Sunday Special – Milford Sound, New Zealand

Various countries and destinations can conjure up a variety of images when we hear their name. They can range from cities filled with towering skyscrapers and urban romance, to meccas of mouth-watering foods options, to history and art full of awe and beauty. Others impress their natural beauty into our minds. New Zealand is one of those countries for me. The home of “Middle Earth”, rugged coastlines, cool glaciers, and beautiful mountains come to mind when I think of this island nation. I have not been yet but I certainly will make it there. 

Milford Sound is one of this country’s iconic natural beauties. Located on the southwest side of the South Island this fjord runs 16km / 9.94 miles from the Tasman Sea inland to the head of the fjord. Sheer rock faces and majestic mountains flank the fjord’s side and I imagine it forces you to look and ponder the wonder of nature.  Found within Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is quite accessible. In fact it is very popular and often teeming with tourists. The area is also known to be one of the wettest places on the planet so do expect rain rather frequently. Due to its popularity there are many ways you can experience the awe. Take it in from the air with flights soaring above or from the water on frequent boat cruises. If you want to be a bit closer to nature then kayak along the waters or walk along the Milford Track, a 53 km / 33 mile long trail. Any way you see it, it seems to me that Milford Sound will amaze you with its beauty.


Milford Sound, New Zealand – Photo credit: MarosteguiMilford Sound (New Zealand) – 3CC BY-SA 3.0


Bowen Falls in Milford Sound, New Zealand – Photo credit: Bernard Spragg. NZ from Christchurch, New Zealand, Bowen Falls Milford Sound NZ. (10657996025)CC0 1.0


Hanging around in Milford Sound – Photo credit: Steve Collis from Melbourne, Australia, Milford Sound (5863219806)CC BY 2.0


Carry-on Baggage Rant (or Why I Hate To Carry-on)

I’ve decided to share with you, or more appropriately rant, as I sit here in at the airport waiting to board my domestic flight. About luggage you ask? Yes, about luggage. I’ll give it you straight – I have issue with carry-on baggage. Yes, I know, many passengers are avid devotees of this form of airline travel, declaring it far superior to the alternative of checked baggage. Not for me. I don’t get the appeal. Even though I do participate in carrying on I am not a fan of it. I sit here in the boarding area with my purse, a book, my FitBit, and my approved carry-on size wheeled suitcase. It is my standard gear for domestic flights. Yet if this was an international flight my suitcase or backpack (usually backpack) would be checked and ready to go in the underbelly of the aircraft (yay for free checked bags most of the time)! I would have with me a small bag containing what I need for the flight and far simpler! This is my preference. That is when I have a manageable-size bag that sits nice over my shoulder or on my back, sometimes with a an additional purse, sometimes not. It makes me happy happy happy that all I need is within simple reach. Not today though.

Yet when I fly domestically and am far too cheap (way to cheap) to pay for checking my bag 90% of the time. I opt to carry- on. This results in feeling like a packhorse weighted down while meandering down the airport corridors forever bumping into everything. I honestly don’t understand when others tout the benefits of carrying on (insert perplexed emoji here).

Let me explain the horrors (in a bulleted list no less):

  • Bathrooms! Dragging luggage into often busy bathrooms is cumbersome and awkward. Many airport bathrooms are narrow. Trying to fit myself and bag into one often resembles a wrestling match with the stall coming out the winner.
  • Wandering! I enjoy wandering through shops, stopping to grab a drink, or plain walk long lengths of airports (mainly to pass the time and to get some steps in on my FitBit). Much harder when dragging a suitcase or backpack behind you. I have knocked things over 😳.
  • Connections! Rarely do I fly domestically without a connecting flight so having extra bulk while being swept up in the throngs of passengers scrambling along escalators and corridors can make for a harrowingly life and death situation. It really is a dangerous endeavour!
  • Aircraft! I don’t know how they come up with the zone boarding system though I usually end up in zone 4 – the last lot. So when I finally board every other person has scooped up all the overhead bins. I mean people use them all! Even ones that aren’t above their seats. Mine ends up 10 rows behind!! Or under my seat and my small bag that contains what I need above and out of my reach!

