As we travelled from Cairns to Brisbane (North to South) we discovered that Queensland is much more than sunny beaches, surfers and adventure parks. There are also endless stretches of straight boring roads, millions of acres of sugar cane and in between — these treasures…
Mossman Gorge, not far from the Daintree National Park
On hot summer days, bathing tourists at Mossman Gorge often become victims of peculiar thiefs
After a short ferry ride, Daintree National Park and its mangrove forests lie ahead
Huge carpets of sand balls created by millions of crabs
These crabs have a different technique
Tall fan palms are a great rain protection on gray days
Ants are green in Daintree NP
And then there is also this: The Cassowary is a big flightless bird native to north eastern Australia and New Guinea. It’s rare and you need to be really lucky to see one. This one decided to cross the street in front of our campervan :)
A fig tree skeleton
Typical for Daintree: Trees with enormous roots. You see me standing behind it?
Teaching a whining wallaby
Mereeba is a beautiful location to get in touch with these cuties
There are 2 of them!
Cairns is clearly the “Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef”
We took the boat till the Outer Reef…
…and discoverd a different universe
Heaps of fish
Big fish (it doesn’t look like on the photo, but this one was at least 1,5 m)
Curious spectators under the boat
Hervey Bay thunderstorm
This is the perfect spot for some serious whale watching
Humpback Whales reside in Hervey Bay
This one enjoys the fresh rain water as a change to the salty water he lives in
Whale waves rainbow
Fraser Island Beach
Fraser Island is a sand island which can only be crossed with 4WD, or special tourist buses
Funnily enough, a tropic rain forest is growing on the sandy soil of Fraser Island
Fresh water lake on Fraser Island (Lake McKenzie)
Maheno shipwreck on Fraser Island
The coastal walk at Noosa is spectecular (and popular)
“Wild Horse Mountain Lookout” over the Glashouse Mountains
Snorkeling the Outer Reef of Cairns gave us a tiny glimpse into an uncomparable underwater universe. Our goal that day was to see a sea turtle; we were lucky enough to swim with one. We hope to be back one day!
Please excuse the camera shake. We actually went out several kilometres to get to the Outer Reef. Big waves were rolling in right behind the corals, making quiet snorkeling almost impossible ;)
5: This is a slightly longer version of the three videos above including some additional footage of a parrotfish, a pipefish and an impression of how it looks like under water when the sun hits the surface.
When winter is coming to New Zealand, a Kiwi’s biggest concern is How to make the summer last a little longer.
Top answer: “Fly to Raro, mate!”
No sooner said than done, the waterproof GoPro, Mr ae.i and I found ourselves back in a time travel machine (aka flight VA173, leaving Auckland each Friday at 7pm, arriving 4 hours later in Rarotonga, on Thursday shortly before midnight).
Being a Pacific Island, Rarotonga is all about white beaches, coconut palm trees, and stunning sunsets over a turquoise lagoon. But the island gets mountainous in the centre, with Te Manga exceeding 650 metres.
That peak is where surprisingly many rain clouds get stuck, which supported the creation of a dense forest (I will write up another article about the island crossing through that forest – stay tuned).
So if you find yourself under a grey cloud on one side of the island, grab your scooter and drive 15 kilometres (half way) to the other side. You will likely end up under blue sky and sun. We explored the lagoon each single day; by kayak, paddleboard or while snorkeling. Enjoy our Top 25 Paradise Photos below.
Sunset over Taakoka, a small coral islet at Muri Beach (place of our guesthouse)
The lagoon at Muri Beach couldn’t be more turquoise
Lagoon at Black Rock Beach, waiting to be explored
Fisherman enjoying a picturesque fishing location
Sunset over Rarotonga
Black Rock Beach
A long grey rain cloud which didn’t seem to move at all for over 1 hour
Walk for 5 minutes along Muri Beach and you’ll end up with a dog accompanying you for a few hundred metres; I don’t know where they come from or whom they belong to, but they are always there :)
The Rarotongan Beach
Curious fish, getting closer and closer from the GoPro
Swimming in the middle of a swarm
Typical sea star colour in Raro: blue (awesome!)
View towards the island centre
A first impression from the island crossing, leading through dense forest
Sunbeams made visible by a small fire in the woods
Taro field; typical Southeast Asian vegetable
Coconut palm trees everywhere
We had full moon during our stay, but I still managed to capture a few stars over Muri Beach
Getting prepared for the evening…
…enjoying a little cocktail…
…while watching the sunset (and the big waves at the reef)
Cultural show explaining the history of the country
A coral washed ashore (like every 5 metres)
This coral cemetery is close to the reef; you can walk there from Koromiri, another coral islet at Muri Beach
360° panorama of the Muri Beach lagoon entrance: left = open sea with big waves rolling in and hitting the reef; right = beginning of Muri Beach lagoon
I can’t recall how often I drove past Kelly Tarlton’s ever since I moved to Auckland. Last week I finally went inside the Aquarium for the very first time. Now I can’t recall what took me so long; what a lovely little place!
OK, it’s not the most convenient place for photographers. It’s much easier to capture the sea in the sun instead of moving animals in low light. I actually had to up the ISO to 6,400 for most of the photos below. Yikes.
And I reached a moment when I completely gave up the happy snapping. Me in low light on a conveyor belt leading through the shark tunnel full of moving fish…you get the idea.
A few fun facts: Kelly Tarlton’s aquarium…
…is the only in the world where you can see spiny sea horses
…is home to New Zealand’s only colony of Antarctic penguins
…has been build into former sewage storage tanks of the city
For more fun facts and information about each of the photographed animals please click on the images and read their captions.
The King Penguin is the second largest of the 17 species of Penguin – the largest is the Emperor Penguin.
Sleepy King – still majestic.
This Gentoo Penguin was in a race with a second penguin when he suddenly decided to confuse his opponent with a 180° turn. You basically see here how penguins break under water.
Jellyfish are ancient creatures which have lived in our oceans since before the dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Nemo and Dori (search for the blue bokeh ;) ).
Spiny sea dragons are found in the ocean depths, and are rarely seen by anyone other than deep sea divers.
Despite their popularity in the aquarium trade, mandarinfish are considered difficult to keep, as their feeding habits are very specific.
Two employees are hand feeding the fish each day. On special days they also do that in the shark tank.
A hermit crab has to move several times throughout its life as it grows in size and must find larger shells.
The Octopus has an interesting aquarium location I find. Take two steps left and you’re in the Aquarium Store finding yourself sorting through cuddly toys of all shapes and sizes.
A starfish is probably nothing too special for each Kiwi; but how about a mussel eating starfish, huh? Can you see it?
If you wonder about the name: Kelly Tarlton was a New Zealand marine archeologist and diver who wanted to make the wonders of the under water world more accessible to the public. Tragically he died only 2 months after the aquarium opened in 1985.