Australia, new zealand & FIJI
AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND & FIJI
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CONTENTS ITG 2012 INTRO WHY AUSTRALIA?
OZ EVENTS DIARY
NEW SOUTH WALES
OZ: NEED TO KNOW
WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
WHY NEW ZEALAND?
NZ: NEED TO KNOW
PAPUA NEW GUINEA
BUYING YOUR TICKET
WHO TO BLAME EDITOR Andrew Westbrook CONTRIBUTORS Alex Harmon, Leigh Livingstone GRAPHICS Annalisa Westbrook DESIGN & PRODUCTION MANAGER Lisa Ferron SALES Tom Wheeler, Justin Steinlauf MARKETING Denise Jinks GENERAL MANAGER Vicky Harris CHAIRMAN Ken Hurst CEO Kevin Ellis PUBLISHER TNT PUBLISHING PTY LTD, 126 ABERCROMBIE ST, CHIPPENDALE, SYDNEY, NSW, 2008, AUSTRALIA GENERAL + 61 2 8332 7511 EMAIL email@example.com FAX + 61 2 9690 1314 WEB tntdownunder.com While effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the publisher accepts no responsibility for loss or inconvenience arising from errors or omissions.
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Photo: Tourism Fiji; Tourism Australia
THE INDEPENDENT TRAVELLERS’ GUIDE HELLO THERE. YOU’VE JUST PICKED UP A FREE GUIDEBOOK FOR AUSTRALIA, NEW ZEALAND AND FIJI. WE DID THAT ONCE. THEN WE CAME, WE SAW, AND NEVER WENT HOME... WORDS ITG EDITOR ANDREW WESTBROOK
So, you’re thinking about travelling to Australia, New Zealand or Fiji? We like you. And we know that you’ll like this little (well actually, quite big) corner of the South Pacific. It’s amazing.
What’s all this then? Whether it be roadtripping through the enchanting outback, swimming with playful dolphins, hiking on mesmerising glaciers, joining in ancient Fijian ceremonies, bungy jumping, or simply lazing on beaches, cocktail in hand, these three countries offer 4
a wealth of unique and unforgettable experiences. Plus, the good news is that most young people can hang around on Working Holiday Visas in Australia and New Zealand for up to four years, so there’s no shortage of time. As English is the dominant language and tourist infrastructure is slick, travelling and even living Down Under is easy and fun. Though that isn’t to say it’s without adventure... You probably have a lot of questions about your prospective trip. Which is where we come in. See, we know about stuff.
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Photo: Tourism Australia/Warren Clarke; Tourism New Zealand/Miles Holden
Who the bloody hell are we? What qualifies us to make such a bold claim? Well, we’re travellers ourselves, who once pondered the same questions you are now. Then we got on a plane, had the time of our lives, and never went back. Now we’re based in the Antipodes, writing guidebooks, websites and magazines – and still travelling – to help others, like you, have the best possible time. Our Sydney office produces a weekly magazine covering the Australian continent and a quarterly edition for New Zealand and Fiji. We hope they will become your travel bibles when you get here. In the meantime feel free to visit tntdownunder.com. Our website is packed with stories, tips, advice, our latest magazines and much more. It is all this knowledge and experience that has been lovingly poured into The Independent Travellers’ Guide (ITG), which you are holding in your hands right now.
Using the ITG The ITG is divided into three main sections: Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. The first section, Australia, details all you need to know about the vast sun-baked country; a state-by-state rundown on what
to see and do, everything you need to know about the major cities and some history and background on Australia. That’s immediately followed by Australia: essentials, which explores all your transport options, work opportunities, accommodation, visa choices and plenty more. New Zealand, the second section, looks at the seriously spectacular, adrenalin adventurer’s paradise across the Tasman Sea. It gives a brief background of the country, a thorough guide to what to see and do and lots more information you probably didn’t realise you needed to know, including tips on jobs, visas and where to stay. We then do the same for Fiji; a place to escape the crowds, soak up some intriguing culture and steal a little bit of beach heaven all for yourself. Plus, we also have sections on nearby destinations Samoa and Papua New Guinea. And lastly, we have a small ‘before you arrive’ section about stop-off destinations, like Thailand, as well as tips on booking that all-important ticket. From all of us at TNT Magazine, we hope you enjoy your trip and hope our ITG helps a tiny bit to make your trip to Australia, New Zealand and/or Fiji unforgettable. See you soon, cobbers. ❚ TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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Why Australia? WHY? HOW ABOUT STUNNING REEFS, SPARKLING CITIES, CRAZY ANIMALS AND UNBELIEVABLE BEACHES, JUST FOR STARTERS? Australia has something for everyone. It goes from tropical to chilly, transforms from gorgeous islands to dusty deserts and keeps you entertained with everything from pumping nightlife to the Dreamtime tales of Aboriginal culture. There’s no chance you’ll get bored. The face Australia presents to the rest of the world is changing. From a backward void through the rough ‘n’ raw territory of Crocodile Dundee, via civilised soap opera suburbia to the cutting-edge cities of the 21st century, it’s plain to see this is one young, feisty, up-and-coming island. The best part is that all these Australias do exist. In one modestly-populated nation you can find remote nowheresville towns, spectacular outback or rainforest landscapes, and ultra-hip nightspots and eateries. We love it here and we think you might do, too.
Something completely different The Australia you greet stepping off the plane into one of the major cities is reassuringly familiar. All the trappings and comforts of home make it easy to get it together, but in weird, parallel-universe kind of ways that you can’t always put your finger on, it’s completely different. The transport, legislation, and public services are all pretty similar to home. And yet the trains are double-deckered, the pelican crossings sound alarming and the money’s all funny coloured (and surf-proof). Australians commute to the office on the decks of boats, go for a surf after work, take business trips to tropical paradises and cook their Christmas dinners on the barbie. There are public holidays for every occasion (including horse races), “mind the wombats” signs on the roadsides and some of the planet’s best cuisine.
Youth, freedom and shocking TV Some joke that Australia has no culture, but that’s rubbish. While the old world is beleaguered by the weight of propriety, politics and poetry, Australia is bolstered by youth, freedom and hedonism. So what if the TV is shocking and the radio is more grave6
robbing than groundbreaking? You’ll be living life far too much to care. The main point of being Australian seems to be to enjoy beer, hang out on beaches and drink in the sunshine. It’s a culture built on wide open spaces and great weather – Aussies definitely work to live, not live to work. Oh, and then there’s the country’s rich Aboriginal heritage – only the oldest continuously-maintained culture on the planet. Oz is a traveller’s dream. The backpacker infrastructure works like clockwork. Free bus transfers often meet you at transit centres. Hostels will book activities and onward journeys for you. They take credit cards everywhere, and magazines and guidebooks spoil you for choice on where to go and what to do. It’s easy-peasy.
A tale of two cities In a six-month trip around Australia you could find yourself snowboarding down crystal-white mountains, scuba diving amid the world’s most vivid coral and knocking back cocktails on idyllic beaches. One week you could be driving in an endless straight line across a sandy desert with the stereo pumping, the next jumping out of a plane, hanging out with rainforest hippies, or watching Mozart being performed at the Opera House. You can sleep underground in the subterranean opal town of Coober Pedy, hand-feed wild dolphins, kangaroos and lorikeets, and go clubbing in hip urban haunts. You’ll experience the vibes of Uluru, line-dance in small country towns, play the didgeridoo on a lonely rocky outcrop, muster cattle in the red dust of the outback and work in a waterfront skyscraper. Australia’s cities are as diverse as its landscapes, from Hobart in Tasmania – a small, historic city with lots of pretty English-style architecture and a homely feel – right up to raucous Darwin, in the Top End, a multicultural frontier town on the tropical Arafura Sea with exotic inhabitants and famed night markets. Sydney, however, is the main port of call for most, and is Australia’s largest and most famous city. The soaring skyscrapers of the CBD (central business
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WHYAUSTRALIA district) are surrounded by harbourfront and beach suburbs, green parks and inner-city villages. It’s the best bet for finding work, but the cost of living here is higher than in other parts of Oz. Sydney life is watery, boozy and cruisey, and the Pacific-rim metropolis boasts more than 30 sandy beaches. Melbourne is the second city (though Melbournians will dispute this), and has a reputation as the nation’s cultural centre, with the arts, restaurants, cool nightlife and café society adorning its elegant Victorian streets.
On your marks, get set... The most popular route for visitors is the “east coast run” from Melbourne or Sydney, north up the coast to party town Cairns (which is close to the Great Barrier Reef).
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This well-trodden corridor has terrain ranging from the soaring canyons of the Blue Mountains, through to the unique, surf-pounded eco-system of Fraser Island, to the calm turquoise waters and coral reefs of the Whitsunday Islands. In short, the eastern seaboard is an absolute must-do. But if you want to get off the beaten track, an entire continent awaits. Try the notorious Nullarbor Plain or the remote yet wonder-strewn west coast. Don’t miss the crocodiles of Kakadu, the Great Ocean Road, the waterfalls and mossy wilderness of Tasmania, the red dust, rock stars and spiritual vibes of the Red Centre, or the camels of Broome. Wherever you go, you’ll see some unforgettable places. You can go wherever you want and be whoever you want. Besides, in the end, it’s not the destination but the journey that counts. ❚
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About Australia DID THAT CAPTAIN COOK FELLA REALLY DISCOVER OZ? HOW BIG IS THE COUNTRY? AND WILL I HAVE TO WEAR A HAT WITH CORKS ON? A firm favourite with independent travellers, Australia offers the opportunity to leave your comfort zone and try something new, or just indulge your passions for surfing, diving or even simply exploring. Whether you’re looking to spend a few months meandering up the east coast or challenge yourself to an adventure through the outback, one thing’s for certain, you won’t want to leave.
Population The world’s largest island and smallest continent covers an area over seven million square kilometres, with nearly 60,000 kilometres of coastline. Australia is the size of the USA (minus Alaska), or 25 times the size of the UK. Its population, though, numbers just over 22 million – a third of the UK’s. Most people tend to avoid the arid desert of the interior, with the majority of people living within 12 miles of the ocean and on the south-east side of the continent. Australia is the most urbanised country in the world, with more than 85 per cent of Aussies living in a town or city. A whopping 40 per cent inhabit the eastern state capitals of Melbourne and Sydney.
History Aboriginal people called this continent home for many thousands of years before anyone from the outside world knocked on the door. Ask most people who first called round for tea and they’ll answer that it was Captain Cook. But he was in fact last in a rather long line of intrepid seamen who had been sniffing around the mysterious southern continent for more than 200 years. The Portuguese were probably the first Europeans to sight the coast of Australia during sea voyages in the first half of the 16th century. During the early 1600s some Dutch sailors felt brave enough to land on Cape York and a few spots on the west coast, but decided the weather wasn’t up to much and sailed back to Jakarta. In 1642 they sent a guy called Abel Tasman, who charted the coast from Cape York west to the Great Australian Bight and discovered a little island he named Van Dieman’s Land – now Tasmania – but bafflingly failed to 10
discover the east coast. Forty years later the first Pom, William Dampier, made a few explorations from Shark Bay on the west coast, and agreed with the Dutch that the whole place wasn’t really much cop. And so it was that more than 70 years later, in 1770, our friend Captain Cook finally turns up, discovers the elusive east coast, decides it’s actually quite nice, and claims the whole place for Britain. The inhabitants didn’t get a say in the matter. Up until then, Britain had been sending its prisoners over to America, but the War of Independence brought that to a halt. Faced with the prospect of actually having to keep convicts in their own country, someone had the idea of shipping them all to this wonderful new colony and in January 1788, the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay. Unfortunately they didn’t find it quite as hospitable as Cook had described, but after a bit of scouting around the area, they discovered Port Jackson, a little to the north, and so the colony of Sydney was started. The first years were incredibly hard, and starvation was never far away. But by the early 1800s, the city had become a flourishing trading post. More people were coming over of their own free will rather than at his majesty’s pleasure, especially after gold was discovered in New South Wales and Victoria in the 1850s (indeed, the gold rush saw Australia’s population double within a decade and was integral to the rapid rise of Melbourne). The first half of the 19th century also saw many expeditions set out to discover and colonise the rest of the continent. These expeditions met with varying degrees of success, but Perth was settled in 1829, and the first overland expedition reached Darwin in 1862. By the 1890s most people wanted to bring the different colonies together as one big country, and federation was announced on 1 January 1901. For many years afterwards, Australia was still very much a British colony, but as the century progressed it became its own country. The republican movement became very vocal in the 1990s, and in 1999 there was a referendum to decide whether the Queen should be replaced by an Australian president.
ABOUTAUSTRALIA The republicans were narrowly defeated and, despite a slight resurgence while Kevin Rudd was prime minister, the issue has been on the backburner ever since.
The states and the government Canberra is Australia’s purpose-built capital. The city was selected in 1908 after arch-rivals Sydney and Melbourne couldn’t decide on which of them should get the glory. Amusingly, the reason that Canberra got the compromise vote was that it satisfied the demands of both major cities, by being within the borders of New South Wales and yet over 100 miles from Sydney. Melbourne, cashed-up from the gold rush, stood in as national capital until Canberra was completed in 1927. Australia is divided into six states and two territories: State Australian Capital Territory Northern Territory New South Wales Queensland South Australia Tasmania Victoria Western Australia
Capital city Canberra Darwin Sydney Brisbane Adelaide Hobart Melbourne Perth
Australia has a similar system of government to the UK, with a two-tier parliament and a representative of the monarchy, the governor general, acting as head of state. The Federal Government is responsible for the national economy, immigration and defence, while the states/ territories decide on matters like health, education and transport. Laws differ from state to state and what will cop you a courtroom appearance in one state, may be waived in another. For example, the minimum driving age is 18 years in Victoria but it’s 17 years in Western Australia.
Culture and the people Most people asked to describe an “average” Aussie would probably summon up an image of an Outback Jack, with corks on his hat, a beer in his hand, and a “no worries, mate” attitude. This stereotype is increasingly outdated as Australia becomes more multicultural. In the years after the Second World War, migrants came primarily from southern Europe, but since the 1960s there has been a huge influx of people from Asia. It is estimated that over a quarter of Australia’s population was born overseas. 12
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Climate Don’t expect a white Christmas in Sydney or Melbourne. The festive season is usually spent lazing by the beach with an ice-cold drink. Officially, summer starts in December, autumn in March, winter in June and spring in September. Another thing to remember is that northern Australia is hot and humid (tropical climate) and the further south you go, the colder and greener it becomes. The only places it gets cold enough to snow are in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales, the Alps of north-east Victoria (both of which have a snow season with fairly good skiing and boarding), plus in Tasmania. The centre of the continent is arid – hot and dry during the day and cold at night. In the far northern parts of Australia there are only two seasons – the Dry (May to October) and the Wet (November to April). Cyclones tend to hit northern Australia from July to August.
Sunbaking and swimming The sun is a powerful beast in Australia and made even stronger by the thin ozone layer. To avoid the risk of getting skin cancer remember to always “slip, slop, slap” (slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen and slap on a hat). For more info, see the health section on page 86. Swimming is something of a national pastime, but check with the locals first, as some beaches in the north in summer can become full of deadly box jellyfish. Also be aware of the fact that the ocean around Australia is a seriously dangerous one, and many people drown every year after being caught in rips (strong offshore undercurrents). To stay safe, avoid non-patrolled beaches, and always swim between the flags. Other than rips and jellyfish, there’s not a lot to worry about. Oh, apart from crocodiles and sharks. Shark attacks are very rare. Ditto croc attacks. Obey warning signs in northern areas and she’ll be right, mate.
The knowledge While you’re travelling around Australia, be sure to pick up TNT Magazine (tntdownunder. com), out every week and free. We cover all the big events, bring you the news and sport from home and have plenty of interesting features on everything from outback roadtrips to diving on the Great Barrier Reef. We also list job vacancies and have an accommodation guide. If you’re not Down Under yet, you can head to the website to check out all the latest issues of the magazine in full. ❚
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Photo: Tourism Queensland/Mark Kolbe
STUMBLE ACROSS ANCIENT ROCK ART, TEST YOUR CULINARY NERVE WITH SOME BUSH TUKKA AND DISCOVER THE MYSTICAL STORIES OF THE WORLD’S OLDEST LIVING CULTURE
An Aboriginal dancer
The early white pioneers of Australia found out the hard way that ‘going bush’ is no mean feat. They didn’t have an easy time during those early expeditions – many starved, others got lost and disappeared. They did, however, prove two very important things: Australia is a vast continent; and to understand its immense beauty one should consult those who have lived here the longest – the Aboriginal people. Indigenous Australians are estimated to have lived in Australia for anywhere between 40,000 and 60,000 years. They have insider knowledge when it comes to Australia’s outback and it’s well worth picking their brains if you want a greater understanding of the way this continent really functions. Aboriginal Australians have a binding spiritual link to the land and explain its creation with songs, stories and pictorial art which are passed down from 14
generation to generation. The time of creation is referred to as the Dreamtime, and describes the creation of people, animals and the land. The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, can also be described as a sort of cosmic awareness, often inspired by the land itself. On a practical level, many of the songs contain geographical and seasonal references which are vital for survival. More modern songs and art tell of contact with Europeans, a complex issue which has not been a positive experience for most Aboriginal people. Their art today is also used as a means to express and preserve ancient Dreaming values and Aboriginal culture for communities and to gain worldwide understanding, awareness and acceptance. There’s lots of captivating Aboriginal art on sale in Australia, but if you buy some please ensure money is going back to the artist. At the time of the ‘white invasion’, there were several hundred Aboriginal language groups (or tribes). Unlike the New Zealand Maori, for example, each of these tribes had its own language. Even now, in some remote parts of northern Australia, English will be the third language of many Aboriginal people – their own tongue and the language of a neighbouring tribe will come first. It’s generally easiest for travellers to get a taste of Aboriginal culture in the Northern Territory. The streets of Darwin and Alice Springs are full of shops selling indigenous art and didgeridoos, while tours to areas like Kakadu National Park and Uluru are often peppered with talk of Aboriginal Dreamtime stories and bush tukka. For the best insight into how Aboriginal people lived in more traditional times, visit one of the Aboriginal reserves, such as Arnhem Land, in the NT. They remain largely untouched by European influences. It is vital to buy permits from the relevant land councils (such as at nlc.org.au) before entering these areas. It’s not always necessary to go off the beaten track, however, as examples of Aboriginal art can be found literally all over the country, even right by Bondi Beach. ❚
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Experience the real Australia -and get paid doing it! Visitoz guarantees well paid work, in rural and outback Australia for the whole of your working holiday visa - work where the well paid jobs are - then party in the cities and on the coast. The work is in agriculture (horses, motorbikes, tractors, cattle, sheep) hospitality (pubs, roadhouses, rural resorts, farm stays and museums), teaching Distance Education and child care. • Most of the jobs qualify for the second Working Holiday Visa. • All jobs provide food, accommodation and the award wage. Arrive in Brisbane on a Thursday, Visitoz will have all the paper work done for you, chill out for three days at Rainbow Beach, with sun, sea and surf to get over your jet lag, five days training to teach you or Australianise your skills – on your ninth day in the country go to the job of your choice! In over 18 years no-one has left Visitoz without a job to go to as there are 1800 employers Australiawide waiting for you to arrive. Contacts: UK: USA: Australia: Sweden: Denmark: Germany: Holland: France: South Africa:
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Aussie adventures FROM CAGE DIVING WITH GREAT WHITE SHARKS TO RAFTING RAGING RIVERS OR JUMPING FROM PLANES, YOU MIGHT NEED TO FIND A NEW ADRENAL GLAND WHEN YOU GET HOME
Sure, New Zealand has the reputation as the world’s adrenalin HQ, but the Aussies are no shrinking Sheilas when it comes to scaring you stupid. In fact, they’ll hear you screaming across the Tasman. For many, a visit to Australia includes much of the following: bungy jumping, skydiving, whitewater rafting, snowboarding, trekking through stunning wilderness regions, kayaking and all manner of watersports and/or becoming a qualified scuba diver. In other words, you’re unlikely to be too restless Down Under.
Diving There’s nothing quite like taking your first breaths underwater. That reassuring noise of bubbles and the giddy excitement of knowing you shouldn’t, but you can. Plus there’s the thrilling weightlessness 16
– like flying through an underwater world. And all that’s before you get to see the brilliant inhabitants of the rainbow-coloured underwater wonderland that awaits; full of shapes, colours and sights you didn’t think could possibly exist. If you’re a beginner, taking your first step is easy. PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) courses range from introductory experiences through to instructor levels, giving you the freedom to explore the other 70 per cent of our planet. There are over 1,100 PADI Dive Centres and Resorts located in the Asia Pacific region (for more info, visit padi.com) and needless to say, Australia offers some of the very finest scuba diving – and some of the best facilities – in the world. Where? There are simply too many excellent dive and snorkel sights to mention them all here, but
Australia and The Paciﬁc boasts some of the ﬁnest weather and most pristine coastlines you’re likely to ﬁnd anywhere on earth, so why not take advantage of it? Earn the most recognised diver certiﬁcation in the world that you can use for a lifetime.
Learn to dive online with PADI. Get started before you leave home with PADI eLearning. For more details, visit padi.com/elearning Contact your local PADI Dive Centre or Resort, visit padi.com To keep up to date with PADI, visit padi.com/blog p
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OZADVENTURES we will suggest a few. Queensland’s international status as an outstanding dive destination is largely based on its proximity to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef (GBR). The GBR’s 2,000km chain of individual reefs, islands and countless coral sand cays and shipwrecks offer amazing diving opportunities – it’s popular for a reason. Another site, Queensland’s SS Yongala wreck, near Townsville, is ranked one of the best wreck dives in the world. Western Australia’s Ningaloo Marine Park is one of diving’s most acclaimed marine sanctuaries, too. As well as humpback whales, manta rays and dolphins, Ningaloo has a large population of dugongs – without many other divers. But the greatest attraction is the huge whale sharks, in the area between April and July. New South Wales has spectacular year-round diving opportunities. With semi-tropical waters in the north and cooler, temperate waters in the south, the reefs, wrecks and beaches of NSW include many of Australia’s finest diving destinations. At Seal Rocks you can dive with grey nurse sharks – large but mostly harmless. Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour also offer good diving, as does Sydney, especially
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off Shelly Beach, by Manly. South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula spawns giant cuttlefish and sea lions on the reefs and clusters of small islands, as well as cage diving with great white sharks. Also in SA, the Nullarbor Plain boasts one of the world’s deepest and longest underwater cave systems; not forgetting the 700 shipwrecks off the Limestone Coast. Tasmania and its off-shore islands provide ample proof that temperate water diving is every bit as rewarding as the tropics. And hundreds of enticing shipwrecks dot the coasts. PADI courses typically take between two and four days and can cost between $300 and $800, however you can now save both time and cash by doing the knowledge part of the Open Water course online for about $120 (padi.com/elearning).
Surfing Only kangaroos and boomerangs are more Aussie than surfing. With surf being such a big part of Aussie culture it’s hard not to get caught up in it. Australia has something like a gazillion surf beaches, from world championship level to gentle little waves that even we can manage (just). We won’t pretend it’s easy peasy, but it’s a hell of a laugh learning to surf. One-off lessons, surf schools and tours are cheap, operate all over the place and are usually great fun. Some surf tours will take you along the coast for several days, say from Sydney to Byron Bay, including your accommodation and transport. Serious surfers will want to head to Bells Beach (Victoria), Margaret River (WA) and the Gold Coast (Queensland). Everyone else can try pretty much anywhere along the bottom half of Australia.
Photo: Tourism Queensland/Chris McLennan
Three, two, one... 18
Skydiving (tandem): Quite simply, you haven’t lived until you’ve needlessly jumped out of a plane. Your cheeks will be flapping like you’ve stuck your head out of the window on the motorway at 300km/ hr, your head will be buzzing like you’re on a drug better than anything illegal and you’ll probably be screaming. A lot. Where? Plenty of places. Wollongong just south of Sydney, for example. Up the east coast, legendary surf and hippie haven Byron Bay also has jumps. Mission Beach, in Queensland, is also a popular drop zone with spectacular views over the reef. Bungy: Bungy jumping is often considered scarier than a skydive. Firstly you can see the ground, and secondly, right up until the last moment you still have a choice...
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Where? Again the east is the coast with the most, such as at Cairns, Surfers Paradise and Hervey Bay. Whitewater rafting: So there’s this river growling angrily at you as it nonchalantly churns up trees and rocks. Most people would simply turn and walk away. Australians, however, like to pump up a little dinghy, grab all their mates, a couple of paddles and head off over the first waterfall. It’s one helluva ride... Where? The Tully River in northern Queensland has world famous rapid-riding, but there are other spots too, like the Murray River (Victoria) or the purpose-built (for the 2000 Olympics) arena in Sydney. The daddy is Tasmania’s remote Franklin River, where rafting trips last 5-10 days. Water sports: Other water sports practiced with aplomb by the locals are wakeboarding, waterskiing, sailing, kayaking and kite surfing. For obvious reasons it’s an exuberant outdoor culture here and that doesn’t just mean lazing on the sand. Where? Pretty much wherever there’s water (and remember 85 per cent of Australians live by the coast). Best of the rest: There really is something for everyone. Rock climbing and abseiling opportunities are excellent and abundant. Australia has some superb walking trails, the best of all being Tasmania’s stunning 80km Overland Track. It’s not the greatest snow in the world, but it’s there and you can still have a whole heap of messy fun in the highlands on the NSW-Victorian border (kangaroos in the snow – who’d have thought?). Plus, for something a bit quirkier, try zorbing on the Gold Coast or get the hump by jumping on a camel for a ride in Broome and various other spots.
Animal experiences A big part of any Aussie trip is meeting the bizarre and brilliant collection of creatures that call the continent home – many of which cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. Top of many peoples’ lists will be cuddling a koala and hand-feeding a kangaroo, both of which are easily done in dozens, if not hundreds of places around the country. Also likely to inspire much “ooo-ing” and “aahing” are the surprisingly big and grumpy wombats, bizarre duck-billed platypuses, very cute echidnas, screeching Tasmanian devils and the giant, majestic cassowarys (one of the few birds known to have killed a man!). Many of the most rewarding wildlife experiences, however, are to be had underwater. You can swim with dolphins and dive with sharks in multiple places across Oz, while swimming with seals just off the Nullarbor is a much under-rated alternative. But top of the list, for pure awe factor, has to be swimming with the Ningaloo’s whale sharks and braving South Australia’s great white shark cage dives. ❚
Roadtrips This is the real Australian adventure. Just you and a couple of close mates, some top “choons” on the iPod, a fridge full of beer and the enticing tarmac of the great open road stretching endlessly before you. With such a scarce population and such transfixing landscapes, no place lends itself to a long roadtrip like this sun-baked continent does. Crossing the Nullarbor Plain (roughly between Adelaide and Perth) will earn you much kudos and any drive through the middle of Oz brings the rewards of the amazing rock formations in the Red Centre. Taking a 4WD adventure through the Kimberley or up to Cape York are other options, but not for the faint-hearted or unprepared. Ultimately, the very best way to experience this vast country is to do the complete circuit off your own steam – buy or rent a campervan.
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Events calendar FROM MAJOR INTERNATIONAL EVENTS TO THE DOWNRIGHT STRANGE, THE AUSSIE CALENDAR IS AS ACTION-PACKED AND DIVERSE AS THE REGION IT CALLS HOME
Photo: Getty Images/Kristian Dowling
Some active stranger-groping at December’s Falls Festival
Festival of Sydney: Art, music and theatre. There’s something for everyone, much of it free, at this massive three-week festival (7-29 January). Australia Day: Australia’s national day (26 January) is a public holiday with events and celebrations going on absolutely everywhere. Big Day Out: Huge one-day music festival featuring international and local acts. Tours five Aussie cities plus Auckland. Headliners this year include Kanye West, Noel Gallagher and Kasabian (Jan 20 – Feb 5). The Taste Festival (Hobart): A celebration of Tasmania’s lifestyle, showcasing gourmet food and wine on Hobart’s waterfront (28 Dec – 3 Jan). Australian Open Tennis (Melbourne): One of the four Grand Slams, the Australian Open attracts the world’s best players (16-29 January).
Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras: The biggest gay and lesbian festival in the world. It ends on 3 March with the famously extravagant parade along Oxford St and one helluva party. Festival of Perth: A three-week festival of arts and culture that attracts the finest talent in the world (10 Feb – 3 Mar). Adelaide Fringe Festival: The world’s second biggest fringe festival, after Edinburgh (24 Feb – 18 Mar). Melbourne Adventure Travel and Backpackers Expo: (18-19 February) Get expert tips.
March Australian Formula One Grand Prix (Melbourne): First round of the F1 World Championships (15-18 March).
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Melbourne International Comedy Festival: The best comedy acts from around the world (28 Mar – 22 Apr). This year’s lineup includes Ross Noble, Tom Green and Jason Byrne. Future Music Festival: One of Australia’s best dance/ crossover festivals. Tours five cities (3-12 March). Acts this year include Fatboy Slim, Swedish House Mafia and Tinie Tempah. WOMADelaide (Adelaide): Renowned world music festival (9-12 March).
April Bluesfest (Byron Bay): The East Coast Annual Blues & Roots Music Festival runs all through the Easter long weekend (5-9 April). Acts include Crosby, Stills and Nash, Roger Daltry and The Pogues. Anzac Day: A national public holiday (25 April) to honour the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, in particular those who fought at Gallipoli in WWI. Mindil Beach Markets (Darwin): A must-do in Darwin during the dry season (April 26 to October 25). Every Thursday and Sunday watch the sun set into the ocean while having a good feed and picking up some souvenirs.
May Mardi Grass (Nimbin, NSW): The Southern Hemisphere’s largest Cannabis Law Reform festival (5-6 May). National Rugby League State of Origin: Watch the Queensland Maroons and the New South Wales Blues go head-to-head in one of Australia’s biggest rivalries (Brisbane, May 23; Sydney, June 13; Brisbane, July 4).
June Queen’s Birthday: A national public holiday held on the second Monday in June (later in the year in WA). Alpine Winter Festival: Central Sydney and then Bondi Beach is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with an outdoor ice rink.
July Melbourne International Film Festival: Australia’s largest and most prestigious film festival. Camel Cup (Alice Springs, NT): The biggest race in the Aussie camel-racing calendar (14 July). Beer Can Regatta (Darwin): Boats made of beer cans trying not to sink (15 July). Yulefest (Blue Mountains, NSW): Celebrate a traditional Northern Hemipshere Crimbo in the middle of Aussie winter.
August Mt Isa Rodeo (Mt Isa, QLD): Three days of outback
rodeo fun (10-12 August). Henly-on-Todd (Alice Springs): The world’s original waterless regatta held in the dry riverbed of the Todd River (20 August). Birdsville Races: Thousands descend on this tiny Queensland outback town for some dusty horse races. (31 Aug – 1 Sep).
September Football grand finals: The Aussie rules football and rugby league grand finals. These events are the equivalent of the FA Cup final. Deniliquin Ute Muster: Parade of classic utes combined with a music festival and loads of entertainment (28-29 September). Brisbane Festival: Three weeks of performances and events, starting with the dramatic Riverfire fireworks extravanganza (3-24 September).
October Melbourne Festival: Showcases some of the finest international arts (10-27 October). Sydney Adventure Travel and Backpackers Expo: Get travel deals and advice from the experts (10-11 November).
November Melbourne Cup: Annual horse race that famously “stops the nation” – it’s even a public holiday in Victoria. Betting, getting dressed up and partying galore (6 November). Moonlight Cinema: Outdoor cinema in the parklands until March (Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney). There is also a season in Port Douglas throughout July. Gold Coast Sevens: Catch two days of rugby action at the Australian stint of the nine-leg IRB Sevens World Series.
December Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race (Boxing Day): Jump on a ferry to watch the spectacular start. Homebake (Sydney): Annual rock music festival of the best homegrown talent. Boxing Day Test (Melbourne): Traditional cricket and beer fest at Melbourne Cricket Ground. Christmas and New Year: Places like Bondi Beach and Fremantle ‘go off’ on NYE. Shore Thing (Bondi Beach, NSW): International acts are common at this NYE festival on Australia’s most famous beach. Falls Festival: One of Australia’s best multi-day festivals where you camp out and rock out (Marion Bay, TAS and Lorne, VIC). ❚ TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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New South Wales NEW SOUTH WALES IS HOME TO ONE OF THE WORLD’S GREATEST CITIES, BUT THERE’S SO MUCH MORE TO THE STATE THAN JUST SYDNEY...
Photo: Tourism Australia/Robert Wallace
Sydney Harbour: also available in other colours
First things first... New South Wales is where the majority of Australia’s population lives, and for good reason. Not only is it home to Sydney, but also mountains, wine country, a beautiful coastline and even the outback. A popular place to settle for a bit and find work, you could easily while away your time in Australia here without ever crossing a state border (though that’d be a shame) and never get bored.
Sydney It’s pretty likely that Sydney already features on your Australian itinerary – and for good reason. Sydney is a city boasting fantastic weather, beautiful beaches and a bustling entertainment scene. Anyone who has flown into Sydney on a bright, sunny day will tell you it’s a sight quite unrivalled – the sheer cliffs of the Heads, the sparkling harbour, plus the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. It’s a living postcard and, aside from a snog from Kylie or Hugh on the airport tarmac, it’s the best welcome to the land Down Under. 22
Arriving in Sydney Visitors flying into Sydney’s International Airport will find themselves not too far from the heart of the city, with numerous ways to get there. It only takes 15 minutes via the Airport Link train into the city, which connects with Sydney’s CityRail train network. The train isn’t too cheap, however, and if there’s a few of you it might be cheaper to get a cab. The airport information desk, on the ground floor of the International Terminal, is a good place to get advice and book accommodation.
Getting around Sydney Public transport in Sydney is pretty good, and travelling by train and bus gets you wherever you want to go. Locals commute to the CBD from the north by harbour ferry – possibly the prettiest way to get to work. Visit 131500.com.au for all bus, ferry and rail info. There are a number of public transport ticket deals to help you save money so ask at the local CityRail station. CountryLink (countrylink.info) gets you around NSW on its rail and coach network.
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Sydney accommodation There are loads of hostels in Sydney, so whether you want to stay in the centre of town, by the beach in Bondi, Manly or Coogee, beside the boozer in Kings Cross, close to the cafés in Glebe, Surry Hills or Newtown, or in Central – close to all the action and where there are most backpacker beds – you’re sure to find a hostel that suits your needs. Dorm rooms usually range from about $25-$40 per person, per night, depending on season. If you’re planning to stick around, you’ll probably prefer share or rental accommodation. You can find classified ads for long-term stays in the local papers, while websites like sydney.gumtree.com. au also have plenty of options. The Sydney Morning Herald has a real estate section with rental and share accommodation listings on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and at domain.com.au. The Daily Telegraph runs classifieds every day (realestate.com.au).
Around town Darling Harbour: One of Sydney’s top tourist attractions, offering shopping and eating facilities, parkland, and a boat-filled bay. Site of superclub Home, the world’s biggest IMAX cinema screen and restaurant-bar-crammed Cockle Bay Wharf, it’s the golden child of Sydney’s after-dark scene. Easy access by ferry, monorail, bus or foot. Check out darlingharbour.com Royal Botanic Gardens: Situated between the Opera House and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. Walking through the gardens is a good introduction to Australia’s natural beauty and gives a great view of the harbour. Details at rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au Sydney Harbour Bridge: This world-famous Sydney landmark (sometimes known as “The Coathanger”) gives a spectacular view of the city. Head to the top of the southern pylon or walk across to Milson’s Point. You can also do the BridgeClimb, complete with full-body boilersuit, for top views of the city. Sydney Opera House: It’s as impressive in the flesh as on any postcard. Home not only to opera, theatre and dance, but numerous cafés and bars. Free and paid-for concerts are also regularly held on the forecourt throughout summer. For more information check out sydneyoperahouse.com Sydney Tower: One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of Sydney is from the observation deck of one of the tallest buildings in the Southern Hemisphere (304m). Sydney Aquarium: Fantastic aquarium with over 11,000 aquatic animals in its care. Check out the crocs, seals and sharks in the oceanariums. Sydney Wildlife World: Home to more varieties
WORD FROM THE STREET
Becca Ratcliffe, England FAVOURITE NSW DAY SPOT? “It has to be the Bronte to Bondi coastal walk in Sydney. It feels like you are on holiday even though you are in a big city. The rocks there are amazing and I could just sit on them all day watching the surfers in the water – it truly is an iconic Australia sight.“ FAVOURITE NSW NIGHT SPOT? “Definitely Oxford Street in Sydney – I love the variety of people you see going out and the energy of the area. Something is always happening and it feels very alive.”
of native Australian plants and animals than anywhere else. Taronga Zoo: Arguably has the best views of any zoo in the world and it’s home to 2,000 different types of animals. The Rocks: This is the oldest bit of Sydney and it has been beautifully restored to incorporate many shops, markets, restaurants and great pubs. Check for more info at therocks.com Watsons Bay: Hang out with Sydney’s posh people and taste some scrumptious seafood at the famous restaurant, Doyles. Or just have fish and chips on the beach.
Sydney beaches There are more than 30 ocean beaches to choose from in the Sydney metropolitan area, with the two most famous being Bondi, in the eastern suburbs, and Manly in the north. Many tourists head for the relative glamour of Bondi. The wide range of restaurants along Bondi’s Esplanade will also deal with any hungry punters. TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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the corner from the George Street cinemas (cheap tix on Tuesdays). There’s a small but superb selection of Spanish restaurants here. Shopping in town isn’t cheap, but if you must, head for the stately Queen Victoria Building on George Street, the pedestrianised Pitt Street Mall with its sparkling Westfield shopping centre, the absolutely massive Westfield at Bondi Junction, the shop-lined Oxford Street or Paddy’s Markets near Chinatown for all the usual flea market stalls.
Inner West suburbs Glebe and Newtown, two of Sydney’s most interesting suburbs, are the hub of the inner West. Newtown is where the alternative meets the urban. It used to be Greek, now it’s everything. It has many pubs that have scarily liberal opening hours. Glebe is very cool with something of a ‘crusty’ edge – think organic cafés and feminist bookshops. It’s also a backpacker centre, with lots of cheap eats and plenty of cafés and pubs. It also boasts the grungier, more alternative of the markets in town (Saturdays in the schoolyard on Glebe Point Road).
Many travellers also make their Sydney home at Coogee, a more laidback, smaller beach. The beach boasts ocean pools at both ends for those not game to face the surf. Other eastern beaches include Bronte, Tamarama, Clovelly and Maroubra and they can all be taken in on the coastline walk from Bondi. City suburbs For one of the best views of the harbour, hop It’s said some things happen to you when you’re on a ferry to Manly, where you’ll find more sand, ready for them. Well, get ready, ‘cos in Oxford Street sun and surf. The beautiful peninsula is surrounded and Kings Cross things happen pretty fast. Twentyon three sides by the sparkling ocean and Sydney four hours a day, seven days a week, Harbour. Manly has 18 beaches – some for surfing, these areas are an eternal Saturday night. some for swimming and snorkelling – dive sites, Oxford Street is the gay nexus of Sydney. enticing hidden coves and inlets, pretty “The Cross” is Sydney’s most famous national parks, Aboriginal sites and red-light zone, but has much more even penguins. Manly is also home to offer travellers with a variety of to an oceanarium where, if you’re If you’re planning on spending Christmas eateries pubs and clubs. The city feeling brave, you can don your and New Year’s Eve centre and northern Sydney also scuba gear and jump in the tank in Sydney, make sure offer a range of pubs and clubs. with the nurse sharks. you book your hostel The northern suburbs are where Sydney scene well in advance as Sydney’s affluent people hang out, beds go quick Sydney has a live theatre scene with more than 20 beaches dotted and a bustling nightlife wherever you along the coast up to Palm Beach, may go. For shows and events, pick-up where famous Aussie soap opera a free copy of TNT Magazine, Drum Media (for live Home and Away is filmed. bands), The Brag and 3D World (for clubbing and Sydney CBD dance) from pubs, hostels, cafés etc. The daily papers, George Street runs through the heart of the CBD The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily (central business district). The Central Station end has Telegraph are also a good source of information. had a facelift and effectively become the travellers’ Lesbians on the Loose and the Sydney Star Observer quarter, with swanky hostels, cool cafés, big boozy offer news, info and entertainment for Sydney’s large pubs and an internet café on every corner. Pitt Street, gay and lesbian community. running parallel to George, is also home to many a Country Capital budget hostel. One of the oldest established areas in the Chinatown on Dixon Street has cheap eats galore. country, the Country Capital region combines the The Spanish Quarter on Liverpool Street is around
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Photo: Let’s Go Surfing/Mikala Wilbow
The NSW coastline is the ideal playground for learning to surf
vitality and energy of its cities with the tranquillity of an established rural landscape. Close to Sydney and wrapped around Canberra, it is set in one of Australia’s most handsome landscapes – a fascinating mix of heritage towns and villages, stunning country gardens and beautiful waterways.
Illawarra At the heart of the Illawarra regions lies Wollongong, the state’s third-largest city, which has reinvented itself in recent years as a great weekend escape. The Illawarra as a whole is made for outdoor adventures. The small coastal villages around Wollongong boast excellent surfing beaches, and Lake Illawarra offers a choice of sailing, waterskiing, canoeing and fishing.
