We absolutely adored Sydney. The harbor cruise on a tall ship (and being able to climb to the crows nest on a windy day) was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Royal Botanical Garden was fantastic, as was the Sydney Opera House, where we were able to see Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.
Lake Taupo is the remnant of a huge volcanic caldera. The area is still geothermically active, with steaming hot rivulets running into the lake at many locations. We were treated to an amazing sunset silhouetting a group of black swans. Tongariro National Park was featured in the Lord of the Rings movies, including locations of Mordor and Ithilien (Gollum’s Pool).
Waitomo, the site of the famous glow worm caves, was incredible. It also claimed my drone, but that is another story (fortunately, I bought insurance). The green hills rival Ireland, Switzerland, or anywhere else I have been in the world. The Mangapohue Natural Bridge and Marokopa Falls are must-sees.
I had the pleasure of spending several months in South Gippsland, which includes the southernmost point of the Australian Mainland — Wilsons Promontory (no apostrophe). The farmland of South Gippsland is so green that you could mistake it for Ireland or New Zealand. I forgot how long the hike was to the top of Mount Oberon, but the incredible view was worth it.