Antipodean adventures for all ages

By | Category: Travel destinations, Travel tips & opinions

Last month CD Traveller reader, T Fleetwood, wrote in for some recommendations on what fifty somethings should see and do Down Under. Always aiming to please, we asked the experts –Tourism Australia and Tourism New Zealand – for a few ideas. Here’s what they had to say…

NEW ZEALAND
Scenic Flights

chopper2
Sightseeing from a small plane or helicopter will give you the ultimate view of New Zealand’s spectacular geography. You’ll be able to count the volcanic cones that are scattered across the face of Auckland, appreciate the immensity of Lake Taupo – a super volcano that’s just biding its time – and glimpse the beautiful glaciers that tumble down from the peaks of the Southern Alps.
Flight seeing opportunities are concentrated in areas where the scenery is most extraordinary – Northland and Auckland, the central North Island, Canterbury, Queenstown, Fiordland and the West Coast. Some operators combine airborne sightseeing with ground explorations: White Island, an active marine volcano in the Bay of Plenty, is a destination that uses this formula. At Mount Cook and Franz Josef a ski-plane operator makes glacier landings, so that you can get out and feel the quiet solitude of the mountains. Another rare treat is a flight to watch the whales at Kaikoura. Find out more at:
www.volcanicair.co.nz
www.abeltasmanair.co.nz
www.glacierhelicopters.co.nz
www.hanmerhelicopters.co.nz
www.classicflights.co.nz

Walking
walk
If you’re keen to enjoy New Zealand’s beautiful landscapes and explore our vast wilderness areas, pack a selection of walking shoes and boots. About 30 per cent of New Zealand is protected land with public access, so there are plenty of tracks and trails to choose from. You can find your own way, or take advantage of the many guided hikes and tours.
New Zealand offers a wide range of terrains: choose from big city greenbelts, long deserted beaches, coastal cliff tops, lush native rainforests, open river valleys, alpine tussock grasslands, high country farmland and active volcanic areas.
On overnight hikes you can either ‘rough it’, sleeping out in tents or communal hikers’ huts, or else opt for a trail that offers luxury lodge accommodation and gourmet meals.
You will need to book ahead to walk the popular Milford or Routeburn tracks between late October and late April each year. For further information visit:
www.walknewzealand.com
www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/
www.realjourneys.co.nz

Wine Tasting
new-zealands-wine-country
New Zealand’s scenic beauty and gourmet food experiences are perfectly matched by the deliciously complex flavours of our internationally-acclaimed wines.
Our long growing season and cool maritime or sub-alpine climates provide ideal conditions for grape growing. New Zealand sauvignon blanc has won many international awards in recent years. Our chardonnay and red wines, such as pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon/merlot blends, are also receiving recognition around the world.
New Zealand’s major grape growing areas are in the sunny, eastern regions of Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay; Marlborough in the north-east of the South Island; and the sub-alpine valleys of Queenstown and Central Otago. Other important areas are Auckland, Martinborough, Nelson and Canterbury.
Most wineries are within easy reach of a town or city, and many have restaurants and attractive gardens. Guided wine tours are readily available. Casual visitors can enjoy informative tasting sessions and make purchases directly from the vineyards. Check out:
www.classicwinetrail.co.nz
www.nzwine.com

Sailing
There are several areas of New Zealand’s coastline that are ideal for sailing adventures. Sheltered harbours open out to inshore cruising grounds dotted with picturesque islands and there are popular coastal journeys with harbour-like bays conveniently spaced less than a day’s sail apart.
You can charter a vessel and sail her yourself or opt for a skipper and crew. Skippered voyages range from an afternoon tea and sightseeing sail on the harbour to several days on an ocean-going maxi racing yacht. The style of boat varies from restored historic square riggers to New Zealand’s high-tech America’s Cup winners. You can get as hands on or as laid back as you wish.
The maritime reserves of the Bay of Islands, Hauraki Gulf and Marlborough Sounds are among the best areas for a holiday afloat. Auckland, known as the City of Sails, has the world’s largest number of boats per head of population.
www.explorenz.co.nz
www.sailingdolphins.co.nz
www.elementsonline.co.nz

AUSTRALIA
New South Wales

bluem
There’s no place in the world like Sydney: a global city bursting with character, an urban beach lifestyle and the world’s most stunning harbour. Jump on a ferry and travel past the Opera House and beneath the Harbour Bridge; go kayaking to discover the foreshore and enjoy a picnic at a sandy beach. Beyond Sydney there’s the Greater Blue Mountains to explore and enjoy.
Bordering Sydney to the north and west, this densely forested sandstone plateau has been etched by rivers into trough-like valleys with sheer-sided walls. Rising to a height of 1,000 metres and spread across an area of more than a million hectares, the Greater Blue Mountains is an all-but-impenetrable maze of canyons, cliffs and forests. A popular weekend escape for Sydneysiders, the area has a number of spectacular walking trails that descend from the cliffs, often alongside waterfalls that plummet from the heights and disappear into forests filled with the chatter of birds. Find out more at:
www.australia.com/nl.
When to go Year-round, but winters are frosty.

Western Australia
Mouth+of+Margaret+River
Perth – famous for its blue skies, stunning natural setting and friendly spirited people – should be your first port of call but once you’ve gotten Western Australia’s capital city out of the way, be sure to indulge in the food and wine delights of the Margaret River.
It’s been only 40 years since the first vines were planted in the region but the Margaret River is recognised as one of the world’s great fine-wine producers, and a visit there is a feast for all the senses. The region forms part of one of only 34 internationally recognised biodiversity ‘hotspots’ in the world, meaning it is rich in over 150 orchid species and 2,500 wildflower species alone. Stop at the beautiful towns of Bunbury, Busselton and Cowaramup en route from Perth. Visit www.australia.com and www.margaretriver.com for the full low-down.
Getting there From Perth, take the Kwinana Freeway south and follow the signs to Mandurah. Continue southwards along the Old Coast Road past the coastal towns of Bunbury and Busselton.
When to go With a Mediterranean-style maritime climate, the Margaret River region is a comfortable touring destination no matter what the time of year.

Queensland
Daintree Rainforest

daintree_wideweb__430x322,0
Australia’s tropical north offers a seductive blend of tropical rainforest and rejuvenating spas. At the 15-villa Daintree Eco Lodge, a tantalising range of revitalising Indigenous inspired treatments provide a deeper understanding of Wawu-Karrba – ‘healing of the spirit’. There couldn’t be a better setting, with the Daintree being recognised as the oldest living tropical rainforest on Earth and home to an amazing array of insects, birds, marsupials and reptiles. Find out more at www.australia.com or www.daintree-ecolodge.com.au.
Getting there 113km north of Cairns, about a 90 minute drive.
When to go Year-round, but drier and cooler from July to September.

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