“You guys! Look at this! This is BEAUTIFUL!” These words come out of my husband’s mouth a lot. And by a lot, I mean it’s become a joke among his daughters. If one of our girls spots something interesting and calls her sisters over to look at it, another one will say “Why, it is ‘beautiful’?” adding air quotes and a smirk.

Seriously though, I was lucky enough to marry a man who fully knows how to appreciate the beauty in the world, and as a result he’s changed the way I look at things. After being with Brian for over seventeen years, I’ve definitely learned to stop and take it all in. I stand at the base of a magnificent tree and stare into its kaleidoscope of branches and leaves. I’ll search for the distant details of a panoramic mountain vista. Maybe peer into the ornate architecture of a tiny flower. I see things differently because of Brian.
Brian on Roys summit
On the beach at Ohau Lake
A field in Fiordland National Park

However, he’s still the master. Often he’ll call my attention to something truly amazing I would have overlooked, and I have to nod and smile with appreciation. Other times though, I squint searching for the thing he’s talking about. “You can’t see it, babe? Look at the way those clouds are doing that thing. They look so cool!” Hmmmm…okay, I’ll just have to take your word for it on this one, dear.

This attention to the world’s beautiful details is the reason Brian’s photography has so perfectly captured our experiences on this journey. We will look back at these photos years from now and they’ll transport us to this time and the things we learned on this adventure together. Although, not to knock Brian’s skills, New Zealand does make it pretty damn easy to get some incredible images through the lens. Here are a few of our highlights over the past couple weeks.

Sitting on the shores of Lake Pukaki looking at Mt. Cook in the distance
Pukaki Lake with Mt Cook in the distance
Emily on Lake Pukaki


Hiking in the Hooker Valley at the base of Mt. Cook
Hooker valley near Mt Cook
Swinging bridge in Hooker Valley
Glacial stream from Mt Cook
Sunburst in Mt Cook
Field in Mt Cook National Park


Exploring the town of Wanaka and the hills surrounding it. Brian hiked to the top of Roys Peak and met a lot of interesting people along the way.
Photographer watching sunset on Roys Peak
A famous tree on Lake Wanaka
Roys Peak Trail

Hanging out in famous Queenstown, New Zealand’s “Gateway to Adventure”, or in our case the “Gateway to Walking Around with Three Kids. Road to Queenstown on the banks of Lake Wakatipu
Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown

Walking through Queenstown

Tracey on Lake Wakatipu

Cruising through Milford Sound
Milford Sound shoreline
Waterfall in Milford Sound
150 meter waterfall in Milford Sound


Hiking on Key Summit Trail outside the town of Te Anau. Brian made a deal with the girls that anyone who beat him to the top would get $5. Needless to say, we had some speedy little hikers that day.
Carisch family on Key Summit peak
Alpine trail on Key Summit

During the two and a half weeks we’ve been in New Zealand, our family has packed in a lot. We’ve hiked around the base of Mt. Cook, driven through the Crown Range, walked around the banks of Lake Wanaka, toured the lovely city of Queenstown and cruised through Milford Sound. Many of these experiences we’d heard about from friends before we came, so we were kind of expecting to be blown away. However, we’ve also appreciated the beauty of this country in the less popular places. You kind of have to go out of your way to find an ugly spot in New Zealand.
On the drive to Mt Cook
Flower girl at mt Cook
Petals falling in Wanaka City Park
Wanaka City Park
Queenstown Tree

I think some of our friends might have been as excited for us to come to New Zealand as we were. Any time someone heard we would be coming here we’d get a message or Facebook comment telling us how beautiful and amazing this country is. When we were in Fiji and I was working to find affordable housing for our time here (which turned out to be a rather difficult task) my friend Diana couldn’t help but smile every time the subject of New Zealand came up. After visiting last year with her family she fell in love with this country, so when I would get frustrated with the booking process she’d say things like, “Oh, don’t worry, it’ll be fine. You’ll be in New Zealand! It’s amazing!”

It turns out she was very right. It all worked out and it’s all amazing! New Zealand is almost so beautiful that you forget it’s beautiful. Luckily, the girls and I have Brian around to keep reminding us.
Tree hugger

About the Author

Tracey Carisch

Mom, wife, friend and change agent traveling the world with my family to learn our place in it. After spending a career in organizational change management and community initiative implementation, I put my career on hold for our family's trip around the world. In April of 2014 we sold almost everything we own, put the rest in a storage container, and departed on this journey. While my husband continued his software development work to financially support our trip, I planned and documented our adventure, homeschooled our three daughters, and found volunteer work opportunities for us to do in the communities we visit. Now that we've returned to the U.S., I'm completing book about our family's adventure and our lessons learned.

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  1. you guys have seen my comments, so I needn’t say this, but I will– this blog and your journey has been beautiful (sorry for another one, tracey). your updates are a highlight for me and my family and we talk about you often.

  2. These pictures were fabulous! Tracey, your writing makes me feel as if I am traveling right along with you. I’m sure you have thought about this, but your account of this trip and the “beautiful” pictures will make a wonderful book.

  3. These pictures nearly bring a tear to my eye! Breathtaking!! I’m definitely putting New Zealand on my bucket list now. And since we’ll be living in Hawaii within a year, it won’t be so far.

  4. I remember Brian as a little boy noticing things in nature and being excited. And it continues!!! The photos are beyond beautiful, Brian!

    1. Wonderful meeting you as well. Funny how we had no idea that our kids sat in the car for about 45 minutes as we were chatting :) The parents got reprimanded on that one.

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