World Tour 5: Malaysia – Northern Ireland

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PETRONAS Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Encircle Photos

1 PETRONAS Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Looking up at the 88 floors of the PETRONAS Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur is awesome. Each tower was the world’s tallest from 1996 until 2004. Menara Berkembar Petronas are still the biggest twin skyscrapers at 1,483 feet with the deepest foundations at 374 feet. The price tag was equally impressive: $1.6 billion. In the center is the Skybridge on the 41st and 42nd floor. If this 558 foot observation deck is not high enough for you, then double down by going up to the 86th floor. The namesake is PETRONAS, an oil and gas company founded in Malaysia and headquartered in Tower One.

Petronas Twin Towers, Khazanah Nasional, 50088 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
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Panca Rupa at Dhammikarama Burmese Temple in Pulau Tikus, Malaysia - Encircle Photos

2 Panca Rupa at Dhammikarama Burmese Temple in Pulau Tikus, Malaysia

An intriguing display at the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple is named Guardian Protectors of the World. The two creatures holding the globe combine the powerful features of several animals. These include the trunk and tusks of an elephant, the hooves of a horse, the scales of a carp, the face of a dragon (toenayar) and the wings of a garuda, the mythological king of birds. The Greek term for a multifaceted creature like this is a chimera.

24, Jalan Burma, Pulau Tikus, 10250 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
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Shah’s Vision for Blue Mosque in Shah Alam, Malaysia - Encircle Photos

3 Shah’s Vision for Blue Mosque in Shah Alam, Malaysia

The best way to appreciate the Blue Mosque is to stand in the 34.5 acre Garden of Islamic Arts. This was the incredible vision of Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah. In 1946, he became the Tengku Laksamana of Selangor and four years later the crown prince. From 1960 until his death in 2001, he was the Sultan of Selangor (Selangor Sultanate). This means he was the head of state for 41 years. He also was Yang di-Pertuan Agong (king of Malaysia) from 1999 until 2001. Among all of the educational and government buildings plus infrastructure he commissioned during his reign, he is best remembered for this mosque bearing his name: Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque.

Blue Mosque, Persiaran Masjid St., 40000 Shah Alam, Malaysia
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Bridge, Moat and Main Gate at Mdina, Malta - Encircle Photos

4 Bridge, Moat and Main Gate at Mdina, Malta

The town of Mdina is approached by walking across this arched footbridge and over a former moat to the main gate. This handsome Baroque entrance, which was built in 1724, is the work of architect de Mondion. Your excitement builds as you pass through the archway and into the Middle Ages.

Mdina Rd, Attard, Malta
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Full Frontal View of Mosta Dome in Mosta, Malta - Encircle Photos

5 Full Frontal View of Mosta Dome in Mosta, Malta

The Church of the Assumption of Our Lady dominates the center of Mosta, a small town of about 20,000 people in the center of Malta. When St Marija Assunta was consecrated in 1871, the town’s population was 90% smaller. So, it is a delightful surprise to see such gorgeous Neoclassical architecture here. Among its features are ten Ionic columns forming the portico, the pediment with its delicate reliefs and two flanking bell towers. Even more surprising? It has the world’s fourth largest unsupported dome! That is why the Roman Catholic church is proudly called The Mosta Dome.

Rotunda Square, Mosta, Malta
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Saluting Battery in Valletta, Malta - Encircle Photos

6 Saluting Battery in Valletta, Malta

This Saluting Battery points towards the Grand Harbour. It was called the Porto delle Galere when the Knights Hospitaller ruled Malta starting in 1565. The year before the Ottomans located cannons here so they could bombard Fort St. Angelo in the center. That fortress was a castle called Castrum Maris during medieval times. When the Turks were defeated in 1566, the Saints Peter and Paul’s Bastion was built. This vantage point from the Upper Barrakka Gardens gives you the best view of the guns when they are fired at noon and 4:00 every day. From here you can also see Fort Ricasoli on the distant left.

Upper Barrakka Gardens Triq Sant' Orsla, Valletta, Malta
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Crooked Coconut Tree at Salines Beach near Sainte-Anne, Martinique - Encircle Photos

7 Crooked Coconut Tree at Salines Beach near Sainte-Anne, Martinique

Visiting a beach in Martinique is like spending a day on the French Riviera. The sand is flawless and stretches forever. The water is calm, warm and a beautiful shade of aquamarine. Families play together, couples go for a romantic stroll, seniors sit in the shade while young adults bask in the sun. And the sounds of the beautiful French language are everywhere.