New England Also referred to as ‘Big Sky Country’ because the stars seem to touch the earth, the New England north-west region is Australia’s big outdoors. Off the beaten track for most tourists, it’s a chance to take the road less travelled and enjoy great country hospitality. With cool summers in the tablelands, the glorious colours of autumn, romantic fireside dinners in winter or the clear, fresh air in spring, you won’t be disappointed. There are national parks and wide 26
stretches of farmland to explore, along with excellent fishing opportunities throughout the region.
Northern Rivers & Byron Bay As far as tourism icons go in this country, Byron Bay wouldn’t rate too far behind the big three – the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru. The eastern-most point of mainland Australia, Byron has long been the source of fascination for locals and tourists alike. Beautiful beaches, great climate and a fertile hinterland make this the ideal travelling destination. Make sure you also head inland to discover subtropical beauty, glorious natural features and lovely little towns like Bangalow, Federal, Murrumbidgee and, of course, the hippie capital of Nimbin.
Outback & Broken Hill Harsh but surprisingly fragile, the rugged natural beauty of outback NSW has been appreciated by the region’s Aboriginal inhabitants for millennia. Broken Hill was founded in 1883 and was nicknamed Silvertown as it had the largest lead, silver and zinc deposits in the world at the time. Of course, a lot of the mining has moved on after clearing the land for all it’s worth, but the captivating post-apocalyptic feel of the landscape explains why the area was used
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Bondi Beach Backpackers Accommodation www.noahsbondibeach.com 1800 226 662
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Photo: Tourism NSW/Don Fuchs
Lose the crowds and explore the remote Mungo National Park
for much of the filming of Mad Max 2 and why the crew are expected to return for the long-awaited fourth installment. Aboriginal artworks, some 30,000 years old, can be found at sites in Mutawintji National Park. At Mungo National Park, the remains of Mungo Man and Mungo Woman date back 40,000 years, making it the world’s oldest known ceremonial burial.
Blue Mountains Situated about a 90-minute drive west from Sydney, the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains are a favourite escape for Sydneysiders, with the main gateway town being Katoomba. Once you’ve experienced the spectacular bluehazed beauty, dramatic cliffs and deep canyons of the Blue Mountains, you’ll come away refreshed and invigorated. While bushwalking in this wilderness area is a favourite pastime, the region is also famous for its full range of accommodation, fine food and wines, arts and crafts, and, of course, welcoming 28
pubs. A string of townships form a vibrant cultural community where artists, musicians and writers flourish. It’s also become the place to go for a Northern Hemisphere-style festive season, by celebrating a mid-winter Christmas in July.
Central Coast Fancy getting away from it all for a relaxing mix of rural and beachside lifestyle? The Central Coast could be the answer. The gateway to The Hunter region and its beautiful wineries, and located just over an hour north of Sydney, the Central Coast is popular on the tourist front, both domestic and international. The area’s main hub is Newcastle, a one-time industrial powerhouse that has transformed into a laidback and sophisticated surf hotspot that boasts more artists per capita than anywhere else in Oz. To the surprise of many, not least the unassuming locals themselves, Lonely Planet even named Newcastle as one of the world’s top 10 cities to visit last year, in their Best in Travel book.
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Central NSW An agriculturally rich region, Central New South Wales boasts many attractive and interesting towns well worth exploring. From Sydney, Bathurst is the gateway to the region, and from there you can turn north-west through Orange and Dubbo (with the brilliant Dubbo Zoo) or south-west through Cowra and West Wyalong. The region’s history can be read in its architecture, from humble slab huts to the lavish hotels and mansions built during gold and farming booms. Strung along every highway and road, exploring these townships makes for a perfect driving holiday. The region has several national parks featuring pristine wilderness, spectacular geological formations, river systems, wetlands, caves, ancient rock art and wildlife of all descriptions.
Murray Region The mighty Murray River, lined with 600-yearold river gums, ‘drowned’ trees, paddle-steamers and houseboats, forms the border between NSW and Victoria. From the citrus fruitbowl of Mildura, nestled amongst the borders of not only Victoria and NSW, but also South Australia in the top western corner of Victoria, all the way down to the twin cities of Albury-Wodonga, which actually straddle the Murray, this region is largely agricultural and a wonderful view of the “real Australia”.
WORD FROM THE STREET
Brooke Gilliland, USA FAVOURITE NSW DAY SPOT? “Any of the northern beaches in Sydney are really nice, and they’re much quieter than the eastern beaches. My personal fave is Freshwater Beach near Manly. Also pretty perfect is an afternoon in the Botanical Gardens behind the Opera House.“ FAVOURITE NSW NIGHT SPOT? “I’ve got the best memories from the outdoor deck at The Brewery in Newcastle, on the Central Coast. The live music is really relaxing as you look out over the water.”
North Coast The North Coast of NSW includes some of the state’s most picturesque seaside towns, including Coffs Harbour, Grafton, Port Macquarie and Forster. From mountain ranges to expansive beaches, the region offers the perfect 365-day outdoor holiday location. If you fancy something more energetic, try bushwalking, mountain biking, horse riding or golf. At the coast’s southern tip, making it a popular Sydney getaway, is Port Stephens, actually a string of coastal towns along a large natural harbour. It’s a good place to get out on the water and go whale watching or swimming with dolphins, otherwise you can head inland to quad bike over dramatic sand dunes.
Riverina From some of the nation’s best food and wine, to the widest, most breathtaking horizons filled with wonderment, the Riverina is just waiting for you to discover it. With national parks, picnic grounds, unique wildlife, heritage buildings, festivals, art galleries, historic trains and planes, walking trails,
country music, haunted houses, botanical gardens, agricultural shows, museums, farmer’s markets, rivers and ancient Aboriginal culture, tourists are spoiled for choice.
Snowy Mountains If it’s adventure activities you’re after, from winter sports to cycling, caving, rafting, kayaking, horse riding and bracing mountain walks, the Snowy Mountains will suit you down to the ground. Australia’s highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko, looks down on sub-alpine snowgum woodlands and tall forests of alpine ash and mountain gum. In winter you can go night skiing, downhill or cross-country skiing, snowboarding or tobogganing. In summer the ‘Snowies’ are perfect for a touring holiday. Take in historic country towns, mountain flowers, grazing wallabies and grand scenery.
South Coast The Illawarra region, just a short drive south of Wollongong, features some of the most unspoilt TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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Photo: Tourism NSW/Richard Whitbread
Nimbin’s Mardi Grass might leave you feeling a bit green...
natural beauty of the southern coastline of New South Wales. Marine mammals, including pods of dolphins and migratory whales, take pride of place as they cruise past secluded white-sand beaches, and Australian fur seals thrive on Montague Island. There are two marine parks here – at Jervis Bay and Batemans Bay. The former is something of a treasure, which attracts Syndeysiders on long weekends. People come to camp amongst surprisingly friendly kangaroos, walk barefoot on the squeaky-white sands and watch whales glide by. Pebbly Beach is another spot, further down the coast, worth calling in at, if only for those classic “roo on the beach” photos.
Hunter Valley First and foremost the Hunter Valley is a wine region with more than 120 wineries and cellar doors from the areas of Pokolbin and Rothbury, to the heights of sunny Mountview and the beautiful Wollombi Valley. The region is well-known for its Semillon, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Verdelho wines, so pretty much any taste buds are likely to leave satisfied. Drive yourself or take one of the many guided tours on offer with transport ranging from mini bus, to chauffeured Pontiacs and limousines, horse drawn carriages and mountain bikes. ❚
Sydney in summer With outdoor festivals, sunny beer gardens, the beach and the harbour, Sydney really is the best summer city in the world. Harbour sights 30
Jump on a ferry to Manly or Watsons Bay to get million dollar views for just over a fiver. Rocky road Take the cliff-top walk from Bondi to Coogee, two of Sydney’s most iconic beaches. High times Chill out on the north coast. Byron Bay is famously laidback while Nimbin hosts a Mardi Grass festival. Escape to the mountains The Blue Mountains have stunning canyons and hilltop towns.
Saddle up Head to ‘cowboy country’ to learn how to ride, shear a sheep and wear a silly hat. Mad Max territory In the same state as the harbour city you’ll find the outback-tastic Broken Hill, where the Road Warrior once called home. Enjoy the wet stuff Whether it’s sea-kayaking in Byron, swimming with dolphins in Port Stephens or surfing in Sydney, you’ve just got to get wet.
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Aus. Capital Territory
Photo: Tourism Australia
SURROUNDED BY BUSHLAND, PURPOSE-BUILT CANBERRA IS BOTH THE NATION’S POLITICAL CENTRE AND A CULTURAL HEARTLAND
Canberra’s Old Parliament House
First things first... The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), dominated by the modern city of Canberra, is much more than just the national capital. For starters, it looks a whole lot different. Canberra was planned from the start, as evidenced by the circles, triangles and green spaces. Apart from the grandiose buildings of state, most of the ACT is national park and forest, with an abundance of bushwalks. Visit visitcanberra.com.au for more info.
Only a short flight from Sydney or Melbourne. By car, Canberra is about a three-and-a-half hour drive from Sydney. You can also get to Canberra by coach or train. The main coach terminal is in the Jolimont Centre in the city. For timetables, go to action.act.gov.au. Canberra is also ideal for cycling around as it’s quite flat.
culture and, of course, politics. Plus, many of its main tourist attractions are free. Parliament House forms the symbolic and geographical heart. Just down the road is Old Parliament House, now a museum with the Aboriginal Tent Embassy out the front. The best of the rest are the National Gallery of Australia, home to Sidney Nolan’s iconic Ned Kelly paintings, the incredible and vast Australian War Memorial, the National Museum of Australia, the National Zoo & Aquarium and Questacon (National Science & Technology Centre). Space enthusiasts should gape in awe at the giant satellite dishes at Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. Sports fans will enjoy being given a tour of the Australian Institute of Sport by one of their elite athletes, while bushwalkers have no chance of getting bored, thanks to Namadgi National Park covering about 40 per cent of the ACT.
Out on the town
There are plenty of good quality, reasonably priced hostels in central Canberra. Places to look for any kind of long-term accommodation are The Canberra Times (canberratimes.com.au) on Saturday, online at domain.com.au or university noticeboards.
Believe it or not, the national capital does have a somewhat lively nightlife, mainly thanks to the city’s student population. Civic is the main den of after-dark entertainment, while Dickson is Canberra’s version of Chinatown, offering cheap eateries and taverns. Canberra’s other nocturnal party nexus is Kingston, but there are many other great watering holes around town, so keep an eye on the local street press. ❚
Getting to & around Canberra
Things to do As the epicentre of the federal state, Canberra is the hub for much of Australia’s most important art,
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Queensland THE REEF, AMAZING BEACHES, NEVER-ENDING PARTIES, ADRENALIN THRILLS, THE OUTBACK, RAINFOREST AND TROPICAL ISLANDS... QLD IS A TRAVELLER’S PLAYGROUND
Photo: Tourism Queensland/Darren Jew
Making friends off Lady Elliot Island
First things first... From the Great Barrier Reef – one of the seven wonders of the world – to the glitz of the Gold Coast and everything in between, there are many breathtaking sights in Queensland. The Sunshine State has a population of 4.5 million, with 2 million living in Brisbane, the state capital.
Brisbane Queensland’s capital has all the trappings of a big city, plus the laidback style which epitomises this state. It’s the third-biggest city in the country, but a million miles away from Sydney and Melbourne in lifestyle. Built along the Brisbane River, it’s a clean, attractive city, and is worth staying to explore for a few days. It’s also a great base for touring south-east Queensland. The holiday centres of the Gold Coast (80km south) and the Sunshine Coast (100km north) are accessible by bus or train.
Arriving in Brisbane Brisbane’s international airport is only about 32
30 minutes from the city centre, so a cab isn’t too pricey. You can also catch the Airtrain, which runs every 30 minutes, or a shuttle bus.
Getting around Brisbane The Brisbane Transit Centre on Roma Street has a helpful Backpackers Information Desk, which will provide you with information on transport and accommodation, If you’ve booked a hostel, call ahead as they may pick you up for free.
Things to do More detailed information can be obtained from the Brisbane Visitors Information booth in the Queen Street Mall. Abseiling: Take a leap of faith off Kangaroo Point on the south bank of the Brisbane River. As you make your way down the cliffs, make sure you pause to take in the great view of the city behind you. Castlemaine XXXX Brewery Tour: You’ve drunk the beer, now see with your own eyes just how XXXX is made. If you’re nice they might even let you try some
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of the amber nectar at the end. Woo hoo! Queensland Cultural Centre: It has been suggested that Queensland is a little short on culture, but an afternoon in here will set you straight. Fortitude Valley markets: Open every Satuday and Sunday in Brunswick Street Mall is the Valley Markets, hosting talented young clothing and jewellery designers as well as racks full of stylish second-hand wares. Live music will help you fossick through the second-hand book and CD stalls. South Bank: On the river, South Bank hosts a few pubs, restaurants and cinemas just a footbridge away from the city. Jump in the man-made lagoon nearby to cool down. Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary: The oldest and one of the best wildlife sanctuaries in Australia is just 11km south-west of the city and has more than 100 koalas and other native animals. Take a bus or river cruise to get over there. Mt Coot-tha Park: Great for a stroll in the botanic gardens, Mt Coot-tha also has a lookout with stunning views to Moreton and Stradbroke Islands and mountain ranges to the north and south.
Out on the town The free inner-city weekly newspaper, Time Off, publishes a â€œWhatâ€™s Onâ€? guide, as does Saturdayâ€™s Courier Mail. Rave Magazine has details on the alternative live music scene. Brisbane isnâ€™t as big a party place as the Gold Coast but there is plenty to do and plenty of places to drink, dance and eat out. Fortitude Valley is where youâ€™ll find most of the good pubs and bars to mix with the friendly locals. The Valley is also the hub of Brisbaneâ€™s enviable live music scene.
East of the city, Moreton Island is a large sand island and great for the wilderness lover. A bit like Fraser Island, except without the crowds, itâ€™s a great place for 4WDing down the beach and giving sandboarding a go. You can even feed the friendly dolphins. Once on the island and among the lakes, beaches and wildlife, itâ€™s hard to imagine the city is only a couple of hours away. South of Moreton, North Stradbroke Island is more populated and developed. It has many great beaches and bays, providing opportunities for canoeing, diving, whale watching and some of the best surfing in the state. There are camping sites as well as backpacker hostels on the island. Just below â€˜Straddieâ€™ is the virtually deserted South Stradbroke Island. The southern end has a great surfbreak and is accessible from Southport, on the Gold Coast.
FRASER ISLAND Fraser Explorer Tours Join us for a fun ﬁlled adventure to discover all the major beauty spots of World Heritage Fraser Island. Tours depart Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach daily and are all inclusive.
Fun and adventure on Fraser for 18-35s. 2 & 3 day all inclusive guided tours ex Hervey Bay and Brisbane from $135*pp per day.
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F r FreaekainkAinwAewsoem soemOeZO! Z! The Whitsunday Islands, one of the world’s most spectacular aquatic playgrounds lie just off the coast of Queensland, Australia GREAT BARRIER REEF ADVENTURES DAY CRUISE
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The Great Barrier Reef is truly one of the great wonders of the natural world. Queensland’s most innovative reef pontoon features a giant waterslide and underwater viewing chamber. Explore the reef, diving, snorkelling, semi-sub or glass bottom boat rides. Includes an all you can eat buffet lunch.
WHITEHAVEN SAILING ADVENTURE Swimming, snorkelling, beautiful beaches and bays, a ‘stuffyourself-stupid’ BBQ lunch with unlimited drinks, sailing aboard one of the world’s fastest sailing catamarans.
WHITSUNDAY EXPLORER 4 DAY / 3 NIGHT PACKAGE Experience one of the best Great Barrier Reef sites, relax in Airlie Beach, sail out to famous Whitehaven Beach. Relax & enjoy 3 nights of sunsets on the tropical paradise that is Long Island... awesome! Great packages from 3 to 6 days also available.
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North of the city, along Steve Irwin Highway in Beerwah, is the Crocodile Hunter’s very own Australia Zoo. Make sure you catch a show at the Crocoseum.
Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise) Queensland’s southern-most coastline, the Gold Coast, is like the Miami of Australia. The area is a tourist haven but is very backpacker-friendly, and enjoys a subtropical climate that attracts travellers all year round. The Gold Coast is a 42km uninterrupted string of beaches from Coolangatta in the south (which has an airport) to Southport in the north. The surf at Kirra Beach and Burleigh Heads is legendary and many top surfing carnivals are held there. It’s also a great place to learn to surf. The increasingly-popular area also offers skydiving, scuba diving, fishing, whale watching and golf. Currumbin is another gem, with the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary being the main attraction. The most famous and busiest of the Gold Coast beaches is Surfers Paradise, where there’s always something going on, from volleyball to craft markets. Considered the centre of the Gold Coast,
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travellers flock to Surfers for the activities, shopping, restaurants and pumping nightlife. The area has a reputation for being Australia’s party capital and as the sun rises the party-goers can usually be seen making their way home after a wild night out. The area hosts a variety of events. One of the biggest is October’s V8 races, when racing cars screech through the streets, Monaco-style. The Gold Coast offers a range of good hostels, cheap eats and an almost endless menu of activities. Check out visitgoldcoast.com for Gold Coast Tourism.
Things to do Bicycle tours: Enjoy a relaxed and different way of seeing the sights around town. SuperBank: This sandbank stretching across three beaches, from Rainbow Bay to Kirra, is a surfers‘ playground. Have a go or just watch the locals. Dream World: Try out their thrill-seeking rides and get up close to Aussie animals. Gold Coast Arts Centre: Culture vultures should head for the banks of the Nerang River for classical music, theatre and ballet. Lamington National Park: Rainforest area with
mountains, gorges, waterfalls, wildlife and 260km of walking trails. A great daytrip by car, or you can camp overnight in the park. Learn to surf: Coolangatta has a great surf break, making it an inviting spot to learn to surf. At some point while you’re in Oz, you’ve just got to take to the waves. Movie World: Hollywood comes to the Gold Coast at this Warner Brothers extravaganza. Start your screaming – there are loads of rollercoasters. Sea World: The grandaddy of Australia’s theme parks and one of the best. It has great rides, dolphin and sea-lion shows and water-skiing displays – you can even snorkel with sharks at Shark Bay. Wet ’n’ Wild Water Park: At Oxenford, this splashhappy spot has a permanent one-metre swell in the giant pool plus thrills and spills on the many other slides and pools. There’s even dive-in movies.
Out on the town There are more clubs, pubs, eateries, karaoke nights, theme nights, parties and fun activities along the Gold Coast than you can shake a stick at. From treasure hunts during the day to glitzy, cheesy
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Photo: Tourism Queensland/Alan Jensen
There’s no shortage of worldbeating beaches in Queensland
nightclubs going on till the early hours, there’s no end of choice when it comes to having a big night out. The place to head in Surfers is Orchid Avenue, the main strip with all the bars, clubs and restaurants. After a few beers you could be in any place in the world – the dancing backpackers and cheap beer all blur into one – but you’re guaranteed to have a great time.
Sunshine Coast A beautiful area north of Brisbane with yet more wonderful beaches and spectacular hinterland is the Sunshine Coast. Although not as developed as the Gold Coast, Noosa, Maroochydore and Caloundra are still thriving holiday resorts. The Sunshine Coast offers a unique mix of tourism and adventure pursuits with a lifestyle that is so laidback you may have to give the locals a nudge just to check they’re still breathing. That’s when they’re not plunging into the waves: it’s also one of the last really good surfing locations on the Queensland coast as you head north. Finding a hostel shouldn’t be a problem, but be careful during peak periods – it can get very busy. Heading north from Brisbane, the Glasshouse Mountains’ dramatic peaks welcome you to the Sunshine Coast. Bizarre yet striking, these strangelyshaped rocks jut out from the lush forests. At the southern end of the coast, Caloundra used to be the biggest tourist resort in the area, but these days it has been overtaken by Noosa and Maroochydore. It’s still a good place to take cruises 40
to Bribie Island and see the Queensland Air Museum at Caloundra Aerodrome – it’s also one of the top places to skydive and land on the beach. Maroochydore is one of the main resort towns, also comprising Mooloolaba and Alexandra Headland. These towns each have great beaches, with Mooloolaba and Maroochydore offering the best nightlife and restaurants. A fashionable resort with some very expensive areas, Noosa attracts most visitors to the Sunshine Coast, yet still maintains plenty of charm. The easy breaking waves in crystal clear waters are perfect for learning to surf. Set around a spectacular cape, the Noosa National Park has some great walks and scenery. From beachfront Hastings Street, take the boardwalk and don’t forget to look up as there’s a good chance you’ll spot a koala. With a lot of cool (but pricey) eateries, Hastings Street is the place to go in the evening. If the coast is too hot for you, head inland to pretty Mary Valley and rent a kayak and paddle along secluded rivers. Or rent a mountain bike and cycle through the cool forests.
Fraser Coast The Fraser Coast region encompasses the areas of Fraser Island, Rainbow Beach, Hervey Bay, Maryborough, Tiaro and the Great Sandy Strait. The mild year-round climate means visitors can enjoy a subtropical haven. The diverse Fraser Coast region provides the opportunities for whale and bird watching, 4WD, fishing, retail therapy and a variety
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WORD FROM THE STREET
Alix Klaus, Switzerland FAVOURITE QLD DAY SPOT? “Fraser Island. The weather was perfect, my group was very good, plus the scenery and the 4WD were amazing.“ FAVOURITE QLD NIGHT SPOT? “Surfers Paradise. It’s amazing to go out there. It’s good because it’s not a massive town but it’s a big town for partying. Plus I was with a lot of Irish people!” ANYWHERE YOU’D REVISIT? “The Whitsundays. It was my first time diving so I think I’d enjoy it even more if I went back with more scuba experience.”
of adventure activities. World Heritage-listed Fraser Island has some of the most spectacular scenery in the entire country. Home to endless white sandy beaches, pristine rainforest, freshwater lakes, bubbling streams and mosaic-coloured sands, Fraser is the world’s largest sand island and is a must see for anyone travelling the east coast. There aren’t too many places in the world like this, so move heaven and earth to get there. Luckily, you don’t have to. From Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach you can book one, two or three-day tours with any number of operators, or you can do it yourself, and hire your own 4WD with a few mates. We strongly recommend going for three days as any shorter trip will mean having to skip some of the sights, and this is one place you really don’t want to miss anything. You will need a national parks permit and you need to adhere to the regulations on the island – take only pictures, leave only footprints. Be especially careful when driving on the sand dunes – Fraser is 42
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the only place in the world to have a beach which is also a national highway and airstrip – and be wary of the dingoes (native dogs). They are not afraid to steal food and have attacked people in the past. Some of the highlights include beautiful Rainbow Gorge, the cobalt blue waters of Lake MacKenzie, Lake Wabby and the amazing walk along the sand dunes to get there, Cathedral sandcliffs and the Maheno shipwreck. Indian Head at the north of the eastern beach has a lookout to spot sharks, rays, whales and other sea life. Champagne Pools are just a short walk away and great for a salty bathe. As the closest access point to Fraser Island, Rainbow Beach is popular with independent travellers, but this laidback seaside town has plenty of attractions in its own right. There are spectacular coloured sand cliffs – which gave the town its name – freshwater lakes, rainforests and a shipwreck to explore. Local adventure activities include skydiving, parasailing, hang-gliding, canoeing and surfing. Nearby Tin Can Bay is a great place to do a spot of dolphin-watching. Also nearby is the Cooloola National Park, which stretches more than 50km down from Rainbow Beach. It is a wilderness area with mangrove swamps, lakes, and heaths with an abundance of native animals. Hervey Bay is a hub for travellers, and the place most people stop before heading over to Fraser Island. It also draws tourists for its own merits, being home to excellent sailing, diving, snorkelling, skydiving and jet skiing. You can even book a scenic flight to take you over Fraser for a fantastic aerial view. However, Hervey Bay is most famous for its whale watching. Between July and November, humpback whales are on their annual migration from Antarctica to the warmer seas of eastern Australia and back again. Many operators run boats out to see the massive mammals in their own habitat. It’s truly a privilege, especially when the whales breach. If you’re really lucky you might also catch sight of the dolphins, turtles and dugongs who hang out in the bay. West from Hervey Bay are Queensland’s Central Highlands – rugged sandstone cliffs and fern-filled gorges set amid arid Outback cattle country. A series of spectacular national parks offer great bushwalking and lots of wildlife.
Bundaberg Famous for its rum (an Aussie institution), Bundaberg offers harvest work prospects, pleasant beaches and nearby national parks. See turtles nest
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from November to February and whales pass through between August and October. Bundaberg is also a major departure point for both Lady Elliot and Lady Musgrave Islands, which are both near the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef and boast some of the best opportunities Down Under for snorkelling or diving with turtles and manta rays.
Gorge is 30km long with 250m-high cliffs and fern-filled side canyons, including the awesome amphitheatre, only accessible by a high, steel ladder. Wildlife is abundant at the campsite, where kangaroos graze by your tent. The nearby creek is home to a dozen platypus that can be viewed late each afternoon. The gorge also has two of the most extensive Aboriginal rock art sites in Oz.
Great Barrier Reef The stretch of land that covers the central Undoubtedly one of the world’s top travel Queensland coast is known as the Capricorn region, destinations, the Great Barrier Reef is a living for its position across the Tropic of Capricorn. phenomenon and as iconically Aussie as the Sydney A popular destination for travellers for not only Opera House or Uluru. It stretches the fun but the funds, there’s loads of fruit-picking for more than 2,000km along the and harvest work here. From Childers to Bundaberg, Queensland coast – from Bundaberg Rockhampton, Yeppoon, Great Keppel to Cape York – and parts of it are Island and further afield, there more than 18 million years old. is plenty to do and see on the The ecosystem that allows the reef Tropic of Capricorn. Don’t rush! You to thrive is extremely fragile, and The first stop for many should spend a as a result, tourism is controlled. northbound travellers are twin minimum 3-4 weeks The reef was proclaimed a national settlements Agnes Water and Town of travelling from park in 1979 and a management 1770. The highest point you can surf Cairns to Sydney. programme tries to balance the on the coast, the area has stunning Ideally, of course, interests of scientists, tourists, beaches, crazy motorbike tours, much longer divers and fishing enthusiasts. and is another launchpad for Lady While there, take care to stick to Musgrave and Lady Elliot islands. the rules which allow this underwater About 40km from the coast, wonderland to survive. There are many tour Rockhampton is the largest city on the Tropic of operators offering boat or diving/snorkelling trips. Capricorn. The “Beef Capital of Australia”, Rocky is a great place to enjoy an Aussie steak. Drop by the Whitsunday Islands Great Western pub, watch a rodeo and holler with A spectacular chain of islands with the best some of the local cowboys. This area is also a great cruising grounds for all types of boats. All 74 place to do a farmstay, where you can learn how to islands in the Whitsundays are accessible from Airlie throw a lasso, crack a whip and muster cattle. Beach. Each of the islands is covered in sub-tropical From Yeppoon harbour take a boat over to rainforest and pine trees and surrounded by glorious, Great Keppel Island – a classic tropical island with sandy beaches and fringing coral reefs. crystal clear water, secluded beaches, watersports, The most popular thing to do is to jump on a boat reef snorkelling and nightlife. There is a Contiki from Airlie and explore the postcard-perfect area. resort on one part of the island, leaving plenty of You can do a daytrip, but the most popular traveller wilderness and 19 other stunning beaches to explore. option is a three-day, two-night cruise. If you’re prepared for a bit of a walk, you can find There are many different operators offering these one all to yourself. cruises so shop around and ask your hostel and other Yeppoon is a cosy town 45km east of travellers to find the one that suits you best. Rockhampton and is the stop-off point for the The mainland base for exploring the stunning surrounding islands. Beautiful beaches, laidback Whitsundays, Airlie Beach is backpacker heaven. atmosphere and well-priced adventure activities The main street is lined with pubs, shops, pubs, mean there’s plenty to keep you busy. There are restaurants, palm trees and pubs. It’s a party town many fishing and diving charters around the 32 with a massive range of activities. islands of Keppel Bay, so lots of tasty seafood. In cane-growing country halfway between You can feed kangaroos and see koalas at the Hervey Bay and Cairns, Airlie has excellent budget nearby Cooberrie Park. accommodation and the main street comes alive at Around 800km from Brisbane is one of night. If you can make it out of bed in the morning, Queensland’s finest national parks. Carnarvon
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there’s plenty to keep you busy – sailing, game fishing, learning to dive, bungy jumping, skydiving, land sailing, reef and island tours, and whalewatching (July-September). Although Airlie doesn’t exactly have a beach as such, you can cool down at the lagoon, a man-made pool which is free from stingers (jellyfish), complete with BBQs and gazebos – a great place to chill-out in the sun. There is also a wildlife park (featuring the original Croc Dundee), national parks and rainforest tours. Nearby Cedar Creek Falls has a beautiful freshwater swimming lagoon. The more popular Whitsunday islands include Brampton, Whitsunday, Lindeman, Hook, Hamilton, South Molle, Hayman, Long and Daydream. The most famous icon of the Whitsundays, however, is Whitehaven Beach, boasting stunningly white silica sand and endless photo opportunities. Just 30km further east is the Outer Great Barrier Reef with some of the best coral and marine life at places like Bait Reef Marine Park, Hardy Lagoon, and Hook, Line and Sinker Reefs. Hamilton is one of the most developed islands on the coast with a huge marina, shops and banks. Hook Island
W H I T S U N D AY S
is renowned for its breathtaking underwater observatory, which gives you a great view of the reef. The island is 90 minutes by boat from Shute Harbour. Mackay, just south of the Whitsundays, is the sugar-producing capital of Oz. There are some amazing animals in the surrounding area as a result of the sub-tropical rainforest being isolated for thousands of years, and you may even spot a platypus near the Broken River camping ground. Visit nearby Cape Hillsborough National Park, 40 minutes north, and you’ll most likely see kangaroos, wallabies, turtles and sugar gliders (those flying possums with a soft spot for honey).
Townsville & Magnetic Island Halfway up the Great Barrier Reef, Townsville is the largest city in Tropical Queensland. It’s surrounded by both rainforest and outback, being one of those rare places where the dusty interior meets the Coral Sea, and is known as the “sunshine capital of Australia”, because it hardly ever rains. Most travellers come here to pay a visit to Magnetic Island, a laidback tropical paradise just a swift ferry ride from town.
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Out in Townsville
Much of the nightlife is concentrated around riverside Flinders Street but there are also pleasant alfresco bars over the river at Palmer Street. If there’s a US ship in port you can be sure the town, which has a big military base, will be partying extra-hard. Don’t miss Reef HQ during the day – a living reef aquarium experience, the IMAX Dome Theatre and the modern, fun, interactive Museum of Tropical Queensland. Just out of town is the popular Billabong Wildlife Sanctuary, where you can feed kangaroos and get up-close to local animals like koalas and crocodiles.
Via Townsville you can visit outback Charters Towers and Ravenswood, historic towns from the gold mining era. Drive to Wallaman Falls (100km north of Townsville), Australia’s highest single-drop waterfall in thick mountain rainforest. Watch the water rush down a 300m gorge and into a large swimming hole. Townsville also has world-class diving, at the Outer Reef and Magnetic Island. The nearby Yongala wreck, 30m below the surface, is considered by many to be Australia’s best wreck dive. Other things to see include the massive Burdekin Dam, which has four times the water capacity of Sydney Harbour.
Magnetic Island Known fondly as ‘Maggie’, Magnetic Island has wild koalas, 5,000ha of national park, secluded and barely-accessible beaches, wreck diving, beachy nightlife, action adventure, great seafood and beach bumming galore. “Maggie” is also popular for its full moon parties, regarded by some as one of the east coast nightlife highlights. There’s a good choice of hostels here. Getting around the island is best done by renting a bike or in a Mini Moke.
Tropical north & Cairns The tropical region of northern Queensland is the place for budget, big-town partying in tropical Cairns, or if you prefer, rainforest magic at Cape Tribulation. But don’t neglect the coast along the way. Hinchinbrook Island is the second-largest national park island in the world – all 642km are protected. There are no roads, no shops, and no
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accommodation on the island. Just camping spots and beautiful creeks with fresh water. It has bushwalks, secluded beaches and mangrove everglades. The Thorsborne Trail stretches for 32km and is the main reason that many people, especially serious bushwalkers, visit Hinchinbrook. Between Townsville and Cairns, there are also several towns that are perfect for picking up harvest work. Tully, for example, is popular for fruit pickers and a great spot to try whitewater rafting. Mission Beach, where the rainforest meets the reef, is a special place with a real village feel. Once an Aboriginal mission and a hippie hang-out, it’s now home to budget accommodation. Enjoy 14km of secluded beaches and pretty rainforest areas. It’s also developed a reputation for its love of adrenalin. Mission is one of the best places to do a skydive, admiring the reef before landing on the sand, while the area is also good for less crowded dive sites and daytripping to the Tully rafting. Just off Mission Beach, Dunk Island is a must for daytrips or a few days camping. Famous for its sunsets, it’s home to 150 species of birds and the air is thick with fliterring butterflies. At the time of going
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to press, Dunk Island’s resort was sadly still closed due to suffering severe damage in last February’s Cyclone Yasi. However, the resort changed hands at the end of last year and will hopefully reopen in 2012. Innisfail offers plenty of harvest work. Most of the hostels in town help organise work, and some even sort out transportion to the farms. One of the most popular destinations in Australia, Cairns is well known as the backpackers’ party and adventure capital. Many travellers end up spending a fair bit of time here – diving, working, soaking up the beauty and taking advantage of the nightlife. Cairns’ tropical climate means it offers perfect swimming weather (apart from stinger season which runs between October and May), and while every hostel worth its salt has a pool, the town has also a very picturesque man-made lagoon. Want to jump out of a plane or go bungy jumping? No worries. Want to learn to dive on the world’s largest living reef system? Not a problem. Fancy meeting some of the world’s biggest crocodiles? It’s possible. Want a daytrip where you can spot tree-dwelling kangaroos, swim in waterfalls and take tea and scones by a volcanic crater lake?
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QLDGUIDE Cairns is that sort of town. Cairns is the gateway to some of Australia’s most spectacular natural wonders – The Great Barrier Reef, the Atherton Tablelands and the Daintree Rainforest.
Arriving in Cairns Cairns airport is only a 10-minute drive from the city centre. There’s a shuttle bus into town, but call ahead as many hostels offer a free pick-up.
Getting around Cairns Lake Street Transit Mall is the transportation centre of the city. From there you can catch the Cairns Red Explorer Bus for a tour of the city.
Cairns accommodation A great place to start is the Tourism Tropical North Queensland Visitors Centre. Whether you’re looking for a hostel or long-term accommodation, they offer impartial advice. They can also help you with many other things, including car rental, camping and tours. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org Look in TNT Magazine for accommodation options. If you’re thinking of sticking around for a few weeks, there are some good share accommodation options too (cairns-sharehouse.com).
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Things to do in Cairns ATV/Quad biking: Take a four-wheeled bike out into the rainforest. Check out the wonderful scenery as you hoon around – you can even rustle horses like a futuristic cowboy! Bungy jumping: Feel like hanging around or want to get the old adrenalin pumping? Try bungy jumping at the AJ Hackett tower. You can also try something called the Minjin Swing, where you lie in a harness, are lifted up 40m into the rainforest, then released to swing back and forth till you stop. Mountain biking: Cairns could be the mountain biking capital of Australia, boasting two World Cups. A wild way for adventurers to explore the rainforest. Scuba diving: For very good reason, Cairns is a hotspot for all fans of the sport, with everything for beginners through to pros, including liveaboard PADI courses (where you stay on a boat on the reef). See dive shops for more information. Snorkelling: If you’re not a keen diver, you can still experience the wonders of the reef with just a snorkel. All the dive schools offer a snorkelling option, where you explore the reef that sits near the top of the ocean. The lagoon: Those nasty jellyfish used to make it near impossible to swim in Cairns in the summer – until the opening of the lagoon, right on the Esplanade. Whitewater rafting: An exhilarating way to see the rainforest along the Tully, Barron and Russell Rivers. Half, full-day, overnight and ‘extreme’ trips are available.
Out on the town From blues bars to English-style pubs, live music venues to budget backpacker meal deals, there are innumerable party places, packages and people in Cairns. Nearly all offer cheap (and often free) meal deals to go with that first jug of beer, so you shouldn’t go hungry in Cairns.
North of Cairns As well as being a haven for the odd US president, the upmarket, pretty resort town of Port Douglas is perfectly positioned by the reef and is fringed with stunning white beaches. The town has a great atmosphere, holding an annual carnival, open air cinema season, loads of live music and a nightlife full of top-notch restaurants and bars. A great jump-off point to Cape Tribulation and Cape York. The World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park is a fantastic setting for a few days’ relaxation and environmental awareness. The Daintree River is one of the best places to 50
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take a crocodile tour – the famous ‘Gummy’ is king of the river, and with luck you might just spy him sunning himself on the banks of the river. Cape Tribulation is situated at the northern end of the Daintree with pristine rainforests and beaches. It’s gobsmackingly beautiful. Backpacker accommodation is available on the beach or in the forest. This is an ideal area to go horse riding along the beach or through the rainforest. Northwards from here it’s pretty much dirt roads all the way, and once past Cooktown there are only small communities. Few travellers make it up here and the conditions can be pretty harsh – the heat and dust are unrelenting as you can’t swim anywhere (crocodiles abound), but the rewards are huge. Beyond Cooktown lies the remote Cape York Peninsula, at the northernmost tip of Australia (it is only 150km from Papua New Guinea.) It is still one of the wildest and least populated parts of Australia. Getting there can be quite an adventure as the roads are all unsealed and certain river crossings can become difficult to cross. Plus it’s croc country. A 4WD is a must. If you’re not too hot on your mechanical knowledge it’s probably best to join one of the camping tours on offer. However, prepare to console your wallet as they’re far from cheap. If you do make it on the road (well, track), get ready for one of Australia’s ultimate roadtrips.
West of Cairns In the heart of sugar country, Babinda lies at the foot of Mt Bartle Frere, Queensland’s highest mountain. There are incredible rainforest walking tracks too. Take a daytrip by car, a tour or catch a bus to the Atherton Tablelands from Spence Street, Cairns. They rise from the coastal plains and are
home to some stunning bushwalking country. You can also take one of many tours to this area and take in the incredible Curtain Fig tree, lakes Eacham, Barrine and Chillagoe, and the limestone caves and mining ruins. Mungalli Falls Outpost is at Millaa, which has whitewater rafting and horse riding. The quiet town of Yungaburra is a good base for exploration and has a picturesque old pub. Kuranda is a quiet village just west of Cairns. It’s well worth a visit on market day and is a gateway to the Atherton Tablelands. Arrive via the Kuranda Scenic Railway, which provides a spectacular ride for cheap, or skyrail, the treetop cable car.
Western Queensland Those wanting to experience a true outback town can make the 737km trek to the historic town of Charleville. Swimming and gold prospecting head the list of things to do, other than meeting the locals. Budget accommodation and camping are available. The remote town of Birdsville’s annual claim to fame is the Birdsville Races, which are held each September. Folk flock from miles around to join in the fun. It’s worth visiting if you have time. Away from the coast you’ll find a diversity of landscapes. Darling Downs is one of Oz’s richest agriculture areas. Beyond that there’s Cunnamulla, a classic outback town. But past Charleville is the desolate south-west corner and the Channel Country. Only well-prepared 4WDs can venture that far. Toowoomba is an inland city and has beautiful architecture, plus horse trail rides, an adventure park and botanical gardens. Not too far away are Warwick, a major farming centre, and Goondiwindi, which is worth driving to for the surrounding bushland. ❚
Freewheelin’ on Fraser Go 4WD-ing on World Heritagelisted Fraser Island. The world’s largest sand island is a must-see. Gold Coast madness Experience Surfers Paradise. Beer, 52
sunshine and non-stop parties. Whitsunday sailing Sail the Whitsunday Islands. Cobalt waters, powder beaches, diving and chillin’ on boats. It’s paradise afloat. Diving the reef You can’t go to Oz without diving the Great Barrier Reef. Get trashed in Cairns If you haven’t totally embarrassed yourself in the Woolshed, you haven’t lived. Sheep shearing Taste the outback on a farmstay and
shear sheep, shoot guns, ride horses and drink beer. Tropical rainforests Head into the jungle at Cape Tribulation, where rainforest meets the reef. Skydiving the reef Skydive at Mission Beach and enjoy the freefall high over the Barrier Reef. Rapid descent Then hold onto your paddle, and your breath, when whitewater rafting the mighty Tully.
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Photo: Tourism NT
FROM THE CROC-HEAVY TOP END TO THE INCREDIBLE OUTBACK, THE NT IS A WORLD UNTO ITS OWN – EXPERIENCE THE CUTE, THE NASTY, THE VAST AND THE MESMERISING
Swim under a waterfall in the Top End – just make sure there are no crocs about
First things first... The Northern Territory is wild, from the croc-infested waters to the eagles overhead. But for all its massive expanse, a mere 230,000 people live up here. Darwin, the NT’s capital, is a multicultural city with a taste of Asia, as Indonesia is on its back door. You can also expect to hear some of the oldest languages in the world as Australia’s first people still speak in their native tongue and English can often be their third or fourth language. Kakadu National Park, Katherine Gorge, Arnhem Land and, of course, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Red Centre all deserve photographing. There are plenty of travellers through the territory because adventure is at every corner.
