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It is a quiet Saturday in February. I am sitting in the sweet garden of a thoroughly charming backpacker hostel in Christchurch, New Zealand, feeling fine: soft and relaxed. Happy. Don is napping. We arrived in New Zealand late last night and have spent most of the day ‘housekeeping’, getting here.

But this post is to be about Fiji! December 12 to 15. We stayed at the Aquarius Hotel right on the beach. Some part of each of our two days there was spent on the beach, swimming, walking, lazing. For the longest time Fiji was Australia’s winter tourist playground in the tropical sun, in much the same way Hawaii is for North Americans. I don’t know whether or not it still is. I do know sometime over the past twenty years or so Australians discovered Bali and turned Kuta Beach into their backyard playground.

Fiji is worth visiting. For the beaches, and so much more. Beaches have so many moods, and this one, Wailoaloa Beach, is no exception.

In the serene, still, early morning.



At first light a surfer gets ready to go out for the day.


During the day the wind picks up and the clouds begin to gather.


When I lifted my camera to photograph these two this is the reaction I got!


And in the evening a sunset to melt the heart.


Driving away from the coast towards the mountains, we pass by the foothills of the Nausori Highlands north of Nadi. 




We come to the rich, tropical Garden of the Sleeping Giant. The garden specializes in Fiji’s native plants,



and an extraordinary collection of orchids. It was begun, in 1977, by Raymond Burr, star of Perry Mason and Ironside. Burr, a TV star playing tough guys, was into orchids (among many other things). Who knew? His legacy lives on in this beautiful garden, which includes more than two thousand varieties of Asian and hybrid orchids.






Banana palm flower.


The ubiquitous tropical Heliconia, still new,


and fully opened.


We were lucky enough to be at the hotel at the time of their weekly evening of Polynesian dancing, and fire dancing. Fijian dance, similar to Polynesian dances throughout the South Pacific, tells stories through dance and song. We watched performances by a small but enthusiastic and athletic group of men, and two very graceful women. The fire dance originated in Samoa but has spread throughout all Polynesian cultures, and beyond, and was definitely the highlight of the evening.




After two days at the beach in Fiji as part of island-hopping across the Pacific to avoid those brutal long flights and jet-lag, we flew to Sydney, and then caught a bus to Canberra, my Aussie hometown. Next two posts: my family and other wildlife.

All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.