While Australia and New Zealand have vastly-different landscapes, cultures, and ecosystems, they do have one thing in common – both are visually stunning.
Australia is often touted by tourists as a glittering paradise of pristine beaches, blue skies, and crashing waves – a place where locals are tanned, fit, and carefree, and summer seems eternal. While this is true for some parts of the country (give or take some tanned, fit locals), the same can’t be said for a large chunk of the nation.
Boasting one of the most unique and diverse ecosystems in the world, Australia varies dramatically as you travel from place to place. From the tropical jungles of Far North Queensland to the frosty winds of Tasmania’s Eggs And Bacon Bay, this is Australia as you’ve never seen it before.
It’s not hard to find images of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, and Bondi Beach and immediately add them to your bucket list, but in Australia, looking further afield goes a long way – the best of Australia lies beyond the major cities.
Whether you’re in the country for two-weeks or three-months, renting a car is by far the best way to see the place. Australia is huge, and having your own vehicle will open scenic doors you won’t have access to on public transport, and allow you to stop where you like, when you like, for as long as you like, without the fear of missing out on great photo opportunities.
Australia is largely known for having great weather, but visiting during the winter months will change your perspective. Temperatures in regional NSW, for example, can drop below freezing from May to September, with feet of snow falling over the many ski resorts across NSW, Victoria, and Tasmania.
Melbourne (pronounced Mel-bn) also plunges in to winter with cool gusts coming in from the south, but Melbourne is a city of culture and atmosphere rather than one of attractions, and locals know to rug-up and wander through the decorated alleyways on their way to one of the many hidden bars dotted around the city, or to sit under the heaters on Degraves Street, sipping coffees and munching on warm croissants. Victoria’s Great Ocean Road is also windy and chilly at this time of year, but off-season travelers can feel as though they’re the only ones there.
As Australia’s southern-most point, Tasmania also experiences a cold winter, albeit a little wilder than in other parts of the country. On the western side of the island is a small town called Strahan (pronounced Strawn), which gets so much wind and rain that locals enjoy just 15-days of clear skies per year, but it’s the gateway to the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park, and what is arguably the most spectacular river cruise Australia has to offer.
Driving along the coastlines of Eggs And Bacon Bay in the heart of the Huon Valley will also give you a taste of Aussie life in winter, and it’s the perfect time of year to find a guest house, grab an Italian-style coffee, and go apple-picking at one of the many fruit farms in the region.
To see the true Australian outback, you’ll need a 4WD. Stand in the Red Center and watch the sun set in the blue sky against the red Earth in Alice Springs. Take Australia’s best 4WD route around the waterfalls, gorges, canyons, freshwater swimming holes, and untouched coastlines in the Kimberley – one of the world’s last wilderness frontiers.
It’s also well-worth taking the road up past Cairns and Port Douglas to see the Daintree Rainforest in Far North Queensland. Travel to the end of the Mulligan Highway and you’ll find the small community of Cooktown, where you can drop in to Grassy Hill Lookout. As you stand overlooking the town, surrounded by plants and heat that could almost trick you in to thinking you’re in South East Asia, it’s not hard to imagine how out of place the fleet of more than 50 British city-dwellers in heavy, colonial attire may have felt when they were shipwrecked there in 1770. Especially when they realized they weren’t alone.
Captain Cook stood at the lookout for a good view of the bay while trying to chart a path out of the reef, and the site today features fragments of his journal from that time which can basically be summarized in two words: “Well, damn”.
Today, Cooktown remains a place like no other due to its tropical climate, unique plant life, and relaxed atmosphere. Venturing further north and off the sealed roads lies the wonders of Cape York. Isolated, warm, vibrant, and undisturbed, this is the peak of the country, and a sight missed by many.
These are just a few options you can take, but the main thing to remember about Australia is that the sheer size of the place means sightseeing options are almost endless – you really have to commit two-weeks at the very minimum if you want to spend any time outside the cities.
So what are you waiting for? Call a travel agent today, book your trip to the land down under, and experience everything Australia has to offer.
Wine-tasting in the Barossa Valley, swimming with the whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, and heli-hiking over glaciers in New Zealand? Yes please!
Ready for your trip to Australia and New Zealand? Give us a call today and let us help you plan the perfect trip.
You might think you’ve come far enough just getting to Australia and New Zealand, but some of the best features of these two destinations can be found on their off-shore islands. You don’t have to travel far either – many are just a few minutes away from major cities.
It’s hard to believe Maggie (as locals know her) is only 25 minutes by ferry from one of North Queensland’s largest cities, Townsville. But this isn’t your standard-issue tropical island; there’s barely a coconut tree in sight. Instead, Maggie feels more like the Australian outback, albeit with some of the country’s best beaches (some only reachable by boat or hiking trail). It’s home to artistic-type locals and, despite its back-to-nature appeal, you’ll be surprised by the eating and drinking options – some of Far North Queensland’s best cafes and restaurants are here.
