trip report: Australia & New Zealand final impressions, New Zealand top 5, & budget, January 2020

“Do I go somewhere new or do I go somewhere I love?” is a common question among travellers. I have friends that have hike the same 200 mile trail (the John Muir Trail) more than ten times and I also have friends looking to rack up the country count. I was able to do a little bit of both over the course of 3 weeks. Explore down under, down under and return to the mountains of New Zealand. 

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This is the final entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below.

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trip report: New Zealand – diving Milford Sound, January 2020

The experience at Milford Sound can sound like a big tourist trap with the many visitors all boarding the similar boat cruise. It was an experience we had to settle for during our first visit to the famed fjord when weather canceled our original plans. To my surprise, the natural aesthetics of the sheer rock faces and tall waterfalls among the moody clouds was more than enough to overcome the tourist crowds on these cruises and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience that day. 

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It only added to my desire to return and see the wonderland from below. Fortune would have it, a couple of diving spots opened up for Mark and I and I would get my wish the second time around.

This is the fifth entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our dives in Milford Sound and our subsequent stay in Queenstown. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: Sydney, Australia & travel to New Zealand, January 2020

Other than the Great Barrier Reef, the other thing that comes to mind about Australia is the Sydney Opera House. So on our way to the South Island of New Zealand, we had a long layover in Sydney. To stretch out legs after a few days on the boat, we took the stroll around the waterfront and see that opera house. 

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This is the fourth entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our brief stop in Sydney on our way to  the South Island of New Zealand. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: Australia & New Zealand – decisions & planning, December 2019

In the travel enthusiast game, it is all about jumping on opportunities. This specific opportunity we took advantage of were a couple of one way flights from Auckland, New Zealand to the U.S. for 6000 American Airline Miles each, which is as close to free as you can get. The final result was my first visit to Australia to dive the Great Barrier Reefs and a return to the south island of New Zealand over the winter holidays. Reflecting now on that trip, which took place just before the 2020 pandemic and the travel restrictions, the notion of jumping on opportunities to travel when we can do so safely again in the future seems all the more important. For now, all I can do is to reflect on our adventures down under.

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This is the first entry of our Australia and New Zealand trip series covering our pre-trip planning (1). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: Canadian Rockies – final impressions, top 5, & budget, August 2019

On our road trip through the Canadian Rockies, we completed a total of 12 hikes that spanned 4 national parks and 3 provincial parks. I can confidently say I’ve seen very little of the canadian rockies, so confident that I will write the top 5 hikes of the Canadian Rockies that we experienced now. Don’t worry, it is accompanied by some future ideas.

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This is the final entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series. You can navigate to the other previous parts of the series in the index.

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trip report: Banff National Park – Lake Louise, Beehives, & Plain of Six Glaciers loop, August 2019

Our final hike on our roadtrip through the Canadian Rockies was a return to the place that inspired this roadtrip and perhaps my entire hiking career, thus this webpage. The place is Lake Louise and Moraine Lake region within Banff National Park.

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2011 roadtrip stop at a less crowded Lake Louise with Jared, Miguel, and Matt

However, sometimes impressionable memories are better as memories. While a return to this popular regions was still good, it just didn’t have the same magical feeling that we had on our first time through.

This is the twelfth entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series covering our twelfth and final hike. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: Yoho National Park – Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit, August 2019

Lake O’Hara can seem so out of reach with limitations on the number of campsites and seats on the access buses. But that is just an illusion if you are willing to make the extra 7 mile road walk. That’s all it takes to bring you to the sharp peaks and emerald lakes of Lake O’Hara wonderland.

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This is the eleventh entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series covering our eleventh hike. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: Banff National Park – Bow Summit Outlook & Peyto Lake, August 2019

Peak season on the Icefields Parkway can be incredibly busy and it’s understandable based on the world class views. The places you’ll feel the crowds the most are at the popular viewpoints, such as Peyto Lake and the Toe of Athabasca Glacier. It doesn’t help that these are also the stops the tour buses makes, especially the Chinese ones — I know how my people travel.

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However, this also means the crowds are gathered mostly at these outlooks and a short hike will take you to an equally impressive view without the traffic.

This is the tenth entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series covering our tenth hike. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: Jasper National Park – Wilcox Pass, August 2019

Near the border of Jasper National Park and Banff National Park sits one of the crown attractions of the Icefields Parkway, Athabasca Glacier spewing off the Columbia Icefield.

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While many tourist pay to take the buses to walk on the glacier itself, the best view of the motif is across the valley at Wilcox Viewpoint.

This is the ninth entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series covering our ninth hike. You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip report: Canadian Rockies – decision, planning, & getting in, August 2019

Ah Lake Instagram, rather Reddit Lake, I mean Moraine Lake. The last time I visited this beautiful spot was in 2011 on a road trip, when a group of us checked out the mountains and breweries around the Pacific Northwest that eventually ended up here.

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Our joke for our drive through the Canadian Rockies was that they must sprayed LSD in the air because the colors were so unreal.

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Jared overlooking the teal Lake Louise back in 2011

I’ve meant to head back to properly explore the backcountry since then, but it seems like the rest of the world had the same idea. With the crowds, must come the permits to protect the beautiful landscape from being loved to death and effects of overcrowding. Since this current trip was planned rather last minute, the initial prospect looked like I’d have to wait to see the best and most popular spots. But with some flexibility and constant checking of the permit websites, I got to have my cake and eat it too… a big LSD filled cake.

This is the first entry of our Canadian Rockies trip series covering our pre-trip planning (1) and our travels to the Canadian Rockies (2). You can navigate to the other parts in the index below as they are posted.

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trip video: Carretera Austral road trip, January 2019 – part 4

In this fourth and final installment of our Carretera Austral road trip video series covering the last 4 days on the road, we hiked several trails in Parque Pumalín Douglas Tompkins. On our hikes, we saw a couple of glaciers and a hidden waterfall.

This is a companion video to my 2019 Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series, which is listed below in the index.

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trip video: Carretera Austral road trip, January 2019 – part 3, Futaleufú

In this third installment of our Carretera Austral road trip video, which was centered around the town of Futaleufú and on Río Futaleufú, we rafted the middle and lower sections of Río Futaleufú, drove to some overviews of Río Futaleufú, and hiked to Piedra del Aguila over two days. This is a companion video to my 2019 Patagonia and Carretera Austral trip report series, which is listed below in the index.

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