16 must-see highlights in Australia and New Zealand
Discover Australia and New Zealand’s ‘eight greats’ with our in-house Travel Writer, Will Gray…
Australia: Eight Greats
The former pearl-fishing town of Broome is the gateway to this extraordinary plateau of rainforest-choked gorges and tropical savannah – home to abundant wildlife and the iconic, humbug-striped Bungle Bungles. Tours by land and expedition cruise are available to this compelling outback wilderness.
Slip back into the Dreamtime of the Anangu people as they guide you around sacred Uluru, then visit other outback wonders like Kata Tjuta.
Great Barrier Reef
Strung like emeralds on a turquoise necklace, there are over 900 islands on the Great Barrier Reef. Some you can stay on, but what better way to experience this mesmerising, technicoloured World Heritage Site than on a multi-day cruise that takes you to remote coral cays and reefs well beyond the reach of most visitors. Discover the World offers three-and four-night options from Cairns.
A ‘Galapagos Down Under’, Kangaroo Island teems with native wildlife, from koalas, echidnas and kangaroos to penguins, possums and fur seals. You can visit in a day trip from Adelaide, but stay overnight if you can.
Boutique shopping and cafés galore, some great sporting and cultural events, plus nearby star sites like the Yarra Valley Winelands and the Great Ocean Road – a dramatic stretch of coast in Victoria where waves have sculpted 45m-high cliffs into sea stacks, arches and caves.
Almost a third of this mountainous, forest-clad island is protected in national parks and reserves – a paradise for wildlife, as well as hikers, bikers, kayakers, nature lovers and birdwatchers. Hobart adds a touch of colonial charm, while the Tassie wilderness has some stunning lodges.
One of the world’s great coastal cities, Sydney has instant ‘wow’ factor thanks to its stunning harbour, but also offers a wealth of attractions, from bridge climbs to cruises. Leaving Circular Quay, your boat slips past the Opera House before heading into the harbour’s upper reaches where palatial waterfront homes mingle with parks, beaches and marinas.
Birdwatchers get all-of-a-flutter in North Queensland’s tropical rainforest. It’s home to a quite staggering 430 species – best observed during a quiet, pigeon-stepping stroll along a forest boardwalk. River trips in search of saltwater crocodiles are also popular, as is a picnic on the white sands of Cape Tribulation.
New Zealand: 8 Greats
Protruding from North Island like a giant ‘thumbs up’, Northland’s highlights range from the idyllic Bay of Islands and farflung Cape Reinga to the mysterious giant kauri trees of the Waipoua Forest. Glorious beaches and a subtropical climate make this a superb region for exploring, heading north from Auckland.
Rotorua & Tongariro National Park
Two of North Island’s must-see hotspots, Rotorua has boiling pools, geysers and deep-rooted Maori culture, while Tongariro boasts volcanoes and one of the world’s finest day walks.
There’s much to see and do in this area, from hot-air ballooning over orchards and vineyards to wine tasting, surfing, trout fishing and admiring the art deco architecture in Napier.
Abel Tasman National Park
Sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons and lush forests teeming with native birds all vie for attention along Abel Tasman’s crinkle-cut coast – one of New Zealand’s top sea kayaking locations and a fabulous place for a boat trip, some hiking or a snorkel with seals at Tonga Island.
This majestic patch of Fiordland wilderness can be experienced on an overnight cruise from Deep Cove.
Tucked between forested hills and a vibrant harbour, New Zealand’s capital is packed with cafés, restaurants and galleries. Don’t miss the interactive museum Te Papa, which takes you on a journey through the country’s proud heritage. Zealandia: The Karori Sanctuary Experience is also nearby.
Visit the old gold-rush town of Greymouth, heli-hike the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers and find blowholes, fur seals and Pancake Rocks on this wild and rugged shore.
Whether you’re searching for action and adventure or indulgence and relaxation, this beautiful corner of South Island has it all – from jet-boating to genteel cruises. Queenstown is the main centre, but Milford Sound, Mt Aspiring and other scenic beauties are all easily accessible.