Thank you all for the generous gifts and being part of our journey together! 

To celebrate, Peter and Doug embarked on a three week trip. Visiting Sydney, Australia and New Zealand. 

Sydney, Australia

Their first stop: Sydney! For Doug, it marked his first voyage to Australia, making it his 31st country visited. Eager to soak in the sights, Peter and Doug packed their days with exploration. They were greeted by scorching temperatures exceeding 100 degrees, a stark contrast to the Chicago winter they left behind. Manly Beach beckoned on the first day, offering cool waters, though they had to be wary of jellyfish carried in by the wind. 

The remainder of the week was a whirlwind of iconic landmarks and experiences. Doug dragged Peter along to various filming locations from The Matrix. They enjoyed the  the Mardi Gras parade, celebrated as Sydney's Gay Pride event. Peter and Doug ventured on a day trip to the majestic Blue Mountains, encountered cuddly koalas at the zoo, and marveled at the architectural wonder of the Sydney Opera House.

On the last evening, they took a sail boat dinner cruise through the harbor and even climbed the ships mast!

Despite the sunny weather and ozone hole, they managed to not get burned!

New Zealand - Bungee Jumping and Hiking

After enjoying their time in Sydney, Doug and Peter flew to Queenstown, New Zealand. It's a small town nestled in the mountains of the south island with a spectacular view on arrival.

They spent their first night far out in the country at an Airbnb with stunning views of the Milky Way and a wood fired hot tub.

The next day they drove north, stopping to bungie jump from the Kawarau Gorge Bridge. Peter was more nervous about the jump and decided to go first. They both enjoyed it and Doug even went twice (see videos below)!

Staying on Lake Ohau Doug and Peter spent the days hiking the area. Near Mount Cook (NZ tallest mountain), they took a helicopter ride to the top of the Tasman Glacier. Once on the glacier, they hiked around with a guide, seeing the different layers in the ice and drinking freshly melted snow.

Later that day, they hikes the 2200 steps to Sealy Tarns viewpoint which offered panoramic views of Mount Cook and the glacier lakes. 

Bungie Jumping Videos

Doug's First Jump.mp4
Peter's Jump.mp4

South Island - Continued

The next adventure was driving to Te Anau (approximately 5 hours away). On the way they stopped by a mid mountain salomon farm and Peter ordered some very fresh sushi.

Te Anau is know for it's beautiful lake, extensive hiking, and glow worms (which we learned are actually glow maggots). The glow worms live deep inside a cave where their bioluminescence attracts other flying insects to their sticky web in the complete darkness. It was incredible to see the ceiling of the cave lit up like the night sky.

From Te Anau, Peter and Doug drove to the very wet and misty Milford Sound. It is know for it's stunning views and nearly constant wet weather.

To end their trip on the South Island, they returned to Queenstown where they enjoyed a mountain biking trip (thankfully on ebikes), more hiking, and a celebratory dinner overlooking the valley.

While in Queenstown, Peter and Doug went on a via ferrata climbing trip. If you can climb a ladder, you can climb via ferrata. It involves clipping into a safety cable and then climbing rungs driven into the rock wall. It was a really incredible experience!

New Zealand - Heading North!

Peter and Doug left Queenstown for Auckland (which is not the capital). Arriving in the "big city", they drove southwest to the coast, exploring the archipelago and Cathedral Cove Bay.

A beach just south of that known as hot tub beach is just what it sounds like. There is a natural hot spring below the sand. At low tide, you can dig a whole which fills up with surprisingly hot water, basking in the warmth.

Heading back north of Auckland, they stayed at a very unique and very hard to get to Airbnb. It was down a very steep, winding driveway. Through some very dense brush but offered incredible views.

Peter and Doug took surf lessons. Both getting up several times (Doug especially talented at surfing).

They visited Hobbiton, where they filmed the Hobbit Movies (the original lord of Lord of the Rings sets having been burned down after filming.

On the last day, they took a ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island (know as wine island for it's large number of vineyards). Renting ebikes and exploring the island (with some speed) before heading to the airport.

It was an incredible vacation they both loved and will cherish forever!