snorkeling. There’s no real way to describe visually what I saw. The closest thing I could say it was like was flying over an alien world. Just seeing all the different types of coral was a experience, much less their surreal colors. But again, instead of describing, I’ll just show you.
Almost everyone I see or talk to has been asking, “When are you going to post photos from Australia?” Well everyone, the wait is over and I finally have edited my photos from my trip to Australia! First up on the blog is wedding I shot in Port Douglas, AKA the whole reason I got to go to Australia. Jennifer is an old friend from the days when I used to work as a janitor at a Supermarket. We have since moved FAR away from retail jobs and pursued our dreams. Jennifer left and became a world travel. During her world travels, she met a guy named Daniel who lived in Australia. They started dating, then Daniel proposed while on a visit to the states. Before long, Jennifer moved all the way from California to Victoria, Australia. She then started planning her dream wedding which would take place in the tiny town of Port Douglas in Queensland, Australia. She then emailed me and asked me to photograph her wedding because, in her words, she “could not imagine anyone else photographing her wedding.” I don’t think I ever responded to an email faster in my ENTIRE life and agreed to do a wedding. So in April of this year, I boarded a plane at LAX and made the long 20 hour flight to Port Douglas. When I got off the plane, I was too struck by the beauty of Queensland to really realize how tired I felt. EVERYWHERE I looked, I kept thinking, ” I wanna shoot there.” I was lucky enough to end up at some of these spots on Daniel and Jennifer’s wedding day. Since it was a small intimate wedding, I got a TON of time to photograph them in so many of these amazing spots all around Port Douglas and the coast of Queensland. This wedding was such an amazing honor to be a part of and I feel so privileged to have visited such a beautiful city in such stunning country. There are going to be more photos of my “vacation” portion, but for now please take a look at just a few of these amazing wedding photos. Enjoy!