Darwin Darwin is a truly tropical city. A bloody long way from anywhere, it’s the type of town that attracts people who are really trying to get away from it all, and those lured by the stunning scenery right on the city’s doorstep. The prevailing vibe is part far-flung outpost, part
tropical resort. It’s an unusual town and one that you shouldn’t miss. Darwin is the centre of the NT’s tropical Top End, which essentially experiences only two seasons: “the Dry” from May-October and “the Wet” from November-April. The Dry is peak season, the most pleasant – and busiest – time to visit the tropical north. However, the Tropical Summer (a fancy, tourist-friendly name for the Wet) brings its own attractions. Darwin’s diverse population and proximity to Asia means that the city has more than 50 different nationalities. Two events have largely shaped Darwin: the city was the Australian frontline in WWII when many bombing raids were made by the Japanese. Darwin also had to be re-built after Cyclone Tracy destroyed most of the city on Christmas Eve, 1974. Of course, for many travellers, Darwin is mainly a gateway to two of Australia’s biggest attractions: Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks. Tours to these two places are available from every hostel and travel centre in town. TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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beautiful sunset over the ocean. Museum of Arts and Sciences: Natural history, Aboriginal culture and art. Free. Wharf Precinct: With great fish and chips, weekend entertainment, jet boating and even a pool with a wave machine, this newly redeveloped part of the city is rapidly becoming one of its most popular corners. Deckchair Cinema: An outdoor cinema on throughout the Dry season, features alternative and Aussie movies, with booze on sale. Bring a picnic.
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Arriving in Darwin You can get an airport shuttle to your accommodation one-way (check beforehand to see if your hostel does free pick-ups).
Getting around Darwin Darwin is a relatively flat city and it’s easy to find your way around on foot. Buses run regularly (the main city terminus is on Harry Chan Ave, near Smith St) and most hostels offer cheap or free bike hire.
Around town Aquascene: Everybody goes to feed the fish here. Times vary with the tide, so check at your hostel Botanic Gardens: Walk along the coast to the NT Museum, with great examples of Aboriginal art and natural history. Free. Cage of Death: At Crocosaurus Cove you can jump in an acrylic cage and come face-to-face with a giant saltwater croc. Not for the faint-hearted. Diving: All-year wreck diving in the harbour from WWII, Cyclone Tracy and refugee boats. East Point Reserve: Has nice views, plus walking and cycling tracks, wallabies to feed at sunset and safe swimming in Lake Alexander. Indo-Pacific Marine: Quality, interactive marine displays. Well worth a visit, even for those fresh from the reef. Mindil Beach Sunset Markets: The thing to do while you’re in Darwin. These evening markets (Thursdays and Sundays) get absolutely packed during the Dry. There’s every type of food imaginable, great music and even the chance to try cracking a whip, all with the backdrop of the 54
The city’s reputation as a hard drinking town is well-earned but perhaps a little out-of-date. These days, the only people who drink the famously massive “Darwin stubbies” are tourists, but that’s not to say the locals don’t like their brew. There’s no doubt the heat makes you crave a cold beer like nothing else. Darwin’s boozing scene is a combination of big, old-style pubs with wrap-around verandahs (like the Victoria Hotel, or “Vic”), swish new minimalist bars and laidback outdoor drinking spots (the sailing and ski clubs). Darwin is a backpacker-friendly town, which means the jugs are cheap and you can be guaranteed to get cheap meals every night of the week.
Darwin daytrips Adelaide River Bridge Crossing: 66km east of Darwin, it’s the site of the famous jumping crocs which leap a full body-length out of the water. Howard Springs: 26km south of Darwin on the Stuart Hwy. Crocodile-free swimming hole in a rainforest. Avoid on weekends, as it gets very busy with locals. Berry Springs: Less than an hour south of Darwin and less crowded than Howard Springs. Mt Wells: Historic tin mining area. Spectacular 100km wilderness view, nine billabongs, rare bird species, wild horses and a high concentration of freshwater crocs. Lake Bennett: Great hostel and camping area beside safe swimming lake, with abundant bird and animal life. Litchfield National Park: Pristine wilderness area comparable to Kakadu, but smaller, more manageable and mostly croc-free. Waterfalls, swimming holes, monsoon rainforest and great bushwalking. Camping available (permit required). Territory Wildlife Park: Set on 400 hectares of bushland, this attraction features a 25m high walkthrough aviary and an underwater viewing tunnel.
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Tiwi Islands: Bathurst and Melville Islands are 30 minutes by air from Darwin. They are Aboriginalowned and run and offer a unique opportunity to experience the history, culture and environment of the Tiwi people.
The North Truly the Top End, to the east of Darwin is the beautiful Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land. Largely uninhabitable and filled with swamps, wetlands, waterfalls, ancient culture and angry crocodiles, exploring these areas is a great privilege and the greatest respect for the land, its native owners and the wildlife must be given. Get too close to the wrong creek bed and you may end up as lunch. However, with a guide, this rugged land is an Australian must-do experience, up there with the Great Barrier Reef and 4WDing on Fraser Island.
Kakadu This Aboriginal-owned, jointly-managed World Heritage area is listed for both natural and cultural values and has immense scenic beauty. Its sandstone escarpments – most famously at Ubirr (where
NTGUIDE some of Crocodile Dundee was filmed) – house some of the world’s greatest rock art dating back over 20,000 years. And you’ll be hard pressed to find a more stunning place than Jim Jim Falls – a massive waterfall accessible only by 4WD and trek by foot. Twin Falls is another popular spot – a white beach beneath a double cascade waterfall. Also, some of the Aboriginal owners now work as rangers and there are a number of Aboriginal tours. There’s an entry fee to get into Kakadu which contributes to the upkeep of the park. Look for a tour that goes off the beaten track, as well as taking in the major sights. Nearby Jabiru has all the services you’ll need. Crocs are abundant, so stay away from the water unless you know it’s definitely safe. Mary River, the vast wetlands 170km east of Darwin, are among the most beautiful in the Top End. The Window on the Wetlands Interpretative Centre provides an ideal introduction to this area. There’s barramundi fishing in the Mary River, as well as freshwater billabongs. Home to the biggest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the world, the area is also well-known for its birdlife.
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Arnhem Land An area of more than 94,000 spectacular square kilometres, Arnhem Land is Aboriginal-owned, home to many different clan groups and is a cultural stronghold from which the didgeridoo originates. Access is available through a limited number of tours and safari camp operators as well as visits to community art centres.
Katherine Gorge The crossroads of the south, north, east and west, Katherine is your last stop before venturing into the great red unknown that links Darwin and Alice Springs. Crossing from Broome and the Kimberley you’ll hit Katherine too after a lack of civilisation. A town with all the mod cons, make sure you stock up before moving on. Your main reason for visiting, however, is the Katherine Gorge. Enclosed in Nitmiluk National Park, this is one of the NT’s “Big Three” along with Kakadu and Uluru. There are over 13 gorges with more than 100km of walking tracks set in rugged terrain, just outside of town. You can explore the spectacular surrounds by canoe or cruise boat, foot or helicopter. The canoe is your best bet, getting intimate with nature. There are freshwater crocodiles in the water and swimming is reasonably safe, but be careful not to go to the beaches where the crocs have made nests for their eggs. Check with the rangers to see if any salties have been spotted in the area before you take the plunge. Start at the information centre. One of the two major centres between Darwin and Alice Springs, Tennant Creek is well situated for a break from the road. An important place to stock up on fuel and munchies, it’s a gold mining area,
although major open-cut mining stopped in 1985, and you can still fossick in limited areas with an inexpensive Miners’ Right. Further down the track towards Alice Springs, you’ll stumble across the Devil’s Marbles, bizarre boulders in the middle of a flat landscape with Aboriginal significance. Stand in the middle of the split rock or “hilariously” pretend to be pushing one down the hill. It’s one to add to the comedy photo collection.
Alice Springs When you make it to Alice, it’s time to stop for a while and soak up the atmosphere. Try hot air ballooning across the outback – it’s breathtaking stuff at sunrise, with unbelievable views, or go camel riding and watch the sun slowly set over the town.
Getting around Alice Springs The town centre is walkable, although some places are a little further afield. ASBUS, the public bus service, is useful for those staying in outlying camping areas.
Out on the town Once the sun has set behind the ranges, this little town comes to life, with a number of lively little pubs, populated by everyone from real-life cowboys to footloose and fancy-free travellers, in the Todd Street/Mall area. Best of the bunch include Bojangles (a packed, cattle-station-style restaurant and nightclub), The Rock Bar (crammed with backpackers boozing after their Uluru tours) and the Todd Tavern (a locals’ pub, often with live music). To find out what’s on when, check out The Alice Springs News (alicespringsnews.com.au).
The rock Gawp at the Red Centre’s ‘rock stars’ in Uluru-Kata Tjuta NP and Watarrka NP (Kings Canyon). Croc jumping Play “guess which meat dangler 56
will lose their toes first” with the jumping crocs near Darwin. Aboriginal art The Territory is probably the best place to learn about Australia’s indigenous people. Kakadu Waterfalls, toothsome wildlife, rock art... Just watch where you swim. Go sky high Take a hot air balloon ride from Alice Springs (ideally at dawn). Bargain hunting Eat great food, watch a spectacular
sunset, and pick up some bargains at Darwin’s famous Mindil Beach Markets. Kayaking with crocs Dodge the crocodiles as you kayak through Katherine Gorge. Arnhem Land Get off the beaten track in Arnhem Land, the beautiful Aboriginalowned reserve. Devil’s Marbles Play with the Devil’s Marbles; the giant rocks provide many a photo opportunity.
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NTGUIDE Around Alice Springs The scenery around Alice Springs is dramatic. To the east, the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges are easily accessible by car and have some good walking trails and picnic areas. The Western MacDonnells have an array of spectacular gorges and ancient landforms. They can be explored by hiking the Larapinta Trail, by bicycle on a specially developed cycle track or by road.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta Another “don’t miss” national park, as iconic to Australia as the Sydney Opera House and kangaroos, is Uluru–Kata Tjuta NP. Uluru (formerly known as Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (also referred to as the Olgas) are the heart of the Red Centre of Australia, attracting thousands of travellers each year to check out their intriguing shapes and how they got there. On seeing the sheer size of Uluru, you may well be dumbfounded by its enormity – no matter how many times you’ve seen pictures of it on tacky souvenirs. “The Rock” has a circumference of 9km and towers more than 300m above the flat and desolate surrounding scrub. It is believed that two-thirds of it Book your trip direct with Annie’s Place Alice Springs and save big dollars...
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is still beneath the sand. At sunset, the Rock changes from a series of deep, dark reds through to an unusual grey. Many people don’t realise this spectacle is just as amazing in reverse at sunrise – it’s worth getting up early to view. The entire place has deep significance to the Anangu people of the region, who own the area and jointly manage it as a World Heritage area. Please respect areas that have been fenced off as sacred sites and refrain from photography where asked. There are excellent walks around the base including Aboriginal guided walks. The Uluru/Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre explains many of the natural and cultural features of this monolith – as well as explaining why you don’t climb to the top. Visitors can technically climb Uluru (weather permitting), but the local Anangu people, who consider the Rock their most sacred site and as such don’t climb it themselves, ask tourists not to. Anyone with the slightest inkling of respect for Aboriginal culture should do likewise and not climb. Spending some time walking around its base is an experience you will not forget quickly. It is easy to be astounded by this mysterious phenomenon, with its changing colours, its immense caves and Aboriginal legends. As Uluru and the Olgas are within the Uluru/Kata Tjuta National Park, you can only stay at the Ayers Rock Resort at Yulara, so expect the prices to be accordingly high. The Olgas, known to Aboriginals as Kata Tjuta, is a collection of weathered domes, dominated by the 546m Mt Olga, and form an amazing contrast against the surrounding desert. A number of walking tracks provide access to key features. The Valley of Winds is the best. Kings Canyon, or Wartarrka, is 310km south of Alice and is one of the region’s most dramatic geological features and is many people’s favourite destination in the Red Centre. Full of surprises, the eerie weathered rock domes of the Lost World sit in stark contrast to the breathtaking views from the 300m high canyon rim nearby.
The South The barren desert makes up the majority of the Northern Territory’s south end. Heading to South Australia you’ll come across the odd outpost like Eridunda, where you turn right for Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. As you drive down the Stuart Highway towards Coober Pedy and eventually Adelaide, dried creeks and rivers crack away from the vast Simpson Desert around 100km to the left. ❚
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Photo: Tourism WA
EPIC WILDERNESS REGIONS, AN ASTONISHING REEF AND FRIENDLY WILDLIFE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA‘S BIGGEST WONDER IS THE LACK OF TOURISTS
WA’s often overlooked south-west
First things first... From the sunset camel rides in Broome in the north to Margaret River’s surf region to the south, diving with whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef or spotting southern right whales off the Eyre Highway, Western Australia has plenty to offer the nature enthusiast. Meanwhile the capital, Perth, is a laidback city, where the locals enjoy a strong music scene, a great beach life and cruisy café culture.
Perth Situated on the banks of the Swan River, Perth is a modern, lively, youthful city, much like a smallerscale Sydney. Over 80 per cent of WA’s population lives here and you don’t need a fat IQ to see why. Boasting an impeccable year-round climate – with more sunshine than any other Australian capital city – Perth’s fabulous Indian Ocean beaches and chilledout atmosphere make it a relaxing place to stop. Although it’s one of the most isolated cities in the world, visitors can enjoy an active nightlife,
a fresh club scene, plenty of attractions and museums, a buzzing café culture and a renowned live music scene.
Arriving in Perth Perth’s main airport is 12km north-east of the city centre. If your budget won’t stretch to the cab ride, an airport shuttle operates between the international and domestic terminals and the city and hostels. Cheaper still is the public transport option with a standard bus service. See transperth.wa.gov.au for more info.
Getting around Perth Like most Australian cities, Perth’s suburbs are rambling, but its centre is relatively compact. TransPerth (Ph: 13 62 13, transperth.wa.gov.au) runs frequent train, bus and ferry services, radiating from the train and bus stations in Wellington St. Worth noting is the Free Transit Zone in the city’s centre, which allows passengers to travel fare-free around TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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and take a 25-minute walk from the city centre. Northbridge: Five minutes from the city, Northbridge is known as the liveliest and most cosmopolitan suburb in Perth, home to outdoor cafés, buskers, pubs, clubs and restaurants. Perth Zoo: Home to native and African wildlife. WA Museum: Good collection of natural and human history, including a 25m whale skeleton. Francis St. Entry is free.
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the area. Particularly useful is the free Blue CAT bus service, which runs in a loop from Barrack St Jetty to Aberdeen Street in the city’s top backpacker spot, Northbridge.
Perth accommodation Finding a hostel in Perth is no problem. If you want to find a room to rent, the best way is to check out hostel notice boards. Accommodation sections in local newspapers and the city’s free press. Northbridge is the suburb that attracts most independent travellers. As a consequence, excellent room and dorm deals are found here and in neighbouring Leederville.
Things to do in Perth Art Gallery of WA: The state’s premier gallery, exhibiting national and international works of art. James St. Free. Beaches: Scarborough Beach is the most popular and is only 15 mins from the city. There’s great nightlife here as well. Don’t miss the other beaches close to the city centre, like Triggs, Cottesloe and City. Diving: You may well spot seals or dolphins as you dive around WA’s reefs and wrecks. Or try your luck at catching a lobster or netting prawns at night along the Swan River. Kings Park: Over 400ha of beautiful parkland overlooking the city. Catch the CAT or exert yourself 60
Northbridge alone could keep you busy for days, but try to venture into other suburbs to see some great local pub bands, especially near the beaches for legendary “Sunday Sessions”. Subiaco and Leederville are other suburbs worth spending a night out in for a different flavour. For info on local pubs and gigs, check out Thursday’s West Australian newspaper Revue section or X-press – a free weekly music magazine. Some of the finest music in Australia is coming out of WA, so make time to tune in. It’s been said Perth has more restaurants per head than any place in the world. True or not, there’s certainly plenty of eateries to choose from and a bewildering choice of cuisines: from Thai and Vietnamese to Spanish and Mexican, all tastes (and budgets) are catered for. Superbly restored, the cosmopolitan port of Fremantle is a 30-minute train or bus ride from Perth and is an unmissable spot. “Freo” comes alive on the weekends and at night, when people meet at the many outdoor cafés, pubs, clubs and restaurants. Worth a visit are the Fremantle Museum, Fremantle Prison Museum and the Western Australia Maritime Museum. Saturdays also boast a bustling market on South Terrace. Only a short ferry trip from Perth or Fremantle, Rottnest Island is a popular holiday destination for locals, surfers, divers and beach lovers. Cars are banned on Rotto, so everyone gets around by bike (cycle hire is available on the island). As well as cycling, you can enjoy the unspoilt beaches, go diving or snorkelling, sample tasty goods from the excellent bakery, and relax at the pub. At night, the island’s famous residents, quokkas (like small wallabies), wander around looking for food. Greedy swines. Rotto has cheap accommodation and camping. A couple of hour’s drive north of Perth, Nambung National Park is home to the legendary Pinnacles. These ancient limestone pillars rise out of the earth in stunning contrast to the yellow sand dunes, explaining why these geographical oddities are such popular destinations.
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1800 244 133 1800 817 016 1800 679 992 1800 621 101 1800 621 101 1800 451 855 1800 459 999
South Australia Port Augusta BIG4 Holiday Park 1800 833 444 Myall Grove Holiday Park 1800 356 103 Victoria Boathaven Holiday Park Geelong Riverview Tourist Park Golden River Holiday Park Yarraby Holiday Park Ashley Gardens BIG4 Holiday Village
1800 352 982 1800 336 225 1800 621 262 1800 222 052 1800 061 444
New South Wales A Shady River Holiday Park Maiden’s Inn Holiday Park Magic Murray Houseboats Murray River Holiday Park Wymah Valley Holiday Park Twofold Bay Beach Resort Wallamba River Holiday Park
1800 674 239 1800 356 801 1800 356 483 1800 357 215 1800 776 523 1800 631 006 1800 268 176
Queensland Island Gateway Holiday Park
1800 466 528
WORD FROM THE STREET
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whales and their calves (for more information contact Nullarbor Traveller, Ph: +61 8 8687 0455, the-traveller.com.au). About 550km north-east of Perth are the Kalgoorlie, Boulder and Coolgardie goldfields. Imposing public buildings in “Kal” – on the broad tree-lined streets – are a testament to the short-lived goldrush of the 1890s. Today, mining is limited but the area has a busy tourist trade. Some 150km south of the Perth-Kalgoorlie Hwy is the spectacular vision of Wave Rock in Hyden. This 15m high rock formation, striped with coloured bands, is in the shape of the surfer’s ultimate wave. Nearby are other curious natural formations such as Hippo’s Yawn, some ancient Aboriginal rock paintings and a wildlife sanctuary.
Tom Shadwell, UK FAVOURITE WA DAY SPOT? “The Ningaloo Reef. I swam with whale sharks off Exmouth, dived with manta rays off Coral Bay and snorkelled with reef fish off the Cape Ranges.“ AND NIGHT SPOT? “Viet Hoa restaurant in Northbridge, Perth. The best tasting pork wonton noodle soup ever! And it’s affordable.” ANYWHERE STILL ON THE WISHLIST? “Penguin Island off Rockingham, because fairy penguins are awful cute.”
The east North-east of Perth are the goldfield towns of Kalgoorlie-Boulder and Coolgardie, an interesting stop-off on the gruelling drive across the outback to Alice Springs, a trip that should only be undertaken by the most prepared adventurers. Despite its remote location, Esperance is one to mark on your route. It’s a lively, fast-growing resort town, set amid rolling green hills and farmland, offering great fishing, white sandy beaches and stunning coastal scenery. If you have your own wheels, make The Great Ocean Drive. The Nullarbor Plain links the west coast with the return of civilisation in Adelaide with a roadtrip that at 3,900km is just 80km shy of London to Moscow and boasts the longest completely straight stretch of road in the world at 178km long. It is also the world’s largest single piece of rock. Like a honeycomb underneath, it is also the longest underwater cave system, which attracts divers from across the globe. You’ll see soaring cliffs, remote beaches, caves, seal colonies and from June to October, southern right 62
WA’s south-west is dotted with giant trees, lush hills, world-famous vineyards and gorgeous surf beaches. It’s said this is some of the oldest land in the world. From the second largest town in WA, Bunbury, to Margaret River, renowned for both its surfing and wine (not recommended together however) to the chilled-out Denmark and all the national parks, the south coast is definitely worth the venture. Bunbury is a coastal city easily accessible from Perth. Set in a rich, green farming region, the town’s main attraction is the Dolphin Discovery Centre at Koombana Beach. The friendly mammals swim right up to the beach. An equally beautiful south-western destination is Margaret River – an alternative lifestyle town, and favourite with surfers, sailboarders and wine buffs. It’s an excellent location, with easy access to picturesque forests. Ensure you taste the produce of this acclaimed wine-producing region. Margaret River is bang in the middle of Capes Naturaliste and Leeuwin, the latter being the place where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet. Pop into one of the show caves that dot the cape region – you’ll never look at a stalactite the same way again. Over 200km south-east from Margaret River is WA’s first European settlement, Albany, overlooking some of Australia’s most spectacular coastal scenery, where it’s possible to snorkel with seals. Nearby Torndirrup National Park, the Stirling Ranges and Porongurups (said to be the oldest hills in the world) offer excellent bushwalking, mountain scenery and also camping areas if you want to stay overnight. Close to Albany is happy, hippie-influenced Denmark, a back-to-the-land, arts-and-craft town, with a flourishing reputation for good wine. William Bay National Park has some brilliant coastal views.
Your Ningaloo Blue Whale Shark Eco Tour includes: Snorkel the Ningaloo Reef and Whaleshark with all gear provided. Morning tea buffet lunch, (vegetarian catered for daily), fruit platter plus refreshments. No Sighting Policy - if you dont see a WhaleShark - go again free ticket valid for 3 years. Videographer on board take a memoir home of your special day (additional cost). Complimentary Gift Pack including certificate stating the day you swam with your first Whaleshark. Age is no problem for us,we have as young as 4 years up wards. Plus a Safety Zodiac beside swims whilst in the water.
Visit www.ningalooblue.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone +61 8 9949 1119
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About 60km east of Denmark is the town of come face to face with not only dolphins but whale Walpole, famous for the Tree Top Walk in The Valley sharks, gaze in awe at the world’s largest single of the Giants – an eco-friendly, 40m high walk rock, or stand on a beach more than 100 miles long. through the canopy of a Karri forest. Also take The Central Coast is about long drives and a good a cruise or walk through the breathtaking radio, with unspoilt landscape and photo Walpole Nornalup National Parks and opportunities around every corner. Wilderness Area. Another settlement One of the major stops northward is worth seeing is Pemberton, a pretty Shark Bay. This is actually a couple timber town, and Kingdom of the of bays encompassed by two narrow giant Karri Tree Forest. Climb peninsulas. The area’s main attraction Swimming with whale sharks is Gloucester Tree, at 60m the highest is the small settlement with the big one of the ultimate fire lookout tree in the world, reputation: Monkey Mia, a worldAussie experiences. via a winding metal ladder. renowned spot for getting friendly Hit the Ningaloo with the local dolphin population, Central coast Reef from April to who come into knee deep water to July not to miss out A wild and adventurous be fed every morning. roadtrip, heading north from Perth Denham – 25km towards the other will give you an insight into just side of the peninsula – is really the area’s how it’s one of the most isolated cities in the main town, and is much cheaper than Monkey Mia world. The red, hot land of the north is as ancient for picking up supplies. as it is vast. The tropical fruit-growing area of Carnarvon, On your way to Broome and beyond you’ll 904km north of Perth, sits at the mouth of the
Photo: Tourism WA
The Ningaloo’s must-see tourists
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Gascoyne River. The area is known to attract travellers looking for work, particularly in the farming and fishing industries with jobs from fruit picking to net fishing. The rugged coastline nearby is famous for seasonal whale sightings during fishfeeding frenzies, when sharks herd anchovies against the cliffs. Try a camel trek, safari or visit Mt Augustus, the world’s biggest rock (twice the size of Uluru). Whatever else you do in WA, don’t bypass Exmouth, famous for the breathtaking Ningaloo Reef, the closest fringing coral reef in Australia. It runs 260km on the western side of West Cape. The reef is smaller than the Great Barrier Reef but is more accessible and a diver’s, erm... wet dream. Walk out from the beach and see over 250 corals, 500 species of fish, manta rays, turtles, dugongs and the placid, toothless, whale shark (April-July is the season) – at about the size of a bus, it’s the world’s largest fish. Just south of Exmouth is picture-perfect Coral Bay, resting on a marine park, which also provides great access to the Ningaloo Reef.
Broome & The Kimberley The northern tip of Western Australia is wild, often wet and for the most part devoid of all humans thanks to the Kimberley and its various national parks on the top side of the Great Northern Highway and the Great Sandy Desert on the southern side. Historically an old pearling town, Broome is brimming with Asian and Aboriginal culture, fantastic eateries, impressive sunsets and pristine beaches. Cable Beach – on which you can book camel trips for the sunset ride of your life – is known as one of the world’s most beautiful coastal stretches. As the biggest stop on the long trip between Perth and
Darwin, Broome is a popular hangout for travellers. About 250km inland is Fitzroy Crossing, a small town which acts as a convenient base for exploring the area. About 20km north-east of town is the stunning Geikie Gorge. Also worth a look are the nearby remains of an ancient ocean reef. Other breathtaking features in the region include Bell and Windjana Gorges and Tunnel Creek – a 1km water-filled tunnel with an idyllic billabong at the other end. The next service town inland is Halls Creek, about 350km from Kununarra. Check out the old deserted goldrush township, 15km from town. Australia’s largest meteorite crater, Wolfe Creek Crater (yes, from the film), is 146km south of Halls Creek. Take care on the Tanami Track to reach this 853m-wide and 50m-deep spectacle. One of WA’s key attractions is the World Heritage-listed Bungle Bungle (Purnululu) National Park. Reachable only by 4WD vehicle. In the wet season (November-March) the area is inaccessible. These ancient, rounded, orange and black-striped sandstone formations of the Bungle Bungle are truly one of Australia’s most spectacular sights and well worth the effort. This is one of the best areas to take a scenic flight to appreciate the enormity of the landscape. Near the border of the Northern Territory is one of the last settlements of WA on the map, Kununurra. Established in the 1960s, it’s a fairly modern town, renowned as an adventure destination. Much of Baz Luhrmann’s film Australia, featuring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, was filmed in and around the town. It’s also a popular spot for backpackers heading to Darwin, with fruit-picking work available around May. ❚
The final frontier Discover the Kimberley region. Spectacular scenery and one of Australia’s last frontiers. Explore ‘Freo’ Wander around Fremantle. Immerse 66
yourself in the history and culture of this laidback town. Swim with dolphins Meet the locals at Monkey Mia. Beautiful coastlines Sunset at Cable Beach. Always better from the back of a camel. The sunset, that is. World’s biggest fish Snorkel or dive the Ningaloo Reef. April-July is whale shark season. Ancient phallic pillars Run naked through the Pinnacles, just like Billy Connolly.
Surf & wine Margaret River has great surfing, scenery and some of Oz’s best wineries. Bottoms Up! Huge balls Camp at the Bungle Bungle. These beehive-shaped domes are one of Australia’s best natural wonders. Strike it rich Fossick at the gold fields. Discover a slice of Australia’s history and make your fortune. Search for wallabies Spot quokkas on Rottnest Island.
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Photo: SATC/John Sones
WITH INCREDIBLE WILDLIFE EXPERIENCES, UNDERGROUND TOWNS, HIP-SWINGING FESTIVALS AND ROADTRIP HEAVEN, SA OFFERS SOME EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES
Head to the salt lakes to escape the crowds
First things first... This much under-rated state is still something of a traveller’s secret. It offers vast salt lakes, crazy outback towns, a capital which always seems to be throwing a festival, and amazing wildlife experiences, such as those on Kangaroo Island. And ironically, Australia’s driest state is also famous for its (very tasty) wet stuff – wine.
Adelaide For a state capital, Adelaide feels small, but it is uncrowded and attractive, priding itself on its culture, fine food, relaxed lifestyle and ace collection of festivals, including the Adelaide Festival of Arts, Fringe Festival and WOMADelaide. There is also a number of good beaches in the suburbs, the most famous being Glenelg, which boasts a lively café scene and nightlife. In the city, the hip spots are concentrated on Rundle Street – filled with cafés, nightclubs, pubs, wine bars and shops – and Hindley Street, with its motley crew of revellers.
Getting around Adelaide Skylink buses run between the city and the airport. The main coach terminal is on Franklin Street.
(Contact the Info Centre, 18 King William St, Ph: 1300 383 783.) Useful to know about are the city loop buses (the 99c) and the Adelaide Connector, which are both free and run every day. You can also get free city bikes. You just have to leave some ID as a deposit.
Adelaide accommodation The city and Glenelg are the most popular spots to stay. Both are well serviced by good hostels and transport.
Around Adelaide Botanic Gardens: Very tranquil with plenty to explore. Glenelg: Glenelg has a pleasant beach and promenade. Attractions include shops, eateries, an interesting local history museum, and an amusement park. Adelaide Central Market: A colourful and eclectic fresh food shopping experience. SA Museum: Natural and cultural history displays with excellent Aboriginal content. Entry is free. Tandanya: Aboriginal cultural institute with art and craft and performances. Open Monday-Sunday. TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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Tuscany which doubles as an excellent whale watching area (June to September).
Kangaroo Island Perfect for a two or three-day side trip from Adelaide, this isle is a complete gem and one of Australia’s must-dos. The country’s third-largest island is a wild, windswept, world of giant sanddunes, turquoise bays and ancient forests, perfect for exploring by quad bike or kayak. But most of all, it’s about the wildlife, which is both abundant and easily visible. Koalas, kangaroos, penguins, seals and echidnas wander around happily and without fear, making for some great wildlife photos. Many shipwrecks lie offshore, which, together with the seals and other marine life, make for some pretty adventurous diving. Kingscote and Penneshaw are the island’s main towns. Penneshaw has a large fairy penguin colony and the little birds can be seen waddling through the streets after dark.
Getting to Kangaroo Island Out on the town Adelaide has a lively nightlife, a cool café scene and a mind-boggling variety of excellent nosheries. For friendly pubs try Rundle Street, East Terrace and Jetty Road, Glenelg. For information about gigs, check out Rip It Up (ripitup.com.au), Adelaide’s free music paper.
Wine country South Australia produces the majority of Australia’s wine, including the ubiquitous Jacob’s Creek label. If you do any wine-tasting tours in Australia, do it here. The Barossa Valley is about 70km from Adelaide. It’s a very picturesque patchwork of vineyards, wineries and German townships. The Barossa’s main town is Tanunda, while the original German settlement is Bethany. To get to the Barossa you can join wine-tasting day trips from Adelaide. The Clare Valley is another very pleasant winemaking area to explore, with picturesque hills, high quality wine, fine old stone buildings and florid gardens. Half-an-hour’s drive south-east from the city, the Adelaide Hills are home to some of the state’s major vineyards. With rolling hills and market gardens it’s a real contrast to the city. You can also cuddle a koala at Cleland Wildlife Park. Over 50 vineyards can be found along South Road from Adelaide on the Fleurieu Peninsula and the Wine Coast. The Fleurieu is like an antipodean 68
The most popular way to get to Kangaroo Island is on a tour from Adelaide. An alternative is to take your car on the ferry, or hire one on the island, and explore yourself. There is no public transport.
Around Kangaroo Island Flinders Chase National Park: See the Remarkable Rocks – huge granite hulks sculpted by the elements into weird shapes. Also check out Weirs Cove and the Admirals Arch fur seal colony. Little Sahara: Test your nerve and satisfy your inner adrenalin junkie by sandboarding down the giant dunes. Pardana Wildlife Park: A sanctuary for orphaned and injured wildlife. Seal Bay: A must. Take a ranger-guided walk right through the colony of hundreds of sea lions.
North (Coober Pedy) The northern region of South Australia covers a massive 80 million hectares. The area offers magnificent natural landscapes in national parks including Mount Remarkable, Flinders Ranges, Lake Eyre and Vulkathunha Gammon Ranges National Parks. About six hours’ drive north of Adelaide, the Flinders Ranges are some of the world’s oldest and most amazing mountains. And huge; 500km long, 250km wide and surrounded by vast salt lakes. There are tours from Adelaide that will take you through the mountains. The gateway town for the Flinders
SOUTH AUSTRALIA If you’ve climbed the bridge, circled the rock and snorkelled the reef... it’s time to do the stuff that other people are only just beginning to discover… diving with Great White Sharks, swimming with sea lions and dolphins, getting up close and personal with wildlife on Kangaroo Island or camping under the stars in the amazing Flinders Ranges.
SOU AUST TH RALIA
If you want to get away from the crowds for an authentic Australian experience it’s time to come to South Australia.
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is Port Augusta. At Port Augusta, Wedlata Outback Centre and the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Garden offer the perfect introduction to the region. Rawnsely Bluff is spectacular on the Ranges’ south-eastern edge. Wilpena Pound is a huge natural amphitheatre with great bushwalking. Roughly halfway between Adelaide and the Red Centre, Coober Pedy is a hot, barren and surreal town based around opal mining. Most of the population lives underground to escape the desert heat. Set in a dusty moonscape, the town is popular for filming movies set after an apocalypse or on hostile planets, such as parts of the Mad Max films, which gives you an idea of what to expect. It’s a very freaky, must-visit part of the outback.
Lookout Point: Above the Opal Cave. People climb up here each evening to see the sunset. The Mail Run: Head out into the desert on the mail truck to meet outback characters, visit Aboriginal communities, plus have a beer before endless horizons and under a star-filled desert sky.
Around Coober Pedy
Stretching from Port Augusta at the top of the Eyre Peninsula, along the Great Australian Bight is the extraordinary, treeless Nullarbor Plain. The 2,400km Nullarbor stretch of the Eyre Highway contains the world’s longest, straightest, flattest road. Crossing the Plain is an incredible off-the-beaten track experience. There are some amazing sights along the way; soaring limestone cliffs, beautiful
Breakaways Reserve: Bizarre sandstone range with spectacular colours, just 30km from town. Buy opal: Seeing as so much of the world’s opal is mined here, you won’t get better value than at Coober Pedy. Coober Pedy Tour: Entry to the minefields is prohibited without a licence, unless you’re on a tour.
North-east (Riverland) One of the world’s great rivers, The Murray dominates this beautiful and diverse region. Waterbased recreation such as houseboating, fishing, water-skiing, bushwalking and gliding are the key themes. There are many nature opportunities based around birdlife, wetlands and conservation such as Riverland Biosphere Reserve and Gluepot Reserve.
Eyre Peninsula (Nullarbor Plain)
WORD FROM THE STREET
Peggy Hieronymus, Germany FAVOURITE SA DAY SPOT? “The Painted Desert by the Arckaringa hills. Breakfast with sunrise at this spot is just so impressive. It’s an area of spectacular colourful hills (like a Tiramisu cake-really!) that developed over 80 million years. FAVOURITE SA NIGHT SPOT? “The Adelaide casino has great live bands. Just don’t lose your shirt!”
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Photo: SATC/Calypso Star Charters
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remote beaches, astonishing cave systems and southern right whales and their calves (June to September). You can also swim with friendly seal colonies and dolphin pods or go deep sea fishing. There’s even the chance to take to the water with tuna and cage dive with great white sharks in the spot where much of the original Jaws was filmed. Ceduna: This fishing town at the eastern end of the Nullarbor, with nearby Cactus Beach, is renowned for world-class surf. Inland, the region offers rolling hills and remarkable rock formations.
South-east (Limestone Coast) The region offers a range of natural attractions such as Coorong and Canunda National Parks and Little Dip and Beachport Conservation Parks. It is also home to World Heritage-listed Naracoorte Caves, which are great for caving. Elsewhere, the mysterious Blue Lake in Mount Gambier forms part of the water aquifer system that sustains the region’s outstanding food and wine production. Bordertown and Keith are good bases for 4WD experiences in the Ngarkat Conservation system. ❚
Meet the locals Walk amongst seals, koalas and roos on Kangaroo Island (and go sandboarding while there), or, erm, cuddle a great white shark off the Eyre Peninsula. 72
Go flat out Cross the notorious Nullarbor Plain. Why? Because it’s there. First class Visit Coober Pedy, where most things happen underground. The white stuff Visit the salt lakes for the decidedly weird sensation of walking barefoot on crunchy white stuff. Test your taste buds Hit the wine trail and test your swirling techniques. Aboriginal culture
Learn all about Aboriginal culture at Tandanya. Flinders Ranges Spectacular landscapes firmly off the beaten track. All aboard Take a great train journey. The Ghan heads north to Darwin, and the Indian Pacific passes through Adelaide, from Sydney to Perth. Local delicacies Eat a pie floater: a meat pie floating in pea soup. An Adelaide delicacy sold to drunk people.
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Photo: Tourism Vicoria/Peter Dunphy
FROM THE COOLEST CITY DOWN UNDER TO THE HOME OF SOME OF THE BEST SURF, SNOW AND SPORT, VICTORIA IS AUSTRALIA’S STATE OF EXTREMES
Catch a heavenly sunset at the Twelve Apostles
First things first... Despite being Australia’s smallest mainland state, Victoria is crammed full of enough excitement and natural beauty to mean it more than holds its own against its larger neighbours. For starters, Melbourne is the most European of Australia’s cities and has been heralded by many as the best place to shop and drink in Oz. Plus, for those who crave open spaces, the Great Ocean Road winds its way along the coast, there’s bushwalking in the Grampians, the Gold Country to the north and the wilderness of Croajingolong National Park to the south. And don’t forget to go fairy penguin spotting at Phillip Island or, if you can’t make it there, along St Kilda’s pier.
Melbourne The Victorian capital oozes culture. Art, music, theatre and comedy acts abound, along with live
bands, great shopping and friendly cafés. Melbourne is also home to the Aussiest of Aussie pastimes – football (we’re talking Aussie Rules, mate). Players are even more famous here than any Neighbours stars, which also happens to be filmed in the city. Home to the world’s second largest Greek population, Melbourne has a fascinating range of markets, delicatessens and restaurants. Whatever your favourite cuisine – Greek, Kosher, Italian, Maltese, Vietnamese, Thai – you’re sure to find excellent budget choices here.
Arriving in Melbourne To get to the city from Melbourne’s international airport at Tullamarine, you can grab a taxi or jump on a Skybus coach, which will take you to the heart of the Met; Melbourne’s public transport system. TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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Aussie Rules Football: If you’re around from March to September, make sure you watch a game or two of this hilariously nonsensical sport. September’s Grand Final (played at the MCG) is the biggest event on Australia’s domestic sporting calendar. See afl.com.au Australian Open: January gives you a chance to see the world’s big tennis hitters up close in one of the four world Grand Slams. See australianopen.com Australian Grand Prix: For petrol heads or simply lovers of big events. March 15 to 18. Melbourne Aquarium: It has four levels and environments including rock pools, billabongs and oceanarium. Victorian Arts Centre: Melbourne’s cultural hub with concert venues, the National Gallery and the Performing Arts Museum. Melbourne also has a Getting around Melbourne great selection of contemporary art at the Australian Melbourne has an excellent transport system, Centre for Contemporary Art in South Yarra, the which enables visitors to switch between tram, train Centre for Contemporary Photography in Fitzroy and bus on one ticket, so getting around is pretty and the Museum of Modern Art. cheap. Go to visitvictoria.com for more information Federation Square: Located right next to Melbourne’s main hub, Flinders St Station, Fed Melbourne accommodation Square is the beating heart of the city, home to There is loads of backpacker accommodation in free events on a weekly basis, as well as giant screens Melbourne, much of which is centred around two whenever there’s a major sporting event on. It’s areas: the city centre (convenient and bustling) and St also where you’ll find the excellent Kilda (cheap and grungy). During the summer season Australian Centre for the Moving many of the popular hostels are packed Image (ACMI). solid, so you’ll need to book ahead if you Rialto Towers: The tallest don’t want to end up on the streets. office building in the Southern Prices range from about $25-$30 per Melbourne is the Hemisphere, with an observation sporting capital night. Check TNT Magazine for hostel deck on the 55th floor. Wicked of Oz, so time your listings. For share accommodation and 360º views. visit with one of rentals, check hostel notice boards and Neighbours: You can actually the major events to pick up The Age on Wednesday and visit Ramsay Street, aka Pin Oak witness the city at Saturday or The Herald Sun, which has Court, Vermont South, if you venture its most fanatical classifieds every day, with a real estate into the suburbs. You can also attend supplement on Saturday. one of the hugely popular Neighbours quiz nights in St Kilda, where the Around town stars turn up to mingle with their fans. The night is City Circle Tram: Save a few bucks by taking this generally topped off by Alan Fletcher, aka Dr Karl free tram (the burgundy and gold coloured one) Kennedy, playing a gig with his band. which runs every 10 minutes from 10am-6pm. Shopping: Melbourne is a complete shopping The Melbourne Cricket Ground: Includes the experience. Take your credit card to Prahran, Acland National Sports Museum. Take a tour to explore the Street (St Kilda), Chapel Street (South Yarra), Toorak sights and sounds of the 1956 Olympics and a history and Brunswick Street (Fitzroy). For bargain shopping, of the home of Australian sport. Dating back to 1853 check out the factory outlets in Richmond along (making it 70 years older than the original Wembley), Bridge Road and Swan Street. going to an AFL game at the ‘G’ is the most Aussie of St Kilda: This beachside suburb is something of a sporting experiences. cross between Soho and a fun resort. Luna Park and The Melbourne Museum: State-of-the-art museum the Palais Theatre, where acts such as Kylie Minogue housing everything from Aboriginal artefacts to have played, are relics of great days gone by. These contemporary art. days it is a hip beach haven where you will find some
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WORD FROM THE STREET
Manuela Siller, Italy HOW ARE YOU GETTING AROUND? “I’m staying in an old van, sleeping in the back. It’s quite comfortable when you’re used to it.” FAVOURITE VIC DAY SPOT? “Wilsons Promontory with the wombats. It’s the most beautiful national park I’ve seen, especially at sunset on Whiskey Beach. It’s really beautiful.“ FAVOURITE VIC NIGHT SPOT? “Melbourne Tower. It’s great to go there in the afternoon and wait until the sun goes down. The dusk views are amazing.”
of the coolest hostels, pubs and music venues. Acland Street, the main street of St Kilda, is chock-full of cheap eats and funky shops. Markets: Melbourne has a great range of markets, including Camberwell Markets, Queen Victoria Markets (corner of Elizabeth and Victoria streets), the state’s biggest market, selling almost everything – check out qvm.com.au. St Kilda Markets (artists’ pavement stall), Preston Markets (corner of High Street and Murray Road), Prahran Market (Commercial Road, South Yarra; great fruit and veg) and the Pipeworks Markets (Campbellfield, with 750 stalls). Lygon Street: North of the CBD, “Little Italy” has heaps of restaurants, delicatessens, boutiques and arty shops. Brunswick Street: Full of café creatures, enticing shops and good band venues. There are also some good, free private galleries in which to mooch around. Parks and Gardens: Melbourne boasts some wonderful parks and gardens. The jewel in the 76
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crown is the Royal Botanic Gardens on the banks of the Yarra River, 2km from the city centre. Check out the Kings Domain on the south side of the river adjoining the Botanic Gardens. It contains the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, where outdoor concerts are held in summer. Further south is the Shrine of Remembrance, which is a tribute to Australia’s fighting forces. Close by are the Alexandria Gardens and Queen Victoria Gardens. Fitzroy Gardens near Parliament Station has a miniature Tudor village, and Captain Cook’s Cottage from the UK. Beaches: Albert Park, St Kilda, Middle Park and Williamstown beaches are close to the city centre. Melbourne’s beaches are on Port Phillip Bay, so for surf you’ll need to head to the coast on Phillip Island, Wilsons Prom, or around Torquay and Bells Beach. Street art: Melbourne’s famous laneways are worthy of exploring not just in the hope of discovering the city’s latest bars, but because they are home to some of the world’s best street art. Some of the most famous work can be found opposite Federation Square, in Hosier Lane, while areas such as Smith Street, in Collingwood, also have plenty to see. Tours are available.