Waiheke Island is Auckland’s best attraction. Just a 40-minute ferry ride from the CBD, Waiheke Island might be only 100-square kilometers in size, but its wineries rate amongst the best in New Zealand. Come for the day and take a wine tour – there are more than 20 tasting rooms, offering everything from Syrah to Sauvignon Blanc. Winery restaurants are a specialty – many Aucklanders come for lunch at internationally-recognized eateries, like Mudbrick Restaurant. But there’s more to do beyond the vineyards, like spending time at swimming beaches or finding hiking trails with views over Auckland.
There are a million wallabies on Australia’s third largest island (so why didn’t they call it Wallaby Island?), you’d do well to avoid them as you drive along roads cut from old growth forest. There’s an eerie isolation out here that channels the feeling you only get in the Australian outback, but what Kangaroo Island also offers is a coastline as striking as any in the world: 541 kilometers of beaches, dunes, and cliffs, and home to fur seals, sea lions and dolphins.
The ideal day trip from Darwin. The Tiwi’s are full of salt-water crocodiles and bull sharks, so don’t even think about swimming, but this is the ‘real’ Australia. Home to indigenous Australians, you won’t get a better opportunity to observe traditional lifestyles. Famous for its art, join a day tour to watch locals paint, weave, sculpt and carve at world-renowned Tiwi Design Art Centre, or stay in a fishing lodge: if you can’t catch a fish here, give up fishing altogether. Time your visit for the island’s annual football grand final – AFL is Australia’s national game, and it’s a religion here.
The fact that there’s 280 kilometers of walking trails and just 28 kilometers of road on Stewart Island should tell you everything about the island. Separated from the bottom of the South Island by 30 kilometers of ocean, 85-percent of Stewart Island is national park, and most travelers come to hike or bird watch. Forget the night life – though this is one of the best places on Earth to observe the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) – there are barely 400 locals here all looking for a simpler lifestyle in rhythm with the sea and the tides.
We don’t all want to watch the stars at night – some of us want to party, and the best party island is Hamilton Island. It’s been a resort island since the ‘60s, and you can fly straight here from Sydney or Brisbane, then use a golf cart to travel between resorts, bars, and restaurants. Located in the Whitsunday Islands, there’s options for guests to explore nearby hot-spots like Whitehaven Beach. Though the island’s beaches offer enough of an escape. Look out for vacationing celebrities at one of Australia’s best luxury resorts, Qualia.
The Bay Of Islands are made up of 144 islands in a sub-tropical part of NZ three-hours north of Auckland. Urupukapuka Island is the largest of these islands, and is the perfect day trip aboard a private charter boat or on the ferry from the mainland. Stay in quaint 19th Century whaling village, Russell then boat your way out to an island with nothing but deserted beaches, hiking trails, campgrounds, and a café which only opens in summer.
At holiday time, this is where Perth comes to party. Little wonder, it’s just a 25-minute ferry ride from the mainland. But the rest of the time, Rottnest Island is a nature-lover’s paradise. Set inside a protected nature reserve, it’s home to secluded coves offering some of the state’s best surf and diving options. Access is by way of cycling and hiking paths (there’s no driving on the island). Quokkas (tiny wallaby-like marsupials) have right of way in these parts – this is the only place on Earth they live outside reserves.
Though it’s only 30 minutes by air from Auckland (or 3 ½ hours by ferry) Great Barrier Island (GBI) is home to people who live off the grid. You can choose to rough it here with them – though in the past several years, new eco-lodges and restaurants have been built. But GBI is about getting back to nature – it has recently become the planet’s third Dark Sky Sanctuary, picked for its brilliant night skies. For a small island, GBI is very diverse. On its eastern coast, huge waves break across long, sandy beaches, while its protected west coast is home to hundreds of tiny bays offering the best diving and boating in NZ.
Fly an hour from Sydney and arrive in a place which will never take more than 400 guests at any one time. Lord Howe Island is World Heritage Listed, and is home to Australia’s most southern coral reef. Every local waves as you pass by, but while its down-home country-style appeal is what sets it apart, there’s also some of Australia’s most lauded luxury lodges to stay in. One side of the island is protected inside a gigantic lagoon surrounded by 1000-metre-high mountains accessible on one of the world’s top day hikes.
With some of the world’s top 50 courses (and more being built) amongst a landscape we’ve all seen in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy without even the hint of a crowd, New Zealand is fast becoming one of the world’s top international golfing destinations.
It’s probably only because it wasn’t yet discovered by Europeans that stopped New Zealand becoming the birthplace of golf. That honor goes to Scotland, but with more than 400 courses throughout the country, New Zealand is now second only to Scotland for its number of golf courses per head among the population. What’s more, in a population of four-million, almost half a million adults play at least one round of golf every year, making it the highest participation sport in New Zealand – more than seven-million rounds were played in 2017 alone.
