Australia & New Zealand Tours
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Compellingly unique and breathtakingly diverse, the world's greatest natural playgrounds offer a dazzling concoction of iconic experiences and untamed adventure. These are islands that defy the imagination, ignite the soul, and reserve a surreal ability to surprise.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
- UNIQUE EXPERIENCES
- WEATHER AND WHEN TO GO
- WHERE TO STAY
- BEFORE YOU GO
- HEALTH AND SAFETY
- CUSTOMS AND ETIQUETTE
Few places can evoke superlatives like these epic islands in the Pacific, and little can prepare you for their sheer visual euphoria. It's all indelibly unique, from hopping marsupials to enchanting cultures, shimmering red deserts to dramatic turquoise fjords. Famous attractions effortlessly blend into your itinerary: the world's largest reef and monolith, its oldest rainforest, famous movie sets, and a succession of dazzling cities surrounded by nature. Ethereal landscapes provide the backdrop, the ancient continent reveling in its ability to compel and confound. It feels like a surrealist collection, a dozen distinct ecosystems dramatically juxtaposed. But it's all very real. Don't expect to find the mundane; this is where you come to feel alive.
Australia's successful transformation from a wild hinterland to a glamorous nation hasn't dampened its captivating spirit. The vast untamed land immediately captures the imagination, yet its otherworldly attractions are easily accessible. Just across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's unique geological formations expand definitions of natural beauty. The South Island is rugged and astonishing, the volcanic North Island artistic and soothing. Despite the size and scale, both countries always serve up a dreamy intimacy. And despite both countries being on almost every traveler's bucket list, the experience is never shared or crowded. Travel in Australia and New Zealand is blissfully authentic, packed full of nuances, and heartwarmingly welcoming.
So which adventure do you want? Discovering beautiful cities, cruising through fjords, exploring intrepid deserts, lounging on beaches, or hiking through Middle Earth? Journeying through this continent could last a lifetime, but even the shortest vacation provides a sublime concoction of new experiences. An exemplary infrastructure ensures your time is maximized, and even the most ambitious wanderlust is realized. And let's not forget the tranquil rhythm that quickly unveils its magic. A lost world awaits, and a hundred new experiences will ignite the imagination. Here are a few favorite highlights:
- Immerse yourself in world famous cities that regularly top the charts for safety and beauty. Each is shaped by the landscape, effortlessly blending inimitable city life with vibrant nature. Sydney provides celebrated allure; sophisticated Melbourne is centered around its river and beaches while Auckland epitomizes the laid-back rhythm of the continent. Each makes a stunning place to start or end your adventure.
- It only takes one glance at New Zealand to confirm the many comparisons with Middle Earth. Meander through the seemingly fictional landscape and discover innumerable spots that have graced the big screen; the journey is packed with intriguing twists and photography-worthy brilliance. Australia has its own idolized sacred center, the ancient monolith of Uluru (Ayer's Rock) burning red amidst remote canyons and startling landscapes.
- Lose yourself in endless expanses of pure white sand, indulgent beaches covering the countries' idyllic coastlines. Nowhere on the planet can offer such dazzling choice both above and below the water. For example, hop around over 900 uninhabited islands and dip beneath the pristine blue to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Then look up and admire, as the postcard-perfect shorelines are fringed by lush rainforest or towering mountains.
- These sparsely populated nations compel you to be outside, countless national parks providing the stage for adventure and visual splendor. Kayak across lakes to natural hot springs in Rotorua, mountain bike into an unadulterated forest, and enjoy a seemingly endless collection of pristine hiking routes.
- Indigenous cultures have long been the protectors of this continent's beauty, with the Maori and Aboriginal tribes having preserved the natural landscape for our intrepid footsteps. Ancient traditions haven't been tamed, and culturally authentic experiences await everyone with an open heart and mind. From warrior welcomes to evocative rock art, discovering bush tucker to roasting meat on volcanic rock, these immersions in local culture have a pure legitimacy.
- Allow nature to unfurl a hypnotic spell as you take a journey through some of the planet's most dramatic landscapes. Cross the Fjordlands National Park and cruise on Milford Sound (New Zealand), an incredulous expanse of blue water, thunderous waterfalls, and towering peaks. Or weave down the Great Ocean Road (Australia) and marvel at shimmering cliffs, phantasmal rainforest, and imposing rocky outcrops that stand isolated in the ocean.
- These two countries possess a limitless ability to shock and surprise, the sheer collection of experiences ensuring that 'wow' spurts out of your mouth at least once a day. Swim with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, climb the exposed spine of Sydney Harbor Bridge, step onto the crisp whiteness of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers, or sit by a sub-alpine lake and smile at the breathtaking reflections.
