Sydney

Sydney guide: New Year’s Eve & beyond…

Sydney is an enchanting city. Often described as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, its magic lies within the gorgeous Sydney Harbour and the best-known sails of the Sydney Opera House.

Sydney also showcases the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, beautiful beaches, rugged coastlines and a climate that encourages a relaxed outdoor lifestyle. Special to visit at any time of the year, Sydney is a great starting point for your Australia adventure. There are plenty of things to do, with the major event being the amazing New Year’s Eve fireworks display from the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Sydney

Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks 2013. View from Kirribilli. Destination NSW

Australia is one of the first countries in the world to celebrate New Year’s Eve as the clock ticks to midnight. The Sydney fireworks on the Harbour Bridge are famous worldwide with over 1 billion viewers. It is an unforgettable experience! If you are lucky enough to be in Sydney over that period it is important to plan for the celebrations. Some options for fireworks viewing are to enjoy the fabulous views on a boat in the harbour or wine & dine in a restaurant with harbour views. For those of us that don’t want to splurge our entire holiday savings on one night, there are free vantage points around the harbour if you are prepared to get there early. Another great option is to purchase tickets and get a fantastic view from the Royal Botanic Gardens. This offers brilliant views of both the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in a stunning setting. These tickets include a picnic basket and family friendly entertainment. Ticket access is a ballot system, so you need to register. The pre-sale release date is September 10 before the public release on 24 September. Expect tickets to be approx. AUD $350/person. I highly recommend you register for an unforgettable night! Click here to register.

Sydney

Friends enjoy a tour in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. Photo credit: Destination NSW

But of course, there is plenty more to do in Sydney apart from the New Year’s Eve celebrations. Make sure to do a harbour cruise or catch the ferry to Manly, climb the Harbour Bridge or the Pylon Lookout, learn to surf at Bondi Beach, do the Bronte to Bondi coastal walk, allow time for some retail therapy and take a backstage tour at the Sydney Opera House to name a few. You are spoilt for choice in Sydney and the challenge is how to fit it all in! And just to make your decision even more difficult… here are a few more worthy options to consider. These must-dos should be included on everyone’s Sydney bucket list:

Bonza Bike Ride:

Take a 2.5-hour Highlights tour or the 4-hour 17km Classic tour of Sydney. It is an excellent way to start a Sydney holiday… it’s an easy ride through parks, along the harbour, and past all of Sydney’s iconic sites. You’ll get to ride on the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge as well! The tour guides make it a fun few hours and it is not too difficult for families. Kids can have a choice of kid’s bikes/trail-alongs or baby seats to make Mum or Dad do all the work!

Sydney

Cycling Tour around Sydney Harbour. Photo credit: Destination NSW

Watsons Bay Ferry & Lunch Combo:

Catch the ferry from Circular Quay to Watsons Bay. Watsons Bay is on the southern head entrance to Sydney Harbour and is Australia’s oldest fishing village. To the east is the Pacific Ocean and to the west is the Harbour with a glorious view of Sydney. Expect waterfront restaurants, great views and walks. Great for a day trip, make sure you enjoy the seafood at Doyles on the Beach for lunch. Savour fresh fish, lobster, prawns and more with views of one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world. Alternatively order some fish and chips from the Doyles kiosk and enjoy watching the kids play at the beach and feed the seagulls. There is also an easy 2-hour walk which includes a scenic hike around South Head featuring beautiful views of Sydney Harbour, the city skyline, the Pacific Ocean, North Head and the historic Hornby Lighthouse. Such a glorious day out!

Sydney

Watsons Bay, Sydney. Photo credit: Destination NSW

Barangaroo Reserve:

Discover a fantastic mix of experiences in Barangaroo, including the newest restaurants, beautiful parkland, shopping and fascinating Indigenous tours. Barangaroo is Sydney’s new waterfront car-free destination. It is the transformation of one of the city’s oldest industrial sites into a spectacular, six-hectare headland open space for all to enjoy. The highlight is a promenade along the harbour foreshore offering uninterrupted water views of Sydney Harbour from Walsh Bay under the shadows of the Harbour Bridge right through to Darling Harbour.

