Travel Guide to Oceania
From the sunburnt outback of Australia, to the snow-capped peaks of New Zealand, Oceania packs a lot of punch. And if those features don't tempt you, there's trekking in Papua New Guinea, snorkelling throughout the Great Barrier Reef, and access to unbridled adventure in groovy Queenstown.
Map of Oceania
Geographically, Oceania is a vast collection of isolated land masses: Australia is the world's largest island; New Zealand comprises two separate islands; and the rest of the region is smattered with unspoiled tropical paradises (including Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and many more).
A Region of Balance
Two of the region's more popular phrases are, "make a go of it" and "take it easy". Although they're somewhat contradictory, you can't help but think Oceania represents a perfect balance of the two. On one hand, it's a highly competitive region on the world economic stage, but on the other, everything about it feels so effortless.
However, this easygoing atmosphere presents an issue: by default, it's difficult to find a challenge. Communication is easy, transport is easy, business is easy, even the weather is easy. But sometimes that's just what the doctor ordered, especially if you've just spent time in a less developed region. Summer is approaching fast, so find some cheap flights to Australia to make the most of it's beautiful beaches.
Oceania | Must See
There's always so much to see, but so little time. Here are a few must-see cities to add to your next itinerary.
With a reputation as Oceania's adventure capital, you must schedule weeks rather than days in downtown Queenstown. Skiing, ice-climbing, rafting, bungee jumping, zorbing, abseiling, biking, skydiving, jet boating... the list goes on and on.
With such a high concentration of adventure junkies, Queesntown has a reputation for great nightlife too. After all, everyone's visiting for the same reason: to live life, have fun, and get a little loose and crazy.
Sydney is a city that has it all: beaches, nightlife, adventure, history, and even one of the largest gay and lesbian events on the planet, the Mardi Gras. Make sure you visit Bondi Beach, climb to the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge, and visit Australia's rock climbing mecca, the Blue Mountains.
Pundits repeatedly rank Sydney as one of the most liveable cities in the world. The official language is English, public transport is reliable, and paradoxically, the people are both energetic and laid-back. It's a must-see city if you're looking for a little less stress and a lot more fun. If you need a hotel in Sydney try out easytobook.com.
Melbourne is Sydney's less confident, yet more cultured, southern cousin. The pictures may show a stark contrast, but the experience is a little more subtle. In Melbourne you're much more likely to find alleyway bars, private art galleries, and pockets of social enigma.
Like Sydney, stay close to the city, which has most of the action. You can then use it as a hub to visit the more worthy interior attractions. Check out the wine regions, the Snowy Mountains, and the world-famous beaches.
Oceania | Must Do
The road less travelled is rarely in plain sight. But these must-do activities are sure to get you on the right track.
Australia and New Zealand are vast countries with isolated cities and long stretches of wilderness. That's why it's best to explore them both by campervan. These reliable salty seadogs are cheap, flexible, and sure to beat hopping around by plane.
The best way to tour by campervan is to purchase one second-hand, give it a once-over, and hit the road without looking back. When you're finished, just post an ad in the local newspaper, and you'll have your money back in no time. This is by far the most adventurous and rewarding way to tour the region.
It may be "hiking" in North America and "tramping" in New Zealand, but in Australia it's bushwalking. It involves grabbing a day pack, filling it with trail mix (nuts, seeds and fruit), and heading off to explore the country's unique flora and fauna.
The most rewarding bushwalks are also the most remote. You can get acquainted in the national parks surrounding the cities, but for a real adventure, head to Central Australia, Tasmania or anywhere far from civilization.
Zorbing is a kiwi specialty, which involves climbing into a giant translucent ball and rolling down a hill at relatively high speed. You can liken the experience to rolling head over heels, while bouncing on your head, splayed out like a starfish.
If you love show-ground rides that spin, you'll be sure to love zorbing. Just don't forget to have a small fiberous breakfast long before it's your turn to roll. Because if anything's going to churn your stomach like mach 5 in a fighter jet, it's definitely zorbing.
Oceania | Must Try
If you want more than sights, sounds and smells, give the place a good taste test. Check out these must-try local favourites.
Imagine a salty, yeasty spread, applied to bread in copious quantities for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. That's Vegemite. It looks a little uninviting, and it certainly smells uninviting, but it helps to know it's revered by seemingly normal people.
However, Vegemite isn't a completely anomalous creation. In a country known for its consumption of beer, Vegemite makes a lot of sense. That's because it's made from used brewers' yeast, a by-product of beer manufacturing. They also throw in various vegetable products and spices for good measure.
Balmain bugs aren't bugs per se, but rather a type of slipper lobster named after the affluent Sydney suburb of Balmain. Their sweet white flesh is a little less chewy and a tad more flavoursome than your average lobster.
Balmain bugs adorn the menus of high-brow restaurants across Australia and New Zealand. Consequently, they tend to demand a hefty price tag. Alternatively, buy them from a local fish monger and cook them in the comfort of your campervan.
Three regions in New Zealand fight over Pinot Noir supremacy: Martinborough on the North Island, Marlborough on the South Island, and Central Otago way down south in NZ's spectacular ski country.
Central Otago is our pick because it's framed against the jaw-dropping beauty of the snow-capped Remarkables and Fiordland National Park. That means you can enjoy the slopes during the day and retire to a glass of local Pinot in the evening. Then, depending on your level of lubrication, you can head off to explore Queenstown's famous nightlife.