7 Unmissable World Heritage Sites Down Under
With 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Australia and a further three in New Zealand you could find yourself forming a rather large travel wish-list Down Under. We’ve narrowed down the selection showcasing seven sites we think you should consider when planning your holiday to Australia and New Zealand.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
The heart and soul of Australia’s Red Centre, the mystical monolith of Uluru and the nearby cluster of 36 rocky domes known as Kata Tjuta are deeply entwined in the spiritual beliefs of traditional Aboriginal owners, the Anangu. Hike around the base of Uluru (an easy 10km loop) learning about the Dreamtime stories of snakes Kuniya and Liru; join a dot-painting workshop with local artists, watch Uluru smoulder in the sunset and then stay up late for some unforgettable star-gazing. The Red Centre features on self-drive and escorted journeys with us.
We recommend: Highlights of the Red Centre
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Dabble your toes on a day-trip or take the plunge on a four- or five-night cruise – either way, the Great Barrier Reef will take your breath away (divers take note). This big daddy of World Heritage Sites covers over 20,000 sq km, with over 2,900 reefs conspiring to paint the Coral Sea turquoise and create what is possibly the richest area of faunal diversity in the world. Grab a mask and snorkel and see how many of the 1,500 species of fish, 360 hard corals and 5,000 molluscs you can spot. Turtles nest on many of the 300-odd coral cays scattered along the reef; huge seabird colonies stake out the sands, humpback whales breed in sheltered lagoons, while endangered dugongs find sanctuary in seagrass meadows.
We recommend: Tropical North Queensland Self Drive
Te Wahipounamu, New Zealand
A majestic chunk of wilderness, carved by glaciers and cloaked in ancient forests, Te Wahipounamu includes four of South Island’s most enigmatic national parks: Westland, Mt Aspiring, Fiordland and Aoraki/Mt Cook. Get footloose-like-Frodo and hike one of the many world-class trails; go horse riding, sea kayaking and jet-boating; meet the world’s only alpine parrot, then snuggle up for the night in a wilderness lodge.
We recommend: 4×4 Hike and Drive
Sydney Opera House, Australia
A true 20th century architectural masterpiece, Australia’s famous landmark is a great urban sculpture set in a remarkable waterscape. Get up close to this iconic attraction on a relaxing harbour cruise, a guided bike tour or take a leisurely stroll and soak up the city’s chilled out atmosphere.
We recommend: Coastal Highlights
Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
The first ‘cultural landscape’ to be awarded World Heritage status, the mountains have a cultural and religious significance for the Maori people. Hailed as one of the greatest one-day walks in the world, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing grapples with a stunning landscape of red-rust craters, black deserts and emerald lakes.
We recommend: 4×4 Hike and Drive
Tasmanian Wilderness, Australia
This vast area in Australia’s island state, covers over one million hectares of temperate rainforest and incorporates several national parks including Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park and Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park. The area is full of endearing endemic wildlife, and evidence of human inhabitants dating back over 20,000 years.
We recommend: Tasmanian Discovery
Shark Bay, Western Australia
This marine paradise is less showy than some of the other sites featured, but it is remarkable nevertheless. The stromatolites at Hamelin Pool are some of the oldest life-forms on planet earth, while the vast off-shore sea-grass beds attract a wealth of marine life including a healthy population of around 11,000 dugongs – the cow of the sea – as well as turtles, migrating humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, sharks and rays.
We recommend: Ningaloo and Shark Bay Discovery
Discover more UNESCO World Heritage Sites around our destinations in the following guides, or view the full World Heritage List.
For help and advice on planning your perfect Antipodean escape to either Australia or New Zealand or combining both, send an online enquiry or speak to one of our Travel Specialists today on 01737 214 250.