Yeah so there ya have it. I am a checked bag girl! For those who carry-on with ease: I may not get it but kudos for excelling at the Carry-on Olympics. And for those like myself: you are my tribe. Oh and maybe I could consider being less cheap…er…economical. LOL!!

Sunday Special – The Great Trail, Canada

HAPPY CANADA DAY! Today, July 1st, is Canada’s birthday. This nation is relatively young and though we do have some interesting historical sites much of the allure of this country comes from it’s vast and varied natural beauty. Canada has rugged coastlines, serene beaches, vibrant cities, quaint towns, majestic mountains, and incredible wildlife. Really it’s to be expected of the second largest country by landmass.  We are 9,985 square km / 3,855 square miles big! That is a lot of country. Many of us Canadians measure distance by hours (driving, flying, etc) due to its sheer enormity. 

So how can one see this very large place? Well there are a number of ways though today we will look at it from the ground up – The Great Trail. Formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail its construction began in 1992. Twenty-five years later the trail now traverses 24,000 km / 14, 900 mi of the country. The world’s largest recreational trails runs from Newfoundland through to BC, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.  Connecting the country it flows through wilderness areas including some waterways, and both rural and urban communities. Spend a day, a weekend or more on the trails. You can explore the wilds of BC or see the urban landscape of Southern Ontario. Perhaps you want to experience the rustic and coastal beauty of the Atlantic Coast. All this won’t be hard to find as 80% of Canadians live within 30 minutes of the trail which makes it accessible. Plan it all at the website above or download The Great Trail app for both iOS and Android. And if you’re are really energetic you can walk the whole darn thing just as  Dana Meise, the first person to complete it did. Or  like Sarah Jackson who was the first woman to complete the trail. Now that is a long walk.


Cape Spear, Newfoundland. The most eastern point in North America and where The Great Trail begins (mile zero) – Photo credit: Michel Rathwell from Cornwall, Canada, Cape Spear Newfoundland (41321652542)CC BY 2.0


The restored Kinsol Trestle on BC’s Vancouver Island, part of The Great Trail – Photo credit: VrsmithKinsol-Trestle-From-Riverside-RoadCC BY-SA 3.0


The Great Trail (formerly Trans Canada Trail) in Manitoba – Photo is Public Domain

Sunday Special Thrillseekers – Skydiving in Dubai

Skydiving (or Parachuting) has been one of the first items on my bucket list – ever since my teen years. I have not yet indulged this as the idea continues to partially freak me out. But then again so did bungee jumping and now I want to do that over and over. The first parachuting jump was way back in 1797 above Paris by André-Jacques Garnerin. Since then it has evolved in a recreational activity and a competitive extreme sport. 

Skydiving can be done in many places in the world, including the Greater Vancouver area though I think it would be quite spectacular to do in Dubai, UAE and see the incredible man-made Palm Jumeirah Island or the sands of the Arabian Dessert from the sky. From my research it seems that Skydive Dubai is the place to go (I couldn’t find any other operations) and they have a couple of options. Let’s take a look:

  • Tandem Skydiving – The best way to go for the novice or first-timer. You will be shown the whole process and what to expect. Then strapped to an experienced diver and off you go. Cameras will capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments for you. Tandem skydiving is offered at their dessert campus drop-zone and palm drop-zone.
  • Skydive School – Want to take it to the next level? Then take this course that includes classroom time and hands-free experience (8 jumps) so you can do it solo.  They offer the world’s largest skydiving school.

Not quite ready to jump out of a plane? Well there is iFly Dubai’s Indoor Skydiving. Here you will be inside a tunnel that keeps you and the instructor suspended at 4 metres above the ground simulating what actual skydiving is like. This sounds like it would be fun too.


Tandem skydivers over the Palm Jumeirah Island, Dubai – Photo credit: Dubai Tourism, Skydiving over Palm JumeirahCC BY 3.0

*Note/Disclaimer – The decision to participate in high risk activities is a personal choice. Always research the activities and know the risks. Wanders The World is posting only for informational purposes and is in no way responsible for the choices made by anyone reading these posts.