by Tori Ward, ROX Travel, Cruise and Resort Specialist
A couple of years ago my husband won a photo contest sponsored by a major airline. Because we plan our travel about a year in advance and already had a journey scheduled elsewhere, we had to pass on the prize, a trip to Australia and New Zealand.
When you consider the size and the diverse areas on the Australian continent, nothing less than three to four weeks begins to do it justice. And that just begins to scratch the surface.
So, we are planning a trip that will allow us to experience as many highlights as time permits. To escape the heat of Arizona, we are going during the last part of June and early July to enjoy the Southern Hemisphere’s winter season.
Our journey will begin with a land trip in the harbor city of Auckland on New Zealand’s north island.
While there, we plan to spend a day hiking, if it’s not too wet, to one of the many surrounding volcanoes. A visit to the bustling waterfront along the Waitemata Harbour where the 2021 America’s Cup will be defended is also on the itinerary.
Traveling south, a morning stop in Waitomo is a must to experience the Glowworm Caves before we continue our afternoon at the New Zealand Arts and Crafts center to check out the geysers and mud pools. We’ll check to determine if they are any competition for Old Faithful. There is no way I’ll be able to pass up zip lining in the Redwoods before we leave for Taupo.
Who knows, I may even see kiwis.
We will spend several days around Great Lake Taupo. There are many activities made for a winter visit around this largest fresh-water lake on the continent including a side trip to Huka Falls.
If we’re lucky the ski slopes in the mountains surrounding the lake will be in full swing, and I can pretend I’ve been skiing one of the 65 trails at Whakapapa while I relax in one of the hot springs.
Wellington, the capital city, is our next stop. The Te Papa museum will keep us busy for a day of soaking up Maori history and national art. Then we will head to Kapiti Island, a nature reserve hosting some of the country’s most endangered birds for an overnight glamping adventure.
We fly from Wellington to Melbourne to begin the Australia portion of our trip. Melbourne is known for its wonderful coffee shops so I’m sure a cafe’ crawl is in order.
The next day will be packed with animals as we venture to Phillip Island to watch the nightly Penguin Parade at Summerland Beach as they waddle home from their afternoon fishing expedition.
We’ll break up the day by a morning visit at the Maru Koala and Animal Park to see koalas and kangaroos. I’m hoping to prove to my husband that our dog doesn’t look anything like a Tasmanian devil despite her personality.
Wilsons Promontory National Park, about two hours from Melbourne, will be a full day and night destination for more kangaroo, wallaby and wombat sightings.
If we’re ramped up from all the Melbourne coffee, we might do an overnight hike and spend the next day sleeping.
The following day we have a long eight-hour drive to Canberra, the capital of Australia. Plans include a visit to Parliament, the Australian National Botanic Gardens and a stop at the National Film and Sound Archive.
We will conclude our journey in Sydney. If our timing is good, perhaps we’ll attend an event at the Opera House in Sydney Harbour.
Any city that has an indoor farmers market is hard for us to resist, and we’ll make a morning visit to Carriageworks for some local honey to spread on warm sourdough bread with soft cheese.
We’ll end on a cultural note at the Australian Museum to examine some of the aboriginal exhibits. I love bringing home museum souvenirs, and it will be my last chance before a return trip to cover other parts of this vast continent.
Although we will cover a lot of area, there is so much more to explore. If you’d like help curating a trip of your dreams, give me a call.
- Although a visa isn’t required for Australia, an Electronic Travel Authorization is required and can be obtained online in as little as 15 minutes. Your passport must be valid for six months beyond your planned departure date. You do not need a visa for New Zealand. However, your passport must be valid for three months following your departure date.
- You will need transportation and a cultural permit to visit Kapiti Island Nature Reserve. Private boats cannot land on the island.
- If you plan to picnic at Wilsons Promontory, do your shopping in Melbourne. There is only a single general store with noncompetitive prices.
- Driving on the left side of the road with the driver’s position on the right is the practice in both countries. You don’t need an international driver’s license as long as you aren’t driving for more than 90 days in Australia and 12 months in New Zealand. Practice first by downloading Driving Coach UK, an app that provides a series of driving tutorials.