A Beautiful Summer Day Strolling Through "Peace Park" in Queenstown, New Zealand


"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."

~John Burroughs

The day before I was supposed to start Trey Ratcliff's New Zealand Photography Adventure,  I was feeling a little anxious about meeting a group of new people the next day so I went for a beautiful  and relaxing stroll through Peace Park in Queenstown, New Zealand.  Peace Park surrounds Lake Wakatipu and is right across from where I stayed at the Queenstown, Hilton hotel.  It was a beautiful day in February which is summer in New Zealand.   People were out enjoying the beach, walking their dogs, and taking in the gorgeous scenery.   As you can see everyone seems very happy and it is indeed very peaceful in Peace Park.  There are no natural predators in New Zealand.  It is also a very safe place to live as far as crime is concerned.

Here is a lovely neighborhood I walked through to get there:



Peace (1 of 1)

Now I'm in Peace ParkPeace4-1-9

Almost everyone had a furry family member with them

 A lot of boats were out on this beautiful day


 The water never gets extremely warm in Lake Wakatipu, but it was an unusally warm day with temperatures in the 80's that day so a lot of people were swimming and so were the dogs :)

Peace2 (1 of 1)


Peace3 (1 of 1)




Here are a few photos of the Hilton in Queenstown.  I stayed in a few places in Queenstown including the pricey five star  Rees Hotel and I highly recommend the Hilton for their prices, the service, the rooms. and the location.



Thanks so much for stopping by.  Have a wonderful week my friends. Please feel free to leave a question or comment and remember your e-mail address will never be published.

 ~ Michelle


Visiting "The Hills" Golf Course in Arrowtown, New Zealand

"It is almost impossible to remember how tragic a place this world is when one is playing golf." ~Robert Lynd

During my New Zealand Photo Adventure I had the wonderful opportunity to visit  

"The Hills" Golf Course  which opened in Arrowtown, New Zealand in 2007 by Sir Michael Hill.  The course hosted The New Zealand Open in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2014.  It is famous for the beautiful flora, views, and especially the sculptures.  Sir Michael Hill has always loved the arts and wants young people in New Zealand to be exposed to the arts the same way they are in Europe.  "The Wolves are Coming" exhibit is on the 18th fairway and was designed by a Chinese sculptor named Liu Ruowang.  Sir Michael was originally only going to purchase 5 of the pieces, but ended up purchasing the entire 111 piece set.  The horse exhibit on the 7th tee titled "The Frolic and the Fancy" was designed by Max Patte in 2013.  Max is based in Wellington, New Zealand.  Each of the horses weigh about 1.5 tons and are about 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall.

 My photos don't do this fabulous golf course and beautiful sculptures justice, but what a wonderful place to practice one's photography skills!



"The Wolves are Coming" reminded me of several scences in the "Twilight" movie series.Golf2

Wolf attack!Golf6

Me in the morning before coffee ;)Golf4

 I loved the landscaping throughout the course!




Here is "The Frolic and the Fancy"exhibit:







 Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you all have a wonderful week.  Please let me know if you have any questions remember that your e-mail address will never be published if you leave a comment.  Take care my friends!



Group Travel: Is it Right For You?

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer” -Anonymous

Many of you who read this post already know if traveling with a group is right for you.  I had always been hesitant since I like my space and don't like waiting for others when there is something I want to do.  Over the past year I have traveled with two groups.  One of the trips would be considered luxury travel:  (click on the underlined words following to see a post on this trip)

Luxury travel trip

                 The other would be considered be considered an adventure/humanitarian travel trip:

Adventure/Humanitarian travel

 It would be unfair for me to compare these two trips because that would be like comparing apples and oranges!  Tanzania is a developing country and New Zealand has a thriving economy.  I definitely did learn what I want and can handle in a trip especially with other people.

On one trip, which would be considered adventure and humanitarian travel, to Tanzania with I had to share a room with 3-4 people and sleep on bunk beds.  For two nights of the nine I was there I had to share a bed with another woman.   I also had to share a bathroom with no less than four people.  We only had access to cold or bucket showers which made it impossible for me to wash my waist length hair :(  There was also one night that we were supposed to sleep in a boma in Massai Land.  I didn't go because they were sacrificing a goat and everyone had to drink a little blood or the Massai might be insulted.  I am a strict vegetarian and am very involved in animal rescue.  There was no wifi in the guest houses we stayed at the entire trip.   