Sydney

Family enjoying a walk through Barangaroo Reserve, Barangaroo. Photo credit: Destination NSW

Sydney is a great starting point for your Australia Holiday. It has the wow-factor in abundance and offers so much to see and do. Sydney is that go-to destination for good reason… it’s the city you have to love. Ask us to include Sydney in your Australia holiday itinerary…

Great Ocean Road

A local’s top tips on the Great Ocean Road

The spectacular Great Ocean Road enables an experience of nature in all its wonder on an 244km epic adventure. This dramatic coastal road begins in Torquay and winds its way westward, hugging the rugged cliffs and beaches of southern Australia through seaside villages and national forests & parks. The start is less than a 2-hour drive from Melbourne, and you could easily allow 3 nights to explore the delights of this world-famous stretch of coastline.
The Great Ocean Road pays homage to serviceman lost in World War 1, and the thousands of returned soldiers who carved the route from rocky cliffs. It is most famous for the Twelve Apostles, the limestone stacks rising out of the Southern Ocean, situated within the Port Campbell National Park right near the end of your journey.

Great Ocean Road

Twelve Apostles, Roberto Seba | 2014

Witness the power of the Southern Ocean as it continues to shape this stunning coastline. You are in for a treat with some magnificent surf and swimming beaches. This is where you will find the home of such iconic surf brands as Ripcurl and Quicksilver. The Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach is where the world’s best surfers compete each Easter in the longest running surf competition in the world.
Do some short walks through the Otway Ranges amongst tall trees, ancient plant life and lush green ferns. Walk among giant tree ferns at Maits Rest, make sure to see the glow worms at Melba Gully, enjoy the impressive Triplet Falls or experience the full beauty of this rainforest paradise on the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk or Zip Line tour.

Great Ocean Road

Great Otway National Park

Native animals abound with opportunities to easily spot the big Red Kangaroos on the Anglesea Golf Course and the colonies of wild Koalas on the Kennett River Koala Walk. Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve is an inactive volcano that offers self-guided nature walks and plenty of wildlife viewing.

Great Ocean Road

Juvenile Eastern Grey Kangaroo

The Great Ocean Road is more than a drive, it is a feast of magnificent nature that is not-to-be-missed. Here are some of the key things to visit & do:

Torquay:

The home of the surfing industry and the iconic surf-brands, Rip Curl & Quicksilver. If you are keen on getting the latest in surf gear, then make sure to visit the Surf City precinct where you will find all the surf brands latest retail outlets. Pop around the corner to grab a bargain at the Surf factory outlet stores selling last season’s discounted stock. Take a surf lesson, enjoy a tasty lunch or coffee at Café Moby or try out the local ales at Blackmans Brewery.

Great Ocean Road

Rip Curl, Torquay

Anglesea:

11km before you hit Anglesea make a pit-stop at the Great Ocean Road Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery. A definite foodie delight! A must-see is to visit the Anglesea Golf Course to view the large group of kangaroos that call it home. Best seen in the morning or late afternoon.

Lorne:

Wander this charming seaside township with its picturesque beach and huge gum trees lining the bay. Lorne has a range of cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Take a walk to the back of town where you will find Qdos Arts Gallery. Situated amid lush rainforest, explore the sculpture garden, contemporary gallery or simply enjoy a light meal at the café. Catch a new-release movie at the grand Art Deco Theatre that shows daily in Summer. A great short walk is Erskine Falls, a 30-metre cascading waterfall just 10km inland from Lorne.

Great Ocean Road

Lorne vista

Kennett River:

Make sure you do the Kennett River Koala Walk – one of the all-time favourite activities on the Great Ocean Road. Relax and enjoy the peace and beauty of the bush as you wind your way along the Grey River Road through Koala popular gum forest and into the dense Otway Rainforest. A great place to see koalas in their natural habitat.