Out on the town Melbourne has a world-class entertainment scene with some of the coolest pubs, slickest bars and best clubs in Australia, plus all the comedy you could ask for and tons of theatre-type stuff. Try St Kilda, Northcote or Fitzroy for bands, comedy and cheap drinks, South Yarra and Prahran for trendy clubs and the gay scene or the City for something more mainstream. For info on what’s on, have a look in TNT Magazine or check out the The Age newspaper. For pubs, clubs, music and comedy, have a look at the street press – Beat Magazine and InPress. Melbourne Star Observer and Brother Sister have the goss on the gay scene. For cheap tickets to the theatre, concerts and comedy, try Halftix in the Bourke Street Mall, which sells half price, same-day tickets for cash only. Oh, and just to make it confusing, beer is sold in ‘pots’ (the equivalent of a half-pint) or pints.
Around Melbourne South of the city and forming the eastern shore of Port Phillip Bay, you’ll find the gorgeous Mornington Peninsula. Historic properties, walking trails, adventure activities, trail rides, seal and dolphin tours as well as diving are available. Get there by bus via Frankston (take the Met from Melbourne) or by ferry from Queenscliff.
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If you like bits of land that stick out into the ocean, you’ll love Wilsons Promontory National Park. It’s the most southerly point of Australia’s mainland and its special features include outstanding coastal scenery backed by granite ranges, and an abundance of wildlife which can be seen on 20 walking tracks. The best view is from the Mt Oberon walking trail. Home of the famous nightly penguin parade (the animals, not the chocolate biscuits) in which hundreds of fairy penguins venture in from the ocean and march up the beach to their nests, Phillip Island is one of Victoria’s must-sees. There is also an interesting koala sanctuary, seal colony, unique land forms and good surf beaches. Located about an hour’s drive east of the city, the Dandenong Ranges are scattered with little towns and lush eucalyptus bush. Visit one of the many tea houses and craft shops. The Dandenongs are easily explored with a rented car or you can catch the historic Puffing Billy Steam Train from Belgrave to Emerald Lake. Another natural gem near Melbourne is the Brisbane Ranges National Park. This ancient, forested escarpment is a refuge for koalas and renowned for its wild flowers. Hanging Rock is a place of natural beauty and mystery as it was the setting for the classic Aussie movie Picnic at Hanging Rock, which tells the story of the Twilight Zone-like mystery of a group of girls who went missing from there in 1901.
South-western Victoria Heading west from Melbourne is one of Australia’s most famous drives, the Great Ocean Road. Ideally you’ll be winding by the sandstone escarpments, with the Southern Ocean next to you,
in a green convertible MG with Miranda Kerr in the passenger seat. More likely you’ll be in a campervan or tour group, but that’s a suitable second. From the surf capital of Australia, Torquay and the nearby Bells Beach, which was famously namechecked but not actually used in the classic surf film Point Break, to beautiful Lorne and onwards to Port Campbell and Warrnambool, it’s a fantastic drive. The main attraction are the 12 Apostles, large sandstone outcrops that rise from the ocean, weathered by years of wind and surf. Slowly they’re dropping away so don’t miss them. Nearby is the equally photogenic Loch Ard Gorge. Pop down and dip your toes in.
Western Victoria With everything from mountains and lakes to farmland and bushland, Western Victoria has something for every traveller and adventure-seeker. No wonder the area is such a popular day trip for many a local. Starting in the Wimmera region, take yourself off to Little Desert National Park. Despite its name, it is actually full of flora and fauna, and it’s got some great walking tracks and camping areas. If you’re not afraid of heights, consider heading to Mount Arapiles. This world-renowned rock climbing challenge has over 2,000 ascents, with many levels of difficulties. Climbing is taught on a daily basis. While you’re in the area, visit Natimuk Lake, which offers watersports, fishing and accommodation. Also nearby is the Coonawarra wine region, home of some of the best Aussie red wines. The Grampians are arguably Australia’s most dramatic mountain range and a great spot for bushwalking. Halls Gap (250km from Melbourne)
Head for the hills Bushwalking and wildlife – go mad fer it in the Grampians. Follow the Apostles Check out the gob-smacking scenery on the Great Ocean Road. 78
March of the penguins Every night hundreds of unbearably cute little penguins waddle out of the ocean on Phillip Island. Football – Aussie style Head to the MCG and shout yourself hoarse at the Aussie Rules. St Kilda Stroll through the super cool St Kilda and take on Luna Park’s rides. What everybody needs Go on, we know you want to get Karl’s autograph at Pin Oak Court, aka Ramsay Street from Neighbours.
Plastic fantastic Shopping – resign yourself to a life of credit card debt. Go for gold Gold panning in Ballarat is one way to try and top-up the beer budget. Head south Get away from it all on the beaches and bushland of Wilsons Prom, Oz’s most southernly tip. The life aquatic Swim with dolphins, learn to surf and dive, or just enjoy the scenery at Mornington Peninsula.
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is a good place to base yourself. The rock climbing here is rated as some of the nation’s best.
Northern Victoria Forming the border with New South Wales, the Murray River is Australia’s largest river, with a history of riverboat travel and agriculture. Relax along its banks or join in a number of outdoor activities. One riverside town worth visiting is Mildura, which is famous for fruit picking, especially oranges. If you are after fruit picking work, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding some here. Further downstream you’ll find Echuca, a large paddle-steamer port with some good water-skiing, swimming and house-boating.
North-eastern Victoria Exploring the north-east of Victoria will get you high in the Victorian Alps and the rich Gold Country of Bendigo and Shepparton. The Victorian Alps are ideal for snowboarding, cross country and downhill skiing at Falls Creek, Mount Hotham and Mount Buller, all of which have park terrain for the adrenalin seekers. Book ahead. It’s also worth looking
into job opportunities on the ski fields. About an hour’s drive from the snowfields is Bright, a picturesque alpine town with heaps of adventurous activities to enjoy, including horse riding, cave exploring, abseiling and hang-gliding. For you history buffs out there, make sure you head to famous Australian outlaw Ned Kelly’s country – including the towns of Euroa, Glenrowan and Beechworth, which has Kate’s Cottage museum and a multi-media Kellyland (the outlaw larrikin would be rolling in his grave to know he’s got a theme park named after him).
Gippsland South-eastern Victoria is a huge area of unspolit terrain, referred to as Gippsland. It has some beautiful and rugged wilderness areas such as Errinundra, Alpine and Croajingalong National Parks, serviced by good roads and interesting towns. Beautiful and off the beaten track, explore High Country’s gold towns and snow fields, the coast’s stunning Ninety Mile Beach, the Buchan Caves, unspolit Mallacoota, and the pristine and peaceful Lakes Entrance National Park. ❚
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Tasmania A BUSHWALKER’S NIRVANA, WITH UNIQUE WILDLIFE AND ARGUABLY THE COUNTRY’S FRIENDLIEST LOCALS, TASSIE IS STILL A WONDERFUL SECRET
Photo: Tourism Tasmania/George Apostolidis
The craggy peaks of Cradle Mountain
First things first... Australia’s very own Emerald Isle, Tasmania has a very different flavour from what locals call “the North Island”. More than 20 per cent of the island state is World Heritage-listed national park. It’s a magical wilderness of mossy forests, rugged mountains and cascading waterfalls, and home to many a rare and unique species. Natural wonders aside, Tassie is renowned for its colonial history. Sandstone relics still stand proud and picturesque today. The state is easy to cover, and – with super-friendly locals, backpacker-friendly prices and few tourist crowds – it’s rapidly becoming de rigeur among travellers in the know.
Getting to Tasmania Tasmania is well serviced by air, and the Spirit of Tasmania ferries run from Melbourne to Devonport daily; you can also take vehicles across on the ferries. Your arrival point could be Hobart, Launceston or Devonport, depending on how you get there. Air: Shop around for the best price. Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia all fly from the Australian mainland to Hobart and Launceston. Qantas also has connections to Devonport and Burnie through Qantaslink. For schedules and prices, see qantas.com. 80
au, jetstar.com, virginaustralia.com or tigerairways. com. Regional carrier, Regional Express (REX), operates services to Burnie and King Island, with special deals for backpackers (see rex.com.au). There are also a couple of smaller state-based airlines that operate on local routes. Sea: The over-sea route to Tassie from Melbourne is covered by two superfast ships, Spirit of Tasmania I and II. These vessels offer an overnight service in both directions to Devonport seven days a week, year round, with additional daytime services in the high season (December-January). The ferry also takes cars over for $83, motorbikes for $57 and bicycles for $6. Check spiritoftasmania.com.au
Getting around Tasmania Coach services link all the main towns (some services close during winter), as well as bus tours geared for independent travellers. Cycling is an option for fit legs. See discovertasmania.com.au
Hobart Australia’s most picturesque city has a rich heritage, Georgian architecture, an expansive harbour and beautiful nearby areas to visit.
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With sandstone wharves, yachts, Antarctic icebreakers, quaint streets and a vast harbour all nestling under the protective slopes of Mount Wellington, Hobart has to be one of Australia’s bestlooking cities. It’s also the country’s second oldest, having been founded as a convict settlement in 1804. That heritage is perhaps more alive here in Hobart than anywhere else in Australia and often makes for some fascinating insights.
Getting around Hobart The airport is 26km from the city. The Airporter shuttle meets every flight and can drop you to your hostel. Head to tasredline.com.au for more info. See metrotas.com.au for info on city public buses.
Hobart accommodation There are several good hostels in central Hobart; see TNT Magazine and tourist info centres for more info. If you’re staying a while and want to find a flat, try The Mercury newspaper, which has a rental accommodation section. Though accommodation varies across the state, most towns have backpackerfriendly options, from caravan parks to campsites to shared beach chalets.
Out on the town The area around the docks and Salamanca Place houses many historic pubs, including the oldest in Australia, licensed in 1804. You can even take a tour of them to learn more about their history while sampling the beers. Salamanca in particular has a lively nightlife, with clubs and backstreet parties strewn among the old sandstone pubs. Sandy Bay is also popular with Hobart’s young things. East Hobart is excellent for a lively mish-mash of Thai, Mediterranean and boutique eateries and bars.
Around Hobart Battery Point: A pretty village of early 19th century cottages, some of the oldest in Australia. Can be reached by climbing the historic Kelly Steps from Salamanca Place – great for a wander around. Bonorong Wildlife Park: See baby wombats, Tasmanian devils and the Bush Tucker Shed. Botanic Gardens: Huge collection of English and Tasmanian plants. Cascade Brewery: See how the local beer is made (and then try a few) in this still-working 1824 sandstone brewery. Bookings essential. The Docks: Along the waterfront from Salamanca lie Old Wharf, Victoria Dock and Constitution Dock, which houses all the yachts that come in for
the Sydney to Hobart and Melbourne to Hobart yacht races. These famous races are held between Boxing Day and New Year every year, and Hobart’s population almost doubles in size. During this time there is also The Taste Festival, incorporating the Hobart Summer Festival and the famous Taste of Tasmania – one of the large wharf buildings becomes a huge food hall where all the state’s finest restaurants and providores (not to mention beer and winemakers) sell samples direct to the public. It’s a fabulous time to be in Hobart. Kayaks: Get out on the harbour and paddle across the yacht race finishing line. Mountain bikes: A great way to see the sights – you can even cycle at breakneck pace down Mt Wellington. Mt Wellington: Stunning views of Hobart and the Derwent River. Take the No 48 Fern Tree bus from Franklin Square to the base. Usually covered with snow during winter, there’s a road all the way to the top. Salamanca Place: A row of old Georgian warehouses which now house shops, restaurants and galleries. Also home to the famous street market where you can pick up Tassie treats, from books, fruit and vegetables to second-hand goods and antiques. It’s on every Saturday from 7am to mid-afternoon.
Southern Tasmania The Tasman Peninsula sits on the south-east corner of Tassie, and is a sparsely-populated wilderness area and home to historic Port Arthur. Port Arthur was once known as “Hell on Earth” for convicts between the 1830s and 1870s, and today is a partly-ruined relic of Australia’s violent colonial birth. It’s actually a strangely peaceful and pretty spot, though it has some spooky vibes. You can make the most of them on a ghost tour. Mount Field National Park is home to spectacular TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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Russell Falls, only a 10-minute walk from the entrance, plus the refreshing Tall Trees Walk, an easy wander through tall, slender, moss-covered forests inhabited by shy pademelons (small wallabies). On the banks of the Coal River, 24km from Hobart, Richmond has the feel of an English country village thanks to its many 19th century buildings. It’s also famous for its much-photographed bridge, which was built by convicts in 1823 and is Australia’s oldest road bridge. There is an old convict jail here and, for those wanting to lose an unwanted travel buddy, a maze at the nearby tea rooms. South of Hobart, The Huon Valley is the real core of the ‘Apple Isle’ and it’s unlikely you’ll have chomped on tastier ones before. There’s also whitewater rafting, jet boats, waterfalls and farming. If you like fresh scones and jam you must visit Emma’s Choice – also known as Granny Gibbons jam factory on the coastal road between Geeveston and Dover. The often-overlooked and unspoilt Far South is very pretty too; with Antarctic winds whistling across lonely beaches, it’s a great spot for those “finding yourself” moments. Nearby Bruny Island is actually two islands connected by a narrow isthmus and is a fave with the locals, offering delicious seafood. There’s also penguin watching, surfing, bushwalking, swimming and fishing.
North-east (Launceston) Centrally located Launceston is Tassie’s secondlargest city and the country’s third oldest. Surrounded by imposing mountains, it has earned its title of ‘Garden City’ and has an interesting history. Its main attractions are the nearby Cataract Gorge, colonial gardens, tea shops and old mills. It’s 14km from the airport to the city centre. The city is easily explored
on foot, but there is good public transport. Adventure activities: Central Tasmania offers a range of soft or challenging adventure activities, including kayaking, caving, bushwalking, climbing and abseiling, all accessible from Launceston. Cataract Gorge: Excellent walks, views and swimming just five minutes walk from the city. Floodlit until 9pm nightly. City Park: Has an open-air enclosure of entertaining Japanese macaque monkeys and lots of lovely gardens. Penny Royal World: Nineteenth-century watermills, windmills, gunpowder mills and model boats. You can take a ride on a barge (a restored tram) or cruise up the lovely Cataract Gorge by paddle steamer. Trowunna Wildlife Park: A very popular animal sanctuary in Mole Creek. There are also limestone caves nearby. The famous Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park consists of some 126,025ha of mountain peaks and alpine moorlands, south-west of Launceston. Cradle Mountain sits amid bare, rugged peaks littered with boulders, streams, marshes and sheltered woods. Pay a visit to Waldheim, the restored mountain chalet of the park’s Austrian founder, Gustav Weindorfer, which sits on the edge of a forest overlooking the windswept moors. At the other end of the park is Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest, with a backdrop of forest-clad mountains. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is also the home of The Overland Track, Tasmania’s best-known bushwalk and reason enough to visit the island. There are no roads through the park, so you need to be fully prepared for five to seven days of walking. There are only camping sites and basic huts
Bag a bargain Mingle with the hippies in Hobart’s famous Salamanca markets. Cradle Mountain Tassie has many wilderness areas – the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair 82
National Park is most famous. Go ghost hunting Scare yourself stupid on a Port Arthur ghost tour. If you dare. Grab a paddle Tasmania is choc-full of pristine rivers and lakes. Jump in a kayak to admire them from water level. The fresh air Tassie officially has the cleanest air in the world, so take a deep breath and enjoy it while you can. Drink up the views Impeccable views, gorgeous beaches
and a myriad of great bushwalks, Wineglass Bay, at Freycinet National Park, has to be seen to be believed. Great diving Tassie has some of the best temperate water diving in the world. Tiger spotting Meet the island’s most famous residents – Tasmanian devils. Better still, try to spot an extinct (officially at least) Tasmanian tiger. City views Climb or cycle up Mount Wellington for spectacular views over Hobart.
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along the route, with no cooking facilities and no fires allowed (bring a camp stove). Walkers must be completely self-sufficient. There are also camping grounds with facilities at either end of the park. You must register with the rangers before setting out, even on day walks. Remember to check out on your return.
shores of Great Oyster Bay with views of Freycinet National Park, a craggy, foresty wilderness with stunning beaches. The park is made up of the Freycinet Peninsula and Schouten Island. It’s the highlight of the east coast and arguably the most beautiful spot in Tasmania. Red granite mountains, great coastline, lagoons, beaches and 27km of walking tracks, plus the utterly gorgeous Wineglass Bay, home to one of Australia’s best beaches. Maria Island National Park is a nature lovers’ wonderland where you can spot all types of animal, including forester kangaroos, Cape Barren geese and emus. This peaceful island has spectacular scenery, including fossil-lined sandstone and limestone cliffs. There’s also a semi-ruined village, originally a convict settlement, which adds an air of quiet history to this traffic-free haven. It has good diving, with loads of marine life. You can stay in the old penitentiary.
Devonport is on the north coast, in a major vegetable-growing area, and is the closest entry point to Melbourne. The Spirit of Tasmania ferries dock at the mouth of the Mersey River; shuttle buses operate from Devonport airport, 8km east of the city. Devonport is an excellent place to prepare for your travels, with a range of specialist backpacker services, particularly if you’re planning on visiting the famous Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, 80km to the south. Buses leave daily. Devonport is also another great place for cycling. Deloraine is a charming historic town with many restored buildings just off the highway, 149km south-east of Devonport at the foot of the Great Western Tiers. Explore the stunning natural beauty of this region with its waterfalls and walking tracks. Gunns Plains is the home of hop growing, and offers limestone caves and rural scenery. The historic township of Latrobe is an easy 9km bike ride away, along Mersey River. Talking of rivers, Port Sorell is nestled on the beautiful Rubicon River Estuary. Visit Asbestos Range National Park, home to 80 species of animals, or the gorgeous coastal town of Stanley. It’s west of Devonport and is the home of the famous Nut, Tassie’s own Uluru – a giant ‘volcanic plug’ that can be tackled in a number of fun ways. King and Flinders Islands are unique destinations in Bass Strait. King Island is famous for great dairy products and shellfish. It also has an eerie, calcified forest, shipwrecks, penguins and beaches.
Queenstown is an old mining town with bare hills – it looks a bit like a lunar landscape. The locals fed all the foliage into their furnaces decades ago and are now weirdly fond of the lifeless terrain. Pronounced “Strawn”, Strahan is a historic convict town which is today a charming harbourside resort and gateway to the mirror-like Gordon River. Take a cruise down the Gordon to appreciate its beauty. Tullah sits on the shores of the recently-dammed Lake Murchison, which is full of platypuses and drowned forests. Horse riding along the shore is stunning, as are twilight canoe trips to platypus-spot. At Arthur River, by Marrawah, Tassie’s northwest tip, you can cruise through rainforest to the confluence of the Arthur and Franklin rivers. Explore the protected area’s beaches, waterfalls and lagoons. Fossil Bluff at Wynyard is the area where Australia’s oldest marsupial fossil was found – by Hollywood hero Errol Flynn’s dad, no less.
The east coast gets the best of Tassie’s weather, being generally much drier than the ‘wild west’. It’s a string of long beaches, small fishing villages, marshland and aquatic wildlife such as penguins, seals and whales. Nestled in Tasmania’s north-east is the Bay of Fires, an idyllic sweep of icing sugar white sand, dotted with flame-coloured boulders. A great spot to set up camp. Bicheno is a quiet fishing town with a top beach, penguins, coastal walks and an explosive blowhole. It’s also the centre of Tassie’s scuba diving area. Swansea is a beautiful historic village on the
One of Australia’s most remote wilderness regions and a World Heritage area. This is really a place for intrepid adventurers and requires experience and careful preparation. There are few roads and access is limited (the area hasn’t even been fully mapped). Lake Pedder and Lake Gordon cover more than 500km and form Australia’s largest freshwater storage area. There’s some great trout fishing. Experienced bushwalkers might try the tracks leading to Port Davey and the south coast through the South West National Park’s beautiful cold rainforest, which is part of Tassie’s World Heritage wilderness area. ❚
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Australian essentials UNSURE HOW TO OPEN AN AUSSIE BANK ACCOUNT OR WHY SOMETHING CALLED GOON IS ABOUT TO BECOME YOUR BEST FRIEND? THEN YOU BETTER READ THIS
Photo: Tourism WA
Witnessing a Cable Beach sunset is just one essential Aussie experience
Banks You should open an Australian bank account if you’re planning on doing anything more than a bit of travelling Down Under, especially if that includes working. Most Australian banks charge for using their competitors’ ATMs, so it makes sense to go with one of the big four, who have the most machines. They are Westpac, Commonwealth, ANZ and National Australia Bank (NAB). Some banks require you to deposit money when you open the account, so make sure you’ve got a couple of extra bucks up your sleeve just in case. Also take note that many Australian current accounts come with a monthly charge of a few dollars. It’s also worth applying for a MasterCard debit card with whoever you open an account with. This will allow you to pay for things online with 84
your Aussie earnings, rather than having to rely on your credit card from home.
Currency Australia’s currency is decimal and based on the dollar ($), which is made up of 100 cents (c). Notes come in $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5 denominations. Coins used are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, $1 and $2. Exchange facilities are available at international airports. Foreign currency and traveller’s cheques can be changed at most bank branches.
Identification Make sure you bring ID with you such as a driver’s licence, as this and your passport are the only acceptable forms of ID in many places, including pubs – which are very strict on ID in Australia.
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Communications The dialling code for Australia is +61 (then delete the 0 at the start of the area code). Dialing out of Australia it’s: 00 11 before a country code (as well as deleting the first 0). There are many different phone cards which offer a variety of very cheap international calls so shop around for the one that suits you best. Basic information numbers include: Directory enquiries: 1223 Reverse charges: 1800 738 3773 Overseas operator: 1225 Emergency: 000 Note: These numbers are correct from Telstra telephones at time of going to press.
Mobile phones All the major communication companies (Vodafone, Optus, Telstra and Virgin) have pre-paid mobile packages, saving you the hassle of signing up for lengthy contracts. The choice of phones is pretty good, and many allow you to bring your own handset from home and just purchase the Australian SIM card so make sure you check the card is compatible with your mobile.
Internet There are loads of internet cafés across Australia, so you’ll have no problem keeping in touch with friends and family. Prices range from $2-6 per hour. Many hostels also offer free internet as part of their service. Free wifi hotspots are also becoming increasingly common in Aussie cities, for example in many McDonalds.
Post Offices Australia Post shops are open 9am-5pm MondayFriday and some major post offices are open on Saturday mornings as well. Poste Restante can be sent to any post office in Australia and collected within a month by producing suitable identification.
and 2,250ml of alcohol into Australia. General goods, such as perfume, to the value of $900 may be included in your duty free allowance. If you’re under 18 the limit is $450. Quarantine laws: Australia has very strict quarantine laws which prohibit people from bringing in fruit, veg, egg products, seeds, fresh and packaged food, animal and some natural products. The laws are intended to keep Australia free of diseases such as foot and mouth and rabies. Bins in customs halls allow you to dump anything which may contravene the law. You’re also required to declare any goods at customs. If you’re not sure (souvenirs from Asia, for example, may well be made of prohibited substances) ask, because if you’re caught bringing in something dodgy it will be confiscated and you could be slapped with a large fine. Worse yet, you could make it onto one of those customs TV shows! Bags are scanned at customs for organic material, making it easier to detect forbidden substances.
Getting there Australia’s busiest international airports are Sydney and Melbourne, but it is also possible to fly into Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin or Perth. A number of carriers offer flights to Australia, so it’s worth shopping around for the best deals. For more info on how to get to Oz, see the Buying Your Ticket section on page 176.
Departure tax There is a departure tax from Australia which is usually included in your ticket price, but check with your travel agent or online just to make sure.
Disabled facilities Australia is constantly improving its facilities for disabled people. Make sure you give advance notice to airlines, hotels and transport offices so they can make any special arrangements. Information on facilities is available from Nican (nican.com.au).
Most credit cards are accepted in Australia. You may find some difficulty using them in country areas and small retail shops. Cards generally accepted are MasterCard (Access), Visa, American Express, Bankcard and Diners Club. MasterCard and Visa are the most widely used.
Australia uses two or three-pin power plugs and sockets which are different from those used in other countries, so you will need to bring an adaptor if you want to use any electrical items from home, such as a mobile charger.
Allowance: Visitors aged over 18 are allowed to bring 250g of tobacco products (ie. 250 cigarettes)
Australia has very similar drug laws to most Western countries. Most recreational drugs are TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
OZESSENTIALS illegal, and if you get caught bringing any amount of drugs into the country you could face serious federal charges. Cannabis has not been decriminalised here, and although you may get away with a caution if you are caught in possession of a small amount, larger amounts and harder drugs will result in much tougher punishment.
Health There aren’t too many health hazards in Australia, but if you do become sick or injured, it is not difficult to get medical help. Having said that, it is important to make sure you have travel insurance and that your policy will cover your whole trip. Hygiene standards are high. It is safe to drink tap water, other than in exceptional circumstances such as floods or severe drought. Medicare: If you hail from the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Italy, Malta or Belgium, then you’re in luck, as reciprocal agreements means that Australia’s healthcare system looks after you best. Beware that different nationalities get cover for different amounts of time, not necessarily your whole stay Down Under. Head to a Medicare office once you arrive and you can apply for a Medicare card. This means that for the duration of your stay in Oz, you get free emergency treatment at public hospitals, subsidised prescriptions, and necessary medical care from your local doctor. The card doesn’t get you everything though. You will still have to pay for elective surgery, dental, optical, chiropractic, treatment in a private hospital, and, most importantly, it doesn’t cover ambulance transport. Go to medicareaustralia.gov.au for more info. Travellers from Ireland and New Zealand aren’t quite so lucky, although those countries do still have reciprocal agreements with Australia. This means that despite not getting a Medicare card, you do still get free emergency treatment, subsidised prescriptions and necessary medical care. If you are visiting Australia on a student visa you are not covered by Medicare and will need to take out Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). Medication: Visitors are permitted to bring in reasonable quantities of prescribed medication. With large quantities, it is advisable to carry a doctor’s certificate. Local chemists can fill most prescriptions, but keep in mind that these must be written by an Australian-registered doctor. Vaccinations: These are not required unless you have come from or visited a yellow fever-infected country or zone within six days prior to arrival. HIV/AIDS is as big a problem in Australia as anywhere 86
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in the world, so all the safe sex rules apply. Recent research has shown backpackers are more likely to contract an STI than the average person, so don’t be a moron. Skin cancer: This is the medical condition Australia is best known for, and one which visitors should take very seriously. Australia’s rate of skin cancer is the highest in the world as a result of an outdoor lifestyle and strong UV rays. Make sure you are always well protected, even if you’re not going to the beach. A slogan you will hear often is “Slip, Slop, Slap”, which is short for slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. Skin cancer should be taken seriously so avoid sunbathing between 11am-3pm and make sure you use a sunscreen with a high protection factor.
Luggage storage Ask at airports, trains and bus stations about luggage storage. Many independent travel specialists also offer luggage storage facilities.
Liquor laws Regulations vary from state to state. General pub opening hours are 10am-12am Monday-Saturday, Sunday hours vary (usually 12pm-10pm). However, in big cities you will find that many pubs have rather, erm, flexible opening hours. Many don’t close until 4am and some are open 24 hours. We like those ones. The minimum legal drinking age is 18. Many restaurants are licenced, but many do not sell alcohol and welcome you to bring your own. A Bring Your Own (BYO) restaurant can make for a cheap(ish) night out, although you may have to pay a small corkage charge. Drink driving: There is a national 0.05 blood alcohol limit (which is a half-pint less than the UK’s 0.08 limit), and random breath testing is widespread, especially in summer. If you hit something or someone while driving in NSW, Victoria, South Australia or the Northern Territory and end up at the hospital, you’ll face a compulsory blood test. If you fail the test you risk having your driver’s license removed right before your eyes, be slapped with a fine and you may also face further legal action. Basically, don’t be stupid by drink driving.
Smoking Australia has some of the world’s toughest antismoking laws. Sparking up was banned in all pubs and clubs in 2007, although many pubs have beer gardens and outdoor smoking areas. Smoking is also banned in offices, restaurants, cafés, cinemas and on public transport.
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Tax If you want to work while you’re in Australia, make sure you get yourself a Tax File Number (TFN). If you don’t get one, the government will take a staggering 47 per cent of your earnings in tax. So apply online at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website ato.gov.au as soon as you arrive.
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Time difference Australia is divided into three time zones. Eastern Standard Time (EST) covers Queensland, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Tasmania, and is nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Central Standard Time (CST) operates in South Australia and the Northern Territory and is nine-and-a-half hours ahead of GMT. Western Standard Time (WST) operates in Western Australia and is eight hours ahead of GMT, two hours behind EST and one-and-a-half hours behind CST. In summer it becomes really confusing, because not all states operate daylight saving (summer time). In Queensland, WA and the NT, they don’t ‘do’ daylight saving. The other states advance their clocks by one hour from October to March each year. Unfortunately, they don’t all change at the same time. And don’t forget British Summer time is one hour AHEAD of GMT from April-October. But if we were you, ignore all this and ask someone the time when you get off the plane.
Charlie Scarborough, England MOST MEMORABLE DAY IN OZ? “Sailing in the Whitsundays. A mum and baby humpback whale followed the boat, and then we stopped to kayak in a secluded bay – and enormous turtles swam alongside us – it was just too good to be true.“ ANYWHERE STILL ON THE WISHLIST? “I can’t wait to see the sunset at Uluru. I just need the funds to get there and back. I also want to drive along the Great Ocean Road and go to the Blue Mountains. Ahh, there’s too many to mention.”
Transport Australia is well serviced by public transport. Distances are often huge so planning is essential. Getting your own transport or buying a jump-on, jump-off bus ticket is a good way of travelling, as you can explore stop-overs along your route. See the Getting Around section on page 92 of this guide for more details. Cycling: Bicycle helmets are compulsory in Australia. Taxis: Metered cabs can be found in most towns or cities, and ranks can be found around CBDs.
Weights and measures Australia uses the metric system. Distances and speed are both measured in kilometres (km). Weight and volume in kilograms (kg) and litres (L). Temperature in degrees Celsius (ºC).
Living expenses With the Aussie dollar soaring high and the economy still doing relatively well, there’s no denying that Oz can now seem quite a pricey place, especially when it comes to things like alcohol. Australian cities,
especially Sydney, are more expensive than rural areas. However, as anywhere, it is still possible to do things and see places on the cheap.
Groceries Cooking for yourself is clearly going to be far kinder to your wallet than eating out every night, so if your hostel has a kitchen, use it! The major supermarkets are Coles and Woolworths.
Drinks Drinking beer by the glass in pubs can be expensive depending on the pub, although happy hours will save you money. You can also buy jugs of beer in many pubs, which can be more economical in the long-run. The cheapest way to buy beer tends to be in big 750ml bottles (“long-necks”). The cheapest wine comes in two and four-litre casks (nicknamed “goon”) and vary in price, depending on (usually pretty low) quality. Spirits are often more expensive by the bottle compared to Europe. ❚ TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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Australian visas ARRANGING AN AUSSIE VISA IS REFRESHINGLY PAINLESS, SO DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR AND GET IT SORTED EARLY TO AVOID ANY UNNECESSARY RUBBER GLOVE TREATMENT
It’s probably best you only show customs one of these
You will need a visa to get into Australia. Most young people travelling to Oz fall into two categories of visa applicants: those who want to work and need a Working Holiday Visa (WHV); and those who simply want a holiday and so require only a Visitor Visa. There are, of course, many other visas linked to employment or study. Your first stop should be the website for Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) at immi.gov.au, which explains all the visa options and has the application forms to download. Whatever visa you choose to apply for, make sure you sort it out before you finalise your travel plans. If you have a health condition or criminal record, you may be required to get medical or police clearance. Or you may discover that you don’t qualify for the type of visa you require. Planning ahead can save you a lot of tears and money in the long run. Bear in mind that visa rules can be subject to 88
change at frustratingly short notice, so keep yourself informed by visiting the website regularly.
Working Holiday Visas The WHV enables holders to travel and work their way around Australia for 12 months. But the popular visa gets even better. You can stay for an extra year, at least if you don’t mind picking a few strawberries. The WHV is intended for those who need to work to finance their travels. You are not however allowed to work for any one employer for more than six months. A year in Australia not enough? The good news is that if you complete three months (88 days) of “specified work” in regional Australia and, if you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply for a second Working Holiday Visa. The definition of specified work includes the following areas: construction, harvest work, mining, plant and animal cultivation, fishing and pearling, and tree farming and felling. Doing certain volunteer
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work also qualifies towards a bonus 12 months. Regional Australia refers to the rural areas, usually away from the big cities, which often suffer from labour shortages as Aussies flock to the bright lights. Head to immi.gov.au for a full list of eligible postcodes. Absolutely check this before signing up for a job – you wouldn’t want to do three months in a field only to discover it didn’t count. For more information on extending your visa, see “Extending the WHV” on the next page. As long as you’re aged 18-30 at the time of your application, entry into Australia can be up to one year after the visa is issued and it does not matter if you turn 31 in the interim period. Citizens of the following countries can apply: the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA, the Netherlands, Japan, Ireland, South Korea, Malta, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong, Finland, Cyprus, France, Italy, Belgium, Estonia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Chile. The exact details do change slightly, however, depending which country you’re from. So, again, visit the all-important immi.gov.au to find out more.
Electronic Travel Authority An ETA is a multiple entry visa valid for 12 months that entitles you to spend up to a maximum of three months in Australia each time. Visit eta.immi.gov.au to apply online. In many parts of the world (including the UK), you can obtain a visitor’s visa when you book your travel, as thousands of travel agencies and airlines are now linked to Australia’s Electronic Travel Authority (AETA) system which processes the visa immediately. ETAs are free, but you will be charged a processing fee. If you apply online at the DIAC website the cost is AU$20 (while travel agencies in, say the UK, will charge you around £20).
eVisitor visa If you are lucky enough to have a European passport, there is another visitor visa you can apply for online and it is free. The same conditions apply as for an ETA. You can spend a maximum of three months at a time in Australia over the 12 month validity period, but this visa is only valid to European passport holders. Check immi.gov.au for a list of inclusive countries.
Visitor visas If you want to stay in Oz for longer than three months, or if you’re from one of the countries that
does not have access to the ETA system, then you can apply for a Tourist Visa. You’re not allowed to do any kind of work on this visa and you must be able to show that you have sufficient funds to support yourself. This visa allows you to remain in Australia for up to 12 months and there is no age restriction for people applying for it. A Tourist Visa costs AU$110 and can be applied for from both within and outside the country.
Tourist Visa extensions In some cases, it is possible to have your Tourist Visa extended. Bear in mind that it is within the immigration officer’s rights to refuse you an extension, so don’t make any firm plans until you know it has been granted. A total period of 12 months in Australia is allowed on a Tourist Visa unless there are exceptional circumstances.
How to apply for a visa The simple and secure, not to mention fastest, way to apply for your WHV is online, via a scheme called eVisa found on DIAC’s website (immi.gov. au), where you can also download and print off application forms should you be unable to apply online. Forms can also be obtained from any Australian Consulate, Embassy or High Commission (see list at the end of this section). By post: If you’re not eligible to apply online, there are other options. You can send an application to any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. If doing it by post, it’s best to send your application by recorded delivery, enclosing a large, stamped and self-addressed envelope for return of your documents. Allow at least three weeks for your visa to be returned. In person: You can apply for a WHV in person at many Australian Embassies, High Commissions or Consulates, and they often issue the visa on the spot. But you can no longer apply in person at the Australian High Commission in London. The processing fee for a WHV application (at time of print) is a non-refundable AU$270. You will also need any medical information or evidence required by the Australian government and evidence of “sufficient funds” in your bank account. Generally, AU$5,000 in addition to funds for a return airfare is regarded as sufficient to cover the costs of the initial stages of the working holiday. Along with your application form, you should send or take to the embassy your passport, application fee and all other required documentation. There are several other visas available which may enable you to work Down Under for a period of time, TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
OZVISAS usually depending on your profession. Again, check the DIAC website, immi.gov.au for further details. Applying outside your home country: You can lodge an application for your first WHV online or by post from anywhere in the world, except Australia. However, applications by passport holders of certain countries must be submitted by post, fax or hand to the overseas Australian government office in their own country. Travellers with no choice but to use this method are those from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malta and Cyprus.
Extending your WHV Unlike the first time you apply for a WHV, you can apply for your second one from within Australia. You can apply from overseas as well. However, just like with the first WHV, any time spent outside Australia while your second visa is valid cannot be recouped. You must provide evidence you worked for a minimum of three months (or 88 days – they can be cumulative) as a specified worker while on your first visa. To prove this, you’ll need an employment
WORD FROM THE FIELD
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verification form (1263); this can be downloaded online at immi.gov.au/allforms/pdf/1263.pdf or picked up from a Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) office. Get this form before you start seasonal work as each employer you have must sign it. The form only has enough space for five employers so if you work for more than this you will require additional forms. Other acceptable evidence of seasonal work for your application may be pay slips, group certificates, tax returns or employer references. Applications for an extension can be made on the DIAC website and cost $270. You are also required to undergo a medical so keep in mind that you will have to pay for chest x-rays.
Requirements for second WHV Along with your application form, you should send your passport, evidence of your specified work in regional Australia, any medical information or evidence required by the Australian Government office where you intend to lodge your application, fee payment, and evidence that you have “sufficient funds” in your bank account, such as your bank statements – receipts from ATMs are not acceptable. Generally, AU$5,000 in addition to funds for a return airfare may be regarded as sufficient to cover the costs of your second working holiday.
Lauren Noble, USA WHAT WORK ARE YOU DOING? “I’ve been volunteering with CVA. Over the past five weeks I’ve helped plant trees in Geelong, done some weeding on Phillip Island and helped maintain some national park tracks. It’s been awesome.“ WHY VOLUNTEERING? “It’s just a great adventure. I get to travel to places I wouldn’t normally see as a tourist, plus I get to do outside work and meet the Aussie locals. It’s nice to do something completely different and give something back.”
You might land a great job while on your WHV and want to stay longer than that visa allows, but fear not. What you’ll need is the 457 Business Visa, or what is more commonly known as “sponsorship”. A company/employer (who is an approved business sponsor) will sponsor you to work on a visa valid for up to four years. You need to have an official “skilled occupation” and be earning above the specified minimum salary (which is currently AU$49,330 p/a). The 457 visa ties you to the job you are sponsored for, but this can be transferred between jobs as long as your new employer wishes to sponsor you too. Go to immi.gov.au/allforms/booklets/1131. pdf for a comprehensive booklet. This also lists the occupations for this visa. Booklets for Skilled Migration applications can be found on immi.gov.au under forms and booklets. Note: Information about visas is accurate at time of going to press. We strongly recommend you check the DIAC website (immi.gov.au) regularly as the rules, fees and application forms for visas are constantly changing. ❚
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Embassies love flags, bless â€˜em
UK & IRELAND ENGLAND Australian High Commission, Australia House, Strand, London, WC2B 4LA. +44 20 7379 4334 Mon-Fri 9.00am-11.00am
IRELAND Australian Embassy, Fitzwilton House, Dublin. +353 1 664 5300 Note: There is no visa office here, refer to the Australian High Commission in London.
