Well, I couldn't NOT enter this contest as it has my name in the first 5 letters of the title doesn't it? 😃
Joking aside, I heard about this one rather late in the day and seeing as I haven't written a travel post for a long time, it gave me the impetus I needed to fire up the travel blog engines and get them going again.
The contest is run by the @steemitworldmap awesome team of travellers (@martibis, @choogirl, @livinguktaiwan, @lizanomadsoul and @itchyfeetdonica) who've been tirelessly working on curating travel related posts on steem for over 2 years now and, along with @travelfeed, are continuously looking at new ways of supporting the travel community.
The latest initiative is via this contest, with the announcement post here. The rules indicate that we must pick four of our favourite travel posts we made last year and why - something which will prove (and has proven) to be pretty difficult for me because I loved all of the places I visited haha!
So there you have it, all of the travel posts I wrote last year are my favourite. The end.
As I trawl back through my travelfeed blog, I can probably pick a couple of the stand out moments from my ridiculous 3 month journey to the other side of the Earth - Australia and New Zealand - although I still have so much more to write about this trip as I'm not even half way through yet (probably another 20 blogs at least)! Anyway, let's get to it, starting off with my favourite...
Even though this is my only mention of Australia in this contest entry, the circumstances of it rather set the tone for the awesome 3 months of travel that were to follow and so, rightfully gets the number 1 spot. My thoughts and well wishes go out to all those affected by the fires that have devastated Australia.
The Great Ocean Walk I went on was a week long hiking trip that happened out of sheer luck really. You have heard of "right place at the right time"? Well, this was one of those moments. I arrived in Australia after a 33 hour flight, got to my friend's place in Melbourne, crashed for a day and then everything happened!
My friend works at a company that organises group walking trips around Australia and one of the guides had injured herself meaning she was unable to take the tour. Turns out this tour went to one of the places I was hoping to visit on my travels - the 12 Apostles - but it also included a 6 day hike around the coastal path from where the Great Ocean Road splits off at Apollo Bay, before rejoining again at the 12 Apostles. And I got asked if I wanted to come on this trip... for free! OK I had to help with a few things but what a lucky break!
The "Part 9" travel blog I wrote was the last of the Great Ocean Walk series which had many a tale to tell but when I was asked to dress up as one of the sailors as part of a shipwreck story... well, I kinda fluffed up my ONE line! You had ONE JOB NICKY! I'll always remember the feeling of "awe" and the "wow" moment as I walked down the path to look over to my right and see these amazing rock formations.
The Sun had about 20 minutes of shine left in it from the right before those horrible looking storm clouds would come over and plunge a load of rain and dark murkiness about the place. This interesting weather combination seemed to really bring out the golden colours even more of the sand and the rocks. Just a brilliant way to end my first week in Australia!
The rest of my choices are going to be from New Zealand as I still haven't managed to make my way through all the activities I did there yet but I think the highlight from the North Island was when I killed two rather large birds with one single, even larger stone!
Hobbiton, a name that should be familiar to anyone who's come across Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit movie franchises, is where the village of little fun loving hobbits reside in these films. In other words, it's a movie set out in the middle of the countryside that takes up a small section of a 1,250 acre sheep farm.
Although I wasn't so in to the movies, I did watch Lord of the Rings a couple of times and it's always good to see how the films are made, the amount of effort required and just how meticulous everything was done to get the set looking how it was. Of course, you get to go in to some of the little hobbit holes and at the end of the guided tour, enjoy a ginger beer (or an alcoholic drink if you so wish) at the Green Dragon. Really worth doing for a fun day out! Cheers!
But the ultimate adventure was yet to come after the peaceful hobbit village as I somehow ended up going down the "biggest commercially available Grade 5 white water rapid" in the world... a 7 metre vertical drop with nothing but hope that you'll make it out unscathed to cling on to.
The Kaituna River is where we headed and although I have kayaked down some pretty savage grade 3 rapids in USA before when I was 15 and went through a grade 4, I'd never done anything like this! Grade 6 is like Niagara Falls so Grade 5 is the level below... I will not be doing another rafting trip after this although I will allow you to call me a hero/legend on this occasion as I was the only one from our tour group not to fall off the raft (3 of us were on the left as you look at the photo below). Phew - what a day!
If you're into your road trips then travelling south on Highway 6 will give you plenty to get stuck in to on New Zealand's South Island. Starting from Abel Tasman, I was fortunate enough to have the front passenger seat for this all day drive down to Franz Josef. Mountain scenery greeted us as we drove along the Buller River, stopping off for a coastal walk to see a seal colony at Cape Foulwin before stopping off to take one of my favourite pictures from the trip. So much so it's my banner on all my social media sites. It is just a viewpoint and, as far as I know, has no special name... but it gives a very special view!
Continuing on this highway, you should stop off at other sites of interest such as the natural wonders of Pancake Rocks, where millions of years of nature's artwork has been spent crafting rock stacks that look like pancakes. Along with Surge Pool, you'll see some spectacular splashes from the powerful ocean beneath. These geological marvels greatly appealed to my real cool science head 😎
Later on, Hokitika awaits with it's pretty cool beach sign, trendy cafes and many opportunities to buy some jade, which is New Zealand's treasured stone. There's a big smile across my face as I remember this road trip - I could easily do this again and again!
It was hard to decide what else to put in but this final blog is another epic road trip in New Zealand's South Island, ending at the jaw dropping Milford Sound. Weather wasn't on our side but that really does depend - some say having rain is great for waterfalls coarsing down the side of the rock faces as you cruise through the sound (fjord) and we certainly had plenty of those. We did get the best of both worlds though as the clouds did clear to reveal spectacular peaks and I remember gasping as I stood out on the front of the deck, taking it all in.
I was happy with the rain. In fact, I was probably just happy to be in New Zealand to be honest! The clouds shrouded the top of these shear mountains in a scene of mystery and the cruise we went on provided us with a chance to get really wet as we went head on for a water fall and got drenched! YES!
On this grand day out, we stopped off at some of the other "en route" sites of interest such as the Chasm, a series of waterfalls from the Cleddeau River - try not to fall in! There's also Homer Tunnel, which you have to drive through to get across the Fjordlands National Park to get to Milford Sound but as we were waiting for the lights to change (it's a single track through the tunnel), I turned around to look out the back of the minibus to see a scene that felt like we were in something like the film Independence Day with the clouds lighting up! It was yet another "wow" moment and in what was a trip of a lifetime.
So There You Have It
Going back through all of these blogs has made me really want to go travelling again, or at the very least, get through more of the travel blogs and hopefully finish off writing about this life-changing adventure from last year!
Good luck to anyone who has entered the contest, it's been great to get involved with so thanks to the Steemitworldmap team for giving me a nudge to write a post!
Take it easy