With all that golf love going round, you can be sure New Zealanders knows how to build themselves a golf course or two. And with what’s possibly the most dramatic landscape on the planet (where else could they represent Middle Earth?), it’s easy to see why New Zealand has become a must-visit destination for golfers the world over.
In 2002, New Zealand was voted ‘Best Undiscovered Golf Destination’ by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators. While it’s no longer undiscovered, golf in 2018 is the second most popular sport behind skiing/ snowboarding for international visitors. Yet, it’s still possible to play the country’s best courses with only a few sheep for company.
If it’s summer, early autumn, or late spring, head to the Queenstown region. This is NZ’s premier golf region – it’s also its best ski region, but unlike most other ski regions, you can play here during winter if you have a warm jacket. There are six world-class courses within a 25-minute drive of each other, built right below the Southern Alps. Even the more affordable courses (like Queenstown Golf Club – $95 NZD per round) play out under mountains and beside Queenstown’s Lake Wakitipu (rumored to be bottomless – forget finding your ball). You’ll also find some of New Zealand’s fanciest courses here, like The Hills (from $550 NZD per round) and Jacks Point ($225 NZD). But these two – along with Millbrook Resort’s 27 holes – are rated in the world’s top 100 courses.
What’s more, there’s plenty to do off the course – Queenstown is home to more than 100 restaurants and bars, and it’s the Adventure Capital Of The World so if hitting golf balls isn’t working, try bungy jumping 134 meters off a bridge.
There are golf courses all over the country, but outside the Queenstown region, it’s hard to top the golfing options of Northland – which stretches out 300 kilometers above Auckland, and the average daily temperature in winter never drops below 16-degrees Celsius.
Three hours north of Auckland you’ll find Kauri Cliffs, which is consistently rated in the world’s top 50 courses by US Golf Digest. With 15 of its holes offering sea views looking down along a deserted, rugged coastline, and with six holes playing right out over the water, this is arguably the world’s most scenic course. While fees here are above average, there are courses here with stunning sea views for less, such as Waitangi Golf Club, located among the Bay Of Islands – one of the world’s premier boating destinations.
Just a little further south – play golf along the coast at Mangawhai or at Waipu Golf Club – a Scottish-style links course with views out to outlying Hen and Chick Island. You can also play at the world’s sixth best course, Tara Iti Golf Club.
Another fine golf region not to overlook. You’ll find it beside New Zealand’s largest lake, Lake Taupo, half-way up the North Island. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, The Kinloch Club is built on the fringes of the lake, and it often feels like you’re the only one here. Golfing in this place is an exclusive experience had under rolling hills and across rugged pastures, as wild geese stride the fairways.
NZ’s best golfer, Bob Charles, says Kinloch compares with the best courses in Scotland, and he should know – he won a British Open. A short drive away, Wairakei Resort is the largest international resort in the North Island – it’s course is set amongst 180 hectares of a nature sanctuary with 25,000 native trees, so don’t hit a wayward shot.
Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is a golfer’s dream. There’s a course practically on every corner – courses no golf traveler can miss. Gulf Harbour Country Club is the prettiest option. Located just 45 minutes from the CBD, its views look over Auckland’s enormous harbor, and the back nine holes are as good as the outlooks from any city course in the world.
You might also play on the only Alister Mackenzie-designed course (he designed Augusta National, home of the Masters), built among the native bush of Auckland’s west at Titirangi Golf Club. NZ’s capital Wellington offers over 30 courses in its municipality, but the best is Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club, 45 minutes drive north of Wellington along the Kapiti Coast. It’s New Zealand’s third-ranked course and is regarded as one of the greatest links courses in the Southern Hemisphere. It has hosted 12 New Zealand Opens… and Tiger Woods.
Tempting dishes from our featured destinations give you a taste of local culture. From succulent roasts to exotic spicy fare and some divine desserts, you’re sure to find plenty of delicious recipes to try at home.
For even more “devilish” spice, increase the amount of chipotle chile to a full tablespoon. Serve with rice.
Toast guajillo chiles in Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 2 to 6 minutes; transfer to bowl.
Heat oil in now-empty pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, Stir in tomato sauce, water, and toasted chiles, bring to simmer, and cook until chiles are softened, about 10 minutes.
Transfer mixture to blender and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Return sauce to now-empty pot and stir in shrimp. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until shrimp are cooked through and completely opaque, 5 to 7 minutes.
Transfer shrimp to individual plates. Stir cilantro and lime juice into sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon sauce over shrimp, drizzle with extra oil, and serve with lime wedges.