It may sound like I'm bashing this group and I really don't mean to - that is NOT my intent.  My intent is to share  some questions that I will always ask when traveling with others.  I feel that I should have known better and asked more questions!  Here are some:

1.  Will I be sharing a room (or a bed) and with how many people?

2.  Will I be sharing a bathroom and with how many people?

3.  Ask for a COMPLETE itinerary so you will know if there are any activities that conflict with your beliefs.

4.    Will any of the places you stay have wifi or any type of internet access?

5.    How often will you be moving from place to place?

6.    If traveling to a developing country, what type of bathroom facilities will be available?  In many developing countries, there is no running water so you might only have a squat type toilet.  

7.    What will your daily schedule be like?  If each day is 12-16 hours, do you have the stamina for it?

8.    What is the food and or meals like?

9.    How much spending money and or cash will I need?

 ***I may add to this list if you want to leave me a comment with other important questions.

 Now that I have told you so many negatives about my trip to Africa, it's only fair that I tell you the positives.  First and foremost, they made sure we were safe and felt safe.  They told us what we needed to know about the culture so we wouldn't offend anyone AND stay safe.  The leaders made sure that I had vegetarian food even though I was the only one on the trip.  They also respected my decision to not spend the night in Masailand for the goat sacrifice. I learned how to use my DSLR camera.  By staying at the guest houses we were financially helping the local people.  I got to see the culture and a side of the country that I would not have if I hadn't been on this trip.  I also got some great photos!  Please see my other post on this trip here:  

Adventure/Humanitarian travel


Thank you so much for stopping by.  I love to read your comments or questions and and reading other people's blogs as well.  Your e-mail address will never be published.  Until next time, take care my friends!




My Epic New Zealand Photo Adventure with Trey Ratcliff - Part 2

Along with learning a TON and working with some great teachers and an amazingly nice group, we stayed in 5 star accommodations at the Hilton Queenstown Resort and Spa with delicious gourmet food and snacks served all day.  This was definitely a luxury photo workshop/trip!  We went out every morning around 6:00 AM for sunrise to at least one amazing spot.  We edited our photos with Trey Ratcliff helping us in the middle of the day and  always went on another fun excursion at sunset.  I will be posting more photos of these amazing places Trey took us to over the next few weeks.  I don't want to overload you with photos - but this list is only a fraction of the places we visited.

In case you missed Part 1 of my account of this amazing experience:   


When we arrived Trey gave us a very nice jade necklace as a welcome gift.  He was so grateful that we trusted and amired him enough to travel to New Zealand to work with him.


 Queenstown Park


 Minus 5 Icebar



The Hills Golf Course in Queenstown


Coronet Peak




Tour/hike in Arrowtown


Bendemeer Estates


 Ruins in Queenstown


 Bobs Cove

Dayafter-170Million Dollar View


Queenstown Beach


 PLEASE bear in mind that I am a very amateur or beginner photographer.  Although I learned a plethora of information on this photo adventure, I still have so much to learn and apply the skills I learned.  I just want to do this workshop justice.  For example, Einstein couldn't teach a first grade math student calculus in a week :)  Also if you don't like the photos I shared, I have many, many more that I will share in the coming weeks.

Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you all have a wonderful week.  Please let me know if you have any questions remember that your email address will never be published if you leave a comment.  Take care my friends!






Visiting the Lone Tree of Wanaka in New Zealand

I will discuss my beyond fabulous photo workshop with Trey Ratcliff in Zealand in my next post.  For now, I thought that I would share some photos of the "Lone Tree of Lake Wanaka" and me wearing a dress at the beach.  As you will see, this seems to be an ongoing issue for me ;)

  During my recent trip to New Zealand, I spent several days at Lake Wanaka.  It's a very picturesque area and quaint small town which has a very well known tree known as the "Lone Tree of Lake Wanaka".  I visited it two times the first time was at sunset. Being a huge animal lover, I like the one with the ducks better:


 On my way to dinner wearing a dress, I decided to stop by the tree one more time because it's so beautiful and seems a little lonely despite probably being one of the most photographed trees in the world.  

At first I saw a cute little girl standing right next to the tree:


Then I saw her cute little dog who wanted to play fetch :)

Dayafter-140Of course I couldn't disappoint the poor puppy dog:



Last year in northern Maui, Hawaii my friend Kathy and I were meeting some friends in town for dinner and ended up at Paia Beach.  It was a little stormy and cool, but the waves were huge so we wanted to stop and take photos.  Click on the thumb nails if you want to see an enlarged photo of me not dressed appropriately for the beach at another time.

Memaui         Memaui2          Maui         Mauik

 Thanks so much for stopping by.  Please let me know if you have any comments or questions.  Have a wonderful week my friends!