27 Dec Exploring Australasia: A Quick Guide to Australia & New Zealand
On my first big trip as a solo traveller, I decided to visit Australia, and of course if I was going to fly half way across the globe, I thought I might as well look at going to New Zealand too. I flew to Sydney, travelled up the East Coast, took a tour from Alice Springs to Uluru, saw the Grand Prix in Melbourne and then headed over to Auckland to explore some of New Zealand’s beautiful landscape.
What is Australasia?
Australasia is a term to refer to the geographic region that encompasses Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and the neighbouring Pacific Islands. Since it takes such a long time to get to this part of the world, it’s usually more convenient to incorporate several destinations into your trip and round the world flights will often include stops in Fiji, Auckland and Sydney. Although Australia and New Zealand are neighbours, the two countries are really quite different.
Australian holidays usually consist of sea, surf and lots of outdoor activities. The major cities for tourists to visit are Sydney, Brisbane and Cairns on the East Coast, Melbourne and Adelaide on the South Coast, Perth in Western Australia and Darwin up in the Northern Territory.
Since much of Australia is flat, empty desert, most of Australia’s population lives along the coast, where there are cosmopolitan cities and beautiful sandy beaches. Travel into the outback though, and you can go for miles and miles without passing a single vehicle. Australia is an extremely vast country with varying climates- for example the north is very tropical with lush rainforest, whilst the red centre is extremely dry and arid.
Think of Australia and the first thing that springs to mind is the wildlife- from deadly creatures like crocodiles, sharks, poisonous snakes and box jellyfish, to cute cuddly marsupials like kangaroos and koala bears. For an altogether scary and thrilling experience you can go shark cage diving with Great Whites in Port Lincoln, or come face-to-face with crocs in the ‘Cage of Death’ in Darwin.
Australia is home to some iconic man-made landmarks, including Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, as well as some natural phenomena like Ayers Rock and the Great Barrier Reef.
If you like the outdoors then you’ll love Australia. You can drive a 4×4 on the beach on Fraser Island, camp under the stars near Uluru, go sailing in the Whitsundays, snorkel over the largest reef in the world, swim with sea lions in Baird Bay, enjoy exceptional food and wine in the country’s wine regions, or learn to surf on one of Australia’s great surfing beaches.
And of course, a trip to the Land Down Under wouldn’t be complete without having a barbecue (or “barbie”) on the beach!
When talking about visiting New Zealand, people are likely to ask, “Which island are you going to?” That’s because New Zealand is made up of two main islands- North Island and South Island. Queenstown on South Island is the adventure capital of the world, so there are plenty of adrenaline sports here to get your heart pumping and your pulse racing. Adventure sports in Queesntown include white water rafting, bungy jumping, tandem skydiving, zorbing and jet boating.
New Zealand was really catapulted into the spotlight as a tourist destination after the release of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which showed-off the country’s captivating landscape and stunning natural beauty. Often referred to as “The Home of Middle-Earth”, New Zealand attracts fans from all over the world who wish to see the mountains, lakes, rivers, fiords and rolling hills that feature in the films.
The country straddles two tectonic plates, making it a hive of geothermal activity. On the North Island it’s worth taking a visit to Lake Taupo, which is the largest lake in New Zealand and was formed from a supervolcanic eruption approximately 26,500 years ago. You can also see evidence of New Zealand’s geothermal activity in Rotorua, where there are thermal springs, boiling mud pools and spouting geysers, and the smell of sulphur lingers in the air.
And let’s not forget New Zealand’s biggest city Auckland, known as the “City of Sails”. Surrounded by water, the city is ideal for yachting and water based activities, and its harbour is jam-packed with boats. Here you can take to the helm of an America’s cup yacht, explore the nearby islands in the Gulf, enjoy dinner on a cruise from the harbour, spot dolphins and whales, join a sea kayaking tour or catch some waves on the black sandy beaches of the West Coast.
photo of Milford Sound by swisscan on flickr