Great Ocean Road

Koalas, Kennett River

Port Campbell National Park:

Discover this remarkable stretch of coastline which includes the extraordinary collection of wave-sculptured rock formations such as the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge and London Bridge. Stunning at sunset.

Great Ocean Road

Twelve Apostles at sunset

Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve:

Meet Koalas, Emus, Kangaroos and many species of waterbirds roaming freely in Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve, which sits inside an extinct volcano. There are plenty of short walks to explore this ideal place to experience the Australian bush, enjoy magnificent scenery and get up close and personal with some of Australia’s most iconic native birds and animals.

Great Ocean Road

Tower Hill Nature Reserve

The Great Ocean Road is a must-visit destination for those of us that enjoy the great outdoors. It is a triple win of magnificent beaches, pristine rainforests and getting up close and personal with the native wildlife. Ask us to include the Great Ocean Road in your Australia holiday itinerary…

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park New Zealand: An insider’s guide

Tongariro National Park is a 4.5-hour drive south of Auckland. It is located deep in the centre of the North Island New Zealand. Why bother to go there? Tongariro National Park is part of the North Island’s Central Plateau and is New Zealand’s oldest national park and a dual World Heritage area. This status recognizes the park’s important Maori culture and spiritual associations as well as its outstanding volcanic features.

The park has three active volcanoes: Tongariro, Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom in “The Lord of the Rings” films) and Ruapehu with its ski slopes. All three volcanoes are very much alive, with Mount Tongariro erupting as recently as August 2012.

Expect a diverse landscape of steaming craters, old lava flows and thermal lakes. The mountains of this national park have deep spiritual significance for the Maori people. The lower slopes of the mountains are blanketed with forest where alpine herbs, tussocks and low-growing shrubs provide a habitat for many native birds. In summer, at Whakapapa, you can catch scenic chairlift rides and do a guided hike to Ruapehu’s Crater Lake.

 

Tongariro National Park

Active volcano cone of Mount Ngauruhoe as seen from Mount Tongariro in Tongariro National Park, North Island of New Zealand”

So, for all you outdoor nature buffs out there, make sure Tongariro National Park is on your hit-list. It’s just south of Great Lake Taupo and Rotorua. A must-do is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, and for those not game for a full day-hike there are shorter walks to enjoy. Plenty of activities on offer and some great lodges to stay in make this a perfect 2+ night stay.  Expect to enjoy a top New Zealand experience!

Here are some of the key things to do:

Tongariro Alpine Crossing:

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is regarded as the best one-day hike in New Zealand and is considered to be in the top 10 one day hikes in the world! Allow 7-8 hours and expect to see spectacular volcanic terrain sights as well as cold mountain springs, possible lava flows, an active crater, steam vents, emerald coloured lakes and magnificent views. This is a must-see and a truly memorable experience. The freedom hiking season runs from October to May

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Taranaki Falls:

Take a 2-hour return walk from within the Tongariro National Park through beech forest to view one of the most impressive and beautiful waterfalls in New Zealand

Tongariro National Park

Taranaki Fall at Tongariro National park, New Zealand

White-water Rafting:

Have some fun with either a half or full-day white-water rafting adventure on Tongariro River. Expect lots of laughs and crystal-clear waters surrounded by native bush. Fun for the whole family!

Tongariro National Park

Fly-Fishing:

Turangi is the trout fly-fishing capital of New Zealand and only 10 minutes’ drive from Tongariro National Park. Turangi offers a unique experience for all fisherman, beginner or seasoned. Visit the feisty Tongariro rivers and fight your own brown or rainbow trout during their annual migration or test your skills in the smaller local wild streams or on Lake Taupo itself

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park is a must-visit destination for those of us that enjoy pristine nature and the great outdoors. Ask us to include Tongariro National Park in your New Zealand holiday itinerary…

Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay & Fraser Island: 4 great reasons to visit!