Each month we’re showcasing our cruise partners to bring you the latest on the cruise line and their ships. With different cruising styles and a variety of ships to choose from, you’ll find these profiles helpful for selecting the cruise that’s right for you.
Savor the world with the Finest Cuisine at Sea™ aboard our intimate and luxurious ships.
Our commitment to cuisine shines in our artisanal ingredients and our array of gourmet restaurants, but truly comes to life with our passionate chefs who craft each recipe from the heart.
Each of our voyages is an invitation to discover your next travel story with our insider tours in both marquee and boutique ports during extended, evening and overnight calls.
You’ll feel like you’re coming home to family aboard our casually elegant ships. Our personalized, genuine service means our staff and crew always attend to your every request with a smile.
Stunning Riviera was designed to be distinctive and special in so many ways. Featuring the magnificent Lalique Grand Staircase, stunning Owner's Suites furnished in Ralph Lauren Home, and designer touches throughout the entire ship, Riviera showcases rich residential design and furnishings. Riviera’s refined ambiance truly embodies the unparalleled Oceania Cruises experience.
Ideally proportioned, Riviera still embraces the same warmth and charm of renowned Regatta, Insignia, Nautica and Sirena. While the impeccable level of personalized service and the country club casual ambiance remain the same, Riviera offers even more choices, as well as generous new amenities. Designed with the ultimate epicurean and travel connoisseur in mind, Riviera offers guests multiple dining venues, of which six are open-seating gourmet restaurants with no surcharge. La Reserve by Wine Spectator offers enlightening seminars, tastings, and gourmet food pairings. Riviera also features The Culinary Center, the only hands-on cooking school at sea which features a range of cooking classes by master chefs. In the Artist Loft, talented artists-in-residence offer step-by-step instruction in everything from photography to painting to printmaking. Baristas, our signature coffee bar, serves up illy® espresso and coffee and fresh pastries made daily. Intimate spaces throughout the ship provide relaxing escapes. Spacious accommodations in every category showcase luxurious designer touches and lavish bathrooms.
Notably, the onboard experience continues to exude that comfortable familiarity guests have come to cherish. We have retained everything guests appreciate about our ships and continue to aim even higher.
Of all the pleasures on board, perhaps none is as comforting as your luxurious suite or stateroom. Beautifully appointed with handsome furnishings and fine amenities, it is the ideal place to rest, relax and retire. Its centerpiece is the revolutionary Prestige Tranquility Bed, which ensures a heavenly sleep experience. The Veranda Staterooms on Riviera, measuring a generous 282 square feet, bear the distinction of being the largest at sea. Indeed, every square inch of your spacious, elegant accommodations has been designed for your enjoyment and privacy. It is the ultimate sanctuary from the outside world.
Inspired by legendary Master Chef Jacques Pépin, the cuisine of Oceania Cruises is renowned as the finest at sea and rivals Michelin-starred restaurants ashore. Our superb gourmet restaurants serve exquisite dishes created à la minute and offer a remarkable array of choices, from Continental cuisine to authentic Italian to classic steakhouse fare. Every restaurant on board is complimentary and features open seating, so you may dine wherever and whenever suits your taste and schedule. Enjoy dinner for two or a gathering with newfound friends,
knowing that the experience is certain to be extraordinary.
From reading comfortably in the library to sipping fine vintages at a wine tasting, a wonderful spectrum of enriching activities awaits you on board. Attend an engaging guest lecture in anticipation of your next destination, or learn to prepare a variety of exquisite dishes at The Culinary Center, our state-of-the-art cooking school . Embrace your inner artist at Artist Loft, where talented artists-in-residence offer inspiring workshops. Spend the afternoon with friends at a lively trivia contest or bridge tournament. Or simply lose yourself in deep relaxation with one of Canyon Ranch® spa’s signature treatments.
Once you sail on one of our luxurious ships, you will never settle for anything less, nor will you ever again be satisfied with anything more in regard to size. Larger ships simply cannot provide the pronounced intimacy, coziness and personalized vacation experience for which Oceania Cruises has become renowned. Warmth and conviviality come naturally. Elegance and grace are givens. The ambiance is exceptionally relaxed and personal as we singularly focus on your individual desires. Consequently, our ships are perfect for multigenerational travel. Family and friends traveling together easily develop a rapport with staff and fellow guests, and the friendships only deepen as the days pass effortlessly.
Riviera boasts an impressive staff-to-guest ratio, but it’s more than sheer numbers that elevates our personalized service into the sublime. Not everyone holds the impeccable credentials to join our award-winning staff. Only those who have distinguished themselves in the world’s finest hotels and most renowned restaurants will do. Being of service comes naturally to our staff, a trait as innate as their unbridled enthusiasm. You can see it in their warm smiles and hear it in the sincere tone of their voices, as they zealously devote their full attention to fulfilling your wishes. Their commitment runs deep and never diminishes, no matter what the task.