Les 97227, Pnt des Salines, Sainte-Anne, Martinique
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Green Sea Turtle Swimming in Akumal, Mexico - Encircle Photos

8 Green Sea Turtle Swimming in Akumal, Mexico

Along the Riviera Maya on the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico is the small town of Akumal. In Mayan this means “place of the turtle.” It is well named because you can swim along with green sea turtles at Akumal Bay. It is estimated they lay 70,000 eggs during their breeding season of May through October. At maturity they reach five feet and hundreds of pounds. Simply gorgeous! But look and don’t touch them or their habitat. They are endangered and their ecosystem is fragile.

1 Akumal Bay, 77710 Akumal, Q. R., Mexico
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Boats Docked at Marina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - Encircle Photos

9 Boats Docked at Marina in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Sheltered by the inner harbor along the Sea of Cortés is the Cobo San Lucas Marina. Its 380 slips accommodate yachts, charter fishing boats and a fleet of sightseeing marine craft and water taxis. It is also the locale for at least six major sports fishing tournaments. They are held annually from late June until early November. In the background is the Puerto Paraíso Mall.

A Dock, BCS, Marina, Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
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Wintertime Joy in Cancun, Mexico - Encircle Photos

10 Wintertime Joy in Cancun, Mexico

It is easy to understand why this woman is happy: she is vacationing in Cancun. During the winter, the average daytime highs for sea and sunshine are 80 °F, the Caribbean Sea glistens as it laps along pristine beaches, plus air and hotel packages are abundant and reasonable. In addition, the nightlife is legendary yet the resorts cater to whatever style of R&R you seek. No wonder about five million tourists annually visit the northern part of the Yucatán Peninsula.

Playa Delfines, Blvd. Kukulcan, KM 18, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, QROO, Mexico
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Tips for Visiting Chichen Itza, Mexico - Encircle Photos

11 Tips for Visiting Chichen Itza, Mexico

Although Chichen Itza is surprisingly more compact and walkable than many of Mexico’s famous Mayan sites, you should still plan for at least a three hour visit. And because it is extremely popular – attracting over 1.5 million visitors yearly – it is best to arrive close to the 8:00 a.m. opening to beat the crowds and heat. Another tip is to savor the view of El Castillo throughout the day as the sun illuminates its various sides. After sunset, you may want to stay for the spectacular, 30 minute light and sound show projected on the side of El Castillo.

Chichen Itza Parking Lot, Chichén Itzá, Yucatán, México
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Tallest Pyramid in Yucatán at Mayan Ruins in Coba, Mexico - Encircle Photos

12 Tallest Pyramid in Yucatán at Mayan Ruins in Coba, Mexico

The Mayan civilization lasted more than 2,500 years. Left behind are over 4,000 archeological sites. The most famous and visited ancient cities in the northern Yucatán Peninsula are Chichén Itzá and Tulum. However, the tallest pyramid in the region at 138 feet is Ixmoja at Coba, Mexico. Also called Nohoch Mul, this stepped pyramid measures almost 200 feet at the base. The surrounding ruins provide hints of what this city looked like when it was populated by 50,000 people.

Carretera Federal Tulum no. 307 Km. 47, 77793 Cobá, Q.R., Mexico
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Temple Pyramid at Chacchoben Mayan Ruins near Costa Maya, Mexico - Encircle Photos

13 Temple Pyramid at Chacchoben Mayan Ruins near Costa Maya, Mexico

The Mayan civilization began circa 2000 B.C. and extended through parts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras. Seven significant ruin sites are in the state of Quintana Roo which includes resort cities like Cancun and Cozumel. This Maya ruin in the Yucatan is the stepped Temple Pyramid at Chacchoben near Costa Maya, Mexico. It was built around 700 A.D. and discovered in 1972.

Limones Mayan Ruin, Quintana Roo, Mexico
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Monument of Two Cultures in San Miguel, Cozumel, Mexico - Encircle Photos

14 Monument of Two Cultures in San Miguel, Cozumel, Mexico

A Spanish crew was shipwrecked off the Yucatán Peninsula coast in 1511. Of the 15 sailors enslaved by the Mayans, only two survived. The figure holding the spear is a tribute to one of them: Gonzalo Guerrero. He embraced the Mayan culture, married a princess named Zazil Ha and had three children. They were the first mestizos, a mix of European and Amerindian. Guerrero died in 1536 while defending against the Spanish. This Monument of Two Cultures is along the waterfront on Avenue Rafael Melgar.

