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New Zealand: Waitakere – The Kauri trees of New Zealand

The Kauri trees are endangered so it’s really special when you can go into a forest and see quite of few very old ones. The Arataki Visitor Centre goes to great lengths to preserve and protect them. You can climb up a high trail and see then at the top reaching for the sky. The circular cluster is called The Cathedral.

New Zealand: Waitakere – Ferns of New Zealand

In the trails outside the Arataki Visitor Centre in Waitakere NZ, you can get lost in the sea of ferns.

New Zealand: Waitakere – New Zealand’s Silver Fern


The silver fern has been a symbol of New Zealand since the 1880s. To Maori, the shape of the fronds stood for strength, resistance, and power. To other New Zealanders, it’s exemplifies their homeland as it grows throughout the country from the North Island down to the coast of the South Island. It is the most abundant of all ferns in New Zealand. You can find it on all kinds of souvenirs. We bought sports socks with ferns on them as a momento of New Zealanders who enjoy lots of physical activity. 

New Zealand: Waitakere -Arataki Visitor Centre

You can take quiet walks in Waitakere’s Arataki Visitor Centre. These steps lead up and up and up to the treetop Cathedral of ancient Kauri trees. Worth the walk.

New Zealand: Waitakere – Arataki Visitor Centre in Waitakere NZ

It’s surprising to find this peace and quiet in this amazing location outside the Arataki Visitor Centre in Waitakere so close to the bustling city of Auckland. These steps take you eventually up up up to the sky view. 

New Zealand: Waitakere – Inside the Arataki Visitor Centre

You just never know who you might meet when you travel. This wooden sculpture of a male is inside the Arataki Visitor Centre and Himione Heketarere is carved on the bottom.


New Zealand: Waitakere – Views from outside the Arataki Visitor Centre

From the Arataki Visitor Centre in Waitakere, you can see the Hauraki Gulf (Pacific), Rangitoto, and north past Auckland city centre. If you gaze south past Auckland Airport, you’ll glimpse the Bombay Hills and west will lead your eyes to Manukau Harbour (Tasman Ocean).


US: Seattle – Wings over Washington

Thought this was chicken wings joint as it is in the area of the Pike’s Place Market in Seattle. Boy was I wrong – it’s a flight simulator which focuses on scenery rather than stomach-churning dips. The life-like soaring vignettes from the ocean to the forest to the mountains are enhanced by effects like a light mist spray near Snoqualmie Falls and a pine scent in the woods.

Canada: Sault Ste Marie, Ontario – Photo of Three of the Group of Seven

Here are three of the famous Canadian Group of Seven painters who started painting the Algoma scenery starting in 1918 with J.E.H. Macdonald. The others in the group are: Lawren Harris, Franklin Carmichael, A.Y. Jackson, Franz Johnson, Arhur Lismer, and Frederick Varley. They hitched a boxcar onto the Agawa Canyon train going up to the mines in Northern Ontario.

Canada: Sault Ste Marie, Ontario – Inside Group of Seven Boxcar

The Group of Seven were Canadian painters who, in the early 20th century, especially enjoyed painting Canadian scenery. A few at a time, the men would live in this spartan boxcar which would get hitched to a train. They would be let off on a rail siding for a few days to paint scenery to their hearts content.