SCOTLAND Australian Consulate Mitchell House, 5 Mitchell Street, Edinburgh, EH6 7BD. +44 131 538 0582
EUROPE BELGIUM Guimard Centre, Rue Guimardstraat 6-8 1040 Brussels. +32 2 286 0500 (refer to Paris embassy for visa applications)
DENMARK Dampfaergevej 26, 2nd Floor, Copenhagen. +44 20 7856 1563
4 Rue Jean Rey, 75724 Paris, Cedex 15. +33 1 405 933 00
Suite 1100, South Tower, 175 Bloor Street, East Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3R8. +1 613 236 0841 (also in Ottawa and Vancouver)
Level 7 PriceWaterHouse Coopers Tower, 186-194 Quay Street, Auckland. +64 9 921 8800 Also: 72-76 Hobson Street, Thorndon, Wellington. +64 4 473 6411
GERMANY Wallstrasse 76-79, 10179 Berlin. +49 30 880 0880 (also in Frankfurt)
Via Antonio Bosio 5, Rome 00161. +39 06 852 721
Australian Compound 1/50G Shantipath, Chanakypuri, New Delhi 110021. +91 11 4139 9900 (also in Chennai and Mumbai)
Level 24, Torre Espacio, Paseo de la Castellana 259D, 28046, Madrid. +34 91 353 66 90
SWEDEN Klarabergsviadukten 63, 8th Floor, Stockholm. +46 8 613 2900
THE NETHERLANDS Carnegielaan 4, The Hague 2517 KH. +31 70 310 8200 (refer to Berlin embassy for visa applications)
WORLD BRAZIL SES Quandra 801, Conjunto K, Lote 7, Brasilia. +1 905 280 1437
Jalan H.R Rasuna Said Kav C 15-16, Jakarta, Selatan, 12940. +62 21 2550 5555 (also in Bali)
JAPAN 2-1-14 Mita, Minato-Ku, Tokyo 108-8361. +81 3 5232 4111 (also in Fukuoka, Nagoya, Osaka, Sendai and Sapporo)
MALAYSIA 6 Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, Kuala Lumpur 50450. +60 3 2146 5555 (also in Penang, Sabah and Sarawak)
MEXICO Ruben Dario 55, Col Bosque De Chapultepec, Mexico City. 1101 2200
SOUTH KOREA 19th Floor, Kyobo Building, 1 Chongro-1-Ka Chongro-Ku, Seoul 110-714. +82 2 2003 0111 (also in Busan)
SINGAPORE 25 Napier Road, Singapore 258507. +65 6836 4100
THAILAND 37 South Sathorn Road Bangkok, 10120. +66 2 344 6300
USA 1601 Massachusetts Avenue, Washington DC NW 200362273. +1 202 797 3000 (also in many of the large cities) Visit embassy.gov.au for full embassy listings.
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Getting around WHETHER YOU ROADTRIP, FLY OR TAKE THE TRAIN, THERE’S A LOT OF GROUND TO COVER IN AUSTRALIA – HERE ARE SOME OF THE BEST WAYS TO SEE THE SUNBURNT COUNTRY
Photo: Tourism WA/Great Southern Rail
The Indian Pacific. No roos allowed
Australia is a massive country. Really massive. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself driving for hours when travelling from one city to the next. In fact, driving from Perth to Sydney is roughly the same as going from London to Moscow. And halfway back again. So, it’s important to know how you will travel around the country to make the most of your trip. Also, by planning a little in advance, you can take advantage of some great travel deals before you leave home.
Bus/coach Many independent travellers use coach services when travelling Down Under. Coach routes cover a surprisingly large amount of the country and offer flexibility. There are various passes, such as hop-on, hop-off options, or unlimited travel for a certain time. Travelling by coach also gives you a great chance to take in Australia’s vast terrain, while many backpackers opt for overnight buses, thereby saving accommodation costs. The big coach lines like Greyhound, Premier Motor Service and Firefly will take you to most of 92
the major towns. The smaller operators can take you off the beaten track. Standard long-distance coach amenities include air-conditioning, on-board toilets, comfortable adjustable seats and in some cases DVDs.
Budget transport Independent coach networks provide a unique budget travel option. They link you to Australian cities and out of the way places. They specialise in trips as flexible as the passengers themselves, and delight in discovering places far off the traditional tourist map. All offer the option of getting off and on when it suits. Some combine flights with bus travel.
Budget tours These give you the chance to explore Australia with an experienced guide. As well as luxury coaches, you can do outback adventure tours in 4WD vehicles or even surfing safaris. The tours usually include transport, accommodation and most meals. Nights can be spent in comfortable motels, hostels, bungalows, cabins or even tents. Various
GETTINGAROUND companies specialise in accommodation and camping tours for young travellers. Most offer flexible deals, allowing passengers to create their own itineraries.
By air Australia, in case we haven’t mentioned, is quite big. Sydney and Melbourne, for example, may look close on the map, but are a good 12 hours drive from each other. So if you spend a year in Oz, it’s highly probable you’ll take to the skies at some point. Domestic flights are surprisingly cheap and can save a hell of a lot of time. Virgin Australia, Qantas, Jetstar and Tiger Airways are the main airline services around Australia. The healthy competition makes fares good value and Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Tiger are favourites among travellers, as they are consistently cheap. Virgin Australia has some good deals, especially targetted at those who book flights before they get to Oz. See virginblueairpass.com for more. Visit virginaustralia.com, qantas.com.au, jetstar.com and tigerairways.com for more info and bookings.
By train Australia has an extensive rail network with some legendary train journeys. These include The Ghan (Adelaide to Alice Springs and Darwin) and the Indian Pacific. The latter rail journey operates twice a week between Sydney and Perth (and vice versa) and is something of an epic, taking three nights. One of the world’s great train rides, it travels over 4,352km and takes 65 hours to reach its destination. These journeys are not cheap (although they’re often cheaper than flying) or particularly time efficient – trains are not especially fast and there is much ground to cover. Most backpackers travel in the surprisingly comfortable daynighter seats. However, you may find a night in a sleeper is well worth the money after travelling for days sleeping upright in a bus. After all, these journeys are primarily about the people you meet and the experiences you have while getting from A to B. There are a range of discount passes available, such as backpacker and student cards, which dramatically reduce the prices. You can save up to 30 per cent on advance purchases, and independent travel agencies both in the UK and Australia will assist you in booking tickets. You can also book directly through Country Link, they offer a variety of rail passes covering New South Wales and the entire east coast. These include the Backtracker Rail Pass (Melbourne to Brisbane, back and forth as many times as you like) and the East 94
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Coast Discovery Pass (between Melbourne and Cairns or shorter sections in one direction). There are more than 350 Country Link rail and coach destinations to choose from between Melbourne and Brisbane and throughout regional New South Wales. Visit countrylink.info/travel_passes for the info. International Rail is the appointed UK agent for Rail Australia, enabling you to buy rail passes before leaving home. Some special passes can only be purchased from outside Australia and are usually pretty good deals. Australian Rail passes can be booked through your local travel agent or International Rail. Visit internationalrail.com for more information.
By car/campervan Many travellers say the best way to see Oz is by driving around the country yourself. Because of the sheer size of Australia, some of the country’s best places tend to be off the beaten track and there is nothing more exciting than discovering your own deserted, breathtaking beach, beautiful national park camping ground or secret, peaceful swimming hole. Many travellers are tempted to purchase or hire a car or campervan, which, apart from the initial outlay for the vehicle, can be cost-efficient in the long run. Having your own wheels also means you have a mobile bed, and you can save on costs by sleeping in the car. Once again it is worth emphasising the size of Australia. Don’t think you can drive from Melbourne and be in Cairns for opening time at the pub the next day. Take your time and enjoy the experience. Roads are very different from those in Europe. Some major highways are dual carriageways, but many are only single carriageways. If you are lucky, there won’t be too many potholes. Deep in the outback, you will sometimes find that the standard of the roads deteriorates. Long distances mean long hours, so don’t drive if you’re tired. The phrase “Stop, revive, survive” is aimed at reminding drivers to take regular breaks – sometimes you even get free cups of tea! Outback roads also have their own share of dangers; road trains and wildlife. Road trains are massive trucks, which can be up to 50m long. They travel at great speeds and aren’t too keen on slowing down. There’s not much that would stand up to being hit by one of these monsters. Driving at night, especially at dusk, can also be a bad idea; it’s when most of the native animals come out and, mesmerised by your headlights, will happily stand right in your path until you hit them. This may
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Photo: SATC/Adam Bruzzone
With your own wheels you can stop for a ‘casual’ photo whenever you want
not sound dangerous (for you at least), but hitting a six-foot kangaroo or an emu can do a lot of damage. If you do decide to drive, always make sure you have a working spare tyre, extra fuel and water. If you break down in the middle of the outback you could be waiting a long time before you get help. If you do get stuck, never leave your car – it’s the safest and easiest place to find you.
Buying and renting A car is certainly a flexible and exciting way to travel around Oz. However, buying and selling can be problematic because of the money involved, so consider these points before you take the plunge. Auctions: Not recommended for novices, because you can’t start or drive the car before you buy. There are many astute buyers, including professionals, so you won’t get a bargain that’s worth the risk unless you know your stuff. Auctions are an option for selling your car, though it is more expensive than selling privately or via car markets. Buy-back option: Another option is to purchase a car from a company with a buy-back deal. Usually 96
you can pick up the vehicle in one city and drop it off in another for an additional fee. But some companies offer low buy-back prices and you may be better off selling it yourself. Car dealers: This gives you security of ownership, assistance with paperwork, and generally the vehicles have been mechanically checked. It is the dealer’s responsibility to guarantee that the vehicle is legally registered, roadworthy and free of any financial encumbrances. Second-hand cars are easy to find and some dealers specialise in vehicles for independent travellers. These dealers will give you a guaranteed buy-back price when you want to sell the car at the end of your trip. Car rental: There are many car rental companies with good deals such as weekend rates for car/ camping packages, accommodation packages and stand-by rates. The major rental companies (Avis, Hertz, Budget, Thrifty etc) are easy to find at airports and railway stations but most are in city centres. There are also companies which cater to independent travellers and will be flexible in terms of one-way rentals and good rates.
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To rent a car, drivers must be over 21 (25 with and registration documents. some companies) and you will need to show your The validity of NSW registered cars can be driving licence (a photocopy generally isn’t checked on the Roads and Traffic Authority website good enough). rta.nsw.gov.au/registration. Have the registration, An excellent way to get around cheaply is to ask engine and chassis numbers to hand. hire companies about relocations. This is basically They will tell you whether there is any money when someone has hired a car for a one-way journey, owing or outstanding fines on the vehicle. A vehicle and the hire company needs a vehicle returned to must be registered in its home state or go through their offices. All you have to do is ring up and ask – inspections and paperwork to transfer between you’ll often get rates as cheap as $1 per day, and the states, which may be best avoided as this can be only condition will be the time frame in which the both costly and time consuming. vehicle needs to be returned, but this is flexible. Cars can be difficult to sell outside their Campervan & motorhome hire: This can be a more home state so bear this in mind when planning economical way to travel, especially for groups of your travels. For Motor Registry contact details, three to four. Campervans have two to three berths, check australia.gov.au/topics/transport/ while motorhomes have between four and six. registration-and-licences and then Four wheel drive (4x4) hire: 4WD choose the relevant state. vehicles are an ideal way to see some Mechanics: You will be rugged areas. However, they are more covering long distances, so buy a expensive than your average car – Ask vehicle rental vehicle you can trust. When you’re companies about plus fuel and a big deposit, stuck in the searing heat in the relocation deals. so they are not exactly cheap. middle of nowhere having to hitch If you’re willing to Car markets: There are a few to the nearest town, you’ll wish travel quick, you car markets operating in Sydney you took the trouble. might get a motor specialising in cars for travellers. Some hostel noticeboards advertise for just $1 a day Station wagons are perfect for mechanical services. Auto Associations all the bits and pieces you collect inspect vehicles for about $100 and during your travels as well as for will list all faults, but keep in mind sleeping in. Some have cheap campervans and 4WDs the price of the vehicle you are buying when you and even offer buyback services and free pick-up see the report. You must be a member to arrange services. They will arrange insurance and often have an inspection; membership of most international a good range of interstate registered cars, which is organisations gives you automatic membership handy if you intend to sell interstate. with AAA/RAC. Buying privately: Check hostel noticeboards and Motorcycle hire: Long open roads and the sunny newspapers. In the past, backpackers bought and climate make Australia a motorcyclist’s paradise. sold cars on the streets of Kings Cross and Cairns. Large capacity machines are the best bet (750cc However, this is now illegal and there are harsh fines and up), considering the distances involved, while to recover your towed away vehicle. Be sure to check trail bikes will allow you to enjoy some great offthe registration details match with a photographic road riding. ❚ licence or passport. Insurance: Vehicles with valid registration are covered by compulsory third party (CTP) insurance. In NSW, proof is a “green slip” issued by a private insurance company and/or a valid certificate of registration. When a vehicle is bought or sold the CTP transfers to the new owner until registration expires. You are strongly advised to take out extra cover for damage to another vehicle or property. This is called third party property cover. Legalities: Check state laws relating to registration and inspections to make sure you know the rules. You should only buy a vehicle with a valid “pink slip”, telling you it is roadworthy (a “black slip” lists any faults yet to be fixed),
Drive Now Vehicle rental. +61 3 9095 7460, drivenow.com.au Greyhound Australia Buses around Australia. 1300 473 946* greyhound.com.au Hippie Camper Vehicle rental. +800 3260 5466 hippiecamper.com Jucy Rentals Vehicle rental. +61 7 3236 9882, jucy.com.au Kings Cross Car Market For buying and selling vehicles. 1800 808 188* carmarket.com.au No Worries Vehicle rental. 1800 242 429* no-worries.com.au Premier Transport Group Buses along the east coast. 13 34 10, premierms.com.au Translink Queensland trains. 13 12 30, translink.com.au Travellers Auto Barn Vehicle rental. +61 2 9360 1500 travellers-autobarn.com.au Virgin Blue Airpass Multi-flight deals. +61 7 3295 2296 virginblueairpass.com
ADVENTURES Activity Tours Sydney day tours. +61 2 4227 9902 activitytours.com.au Adventure Tours Australia Australia-wide tours. +61 8 8132 8230 adventuretours.com.au
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Peterpans Adventure Travel Backpacker travel agent. Freephone: 1800 669 424* peterpans.com
Cradle Coast Tours Tasmanian tours. +61 3 6425 5854 cradlecoasttours.com.au
Mission Beach Dunk Island Water Taxi Dunk Island tours. +61 7 4068 8310 missionbeachwatertaxi.com
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On yer bike
Cool Dingo Tours Fraser Island tours. + 61 7 4120 3333 cooldingotour.com
Adventures Beyond South Australia tours. +61 400 881 565 adventuresbeyond.com.au
Photo: Tourism Tasmania/Geoff Murray
Backpacker Campervans Vehicle rental. +800 2008 0801 backpackercampervans.com.au
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Mulgas Adventures Red Centre tours. +61 8 8952 1545 anniesplacebackpackers.com Ningaloo Blue Whale shark tours, WA. +61 8 9949 1119 ningalooblue.com.au Nullarbor Traveller Tours between Adelaide and Perth. +61 8 8687 0455 thetraveller.net.au Ocean Rafting Whitsundays tours. +61 7 4946 6848 oceanrafting.com.au OutBackPackers Outback farmstays. +61 2 6842 8200 outbackpackers.com Overlanders Queensland motorbike tours. +61 4 2742 5509 overlandersmc.com.au Oz Experience Hop on-hop off Australiawide tours. +61 2 9297 7000 ozexperience.com Padi Asia Pacific Scuba diving courses. +61 2 9454 2888, padi.com
RnR White Water Rafting North Queensland rafting. +61 7 4041 9444 raft.com.au Skydive The Beach Sydney skydiving. 1300 663 634 skydivethebeach.com.au Skydive Mission Beach North Queensland skydiving. +61 7 4068 9291 skydivemissionbeach.com.au Territory Discoveries NT ideas. +61 8 8951 8544 territorydiscoveries.com The Rock Tour Red Centre tours. +61 8 8953 1008 therocktour.com.au Tourism Victoria Backpacking ideas. backpackmelbourne.com Under Down Under Tours around Tasmania. + 61 3 6228 4255 underdownunder.com.au Walkin On Water Gold Coast surfing lessons. +61 7 5534 1886 walkinonwater.com * From within Australia
CRUISE INTO YOUR NEXT BACKPACKER ADVENTURE Branches in Australia and New Zealand! Australasiaâ€™s largest vehicle rental operator Quality vehicles 24 hour roadside assistance Campervan hires available from 18 years and up
Good Quality Campers
Cars available too!
Book online at www.backpackercampervans.com 24/7 International Freecall: +800 200 80 801 Freecall within Australia: 1800 670 232 Freecall within New Zealand: 0800 422 267 facebook.com/backpackercampervans twitter.com/BackpackerVans
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Finding jobs in Oz FROM FRUIT-PICKING TO NURSING, BAR TENDING TO TEACHING, THERE ARE PLENTY OF WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN AUSTRALIA WHEN YOU NEED TO REPLENISH YOUR BANK BALANCE
Photo: AFP/Getty Images/Francois Nascimbeni
Earn cash and a second year in Australia doing some vine time
If you’re planning on spending an extended time Down Under, there’s a fair chance you will push your finances to the limit, so you will need to earn some extra money. But fear not, because getting a job on your travels need not be the tiresome necessity you imagine. As well as the financial benefits, working is a great way to get to know the locals and experience the famous Aussie lifestyle. Plus, if you don’t want to leave the land of Oz, there may be chances of sponsorship.
Who can work? The only people who can legitimately work while travelling are those holding an appropriate visa, which in most backpackers’ case, is a Working Holiday Visa (see visas section on page 88). Anyone caught working illegally faces being deported and potentially never being allowed back to Australia. 100 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
Job hunting There is nothing more frustrating than finding your dream job, which you have all the qualifications for, then realising that all evidence of your experience is in the bottom drawer of your desk at home. Or missing out after showing up to the interview wearing a t-shirt. It’s worth sorting out your CV, references and maybe even scanned copies of your certificates before you leave. The best thing to do is email them to yourself so you can always get easy access. If you’re in a profession where a police check might be needed, like teaching, it’s also worth getting that sorted before you leave. If you’re after office-based work, then perhaps it’s worth packing a set of smart clothes. You will be able to buy work clothes in Australia of course (and save yourself having to lug them around the world), but that’s quite a lot of beer money.
OZWORK Where to look for work Hit the streets: In many instances (especially in retail and hospitality), you’ll find that simply walking in to a place you want to work and asking for a job is the most effective way of landing one.
Other places to find jobs TNT Magazine: There are heaps of jobs listed in our mag every week and contact details for all the best recruitment companies. You can also sign up for our weekly e-newsletter, which is full of jobs aimed specifically at backpackers. Visit tntdownunder.com Newspapers: Newspapers in the capital cities are normally full of job ads, as are regional papers in the country. On the web: All the recruitment agencies are online nowadays, plus many companies may only advertise jobs on their own websites. Hostels: Hostels offer good local information on jobs and can sometimes even arrange work, especially in harvest areas. Ask at reception or check noticeboards.
WORD FROM THE STREET
Gabriella Lahti, Sweden WHAT’S YOUR JOB? “I’m working in promotions. I hand out free stuff to people; chocolate, alcohol, dildos... I just got it through the internet. There’s about five million promotion agencies in Australia who are looking for outgoing people, so it’s not hard to find a job as long as you look presentable and know how to scream: ‘It’s free!’” DO YOU ENJOY IT? “The money and the short shifts are good. Plus all my work mates are good looking AND nice.”
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Recruitment agencies: Usually the quickest way to find office, computer or financial work. Sign up with a number of agencies to increase your chances of finding work.
Types of jobs Seasonal work: The warm months (OctoberApril) are the prime time for harvest jobs but there is seasonal work all year round. The work isn’t easy, but you can potentially earn good money. And an added bonus is that anyone who undertakes three months of seasonal work (such as fruit-picking) will be eligible to apply for a second Working Holiday Visa. Most hostels in fruit-picking areas can arrange work and often offer special accommodation and transport for harvest workers. (Get more info from the National Harvest Labour Information Service, harvesttrail.gov.au). Au pair and childcare: If you’re good with young ‘uns, and have experience and references, there is plenty of work through specialist agencies. Banking and finance: Australia rode the global financial crisis with relative calm, meaning jobs are available in the banking, finance and accounting industries, especially for temps to cover peak periods. Make sure you wear good clothes to the agency and all interviews. Education: If you’ve got the qualifications and security checks, teachers are in high demand across Australia and you can earn a good wage. Farm work: Another great Aussie experience is to work on a farm as a jackaroo or jillaroo, but these jobs can be hard to find. Mechanics, builders, tractor drivers, domestics, welders, cooks, horse riders or those with a heavy vehicle driver’s licence will find farm work easier to come by. Hospitality: This industry could have been made for travellers, with decent pay and flexible hours not to mention the lively social scene. In most states however you need a Responsible Service of Alcohol Certificate. This requires a one-day course that costs from $50. Nursing and medical: Australia is suffering from a shortage of qualified nurses, so if you’ve got the right qualifications and registration, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding work. Hospitals regularly hire casual staff through nursing agencies. There’s also a demand for doctors, and other medical professionals such as physiotherapists, especially in rural areas. Office work: There are office temping jobs available for anyone with general office skills, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, and the pay is reasonable.
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Resort work: Most jobs are word-of-mouth, but some are advertised in newspapers and Employment National (the Governmentâ€™s Job Network) offices or on the jobsearch.gov.au website. Queensland (especially the Whitsundays) has the most job opportunities. Ski season work: Believe it or not, it does snow in Australia, and during the ski season there are plenty of jobs to go around. Jobs are normally advertised in the major papers around April, or keep an eye on websites for resorts like Perisher and Thredbo. Creative: Though tough, itâ€™s not impossible for designers, journalists and others with experience in creative fields (advertising, print publishing and internet) to find work. Afterall, we managed it. Sales and marketing: Thereâ€™s lots of contract work available in the sales industry plus marketing and promotions. Contact recruitment agencies to see which jobs best suit your skills. Telemarketing: Telemarketing is not for everyone, but can pay well. Check the phone directory and newspapers for companies as there is a high turnover in these jobs.
CALLING ALL BACKPACKERS & CHATTERBOXES! Want to travel for FREE? Want to work OUTDOORS? Want to MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
THEN THIS IS FOR YOU! We are looking for young, fun and exciting individuals to help promote and raise funds for charities all over Australia!
Volunteering A great way to get off the beaten track and see more of Oz. WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms, info at wwoof.com.au) can help you find work across the country. If you want to help the environment, consider Conservation Volunteers Australia (conservationvolunteers.com.au).
The tax system A Tax File Number (TFN) is essential if you plan on working while youâ€™re in Oz. Most Working Holiday visa holders can apply online at ato.gov.au/individuals When you start a job, your employer will ask you to complete a TFN declaration â€“ you have 28 days to provide it. When you leave an employer, make sure you get a payment summary showing your total income and amount of tax withheld. You must lodge a tax return before you leave Australia. Failure to do so can incur a fine and affect your chances of returning. On the plus side, travellers often receive a tax refund in excess of $1,000. If youâ€™re planning on being self-employed, youâ€™ll also need an Australian Business Number (ABN). See ato.gov.au for info. â?š
9OUR CAREER OPPORTUNITIES ARE IN EXCELLENT SHAPE h 3PECIALIST .URSES %XCEPTIONAL /PPORTUNITIESv '5!2!.4%%$ 0,!#%-%.4
All training is provided and PAID! All transport and accommodation is provided FREE! Make $$$ while ďŹ ghting for a good cause! Immediate start! Phone Tim: 1800 450 123 +612 8114 1605 www.mondialfundraising.com.au/jobs
#ALL NOW -EDI#ALL 0LACEMENTS TEL EMAIL CONTACT MEDICALLPLACEMENTCOM WWWMEDICALLPLACEMENTSCOM
OZWORK DIRECTORY 24/7 Nursing +61 2 9314 7744 247nursing.com.au Access Nursing Agency +61 2 9326 3988 accessnursing.com.au Australian Nursing Agency (Swing Shift Nurses) +61 3 9481 7222 swingshift.com.au
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Drake Australia Healthcare agency. 1300 360 070* drakemedox.com.au Edway Group Training Bar & construction training. +61 2 9357 6544, edway.com.au First Choice Care Healthcare agency. 1300 307 241* firstchoicecare.com.au
MediCall Placements Healthcare agency. +61 2 9412 4900 medicallplacements.com Mondial Fundraising Telesales. +61 2 8001 3001 mondialfundraising.com.au National Harvest Labour Information Service Farm work. 1800 062 332* jobsearch.gov.au/harvesttrail
Australian Nursing Network +61 2 9009 5120 ausnursingnet.com.au
Global Advantage Recruitment Services Healthcare agency. 1800 009 292* globaladvantage.org
Centre for Clinical Studies Get paid for medical trials. + 61 3 9076 8900 nucleusnetwork.com.au
Healthcare Australia Healthcare agency. +61 2 9212 5544 healthcareaustralia.com.au
Randstad Education Teaching agency. 1300 360 014* randstad.com.au/education
Cox Purtell Office work, accounting, marketing, finance agency. +61 2 9231 3300, coxpurtell.com.au
Law Staff Legal, corporate agency. +61 2 9235 3399 lawstaff.com.au
Regional Nursing Solutions Healthcare agency. +61 7 5473 7900 regionalnursingsolutions.com.au
Seek All sectors job listings. seek.com.au Teach.NSW Public Education Teaching opportunities. 1300 300 498* teach.nsw.edu.au/ workingholiday TNT Magazine All sectors job listings. tntjobs.com.au Q-Pharm Get paid for medical trials. +61 7 3845 3636 qpharm.com.au Visit Oz Farm work. +61 7 4168 6106 visitoz.org Workstay Backpacker jobs. workstay.com.au *From within Australia
Thereâ€™s always plenty of barwork available if you need help topping up your travel fund
Perisher Blue Ski Resort Ski resort work. perisherjobs.com.au
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Studying in Australia FANCY DOING YOUR HOMEWORK ON THE BEACH? FEW COUNTRIES ARE AS FUN TO BE A STUDENT IN AS AUSTRALIA
Study your way to an Aussie stay
out what category your country is in, as it will affect your application in a number of ways, including the length of time it will take to be processed. For instance, Level One nationals can apply for student visas online, as well as in Australia (provided they’re already there on another valid visa such as a Visitor’s Visa). All other nationalities must apply offshore, and may not be able to apply online either. Visit immi.gov.au/students for more details. The good news is that a student visa allows you to stay in Australia for a month before and after your course, plus you can also work while you’re studying, which is a bonus if you’re planning on frequenting the student bars or doing some travelling. You have to apply for the right to work once you’ve arrived in Australia and you are only allowed to work a maximum of 20 hours per week, except during official study breaks when you can work unlimited hours. Better yet, the government changed the laws last year so that foreign graduates who complete a bachelor’s degree Down Under can now stay and work in the country for up to two years after they finish, without any restriction on the type of job. Visit immi.gov.au to find out more about applying for student visas. Check out idp.com for more information about studying in Australia. Have a look at cricos.deewr.gov.au to search courses and institutions. ❚ TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 105
With 39 universities, plenty of private and government institutions for vocational training, a booming English language industry and worldwide recognition of qualifications, Australia can hardly be called an undesirable place to study. But the real benefits of studying Down Under are the comparatively cheap fees, the alluring backdrop of sun and surf and the great year-round climate which fuels the famous outdoor Aussie lifestyle. And yes, if you want, you really can do your homework down on the beach, just like in Home and Away. Just because you haven’t heard of many Australian colleges or universities doesn’t mean the institutions aren’t top notch and, generally speaking, the quality of Aussie courses is comparable to some of the world’s best. In order to apply for a student visa, there’s some basic stuff you’ll need to get organised. Firstly (and rather obviously) you’ll need to be accepted onto a course. You have got no chance of being granted a student visa until you have been sent that official letter of confirmation. Next you need to look into health insurance (Overseas Student Health Cover), which is compulsory for students to have for the duration of their course. You won’t get a student visa without OSHC. You’ll also need to prove that you’ve got sufficient funds to support yourself and pay for your studies, and that you’re prepared to comply with the conditions of your visa. And if your first language isn’t English, you’ll also need to show that you’ve got the appropriate level of English. However, if you’re only planning on doing a short course, then there may be no need to apply for a student visa, as you’re permitted to study for a maximum of four months on a Working Holiday Visa. When it comes to applying for a student visa through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, bear in mind that not all nationalities are created equal. Countries are divided into different levels according to the risk of nationals from these countries overstaying their visa, with Level One being the lowest risk category and Level Five the highest. These categories may change depending on the course you’re applying for, so make sure you find
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Where to stay FROM SLEEPING UNDER THE STARS TO A HOSTEL JUST A SHORT STAGGER FROM THE BEACH, THERE’S NO SHORTAGE OF GREAT PLACES TO STAY IN AUSTRALIA
Photo: Tourism WA
Stay in an outback pub and have a drink with the locals
Whether you’re looking for a quirky outback pub, modern inner-city hostel or simply a shack by the beach, Australia has a huge range of accommodation for budget travellers – it just depends on what you want and what you can afford. Competition for your dollar is fierce so prices are good and quality is ever increasing. Plus all sorts of incentives are often thrown in, such as free pick-up, drink vouchers, internet use or discounted tours. Check the listings in TNT Magazine when you arrive to find one that suits your needs. Those wanting to stop-off and work, or just relax in one place for a few weeks or months, are well catered for too, with share accommodation and other good rental options. Those with a taste for the outdoors will be able to find plenty of space to pitch a tent. Another great option is a campervan – the most flexible and cheap way to travel and sleep. If you’re in the bush you can give the old-fashioned Aussie pub a try, or get in amongst it on a farmstay. 106 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
Hostels The range of hostels in Oz is excellent. From beach huts and tree houses in Queensland to mountain cabins in Tasmania, you’ll be amazed that you’re actually staying in “budget” accommodation. Many of the hostels, although in many cases individually run, are part of one of the big backpacker chains – Nomads, Youth Hostel Association (YHA), Base and VIP, for example. All provide self-catering accommodation in a warm, relaxing atmosphere, with friendly staff who have a knowledge of the local area. You can become a member of any or all of these organisations for a small fee, and receive discounts on accommodation and tours when you book with them. The hostels that are not part of any of the above chains are not necessarily inferior in any way, you just don’t get the advantage of the group benefits. The cheapest beds in hostels are usually bunks in dorm rooms, where you share the room and amenities with others (they can be as small as four-bed dorms, up
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to as large as 16-bed dorms). Most hostels will have double and single rooms too, and sometimes the option of ensuite bathrooms. Some may even have self-contained units. Many hostels now also have swimming pools, bars, pool tables, BBQs, bicycles, surfboards for hire (sometimes for free) and more. Larger hostels often arrange lots of social events too and run their own tours. If you’re travelling alone it’s no problem meeting like-minded types. Most hostels have a shared, self-catering kitchen (which means you have to clean up after yourself) and many have courtesy shuttle-buses that greet travellers when they arrive in town (though you sometimes need to call ahead to arrange pick-up). You’ll constantly bump into people who have been to where you’re going, so ask around to find the best places.
Hotels Most hotels will be above a budget travellers’ price range. However smaller motels can be surprisingly cheap, especially if you’re getting a room for a few people.
Share accommodation If you’re keen to meet people, or are craving a little bit of normality during your adventure around Australia, share accommodation is another great option. For a low price you can rent a room in a furnished flat, sharing the facilities with other travellers. There are several good agencies specifically designed just for backpackers. For a similar price to a hostel, you can have your own private room with bills included (though you usually have to commit to staying for a few weeks). An agency will ensure the house is well maintained, provide rental receipts and references (handy for renting later) and so forth.
Renting Private share houses can be cheaper, but not always as well maintained. Make sure you inspect the property first and insist on receipts before handing over cash. One of the best ways to start looking for a place to stay is on the various notice boards around town and in the backpacker travel centres. This informal way of finding a home can prove to be the cheapest, as most people will only ask for a couple of weeks rent up front and usually waive the hefty deposit. Private renting can be tricky as most places are unfurnished. You’re better off looking for “house shares”, in the paper, on hostel noticeboards or at gumtree.com.au. This can also be the best option for finding a short-term solution, and meeting Aussies in
the process, with many people sub-letting their room while travelling themselves. Most renting requires a “bond” – a downpayment of at least one month’s rent, which is used as a caution deposit and is refundable when you move out unless you’ve damaged the property. Rent prices vary from location to location. Sydney would be the most expensive for example, as is being near the beach generally – though being near the sand is still possible.
Gay & lesbian There are many hostels that cater for gay and lesbian travellers, especially in the bigger cities, notably Sydney. Most tourism boards have some form of gay and lesbian travelling handbook with a directory of accommodation, bars and clubs. There is also a Rough Guide to Gay & Lesbian Australia which may be of help.
Camping Australia presents great opportunities for campers. The countryside and weather are perfect for pitching your tent and experiencing the land at its most natural. There is nothing quite like getting back to nature, gazing at the stars at night and sitting next to a roaring fire (if you can get over the whole shitting in a hole thing). Tents are easy to buy (check out hostel noticeboards). Better yet, adopt the Aussie tradition and buy yourself a swag, a canvas sleeping bag complete with built-in foam mattress that allows you to sleep out under the Milky Way. Remember that permission is needed to camp on private property and there may be local regulations or restrictions against camping. It is advisable to carry portable stoves or gas cookers, as open fires are often banned due to the risk of bushfires. Always make sure you have a supply of fresh water. National Parks: Australia has more than 2,000 national parks, natural reserves and wildlife sanctuaries, which can make camping really special. National parks allow camping in designated areas (from as little as $6 per night) and some allow bush camps for a small fee. If spending extended periods in national parks, make sure you let the ranger know your plans. Some of the parkland is vast and we wouldn’t want to lose you! Camping Tours: For those who don’t have their own vehicle or equipment, an alternative is an organised camping tour. It’s a great way to see the country without having your head stuck in a map, and many of the tour guides prove to be the most outlandish characters you could ever hope to meet. TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 107
OZSTAY Caravan Parks: Australia has an extensive network of caravan parks. Most cost between $20-30 a night and tend to have basic amenities and barbecues for cooking, although some have recreational facilities. On-site vans: These are a relatively cheap alternative to carrying a tent, especially if there’s a group of you. They’re found at most caravan parks.
Pubs For many of the smaller outback towns this is the only accommodation option. They are not unlike British B&Bs. Rooms are unsophisticated with just a bed, sink and a communal toilet and bathroom down the hallway. A cooked breakfast is usually included, but self-catering kitchens are rare. A great place to meet true blue Aussies.
Farmstays & homestays Another great way to meet locals, these cost more than hostels but can be worth the money. Guests choose whether they’d like to spend their days relaxing on the verandah, fishing or bushwalking, or getting their hands dirty with hands-on farm jobs: riding, gathering cattle, grooming horses, riding quads or motorbikes.
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See our Queensland section for more details (p32). Farmstays mean you can get involved with the farmwork (and maybe even earn some extra cash) and homestays allow you to live with Australian families. Check out australianfarmstay.com.au for more info. If you’re a little short on cash, consider taking part in the Willing Workers on Organic Farms programme, where you’ll get a free bed in return for a couple of hours work a day. So-called wwoofing also often counts as the regional work you’d need to do if hoping to extend your Working Holiday Visa for a second year. See wwoof.com.au for more info.
