Lenore Scheffler, a member of the Lower Sioux community, is a big fan of the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movies, and so making a trip to New Zealand was a no-brainer.

While that was not the sole purpose of her trip, she admitted just knowing she was touring the locations where those films were made was exciting.

Scheffler and her husband, Robert, visited New Zealand and Australia in 2018, but their adventure was not a typical one, as they had an extended stay in that part of the world – from Feb. 24 until April 1.

“We did a 17-day cruise and then spent a couple of weeks in New Zealand on our own,” said Scheffler.

Their cruise along the southern coast of Australia, as two of about 4,000 people on board the ship, allowed for a number of excursions, where they were able to visit various communities and see the local color of that part of the island that is also a country and a continent.

“We saw a lot of sheep,” said Scheffler, who talked about her trip to the Land Down Under March 25 as part of the Redwood Falls Public Library’s winter travel series.

Among the stops was a visit to Melbourne, which Scheffler called “a beautiful city.”

“We went on a walking tour and found out our tour guide was from Chicago,” said Scheffler, adding she had come to Australia in the 70s as a teacher in a time when that nation was recruiting educators to come and teach.

Scheffler said from Australia they sailed across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand.

“There is 1,000 miles between Australia and New Zealand,” said Scheffler, adding there were times when a south wind would come up and it got pretty cool.

That, she added, was the air from Antarctica.

One of the first things they saw in New Zealand was an area that is known as Fjordland National Park, which is in the southwest corner of the southern island. 

Scheffler said the fjords are a lot like those in Norway, adding pictures just don’t do justice to the beauty of that area.

“We spent that day weaving through the national park,” said Scheffler.

One of the highlights was seeing a falls in the fjords, adding the crew of the ship was able to maneuver the ship right up to the falls.

“You could feel the spray from the ship,” said Scheffler, adding that they were told that the waters of that falls were like a fountain of youth.

The trip continued, and they saw what is known as Spy Valley, which is where a number of nations, including the United States, Canada, England, Australia and New Zealand have satellites and other technologies set up.

Moving around the southern island, they traveled between the two islands to the area of Wellington, which they were warned was a pretty windy place.

“It was like a wind tunnel at times,” said Scheffler, adding they were told the winds actually tilt the ship but the technology aboard the ship can adjust so that those on board can’t even tell that it is happening.

Traveling back to Australia, they visited Sydney, which Scheffler called fascinating.

“There is lots of activity in Sydney,” she said, adding they were able to take a private car tour to see the city. “The people we met were all very nice.”

During their stay in Sydney, they visited the famous opera house and saw the harbor, which Scheffler said was packed with everything from jet skis and speed boats to cruise ships and even a military submarine.

Scheffler said the water was just so beautiful in that part of the world, adding it is so different than Minnesota’s lakes.

When their cruise was over, Scheffler and her husband flew back to New Zealand and started the second part of their adventure on their own in a rental car.

“Driving was a big adjustment, because they drive on the opposite side of streets,” said Scheffler.

There was a visit to Queenstown, which Scheffler said was a very active tourist kind of town.

“There were a lot of young people there,” she said.

New Zealand is the nation that claims it first introduced bungee jumping, but Scheffler said they did not do that.

Scheffler said the visit to New Zealand also involved a tour company that took them to some of the popular sites in the country. Scheffler said they saw a lot of wildlife, including albatross, seals and penguins.

They visited some of the more rural areas of New Zealand and saw dairy cattle, hay fields and even had to stop once on a two-lane road to watch a farmer and his two dogs move a huge flock of sheep.

“We just stopped and watched,” she said.

One the highlights for Scheffler was meeting the aboriginal people of both Australia and New Zealand, adding they visited a Maori village.

“They were wonderful folks,” said Scheffler.

Scheffler said all in all their trip was a great experience.

“We love cruises,” she said. “You unpack once and then go to all sorts of different places."

A trip to that part of the world is a great experience, said Scheffler, adding she highly recommends it.