Just under 4 hours drive north of Brisbane you will find Hervey Bay. This town is an aquatic paradise with a picturesque Esplanade, a vibrant Marina, plenty of cafes/shops and attractions to explore. The mild temperatures of this region mean that the sheltered waters of Hervey Bay are perfect for year-round swimming, sailing, water-sports, diving & fishing. But that is not all!

Hervey Bay

Credit: Jewelszee Photograhy/Tourism and Events Queensland

Hervey Bay is best known as the whale watching capital of Australia. It is a hotspot for Humpback whales to breed and enjoy the calm waters of the Bay. It is their rest stop on their annual migration north. This is their play time, and so it is a great opportunity to enjoy an up-close whale encounter as they are typically in a relaxed mood, and their inquisitive nature means they’ll often approach the boats of their own free will.

Hervey Bay

Whale Watching Hervey Bay. Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland

Off the coast from Hervey Bay is Fraser Island. This is the world’s largest sand Island, and World Heritage listed for good reason. The 120km-long island stretch boasts a range of sights, colours and features that make it very special: sprawling sand dunes famous for their multicoloured hues, numerous inland freshwater lakes, lush forested areas and distinctive wildlife. Fraser Island is an eco-tourism adventure with no major towns or developments. It is protected for all to enjoy the wonders of Fraser Island.

Hervey Bay

Lake Mackenzie Water, Fraser Island. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Hervey Bay also boasts easy access to the southern-most tip of the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef. After only a 40-minute scenic flight you arrive at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort, a pristine coral cay island. Enjoy a day of snorkelling and exploring the amazing sights of the Great Barrier Reef.

Hervey Bay

Lady Elliot Island – Snorkelling on The Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

There are many good reasons to visit Hervey Bay. This region is easily accessed from Brisbane and it delivers many nature-based activities that make it a very special part of Queensland & Australia to explore!

Here are some of the key things to do:

Whale Watch:

Hervey Bay is the #1 spot to see the magnificent Humpback whales during July to the end of October. See their playful antics on a half or full day cruise. Swimming with whales is also an option!

 

Hervey Bay

Dolphins/Turtles:

Get up close and personal with some playful dolphins and catch a 4-hour cruise in sheltered Bay. Join a tour that enables you to snorkel in the Great Sandy Marine Park and see plenty of fish, turtles, dolphins and possibly dugongs. Travel an hour south to Tin Can Bay and you can feed wild dolphins at 8am daily.

Hervey Bay

Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Fraser Island:

This is a must…as only 30km off-shore or a 45 min ferry ride. As only 4wd vehicles are allowed on the island there are plenty of tour operators to choose from departing Hervey Bay. Take a one-day tour that explores the many amazing natural sites on this World Heritage listed Island.

Hervey Bay

Seventy Five Mile Beach. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland/Darren Jew

The great outdoors:

You are spoilt for choice with some fantastic beaches, hikes and walks to be had. Stroll along the Urangan Pier, which stretches almost 1 kilometre into the ocean. The Esplanade offers some great beach walks. Consider hiring a kayak, paddle board or try kite surfing.

Hervey Bay

Central Station, Fraser Island. Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Hervey Bay and Fraser Island combine to deliver a fantastic holiday destination with an aquatic paradise and a huge offering of animal/nature experiences to enjoy. Ask us to include Hervey Bay/Fraser Island in your Queensland holiday itinerary…

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands North Island NZ: Top 5 things to do

The Bay of Islands is a 3-hour drive north of Auckland in the North Island, New Zealand.  It is a top New Zealand holiday destination and stunningly scenic! Being an archipelago, it is known for all things aquatic…with over 140 islands to explore there is a wide range of marine and nature-based activities to choose from.

The Bay of Islands is also the home to Waitangi, the birthplace of New Zealand. The Bay of Islands is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British and the indigenous Maori people in 1840.

