Down Under opens up! Australia’s finally welcoming tourists by Easter, and New Zealand in July. So where should you go in this giant holiday playground?
- There are plenty of packages on offer with flights and hotels included for dates from after September 2022
- Trafalgar Travel offers an 11-day Tastes of Southern Australia guided foodie coach tour that begins in Sydney
- Discover New Zealand on a spectacular TranzAlpine train journey as part of a 19-night Trailfinders tour
Here is our unmissable guide to some of the best packages (with flights and hotels included). All holidays are for dates after September, from Australia’s Kangaroo Island to the volcanic peaks of Rotorua in New Zealand.
WHERE TO GO IN OZ…
ROCK AND REEF
Visit Uluru (pictured), the iconic sandstone monolith rock, on a fortnight-long tour of Australia with Trailfinders
Take a hair-raising walk along the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge (nicknamed The Coathanger) and enjoy the waves at Bondi and Shelly beaches before heading inland to see kangaroos aplenty plus Uluru, the iconic sandstone monolith rock, on a fortnight-long tour. A Great Barrier Reef trip is included.
HOW TO DO IT: 14 days from £2,749 pp with flights and hotels (trailfinders.com).
Aussie adventures: The Whitsunday Islands, pictured, feature on Dialaflight’s 12-day trip around Oz
Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef from the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland is the highlight of a 12-day trip beginning with a visit to Melbourne, Victoria, where you can visit top-class vineyards. Don’t miss out on Whitsundays Ngaro Indigenous Cultural Tour to see ancient rock paintings.
HOW TO DO IT: 12 days from £2,395 pp with flights and accommodation (dialaflight.com).
WINE IN THE WEST
Audley Travel’s road trip of Western Australia takes in sites such as the rugged Cape Le Grand National Park, pictured above
One of the adorable quokkas on Rottnest Island – a stop on Audley Travel’s road trip
Enjoy the sweeping empty coastlines, ancient forests, beaches and vineyards of Western Australia on a fortnight-long fly-drive.
This road trip comes with accommodation.
Stop off at the Margaret River wineries, Rottnest Island (home to adorable quokkas, a wallaby) and rugged Cape Le Grand National Park.
HOW TO DO IT: 14 days from £3,590 pp including flights, car hire and hotels (audleytravel.com).
HEAD DOWN SOUTH
The vineyards of Barossa Valley, pictured, are famed for their shiraz – pay them a visit on an 11-day Tastes of Southern Australia guided foodie coach tour with Trafalgar Travel
Kangaroo Island, pictured, which is packed with the creatures, is included on Trafalgar Travel’s 11-day itinerary
Visit the vineyards of Barossa Valley (renowned for its shiraz) on an 11-day Tastes of Southern Australia guided foodie coach tour that begins in Sydney and goes to Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide. A visit to Kangaroo Island (packed with the creatures) is included as is the chance to see Gold Creek Station, a sheep farm where a barbecue is organised.
HOW TO DO IT: 11 days from £4,383 pp with flights, hotels and 19 meals included (trafalgar.com).
Hike the Glass House Mountains, pictured, on an 11-day self-drive tour along Australia’s Nature Coast Drive with Flight Centre
G’DAY FROM AUSTRALIAN HIGH COMMISSIONER GEORGE BRANDIS
Australian high commissioner George Brandis
We Australians can’t wait to say G’day to our best mates from Britain again. With world-leading vaccination rates, we are now safely reopening to the world.
From reuniting with loved ones to visiting some of the most beautiful places in the world, there is nothing like a holiday Down Under.
Australia is the size of Europe yet has a population of only 25 million, so what better place to hit the road and enjoy the wide-open spaces our unique landscape offers? You can explore the 90 miles of white sand beaches on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast or sleep under the stars in the Flinders Ranges.
The Outback and the bright Red Centre are unlike anywhere else on Earth, and are great places to learn about Australia’s Aboriginal culture, the oldest continually living culture on the planet at 60,000 years old.
If I were to recommend just a few activities when you visit, seeing a world-class performance at the Sydney Opera House or visiting one of our country’s wineries to enjoy the fresh, locally produced food and wine are musts. You will often find the most spectacular landscapes in the vineyards, too.
There’s a special relationship between Australians and the Brits. Many Britons have family or friends in Australia and enjoy combining a visit with their loved ones with the chance to explore everything that my country has to offer.
We look forward to seeing you all soon.
By George Brandis
Hit the road on an 11-day self-drive along Australia’s Nature Coast Drive, which takes you through Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and Fraser Coast.
Start your adventure in Brisbane, head to the Sunshine Coast for beaches and a chance to hike the Glass House Mountains or visit the Noosa Everglades.
Humpback whales can be spotted from the shore and you can snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef.
HOW TO DO IT: 11 days from £2,065 pp with flights, accommodation and car hire (flightcentre.co.uk).
Hit the waves on a trip to Brisbane and Surfers Paradise resort.
You stay in a self-catering apartment at Surf Parade Resort, which comes with a heated pool, hot tub and sauna.
Enjoy the rides at the theme parks, visit the street markets and take long walks along the golden shore.
HOW TO DO IT: 11 nights from £1,157 pp with flights (mercuryholidays.co.uk).
Hire a motorhome and head north from Perth, Western Australia’s capital, moving along the remote, rugged coastline towards Shark Bay — staying in your own hotel on wheels.