Av. Rafael E. Melgar & Antonio González Fernández, Centro, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico
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Portal Maya Sculpture in Playa del Carmen, Mexico - Encircle Photos

15 Portal Maya Sculpture in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

This elegant bronze sculpture of a man and woman clasping hands as their bodies form a 52.5 foot high arch is named Portal Maya. The public artwork by Arturo Taravez is located at Parque Los Fundadores (Founding Fathers Park) facing the sea. It is a tribute to the Mayan communities that dotted the Yucatán Peninsula before the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century. The rings represent traditional ones found on ballcourts at Mayan archeological sites. Etched on the statue is the date December 21st, 2012. This marked the end of the 5,126 year Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar developed by the Mayans.

Portal Maya, Av Benito Juárez 251, Centro, Playa del Carmen, QROO, Mexico
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Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in Puerto Morelos, Mexico - Encircle Photos

16 Mesoamerican Barrier Reef in Puerto Morelos, Mexico

This view of the Caribbean Sea is serene and picturesque. Below the surface is another beautiful world waiting for you to explore. 300 feet offshore is the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef. This incredible marine reserve runs parallel to the Yucatán Peninsula’s east coast and stretches for over 600 miles to Belize. One of the best and shallowest sections is near Puerto Morelos. Contact a guide for an unforgettable snorkeling or diving adventure. Or make arrangements with a captain at the dock for a fun sightseeing ride. The water is so clear you can easily enjoy this underwater National Marine Park without getting wet.

Carr Fed 307 & Rafael E. Melgar, Puerto Morelos, 77580, QROO, Mexico
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Sunrise Over Caribbean Sea at Riviera Maya, Mexico - Encircle Photos

17 Sunrise Over Caribbean Sea at Riviera Maya, Mexico

The Riviera Maya is Mexico’s most eastern point so it welcomes the first break of dawn over the Caribbean Sea. At sunrise is the perfect time to stroll along the empty beach, feel the sand between your toes, smell the air, listen to the birds, watch the surf and admire the spectacular seascape as it glistens with shades of red and orange. What a great way to start another day on vacation.

Grand Bahia Principe Tulum Solidaridad, 77760 Tulum, QROO, Mexico
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El Castillo Full View at Mayan Ruins in Tulum, Mexico - Encircle Photos

18 El Castillo Full View at Mayan Ruins in Tulum, Mexico

Most of the Tulum’s buildings are short, boxy and devoid of ornamentation except for the city’s centerpiece: The Castillo. It was the largest building in Zamá but much smaller than several Mayan pyramids on the Yucatán Peninsula. Evidence suggests El Castillo was constructed in stages. The grand staircase leads to a platform at the temple entrance which is supported by upside-down serpent columns. At the corners are threatening masks borrowed from the Toltec culture. In the center is a craving of the Descending God, the deity believed to have been worshiped in this ancient Mayan community.

Carretera federal 307 Cancún - Chetumal Km 230, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
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Saint Nicholas Cathedral Front Façade in Monte Carlo, Monaco - Encircle Photos

19 Saint Nicholas Cathedral Front Façade in Monte Carlo, Monaco

The first Saint Nicholas church to be built on “The Rock” was in 1252. It was replaced by the Cathédrale de Monaco in 1875. It is called Saint Nicholas Cathedral. Officially, the name of this Roman Catholic church is the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. A secondary patron saint is Saint Benoît. Benedict of Nursia lived in the 6th century and is also a patron saint of Europe and students. Their statues can be seen on either side of the cathedral’s entrance.

1A Rue Colonel Bellando de Castro 98000 Monaco
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Peninsula of Old Town Budva, Montenegro - Encircle Photos

20 Peninsula of Old Town Budva, Montenegro

Budva’s Old Town is suspended in the Middle Ages on a peninsula formally an island. Since the 4th century B.C. it has been occupied by Illyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Serbians, Venetians, Habsburgs, French, Austrians and Yugoslavians before becoming part of Montenegro in 2006. The country may be young but people have cherished its walled-in beauty for millenniums. Step through the city gate and step back into history. You will quickly discover why Budva is one of the finest historic towns along the Adriatic coast.