So, for all you marine & history buffs out there, make sure the Bay of Islands is on your hit-list. It’s a great first stop on your North Island drive circuit. Apart from Waitangi & the archipelago there are some great towns to explore in their own right. Kerikeri has a horticultural and vineyard bent, and Paihia is the main hub and gateway to the Bay of Islands. Across the Bay from Paihia is the attractive seaside town of Russell which has many bars and restaurants along its foreshore. A great place to relax and watch the sun set! This region has so many activities on offer you can easily spend 3+ nights. Expect many iconic New Zealand experiences!

Bay of islands

Russell, Bay of Islands

Here are some of the key things to do:

Boat Tour: 

Make sure to explore the Bay of Islands archipelago by taking a cruise. Explore all the highlights which will include the Hole-in-the-Rock and Urupukapuka Island. Enjoy beautiful scenery, pristine beaches and most likely some dolphins showing off! A great day out.

Bay of Islands

Bay cruise Bay of Islands

Waitangi Treaty Grounds:

Walk in the footsteps of the people who changed history. Discover the momentous events that shaped New Zealand at the Museum of Waitangi. Enjoy a guided tour and witness spellbinding cultural performances to learn more about Maori culture. It’s fascinating!

Bay of Islands

Meeting House, Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Rainbow Falls:

A waterfall near Kerikeri. A 27-metre spectacular drop with only a 5-minute trek to view makes it a must-see!

Waipoua Forest:

This is a highlight for nature lovers. 2 hours to the west of Paihia, it is well worth the trip. Waipoua Forest is the largest tract of native forest remaining in New Zealand. Plenty of short or longer walks which wind through stands of tall Kauri, Rimu & northern Rata towering trees.

Bay of Islands

Waipoua Forest, Northland

Action Options:

For more action you are spoilt for choice. The main contenders are swimming with dolphins, kayaking and diving. Other options include: Sailing, fishing, cycling, parasailing and of course, golf.

Bay of Islands

Dolphins frolicking, Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is a must-visit destination with beautiful coastlines and famous for its beaches, boating & ocean activities. Ask us to include the Bay of Islands in your New Zealand holiday itinerary…

Margaret River

Margaret River: a true gourmet & outdoor adventure awaits!

Just a few hours drive from Perth, Western Australia lies the Margaret River region. It is a magnificent destination to relax and refresh. Expect picturesque scenery with spectacular landscapes, breathtaking coastlines, sandy beaches, the stillness of ancient forests and lush green pastures that become a blaze of colour with wildflowers in Spring. Margaret River is centrally located amongst many local fresh food provedores & gourmet experiences, awe-inspiring caves and famous surf breaks. Arts and crafts are a big part of the Margaret River character, as is cafes, restaurants, distilleries and breweries. But of course, the main drawcard is the world-class vineyards and wineries waiting to be discovered. The region is graced with long summers and mild winters…suitable for many outdoor adventures!

We were lucky to spend time in the Margaret River region recently, and it is perfect for a self-drive road trip with a good network of roads. All main roads are sealed and with relatively short travelling distances between towns and attractions, so you can pick and choose your own things to do.

Spend your holiday doing some short walks, try the local produce, go on a whale watch cruise, learn to surf, go canoeing and then dine on fresh local produce and divine Margaret River wine. It is a premier outdoorsy-region where you can expect to have some adventure, as well as relax and rejuvenate on your travels!

Margaret River

Kayaking in Margaret River. Photo courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

Here are some of the key things to do:

Caves:

Discover an ancient wonderland with some of the most spectacular caves in Australia around Margaret River. Jewel Cave, Lake Cave, Ngilgi or Mammoth Cave. You can do self-guided tours, guided boardwalk tours, off-piste hard-hat tours or abseil tours!

Margaret River

Ngilgi Cave, Yallingup. Photo courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

Wineries:

You are spoilt for choice with over 95 cellar doors in the area. This region produces a massive 20% of Australian premium wine!  Meandering from cellar door to cellar door is easy and spectacular with vistas of farmland, wine country and the coast. The diversity ranges from farm-style to architecturally elaborate, many of which have casual cafés ranging to world-class restaurants.