Booking ahead The natural inclination for most independent travellers is to not plan too far ahead. However, it’s a good idea to pre-book the first few nights of your trip, especially if you’re arriving in peak periods (Christmas and NYE in Sydney for example should be booked months in advance). Most places allow you to book rooms online via their websites. It is also a good idea to be aware of special events taking place (see p20) – for example, the Australian Open in Melbourne during January – may affect availability of rooms. ❚
We’d recommend taking a bit more camping gear
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NSW SYDNEY CITY Base Sydney 477 Kent St. CBD. stayatbase.com Big Hostel 212 Elizabeth St. CBD. bighostel.com Bounce Budget Hotel 28 Chalmers St. CBD. bouncehotel.com.au City Resort Hostel 103-105 Palmer St. Woolloomooloo cityresort.com.au Easy Go Backpackers 752 George St. CBD. easygobackpackers.com.au Maze Backpackers 417 Pitt St. CBD. mazebackpackers.com Sydney Central YHA 11 Rawson Place. CBD. yha.com.au
Lochner’s Guesthouse 8 Gowrae Ave. Bondi. +61 2 9387 2162 Noah’s Bondi Beach 2 Campbell Parade noahsbondibeach.com Surfside Backpackers 35a Hall St. Bondi. surfsidebackpackers.com.au
Byron Bay Accom byronbayaccom.net
Coogee Beachside 178 Coogee Bay Rd, Coogee. sydneybeachside.com.au Surfside Backpackers 186 Arden Street. Coogee. surfsidebackpackers.com.au
Dlux Hostel 30 Darlinghurst Rd, Kings Cross. dluxbudgethotel.com.au
Woolbrokers Hotel 22 Allen St. Pyrmont. woolbrokershotel.com.au
GLEBE Glebe Point YHA 262-264 Glebe Point Road. Glebe. yha.com.au
BONDI Bondi YHA 63 Fletcher Street. Tamarama. yha.com.au Lamrock Lodge 19 Lamrock Ave. Bondi. lamrocklodge.com
Backpackers Holiday Village 116 Jonson St byronbaybackpackers.com.au
Clarks @ Clovelly 272 Clovelly Rd, Clovelly. clarksatclovelly.com.au
Sydney Railway Square YHA 8-10 Lee St. CBD. yha.com.au
Wake Up! 509 Pitt St. CBD. wakeup.com.au
Aquarius Backpackers 16 Lawson St. aquarius-backpackers.com.au
Backpackers Inn 29 Shirley St backpackersinnbyronbay.com.au
Boomerang Backpackers 141 William Street, Kings Cross. boomerangbackpackers.com
Westend Backpackers 412 Pitt St. CBD. nomadshostels.com
Aegean Coogee Lodge 40 Coogee Bay Rd. Coogee. aegeancoogee.com.au
Sydney Harbour YHA 110 Cumberland Street. The Rocks. yha.com.au
The Excelsior 64 Foveaux St. Glebe. excelsiorhotel.com.au
Terrigal Beach YHA 9 Ocean View Dr, Terrigal. yha.com.au
MANLY Boardrider Backpacker Rear 63, The Corso, Manly. boardrider.com.au Manly Backpackers 24-28 Raglan St, Manly. manlybackpackers.com.au Manly Beach House Accommodation 179 Pittwater Rd, Manly. manlybeachhouse.com.au The Bunkhouse 35 Pine St, Manly. bunkhouse.com.au
BLUE MTNS Blue Mountains YHA 207 Katoomba St, Katoomba. yha.com.au
CENTRAL COAST Newcastle Beach YHA 30 Pacific St, Newcastle. yha.com.au
Byron Bay YHA 7 Carlyle St. yha.com.au Nomads Byron Bay Lawson Lane. nomadshostels.com The Arts Factory 1 Skinners Shoot Rd. nomadshostels.com
SOUTH COAST Great Southern Backpackers 13 Chandos St, Eden. greatsoutherninn.com.au
COFFS HARB Coffs Harbour YHA 51 Collingwood St. yha.com.au Harbour City Holiday Park 123 Pacific Highway. coffsholidaypark.com.au
GRIFFITH The Globe Backpackers Griffith 26 Wayeela Street, theglobe backpackersgriffith.com.au
HUNTER VALLEY Hunter Valley YHA 100 Wine Country Drive, Nulkaba. yha.com.au
PORT MACQ Ozzie Pozzie Backpackers 36 Waugh St, ozziepozzie.com Port Macquarie YHA 40 Church St, yha.com.au
ACT CANBERRA Canberra City YHA 7 Akuna St, yha.com.au Dickson Backpackers 4/14 Woolley St, dicksonbackpackers.com.au
QUEENSLAND BRISBANE Balmoral House 33 Amelia St, Fortitude Valley, vipbackpackers.com Base Brisbane Central Crn Edward & Ann St, stayatbase.com Base Brisbane Embassy 214 Elizabeth St, stayatbase.com Brisbane Backpackers Resort VIP 110 Vulture St, brisbanebackpackers.com.au Brisbane City Backpackers 380 Upper Roma St, citybackpackers.com Bunk Backpackers 21 Gipps Street, bunkbrisbane.com.au Brisbane City YHA 392 Upper Roma St, yha.com.au Nomads Prince Consort Backpackers 230 Wickham St, princeconsort.com.au Somewhere to Stay Cnr Brighton Rd & Franklin St, somewheretostay.com.au The Palace Backpackers Cnr Anne & Edward St, backpackbrisbane.com Tin Billy Travellers 462 George St, tinbilly.com
AIRLIE BEACH Adventure Island Resort South Molle Island, koalaadventures.com Barefoot Lodge Long Island, Whitsundays, barefootlodge.com.au TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 109
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Beaches Backpackers 356-362 Shute Harbour Rd, beaches.com.au
Shenannigans Hotel Cnr Sheridan & Spence St, shenanniganshotel.com.au
Cool Dingo’s Rainbow Beach 20 Spectrum Street, dingosresort.com
Magnums 366-374 Shute Harbour Rd, magnums.com.au
The Northern Greenhouse 117 Grafton St, friendlygroup.com.au
Kingfisher Bay Resort River Heads Road, Fraser Island, kingfisherbay.com
Nomads Bush Village Backpackers Resort 2 St Martins Rd, bushvillage.com.au
BOWEN Bowen Backpackers Beach End of Herbert St, bowenbackpackers.net
BUNDABERG Federal Backpackers 221 Bourbong St,
CAPE TRIB Cape Trib Beach House 7 Rykers Road, capetribbeach.com.au Ferntree Hostel Camelot Close, ferntreehostel.com.au PKs Jungle Village Cape Tribulation Road pksjunglevillage.com
GOLD COAST Aquarius Backpackers 44 Queen Street, aquariusbackpackers.com.au
Bohemia Resort, 231 McLeod St, bohemiaresort.com.au
Backpackers In Paradise 40 Peninsula Drive, backpackersinparadise.com
Cairns Sharehouse 17 Scott Street, cairns-sharehouse.com
G C International Backpackers Resort 28 Hamilton Ave, goldcoastbackpackers.com.au
Calypso Backpackers 5 Digger St, calypsobackpackers.com.au
Nomads Islander Resort 3128 Surfers Paradise Blvd, nomadsworld.com
Castaways 207 Sheridan St, castawaysbackpackers.com.au
Sleeping Inn Surfers 26 Peninsular Drive, sleepinginn.com.au
Dreamtime Travellers Rest 189 Bunda Street, dreamtimehostel.com
Surf & Sun Backpackers 3323 Surfers Paradise Blvd, surfnsun-goldcoast.com
Gilligans Backpackers 57-89 Grafton St, gilligans.com.au
Surfers Paradise Backpackers Resort 2837 Gold Coast Hwy, surfersparadisebackpackers.com. au
JJ’s Backpackers 11-13 Charles Street, jjsbackpackers.com NJOY! Travellers Resort 141 Sheridan St, njoy.net.au
Trekkers Backpackers 22 White Street, trekkersbackpackers.com.au
Koalas Hervey Bay 408 The Esplanade, koalaadventures.com Fraser Island Backpackers Cathedral Beach, Fraser Island, fraserislandco.com.au Fraser’s on Rainbow 18 Spectrum Av, Rainbow Beach, frasersonrainbow.com
MACKAY Gecko’s Rest 34 Sydney St, geckosrest.com.au
MAGNETIC IS Base Magnetic Island 1 Nelly Bay Road, stayatbase.com
MISSION BEACH Absolute Backpackers 28 Wongaling Beach, absolutebackpackers.com.au Beach Shack 86 Porters Promenade, missionbeachshack.com Scotty’s Beach House 167 Reid Rd, scottysbeachhouse.com.au Tree House Hostel YHA Frizelle Rd, Bingil Bay treehousehostel.com.au
MOOLOOLABA Mooloolaba Backpackers VIP 75 Brisbane Road, mooloolababackpackers.com
Nomads Beach House 239 Sheridan St, nomadshostels.com
Codge Lodge 63 Rankin St, codgelodge.com
Nomads Cairns 341 Lake St, nomadshostels.com
Innisfail Budget Backpackers 125 Edith St, jobsforbackpackers.com.au
Tangalooma Wild Dolphin Resort tangalooma.com
Nomads Esplanade 93 The Esplanade, nomadshostels.com Nomads Utopia 702 Bruce Hwy, 110 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
FRASER REGION Barefoot Lodge Long Island, barefootlodge.com.au
NOOSA Nomads Noosa Backpackers 44 Noosa Dr, nomadsworld.com
Noosa Backpackers Resort 9-13 William St, noosabackpackers.com
NOOSA INLAND Ride On Mary Budget Bush Retreat imbilkayakandbike.com
PORT DOUGLAS Parrot Fish Lodge 37 Warner St, parrotfishlodge.com
ROCKHAMPTON Emu Park Resort 92 Patterson St, Emu Park, emusbeachresort.com
STRADBROKE IS Manta Lodge & Scuba Centre 1 Eastcoast Rd, mantalodge.com.au
SUNSHINE COAST Cotton Tree Beachouse 15 the Esplanade, cottontreebackpackers.com
TOWNSVILLE Adventurers Backpackers 79 Palmer St, adventurersresort.com
NT DARWIN Banyan View Lodge 119 Mitchell St, banyanviewlodge.com.au Chilli’s Backpackers 69a Mitchell St, chillis.com.au Darwin YHA 97 Mitchell Street yha.com.au Elke’s Inner City Lodge 112 Mitchell Street, elkesbackpackers.com.au Frogshollow Backpackers 27 Lindsay St, frogs-hollow.com.au Gecko Lodge Backpackers 146 Mitchell St, geckolodge.com.au
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The Cavenagh Motel and Backpackers 12 Cavenagh St, thecavenagh.com
ALICE SPRINGS Alice Springs YHA, Cnr Parsons St & Leichhardt Tce, yha.com.au Annie’s Place 4 Traeger Ave, anniesplace.com.au Haven Backpacker Resort 3 Larapinta Drive alicehaven.com.au
KATHERINE Palm Court Kookaburra Backpackers Cnr Third & Giles St, travelnorth.com.au
SA ADELAIDE Adelaide Central YHA 135 Waymouth St, yha.com.au Adelaide Travellers Inn Backpackers Hostel 220 Hutt Street adelaidebackpackers.com.au Backpack Oz 144 Wakefield St, backpackoz.com.au
RIVERLANDS Berri Backpackers Stuart Highway, berribackpackers.com.au
EYRE PENINSULA Coodlie Park Farm Retreat Port Kenny, coodliepark.com.au
TASMANIA HOBART Central City Backpackers 138 Collins St, centralcityhobart.com Transit Backpackers 251 Liverpool St, salamanca.com.au
LAUNCESTON Arthouse Backpackers Hostel 20 Lindsay St, arthousehostel.com.au
HUON VALLEY Huon Valley Backpackers 4 Sandhil Rd, Cradoc, huonvalleybackpackers.com
VICTORIA MELBOURNE CITY All Nations Backpackers 2 Spencer Street, nomadshostels.com Elephant Backpackers 250 Flinders Street, elephantbackpacker.com.au Elizabeth Hostel 490 Elizabeth St, elizabethhostel.com.au Exford Hotel 199 Russell St exfordhotel.com.au Flinders Station Hotel 35 Elizabeth St, flindersbackpackers.com.au Hotel Discovery 167 Franklin St, hoteldiscovery.com.au Melbourne International Backpackers 450 Elizabeth St, mibp.com.au Melbourne Metro YHA 78 Howard St, yha.com.au Melbourne Oasis YHA 76 Chapman St, yha.com.au Nomads Melbourne 196-198 A’Beckett Street, nomadshostels.com Space Hotel 380 Russell Street, spacehotel.com.au The Greenhouse Backpacker 228 Flinders Lane, friendlygroup.com.au The Spencer City Central Backpackers 475 Spencer St, spencerbackpackers.com.au Urban Central 334 City Road, Southbank, urbancentral.com.au
ST KILDA Back of Chapel Backpackers 50 Green Street, backofchapel.com Base St Kilda 17 Carlisle St, stayatbase.com Habitat HQ 333 St Kilda Rd,
Sometimes you even get your own bed
MILDURA Mildura City Backpackers 50 Lemon Avenue, milduracitybackpackers.com.au
STRATHMERTON Riviera Backpackers YHA 669 Esplanade, yha.com.au
GRAMPIANS Grampians YHA Eco Hostel Halls Gap. yha.com.au
WA PERTH Billabong Resort 381 Beaufort St, billabongresort.com.au Britannia on William 253 William Street, Northbridge, perthbritannia.com Cheviot Lodge 30 Bulwer St, cheviotlodge.com Globe Hotel & Backpackers 561 Wellington St, globebackpackers.com.au Mountway Holiday Apartments 36 Mount St, mountwayapartments.com.au Ocean Beach Backpackers 1 Eric St, Cottesloe, oceanbeachbackpackers.com Perth Beach YHA & Indigo Net Cafe 256 West Coast Hwy, Scarbrough, indigonet.com.au Underground Backpackers 268 Newcastle St, undergroundbackpackers.com.au
YMCA Jewell House 180 Goderich Street, ymcajewellhouse.com.au
BROOME The Last Resort YHA 2 Bagot St, yha.com.au
CORAL BAY Ningaloo Club Robinson St, ningalooclub.com
ESPERANCE Blue Waters Lodge YHA 299 Goldfields Rd, yha.com.au
EXMOUTH Pete’s Exmouth Backpackers YHA Cnr Truscott Cres & Murat Rd, yha.com.au
FREMANTLE Old Firestation Backpackers 18 Phillimore St, old-firestation.net
KALBARRI Kalbarri Backpackers YHA 51 Mortimer St, yha.com.au
MARGARET RIVER Margaret River Lodge YHA 220 Railway Tce, yha.com.au
MONKEY MIA Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort 40 McDonald Street, monkeymia.com.au TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 111
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What’s your story? THREE TRAVELLERS TELL US ALL ABOUT THEIR ADVENTURES IN AUSTRALASIA SO FAR
JENNY AYRE FROM England
JAN PROCHAZKA FROM Sweden
lakes just blows your mind. I also loved Byron Bay. I got totally sucked into the hippie lifestyle there. Where’s best for nightlife? That sort of depends on my mood. I love Sydney’s nightlife, especially Kings Cross, which is always an interesting night! But I also love the wild partying in Queenstown, and a night or two on Beachcomber in Fiji; dancing all night on the beach was incredible. What brought you Down Under?
Done many adrenalin activities?
So, what did you do today?
I’d just finished university and was
I did a skydive in Taupo and blackwater
I helped to organise a barbie
getting a bit disheartened by the lack
rafting in Waitomo, but I’ve chickened
at my backpacker place.
of jobs in the UK, so I decided to pack
out of a bungy jump twice! Skydiving
up and go travelling.
was amazing, probably the best thing
How long have you been in Australia?
I’ve done, and blackwater rafting was
A total of nine months. Five of them
Have you travelled much?
fun, but very cold. Next on the list is
have been spent in Sydney. Then I have
I’ve done a bit of South America, all of
cage diving with great white sharks.
been to Bali, seen the backpacking
New Zealand, some of the Fiji islands
track up to Cairns and travelled in a
and the east coast of Australia. And
What’s still on the wishlist?
motorhome to Melbourne, Tasmania
that’s just in the first year, I still want
I still want to go to Uluru, to finally
to see the rest of the world.
experience some Aboriginal culture. Plus Tasmania, just because it looks
What’s been most memorable?
Got a favourite city?
beautiful, and Western Australia,
I believe just travelling through the
I’ve got to say Sydney, but Queenstown
just to say I’ve been there.
beautiful Tasmania, where every hour
is a very close second. There is so much
of driving provided totally, equally
to do there, from bungy jumping to
Experienced much culture?
amazing, but very different changes
skiing to just partying.
In New Zealand I went to a Maori
of scenery. That was the most beautiful
night in Rotorua which was amazing.
place I have seen so far, and I’d call myself a world traveller.
Got a favourite place? I loved Fraser Island as it was just so
Met much of the wildlife?
relaxing. It felt like I was a million miles
I saw a few dingoes on Fraser Island,
Met many strange people?
from anywhere and getting to drive a
plus I saw turtles and reef sharks when
There are quite a few backpackers that
4WD on the sand was so much fun.
I went diving on the Great Barrier
you just wonder how they made it
The scenery was amazing too,
Reef. Luckily I am yet to meet any
from their home country to Australia
swimming in pristine clear freshwater
spiders or snakes!
without getting themselves killed!
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It felt like I was a million miles from anywhere, it blew my mind
JOANNA SAMMUT FROM Malta
What’s been your weirdest experience?
was a great way to check out good
Probably travelling with my girlfriend
Aussie music. The sun was shining and
and my parents in a motorhome
the beers were flowing! I went to
for three weeks. They didn’t even
Mardi Gras last year and was amazed
speak the same language and it
at how big an event it was. It was one
was set up for disaster. But here
hell of a party in Sydney’s streets.
I am, still breathing! Got a favourite place? Have you met much of the wildlife?
The Coral Coast in Fiji. Unbelievable
Kangaroos being more common than
beaches, warm weather, great diving
humans in places, getting kookaburras
spots with amazing visibility and the
eating our breakfast, seeing koalas
friendliest locals I have ever met. Oh, and great food.
hanging out of trees above the freeway, having wallabies jumping
What brought you Down Under?
over and on top of me on a kangaroo
I came out here to meet my cousin.
Where’s best for nightlife?
breeding farm to mention a few. Of
He told me how great it was and
Newtown in Sydney has pretty much all
course there are also the snakes and
convinced me to travel around
you need for a good night out, from
huge spiders you spot sometimes when
Australia with him. It had always
small cocktail bars to bars where you
you go out in the more remote areas.
been somewhere I wanted to go
can dance all night. Although nothing
and now I never want to leave.
beats drinking on the beach, watching the sun go down, on Fraser Island.
What one place would you revisit? Tasmania. I could probably even move
Have you travelled much?
to that island and live there for many
Before I got to Sydney I went to
Done many adrenalin activities?
years. It is absolutely stunning, with
Thailand for two months and New
In New Zealand I did the Awesome
vineyards, changing nature, strawberry
Zealand for a month. Since I’ve been
Foursome, which is a day of bungy
farms, chocolate factories, mountains
in Australia I’ve travelled up the east
jumping, jet boating, rafting and
and more. I would be happy there,
coast, then to Perth, Adelaide and
a helicopter ride. I liked rafting so
Melbourne. I also did a week in Fiji.
much I also did it in the Tully River
Any tips for a traveller heading to Oz?
Got a favourite city?
Stay in Sydney for a few days, go to
Sydney. I like the harbour and the
Any favourite beaches?
the Botanic Gardens where you see the
beaches but what I really love is
Whitehaven Beach in the
flying foxes and Mrs Macquarie’s Point
the relaxed lifestyle and Sydney’s
Whitsundays is pretty much like
for the best views of Sydney. Then
restaurants and bars. There’s always
paradise. Bondi has got nothing on
stroll around The Rocks, before you
something going on and somewhere
the Whitsunday beaches.
hurriedly get on a bus and start driving
new to try.
in Queensland. It’s brilliant.
What’s still on the wishlist?
north to the more “real” Australian cities and beaches. Byron Bay is a
Any events you’ve enjoyed?
I want to drive from Uluru up to
good spot for newcomers.
I recently went to Homebake which
Darwin and then down to Tasmania. TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 113
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Why New Zealand? WITH ITS ACTION-PACKED ITINERARIES, HOLLYWOOD GOOD LOOKS AND HOBBITS (PROBABLY), NEW ZEALAND IS A NATURAL BLOCKBUSTER City life
It may merely look like a broken, upside-down Italy on the map, but New Zealand is quite simply one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It boasts mountain ranges that rapidly fill your memory cards, boiling hot geysers exploding into the air, vast glaciers, raging rivers that suck you down in a flash and then spit you out just as quick, and cities which are growing quicker than sightings of Lindsay Lohan making a tit of herself. If you’ve seen The Lord of the Rings movies – and if you haven’t, customs won’t let you in – you’ll have an idea of the kind of country you’ll be visiting. And no, there weren’t many special effects to make Middle Earth look that good – it’s almost all natural. The first thing that hits you is the power of the land. Nowhere are you more privy to the Earth’s ebbs and flows. Whether it’s through traditional Maori tales of gods moving mountains with thunderbolts, or just through plain old observation, you’re given a real sense of the Earth being a powerful, living thing.
The big three cities are Auckland and Wellington on the North Island, and Christchurch on the south. Each has its own characteristics but they are all urban enclaves surrounded by rugged country, and are traditional launching points for seeing the rest of the country. Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city, with only around 1.4m inhabitants, and the result is a sprawling mass of suburbs and a city that has a sophistication and style to rival any Southern Hemisphere metropolis. A healthy smattering of cafés, bars and restaurants gives the impression of an ever-developing area that can keep you busy for more than just a couple of days. Wellington is the country’s capital and boasts one of the world’s most beautiful harbours, as well as many of NZ’s coolest bars and cafés. It was no great surprise when Lonely Planet named it the world’s fourth best city to visit last year, in their Best in Travel book. Top for a bit of culture is the superb Te Papa museum, where it’s very easy to lose a day. Christchurch is the most European of the country’s cities and has a slower vibe than its northern cousins. It’s set on the Avon River, and there are loads of walks and museums to enjoy, as well as plenty of activities in the surrounding areas to keep you busy. The vibrant, student town of Dunedin is a short scenic drive south. But you don’t really come to New Zealand for the cities. It’s the natural landscapes that will make your time worthwhile.
Adventure and adrenalin are big in New Zealand. Whitewater raft down knee-trembling rapids, throw yourself off a 320m Sky Tower in the middle of a city, jump out of a plane while spooning a complete stranger and jet boat through a canyon, close enough to see the moss growing on the walls. Queenstown, on the South Island, is the place to be for all sorts of shenanigans. Short of inserting an IV of pure adrenalin into your arm, it’s where it’s at for excitement.
From the beautiful Bay of Islands in the north to the stunning Fiordland National Park in the south – not forgetting Rotorua, Taupo, Waitomo, Abel Tasman National Park, Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier and the Otago Peninsula in between – there’s a good chance you won’t have experienced or seen anything like it before. If you’re going to travel halfway across the world, you’d be missing out on something special if you don’t get that NZ stamp in your passport. ❚
Photo: Tourism New Zealand/Chris McLennan
It used to be you could count the clichéd images of New Zealand on one hand. One of the mighty All Blacks running the length of the pitch; lots of sheep and a few mountains. But with the release of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the country gained much more exposure and quickly became the destination of choice for a new wave of travellers. And we’re not just talking about Ring geeks on the hunt for hobbits and orcs here.
Photo: Tourism New Zealand/Chris McLennan
Dropping into Waitomoâ€™s Lost World
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About New Zealand MAORI CHIEFS, GLACIATED VALLEYS AND 60 MILLION WOOLLY ANIMALS – LIFE IS A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT IN THE LAND OF THE LONG WHITE CLOUD
Photo: Tourism New Zealand/Tony Brunt
Horsing around on Wharariki Beach
Contrary to popular belief, there is more to New Zealand than bungy jumping, kiwi fruit and 60 million sheep. In fact, the biggest mistake anyone can make is to underestimate New Zealand and expect it to be just like Australia. Apart from residents of both countries possessing funny accents, they couldn’t be more different. With dashing snow-capped mountains, endless glaciated valleys, steaming volcanos, tropical beaches and wild gushing rivers, New Zealand is profoundly beautiful. It’s a land where it’s possible to go swimming in the morning and skiing in the afternoon.
The locals With only four million inhabitants on a landmass close in size to Great Britain, New Zealand is clearly not an over-populated nation. It is made up of the North Island, the South Island, Stewart Island and 116 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
various small islands. New Zealanders (or Kiwis – and it’s not offensive to call them that) are generally relaxed, outgoing and friendly. The folks who farm the land and those who work in the industries servicing the rural sector are, as anywhere, salt of the earth. They lead quite a life. For a small country they’ve got a great attitude. While New Zealand boasts a melting pot of cultures, it is predominantly European. The native Maori population and the growing influx from the South Pacific islands and Asia help to give life in New Zealand a unique flavour. Maori account for about 14 per cent of the country’s population and their cultural influence is everywhere.
History Maori legend has it that the South Island of New Zealand was the canoe of the great fisherman Maui
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than a squiggle on the map of the world. Captain James Cook came across NZ in 1769, at a spot not far from Gisborne on the North Island. He circumnavigated the country, produced a chart of remarkable accuracy, and made observations of the Maori and the plant life of the country. He returned twice more, and by 1790, the European exploration had begun. Sealers and whalers were the first to take advantage of the abundance of wildlife, then the timber millers arrived to fell the giant kauri trees in the north, ideal for shipbuilding. The bulk of British settlement of the new colony occurred after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, an agreement between the Maori chiefs and Queen Victoria that gave the crown sovereignty in exchange for continued Maori rights to fisheries and the like. The treaty was mere political expediency in 1840, and has largely remained so in the 160 years since, with European settlers riding roughshod over Maori rights. Recent years have seen an attempt to balance the equation. Climate
and the North Island was a fish he caught using a hook. The island didn’t like being pulled from the sea and writhed around a lot, which is why the North Island is so mountainous. Legend also tells of the Maori arriving in New Zealand about 1,000 years ago. They came in a fleet of canoes from a land called Hawaiki, a mythical place that is mentioned in many Polynesian cultures. Historians have doubts about the great migration theory, but there is no doubt that at least some immigrants arrived in NZ from Polynesia 1,000 years ago or more. With them, they brought a rat, a dog and a sweet potato called kumara. The rat, the dog and a couple of species of bat were the only mammals on the land when the first white explorers turned up. The first European sighting of NZ was apparently back in 1642 when a Dutchman, Abel Tasman, sighted the north-western portion of the South Island. He didn’t go ashore and withdrew out of Golden Bay (or the less alluring Murderers Bay, as he called it) after a clash with local Maori saw the death of four of his men. Bad weather then forced him north to discover Fiji and the Tongan islands. It is assumed that the name ‘New Zealand’ is a hangover from Tasman’s early explorations, which amounted to little more 118 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
As far as weather goes, summer (DecemberMarch) is the best time to visit New Zealand if you fancy taking in lots of barbies, beer and wine drinking, outdoor sports, festivals, beach-going, lake and river swimming. But make sure you apply plenty of sunblock. Winter (June-October) is the best time to visit New Zealand if you like your snow. Most ski resorts open in the first week of June, weather and conditions permitting. Spring (September-November) and autumn (March-June) are excellent times for engaging in bush walks, mountain biking, and other activities where you can admire the natural beauty the two seasons bring to the fore in a mild climate. These seasons are also great times to visit because there are generally a few less people about, meaning you’re more likely to get that mountain to yourself. Rugby fans should make the trip in autumn. Many of the cultural festivals in the larger cities like Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland are also held at this time. Generally it gets cooler as you travel south. Maximum summer temperatures average from 30°C in the north to 20°C in the south, while average winter maximums range from 15°C in the north to 10°C in the south. Overnight, particularly in the south, it often dips below freezing in winter. It rains a lot, even in the summer, but most of the rain falls in the west, and areas tucked into the mountain ranges can be dry, and sometimes even hit by drought. ❚
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Photo: Destination Rotorua
FROM WITNESSING A BLOOD-CURDLING HAKA TO MUNCHING ON A MOUTH-WATERING HANGI, EXPERIENCING THE TRADITIONAL CULTURE IS A BIG PART OF ANY KIWI TRIP
It’s nice to meet you, too
Celebrated and embraced with passion, the Maori people are the indigenous people of Aotearoa (New Zealand). Archeological evidence indicates they discovered the country some time between 800-1,000 AD, on one of the last deliberate voyages of colonisation across the Pacific. Originating from South-East Asia some 5,000-7,000 years ago, they are thought to have arrived in waka hourua (voyaging canoes) from their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki more than 1,000 years ago. Today, about 14 per cent of NZ’s population claim Maori descent (most live in the North Island) and their language and culture has a major impact on Kiwi life. Maori culture is rich and varied, including many elements from traditional spiritual and philosophical beliefs, right through to the active preservation of traditional and contemporary arts – carving, weaving, kapa haka (group performance), whaikorero (oratory) and moko (tattoo) are practiced throughout the country. Practitioners who follow in the footsteps of their tipuna (ancestors) continue to use the same techniques from hundreds of years ago, yet also
develop new ones. Today their culture includes art, film, television, poetry, theatre and hip-hop.
How to immerse yourself Visit a marae: This ornately carved meeting house is found in almost every large NZ community. Sacred to the Maori, certain etiquette must be used when entering. Welcome speeches, songs and a paying of respects to ancestors are observed on a marae and once protocol has been satisfied, you’ll be spoiled by Maori hospitality. Waitangi National Reserve: The Waitangi National Reserve is where the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the Europeans and Maori leaders. The treaty is controversial as the promises made to the Maori regarding land rights and protection were changed in the translated English version, leading to the Maori Wars in the late 1840s. The reserve is beautiful, and includes a stunning marae, a 35m Maori war canoe and the treaty house where the document was signed. Museums: Many of the museums in New Zealand boast excellent Maori exhibits, ranging from wakas TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 119
NEWZEALAND MAORICULTURE and carvings to weapons and traditional songs. The Museum of New Zealand in Wellington – Te Papa (‘our place’) – has Mana Whenua, a presentation on the Tangata Whenua – people of the land – and the Te Hau ki Turanga, one of the oldest meeting places in existence. The Auckland Museum has daily performances of Manaia, a look at Maori culture through narrative, song and dance. It also houses the largest and most significant collection of Maori treasures in the world.
Maori tourism The Maori have been involved in tourism since 1870, when the Tuhourangi people south of Rotorua owned the ‘eighth’ wonder of the world, the Pink and White Terraces – impressive and beautiful layers of thermal pools. Visits to them were operated on a commercial basis. Despite its destruction by the eruption of Mt Tarawera in 1886, Rotorua has become a hub for Maori tourism, taking advantage of the many geothermal fields and attractions of the central volcanic plateau. Maori entertainers can be seen at many venues performing a concert for the entertainment of tourists. Some of these performances are accompanied by a ‘hangi’ – a meal steam-cooked in a traditional Maori way.
Maori values Land: The Maori acknowledge the beauty of land and refer to themselves as ‘tangata whenua’, loosely translated as ‘the people of the land’. This
interpretation is fast becoming more widely accepted as ‘the people who are the land’. Spirituality: Maori people see things in terms of physical and spiritual realms. A simple example would be a rock – Maori believe a rock has a physical being but also a spiritual essence. This spirituality is expressed continuously and implicitly throughout Maori culture. Ancestors: The Maori believe they carry their ancestors on their shoulders – in everything they do. They believe that we are not individuals but the result of the collective knowledge and experience of all who have gone before. Therefore, knowing your genealogy is important to Maori. They also believe that genealogy connects humans to every living thing through Papatuanuku – the original mother. Under this philosophy, humans and trees share ancestors and are therefore related.
Maori language Many NZ place names are of Maori origin and it takes time to figure out how to say some of these seemingly-impossible-to-pronounce names. But Maori language has a logical structure, and (unlike English) has very consistent rules of pronunciation. Maori consists of five vowel sounds: a e i o u (‘a’ as in father; ‘e’ as in pen; ‘i’ as ee in feet; ‘o’ as in fort and ‘u’ as oo in boot). Many Maori pronounce the ‘wh’ sound similar to our ‘f’. The ‘ng’ is like our ‘ng’ sound in a word like ‘sing’, except that words can start with ‘ng’. ❚
Photo: Tourism New Zealand/Fay Looney
Arriving in a ceremonial waka (canoe)
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NZ adventures WHETHER BUNGY JUMPING, SKYDIVING, RAFTING, CAVING OR A MILLION OTHER NERVE-JANGLING ACTIVITIES, KIWIS ARE THE MASTERS OF MAKING YOU SCREEEEAM To say that Kiwis are outdoor types is a gross understatement. While travelling around New Zealand you will meet locals who get up in the morning for a surf, then squeeze in a spot of rockclimbing at lunch-time and maybe paddle off for a sea kayak at sunset. At the weekend they will be stuffing their packs and heading into the mountains for some serious trekking and camping adventures. When you go to New Zealand and get an eyeful of the scenery, you’ll understand why the desire to spend as much time outside as possible is in the blood of your average Kiwi. Of course, it’s not just about checking out the view. New Zealand is the adrenalin capital of the Southern Hemisphere – they can’t stop inventing new ways to scare the hell out of themselves – and you. It’s the birthplace of commercial bungy jumping after all, but it doesn’t stop there. Most adventure activities can be booked through tourist information offices, at your hostel in NZ, or directly through commercial operators. Backpacker hostels will have info on local attractions, and may offer discount rates for guests. If outdoor trekking or “tramping” is more your vibe, then look out for the Department of Conservation (DOC) offices in all major centres. They hold the passes to national parks, walking tracks and accommodation along the routes. Visit doc.govt.nz for more info.
Outdoor Canoeing/kayaking: Canoeing (in open, twoperson canoes) and kayaking (in narrow, one-person crafts) are widely available. Ride the heaving rapids or cruise sedately down tranquil water. Where? All over the country. Canyoning: Abseil down sheer cliffs next to crashing waterfalls, shoot down polished rock chutes and into deep pools – a high-adrenalin way to explore the rugged outdoors. Where? Auckland, Wanaka and Christchurch are just three of the many areas you can give it a go. Diving: New Zealand boasts some awesome diving for the enthusiast. The Poor Knights Islands
(Tutukaka), off the coast of Northland, are one of the top 10 dive sites in the world, according to Jacques Cousteau. The diversity, density and colours of subtropical and temperate sea life among caves, tunnels and arches is amazing. There are also plenty of centres around NZ where you can learn to dive. Where? The most popular sites include Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve (Whangarei), the Wreck of the Rainbow Warrior (Bay of Islands), volcanic White Island (Bay of Plenty), plus Milford, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds (Fiordland) for their uniquely shallow black coral. Dolphin swimming: Frolic with dolphins in their natural environment with operators who have so far remained eco-friendly. Where? Bay of Islands, Bay of Plenty (North Island), plus Kaikoura and Akaroa (South Island). Fishing: From big game fishing, to trout fishing, to dangling a line off the end of a wharf, fishing is popular and widely available. The best months are January-May (boat fishing March-November). Where? The east coast of the North Island, including Tutukaka, Whangaroa, Whitianga, Major Island, Whakatane, The Bay of Islands (big game), Lake Rotorua, Lake Taupo and Southern Lakes (trout). Horse riding: An opportunity to get out into the “back blocks” (middle of nowhere). Where? Kaikoura, Westland, Wanaka, Taranaki, Taupo, the Coromandel and more. Mountain biking: A great way to see the country, you can stick to the roads or head off into the national parks and off-road tracks – do not, however, ride on the national parks’ walking tracks. Where? Everywhere. Sailing: Kiwis love the water – just look at Auckland’s double harbours any Saturday or Sunday for evidence of that. The Bay of Islands is another popular sailing spot, but almost every coastal town will have an active yacht club and charter operator. Hitch up with a local yacht club and crew for free, or charter a boat for a day. Where? Auckland, Northland, Tauranga, Hauraki Gulf, Lake Taupo, Marlborough Sounds and plenty more. Sea kayaking: A very popular and peaceful way TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 121
NZADVENTURE of enjoying the stunning scenery of the sounds, fiords and peaceful bays. You can kayak for halfdays, full days and even overnight trips. Where? Bay of Islands, Coromandel, Abel Tasman National Park, Fiordland. Skiing: New Zealand has the best skiing in the Southern Hemisphere and many snow bunnies from the north head to NZ for summer. Many small, cheap club fields operate in the South Island while the larger commercial operators include Whakapapa and Turoa in Tongariro National Park, plus Mt Hutt, Coronet Peak and The Remarkables in the Southern Alps. Smaller than European fields, they are up to international standards. Heli-skiing and glacier-skiing are popular (but expensive) options for intermediate to advanced skiers. Many backpackers pick up work on the major ski-fields, but you need to be early. Where? Central North Island, Taranaki, Nelson and the Southern Alps. Whale watching: Get close to a sperm whale, orca (killer whale) or any of a number of other species off the coast of Kaikoura. Weather is a complicating factor, so allow two or three days if you’re determined to spot one of these majestic beasts. Where? Kaikoura, South Island. Team sports: Every weekend and at the end of most working days, Kiwis head for the sports fields to indulge in everything from rugby and football to touch rugby (huge in summer), beach volleyball and netball. Settle for more than a week or two and you’ll be able to hook into a team easily enough. Where? Everywhere. Windsurfing: Like sailing, it is popular on all lakes and around the coast, sheltered or not. Where? Lake Taupo, Auckland, Bay of Islands and just about everywhere else.
Adrenalin Bungy jumping: Welcome to the home of bungy. Famous Kiwi AJ Hackett launched his first commercial bungy jumping operation in Queenstown, but the activity is now available countrywide. NZ’s bungy operators are safe and reliable – you can always ask the local tourist office to recommend one for you. Your choices include the serenely stunning Taupo Bungy, the terrifying Nevis (out of a cable car) in Queenstown, and even a plunge from Auckland’s iconic Harbour Bridge. Where? Queenstown has a concentration of jumps of various heights; see also Hanmer Springs, Taupo, Rotorua, Taihape, Mangaweka and Auckland. Blackwater rafting: Tube down underground rivers through glow worm-lit caves in rubber rings. Where? Waitomo, North Island. 122 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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Caving: Adventure caving tours involving abseiling, squeezing through small holes and splashing through underground rivers are fun. Where? Waitomo, Westport, Nelson and elsewhere. Jet boating: Invented in NZ, jet boats power through narrow, spectacular gorges in just centimetres of water. From Queenstown, jet boating can be combined with helicopter and raft trips. Where? Queenstown, Taupo, Whanganui River, Waimakariri near Christchurch, Rangitaiki River and Waikato River below the Huka Falls. River sledging: The search for a new rush is endless. Ride polystyrene sleds down the country’s wildest rivers with just a wet suit and helmet. Where? Rangitaiki River, near Rotorua, and Kawarau River, near Queenstown. Rock climbing: Rock climbing is a popular sport, pursued in quarries and up artificial walls, as well as mountains. Indoor climbing is also popular, and a great way to learn the ropes (arf) before heading out to the cliff face. Where? Anywhere there are mountains and cliffs, really, including Auckland, Te Awamutu, the Southern Alps, the Darrans. Skydiving: A most incredible rush, tandem skydiving is available all over NZ, giving you tremendous views while scaring yourself stupid. Where? Queenstown and Rotorua are home to two of the country’s biggest skydiving operations, but you can take the leap all over the country, in places such as Taupo, Wanaka and Paihia. NZ’s highest tandem jump, at 18,000ft, can be found at Franz Josef Glacier. Surfing: NZ surfers are a hardy bunch and can be found riding the waves all year round. Where? Auckland (east and west coasts), Gisborne, Taranaki, Dunedin, Kaikoura and the West Coast. NZ’s most famous break is at Raglan, near Hamilton. Whitewater rafting: Extremely popular and loads of fun. Choose from a half-day trip to a three/fourday adventure. Rivers are graded from one (easy) to six (unraftable), according to difficulty, and this changes with weather conditions and water levels. Where? Queenstown, Rotorua, the Whanganui River, Rangitata (Canterbury) and more on the North Island. Zorbing: Ever seen those plastic balls for exercising hamsters? Well, some crazy Kiwis invented one for humans. You’ll roll downhill in a clear, inflatable ball. Where? Rotorua. Mountaineering: While NZ peaks are small by world standards (the highest, Mt Cook, is 3,754m), many are technical and the capricious weather means the mountains should not be underestimated. This is where Sir Edmund Hilary practiced for Mt Everest. Where? South Island’s Southern Alps offer numerous
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opportunities for various levels of expertise. Hiking: NZ has some world class walks. In Kiwi land hiking is generally referred to as “tramping” and is something of a national pastime. The popular tracks generally sport well-maintained paths equipped with huts which provide bed space and cooking facilities for a minimal fee. In summer months the huts are often full, so taking a tent is advised. Tracks range from gentle strolls to more strenuous ones.
The seven great walks Tongariro Crossing: Recognised as the best day walk in NZ, the crossing takes in the Emerald Lakes, Blue Lake and the Ketetahi Hot Springs and live volcanoes. Access from Whakapapa Village. Waikaremoana Lake Circuit: A three or four-day circuit within Te Urewera National Park, with beech forest and spectacular lake views. Access from Tuai or Wairoa. Abel Tasman National Park: This popular coastal track takes three to four days, passing through bush and over gorgeous, golden sandy beaches. Access from Nelson/Motueka.
NZADVENTURE Heaphy Track, Nelson Forest Park: A four to six-day walk, including a coastal section – watch out for sand flies. Access from Nelson or Collingwood. The Milford Track, Fiordland National Park: Worldfamous, this four-day walk is open from NovemberApril. Numbers are regulated, it’s very popular and you must book in advance. Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough Sounds: Extends for 67km. It’s a comfortable three to four-day walk through native forest and offering great views of the waterways. Routeburn Track, Fiordland National Park: An alternative to the Milford, so it can get crowded. Takes three to four days, passing a variety of beautiful scenery, through rainforest and subalpine terrain. Access from Queenstown or Te Anau.
New Zealand’s bush Easily accessible with no special training, many visitors are lulled into a false sense of security by NZ’s temperate climate and the accessibility of the bush. Weather conditions can change very quickly – be well prepared. Contact the local DOC to book, and for excellent safety advice: doc.govt.nz ❚
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North Island BOASTING THE BEAUTIFUL BAY OF ISLANDS, NZ’S COOLEST CITY AND MOUNT DOOM JUST FOR STARTERS, NEW ZEALAND’S NORTH ISLAND IS ONE PLACE NOT TO BE OVERLOOKED
Photo: Tourism New Zealand/Gareth Eyres
Mt Doom is a bit more chilled out these days
First things first... The majority of New Zealand’s population lives on the North Island and it’s also where you’ll get to experience the most Maori culture. The largest city, Auckland, is probably where you’ll fly into and from there you can either head north to the Bay of Islands or start your journey south to the astounding volcanic scenery of the Tongariro National Park, steamy Rotorua and finally windy Wellington, your gateway to the South Island.
shore of the Waitemata Harbour and part of this area has been renovated into an attractive district for tourists, with interesting restaurants, shops and bars. The nice thing about Auckland is its close proximity to so many natural escapes. A mere 45-minute drive and you can be on one of several beautiful, uncrowded beaches or, in other directions, among sheep and cattle on a New Zealand farm. The possibilities here are endless.
Arriving in Auckland
Otherwise known as “the City of Sails”, New Zealand’s largest city sprawls for 50km between two large harbours, the Waitemata and the Manukau. Chances are, you will fly into Auckland and find there’s plenty of information on accommodation and activities. With a population of 1.4 million, Auckland covers a significant land mass, but its scenic setting and spirit often exceed expectations. Many people from New Zealand’s neighbouring Pacific Islands have settled here, and it now has the largest concentration of Polynesians in the world. The city is concentrated around the southern
The best way to get into the CBD (21km from the airport) is the Air Bus, which runs every 15 minutes. If staying in one of the major hostels in town, the bus will drop you off right outside. The city’s bus system is reliable, comprehensive and usually runs on time.
Auckland accommodation Hostels are dotted all over town, so you should be able to pick and choose your suburb and find a place to stay no problem. TNT New Zealand has a big list of up-to-date hostels to choose from. If you’re looking for a houseshare or apartment for a longer stay, you’re best to get a hold of the New Zealand
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a penguin colony. Mt Eden: By far the best volcano cone in the area (196m), with spectacular views. At the top of the cone you can look 50m down into the crater. One Tree Hill: This small, extinct volcano (183m) was once the largest Maori pa settlement. It has excellent views of the city from the top and you can still see the terracing and dugout storage pits used by the Maori. Unfortunately the tree is no longer there. It was cut down in 2000 due to old age. Shopping: Try Karangahape Road for record stores, second-hand and retro clothing and lots of offbeat independent shops. Victoria Park Market and the China Oriental Market: Two interesting and colourful markets. Victoria Park has outdoor cafés and entertainment on weekends.
Out on the town
Herald on a Wednesday or Saturday, and Trade and Exchange on Thursday or Saturday. Both have extensive accommodation sections.
Around town Auckland Museum: A brilliant display of Maori history, lifestyle and culture plus a 25m war canoe. There are also displays of South Pacific items. Admission is by donation, free, with $10 being the suggested amount. i-Site Auckland Visitor Centre: Atrium, Skycity, corner of Federal and Victoria streets has excellent information on Auckland and the surrounding areas, and can also book tours and accommodation throughout New Zealand. For more info, visit aucklandnz.com Sky Tower: Head to the viewing platform on this 328m tower to take in the amazing views over the city. For a serious adrenalin rush, do the 192m Sky Jump off the tower, or try the Vertigo Climb 38m up the inside of the mast for the best view in Auckland. Auckland Harbour Bridge: Follow the sound of the screams to the jump pod, and then bungy. Harbour cruise: This is the City of Sails, and your trip wouldn’t be complete without a cruise from the waterfront. There are also plenty of sailing companies to take you to the nearby islands. Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World and Antarctic Encounter: View New Zealand’s sealife and stay dry at the same time. You can also experience the Antarctic without freezing your bits off in the Antarctic Encounter section, a unique replica of the chilly environment, with Scott’s 1911 snow hut and 126 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
Auckland boasts just about every type of cuisine you can think of, at very affordable prices. The cheapest way to find filling food is to head for the food courts that adjoin the larger shopping malls, such as the Downtown Food Court in the Downtown Shopping Centre on QEII Square. Hitting the bars and clubs is also a popular pastime for the locals. Auckland Central Backpackers has a cool basement bar, but if you fancy venturing further, Queen Street and the roads running off it are the best places to start. You’ll find comedy clubs, Irish, English and Scottish bars, plus trendy watering holes, many offering deals. The Karangahape Road – or as it is more affectionately known to Aucklanders, “K Road” – is NZ’s nearest thing to Kings Cross in Sydney or Soho in London. Bars and clubs are set among the bustling red light district of Auckland. Either start early and end late, or never stop. You’ll find clubs with everything from 24-hour drinking and pool, to trance and hardcore hip-hop. Auckland Viaduct is also worth checking out. It’s a beacon for beautiful people and cute yachties, and the pubs are certainly lively when the sailors are in.