Merit Casino Avala Mediteranska 2, Budva 85310, Montenegro
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St. Tryphon Cathedral in Kotor, Montenegro - Encircle Photos

21 St. Tryphon Cathedral in Kotor, Montenegro

St. Tryphon Cathedral is one of Kotor’s most recognizable landmarks. This Roman Catholic church was built in 1166 on the site of a previous one from 809. Both were dedicated to Saint Tryphon, a 3rd century martyr and the protector of the city. Despite being partially destroyed during an earthquake in 1667 and again in 1979, the imposing western façade of Katedrala Svetog Tripuna was faithfully restored in 2009. Its Korčula stone glows with a golden hue just before sunset.

Pjaca Sv. Tripuna Kotor, Montenegro
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Woman Strolling Waterfront in Perast, Montenegro - Encircle Photos

22 Woman Strolling Waterfront in Perast, Montenegro

While strolling along Persat’s shoreline you will find numerous palaces previously owned by captains of the Venetian navy, shipbuilders and former elite families. During its history, this town had the prestigious Nautica naval college, was the home to four successful shipyards and harbored over 100 ships. You would hardly guess its illustrious past by seeing the modest boats tethered in the bay.

Muzej grada Perasta, Perast, Montenegro
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Butcher in Raw Meat Stand at Old Medina in Casablanca, Morocco - Encircle Photos

23 Butcher in Raw Meat Stand at Old Medina in Casablanca, Morocco

This butcher at Casablanca’s Old Medina was extremely proud of his display of skinned cow and lamb legs, hanging octopi and other raw, unidentifiable animal parts. He gave me his business card and requested a copy of this photo. I have no idea if he ever received it. The Old Medina is near Place des Nations Unies.

Avenue des Far & Boulevard Hassan I, Casablanca 20250, Morocco
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Leather Tannery in Fes el Bali at Fez, Morocco - Encircle Photos

24 Leather Tannery in Fes el Bali at Fez, Morocco

The noxious stench of the Chouara tannery is bad. Yet it is nothing compared to watching the barbaric process of creating leather. The animal skins are first dried in the blistering, North African heat on roofs and balconies. Then they are bathed in pigeon excrement and animal urine. Next stop is to a honeycomb of stone vessels. Workers stand in the colored vegetable dye while soaking the hides along with their own arms, waist and legs. OSHA would not approve of the practices at the Tanners’ Quarter. However, the resulting leather goods are magnificent.

Morocco Tannery Shop, Fes, Morocco
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Little Girl Closing School Gate in Ifrane, Morocco - Encircle Photos

Little Girl Closing School Gate in Ifrane, Morocco

Ifrane, which is located in the Middle Atlas Mountain region of Morocco, is emerging into a popular ski resort during winter but offers few other attractions. This little girl, however, was intriguing. She appeared to be slipping out of a school yard and quietly closing the gate so she would go undetected.

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Dar Menebhi Palace Chandelier in Marrakech Museum in Marrakech, Morocco - Encircle Photos

25 Dar Menebhi Palace Chandelier in Marrakech Museum in Marrakech, Morocco

The Dar Menebhi Palace was built in the late 19th century by its namesake, Mehdi Menebhi. In 1997, this former grand residence was restored and transformed into the Marrakech Museum. In the atrium is a stunning chandelier surrounded by exquisite checkerboard tiles, mosaics, carvings, columns and a fountain. At times, the beauty of the intricate Andalusian architecture overwhelms the museum’s Moroccan art. The collection also contains works by Jewish, Berber and Arabic artisans.

Marrakech Museum, Place de La Kissariat Ben Youssef, Marrakesh 40000, Morocco
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Exhausted Worker Sits on Wheel Barrow on Bou Regreg River in Salé, Morocco - Encircle Photos

26 Exhausted Worker Sits on Wheel Barrow on Bou Regreg River in Salé, Morocco

Across the Bou Regreg River from the capital city of Rabat is Salé, Morocco. Dating back to the 7th century BC, it is supposed to be the oldest city on the western coast. It is showing its age with lots of pollution. However, efforts are underway to improve the lives of its 800,000 residents. This laborer uses a wheelbarrow to rest while surveying the river as it empties into the Atlantic Ocean.