Margaret River

Vasse Felix vineyards, Cowaramup Margaret River

Whale Watching: 

The South-west is a great location to view Humpback and southern right whales frolic in Augusta’s Flinders Bay from early June and rare blue whales and calves join bottlenosed dolphins in Geographe Bay in Dunsborough in September through to early December.

Margaret River

Whale watching near Busselton. Photographer David Ashley

Short Walks:

This region is one of the top 10 bio-diversity hot spots in the world! There are some fantastic lookouts, hikes and walks to be had. Plenty of forests including the Valley of the Giants Treetop Walk near Denmark and make sure to visit the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse based in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park.

Margaret River

The Boranup Forest. Photo courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

Margaret River is a premier gourmet region with magnificent landscapes and experiences to enjoy. It really is a must-see destination! Ask us to include Margaret River in your Western Australia holiday itinerary…

New Zealand attraction

Rotorua: a major New Zealand attraction

Why visit? New Zealand and the North Island is such a scenic place to visit. People are friendly and have a fun sense of humor. Count on great coffee, fresh local food & wine. Enjoy the feeling of having the road all to yourself, to be able to see the horizon and enjoy the views, to breathe crisp clean air, to wake up to the sound of birds …

Sounds good doesn’t it? Tick that box and plan your NZ visit! Once decided, make sure your NZ dream trip includes a stop at Rotorua. Rotorua is a heavyweight New Zealand attraction. It is one of the most visited places in New Zealand for good reason. It is in the very heart of the North Island and is a 3-hour drive south-east of Auckland. It is the centre of Maori culture as well as the main geothermal hub (think bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers & natural hot springs). Rotorua has so many activities on offer you can easily spend 3+ nights. Rotorua delivers many iconic New Zealand experiences!

Based around Lake Rotorua, the town offers many beautiful sparkling lakes and stunning lush forests. An outdoor paradise with endless hours of fun to be had riding Rotorua’s world-class mountain bike trails, exploring the thermal parks, visiting the living Maori Village, or doing some lake trekking. It is definitely a premier destination with many must-do experiences to enjoy! Here are some of the key things to do:

New Zealand attraction

Whakarewarewa Thermal area, Rotorua, New Zealand. Pohutu Geyser.

Thermal Parks:

You are spoilt for choice! Visit Waiotapu thermal wonderland, Orakei Korako Geothermal Park or Te Puia with the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere, Pohutu. Explore a volcanic world of gushing geysers, hot springs, and bubbling mud pools at your own pace. Very impressive!

New Zealand attraction

Te Puia Rotorua

Maori Culture: 

Make sure to visit the NZ arts & crafts institute at Te Puia. You can learn about the traditional arts of wood carving and weaving. Experience Whakarewarewa, Rotorua’s Living Maori Village. Consider an evening Hangi & Concert at Tamaki Maori Village.

New Zealand attraction

Hobbiton

Hobbiton:

This is a highlight. Only 1 hour from Rotorua, make sure to do the 2-hour movie set tour and experience the magic! A major movie set location for the Lord of the Rings Film trilogy. Make sure to watch the films before you visit!

New Zealand attraction

Redwoods Treewalk Rotorua

New Zealand attraction

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Action Options:

For more action the premier choice is Mountain biking, or the Treetop walk through the Redwoods Forest. Other options aplenty include: Rainforest Canopy Tours, White-water rafting, Skyline Gondola & Luge rides, horse-rides and the completely original Ogo ride. Visit Lake Tarawera, only a 20-minute drive which is so beautiful and serene (make sure to pack swimming gear, food & drinks). Consider doing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of the best one-day hikes in NZ. It is a little further afield at 2 hours from Rotorua, and features Mount Ngauruhoe (otherwise known as Mount Doom for Lord of the Rings fans).