Day trips A restored area near the city centre, Parnell has become a hip, young area with lots of restaurants, shops and galleries. Take a short ferry ride to the popular Devonport area on the North Shore Peninsula. Walk along the waterfront promenade with a view of the city, to Cheltenham Beach and the two volcanic cones, Mt Victoria and North Head, that were both Maori pa settlements. Muriwai Beach, on the west coast, is a popular
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surfing spot with black volcanic sand, sweeping ocean and rugged coastline, plus is home to a gannet colony. Mission Bay has a long stretch of pretty coastline. You can hire kayaks, take a ferry over to Rangitoto, rollerblade along the promenade or go for a dip. Then pig out at any of the many cafés and restaurants across the street. From Takapuna Beach on the North Shore to Long Bay there are a handful of excellent beaches with calm waters, grass areas and park benches to sit down and picnic with some hot fish and chips or a packed lunch. There are also BBQ areas for hire. Otara Markets are a Saturday morning affair. Mostly old bric-a-brac as well as clothing and food. A lively atmosphere awaits you, packed with people from the Maori and Pacific Island communities of South Auckland. There are plenty of islands to see in the Hauraki Gulf, off Auckland. Do day trips or stay at some of the more popular islands, such as the beautiful Waiheke (with wine trails and nice places to eat) or Great Barrier Island.
Northland The winterless Northland is a tourist’s playground. Two hours north of Auckland, this beautiful
NORTHISLAND peninsula stretches for more than 300km, boasting a climate similar to the Mediterranean. The jewel in the crown is the Bay of Islands, a hotbed of water sports, scenic sailing and dolphin encounters. At the northern base of the Whangaparoa Peninsula, Orewa is a popular spot for local holidaymakers. Wenderholm National Park, 8km north of Orewa, has great bushwalks, swimming and views. A 15-minute drive from Orewa are Waiwera Hot Pools, with pools of different depths and temperatures, as well as hydro-slides and movies. Warkworth’s highlights include Sheepworld, a rather hilariously but obviously-named theme park, and nearby Kawau Island, which boasts stunning beaches and walks. Gateway to the north, Whangarei is Northland’s only city. Founded on the edge of a deep and sheltered harbour, the city rivals Auckland as NZ’s city of sails and is a popular watersports centre with its warm and sunny weather. Whangarei Falls is a beauty spot not to be missed. Deep-sea fishing, caving, tramping and horse trekking can all be done here. You’ll find plenty of leaflets at the Whangarei Information Centre on Tarewa Road. Scuba enthusiasts should head to the Poor Knights Islands, a dive site once labelled as one of the world’s
AUCKLAND MUSEUM NAU MAI HAERE MAI WELCOME
Auckland Museum is one of the ﬁnest museums in the Southern Hemisphere, renowned for its unique collection of Maori and Paciﬁc treasures. The Museum tells the story of New Zealand; from award-winning natural history exhibits to captivating interactive galleries. It is the only place in Auckland where you can experience a Maori cultural performance and take a guided tour of Maori treasures every day. Mention this ad and receive 20% off when you purchase 3 experiences: -Maori cultural performance -Guided tour -Special exhibition Open daily 10am to 5pm. Admission by donation. $10 per adult is suggested, children are free.
NORTHISLAND 10 best by Jacques Cousteau, a man who should know. Northland’s most popular tourist resort, the Bay of Islands, attracts visitors from all over the world – and rightly so. It’s NZ at its best. With quiet coves, soft sandy beaches, sparkling waters and an interesting history, the Bay of Islands is a must-see. Situated 257km north of Auckland, this irregular and spectacular coastline has 144 remote and uninhabited islands bathed in sunshine year-round. It’s the perfect place to do a skydive, an overnight cruise, scuba dive, kayak or take a fishing trip. Often referred to as the nation’s birthplace, the region is steeped in history, from the Waitangi Treaty House, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840, to some of NZ’s oldest pubs in Paihia and Russell. The buzzing tourist centre of the Bay of Islands, Paihia is the take-off point for the many boat tours which cruise the islands for pleasure, fishing and sightseeing. Paihia Wharf is a great place to soak up some atmosphere, dream of owning a yacht, meet fellow tourists and swap travel stories. Swim with dolphins in the bay, paddle a sea kayak
WORD FROM THE STREET
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out for the day, take a powerboat out to the Hole in the Rock, go fishing or hire a jet ski. It’s a cliché but it really is a place you won’t want to leave. Biggest of the islands, and home to the beautiful Otehei Bay, is Urupukapuka, which is serviced daily by several boats, making it an easy starting point for exploring some of the many Maori fortresses or just relaxing on the beach. Once a fortified Maori settlement, Russell is now a quaint, colonial town. Home to the beautiful Pompalier House and Flagstaff Hill, it’s where Maori leader Hone Heke famously felled the British flagpole over half a dozen times in 1845. Russell is New Zealand’s oldest settlement and first capital, until the honour was shifted first to Auckland, and then to Wellington. The most historic of the Bay of Islands’ towns, Waitangi is where pen was put to the Treaty of Waitangi paper. It’s a great place to be on New Year’s Eve or New Zealand’s national day, Waitangi Day, on 6 February. Other highlights include historic Kerikeri with NZ’s oldest stone building; Whangaroa for fantastic game fishing, or a tour on the highly recommended Snowcloud; and Doubtless Bay for its many islands and tiny coves. Matauri Bay is a well-kept secret with great beaches and views to the Cavalli Islands. It is Maori land, home to the Ngati Kura people and is also where the bombed Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior is situated, which you can explore with a scuba tank. Although actually more like 90km long, 90 Mile Beach is well worth a visit. There are good walking tracks, great campsites and stunning beach views edged by the pine forest that covers most of the western side of the peninsula. Kaitaia is the nearest town and a good place to stay when exploring Northland. Further south is Hokianga Harbour, far less touristy than the Bay of Islands, and offering amazing views, bushwalks and wildlife reserves.
Dallal Messabhia, France FAVOURITE NZ DAY SPOT? “Rotorua because of the landscapes and the Maori people. Of course it was very smelly (like old eggs), but actually the place was so beautiful that it was no big deal, I was too captivated by the landscapes. And after your big day walking you can enjoy a wonderful open spa.“ AND FAVOURITE NIGHT SPOT? “I think Auckland. There are some very good nightclubs for lots of different types of music, plus a lot of very good pubs. They’re everywhere!”
A popular holiday destination for Kiwis, in particular Aucklanders, the Coromandel Peninsula boasts scenic bushland, superb beaches and cosy villages. While there is a huge summer pilgrimage to the Coromandel – about an hour’s drive south-east of Auckland – there’s plenty of room for everyone. It’s worth sampling a bit of everything the Coromandel has to offer, right to Fletcher Bay, New Zealand’s Land’s End. Whitianga, the largest township on the peninsula’s east coast, was the landing site for the great Polynesian adventurer Kupe in AD 950. Choose from diving and sailing to taking a day-walk over to
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the famous Hot Water Beach and learning the art of bone carving. Lying further down the east coast of the peninsula, Waihi and Whangamata beaches are renowned surfing spots. Whangamata is a surfside town that prides itself on its summertime nightlife, while the Waihi area has rich history as one of NZ’s first goldmining settlements. The western gateway to the Coromandel, Thames’ race meetings during the Christmas and New Year period are legendary. The township of Coromandel itself is seductively laidback spot with some good bushwalks, nice cafés, hostels and bars.
Rotorua & the Bay of Plenty Rotorua is the North Island’s tourist capital and the drawcards are its famous Maori culture and its lake and geothermal attractions, including bubbling, hot mud pools, geysers and natural hot springs. The sulphur in the atmosphere from the geothermal activity gives Rotorua’s air, er, a distinctive smell (a bit like rotten eggs – but you soon get used to it). The thermal area of Whakawerawera is Rotorua’s busiest tourist attraction. Known as ‘Whaka’, everyone heads there and so should you.
NORTHISLAND The famous Pohutu geyser erupts at least once an hour, shooting hot water up to 30m in the air. This area is great for taking in some rafting, zorbing, jet boating, or trying the ultimate – a bungy jump. Other popular activities include the luge and the mud baths. Whaka has an art gallery, Maori arts and crafts centre, replica Maori village and kiwi house, plus a Maori concert is held daily. Tourism Rotorua, rotoruanz.com, has info on all Rotorua activities. Captain Cook named the Bay of Plenty, extending from the Coromandel Peninsula to the East Cape, in honour of both the region’s fertility and the friendliness of the local Maori. Their influence remains strong today and is most visible in the East Cape, where Maori councils own a quarter of the land. To the west of the bay is the rapidly-growing seaside resort of Tauranga, a port where locals know how to play hard. Water sports are popular and you can go swimming with dolphins or snorkelling. At night the town has plenty of bars, pubs and clubs to keep the surfie crowd partying. Tauranga’s twin town, Mt Maunganui, is a beach resort that has one of the finest surf beaches in the country, as well as hot saltwater pools at the base of the
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www.waitomo.com TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 129
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famous mountain. Another great sight is Whakaari (White) Island volcano, located some 50km offshore from Whakatane. This 200,000 year-old island is made up of three volcanic peaks – one of which is an active, smouldering volcano. It’s also another renowned dive site.
Taupo & Tongariro
Marae) plus the birthplace of Kiwi rock royalty Neil and Tim Finn of Crowded House. West of Hamilton, you’ll find Raglan, NZ’s most famous surfing spot, while Pureora National Park is a tramper’s playground. One of NZ’s last remaining and most important rainforests, Pureora is a largely untouched treasure. There’s even the odd dinosaur to be seen – tuatara (big lizard) roam the forest in search of insects, though you’ll be incredibly lucky to spot one. The Waitomo Caves and their glow worms shouldn’t be missed. Ten minutes north of Otorohanga, the caverns are one of NZ’s natural marvels. Waitomo caters for just about everyone, with a selection of adventure tours such as abseiling, caving and climbing.
Nestled amid the mountains, Taupo is one of NZ’s top tourist resorts, built by a beautiful lake and looking down on the beautiful snow-capped peaks of Tongariro National Park. These days Taupo also has a reputation for offering great adventure, with impressive bungy, jet boating and skydiving facilities. If it involves adrenalin, Taupo’s got it going on. The beautiful Taranaki scenery can serve to take your mind The region’s two main attractions off the scary activity you are about are a massive mountain (called either to partake in. When launching Mt Egmont or by its Maori name, Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest, your assault on the Mt Taranaki) and a rugged coastline, is one of the easiest places in the Tongariro Crossing, making it a good place to take country to catch a decent trout. You stay in National advantage of New Zealand’s can also get into water sports, and Park so that you great outdoors. the nearby bubbling thermal pools have the maximum It is possible to climb Mt Taranaki at Wairakei Geothermal Park are walking time and return to civilisation in one day. internationally renowned. However, the weather is notoriously A quick drive south from Taupo changeable and you must always notify and you’ll come across Tongariro the DOC about your tramping intentions before National Park. From smouldering volcanoes you set off. (Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngaruahoe) to idyllic Lake Locals boast that the region’s diversity allows you Taupo, the Volcanic Plateau is one of the most scenic to ski and surf in one day. In the summer, the beaches and otherworldly areas in the North Island and has are as good as any in the country. The tramping action-a-plenty all year round. elsewhere in Egmont National Park is superb, offering In winter, bring your snowboard and hit the multi-day tramping tracks. The city of New Plymouth slopes on Ruapehu’s two main ski-fields, Whakapapa in the north is a good base for outdoor pursuits. and Turoa, which are both well run. The more adventurous might like to climb Mt Ruapehu (also Gisborne known as Mt Doom), preferably not when it’s having The East Cape, the easternmost tip of NZ, is a long one of its semi-regular eruptions. It’s quite a trip way off the beaten track and the drive itself is a real to the summit, but is well-worth the aching legs mission – narrow and winding – but it’s worth it. Out afterwards, with truly wonderful views. here people still get about on horses and when the Waikato sun shines the beaches are wondrous. The Waikato province is named after NZ’s longest Climb the East Cape lighthouse at Te Araroa and river, the mighty Waikato River which bisects the be the first person in the country to see the sunrise region’s centre, Hamilton, NZ’s largest inland that day. Gisborne is where Captain James Cook first city. With a population of 140,000 the city has a landed in NZ (on 6 October 1769). He stayed just long burgeoning nightlife which belies its reputation as enough to take formal possession of the country an overgrown farming town. Waterskiers and rowers in the name of His Majesty King George III, before use the Waikato and lush parks flank its banks. rushing off to ‘formally’ discover the rest of NZ. The nearby town of Te Awamutu, is home to two Gisborne is known as the country’s unofficial lots of New Zealand’s dignitaries – being home to the surfing capital, a city largely based on beach culture. the Maori Monarchy (Ngaruawahia’s Turangawaewae Relaxed and friendly with great summer weather,
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Photo: Tourism New Zealand/Ian Trafford
Soaking up some East Cape views
there’s plenty to see and do and some good cafés and bars too. Wairoa, at the north end of Hawkes Bay, is the gateway to the Te Urewera National Park and is the proud owner of a 120-year-old lighthouse. In 1988 a disaster, in the shape of Cyclone Bola, struck this small community, and swept away the Wairoa Bridge. The damage has been repaired, but the legend of when ol’ Bola came to town lives on. With very few people, remote, gorgeous lakes, numerous rushing rivers, bubbling streams and lush primeval bush – Te Uruwera National Park is simply spectacular. A tramper’s haven and a fisherman’s dream, the national park surrounds the beautiful, eerie Lake Waikaremoana. The Lake Waikaremoana Track is one of New Zealand’s great walks and nearby Frasertown has a popular hostel for walkers.
Whanganui Looking like it’s been lifted straight from the pages of a scenic picture book, Wanganui (using the Maori spelling – unlike the park and river) is a small town precariously placed on the banks of the powerful Whanganui River. The major attraction of the Whanganui National Park is the Whanganui River, which snakes its way through some highly picturesque scenery. You can hire a canoe and explore this natural wonder at your own pace or book a berth on the MV Wakapai and discover just why the Whanganui is the longest navigable river in the country. It’s advisable to take a change of clothing – trips can last for up to five days. 132 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
For something more active, the trek along the Matemateaonga Walkway is recommended, but takes four days. The Mangapurua Track is equally impressive, runs for 40km, and can be covered in three-and-a-half days. A shorter walk is the 45-minute jaunt from the Mangapurua Landing to the Bridge to Nowhere. This is a part of New Zealand that goes largely undiscovered but shouldn’t be missed. The best way to see the east coast is to hire a car and drive, stopping at your leisure along the way. The beaches here are some of the best in NZ.
Manawatu Predominantly a rural community, Palmerston North is enlivened by the presence of a large student population. Only an hour’s drive from Wellington, the Kapiti Coast has good beaches, friendly locals and an eastern mountain range worth exploring. Paraparaumu Beach, which can be reached by bus from the Paraparaumu train station, is a favourite with the locals and overlooks the impressive Kapiti Island. The island was once home to the warrior chief Te Rauparaha who dominated much of the North Island from his base there. Today, the island is a bird sanctuary and can be visited with permission from the Department Of Conservation (DOC). Some 74km north of Wellington, Otaki is a lovely, small community with a rich Maori history.
Hawkes Bay A fertile and temperate region, Hawkes Bay is
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famous for its wine and climate. A great place to enjoy sea breezes and bright sunshine, Napier is a beautiful seaside town famous for its art deco buildings, a legacy of the rebuilding which followed the devastating 1931 earthquake. There’s good nightlife in town too, with plenty of lively cafés ranging from standard to gourmet dining, and a dose of Irish pubs. The Hawkes Bay Aquarium is the largest in Australasia and has sharks and turtles, as well as NZ’s living dinosaur, the tuatara. South and north of Napier, beaches stretch for miles along the isolated coast of Hawkes Bay. Hastings shared the same fate as Napier in the 1931 earthquake – the whole town had to be rebuilt, with art deco again a feature. It is a flat, provincial city with a number of attractions, including several good wineries and numerous orchards open to the public for tastings. Hawkes Bay is the oldest established winegrowing region in NZ and contains some of the country’s most famous vineyards. Wine from the region has won several international awards, and is generally inexpensive. With more vineyards in the region than Bordeaux (France), the wineries are a major attraction to the area for both Kiwis and tourists alike.
Wairarapa Heading into the capital, the Wairarapa is a lovely, green, tree-lined region north-east of Wellington, famous for both its expanding wine industry, olive groves and large sheep population. The region’s bestknown and largest wine centre is Martinborough, which boasts more than 20 boutique wineries. The area has also become a popular escape for Wellingtonians. It’s a great surf spot, too. Ask local surfers – not the stoned ones – for the best beaches.
Wellington New Zealand’s capital city is probably the most interesting and appealing city in the country – especially if you hit it on a good day when the sun dances on the harbour and the city comes alive with Wellingtonians lunching and jogging along the waterfront. Much smaller than Auckland, the city is set on steep hillsides that surround a magnificent harbour. Some people liken the landscape to a small San Francisco. Others claim it has the perfect combination of Sydney’s looks and Melbourne’s vibrant feel. Wellington’s sheer vibrancy and colourful character make it the country’s centre for culture and the arts. Te Papa, the national museum, is here – and
WORD FROM THE STREET
Nicholas Marx, USA FAVOURITE NZ SPOT? “When I was visiting Cathedral Cove in Coromandel I remember thinking, ‘I just want to take this all with me’. I’d never seen the ocean so blue and water so clear.“ MOST MEMORABLE NZ DAY? “Climbing Mt Ngauruhoe (Mt Doom to LOTR fans) in Tongariro National Park was pretty wild. Besides the fact it could explode any minute, it was terrifying to climb it. What was even crazier though was coming down. You literally ski down the rocks at high speed.”
it’s sensational. The city’s nightlife, food and café culture is world-class, young and cool. There are more cafés per head than New York.
Arriving in Wellington The Airport Flyer goes from the airport to the CBD every 30 minutes.
Getting around Wellington The city has a regular and comprehensive bus service. For more information, see metlink.org.nz
Wellington accommodation Mt Victoria has good hostels and is a clever place to base yourself, as it is only a short walk into the town centre. If you’re looking for long term accommodation, then pick up the The Dominion (Wednesday and Saturday), or Trade and Exchange (Thursday and Saturday).
Around town The Beehive and Parliament: NZ’s parliament TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 133
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complex, including the famous ‘Beehive’, the wing of Parliament that looks (unsurprisingly) like a beehive. Cable Car: Fabulous views of Wellington on this historic cable car dating back to 1902 (don’t worry – it was reconstructed in the late 1970s). It’s a lovely walk back down through the Botanic Gardens, a variety of picturesque gardens and 26ha of native bush. Mt Victoria: For the best view of the area. Car and bus access via Alexandra Road while walking tracks start from Oriental Parade and Majoribanks Street. Old Government Building: Located near the Beehive, it is the world’s largest all-wooden building. Old St Paul’s Cathedral: A fine example of wooden Gothic architecture. Otari Native Botanic Garden: Catch a bus to Wilton and walk around the lush native gardens. Shopping: The best shopping spots are Lambton Quay and Willis Street (a mixture of chain and boutique stores), Cuba Mall (more alternative clothing, funky street wear and antique and secondhand shopping), and Manners Mall and Courtenay Place (mainly food and drinking establishments). The James Smith Markets, on the Corner of Manners and Cuba streets are also a good place to pick up unusual clothing, jewellery, household items and gifts. Staglands Wildlife Reserve: Akatarawa Valley, Upper Hutt. Includes a recreation of an early settlers village, 10ha of native forest, and a café. Te Papa, The Museum of New Zealand: From virtual reality rides to a living Marae (Maori meeting house), stories of the first Pakeha settlers, interactive natural history exhibits and art galleries. You could spend a week in here and still have things left to see. A ‘must visit’ destination when you’re in Wellington. The Weta Cave: Welcome to Wellywood. Thanks to local genius Peter Jackson, and his Weta studio,
Wellington is now the world’s go-to place for stateof-the-art special effects. This small, free museum in Miramar has props and displays from some of Weta’s films, like Lord Of The Rings and Tintin. Zoological Gardens: Founded in 1906, Wellington Zoological Gardens is New Zealand’s oldest zoo. It is home to a large and exciting collection of native and exotic animals, as well as the endangered native brown kiwi and the tuatara.
Out on the town Wellington is a place for serious lounging. Most cafés are set-up with loafing in mind, with big sofas, plush cushions, trendy magazines, and the obligatory chill-out albums. Head to Cuba Street or Courtenay Place for the best in bean culture. The choice of food here is wide and varied. Asian cuisine is the most popular in the capital, and is of a very high standard. Malaysian, Thai and Chinese food dominate and it’s easy to find places that do budget-friendly banquets during the day or cheap eats in the evening. Courtenay Place, Cuba Street and the Manners Mall-Willis Street area is the best area to head for fresh seafood, caught and cooked locally. Oriental Parade is where to go for the best in town. Wellingtonians love a good party and most have a reputation for going on well into the early hours. The bar and club culture is strong here, and the sleepy exterior of much of the town belies a ‘going hard’ attitude. The locals are a fashion-conscious bunch, but very friendly at the same time. Music policy reflects the youthful, vital atmosphere of the city. Everything from hip hop and pumping techno to house and salsa can be heard emanating late into the night. ❚
Make finned friends Explore the Bay of Islands, take a sailing cruise or swim with dolphins. Mud and Maori Watch Maori perform the Haka, bathe in volcanic mud and see top 134 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
geysers in Rotoroa. Cross Mordor Trek the Tongariro Crossing and climb Mt Doom in the volcanic Tongariro National Park. Scare yourself stupid Taupo offers great scenery, bungy jumping, skydiving and more adrenalin thrills. Coromandel Reinvigorate yourself in NZ’s hippie heartland. Coffee cool Hang out in a Wellington café.
Even if you don’t like coffee, soak up the capital famous café culture. Cave in Abseil down to the ‘Lost World’ in the Waitomo Caves or go blackwater rafting. Sand-sational Go sandboarding at Cape Reinga (what else are giant sand dunes for?), and watch two oceans collide. All-action Auckland Try the bridge bungy, the Sky Jump or feast on a myriad multi-cultural eating options.
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Photo: Tourism New Zealand/Chris McLennan
FROM DASHING LANDSCAPES TO SCREAM-INDUCING THRILLS AND INCREDIBLE WILDLIFE EXPERIENCES – YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS OUT ON NEW ZEALAND’S SOUTH ISLAND
Double your fun on South Island
First things first... Ask any Kiwi – a human, not a bird – where you should go in New Zealand, and nine out of 10 will tell you, “the South Island”. Just a 17km temperamental strait separates the North from the South, but the lower island boasts the lion’s share of all that makes New Zealand so magical; stunning scenery, great outdoors, peace, quiet and fresh air. Many of the main tourist attractions are here, from adventure sports to whale watching, whitewater rafting, skiing and snowboarding, to exploring the fearsome glaciers and tramping many spectacular treks. You might find the locals a different breed as well. They call their island “the mainland” and have little time for the pretensions of their city cousins up north. And there are far fewer of them – less than a third of NZ’s population live down south, and the sheer vast emptiness of the place is one of the South Island’s main appeals.
Marlborough Tucked away at the top of the South Island, Marlborough is often overlooked by visitors rushing
to the attractions of the far south. A secluded corner of the country, the Nelson and Marlborough regions offer a mild and sunny climate virtually year round, brilliant beaches, vineyards, delicious food, scenic boat cruising and national parks, plus some of the country’s best eco-tourism attractions. A taste of things to come can be had on any one of the ferries from Wellington, as they cruise through the fabulous Queen Charlotte Sound to the picturesque ferry port of Picton. The best reason to stay in town is for the region‘s wonderful bushwalks. Many travellers pass straight through Picton, but it’s an attractive place and the surrounding Marlborough Sounds make it worth staying on for a bit. The Marlborough Sounds, which comprise Queen Charlotte, Pelorus and Kenepuru Sounds, were formed when the sea overflowed into a network of river valleys at the top of South Island. The Sounds are a mixture of private land and maritime park. Many prosperous Kiwis have “baches” (holiday cottages) dotted about the many bays and coves – often accessible only by boat. The Sounds’ road system is still fairly rudimentary, so the best TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 135
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party, famous beyond NZ’s shores. A celebration of local wines and produce, the festival is the place for Kiwi gastronomes to be seen – but most people just go there to get plastered on really good wine.
way to get about is by boat. The lack of good roads means many bypass the Sounds, leaving it peaceful and tranquil for those who make the effort. Things to see and do include sailing (the area is NZ’s second-favourite sailing area, after the Bay of Islands), sea kayaking, camping, tramping, mountainbiking, fishing, diving, dolphin-spotting and day trips where you can learn about industries such as mussel and salmon farms. Among the variety of wildlife are terns, shags, blue penguins, dolphins and seals. The Queen Charlotte Track is an alternative to the crowded Abel Tasman Coastal Track, and is a three to four-day track from Ship Cove to Anakiwa, an outdoor adventure centre. The walk passes through lush coastal forest, around coves and inlets, and along skyline ridges with breathtaking views of the Queen Charlotte and Kenepuru Sounds. Blenheim is not only the largest town in Marlborough but also the source of some of the finest wines in the country. The town lies 29km south of Picton and is universally known as the “sunshine capital of New Zealand”. Outdoor activities include visiting the open-plan zoo and whitewater rafting on the Wairau River. Perhaps the most important thing to do in Blenheim, though, is to visit the wineries. The area has so many to choose from, it can be daunting at first look, so it’s good to search out someone in the know. You can either join a tour, or grab a map and see as many as you want. One of the annual events to keep an eye out for is the Marlborough Food and Wine Festival in the second week of February, which is a huge outdoor 136 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
Envied nationwide for its climate and location, Nelson is a laidback coastal town with so much to offer. It is perfectly situated for the adventurous traveller – to the east lie the Marlborough Sounds, the Abel Tasman National Park is to the west, and south of the city lies Nelson Lakes National Park. Numerous golden, sandy beaches lie within easy reach of the city, which is also noted for its prolific local arts and crafts scene. Further around beautiful Tasman Bay from Nelson you’ll find Motueka, a small town supporting the local market gardens, hop and tobacco farms, and fisheries. Motueka makes a handy base for journeys into Abel Tasman National Park and to Kaiteriteri Beach – a beautiful golden sand beach, with crystal clear water and islands just off the shore. At certain times of the year the region is home to seasonal fruitpickers coming from all around the world. A major South Island attraction, the Abel Tasman National Park houses one of New Zealand’s favourite walkways, following a tranquil coastal path through lush native forest and around beautiful, golden, sandy bays. As well as walking the track, you can go swimming with seals or paddle around bays in hired sea kayaks. The bays are generally sheltered and tranquil and seals and dolphins are regularly sighted when the waters are calm. Kayakers can pull their craft up on a beach and camp free, or alternatively doss down in one of the huts used by trampers. The options of what to do in the national park are varied. There are three to five-day walks, three to five-day (guided) kayak/trekking packages as well as day trips, which will drop you at several points around the track. Even if time is short, go for at least a couple of hours along the park. You’ll find it well worth it. Just west of Abel Tasman, the alternative crowd have well and truly found a home in Takaka, transforming the town into somewhat of a hippie, artistic shrine. Take a peek into their cultural forays at the Artisan’s Shop, join them for a swim at Pohara Beach or have a beer with them at the Mussel Inn (live music venue in the summer). Also visit the Pupu Springs, one of the world’s largest freshwater springs. Arching east from the top of Golden Bay, Farewell Spit is a sand-encrusted valley of epic proportions, home to some of the largest sand dunes in the world
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and some of the most amazing bird life you are ever likely to see (more than 90 different species have been spotted here). The Spit has also been the scene of several mass whale beachings and one of the main attractions here is a giant collection of beached sperm whale bones. Being a wildlife sanctuary, the only way you can visit the Spit is in the safe hands of a tour guide.
Canterbury This is where many visitors start and/or finish their Kiwi experience. A large farming and wine area, Canterbury includes the long, empty beaches of the Pacific east coast, vast plains bisected by broad, ribbon-like rivers and the looming peaks of the Southern Alps. For skiing, rafting and tramping, you can’t beat Mount Cook National Park. If you’re driving to Christchurch from Nelson through the beautiful Lewis Pass, make a quick detour into Hanmer Springs. Hanmer’s thermal springs are its main attraction, where you can relax in the hot pools – bliss on a cold Canterbury day. The area also boasts bungy jumping (Thrillseekers Canyon), skiing, rafting and jet boating. Kaikoura is New Zealand’s eco-tourism hotspot, boasting the country’s most rewarding wildlife experiences. This once-depressed fishing town is now booming, thanks to numerous species of marine life, particularly dolphins, seals and whales – a unique topography has made Kaikoura arguably the prime whale-spotting location in the world. Kaikoura is the place to go swimming with dolphins, for what many describe as the near-mystical experience of swimming with the dusky dolphins found in the area. Operators take you south by boat, where it’s typical to share the water with pods of 300 or more animals. However, as a warning to bad sailors, the water can get very choppy so take your sick sickness pills. Several NZ fur seal colonies bask on the rocks of the tiny peninsula. You can dive, snorkel and kayak with the inquisitive giant slugs, or simply take a walk and watch them sunbathing. Kaikoura means “to eat crayfish” in Maori, so be sure to try some of the local delicacy, which can be brought from roadside stalls. Other local specialities include grouper, cod, mussels and paua (abalone). Often described as the most English of New Zealand’s cities, Christchurch is the centre for the South Island. Christchurch, “The Garden City”, is just a little smaller than Wellington and is set in one of the driest and flattest areas of NZ, known as the Canterbury Plains. One-third of Christchurch is devoted to sports fields, parks and reserves – notably
SOUTHISLAND Hagley Park in the centre of town. The city has had a tough time of late, with much of the centre being devastated by a massive 6.3 magnitude earthquake last February. As a result, as we went to press, an area of about seven blocks called the Red Zone, including Cathedral Square and nightlife hubs like Lichfield Street, remain out of bounds while emergency services make safe or knock down an estimated 300 damaged buildings. The earthquake damage, however, should not put you off a visit. While witnessing the scene of the destruction itself is uncomfortably fascinating, the city is still very much up and running, as are nearly all the region’s attractions and activities. The airport, campervan rental companies and many of the hostels were largely unaffected, while suburbs like Merivale and Riccarton have seized the opportunity to develop thriving afterdark scenes of their own.
Arriving & getting around The international airport is very close to the CBD and the best way of getting into town is to take the regular airport bus.
Christchurch accommodation As with most major cities in New Zealand, travellers are spoilt for choice of hostels to stay in, but it is advisable to book at least a couple of days in advance during peak season (Dec-Feb). TNT Magazine New Zealand has an extensive up-to-date list of hostels in its accommodation section. For more longterm stays, look in The Christchurch Press.
Around town Air Force World: Well-presented exhibitions on the Air Force and its history. Botanic Gardens and Hagley Park: Next to the Avon River is 30ha of greenery and gardens which are great for a mooch around. Canterbury Museum: Housing more than two million priceless items of NZ’s cultural and natural heritage. It has an interesting gallery, Iwi TawhitoWhenua Hou (Ancient People-New Land), which features displays of the early Maori settlers. International Antarctic Centre: See the visitor centre at the administration centre of the NZ, US and Italian Antarctic Research programmes. Entertaining and informative display of the Antarctic. Mt Cavendish Gondola: For great views of the area take a Gondola bus to the Heathcote Valley terminal, then be whisked up 945 metres for some great views of town. You can mountain-bike or paraglide back down (expected to reopen early 2012). Port Hills: Hire a car and drive up the nearest hill TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 137
SOUTHISLAND range to Christchurch for spectacular city views. Punting on the Avon River: Take a relaxing punt down the calm river or hire a canoe. Skiing: There are a number of ski fields in the vicinity which are popular with Christchurch skiers seeking a quick day or two on the slopes. Smaller than the larger commercial fields to the south, they’re nevertheless worth a visit. Craigieburn (advanced skiers only), Mt Cheeseman and Porters Heights all lie between Christchurch and Arthur’s Pass. Other smaller ski fields in the region include Broken River, Mount Lyford and Temple Basin. Swimming, surfing or bathing: Look out for Sumner Beach, Taylors Mistake and Brighton Beach. New Brighton has reconstructed the old pier and it is now becoming a popular tourist hang-out complete with a bungy rocket.
Around Christchurch Just south-east of Christchurch and standing proudly next to Canterbury’s sweeping plains is the beautiful Banks Peninsula, an unspoilt region brimming with wildlife, mountains and stunning coastline. About 12 million years ago the peninsula was an island, separated by 50km of sea from the closest landmass. This island had a large volcano on it, and the two harbours you’ll find there today, Akaroa and Lyttelton, are actually the craters of this once-magnificent volcano. Lyttelton is a quaint township situated just 15 minutes from central Christchurch. With fine old buildings, churches and Victorian cottages, it is also a busy commercial port. The charming harbour town of Akaroa is a pleasant daytrip from Christchurch. The French chose it as the site of a French colony in 1838, but when the first settlers arrived two years later, they found the British had beaten them to it. A small European influence remains, adding to the settlement’s charm. If you’re lucky, you may spot some of the 4,000-odd tiny, rare Hector’s dolphins, the world’s smallest penguins (the white-flippered little blue penguin), yellow-eyed penguins or seals who call the harbour home. Inland from Christchurch, Arthur’s Pass is on the road to the west coast in the Arthur’s Pass National Park. The drive across the Alps provides some of New Zealand’s best panoramic views. At 924 metres, Arthur’s Pass settlement is as high as you’ll get by car – beyond it you’ll find yourself in Westland. A base camp for those walking, climbing and skiing in the mountains, Arthur’s Pass has a very good national parks Visitor’s Centre. This is an alpine region, so care must be taken when tramping – stick to the ski fields during winter. 138 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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South of Christchurch and inland lies Methven, a ski town at the base of Mt Hutt, one of the country’s most popular ski fields. Locals and North Islanders descend on the place during the season, especially the August school holidays, so plan your visit well. Mt Hutt, which is about an hour’s drive from Christchurch, has the best facilities in Canterbury and regularly boasts the longest ski season in the country. Apart from the basic downhill approach, you can try snowboarding, telemarking and racing. Lake Tekapo is a handy resting place on the road to Queenstown, but the view is so great you’ll have a hard time dragging yourself away. Snowcapped mountains stand majestically at the far end of the lake, which is a milky turquoise colour suspended in the water. Even in summer the lake contrasts brilliantly with the bare, brown hills. There are a number of walks to be done around Lake Tekapo, while fishing, boating, kayaking and horse trekking are other options. Continue south from Tekapo to the equally beautiful Lake Pukaki, then turn north for the spectacular drive to Mt Cook Village through the Mount Cook National Park. The tallest mountain in the park, and in the whole of Australasia, is Mt Cook at 3,754 metres. It lost some height during 1991 when a huge chunk of the east face fell away in a dramatic avalanche. Incredibly, no-one was hurt, but experienced international climbers meet their end on the dashing mountain every year. Mt Cook remains a climb for experts only – it was the training ground for the likes of Sir Edmund Hillary. Call into the Department of Conservation (DOC) Mount Cook Visitor Centre for info on the park itself, which sports more than 20 mountains over 3,000 metres tall. The Tasman Glacier is also in the Mount Cook National Park and it’s on the eastern side of the divide, unlike its cousins Fox and Franz Glaciers, which hang on the western side. You can travel up to the glacier by coach, but the view is a lot better from the air – in winter they’ll drop you off on the glacier and you can ski down. There are a number of rewarding walks from there and if you fancy a night in the mountains, surrounded by magical snow-capped peaks, ask the DOC about staying overnight in the Mueller Hut. The weather is extremely changeable, so before you make the trip, call the visitors’ centre – the most beautiful view in the world is worthless if you can’t even see it. Travelling south follow the SH1 across the river into the Waitaki Valley. Apart from the spectacular
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landscape the region has an impressive collection of ancient Maori rock art dating from 1000-1500 AD at Takiroa. Most of the land here is privately owned so you must get permission before you wander around (contact the Oamaru Visitor Information Centre). Also near Omarama are the amazing coloured Clay Cliffs. For such a small place it is also quite impressive that Omarama can claim to be one of the best hang-gliding spots in New Zealand.
WORD FROM THE STREET
West coast Lonely Planet says a drive down the west coast is one of the world’s great roadtrips and we agree. Populated by no-nonsense “coasters”, it is a ruggedly beautiful strip of land perched on the western flank of the Southern Alps. An air of isolation is made charming by the peace and quiet, the bush and spectacular scenic attractions. A note of warning though; beware of sand-flies in summer. And pack a good waterproof mac as there’s plenty of rainfall, any time of the year. Westport is a mining town at the top of the coast, and is a good base from which to enjoy a few outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting, horse trekking and jet boating, plus there’s a seal colony 12km away at Tauranga Bay. A good selection of caves in the area also make caving and blackwater rafting (paddling through glowworm-studded caves) popular activities. South of Westport lie the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki. So-called because of their resemblance to great piles of pancakes, these remarkable limestone formations in the sea are definitely worth a stop, especially when high tides force thunderous geysers up through the blow holes. Greymouth is 101km south-west of Westport and is the largest town on the coast, with a population of 11,000. Today, coal and timber are Greymouth’s main interests but 130 years ago the town was smitten with gold fever and people arrived from all over the world in search of their fortune. Greymouth is also one of the few areas in the South Island that retains a strong Maori influence. The town was once the site of a Maori pa (fortress). The Grey River is the main attraction here as well as the famous Shantytown, which is a replica of the gold-mining towns of the 1880s. A highlight of New Zealand’s scant rail network is the spectacular TranzAlpine Express route, connecting Christchurch on the east coast with Greymouth on the west coast, traversing the Southern Alps. About 40km south of Greymouth, Hokitika’s existence used to depend on gold, but these days it’s the abundance of greenstone which attracts the
Nicole Rijmaars, Netherlands FAVOURITE NZ DAY SPOT? “I really loved Abel Tasman. I did a three-day kayak trip there and had the most beautiful weather, plus slept in tents on little islands where nobody lived. We kayaked with the full moon at night and had seals swimming underneath us. They were so cute! Plus we went to caves with glow worms. It was really beautiful.“ ANYWHERE ELSE STAND OUT? “I did a cruise on Milford Sound which was really beautiful, plus I really liked the whitewater rafting in Queenstown.”
tourists. That and the surrounding countryside. Pick up a greenstone tiki (Maori pendant) and explore the region via some of the excellent local walkways. The west coast’s main attraction however is Westland National Park, home to Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers – unique in the world for their location in the midst of a rainforest and so close to the sea. In fact there are around 60 glaciers in the park, but Fox and Franz Josef are the most famous and accessible to the traveller. Walk up to these frozen rivers of ice and you’ll be struck by the creaks and groans emitted, caused by the glaciers’ continual movement (at a rate of almost one metre on a good day). As well as walking up to the glaciers, you can walk on them, fly or skydive over them, and go rafting and canoeing on the surrounding rivers. Boasting jumps from 18,000ft, Franz Josef also offers New Zealand’s highest tandem skydive. South of the glaciers, SH6 continues through Haast Pass to Wanaka and the Southern Lakes. A long but spectacular drive, the road takes you through ancient rainforest and provides panoramic TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 139
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coastal views before heading inland and up into the magical Mt Aspiring National Park. In Haast itself you’ll find penguins, seals and bird life. An area that’s suffered from logging activity in the past, Haast is now turning more towards tourism as an economic alternative.
below. There’s an observation deck from which you can watch others risk life and limb and take the plunge. Then there’s the Ledge, from the top of the gondola, with a great view over the town, and the Nevis, a 134m plunge from a suspended cable car. Anyone who says they’re not scared of this one is a liar liar pants on fire. If you’re still feeling jumpy, Southland there’s also a Nevis Arc Swing. Wonderful Wanaka is the first big town you come Canyon swinging: This is an extremely fun to if you’re driving south past Haast Pass and, as you alternative. You can leave the platform any which enter, you can’t miss the eccentric buildings of the way you want (backwards, head first, with a bin unique attraction Puzzling World. on your head, in a kayak...), you freefall for yonks With the winding waterways of Lake Wanaka and then swing out across the canyon. Ask snow-tipped peaks of nearby Mt Aspiring National them about the “gimp from Hollywood” Park, it’s a beautiful setting. Locals will position, if you dare. tell you it’s the quieter version of Jet boating: A true New Zealand neighbouring Queenstown. experience. Hoon around on a jetYou could just sit and gawp at propelled boat, caressing the ragged The Great Walks do have managed the scenery all day, but there are a mountainside and spinning around visitor numbers crazy array of activities to try out. more often than Kylie in the process. and get booked The nearby national park provides an Skiing: Queenstown is a winter out in summer, outdoor playground par excellence, paradise and one of its main attractions so see doc.govt.nz with great hiking and mountaineering is skiing – in winter that is. Just 28km not to miss out options. Plus you can fish, waterski, out of town, The Remarkables are, windsurf, go canyoning, jet boating, well, remarkable, with three lifts, rock climbing, skydiving, kayaking, ski hire and lessons. But the best run rafting, horse trekking etc. can be found at Coronet Peak (18km from town), For some downtime you can enjoy local awarda 600-metre freefall down a stainless steel winning vineyards, great cafés and enough bars toboggan track. and restaurants for each day of the week. In winter, Skydiving: Queenstown is also a great place to Wanaka becomes a ski town, serving Treble Cone indulge in one of New Zealand’s other favourite and Cardrona fields. pump-action adrenalin activities: skydiving. Freefall thousands of feet over the Remarkables. It’s bloody Queenstown spectacular that. People flock from all over the world to enjoy Whitewater rafting: One of the best places to go the vast array of outdoor activities available in rafting in Queenstown is on the powerful Kawarau and around Queenstown. The town is located by River. All the rivers are graded from one to six, 77km-long Lake Wakatipu, the second largest in according to their level of difficulty, with one being New Zealand, and rises up to the aptly named easiest and six “unraftable”. Kawarau is a four and Remarkables. It is one of the most picturesque and the nearby Shotover River a five. exciting towns in the world, and only a complete Walks: Just out of town is Glenorchy, which has halfwit would neglect to see Queenstown. some of the best walks in the area. The Routeburn Walk is more of a challenge – three days long, locals Around town say it outshines the Milford Track. Your adrenal glands won’t know what hit them Out on the town after a visit to Queenstown. You’ll spend half your The only thing to match the rush during a day’s time wandering around nervously thinking about activities in Queenstown are the nocturnal antics. the next hair-raising activity you’re going to do, Famed for its nightlife, there are loads of backpackerand the other half on a natural high about what you style bars with cheap drinks, pool tables and cheesy just did. Whatever you choose, you won’t forget your music. The clubs carry on after the pubs close, with time in Queenstown. DJs spinning their wheels of steel till the early hours. Bungy jumping: The Kawarau suspension bridge From Queenstown kitchens waft the tantalising was the world’s first commercial bungy site and smells of Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, dangles precariously some 43 metres above the river
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Lebanese, Thai, Korean, American, and of course, Pacific Rim New Zealand cuisine, not forgetting the town’s legendary Ferg Burgers. In summer, adding a distinctly continental ambience to the resort, streets and balconies are crowded with alfresco diners, catching the last of the day’s rays or enjoying the warm evening air.
