Despite the long-standing rivalry between Aussies and the Kiwis, even they can agree that the tropical islands of Australia and New Zealand are some of the most breath-taking, beautiful destinations in the world.
From warm, white sandy beaches and lush, green mountainous terrain that stretch for miles, to magnificent bars, restaurants, entertainment and outdoor activities, the islands of the South Pacific will have you wide-eyed with wanderlust, and ready to book your next adventure.
In the spirit of this long-standing friendly feud, and with the Aussies and Kiwis, here’s a look at some of the most exotic islands Australia and New Zealand have to offer.
If you’re a fan of unusual travel destinations, Fraser Island is like something out of a Lewis Carroll novel, and probably one to add to the bucket list. Firstly, it’s the largest sand island in the world at 123 kilometres long and 22 kilometres wide, but here’s the kicker – it’s the only place in the world where 200-metre tall rain forests sprout directly from the sand dunes. Along with it’s weird and wonderful topography, Fraser Island boasts breath-taking scenery, incredible wildlife-spotting opportunities and loads of glittering rainwater lakes created by mother nature herself, just 300 KMs north of Brisbane. Hire a 4WD vehicle and take an off-road tour along the shimmering beaches, and be sure to do the Inland Central Lakes scenic drive while you’re there.
Who wouldn’t want to have a front row seat to a penguin parade, or catch a glimpse of koala bears dozing peacefully – not caged up in a zoo, but frolicking in their natural habitats? Phillip Island is the perfect place to enjoy rare sightings of Australia’s most loved little critters, not to mention a seaside holiday escape just 140 KMs from Melbourne. Known for its pristine white sandy beaches, Phillip Island gives you the feeling that you’re all alone on your very own private piece of paradise, with a range of seaside hamlets available for stunning beach vacations. There are also fishing villas to explore, where you can sample the freshest seafood, a variety of wildlife to marvel at, and even a motorsport track to keep petrolheads entertained.
Keeping with the sand and surf theme, Moreton Island offers a blissful tropical escape of unspoilt beaches, sand dunes perfect for bundu-bashing experiences, and a variety of protected lagoons and bushlands waiting to be explored, less than 60 KMs from Brisbane. Grab a wetsuit and head to the Tangalooma Wrecks for a spectacular snorkelling expedition, or spend your days relaxing on the beach with a cocktail and a good book, roasting marshmallows on the campfire by night. If you’re in the mood for a spot of adventure, be sure to take advantage of the rare opportunity to feed wild bottlenose dolphins from the jetty at Tangalooma Island Resort, go quad biking on the dunes along the beach, or parasail over the shoreline and enjoy breath-taking birds-eye views of the whole island. Whether it’s a relaxing beach holiday you’re after, or the chance to venture through a virtually untouched paradise, Phillips Island has it all.
Considered the Hamptons of New Zealand, Waiheke Island offers a luxury getaway from the hustle and bustle of Auckland city in a secluded, intimate environment. The Island is situated just 35 minutes from the city, and despite its proximity to urban activity, Waiheke has managed to maintain its sense of remoteness from the world. Go for the view – sprawling scenery and lush vineyards – and stay for the chilled vibe that will no doubt have you letting loose and leaving your cares behind.
Take a drive to The Tantalus Estate in Onetangi, which features a winery, a craft brewery, and an exquisite menu that exclusively uses fresh, local produce. Cap the day off with a coastal stroll where you’ll get to see interesting little coves and a variety of birdlife. A great path to try is the Matiatia walkway, featuring a range of art installations set against the backdrop of picturesque natural scenery. There’s even an ice cream cart positioned along the route, so you can grab a scoop to enjoy while you walk.
Experience simplicity at its best by escaping to d’Urville Island, which is around half the size of the Great Barrier, perfect for diving, fishing, swimming and experiencing nature up close. Separated from the mainland by the choppy French Pass, the Island is only accessible by water taxi. d’Urville Island, located in the picturesque Marlborough Sounds, is a quiet sanctuary for people who just want to get away from it all, with hundreds of bird species to see and sweeping views of the Island and its surrounds for those willing to climb to its peaks. Paddle around the coast in a kayak to experience the Island offshore, and keep an eye out for friendly dolphins and seals while you’re there.
Ever wondered what a predator-free island looks like? Look no further than Ulva Island 23 KMs off the coast of Stewart Island in New Zealand, one of the few islands of its kind in New Zealand and is home to a number of rare and endangered bird species, including weka, kakariki, tui, bellbirds, wood pigeons, fantail, and saddleback. If you’re not a big bird-watching fan, Ulva has loads to offer, including quaint and comfortable self-catering accommodation, wildlife tours and hiking trails that offers insight into the Island’s rich history.
Whether you’re a die-hard Aussie fan or a Kiwi for life, there’s no denying that Australia and New Zealand are both home to some of the world’s most beautiful tropical islands.
Visit www.cathaypacific.com for more info.