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City slickers, culture vultures and beach bums alike fall in love with Sydney. Hang ten at famed Bondi Beach or stroll the calmer sands of Coogee. Cash burning a hole in your pocket? You’ll find great shopping in the Rocks district and along George and Pitt Streets. Climb to the top of the Harbour Bridge or take a skywalk on Sydney Tower for a 360-degree view of the city. But whatever you do, don’t leave town without cuddling the koalas in the Taronga Park Zoo—they’re ridiculously adorable.
Sun-drenched and built for fun, Australia's Gold Coast hugs Queensland's southeast coastline with beaches, shimmering high rises, and epic surf breaks. Though it's hedonistic at heart, there's also plenty of opportunities for adventure and family-friendly attractions beyond its well-known party scene.
The Māori call Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau — a maiden desired by 100 lovers,
and a valuable territory fought over for centuries for its fertile land and
natural harbours on the Pacific Ocean (to the east) and Tasman Sea (to the
west). Today, it’s New Zealand’s largest city: A vibrant and diverse place
where nature and urban life go hand-in- hand, with 48 volcanic cones, more
than 50 islands, and 29,000 km of coastline and beaches just minutes away
from the arts and shopping of the central city.
Lovely, laid-back Melbourne has something for everyone: family fare, local and international art, haute boutiques, multicultural dining, Australian and Aboriginal history, spectator sports, and pulsing, swanky nightlife. Cruise on the free City Circle Tram loop to check out unique attractions like the Royal Botanical Gardens and the Healesville Sanctuary, which buzzes with local animal species.
Staggering beauty and heart-pumping thrills await in the resort town of Queenstown, which is also known for its Hobbits—much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in the area. Outdoor enthusiasts flock to Queenstown for the kayaking, bungee jumping, jetboating, white-water rafting, hiking and skiing. More mild-mannered adventurers can take a quiet cruise through nearby Milford Sound, part of the Fjordland National Park World Heritage area, or sample South Island pinot noir from one of the region's 75 wineries.
Fiji's largest island, home to capital Suva, offers some wonderful beaches. Palm-fringed Natadola Beach, reputed to be one of the best beaches in the world, is a picture perfect crescent of powdery sand leading to dramatic cliffs. Coconuts hang overhead and the striking azure lagoon entices swimmers.
Australia’s third-largest city, Brisbane is the hub of Queensland culture, offering a peek at the past and a glimpse into the future. Visit the historic Windmill and Old Commissariat Store, built by convicts in 1828, or fast-forward to the present (and beyond) with a trip to the new Gallery of Modern Art. Mingle with locals atop Mount Coot-tha, cruise the Brisbane River to South Bank’s sandy beach on the City Cat and make sure to fill the cuteness quota at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, home to koalas and kangaroos.
Perched on Tasmania’s southeastern coast, the lively city of Hobart is a unique mash-up of the 19th and 21st centuries. The waterfront cafes, restaurants and studios of the largest city in Tasmania are housed in centuries-old converted warehouses that overlook a harbour bustling with yachts and fishing boats. An active arts scene, vibrant nightlife and leisurely daytime pace add to the city’s charm.
Nestled in the fertile Hunter Valley, Cessnock’s wine region is one of the oldest and most diverse in the world, making it a terrific destination for oenophiles. There are over 100 wineries in the area, and vineyard and cellar tours are among Cessnock’s most popular attractions. World-class golf courses, gourmet eateries, lush gardens and blissful spas round out the local appeal.
Tuck into succulent five-star meals in Port Douglas, the culinary gem of Queensland, or suck down a killer cocktail at a casually swanky lounge. A perfect base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef, the rainforest at Daintree and the beaches at Cape Tribulation, this Queensland town has an out-of-this-world setting. Sunbathe on the golden sands of Four Mile Beach, then melt into perfect pampering at one of Port Douglas’ glorious day spas for the ultimate in relaxation.
Perched on the banks of the wide Swan River, between the Indian Ocean and the sands of the Nullarbour Desert, Perth is one of the world's most isolated cities, yet still boasts an active beach scene and smokin’ nightlife. Family-friendly Cottesloe is brimming with swimmers, surfers and snorkelers. Head north to Scarbourough for a spirited beachside club scene. Coo at cute marsupials on ferry-accessible Rottnest Island, and don’t miss the views from King's Park and Botanic Gardens.
The capital city of South Australia is simply enchanting, a treasure trove of shopping, fine arts, gastronomy and outdoor activity. Adelaide is the heart of the world's opal industry, selling gorgeous stones from South Australian mines. Be sure to hike the aptly named Mt. Lofty Ranges and catch a wave off the Fleurieu Peninsula. Indulge your adventurous palate and traipse into nearby wine regions like the famed Barossa Valley to pick up a deliciously drinkable souvenir.
