Australia and New Zealand


On the world’s largest island of Australia, outside of the must-see sights (the Sydney Opera House & Harbour Bridge, a pod of kangaroos, a stop through wine country, the Great Barrier Reef), the continent down under is awash in history, wildlife, unforgettable experiences and plenty of farm to fork culinary delights.

Experience an absolute paradise on a New Zealand vacation, a country of considerable beauty that fulfills nearly every expectation: awe-inspiring lush landscapes with rugged mountains, extreme volcanic terrain and ancient glaciers, green vistas and splendid beaches — all the better enjoyed with a glass of New Zealand wine.

Australia, the only destination that’s both a continent and a country, is rich in history, culture, wildlife and natural wonders. That, and it’s big. Australia’s size, and the amount of travel time it takes most travelers to get from one spot to another, can make packing everything you want to do and see into a mere week or two of vacation next to impossible (see more below).

New Zealand -- Aotearoa-- is a country that has managed to find a way to balance its European cultural influences with its proud indigenous traditions. There's the healthy outdoor lifestyle, with diverse sports and some unique [and crazy] activities only the Kiwis could invent. Bungee jumping, anyone? There's the friendly people and a rich Maori heritage. The real draw is the beauty and majesty of the island nation’s wilderness. There really is a reason why Peter Jackson chose to film the Tolkien movies in New Zealand. There are no reasons not to go! So, when will you be leaving? (see more below).
Australia is a vast country with many microclimates. From the subtropical beaches of the North to the desert interior, and from the temperate coastal cities to the rainforests of Tazmania, Australian weather varies considerably. The seasons in Australia are the opposite of the seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. In the northern, sub-tropical and equatorial parts of the country, the landscape experiences only two seasons: wet during the summer monsoon season, and dry the rest of the year. Temperatures can vary considerably depending on the time of year you visit Australia, and the areas you will be traveling to. Summer temperatures in the desert interior of the country can reach well over one-hundred degrees Fahrenheit, while some coastal cities rarely see summer temperatures over seventy-five. Make sure to pack for the range of temperatures that you are likely to encounter.

Generally, the best time to visit New Zealand in terms of the weather is during their summer (which is our winter in North America). And though you may get caught in a tropical rainstorm while visiting the North Island, you’ll at least be able to access the more picturesque mountain regions of the South Island during your stay. New Zealand is made up of two main islands and several smaller ones. The topography of the two islands ranges from sea level up to twelve thousand feet, and the climate and weather can vary drastically between the two islands, depending on your elevation. The South Island is farther from the equator and enjoys four distinct seasons, while the North Island is more sub-tropical and has a variety of microclimates.
Desert Centre is home to Ayers Rock (Uluru), the world's largest monolith. One of the oldest human societies resided here some 30,000 years ago, the Anangu Aboriginal people, and their presence still remains. The Kimberly (in the far northwest) is a wildlife hotbed, while Broome offers 13 miles of white sand beaches. Tasmania is one of the top islands in the world, featuring incredible walks. (see more below)
All of the major cities and towns of Australia have taxi service available and well-developed public transportation systems. The majority of distance traveling within the country is done by air. Make sure to pad your itinerary with realistic travel times between destinations, as well as down time to recover from traveling. Rail is a largely state-by-state affair, and is not necessarily known for its speed. That said, traveling by train through the Australian interior can be a richly rewarding experience in and of itself, if you have the time for it, and Australia certainly offers some of the planet's significant rail vacations. There are three major railroads in Australia, a North-South line that runs along the East coast of the country, an East-West Line that connects Perth on the West coast with the rest of the country, and a North-South line that runs from Darwin on the northern coast through the Alice Springs in the interior before it connects with the East-West line.

The two main cities in New Zealand have well-developed mass transit systems and taxi service available. Some of the smaller towns also have taxi service, but getting from city to city can be problematic without renting a car. Transportation by train is available within the two main cities, but most other train travel in the country is more about the scenery than the destination. If you are not traveling with an escorted tour group, the best way to see New Zealand may be to rent a vehicle, and TravelStore can readily arrange your self-drive vacation.
Aussies may claim savory meat pies as their own, though different cultures have their own versions. Aussie pies are stuffed with minced meat, gravy, mushrooms, onions and cheese. There’s also the sausage roll. While there’s nothing more local than Vegemite on toast, and we don’t know if avocado on toast originated here, but avocado with vegemite is a thing, as is the avo smash, a popular dish of smashed avocado on sourdough with feta cheese. The BBQ is popular in Australia, too. Besides putting shrimp on the barbie, barramundi is popular local fish. More endemic protein options may include kangaroo, emu and crocodile. A bit further on the adventurous scale may be the very high in protein a witchetty grub, which of course, taste like chicken. Of course, wash it down with some good Australian beer or exquisite Aussie wine.
On a New Zealand vacation, you'll experience first-rate wine and cuisine throughout the country. Many cultures have dishes cooked in underground pits, and the Maori version is called hangi. New Zealand is famous for lamb and roasted lamb is available most everywhere. The Kiwi burger is a popular dish: a hamburger with the trimmings with a fried egg and slice of beetroot. The kiwi version of a grilled cheese sandwich would be the Southland Cheese Roll, a bread slice with cheese, rolled up with a helping of butter and grilled. In the seafood department, kina is a type of sea urchin and pāua are oversized sea snails (good in fritters!). Crayfish (koura) are also a delicacy. Kumara is an oversized sweet potato and rich in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins. Manuka honey is produced locally and known to have medicinal qualities -- some swear putting it on wounds or taking for sore throats. The dessert of note in New Zealand is the meringue-like Pavlova, with whipped cream and fruit.
Australia: The Thorn Birds (C. McCullough), The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (T. Keneally), Picnic at Hanging Rock (J. Lindsay), A Town Like Alice (N. Shute), The Secret River (K.Grenville), Down Under (B. Bryson), The Fatal Shore (R. Hughes), The Songlines (B.Chatwin), This House of Grief (H. Garner), Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang (P. Carey), In Tasmania (N. Shakespeare).

New Zealand: Wild Journeys (B. Ansley), The Bone People (K. Hulme), Wildboy (B. Yelavich), Come on Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All (C. Thompson).
Australia: Australia, Gallipoli, Walkabout, Crocodile Dundee, The Getting of Wisdom, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Picnic at Hanging Rock, My Brilliant Career, Mad Max, The Castle.

New Zealand: The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Whale Rider, Utu, The Piano, The Chronicles of Narnia, Once Were Warriors, Bridge to Terabithia, The World’s Fastest Indian, Boy, Heavenly Creatures.
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