A wildlife trip by kayak is arranged and interesting ancient Aboriginal sites are close by.
A night is booked at a hotel in Perth at each end of the trip.
HOW TO DO IT: 12 nights from £2,049 pp with hotels, motorhome hire and flights (trailfinders.com).
EAST COAST CALLING
Explore Australia’s dramatic east coast starting in Sydney in New South Wales and travelling by coach via Byron Bay, home to some of the best beaches, Queensland.
There are stop-offs at Fraser Island, ancient rainforests and a working cattle station.
A catamaran cruise of the Whitsunday Islands is a highlight.
HOW TO DO IT: 12-night guided tours with flights, B&B hotels, excursions, three lunches and two dinners from £4,389 pp (australiansky.co.uk).
Drink in views of the Grampian Mountains on a fortnight-long getaway with Wexas. Pictured is the surrounding Grampians National Park
Take a rail journey winding between mountains, through valleys and across the plains of southern Australia on a fortnight-long getaway aboard the plush Great Southern trains.
The ride begins amid the wineries of Barossa Valley before moving into the Grampian Mountains and ending at Coffs Harbour.
HOW TO DO IT: 14-day trip with hotels, train berths (with all meals on board), car hire and flights from £3,430 pp (wexas.com).
PACIFIC OCEAN DREAM
Stop off to see the Twelve Apostles sea-stacks, pictured, on a campervan adventure with Travelbag
The Travelbag campervan trip finishes with a visit to the white sand beaches of Hamilton Island (pictured)
Explore the winding Great Ocean Road in Victoria on a campervan adventure, stopping off to see the Twelve Apostles sea-stacks. Visit Melbourne and Sydney (where three nights are spent at a hotel close to the Sydney Opera House) before finishing your trip by the white sand beaches of Hamilton Island.
HOW TO DO IT: 15 nights from £2,379 pp with flights, accommodation and campervan (travelbag.co.uk).
… AND IN NEW ZEALAND
ON THE ROAD (AND TRAIN)
Enjoy a ‘spectacular’ TranzAlpine train journey with Trailfinders. Pictured above is the train travelling through New Zealand’s Arthur’s Pass National Park
See both the North and South Islands from the road on a 19-night trip with car hire included, as well as the ferry crossing over the Cook Strait. Join a whale-watching cruise and a spectacular journey on the TranzAlpine train.
HOW TO DO IT: 19 nights from £3,299 pp with flights, hotels and car hire (trailfinders.com).
SOUTH TO NORTH
New Zealand Sky is running a luxury guided coach tour that begins in Christchurch, before venturing north to Auckland and Franz Josef Glacier (pictured)
Start this luxury guided coach tour in Christchurch and head north to Auckland, stopping at the Bay of Islands, the volcanic peaks of Rotorua, and Franz Josef Glacier.
HOW TO DO IT: 16 nights from £5,099 pp B&B with hotels, coach travel, guides, excursions and flights (newzealandsky.co.uk).
HOBBITS AND HERITAGE
Explore the cities of Auckland, Wellington (pictured) and Christchurch on a 19-day self-drive tour with Wexas
You’ll get the chance to spot whales in Kaikoura, pictured above, on the Wexas self-drive tour
Visit the film locations that depicted Middle-earth in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, as well as important Maori cultural sites on a 19-day self-drive. There’s also a chance to spot whales in Kaikoura, spend time enjoying the pretty coastline of the Bay of Islands and to explore the cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
HOW TO DO IT: 19-day Cultural Highlights trips from £3,365 pp B&B with flights, car hire and boutique hotels (wexas.com).
A stop-over in Singapore to visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens, pictured, is included in Brightwater Holidays’ trip
Visit some of the finest gardens in New Zealand with a superb 20-day guided trip for the horticulturally minded. A stop-over in Singapore to visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens is included, as are wine tours and a sailing across the Cook Strait.
HOW TO DO IT: 20 days from £6,995 pp with hotels, some meals and flights (brightwaterholidays.com).
Take to the highways of New Zealand by campervan for a 19-day adventure across the North and South Islands with Travelbag
Book a Britz Venturer two-berth campervan and take to the highways of New Zealand for a 19-day adventure across the North and South Islands. This is one of the best-value ways of seeing the country with all the sights lying ahead — just look at the map and choose where you want to go each day.
HOW TO DO IT: 20 nights from £2,379 pp with hotels at each end, campervan hire and flights included (travelbag.co.uk).
- Before booking any trip, make sure the tour operator is offering a flexible package that can be delayed to a later date — or a full refund — should Covid restrictions prevent you from going.
THE LOWDOWN DOWN UNDER
After comments made by Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison that borders will reopen to fully vaccinated international visitors ‘well before Easter’, New Zealand this week announced jabbed tourists will be able to go ‘by July’.
Speaking to the 4CA radio station in Cairns, Queensland, last week, Mr Morrison said normal international tourism was ‘not far away’ for vaccinated arrivals. ‘We just got to get some medical advice further on that, a bit more work to do with the states to make sure we’re comfortable about reopening,’ he added. No date has been given, but all should be arranged ‘certainly by Easter’.
New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has laid out a five-stage reopening plan ‘by July for visa-waiver travel’, which includes the UK.
Full details of the new rules have not been announced but keep an eye on australia.com and newzealand.com.
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