Why Visit Australia / New Zealand

From the Great Barrier Reef off Australia's northeastern coast, to the stunning fjordlands of New Zealand’s Milford Sound, the natural treasures of the lands “down under” are indeed wonders to behold. But it’s not only eco-rich tropical rainforests, vast coral reefs, glacier-capped mountains and dramatic fjords that have long drawn eager visitors to Australia and New Zealand from near and far… with the “far” quite often being more than half a world away.


These neighboring South Pacific nations – one both the world’s smallest continent and its largest island, the other comprising two key islands, North and South – enjoy richly diverse cultures blending the traditions of their indigenous peoples with centuries of British colonization, plus multicultural populations that have developed with an influx of immigrants from around the world since the mid-20th century. And those cultures have created great cosmopolitan coastal cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Auckland and Wellington, boasting some of the highest standards of living on Earth… and inviting the rest of the world to sail into their harbors on Australian cruises and discover their many treasures with a friendly “G’day, mate.”


Sydney Australia

AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND IN A NUTSHELL

Small as far as continents go, but one of the world’s largest countries in total land area (ranking sixth, in fact), the vast South Pacific island known as Australia (from Terra Australis, Latin for “southern land”) had been inhabited by indigenous Aboriginal peoples for roughly 50,000 years before its “discovery” by Dutch mariners in the early 17th century and eventual settlement – initially as a penal colony – by the British beginning in the 1780s. By the 20th century, its six main colonies and associated territories had become the Commonwealth of Australia. Thanks to a policy adopted after World War II that encouraged immigration from around the world, Australia is now among the most multicultural countries on Earth; roughly two of every seven Australians were born elsewhere. Today, it’s a thriving, vibrant nation of some 24 million people who enjoy one of the world’s highest standards of living; because most live in the coastal cities with the country’s desert center remaining sparsely inhabited, its population density is among the world’s lowest…. while its “fun quotient” is certainly among the highest.


By contrast, New Zealand – Australia’s neighbor about 900 miles to the southeast across the Tasman Sea – is much smaller in land area, comprising two main volcanic islands, the North Island (Te Ika-a-Maui in the language of the country’s indigenous people, the Maori), and the South Island (Te Waipounamu). Human settlement came relatively late to what is now New Zealand, when Polynesian peoples arrived around the 13th century and established the Maori culture. Sixteenth-century Dutch explorers were among the first Europeans to encounter the islands, eventually naming them after the Dutch province of Zeeland. After British mariner James Cook explored the region in the 1760s, the Maori established trade with European and North American ships. British settlement of New Zealand began concurrently with that of Australia, and by the 1840s Britain had signed a treaty with the Maori and established a separate Colony of New Zealand, which became a Dominion of the British Empire early in the 20th century.


Today, both Australia and New Zealand are constitutional monarchies whose official head of state is Queen Elizabeth II of the UK, represented by a Governor-General and advised by a Prime Minister.

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NATURAL TREASURES

Both Australia and New Zealand are blessed with a diverse range of habitats that support several wildlife species found nowhere else on Earth. While much of Australia’s vast interior land mass is covered by desert – the Outback, or “Red Centre” – the country’s various landscapes include grasslands, tropical rainforests, woodlands, wetlands, mountains, and sandstone cliffs and gorges. Australia lays claim to some pretty remarkable natural wonders – including two of the world’s largest sandstone monoliths, Mount Augustus in Western Australia, and Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the central Outback, and Earth’s largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef, stretching for some 1,200 miles along its northeast coast – which draw many thousands of visitors from all over the world. So do the country’s many unique wildlife species… including marsupials like the koala, the kangaroo and the wombat, and birds such as the kookaburra and the emu. And let’s not forget another iconic, abeit less beloved, Australian mammal – the wild dog species known as the dingo.


Milford Sound New Zealand

While New Zealand’s lush landscapes have become known to the wider world in recent decades as the backdrop of popular films and television series, scientists estimate that before humans arrived, nearly 80% of the area’s land mass was covered by forest; in the centuries after human settlement began, deforestation due to fire, logging and farming reduced that figure to just over 20%. But the country’s many natural highlights – including the South Island’s Southern Alps (with their highest peak, Aoraki/Mount Cook, at over 12,000 feet) and glacially carved Fiordlands and Milford Sound, and the North Island’s Taupo Volcanic Zone, home to Lake Taupo and Mount Ruapehu – are still considered among the most beautiful on Earth. Interestingly, New Zealand has virtually no indigenous land mammals, but its waters are home to nearly half of all the world’s dolphins, whales and porpoises. And its unique birdlife ranges from the iconic (and flightless) kiwi and kakapo to more species of penguin than any other country in the world.

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SELECTED UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND

  • Great Barrier Reef, off the Queensland coast, Australia
  • Wet Tropics of Queensland, northeast coast of Queensland, Australia
  • Royal Exhibition Building & Carlton Gardens, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • Sydney Opera House, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Hyde Park Barracks (Australian Convict Site), Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Australia New Zealand Map

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WHAT TO EXPECT IN AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND WITH TAUCK

  • A Tauck-exclusive lecturer onboard throughout your small ship cruise to provide expert insights
  • Insider tour of Sydney Opera House
  • Private luncheon cruise on Sydney Harbour
  • Great Barrier Reef cruise, with swimming & snorkeling
  • In-depth exploration of Dunedin, with visits to Larnach Castle, a wildlife preserve & a brewery
  • Sightseeing in the French-inspired South Island town of Akaroa, including Little River and the Giant’s House and Garden
  • Exploration of New Zealand’s Marlborough wine region, with a wine tasting at a local vineyard, a sheep station visit, and visits to a chocolate factory or an aviation museum featuring historic aircraft from filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson’s collection
  • Guided exploration of the Art Deco and Spanish Mission architecture of Napier, NZ
  • Private tour of the Auckland War Memorial Museum
  • Wine tasting on scenic Waiheke Island off the cost of Auckland
  • Lagoon cruise and visit to a crocodile farm in Cairns
  • City tour of Victorian Melbourne including Fitzroy Gardens, Parliament House & more
  • Visits to geothermal sites and a Maori village in Rotorua
  • Gondola ride through the treetops of the rainforest canopy in Queensland
  • Guided sightseeing in Wellington including a cable car ride to the Botanic Gardens and a visit to the Te Papa Tongarewa national museum

New Zealand

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