Australia and New Zealand are fabulous destinations, and well worth the long journey. Many of you have family or friends here and a stay with them can be included in your itinerary – we simply leave you do your own thing for a while. Why not break the journey in Singapore, the Cook Islands or California?
Australia is an ancient land and it is thought its history goes back over 60,000 years. From the dramatic red rocks of the Outback to the corals of the Great Barrier Reef, and from the tropical rainforests and scorching deserts to the cosmopolitan bustling coastal cities, this is a truly exciting destination. Sydney is the major gateway to Australia, and is a maritime city with a natural harbour overlooked by the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. The Blue Mountains – so called because of the blue haze created by the eucalyptus oil in the air above the mountain gum forests – are a natural wonderland. The Great Barrier Reef lies just off the coast of Cairns, and snorkelling or diving amongst this colourful underwater world is a must. The wines of Barossa enjoy an international reputation.
From Darwin in the north travel to Kakadu National Park and the Aboriginal Arnhem Land. Kakadu is a landscape of exceptional beauty: the flood plains are home to a huge number of crocodiles, but the area is also renowned for its colourful range of birdlife. Uluru-Katatjuta National Park is home to Australia’s most recognised landmark – Uluru (Ayers Rock). World-Heritage listed, Uluru has acquired its reputation not only because it is such a unique landform, but also because of the effect the sun has on its colours and appearance. Sunrises and sunsets cause changes to its colour from browns though oranges, reds and finally to grey. And don’t forget the wines of Western Australia and Barossa!
New Zealand was the last land mass on earth to be discovered – Abel Tasman, the Dutch explorer, is said to have been the first European to land here in 1642. Maoris were the first to migrate here, and subsequently each lake river and mountain has Maori legend and history behind it, especially so in the North Island. The North Island is well known for its geothermal activity and here you will find crater lakes, volcanic cones and bubbling mud pools, as well as Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. The South Island has the magnificent mountain scenery of the Southern Alps and the glaciers of Fox and Franz Josef. Not to be missed is the TranzAlpine train renowned as ‘The Great New Zealand Rail Adventure’. Queenstown is a year-round alpine resort and the adventure capital of New Zealand, set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. A mysterious phenomenon causes the lake to vary several inches in depth every few minutes, giving credence to a Maori legend of an ancient Taniwha (demon) still breathing beneath the surface.