Rotorua is a premier must-visit destination with magnificent landscapes and experiences to enjoy. Ask us to include Rotorua in your New Zealand holiday itinerary…

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain: A highlight of Tasmania

Another family mini-break was a long weekend spent at Cradle Mountain National Park. Part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, it is a most dramatic place to enjoy some peace & rejuvenation in a pristine wilderness setting. This is one of the heavy-weights of Tasmania travel for good reason!

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Adrian Cook

Cradle Mountain National Park:

Is a 2:5 hour drive from Launceston.  It is at the northern end of the immense Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair National Park. It is easy to immerse yourself in the beautiful alpine landscape with rugged peaks, windswept moors, lakes and ancient forests.  It is also the start point for the world-famous Overland Track, a magnificent 6 day walk that explores the diverse mountain terrain. But if you are not into long walks… there is still plenty to do! Spend a day doing some short walks, try boating, kayaking or horse riding and then return to your chalet to dine on fresh local produce and divine Tasmanian wine. It is a premier wilderness area where you can also expect to meet some of the friendly local animals on your travels.

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Andrew McIntosh, Ocean Photography

Here are some of the key things to do:

Short Walks:

There are over 20 walks around Cradle Mountain. It is an easy and fun way to explore. You can choose to start with some of the 45-minute boarded walks through rainforests to full day walks which cover alpine moors, glacial lakes and rainforests. One not to miss is the 2-3-hour Dove Lake Circuit. For some more challenge, aim for the Cradle Mountain summit walk which is 6-8 hours return.

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Gene Goldberg

Action Options:

For more action the premier choice is Canyoning. You can climb, jump, abseil and swim through some spectacular wilderness areas in the summer months. Half and full day tours. Our family did the more sedate 1:5 hour horse-riding on the plains with brilliant views of Cradle Mountain. You can also do some quad biking if speed is your thing!

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Australia & Graham Freeman

Animal experiences:

Expect to meet some friendly wombats, echidnas & kangaroos on your walks exploring the National Park. Don’t miss the wildlife sanctuary that is dedicated to preservation and research of the Tasmanian Devil. You can do an after dark feeding tour or dine with the devil.

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & Rob Burnett

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Tourism Tasmania & supplied by Kentish Council

Cradle Mountain

Photo courtesy of Paul Fleming

Cradle Mountain is a premier wilderness area with magnificent landscapes and experiences to enjoy. It is all about nature and the great outdoors! After your outdoor walks don’t forget to call into Peppers Cradle Mountain Lodge for a relaxing coffee in the gorgeous lodge. Ask us to include Cradle Mountain in your Tasmania holiday itinerary…

new zealand attractions

Fiordland: A must-see for your NZ Holiday!

If you are looking for awesome New Zealand attractions then look no further than Fiordland, the World Heritage listed National Park on the South Island. Fiordland is a great wilderness region, with spectacular mountains and waterfalls. It is a collection of huge glacier carved valleys that have been flooded by the sea. Home to both Milford and Doubtful Sounds, as well as the lakeside towns of Te Anau and Manapouri, it is simply not-to-be-missed when it comes to your holiday planning!

Te Anau is an easy 2-hour drive from Queenstown Airport, and is the gateway to the very impressive Fiordland National Park.  Located on the southern shore of Lake Te Anau, this bustling township is the jump off point for both Milford and Doubtful Sounds.  To get to Milford Sound you can either drive yourself (allow 2-3 hours for this top scenic drive) or take a guided tour bus for a relaxing day trip including a cruise on the majestic fiord.  Alongside Doubtful Sound and the Te Anau Glow Worm Caves, these three attractions are the main focus of tourism in this area.  Fiordland National Park is also a haven for Trampers (hikers) and kayakers.  Accommodation ranges from holiday parks, to B&B’s and hotels.

Here are some of the key things to do:

new zealand attractions

Photography by Rob Suisted

Milford Sound:

You can do a 2 hour or an overnight cruise to enjoy the views of Mitre Peak and the stunning fiords. The overnight cruise allows time for some kayaking, as well as star gazing in the evening. The actual drive to Milford Sound is also spectacular, and consider taking a bus tour or scenic flight to really soak up the magnificent alpine scenery without the worry of driving yourself.