These giant islands are defined by their ability to offer something utterly unique. Furthermore, the accessibility of diverse destinations helps ensure that your itinerary is packed with a whole array of unparalleled experiences.
- Raise a glass as you delve deep into sumptuous wine growing regions, admiring the stunning natural surroundings as you tour legendary Barossa Valley in South Australia and Margaret River in Western Australia. In between having your senses gently massaged by rich reds and dainty whites, discover sea lion ruled beaches, sandstone city avenues, and fine organic cuisine.
- Helicopter ride above the beauty and gaze down on an uninhabited world of reefs, fjords, mountains, and beaches. Both countries offer excellent opportunities to appreciate the scale from the sky, and they combine the aerial experience with breathtaking landings on isolated glaciers and beaches.
- Enter the remarkable island-state of Tasmania, feasting your eyes on World Heritage wilderness that reverberates with color and panache. Cruise across glacial lakes, admire pink granite cliffs, hike to sub-alpine peaks, and savor an island with extraordinary natural diversity.
- Be soothed by the tranquil lake waters beside Queenstown, photographing the perfect reflection of snowy mountains and luscious forest. Then discover the town's love for adrenaline, as a contagious collection of heart racing activities grabs hold of almost every visitor. Parasail over the lake, take the plunge between three bungee jumps (including the world's first), ride in jet boats that accelerate through canyons or sit back and watch it all unfold.
- Islands isolated from the rest of the world are always going to develop wildlife of delightful inimitability. Wander amongst the trees and come face to face with the tiny joeys that are nurtured in pouches, Australia's marsupials putting on a show for respectful visitors. Koalas quickly showcase their indelible charm while kangaroos hop and skip across open expanses of iconic bushland.
- New Zealand's North Island bubbles with volcanic activity, geothermal jets spurting out of Rotorua's geysers and sending boiling water across colorful prehistoric rocks. Nature's uncontrollable domination of the continent is rarely better exemplified.
- Both these countries are delirious about sports. There's the spine-tingling atmosphere of an Australian cricket match or New Zealand rugby game, yet you're also invited to participate; heli-ski down uncharted white powder on the South Island, learn to throw boomerangs, lace up and hike along world famous trails, or catch the perfect wave on a surfboard.
- Discover the world you've seen on the screen yet still doesn't feel real. Delight in the endless enchantment of Hobbiton, the dwarf-sized village and cute hobbit holes unchanged since Peter Jackson's movie was filmed. Or head into the vast aesthetics of Kakadu National Park, the ultimate Australian wilderness that hides wetlands, waterfalls, soaring escarpments, and extensive rock art 'galleries.'
You can come and enjoy both New Zealand and Australia at all times of the year. Regardless of the month, there will be somewhere hot and somewhere cool, a destination to be seen at its most favorable time and a place that's in the middle of its off-peak season. Australia is warmer and drier than New Zealand all year round. It can be sweltering in summer, especially any destination that's in the North or inland. New Zealand is typically mellow but also features winter sports seasons on its South Island.
These are southern hemisphere countries, so the seasons are the opposite of what you would find in the US and Europe. It's impossible to define a month or season that is perfect for every experience. At the same time, the climate may shape your itinerary by maximizing time in particular destinations. Local school holidays run from mid-December to late January, making this the peak time all over the region. Other destinations will have varying peak seasons dependent on their location.
(June - August)
Great for tropical northern Australia and visiting the desert as the temperatures are very manageable. New Zealand's ski season runs from late June to October, and the South Island has clear cold weather. Weather in the main cities is unpredictable at this time of year, and you're likely to experience some rain, both in Australia and New Zealand. You may find it good to center your itinerary around Australia, as New Zealand will be much cooler.
(September - November)
For the temperature and natural beauty, spring is a great time to visit anywhere in New Zealand and most of Australia, particularly Sydney and Melbourne. Note that these are also the wettest months of the year.
(December - February)
The hottest time of year makes this an excellent season to visit anywhere in New Zealand. The skies are clear, beaches become delightful, and it's never too hot. However, the blistering heat can become too much in most of Australia. Temperatures can exceed 100 F, and there's humidity in the tropical coastline. Centering your itinerary around New Zealand is a good idea.
(March - May)
A good season to get the best from both regions. The heat in Australia becomes manageable, and both countries stay relatively dry. All of New Zealand remains comfortably warm although the sunbathing days will have passed.
Matching the unimaginable plethora of experiences is a sophisticated network of accommodation. Both countries reward the discerning visitor, inimitable offerings harmoniously blending into the landscape and providing elevated levels of Orient-Travel. You're always likely to have a choice, from leading international chains to cute hotels and small cottages tucked away alongside a beach or at the base of a mountain. Your itinerary will encompass this variety, ensuring that every night is memorable and that all accommodation befits the diversity of your destinations.