Plage de Salé Ville, Avenue Sidi Ben Achir, Salé, Morocco
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I Amsterdam Sign and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

27 I Amsterdam Sign and Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam in the Netherlands has 800,000 people who ride 880,000 bicycles. It’s a charming, very walkable city of concentric canals. The Rijksmuseum in the background contains a million pieces of art, mostly from Dutch artists such as Rembrandt. Across the street are the giant, red and white “I amsterdam” letters that have become the city’s slogan. Tourists have taken more smart-phone photos of their family and friends in front of this sign than any of the city’s wonderful architecture, historic landmarks (such as Anne Frank’s House) or cultural novelties (like the Red Light District).

Hobbemastraat 18, 1071 XZ Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Delft City Hall on the Markt in Delft, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

28 Delft City Hall on the Markt in Delft, Netherlands

Netherland’s largest public square, which is called the Markt, is in the southern Dutch town of Delft. This community of 100,000 dates back to 1246. In its center is the City Hall, which was built in 1618 and has been restored several times. It’s now primarily used for weddings. The limestone tower in the background was a 13th century prison. It still houses torture equipment.

Markt 87, 2611 GW Delft, Netherlands
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Five Windmills in Kinderdijk, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

29 Five Windmills in Kinderdijk, Netherlands

Children Dike is the Dutch translation for Kinderdijk, Netherlands where 19 polder windmills were built beginning in 1740. This is also where the “Cat and the Cradle” legend originated when a cat saved a baby from drowning during a 1421 flood. Today, the function of these picturesque landmarks has been replaced by 2,000 wind turbines scattered across Holland.

Blokweerschekade 5, 2954 Alblasserdam, Netherlands
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Children Looking at Rijksmuseum at Madurodam Miniature Town in Scheveningen, Netherlands - Encircle Photos

30 Children Looking at Rijksmuseum at Madurodam Miniature Town in Scheveningen, Netherlands

Madurodam is a miniature town of the Netherlands’ most famous buildings. This park in Scheveningen, or The Hague district, offers a delightful, outdoor stroll around perfectly scaled replicas with intricate detail. These two children lean over a bridge to get a better look at the Rijksmuseum, which is a famous Dutch art and history museum in Amsterdam.

George Maduroplein 1, 2584 RZ Den Haag, Netherlands
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Bra Fence in Cardrona Valley, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

31 Bra Fence in Cardrona Valley, New Zealand

While driving in the Cardrona Valley in the countryside of Central Otago, we were startled and then amused by a fence covered with 800 bras. This visual oddity mysteriously started when four bras appeared on New Year’s Day, 2000. Soon more were added. As protests from the locals grew, so did its notoriety and the number of bras. Apparently we saw it near its peak (no pun intended). In 2006, this whimsical display of undergarments was removed by the city council. But do not despair. And endless row of female undergarments are now dangling in the breeze on a fence next to the Cardrona Distillery and Museum.

2125 Cardrona Valley Rd, Cardrona 9381, New Zealand
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History of Milford Sound at Fiordland, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

32 History of Milford Sound at Fiordland, New Zealand

Milford Sound was used by generations of Māori for fishing. During the earliest European circumnavigation voyages, the fjord was unexplored because its narrow entrance was easy to miss. Plus the shallow water of 88 feet at the mouth seemed unpromising and potentially dangerous. In 1812, the ship Governor Bligh captained by seal hunter John Grono was the first to sail through the opening along the Tasman Sea. He called the discovery Milford Haven after his hometown in Wales. During the mid-19th century, it was renamed Milford Sound by John Lort Stokes during a surveying expedition aboard the HMS Acheron. This panorama facing the end of Milford Sound displays two of the tallest summits. Sheerdown Peak on the left has an elevation of 6,161 feet. Next to it is Odyssey Peak at 5,974 feet.

Milford Sound, Southland 9691, New Zealand
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Aerial View of Franz Josef Glacier in Franz Josef, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

33 Aerial View of Franz Josef Glacier in Franz Josef, New Zealand

Stretching 7.5 miles down the Southern Alps in the South Island of New Zealand is the Franz Josef Glacier. The physically fit can hike up it. It is more fun to take a helicopter ride. You will fly up the mountain and land on the snow-capped peak. After snapping photos and having a snowball fight, your pilot will fly down the glacier like an aerial toboggan. The crystals of white, brown and blue ice are gorgeous. Unfortunately, Franz Josef and the neighboring Fox Glacier are rapidly retreating because of global warming.

