3 Bucket List Destinations that will have you packing in no time — Passport and camera required!
#1: New ZealandThe island nation of New Zealand is located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean about 900 miles east of Australia. New Zealand consists of 2 main islands, the North Island and the South Island. The South Island is known for its glaciers, lakes, and mountains. In fact, Queenstown is called “The Adventure Capital of New Zealand” and boasts the stunning Lake Wakatipu nearby. Lord of the Rings enthusiasts will recognize Milford Sound, a fjord in Fiordlands National Park. Not to be missed are the garden city of Christchurch and the quaint village of Akaroa, which is your chance to experience a working sheep farm first hand!
The North Island is home to three-quarters of the population of New Zealand and is known for national parks, volcanic activity, and active cities. Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, gives Lord of the Rings fans a chance to visit Weta Cave Workshop, which houses many of the props that were used in the films. But for the icing on the cake, fans can visit the village of Matamata, aka “Hobbiton,” and be enthralled with the pastoral landscape and tiny hobit dwellings. Other exciting stops are the geothermal Rotorua and the picturesque Mt. Cook. A great way to experience New Zealand is on an Australian/New Zealand Cruise. Did you know you can fly non stop to Auckland from Houston or Los Angeles?
#2: South AfricaLocated on the southernmost tip of the African Continent, the country of South Africa offers travelers a chance at some once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Whether it is your dream to spot the Big Five on safari in Kruger National Park or the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, or to see Victoria Falls, the largest falls in the world, South Africa will not dissapoint. By the way, can you name the Big Five? (Hint: African Elephant, African Lion, African Leopard, Cape Buffalo, and Rhinoceros!)
Visit Cape Town and take the cable car up to Table Mountain for spectacular views of the Cape of Good Hope, or visit the penguin colony at The Bolders, home to over 3000 tuxedoed cuties. An ideal day trip from Cape Town will allow you to experience the premier vineyards in the Western Cape Winelands. Also, be sure to visit Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city.
#3: Lavender Fields of Provence
Previous trips to Southern France left me wanting to return when I could sing, “The hills are alive with the scent of lavender!” So, with a little research, I have found that the lavender usually blooms between mid June to mid August, giving off the amazing, mesmerizing scents we love. The blooming season can vary from year to year, based on the weather, but it seeems that the first few weeks of July might be a perfect time to experience the purple, aromatic heaven!
The mosaics of lavender and wheat fields are located in the Vaucluse en Provence region between the village of Sault and Mont Ventoux. Must sees are L’Abbey de Senanque, the villages of Sault and Aurel, as well as the lavender farms and distilleries. Take the time shop in the local markets, savor the delicacies in the quaint cafes, sip an award-winning Provencial Rose’ — plan to get lost in the Essence of Provence