Australia, New Zealand & Singapore | By the Numbers


R&R, by the numbers, australia, new zealand, singapore, north island, south island, campervanKail and I recently returned from an amazing three-week R&R to Australia, New Zealand and Singapore — our fifth and final R&R/RRB from Afghanistan. It was three distinct vacations in one and an amazing experience for which words and photos can’t do it justice, particularly the beauty of New Zealand.

new zealand, south island, lake tekapo, hiking, freedom camping

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand (South Island).

We sort of did our R&Rs backwards: Instead of doing the most adventurous, planning-intensive vacations earlier in our tour — when we had more energy than we do 11 months in — we took our longest and most active vacation at the end. We started with five days in Sydney, Australia, where I reunited with one of my best friends from high school with whom I’d lost touch over the years.

sydney, australia, wild life sydney zoo, darling harbour, koala encounter

Koala encounter at Wild Life Sydney Zoo.

We then flew to Auckland, New Zealand, where we rented a campervan (RV) for 10 days, hiking, camping and hitting the highlights on both the North and South Islands before ending our adventure in Christchurch. We spent an afternoon in Christchurch and a night in a hotel before departing for Singapore early the next morning.

new zealand, south island, kaikoura, fur seals, seals, seal colony

Fur seals in Kaikoura, New Zealand (South Island).

In Singapore we enjoyed — what seemed to us after 10 days cooped up in an RV together — an enormous hotel room and bed and as many of the city’s attractions as we could: incredible food, countless (and wonderfully air-conditioned) malls and a Singapore Sling at the very bar where the drink was invented (disguised as a fruit juice so ladies could drink alcohol in public).

singapore, merlion park, merlion

Merlion Park, Singapore.I’ll write more about our R&R to Australia, New Zealand and Singapore in a future post, but for now I’ll just share a few photos and highlights, by the numbers. (See previous “By the Numbers” posts: First Year in El SalvadorR&R in Hawaii, RRB in NepalRRB in the MaldivesR&R in Thailand, Laos & Cambodia and RRB in the Philippines.)

sydney, australia, coogee beach, bondi beach, bondi-coogee walk

Gordon’s Bay along the Coogee-Bondi walk.

We did the famous 5.5 kilometer Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach walk (actually 11 kilometers round trip), with stunning, clifftop views of Sydney’s Eastern Suburb beaches. We enjoyed really delicious yet simple home-cooked meals, courtesy of our generous hosts, Vicky and David.

sydney, australia, vivid festival, sydney opera house

Vivid festival lights up Sydney Opera House.

We saw an arts festival where Sydney’s iconic landmarks were aglow with light installations. We consumed more Tim Tams (chocolate biscuits) than I am willing to publicly admit (often in the form of a “Tim Tam slam,” whereby the biscuit is used as a straw to sip hot cocoa then, when it has melted through, eating the entire thing in one mouthful).

new zealand, south island, glenorchy, queenstown, freedom camping, campervan, wilderness campervan,

Freedom camping in Glenorchy, New Zealand (South Island).

We Kail managed to navigate a right-hand drive, 20-foot long RV on the streets and highways of New Zealand (where, by the way, they drive on the left side of the road) with no accidents or major problems.

new zealand, south island, marlborough, blenheim, cloudy bay winery

Cloudy Bay vineyard in Marlborough, New Zealand (South Island).

We hiked along beaches, through forests and across snow-covered valleys. We went grocery shopping and cooked meals. We partook in wine tastings and beer tastings. And of course, we had to do at least one Lord of the Rings-related touristy thing: a tour of Hobbiton.

singapore, raffles hotel, afternoon tea, high tea

Afternoon tea in Singapore.

We enjoyed afternoon tea at the landmark Raffles Hotel in Singapore (also home to the aforementioned original Singapore Sling). We bought two-day, hop-on hop-off bus tour tickets. We visited more malls in three days than we’ve been to in the past two years.

new zealand, north island, orakei korako geothermal park, geysers, freedom camping

Orakei Korako Geothermal Park, New Zealand (North Island).

All in all a wonderful vacation — definitely our favorite of our five from Afghanistan and arguably our best ever. We have vowed to return to New Zealand one day, with more time and not during winter, for a campervan adventure, part two.

Have you ever rented an RV?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

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