Franz Josef Glacier, Franz Josef 7886, New Zealand
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Lake Moeraki Reflection in Haast, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

34 Lake Moeraki Reflection in Haast, New Zealand

There are almost 4,000 lakes in New Zealand. Those near the Southern Alps seem as uninhabited and unspoiled as they were when first cut by glaciers. This gorgeous example is Lake Moeraki near Haast on the west coast of the South Island. Nearby is a rare Kiwi colony (think small bird with a long beak and not the fruit).

8756 Haast Hwy, Haast 7886, New Zealand
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Fur Seal Napping on Kaikoura Peninsula in Kaikaoura, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

35 Fur Seal Napping on Kaikoura Peninsula in Kaikaoura, New Zealand

This New Zealand fur seal is using a limestone rock as a pillow as he naps on the Kaikoura Peninsula in the northeast section of New Zealand’s South Island. When he opens his eyes, he has a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean and the Seaward Kaikoura mountains. Kaikoura is a quaint town of about 2,100 people. It has an active crayfish industry. The tourists love the boat rides to watch the sperm whales and dolphins.

40 Fyffe Quay, Kaikoura 7300, New Zealand
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New Napier Arch at Art Deco Festival in Napier, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

36 New Napier Arch at Art Deco Festival in Napier, New Zealand

Visiting Napier during the annual Art Deco Festival is like stepping back into the 1930s. The center of town is filled with stunning classic cars. An example is this 1936 Buick Roadmaster. During the Tremains Art Deco Festival 2018, this Series 80 Convertible was parked in front of the New Napier Arch in the background. It was one of three arches built in 1940 as a tribute to the citizens who not only endured the earthquake’s aftermath but worked together to rebuild a marvelous city. The inscription above this arch reads, “Courage is the thing: all goes if courage goes.”

60 Marine Parade, Napier 4110, New Zealand
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Tahunanui Beach on Tasman Bay in Nelson, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

37 Tahunanui Beach on Tasman Bay in Nelson, New Zealand

“Top of the South” is the coastal city of Nelson with a population of 67,000 residents. Its namesake is Horatio Nelson, a celebrated Vice Admiral in the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Main attractions in Nelson (Whakatū in Māori language) include hiking, kayaking, surfing, sailing and a chance to see a seal colony and blue penguins. Or simply slip off your shoes and walk along the Tahunanui Beach on Tasman Bay. And stay until dusk. The sunsets are spectacular.

Back Beach Rd Tahunanui, Nelson 7011, New Zealand
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Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

38 Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland, New Zealand

Dominating the tallest ridge at Auckland Domain is the impressive, Neoclassical façade of the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The museum began in 1852 and now curates over four million items. As the name implies, inside are extensive exhibits devoted to military conflicts. But there is so much more to see and enjoy. The collection includes natural and social artifacts plus exhibits about the Māori people dating back over 1,000 years. The museum’s Māori name is Tāmaki Paenga Hira. Interestingly, a delegation of 80 Māori chiefs attended the museum’s opening in 1929. The Auckland Museum is New Zealand’s oldest and visited by over a half million people annually.

80 Cenotaph Rd, Auckland 1010, New Zealand
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Legend of Wellington Harbour in Wellington, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

39 Legend of Wellington Harbour in Wellington, New Zealand

Have a seat here at Chaffers Marina next to Clyde Quay Wharf. Watch the anchored sailboats gently bob and weave. Then read the history of Wellington Harbour. The Māori call it Te Whanganui a Tara. This means the “Great Harbour of Tara.” Tara was the first chief of the Ngai Tara. The tribe settled here in either the 12th or 13th century. According to their legend, this arm of Cook Strait was created by two sea monsters (taniwha). They were big as whales and resembled lizards. Whātaitai was gentle, mild and protective. Ngake was energetic, inquisitive and strong. When the siblings lived in the water in front of you, it was a large, freshwater lake. Eager to escape to the ocean, Ngake tunneled through the earth until he reached Te Moana o Raukawa (today’s Cook Strait). As water rushed through the new opening, Whātaitai was caught in the eddy and washed ashore. After dying, the taniwha’s spirit became a bird named Te Keo. Now look at the hill behind you. Mount Victoria (Tangi Te Keo) and the ridge of Hataitai suburb is where the remains of the gentle monster turned to stone.

