Australia & Oceania Wonders

The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,300 kilometers over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometers. The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.

Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef

Access to Great Barrier Reef tours are available in various towns along the coast.  We chose Cairn, one of the most popular spots, for our Great Barrier Reef adventure in 2017.

The Uluru giant monolith at Ayers Rock

Australia’s Red Center is a spectacular landscape of ever-stretching desert, colossal rock formations and mountain ranges. The area’s greatest attraction, Uluru, is also one of the most recognized natural icons in the world.

Uluru (Ayers Rock) just before Sunset

Taking a break from the city, we traveled to the heart of Australia and immersed ourselves in this ancient landscape in 2017.

Sydney Harbour & the Opera House

Sydney Harbour is an aquatic playground, with more than 240 kilometers of shoreline dotted with unspoiled beaches, picturesque gardens and pockets of natural bush.  But the most photographed attraction located on this shoreline is the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Sydney Opera House

The grounds around  the Sydney Opera House was teeming with tourists on the day we were there, especially cruise ship tourists.  It was a challenge to take this photo with only a few tourists in the background, in 2017.

The Great Ocean Road & the Twelve Apostles

The Great Ocean Road is 243 kilometer stretch of road along the south-eastern coast of Australia.  Pristine beaches with the whitest sand imaginable, rolling surf, cliffs and numerous islands all combine to offer some of the best coastal scenery imaginable.

Twelve Apostles by the Great Ocean Road. Many vantage points along the Road.

Our early morning drive along this road was awe inspiring.  Around every corner there is another view that made our jaws drop. There are many of pull-outs, parking areas, lookouts, boardwalks and toilets along the way. It was simply breathtaking.  For the entire morning drive, we can count with one hand the number of other travelers sharing these scenic spots.  The Twelve Apostles is one of the most popular spots along the Great Ocean Road.

The jagged peaks of Moorea & the lagoon of Bora Bora

We visited four different Islands on our trip to French Polynesia in 2017: Moorea, Papeete, Bora Bora and Huahine.  While we enjoyed the unparalleled beauty of the Bora Bora lagoons, Moorea is our favorite of the these four islands.

Moorea Beach with spectacular lush mountain backdrop

This mountainous island has casual barefoot white sand beaches, translucent lagoons, dramatic peaks, and emerald jungles.  Driving on the island is easy and there are many accessible walking and hiking trails for exploration.

Tasmania and its National Parks

Tasmania is an island state of Australia, southeast of the mainland. It is the smallest state in Australia by size and by population.

One of many trails at Cradle National Park

We did a road trip from Hobart to the capital city to Launceston in 2017, a city in the north of Tasmania.  Our highlights of the road trip include Port Arthur, Bay of Fires, Freycinet National Park and Cradle Mountain.  In Hobart, the drive to the top of Mount Wellington is long, slow, and winding but the experience at the top is amazing.  The enclosed viewing platform gives a fantastic view over Hobart and there is time to wander, contemplate and photograph.

Glaciers, peaks, lakes, fjords & treks of New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, a country of stunning and diverse natural beauty: jagged mountains, rolling pasture land, steep fjords, pristine trout-filled lakes, raging rivers, scenic beaches, and active volcanic zones. These islands form a unique bio-region inhabited by flightless birds seen nowhere else, such as kakapo and kiwi.

The Tongariro Crossing is is rated one of the world’s best day hike. It is located in the centre of the North Island, which made it a great stopover on our New Zealand road trip.  The entire trek across the rugged alpine and volcanic terrain, while 19.4 km, is not difficult for a reasonably fit hiker.  However, it is the weather that’s the challenge.

Tongariro Crossing Trek, New Zealand

New Zealand has a wealth of national parks, rural areas and other out-of-the-way places that are worth a visit.  Here are a few of the best and we visited some of them when we did both the north and south islands in 2007, and the north island again in 2017.

  • Abel Tasman National Park – golden sand beaches, kayaking and the Abel Tasman Coastal Track
  • Aoraki Mount Cook National Park – lots of hiking opportunities and New Zealand’s highest mountain
  • Bay of Islands – pretty spot in the North Island with historical significance
  • Coromandel Peninsula – rugged coastline with plenty of beaches and hiking opportunities just one and a half hours from Auckland
  • Marlborough – the country’s largest wine-growing region
  • Milford Sound – beautiful fiord in Fiordland National Park
  • Taupo – trout fishing and adventure activities in the central North Island
  • Tongariro National Park – three volcanoes, two skifields and one of the most popular hikes in the country
  • Westland National Park – home of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers
The Moai statues of the Easter Island

Easter Island is a Chilean island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeastern most point of the Polynesian Triangle in Oceania.

Easter Island is famous for its stone statues of human figures, known as moai (meaning “statue”). The island is known to its inhabitants as Rapa Nui. The moai were probably carved to commemorate important ancestors and were made from around 1000 C.E. until the second half of the seventeenth century. Over a few hundred years the inhabitants of this remote island quarried, carved and erected around 887 moai. Scientists today are still attempting to solve the mysteries behind this wonder.

Ahu Tongariki, Easter Island’s largest ceremonial platform with 15 restored moai.

We spent 3 days in 2018 on Easter Island exploring this and other wonders.

See next: South America Wonders

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