Destination Insiders: Big ideas for your trip Down Under
Welcome to Destination Insiders, our new monthly newsletter packed with advice, ideas, tips and topical titbits to help you start planning (or dreaming about) your next holiday with Discover the World.
This month, we’re heading Down Under. If you’re a cricket fan, Australia will already be in the spotlight with England battling it out in the Ashes. Just as riveting as Moeen Ali’s spin-action, Blue Planet II has bowled us over with spellbinding footage of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and super-pods of whales off New Zealand. You might also have caught ITV’s Australian Wilderness with Ray Mears and then, of course, there’s I’m a Celebrity…
No doubt about it – it’s all eyes Down Under at the moment. But just imagine actually going there. Australia and New Zealand may be far-flung, but they’re worth the long-haul. Read on for inspiration…
Discover the Antipodes
Bucket List: 16 iconic highlights in Australia & New Zealand
Australia came second in this year’s UN report on the best countries to live in around the world, while the 2017 World Happiness Report placed both Australia and New Zealand in the top 10. We’re not suggesting you move there, but a holiday might well be the next best thing. So, where do you begin with planning a dream trip to the Antipodes? A bucket list of course! To get you started, we’ve jotted down 16 of our favourite places – ‘eight greats’ for Australia and New Zealand.
Adventure: Get footloose, fancy-free and fit
Over 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates proclaimed “walking is a man’s best medicine”. More recently, Public Health England suggested that a brisk daily walk can boost life expectancy, while other research claims walking fights all kinds of potential ailments. But lacing up your boots can be more than a life-saver – it can also transport you into sublime scenery. Nowhere is this more pulse-poundingly clear than in New Zealand where nine Great Walks showcase the country’s finest hikes.
Featured Holiday: NEW! Tasmania Hike & Drive
The devil’s in the detail on this exciting new holiday. It’s designed to get you off the beaten track, meet the locals and discover Tassie’s breathtaking world heritage wilderness areas. You’ll combine the freedom of self-drive (2WD and 4WD options available) with a suggestion for a locally-inspired short hike each day. Accommodation is in small lodges and boutique B&Bs – the kinds of places where you’ll chat to the owners and linger over home-cooked breakfasts while spotting wildlife in the garden. The itinerary is designed to delve deeper than your average self-drive. As well as iconic highlights like Cradle Mountains-Lake St Clair National Park, Franklin River and the Bay of Fires, this trip will put you in prime spots to see eastern quolls, bettongs, wombats, Tasmanian devils and other local critters. You won’t go hungry either. Tasmania offers rich pickings for foodies, whether you’re browsing farmers’ market veggies, fresh seafood or fine wine.
Food & Drink: Visit the land of the world's best wines
It’s official: the 2014 Jaraman Shiraz from Taylors’ Wines in South Australia’s Clare Valley is this year’s most awarded wine, topping a global ranking that surveyed 50,000 producers and nearly 800,000 wines. According to the winemaker, it’s “a rich, full-bodied wine with intense flavours of ripe red berry fruit, violets and attractive oak characters of roasted coffee beans and dark chocolate.” Sounds good to us. Might we suggest, however, that it will taste even better under Australian sunshine…
Highlights: Three unmissable world heritage sites
It seems extraordinary – given the country’s dazzling natural and cultural gems – that New Zealand only has three UNESCO world heritage sites: Tongariro National Park, Te Wahipounamu and the Sub-Antarctic Islands. Australia has 15, ranging from Kakadu to the Sydney Opera House. Picking our top three from those 18 was no easy task, but click on the link below and see what you think. Did we get it right? Which world heritage sites Down Under would get your vote?
Travellers' Tales: Mark Carwardine in search of NZ's 'Small Five'
Number two on Mark’s list was Hector’s dolphin: the smallest and one of the rarest marine dolphins in the world. “I found several (or, rather, they found me) at the entrance to Akaroa Harbour,” says the zoologist and TV presenter. “They were the tiniest dolphins I had ever seen – small enough to fit inside a bathtub, with room to spare.” Find out what other curious critters made it onto Mark’s ‘Small Five’ list when he took a trip on the wild side around New Zealand.
Trip Notes: Discover your happy place!
Lucky Kiwis. While we’re barely scraping eight hours of murky daylight here in the UK, they’ve got the whole austral summer to look forward to. And then autumn too, when the forests and vineyards lie gilded in sunshine. Dawn, our Head of Sales & Operations is a particular fan of autumn in New Zealand. “If I ever need to take myself to my happy place,” she says, “I think of Central Otago in April.” Dawn also says the roads are quieter and there are far fewer crowds. More reasons to be happy.
Wildlife: Is this Australia's most adorable animal?
Actually, no. Sorry to ruffle the fur of all you koala cuddlers out there, but it’s the wombat (George the Wombat to be precise) that claims the title. Orphaned last year when his mum was hit by a car, George was raised at the Australian Reptile Park near Sydney where his endearing exploits went viral on Facebook with over 40 million views. Now one, George has a new video for his fans. We all adore George, but just to spread the love around, we thought we’d shine a light on the equally cute koala.