Chaffers Marina, 22 Herd St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
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Paragliding over Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

40 Paragliding over Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown in the Otago Region is one of the most picturesque settings in the South Island. The Remarkables Mountains are well named as the backdrop for Lake Wakatipu. Tāhuna (Māori name) is an ideal destination for the active tourist. In winter, skiing is the main attraction. In summer, the choices include fishing, bungee jumping, boating, biking, hiking (called tramping) and camping. The most adventurous souls fly high and free on a paraglider.

Skyline Queenstown, 35 Brecon St, Queenstown 9300, New Zealand
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Giant’s House Sculpture Garden in Akaroa, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

41 Giant’s House Sculpture Garden in Akaroa, New Zealand

Welcome to Giant’s House, a masterful mosaic sculpture garden perched atop the hill on Rue Balguerie. Justifiably called “the happiest garden on earth,” this visual wonderland is the twenty-five year passion of Josie Martin, a contemporary artist, talented sculptor and trained horticulturalist. The centerpiece is this lovingly restored 1880 home with a unique planter piano in front. Inside are an art gallery of her paintings plus a café and the Linton bed & breakfast. Outside is a mental playground of whimsical characters and animals accenting walkways and staircases among terraced flowers and plants.

68 Rue Balguerie, Akaroa 7520, New Zealand
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WWI Aviation Museum at Omaka Aviation Centre in Blenheim, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

42 WWI Aviation Museum at Omaka Aviation Centre in Blenheim, New Zealand

A three-mile drive from Blenheim is the Knights of the Sky Exhibition at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. This must-see airplane museum displays 16 World War I aircraft. Most are operational replicas. An example is this Etrich Taube named after its designer Igo Etrich. Taube means “dove” in German. This weaponless airplane was used for reconnaissance during the early years of the Great War. Also visit the Dangerous Skies, an adjoining exhibition of WWII aircraft

79 Aerodrome Road, Blenheim 7272, New Zealand
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Wide Angle of Dunedin Railway Station in Dunedin, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

43 Wide Angle of Dunedin Railway Station in Dunedin, New Zealand

One of the city’s many visual highlights is the Dunedin Railway Station. This marvelous Flemish Renaissance train terminal opened in 1906. At the south end is a 121 foot clock tower. The flower bed is part of a sculpted knot garden decorating the center of Anzac Square. ANZAC honors the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who died during World War I.

22 Anzac Ave, Dunedin, 9016, New Zealand
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Picturesque Picton, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

44 Picturesque Picton, New Zealand

Picturesque Picton is located in the northeast corner of New Zealand’s South Island. It is the gateway to the North Island by water. This small resort town of about 4,000 residents is called Waitohi in the Māori language. Its namesake is Sir Thomas Picton. He was a Lieutenant-General in the British Army when he was killed in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. This “I Love Picton” picture frame is a few steps away from the Picton i-SITE Visitor Information Centre. Let their knowledgeable staff answer all of your questions and help plan your visit to this delightful town.

The Foreshore, Picton 7220, New Zealand
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Brief History of Tauranga, New Zealand - Encircle Photos

45 Brief History of Tauranga, New Zealand

Central Tauranga is on the Te Papa Peninsula meaning flat land. The original Māori tribes called their settlement Tauranga-moana. The first Europeans were British Anglicans. The Church Missionary Society purchased land from the Indigenous people in 1835 to establish a mission station. In 1864, the British military built Camp Te Papa at Monmouth Redoubt at the northern edge of today’s central business district. As the town grew during the late 19th century and early 20th century, the Borough Council bought waterfront property for recreational use. In 1916, the East Coast Railway finished laying tracks parallel to the harbor. All of these historical events are evident as you walk along The Strand. The last major development was the construction of a bridge across the harbor in 1988. It connected Tauranga with its neighboring peninsula capped by Mount Maunganui. The Mount is a 761 foot lava dome formed two to three million years ago.

Tauranga Harbour, Tauranga 3110, New Zealand
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Dome of City Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland - Encircle Photos

46 Dome of City Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland

The green copper dome of the Belfast City Hall is a prominent landmark. One layer of the Portland stone is supported by Ionic columns while the other is surrounded by balusters before reaching its 173 foot summit. On the left is one of four corner towers. The Baroque Revival design was created by Alfred Brumwell Thomas. Affectionately called the “Wedding Cake,” the City Council’s building opened in 1906.

Donegall Square, Belfast, BT1 5GS
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