The relatively small island of Bora Bora is an activity giant, offering visitors the chance to experience a 4x4 safari, sunbathe and swim at white sandy beaches, dive in a natural underwater park among fish and corals, experience thrilling shark feedings, or circle the turquoise lagoon by boat. And Bora Bora is a superlative romantic spot. Fall captive to this lush gem of a Polynesian island by sharing an intimate midnight dinner on the beach; visiting the Lagoonarium, the Diving Centre, the Coral Gardens or the Leopard Rays Trench; or taking it all in from the lofty heights of 2,300-foot Mount Otemanu.
Cairns is the perfect city for merry revelers, passionate divers and adrenaline junkies, offering booming nightlife and heart-pounding adventure amid a vibrant, tropical setting. This friendly Queensland city of 130,000 is a gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree National Park, Cape Tribulation, Cooktown and the rest of Cape York Peninsula. Embark on an eco-adventure or take a dip in a lagoon pool before hitting the town to unwind and shake what you’ve got Down Under.
Bubbling mineral springs and pools promise maximum relaxation in Rotorua, on New Zealand's North Island. Therapeutic hot mud pools, dramatic geysers and a buried village are within easy reach of the city. What happens in the bubbling mud geysers of "Rotovegas"—the area at the top of Fenton Street—stays in Rotovegas. Once you've made the most of the mud, soar nearly 2,000 feet on the Skyline Gondola for views of Lake Rotorua, then zip back down to explore the lake by paddle steamer, fishing charter or WWII amphibious vehicle.
Christchurch abounds with arts, adventure, and optimism. It's the gateway to the beautiful Canterbury region, featuring dramatic vistas and adventure sports set against a backdrop of lofty peaks. In the central city, more and more attractions and businesses reopen to the public each day.
Wellington boasts a compact downtown area that’s easy to explore on foot and a wealth of architectural styles, from 19th-century wooden cottages to Art Deco masterpieces. Discover the city’s Maori roots at the Museum of Wellington City & Sea and the Museum of New Zealand. Sip coffee and people-watch in lively Courtney Place, or survey the city from scenic Mount Victoria. When the sun goes down on Windy Wellington, take a nocturnal tour of Karori Wildlife Sanctuary to meet some colourful inhabitants.
Rare yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals and the world's only mainland albatross colony share residence in Dunedin, New Zealand's oldest city. When you're not watching wildlife, this South Island Otago Coast town also boasts impressive historic architecture from its days as a gold-rush mecca. Visit the 1906 Flemish Renaissance railway station or the country's largest center of higher learning, which resembles Glasgow University, thanks to the area's early Scottish settlers.
It was the site of three international versions of "Survivor," but time spent on Efate is anything but a struggle. Part of the island nation of Vanuatu, Efate is a tropical former territory of Britain and France, whose influences are still present in the island’s culture and cuisine. The capital city of Port Vila is a mosaic of restaurants, shops and museums, as well as the point of origin for many SCUBA, jet ski and parasailing excursions. Don’t miss the spectacular freshwater falls of Mele Cascades.
The world's largest coral reef eco-system actually consists of 3,000 separate reefs. The island of Moorea serves as the perfect base camp for snorkelers and scuba divers seeking to come face-to-face with the diversity of life that darts among the coral. Non-swimmers can enjoy the same parade of astounding creatures from the dry perch of a glass-bottomed boat. Formed when half of a monolithic volcano crumbled to the blue-green sea, Moorea is an achingly exquisite heart-shaped island that is simply paradise found.
Sure, it’s a bit rainy here. But a lush tropical paradise needs water—otherwise you wouldn’t see such brilliant flowers everywhere. The black-sand beaches provide contrast to the riot of colour everywhere else. Nature-lovers can see many of Fiji’s indigenous species, especially in Bouma National Heritage Park (where you should also stop at Bouma Falls).
The pink sands of Champagne Beach spill into warm waters filled with wrecks and reefs begging to be explored by Espiritu Santo holiday-makers. Rinse off with a dip in one of the island’s many freshwater blue holes. Trek over a bamboo bridge to visit the bats and swallows of Millennium Cave, who nap among spectacular rock formations. Divers can wave hello to “The Lady,” one of the many intact artifacts of the wreck of the SS President Coolidge.
On Vanua Levu you can pick your pleasure; a rainforest hike, a coconut plantation tour, a relaxing soak in a Savusavu hot spring. Locally run adventure tours will have you river tubing through jungle valleys, mountain biking along sandy trails, and snorkeling the coral sea mount of Split Rock. Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of Jacques) runs an ecologically responsible dive centre that offers courses and packages for divers of all levels of experience.
This small island encased in a triangular barrier reef boasts incredible lagoons. Relax with a intimate picnic on the alabaster beach of one of Aitutaki’s minor islands, uninhabited and lined with swaying palm trees. Despite its heartbreaking beauty, Aitutaki isn’t (yet) flooded with tourists, due to its relatively difficult-to-reach location. For off-the-beaten-sandbar holiday-making, Aitutaki is a prime destination, especially for those seeking unbridled romantic ambiance.