Trip of a lifetime

Retired surgical technician Beverly Beech shares her recent adventures to New Zealand and Australia.



February 16, 2024 - 3:11 PM

Beverly Beech, along with her brother Jerry and his wife Joanna, pose for a photo outside of the Australian Open in Melbourne. Courtesy photo

Most people associate retirement with taking life at a leisurely pace. Beverly Beech must have missed the memo. Fresh off the heels of a career as a surgical technician, the energetic Iolan took a six-week vacation to New Zealand and Australia.

“My brother and I had wanted to make the trip for years,” she said. With the calendar wiped clean, their dream was finally realized.

Prior to jet-setting across the globe, Beech had worked at Allen County Regional Hospital since 1995. She loved her job, she said, and had become well-known in the facility and among community members.

Her favorite part of the job was getting to witness the different surgeries over the years. “I love human anatomy,” she said. “I got to cut the suture, cauterize, and assist in a lot of orthopedic cases. And I got to work with a lot of great people.”

Beech and her brother Jerry, who lives in Los Angeles, began officially planning their trip in June of 2023. Joining them would be Jerry’s wife, Joanna, and another couple who are friends of the family, Marty and Kim. “It was like a big family trip,” said Beech. Jerry’s daughter is married to Marty and Kim’s son. Beech’s husband, Bill, missed the trip due to an aversion to flying.

Beverly Beech shows off her Australian Open T-shirt she bought in Melbourne, Australia. The tennis tournament was a highlight of the trip for Beech. Photo by Sarah Haney / Iola Register

Australia has always been on Beeches’ bucket list, she said.

“I hadn’t really thought of New Zealand, but everybody had said how pretty it was there.” In fact, with 24 days in New Zealand and 15 days in Australia, the group spent more time there.

“Personally, I didn’t think it was any better than Australia,” she said. “It’s different, but the cities of Sydney and Melbourne were just awesome.” Other than a stay in Auckland, the group mainly visited smaller towns in New Zealand.

Being a big “The Lord of the Rings” fan, Beech was elated with a portion of the New Zealand leg of the trip. “We got to go to Hobbiton,” said Beech. “It was awesome.” Hobbiton is the location used for filming in “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy and “The Hobbit” film trilogy, serving as a stand-in for the town of Hobbiton in the Shire. Prior to December, if you visited Hobbiton, you would just see the fronts of the Hobbit homes. “Now, they’ve made a couple of them into the actual dwellings for you to tour,” she said. “It was so cool.”

When they weren’t busy journeying through Middle Earth, the group also visited a Maori village and sampled interesting foods. Beech noted that the Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand. As far as interesting cuisine goes, she was adventurous. “I ate kangaroo,” Beech exclaimed. “It tasted like steak. I’m not very good at trying stuff, but I did try a bite of it.”

The group also visited Milford Sound, a fjord in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s known for Mitre Peak, plus rainforests and waterfalls that plummet down sheer cliffs. New Zealand is also home to fur seal colonies, penguins and dolphins.

One of several dwellings at Hobbiton in New Zealand that Beverly Beech visited. The location served as the set for filming of the Shire in “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies.Courtesy photo

MAKING THE trip during Australia’s summer was by design.

And boy, was it hot. Beech showed off her tan line from her wrist watch, explaining that she got a lot of time in the sun while taking in one of her favorite parts of the trip — the Australian Open. The group spent a day watching the tennis, which included American Coco Gauff.

The Australian Open is in Melbourne — or “Melbin” as the locals like to call it. “Our tour guide told us they like to shorten things,” said Beech. “It’s not Melbourne, it’s Melbin. It’s not McDonalds, it’s Mackys.”

Other notable parts of the trip included snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef; touring the Sydney Opera House; watching baby penguins come ashore at night; and taking bike tours. “The Opera House was just gorgeous,” she said. “The architecture was amazing. No matter where you are inside, you can see the ocean. It’s just impressive.”