Doubtful Sound:

Is the deepest Fiord and a haven for wildlife with resident bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins. A day trip is possible with an 8-hour cruise, or again an overnight cruise is a great option. The departure point for the cruise is Manapouri, which is a 20-minute drive from Te Anau.

Te Anau Glowworm Caves:

Enjoy a 2-hour cruise across Lake Te Anau to explore the underground world and grottos of the Glow-worm Caves. Great family fun!

new zealand attractions

Hiking:

Fiordland National Park features three world-class Great Walk tracks with stunning scenery: the Kepler Track (4 days), Milford Track (4 days) and Routeburn Track (3 days). There are also many short walks to enjoy, and of course you can experience a guided walk as an alternative.

Make sure to plan some days around Te Anau and Fiordland. It offers breath-taking scenery, wildlife, cruises, kayaking and some great walks. It is easily accessed from Queenstown, and really is a stunning destination that does deliver on a great outdoor experience! Ask us to include Fiordland in your New Zealand holiday itinerary…

things to do in sydney

Escape to the Hawkesbury River for a brilliant day on the water!

Our family recently enjoyed a winter mini-break in Sydney. We had visited Sydney several times before and explored most of the highlights. This time our highlight was a day on the Hawkesbury River kayaking. It was a pleasure to get active and enjoy the great outdoors so close to Sydney!

 

Hawkesbury River

Parsley Bay

The Hawkesbury River:

Is an easy 1-hour train journey from the city, and the tranquil hamlet of Brooklyn is the gateway.  Brooklyn is a good place to grab a coffee and consider your options for how to explore the river. The Hawkesbury River is a breath of fresh air that flows past riverside towns into bays and inlets between the Ku-ring-gai Chase and Brisbane Water National parks. The Hawkesbury River is navigable for over 100 kilometres. You could cruise and explore these waters for weeks and still not discover it all! Spend a day hiking, boating, kayaking or enjoy an overnight anchorage in a hired boat or a waterfront B&B and wake up to the call of Kookaburras, Whip Birds, Sea Eagles and the lapping of the tides.

Here are some of the key things to do:

Kayak:

An easy and fun way to explore! You can hire either a single or double canoe, and paddle for a half or full day, or overnight and camp in the National parks. We did a 20-minute paddle to Dangar Island, had lunch at the Bowling Club, then paddled another 20 minutes to an inlet at the base of Tank Creek. Did a 1 hour bushwalk to the cascades & waterfalls with an incredible natural infinity pool that looks directly over the stunning Hawkesbury. We then returned to Brooklyn after an amazing day on the kayaks.

Hawkesbury River   

Hawkesbury River

Tank Creek Infinity Pool

   

Dangar Island:

Has a regular ferry service. No cars on the island, so it is very peaceful! Wheelbarrows are the main mode of transport for moving shopping from the jetty to home. The Dangar Island Bowling Club is the local watering hole and the place to have a meal during the weekend. Bradley’s Beach is on the southeast side of the island and is an excellent swimming beach on high tide. At low tide, the beach becomes the perfect place for the kids to play in ‘river mud’.

The Riverboat Postman:

Enjoy a historic 3-hour postman boat run on the Hawkesbury. This daily service delivers mail and other essentials whilst you soak up the magnificent scenery of the Hawkesbury.

Houseboat Hire:

A great way to explore at your leisure in the comfort of your own houseboat. Swim at secluded beaches, fish or just relax with a good book. Minimum 2-night hire outside of peak periods.

Hawkesbury River

Take a day out of your Sydney visit to enjoy a kayak on the magnificent Hawkesbury River. It is off the beaten path, easy to access, and really is a stunning excursion that does deliver on a great outdoor experience! Ask us to include the Hawkesbury in your Australia holiday itinerary…