The major cities feature world leading hotels and indulgent opulence. Sydney and Melbourne offer particularly outstanding choice. Outside the cities, you'll find an intimacy and personal touch reflected in small bed and breakfast accommodations, charming eco-lodges, and boutique hotels. The further you head into the wilderness and national parks the more ecologically designed the accommodation becomes.
Australia attracts more tourists than New Zealand and is reflected in the size of the accommodation. Even in the very popular Queenstown, you won't find a hotel that's over six stories high. Both countries benefit from open space, and you're almost always going to have a room with a view, whether that's over city lights or snow capped mountains. The location is also inevitably outstanding, secluded and silent, or in the heart of the action.
Visa and Passport Requirements
Visitors to Australia must arrange a travel visa in advance, but this is a very straightforward process. Go to the Australian Immigration Website and apply online for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). This is electronically linked to your passport and is usually obtained within two working days. Immediate ETA's can also be obtained for a fee. An ETA is free for most nationalities and allows a visitor to stay in Australia for up to three months.
Visitors from the US, Canada, and most EU countries will not require a visa to travel to New Zealand. Upon arrival, you may be politely required to prove that you're coming for 'lawful purposes' and will be on vacation. A printout of your travel documents and onward flight ticket are sufficient. Both countries have import restrictions to preserve the native flora and fauna. Most living matter (fruit, vegetables, soil, wood, etc.) has a good chance of being confiscated by highly vigilant customs officials.
Traveling in Australia and New Zealand is a breeze. The locals are invariably relaxed and laid-back, and they always have a moment to say hello to foreign visitors. Meeting the locals isn't something you need to search for, as it will just happen. Both countries possess English as the mother tongue; a genuine warm-heartedness pervades throughout the region, and a world class transport infrastructure effortlessly connects remote destinations. In short, these are countries where you've got nothing to worry about.
It's very rare that visitors encounter problems, other than those provided by the natural environment. Crime levels are low, the water is safe to drink, and rural areas are famed for their friendliness. However, the unique geography can pose challenges to the unprepared. The Australian desert is remote and relentless, certainly not a place to randomly explore on your own. Likewise, avalanches and volcanic activity continue to shape New Zealand. Visitors with a smidgen of common sense shouldn't have any issues, just remember the standard precautions: slap on the sunscreen, stay out of the midday sun, listen to local advice on weather conditions, and don't overestimate your abilities on a mountain bike or sea kayak.
Both countries offer outstanding medical facilities. The pioneering Royal Flying Doctor Service helps transport patients from the remote Australian outback to city hospitals while outdoor guides in New Zealand are always on a direct line to rescue helicopters. Whatever happens, wherever you are, you're likely to be covered, provided you have the suitable travel and medical insurance. Specific immunization shots are not required, and both countries are amongst the safest regarding infectious and waterborne diseases.
The locals down here are justifiably proud of where they live. They're also appreciative of the splendid surroundings and the unique rhythm of life that you'll quickly grow accustomed to. It partly explains their openness and affability. Particularly in rural areas, smiling and saying hello is embedded within the culture. Conversing with strangers is a major part of the experience, whether it's on top of a mountain, in an Aboriginal's abode, or in the heart of a city.
When coming into land, Australian pilots used to quip: 'Welcome to New Zealand, please put your watches back 40 years.' New Zealand does feel slower and more relaxed than its neighbor. However, you'll find that both countries have a more serene pace of life when compared with the US. Outside Sydney and Melbourne, it's very rare that anything or anyone is rushed, and that's important when there's an abundance of visual beauty to admire.
Visitors have been enjoying the countries' wonders for many decades, helping the tourism industry develop extremely high marks of professionalism and service. These are rich and well-developed Western nations, and you can expect to be wowed by the quality of what's to offer.
Both countries have their own dollar, the New Zealand variety slightly weaker than the Australian one. ATMs, banks, and currency exchange can be found almost everywhere, and they accept both Visa and Mastercard. American Express can be used in some places. Virtually every establishment you encounter will accept card payments. There is no universal culture of tipping and the staff in the service sector receives high minimum wages. Still, for exceptional service, any tip will be gratefully received.
Both countries are open and casual regarding dress codes. If you feel comfortable, then the locals will typically be as well. In remote areas, what to wear is dictated by the surroundings rather than fashion. So now might be a good time for one of those wide-brimmed cork hats. The locals' only expectation from you is respect for the environment. These lands are exceptionally maintained and conserved, and playing your part will come naturally once you've glimpsed the beauty.