However when I could finally afford to do it, the reality was often painfully different but at the same time, so much better than the dream.
In my dreams the wildlife had their own communal bathrooms. But in reality I have rolled in, stepped in, knelt in, crawled in, slid on and fell into so many animal droppings that I can proudly say "watch out for the elephant pooh in five different languages.
I did not dream of second-degree sunburn, debilitating sea-sickness, pick-pockets, spider bites, cranky hippos, starving animals, suicidal African drivers, dubious street food, beggars, proposals of marriage, jittery cell phone coverage and cold showers.
And the truth is...the wildlife appear in their own sweet time. They don't care if you have come thousands of miles to sit in a bush for a week waiting for them and they couldn't care less about your schedule or your budget or your 200 mosquito bites.
When and if they do appear, it's always with a look of total indifference and if they could speak they would say...What?!?
Surviving all the challenges and coming out the other end in one piece with a couple of decent photographs is a great day for me.
Being followed around by a small posse of school kids because they have have never seen a white girl before or sitting next to a couple on an Indian train hoping to find work hundreds of miles from their family, or the very average looking Skua who saw his own reflection in my camera lens and was astounded at his own handsomeness are the things I really dream of.
I was born and raised in New Zealand but I now call the United States of America and Minnesota home.
As a senior journalist and chief reporter I have published hundreds of news, feature articles and photographs. I enjoy the quirky, the funny and the unfair.
Over a period of seven years, several of my news photographs were chosen as finalists in the New Zealand Community Newspaper Awards, where I competed with nationally recognized senior photographers.
After two years in the news business I was chosen to lead and improve the editorial content of a twice-weekly community newspaper in a rural area. We exceeded all expectations and were nationally recognized along the way.
I have won numerous awards for my work.
In 2010 two of my photographs were named in the final 12 out of 250,000 photographs in the Peregrine Adventures "Images of the World" photography competition. In 2011 one of my photographs was also picked as a finalist in the The Nature Conservancy's 2012 Digital Photo Contest.
As chief reporter for a New Zealand newspaper, my photojournalism work has also been recognized. Over a period of five years, several of my news photographs were chosen as finalists in the New Zealand Community Newspaper Awards, where I competed with nationally recognized senior photographers. I was also a finalist in the Otago Wildlife Photography Competition five years in a row.
I have also published hundreds of news and feature articles along with several travel articles about life and death in the Southern Ocean and I am a regular contributor for an online magazine called "Eye on Fine Art Photography"
Most recently my King Penguin photography was featured in the online version of the Smithsonian Magazine.