Otago Settled by Scots, this area depends on farming and tourism for its livelihood. The main city in the Otago province, Dunedin, is a city of Scottish heritage (Dunedin is Gaelic for Edinburgh). It’s New Zealand’s
The spectacular road to Mt Cook
oldest city, and possesses a unique combination of cultural riches, fine architecture and world-famous wildlife on the Otago Peninsula. Dunedin has almost been taken over by the 15,000 students who study at Otago University. The town has the best of both worlds, with winter skiing and summer surfing. There’s quite a bit to do in Dunedin. Any selfrespecting local will direct you straight to Speight’s Brewery in Rattray Street. There you can see how they make the south’s most famous tipple and you even get to try some. If you’ve got the munchies after, you may be tempted to take a mosey into Cadbury World to nibble on some tasty samples. Culturally, the Otago Museum has a good collection of Maori and Pacific artefacts, especially southern Maori culture. It also has exhibits on world archaeology, maritime displays and New Zealand’s natural history from the penguins to the extinct moa. Baldwin Street is the world’s steepest – and if you don’t believe us, ask Mr Guinness to show you his book. The annual Baldwin Street Gutbuster is part of the Dunedin Summer Festival. Challenge yourself by joining the race to the top. When you’ve finished, spare a thought for those who live at the top. Finally, make sure you scope out some of the lovely local beaches, such as St Clair and St Kilda. Don your winter wettie though as it gets colder the TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 141
Photo: Tourism New Zealand/David Wall
A well-preserved little gold mining town which appears to be stuck in a time warp, Arrowtown is 20km north-east of Queenstown. The old sycamore trees dropping their leaves on the quaint little houses and shops on the main street are a picturesque sight in autumn. Don’t miss the former Chinese Settlement, featuring some of the miners’ preserved huts. South-west of Queenstown, Fiordland National Park offers yet more stunning scenery, plus a chance to get away from it all. Endless miles of unspoilt bush offer some of the best tramping in the world. Walks on offer include the world-famous Milford Track, the Holyford, the Routeburn and the Kepler among others. The Milford Track is considered to be the finest in New Zealand, if not the world. The track winds on for some 51km and is revered for the views it provides every step of the way. However, you should be thoroughly prepared when tramping in New Zealand – weather conditions are extremely changeable and unprepared people do die in the bush. Sandflies and rain plague Fiordland too, so take a coat and repellent. You can check on conditions and obtain maps and information from the DOC Fiordland National Park Visitors Centre. Milford Sound is perhaps the most beautiful sight anywhere in New Zealand – it’s certainly the most photographed. More than 300 inches of rain fall here every year and the result is a majestic tapestry of tree-lined mountains, bushy trails and... erm, water. Boat cruises run all day on the Sound, and the views are some of the best you’ll see in your time away. There’s a good chance you’ll see dolphins, seals and, if you’re lucky, penguins too. If Milford Sound sounds (sorry) too busy for your liking, check out neighbouring Doubtful Sound. Though arguably less dramatic, it’s more isolated, much bigger and a whole lot quieter. To appreciate its full majesty, you can even stay overnight on a boathouse.
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further south you go. Extending south of the city for 33km, the Otago Peninsula is a beautiful stretch of land which houses a fascinating collection of rare and native animals plus the glorious Otago harbour. Keep an eye out for the extremely rare yellow-eyed penguin and the magnificent royal albatross. New Zealand fur seals, whales and orcas are also spotted in the area. Taiaroa Head, at the edge of the peninsula, is the place to see the albatross colony. North of Dunedin, on the road down from Christchurch, you’ll find Moeraki Beach. The attractions are the bizarre spherical boulders tossed along the sand like giant stone marbles, said by legend to have been washed ashore from a Maori canoe. The geological explanation is that the boulders emerged from the mudstone cliffs behind. Between Invercargill and Dunedin lie The Catlins, the largest remaining area of native forest on the South Island’s east coast and an area of great natural interest. Highlights include Nugget Point (with its large seal colony), sea views from the lighthouse, waterfalls, a fossil forest, Cathedral Caves (accessible at low tide), Jack’s Blowhole, and Waipapa Point. Owaka is The Catlins’ main town, with a population of less than 400. Owaka has a Department of Conservation office, a museum and a few places to stay. The nearby Curio Caves are the site of a fossilised forest thought to be 160 million years old. Some of the species found here are believed to confirm that the islands of New Zealand were once part of the ancient continent of Gondwanaland. Cathedral Caves are accessible from Waipati Beach at low tide. Also look out for the Matai and Purakaunui Falls, Jack’s Blowhole and the walking tracks in the Catlins State
Forest Park. The southernmost city in New Zealand, Invercargill, 187km south of Queenstown and Bluff, is the jumping-off point for those wishing to visit Stewart Island, 30km across Foveaux Straight (reachable by ferry or aircraft).
Stewart Island Floating off the bottom of South Island, Stewart Island is well off the beaten track and attracts visitors keen to know what “getting away from it all” really means. Separated from the South Island by the Foveaux Strait, Stewart Island is inhabited by around 400 hardy locals. There is only one settlement, the town of Oban, on Halfmoon Bay. Much of Stewart Island is uninhabitable, not surprising given that the island contains 1,680 square kilometres of thick, unrelenting bush. Indeed most of the island’s inhabitants live in the main town of Oban. The tough terrain makes for excellent yet challenging walks. The best begins in Oban and ends up in Lee Bay, Observation Point or Thule. Unspoilt beaches, bush and an abundance of rare flora and fauna make exploration rewarding. There are plenty of huts, but they can be crowded in summer, when you may want to carry a tent. Ulva Island is an unspoilt 260 acre bird sanctuary. The quiet is disturbed only by birdsong and photographers will be in their element – rare birds come much closer than they would on the mainland. Summer is the busiest time for taking a tour. You can join trips to Ulva Island and Ocean Beach. There are fishing trips and, for something unique, a rare kiwi-spotting trip. Some tour operators double as water taxis for travellers, so getting around is easy. ❚
Sounds spectacular See the giant, silent Milford and Doubtful Sound – just stunning. Ice, ice, baby Pretend to be an Antarctic explorer in the wondrous ice kingdom of the 142 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. Walk the walks Answer the call of the wild and take on a tramping track. Arguably the best are in Fiordland. Are you Abel? Kayak with seals and try the the sun-blessed tramps of the Abel Tasman National Park. Scream town Fling yourself off cliffs, out of planes and down rushing rivers in Queenstown, the world’s adrenalin capital.
Wanaka Do the same, but without the crowds, at nearby Wanaka. Visit Orc-land Glue hair to your feet and run around The Lord Of The Rings’ Middle Earth. Whale of a time Kaikoura offers rewarding interactions with whales, dolphins and the much under-rated seals. Right royal booze-up Enjoy a night out in South Island party capital Queenstown.
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Photo: NZONE Skydive
GETTING A WORKING HOLIDAY VISA FOR NEW ZEALAND IS A PIECE OF CAKE FOR MANY NATIONALITIES (EXCEPT ORCS, SORRY)
Skydiving: One Kiwi essential not to be missed
Banks Banks are open Monday to Friday and automatic teller machines (ATMs) are widespread. If you’re staying for a while, call into one of the nationwide banks to open an account and obtain an ATM card (take your passport).
Currency New Zealand’s currency is in dollars (NZ$) and cents (c). Notes come in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 and coins in 10, 20, 50 cents, $1 and $2. Currency exchange is available at all banks, foreign exchange offices and at the airports.
Communications The dialling code for New Zealand is +64 (then delete the 0 from the start of the area code). Dialling out of New Zealand it’s: 00 before the country code. Direct dialling is available from almost all phones. Many pay phones are card-operated and the cards are available from bookstores, newsagents, petrol stations and other retailers. Some phones accept credit cards, but few take coins. Basic information numbers include: Directory enquiries: 018 Overseas operator: 0172
Emergency: 111 Internet: As with most places in the world, internet cafés have sprung up all over NZ. Post offices: There are post offices in most communities. But if not, stamps and postal services are usually provided by at least one shop in town. Every centre has a GPO with Poste Restante.
Credit cards All international credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners’ Club) are accepted in NZ.
Customs Allowance: Visitors aged over 17 are allowed to bring 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco or 50 cigars, 4,500ml of wine or beer and three bottles each containing 1,125ml of spirits or liqueur into New Zealand. General goods, such as perfume, to the value of NZ$700 may be included in your duty free allowance. Quarantine laws: New Zealand has very strict quarantine laws which prohibit people from bringing in fruit, veg, dairy products, seeds, fresh and packaged food, animal and some natural products. Bins in customs halls allow you to dump anything which may contravene the law. Equipment such as TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 143
WORD FROM THE STREET
Daniëlla A-Tkaj, Netherlands YOUR BEST NZ DAY? “I’ve got to say two things. First, the Tongariro Crossing. The walk is eight hours but so worth it! Also, Franz Josef Glacier (pictured). It feels as if you’ve landed on another world, surrounded by ice!“ AND THE BEST NIGHT OUT? “I went crazy in Queenstown, dancing on the tables! I had an amazing time there. If made to choose, it’s the one place I’d revisit. However, be careful, it’s easy to spend a lot of money there.”
camping gear must be declared on entry. If you’re unsure (souvenirs, for example, could be made with prohibited substances) check (customs.govt.nz), otherwise you could be fined.
Disabled facilities NZ’s building codes require minimum standards of accessibility for disabled persons, but those laws have only been in force for a few years so many buildings do not conform yet. Travellers with disabilities are advised to phone ahead to their chosen accommodation. All of the major carriers have excellent provision for disabled passengers but all prefer advance notice of particular needs. By law, guide dogs may accompany you anywhere there is public access. However, NZ has very strict animal importation laws and no animal may pass into the country without a six-month quarantine period.
Electricity You will need to use an adaptor if you are taking any electrical appliances from Europe or North 144 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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America. The socket is the same as Australia’s. Most hotels provide sockets for electric razors.
Health Medical facilities are listed in the front of the phone directory and you do not have to register with a doctor first. Medical services, except in case of an accident, are not free, so medical insurance is recommended. However, visitors are covered for personal injury by accident, irrespective of fault, under the NZ Accident Compensation laws. This includes medical and hospital expenses, but not compensation for loss of earnings outside New Zealand. Medications: Some drugs sold over the counter in other countries may only be available in New Zealand on prescription, so check with your doctor before departure. Visitors planning to bring large quantities of pharmaceuticals into the country should carry a doctor’s certificate to avoid customs problems. Vaccinations: None are required, but a tetanus shot is wise. Sun: It’s fierce, made stronger by the hole in the ozone layer. Always wear sunscreen with factor of at least 15. Even on cloudy days you can quickly turn an amusing yet alarming shade of bright pink.
Liquor laws The legal drinking age is 18. Most restaurants and many cafés serve alcohol and, of course, there are also pubs, bars and nightclubs. Opening hours vary, but most pubs and bars are open from 11am to 1am and nightclubs usually stay open until very late (or very early, depending on which way you look at it). Most bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafés can serve alcohol seven days a week. Bottle shops (offlicences) are also open seven days (serving beer, wine and spirits), plus you can get beer and wine from supermarkets any day of the week. However, alcohol is not sold on Christmas Day, Good Friday or Easter Sunday. Booo to that.
Tax Goods and services are subject to a 15 per cent goods and services tax (GST, like the UK’s VAT), included in the price. Goods purchased from duty free shops (at airports and major tourist spots) are exempt from GST on presentation of travel documents.
Transport Driving: There are a few things you need to remember in New Zealand: • Drive on the left-hand side.
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• Speeds and distances are metric, meaning road signs will be in kilometres. Speed limits are 100km/h on the open road and 50km/h in built-up areas. • When turning left, give way to traffic turning right. • You can drive in NZ for up to 12 months if you have a current driver’s licence from your home country or an International Driving Permit. • Most rental firms won’t rent to anyone under 21.
Tourist visas You’ll struggle to find a more visa-friendly country than New Zealand. UK citizens can stay in the country as tourists for six months, without applying for a visa in advance, while citizens of another 56 countries (including Ireland, the USA, Canada and most of Europe) can stay for three months without a visa. That said, all tourists are required to prove onward travel plans and sufficient funds for their trip. Except for some unusual instances, you are not allowed to do paid work on a tourist visa. For more information, and application forms, visit the government website, immigration.govt.nz. Then there’s the excellent Working Holiday Scheme...
Working Holiday Scheme visa There are other visa options, especially for those looking to migrate permanently, but a Working Holiday Scheme visa (WHS) is the best bet for most young people. For UK nationals the WHS is valid for 23 months – 12 months for other nationalities. Visitors on this visa can work for any one employer for up to 12 months. To be entitled to apply for the WHS you must be 18 to 30-years-old and a citizen of one of the following countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, the UK, the USA or Uruguay. You’re entitled to only one WHS visa in your lifetime and applicants from most countries can apply online. Travellers from eligible countries can even apply for a WHS visa online while they are in New Zealand. So in effect you could enter the country on a tourist visa, have a nose about and see it you like the place, then apply for a WHS visa. The processing of these online applications is very fast, with most electronic visas or permits being approved and issued within 48 hours. That said, for a 23-month visa, you’ll need to do a medical and provide an x-ray certificate. The cost of WHS applications varies, but a UK
or Irish citizen applying from their own country would pay £75. Canadians pay CAD$120 and citizens of the USA get them free, as long as they apply outside NZ. Visit immigration.govt.nz/fees for the fees for other countries.
Volunteering A popular option for travellers, volunteering is a good way to see the best of what this beautiful country has to offer. WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) can help you find work across the country, where, for a few hours’ work, you get bed and board. Visit wwoof.co.nz for more details. Farm Helpers In New Zealand (fhinz.co.nz) is a network of farms offering free accommodation and food to those willing to work four to six hours a day. No experience is necessary and the work depends on the type of farm you choose. It’s an excellent way to extend that holiday for a few more weeks or months for next to nothing. The Department of Conservation is also worth a peek. Although doing volunteer work for DOC may actually cost you money, you may get to experience a unique part of New Zealand (for example, look for jobs working on offshore islands). See doc.govt.nz for more info. Conservation Volunteers (conservationvolunteers. co.nz) also have plenty of great options. The bad news is that the Department of Immigration does consider some types of volunteering (especially when food and accommodation is exchanged for labour) to be “work”, so you may need a WHS.
Studying A rising number of international students choose to study in New Zealand universities, with English language courses especially popular. It’s difficult to think of a better way to escape exam stress than with a short dash to play with dolphins in the sea or disappear amongst the mountains and fiords. Website immigration.govt.nz has links to New Zealand universities and information on obtaining a student visa. While in the Land Of The Long White Cloud, WHS visa holders are also entitled to enrol for one training or study course of up to three months.
NZ embassies UK: Immigration New Zealand, Mezzanine Floor, New Zealand House, 80 Haymarket, London, SW1Y 4TQ, +44 20 7930 8422. Belgium: 7th floor, 9 - 31 Avenue des Nerviens, 1040 Brussels, +32 2 512 1040. France: 7ter, Rue Leonard de Vinci, 75116, Paris, +33 1 45 01 43 43. Germany: Friedrichstrasse 60, 10117, Berlin, +49 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 145
NZESSENTIALS 30 20 62 10. Netherlands: Eisenhowerlaan 77N, 2517 KK, The Hague, +31 70 346 9324. Australia: Level 10, 55 Hunter Street, Sydney 2000, +61 2 9223 0144. Thailand: M Thai Tower, 14th Floor, All Seasons Place, 87 Wireless Road, Lumpini, Bangkok 10330, +66 2 254 2530. USA: 37 Observatory Circle, Washington, NW DC 20008, +1 202 328 4800. Canada: 99 Bank Street, Suite 727, Ottawa, Ontario, K1P 6G3, +61 3 238 5991.
Getting there Most international routes from North America land in Auckland, as do flights from Europe (which usually go via the USA). That is the route taken by the national carrier, Air New Zealand, which is rated as one of the world’s best airlines. It has regular flights from the UK and Ireland to New Zealand, usually via the US. It can take up to 25 hours and there are also services via the South Pacific islands. Many people travelling to NZ do so via Asia and Australia on a round-the-world ticket with Auckland or Fiji as a stop-off point. If, after you arrive in Australia, you decide to venture across the Tasman, there are many flights available. Qantas, Air New Zealand and Emirates fly regular routes between most Australian cities and Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Also check discount carriers such as Virgin Australia and Jetstar.
Airports The major international gateways to New Zealand are Auckland and Christchurch. Dunedin, Wellington and other cities do receive international flights, but not usually long-haul. Flying across the Tasman Sea from Australia, however, does widen your options.
Accommodation There are plenty of great hostels to choose from in NZ. Most offer nice, clean, perfectly liveable budget accommodation, usually with 24-hour access, fully-equipped communal kitchens, laundry and internet facilities, communal TV/living rooms, and many also offer services like travel tips and booking, recruitment services and courtesy buses. Most hostels are individually owned and operated, but many are part of one of the larger backpacker networks. There are several hostel networks across the country, such as BBH, YHA, Base, VIP, Nomads etc. Membership of one of these networks usually offers several benefits, including discounts at member hostels. Also keep an eye out for the Qualmark logo, 146 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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which gives an official mark of quality for hostels, activities and transport across New Zealand. Kiwi hostels range widely in size from about 10 to 300 beds, mostly in shared rooms (dormitories), with single-sex dorms available on request. Prices start at NZ$20 for a dorm room. Double, twin and single rooms are usually also available.
Fauna There are no deadly animals in NZ. The only poisonous insect is a very rare spider, the katipo, which is amazingly elusive. Mozzies and sandflies can be a bloody nuisance though. They carry no disease however and can be controlled with insect repellent.
Agriculture Sixty per cent of New Zealand’s export earnings are from agriculture and horticulture, so customs regulations are strict to prevent the importation of disease and pests. There are about 3.5 million dairy cattle in New Zealand, mostly in the North Island and all are pasture-fed. Sheep outnumber people 20 to one (another thing Aussies tease Kiwis about), the national flock being some 60 million-strong.
Language English is the common language of New Zealand and Maori is also an official language, although you are unlikely to hear it spoken, except in rural communities in the north and east of the North Island. One phrase worth knowing however, is “kia ora” which means both hello and welcome.
National parks The country is scattered with beautiful national parks, forest parks, historic parks, maritime parks and protected areas which are open to the public free of charge. Permits are needed to hunt or fish in the parks. There is a small charge for the use of huts and other facilities.
Time difference One of the first places in the world to see the dawn each day, New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). In summer the clocks are moved forward one hour (to GMT+13). Daylight saving runs from the first Sunday in October to the third Sunday in March.
Visitor information You will find a Visitor Information Network office in almost every town. There’s always a good selection of leaflets and fliers for hostels and tours and a bunch of helpful smiley staff. ❚
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HOSTEL GROUPS Base Backpackers stayatbase.com BBH World Traveller Accommodation bbh.co.nz Nomads nomadsworld.com VIP Backpackers NZ vipbackpackers.com YHA New Zealand yha.org.nz
ACTIVITIES AJ Hackett Queenstown & Auckland bungy jumping. +64 3 450 1300, bungy.co.nz Auckland Museum +64 9 309 0443 aucklandmuseum.com Awesome NZ New Zealand-wide tours. +64 9 402 7421
Dive! Tutukaka Poor Knights Islands diving. +64 9 434 3867 diving.co.nz
Royal Albatross Colony Otago albatross tours. +64 3 478 0499 albatross.org.nz Shotover Canyon Swing Queenstown thrills. +64 3 442 6990 canyonswing.co.nz Sky Jump NZ Auckland high wire jumps. +64 9 368 1835 skyjump.co.nz Skydive Lake Wanaka +64 3 443 7207 skydivewanaka.com Tamaki Maori Village Rotorua cultural experiences. +64 7 349 2999 tamakimaorivillage.co.nz Tandem Skydive Wanaka +64 3 443 7207 skydivewanaka.com Taupo Bungy +64 7 377 1135 taupobungy.co.nz Taupo Tandem Skydive +64 7 377 0428 taupotandemskydiving.com
Dive White Island +64 7 307 0714 divewhite.co.nz
Escape Rentals Vehicle rental. +64 2 130 9444 escaperentals.co.nz
Explore NZ Auckland & Bay of Islands tours. +64 9 359 5987 explorenz.co.nz
Explore More Vehicle rental. +64 9 255 0620 exploremore.co.nz
Fox Glacier Guiding +64 3 751 0825 foxguides.co.nz Franz Josef Glacier Guides +64 3 752 0763 franzjosefglacier.com Helistar Taupo helicopter tours. +64 7 374 8405 helistar.co.nz
Photo: Tourism New Zealand/Julian Apse
Destination Rotorua +64 7 348 5179 rotoruanz.com
NZONE Skydive Queenstown & Rotorua skydiving.+64 3 442 7269 nzone.biz
Jucy Rentals Vehicle rental. +64 9 374 4360 jucy.co.nz Kiwi Experience Hop on-hop off New Zealandwide tours. +64 9 336 4286 kiwiexperience.com Magic Travellers Network Hop on-hop off New Zealandwide tours. +64 9 358 5600 magicbus.co.nz
Huka Falls Jet Taupo jet boating. +64 7 374 8572 hukafallsjet.co.nz
Naked Bus New Zealand-wide buses & tours. nakedbus.com
Legendary Black Water Rafting Waitomo caving tours. +64 7 878 8228 waitomo.com
Overland NZ New Zealand-wide tours. +64 7 542 2762 overlandnz.com
Too much fresh air can make you do strange things...
Spaceships Vehicle rental. +64 9 526 2130 spaceshipsrentals.co.nz Stray Hop on-hop off New Zealandwide tours. +64 9 526 2140 straytravel.com
TRAVEL SERVICES Backpackers World Travel +64 3 379 8153 backpackersworld.com Base Travel +64 9 358 4874 basetravel.co.nz i-Site Auckland +64 9 367 6009 aucklandnz.com
EMPLOYMENT Addstaff Employment +64 3 442 4307 addstaff.co.nz Greenpeace +64 9 630 6317 greenpeace.org.nz New Zealand Job Search +64 9 357 3996 nzjs.co.nz Randstad +64 9 336 0399 randstad.co.nz Seasonal Work NZ seasonalwork.co.nz TNT Magazine All sectors job listings. tntjobs.com.nz TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 147
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Getting around NZ NEW ZEALAND IS FAIRLY SMALL AND HAS A GOOD TRANSPORT NETWORK – SO WHAT YOU WAITING FOR? HIT THE ROAD, JACK
Photo: Tourism New Zealand/Julian Apse
Another stressful day on the road...
Unlike its big fat neighbour Australia, New Zealand is nowhere near as big a challenge to navigate. More compact and easy to handle, at 268,000 square kilometres, the country is bigger than the UK, smaller than Japan, and is pretty easy to get around.
By bus/coach/budget tours New Zealand has several bus companies which will whizz you around both islands at your leisure. There are a variety of smaller transport companies operating too, plus a plethora of tour operators offer alternative transport options. Often guided, including food, accommodation and activities, they are a good option if your time is limited and/or you’re keen to meet other travellers. They combine the convenience of express bus passes with the independence of hop-on, hop-off trips. Some operators give travellers the option of taking their bikes and surfboards along too.
By air While it is by no means necessary to fly around NZ, if time is limited or you are repeating a journey, flying can be quicker, easier and even cheaper than ground travel. Air New Zealand (airnewzealand. co.nz), Virgin Australia (virginaustralia.com) and 148 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
Jetstar (jetstar.com) are the main domestic airlines, and there are a few smaller airlines such as Great Barrier Airlines & Air Coromandel and Mountain Air. Buy your ticket before you arrive and you’ve already saved 12.5 per cent as NZ’s GST (Goods and Services Tax, charged on almost everything you buy in NZ), is not charged when you buy outside the country. If you have a YHA card, a VIP card or an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) you are entitled to discounts, including 50 per cent off standby flights. Booking in advance is also a great way to score cheap deals. For airport shuttles, contact Super Shuttle (supershuttle.co.nz) on +64 9 522 5100. There are a variety of air passes available to overseas visitors. Some passes operate on a coupon system – the more coupons, the more domestic flights. Contact the airlines for details and prices.
By ferry The Interislander Ferry: The Interislander is a yearround passenger and car ferry service across Cook Strait – linking the North and South Islands. There are three passenger ships in the Interislander fleet and all provide a wide range of onboard facilities and entertainment, as well as comfortable lounges and decks from where you can take in the magnificent
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WORD FROM THE STREET
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or van, hiring one is a good, cheap option. The roads in NZ are good and well signposted, traffic is light and distances short. It has to be said, there’s no better way to enjoy New Zealand’s unique countryside than independently. As good as public transport is, nothing quite matches the freedom of having your own vehicle.
Buying & renting
Alex Vivas, England ANY FAVOURITE PLACES? “Heck. Well, the Waitomo Caves are brilliant. Rotorua has plenty going on, but too many tourists for me. I really like Wellington. Then there’s canyoning and skydiving in Wanaka, the Nevis and Canyon Swing in Queenstown, seal swimming in Kaikoura, hiking Mt Cook... This country is something else! “ AND THE BEST NIGHT OUT? “I’m more cosy pub than dance on the tables, but Wellington has got to be the nightlife king.”
views on the three hour journey over the Strait. Visit interislandline.co.nz to book the Interislander. Bookings can also be made with Tranz Rail agents in New Zealand, which include over 450 travel agencies, visitor information centres and other agencies. Ask at your Wellington or Picton hostel.
By train Travelling by train gives you the chance to soak up the scenery, but the rail network in NZ is far from comprehensive. The following routes apply: Auckland to Wellington, Christchurch to Greymouth and Christchurch to Picton. The Auckland to Wellington leg, the Overlander, can be done in a day (operates Friday to Sunday only). Visit tranzscenic.co.nz for TranzScenic Rail timetables, routes and fares.
By car/campervan Time and money allowing, travelling by campervan is the best option. New Zealand is a small country and if you don’t feel the length of your trip or the depth of your finances warrant buying a car 152 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
Travellers with more time and money at their disposal may be tempted to purchase a car or campervan, which, apart from the initial outlay, can be cost-efficient. You can recoup some of the purchase price by selling it at the end of your trip. Auckland is the easiest city to buy in, as it’s where most tourists buy and sell and the city is full of second-hand vehicles. Christchurch is also often flushed with people trying to buy and sell. Buy-back: There’s a good buy-back system in NZ. You buy a car from a dealer who guarantees that they’ll buy the car back from you. You won’t get a large percentage of the purchase price (maybe half if you’ve had the car for a long time). Some car dealerships will also give you the option to sell it elsewhere but guarantee to buy it from you if you can’t. This way you can try to sell it privately for a higher price, but if you can’t or you’re in a hurry, at least you know you’re going to get something from the buy-back people. Buying privately: People sell their cars through local papers and ads, car marts and auctions. The New Zealand Herald carries car ads every day but has a motor section on Saturdays. There’s also the Trade and Exchange and the Auto Trader, specialist car-sale publications. You can also look for cheap cars on the noticeboards of hostels, internet cafés and in supermarkets. For around NZ$3,500 or less, you should be able to pick up something pretty mechanically reliable. There are a number of websites to help you find that diamond in the rough. Getting it checked by a mechanic when you take it out for a test drive is a good way to ensure you’re getting value for money. Car rental: There are plenty of options for renting vehicles in NZ. Have a look on the internet and shop around to make sure you get the best deal. The longer you rent for, the cheaper the daily rate becomes. Another tip is to look for relocation bargains. Many travellers hire a vehicle in Auckland and say au revoir to it in Queenstown or Christchurch but the rental companies need their vehicles back and have special rates for those willing to bring their wheels back to them. Going against the tide could save you a lot of cash. ❚
Hot Water Beach, New Zealand
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Finding work in NZ PLANNING ON WORKING IN NEW ZEALAND? READ ON TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN BOOST YOUR FUNDS WITH ALL TYPES OF JOBS – EVERYTHING FROM PINT PULLING TO PLUM PICKING
Working in New Zealand is unlikely to fund an early retirement, but the laidback lifestyle and gorgeous scenery are worth taking a bit of a pay cut for. The government is keen to steer working holiday-makers into seasonal and unskilled work and there’s a good deal of it about. However, with some experience and/or qualifications you have a good chance of finding an office job or gaining employment in the hospitality, teaching and healthcare industries. There’s already a large unskilled workforce, so visitors with qualifications will have an advantage.
Who can work? It is illegal for travellers to work in New Zealand without a valid work visa (see page 145).
Job hunting You may be on holiday, but when it comes to finding work you need to approach it with a professional attitude. Never underestimate the power of a good CV. Keep it as concise as possible. Generally speaking, two pages is more than enough and make sure it’s relevant to the job or agency you are applying for. Include your DOB, contact details in New Zealand and a suitable email address. 154 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
When it comes to interviews, be prepared. Research the company you are applying to, wear suitable clothing, bring your passport and your IRD number (that’s your tax file number, apply at ird. govt.nz) and show up on time.
Where to look for work The labour market is diverse and different regions of New Zealand offer quite different opportunities (and it’s the kind of country where a place might be so beautiful that you don’t mind washing dishes in order to linger for a few months). However, as the country is more used to higher unemployment, there’s still an understandable “Kiwis first” attitude in some places, so securing a good job in some smaller towns may be awkward. For office-based roles, the larger the town or city the better chance there is of employment (Auckland being a significantly better bet, followed by Wellington and Christchurch). It’s worth registering with the relevant agencies. The tourism industry always needs willing workers during peak periods, so nosing about in holiday hotspots could turn up trumps (especially if you speak a second language). Most tourist centres can prove
Photo: Tourism New Zealand/Miles Holden
Combine work and play by doing a snow season
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successful work stop-off points, from hospitality at the ski fields to working in a bustling Rotorua hostel. The ski season (June to October) offers the fun of the slopes with a permanent party atmosphere. Restaurant and bar staff, cleaning and numerous other positions are on offer, especially if you’re a qualified ski instructor. But get those CVs in early (most resorts begin hiring at the start of March). New Zealand is farming country and there are often extra labourers needed, making harvest work the classic traveller’s job. It can be tough and it won’t make you millions, but working in the sunny outdoors, surrounded by jaw-to-the-floor beautiful scenery can often beat a stuffy office. It’s available all year round (though December to May is the main picking season), in numerous spots. Hostels in the main fruit-picking regions will often help working holiday-makers find work, offer cheap rates for accommodation and arrange transport. The Immigration Department website has a good guide to which work opportunities are available in each region (immigration.govt.nz).
Types of jobs Office jobs: For temp/office work, you’ll need to be well organised, with a good CV, references and suitable clothes – not boardshorts and ‘jandals’ (the quite brilliant Kiwi word for flip-flops). Check out national and local newspapers and don’t forget to sign up with several temping agencies. Accountants, bankers, clerks, computer wizards and receptionists are always in demand during peak periods. Sales, promotions and telemarketing jobs are often advertised on hostel notice boards. Medicine: There’s always demand for nurses, doctors and physios in New Zealand, but you may find it necessary to undertake extra work in order to match the country’s qualifications. And be prepared to jump through several hoops for registration (however, once you have it, it often opens doors to working in Australia as well). Au pair and childcare: If you’re experienced with children and have good references and qualifications, it should be easy to sign up with a specialist agency. Hospitality: Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Nelson, Queenstown and Dunedin all have a busy nightlife year round so there are plenty of hospitality jobs up for grabs, but keep in mind that Kiwi students may also be chasing these jobs. Often the most effective ways of landing a job is to walk in to a place you want to work. Chefs are usually in great demand due to a shortage. You may also be able to find work operating ski-lifts, working in hotels or leaflet-
dropping. Ask at hostels for the best leads. Agriculture/volunteering: If you are interested in doing some farm work (either paid or in return for board and lodging), there are several organisations which can help you find a placement. Try the International Agricultural Exchange Association at agriventure.com; WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) at wwoof.co.nz; Conservation Volunteers New Zealand (conservationvolunteers. co.nz); or Farm Helpers in New Zealand (fhinz.co.nz). Harvest work: A wide range of fruit and veggie crops are grown in the fertile soil of New Zealand which means there are loads of jobs for travellers. The main areas for this kind of work on the North Island are outside Auckland, Kerikeri and Paihia (Bay of Islands), Gisborne (Poverty Bay), Tauranga (Bay of Plenty), Napier and Hastings (Hawkes Bay). On the South Island, Nelson, Motueka, Blenheim, Tapawera, Alexandra, Roxburgh and Christchurch are the main areas to head to. Prime times for harvesting can vary between areas. Make sure you negotiate a rate of pay before you start. You’ll need some old clothes, plenty of sunscreen and a pair of sturdy boots. Harvest times: Grapes (January-April), apples (January-May), Kiwi fruit (May-July), planting and pruning (October), apricots, berries, citrus (November-December), nectarines, plums, apple thinning (NovemberDecember), melons (December-February). Check out seasonalwork.co.nz for more information.
Employment websites TNT’s job website (tntjobs.co.nz) is crammed with opportunities, covering all sectors and areas, especially backpacker jobs. The main site (tntdownunder.com) also has plenty of stories tips about visas and finding work, plus interviews with travellers already working in New Zealand. Also head here if you want to sign up to have TNT’s weekly jobs email alert delivered straight to your inbox. Companies and organisations offer employment services and information at newzealandnow.govt.nz National newspaper The NZ Herald (nzherald. co.nz) publishes online employment classifieds. One of New Zealand’s biggest internet employment sites is seek.co.nz New Zealand Job Search (nzjs.co.nz) covers everything from construction work to IT support jobs. If you’re looking for short-term roles, especially on the NZ Harvest Trail, head to seasonalwork.co.nz Southern Doctor (southerndoctor.co.nz) is for finding medical jobs in New Zealand and Australia. If you’re after a snow resort job for the winter, nzski.com is your best bet. ❚ TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 155
NZSTAY NORTH ISLAND
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Okopako Lodge Farm Hostel BBH 140 Mountain Road, Opononi. bbh.co.nz/hd550
Bamber House BBH 22 View Rd, Mt Eden. hostelbackpacker.com
Uenuku Lodge BBH 217 Ponsonby Rd, Posonby. uenukulodge.co.nz
Peppertree Lodge BBH 15 Kings Road, Paihia. peppertree.co.nz
Base Auckland Level 3, 229 Queen Street. stayatbase.com
Verandahs BBH 6 Hopetoun St, Central. verandahs.co.nz
Piano Hill Farm BBH Piano Hill Estate, SH 1, Whangarei. bbh.co.nz/hd30
BK Hostel BBH 3 Mercury Lane. bkhostel.co.nz
Waikatoa Beach Lodge BBH 8 Centreway Rd, Port Waikato. sunsetbeach.co.nz
Pickled Parrot BBH Grey’s Lane, Paihia. pickledparrot.co.nz
City Garden Lodge BBH 25 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell. citygardenlodge.co.nz
Yaping House BBH 79 Owens Rd, Epsom. yapinghouse.co.nz
Cap’n Bob’s Beach House BBH 44 Davis Cres, Paihia. capnbobs.co.nz
Pukenui Lodge Hostel BBH Cnr SH1 & Wharf Road, Pukenui. pukenuilodge.co.nz
Freemans Lodge BBH 65 Wellington St, Freemans Bay. freemansbandb.co.nz
YHA Auckland International 5 Turner Street. yha.co.nz
Centabay Lodge BBH 27 Selwyn Rd, Paihia. centabay.co.nz
Saltwater Lodge BBH 14 Kings Rd, Paihia. saltwaterlodge.co.nz
Hekerua Lodge Backpackers BBH 11 Hekerua Rd, Oneroa, Waiheke Island. hekerualodge.co.nz
YHA Auckland City 18 Liverpool Street. yha.co.nz
Coastal Cow Backpackers BBH 299 Molesworth Drive, Mangawhai Heads. mangawhaibackpackers.com
Seabeds BBH 46 Davis Crescent, Paihia. seabeds.co.nz
Jandal Palace BBH 38 Glenesk Rd, Piha. pihabeachstay.co.nz
Sunseeker Lodge BBH Old Hospital RD, RD1 0478, Whangaroa. sunseekerlodge.co.nz
KR City Travellers BBH 146 Karangahape Rd. kroadcitytravelers.co.nz
NORTHLAND Base Bay of Islands 18 Kings Road, Paihia. stayatbase.com Bay Adventurer Backpackers 28 Kings Rd, Paihia. nomadshostels.com Bunkdown Lodge BBH 23 Otaika Rd, Whangarei. bunkdownlodge.co.nz
Endless Summer Lodge BBH 245 Foreshore Rd, Ahipara. endlesssummer.co.nz Ferry Landing BBH 395A Aucks Rd, Okiato Point, Russell. ferrylandingrussell.co.nz Globetrekkers Lodge BBH 281 SH 12, Omapere. globetrekkerslodge.com Hone Heke Lodge BBH 65 Hone Heke Rd, Kerikeri. honeheke.co.nz Kahoe Farms Hostel BBH 1266 State Highway 10, Kahoe. kahoefarms.co.nz Kerikeri Farm Hostel BBH 1574 Springbank Rd (SH10), Kerikeri. farmhostel.co.nz Little Earth Lodge BBH 85 Abbey Caves Rd, Whareora. littleearthlodge.co.nz Mainstreet Lodge BBH 235 Commerce St, Kaitaia. mainstreetlodge.co.nz Mousetrap BBH 11 Kings Rd, Paihia. mousetrap.co.nz Nero Backpackers BBH 25 Commerce St, Kaitaia. bbh.co.nz/hd830 North Wind Lodge Bps BBH 88 Otaipango Rd, Kaitaia, Henderson Bay. northwind.co.nz 156 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
The Coast Road Farm BBH 3632 Russell Road, Whangaruru. thefarm.co.nz The Greenhouse Hostel BBH 15 Gordon Street, Dargaville. bbh.co.nz/hd25 The Tree House BBH 168 West Coast Road, Motukaraka, Kohukohu. treehouse.co.nz Travellers Lodge BBH 64 Jellicoe Rd, Ruawai. bbh.co.nz/hd26 Wainui Lodge BBH 92D Te Wahapu Rd, Russell. bay-of-islands.pelnet.org Waipu Wanderers BBH 25 St Mary’s Rd, Waipu. waipu-hostel.co.nz Whangarei Falls Backpackers BBH 12 Ngunguru Rd, Whangarei. whangareifalls.co.nz YHA Bay of Islands The Rock, Paihia Wharf Building, Paihia. yha.co.nz
AUCKLAND Airport Skyway Lodge BBH 30 Kirkbride Rd, Mangere. airporthostel.com
Lantana Lodge BBH 60 St Georges Bay Rd, Parnell. lantanalodge.co.nz Malolo House BBH 10 Commercial Rd, Helensville. malolohouse.co.nz Marco Polo BBH 2D Hammond Ave, Hatfields Beach, Orewa North. orewabackpackers.co.nz Nomads Auckland 16-20 Fort St. nomadshostels.com Nomads Fat Camel 38 Fort St. nomadshostels.com Oaklands Lodge BBH 5a Oaklands Rd, Mt Eden. oaklands.co.nz Pentlands BBH 22 Pentland Ave, Mt Eden. pentlands.co.nz Ponsonby Backpackers BBH 2 Franklin Rd, Posonby. ponsonby-backpackers.co.nz Shekinah Farm BBH 122 Punga Punga Rd, Tuakau, Pukekawa. shekinahbackpackers.co.nz The Brown Kiwi, BBH 7 Prosford St, Posonby. brownkiwi.co.nz
COROMANDEL Anchor Lodge BP BBH 448 Wharf Rd, Coromandel Town. anchorlodgecoromandel.co.nz Beach Villa BBH 200 Main Rd, Tairua. tairuabackpackers.co.nz Black Jack Lodge BBH 201 State Highway 25, Kuaotunu. black-jack.co.nz Cat’s Pyjamas BBH, 12 Albert St, Whitianga. cats-pyjamas.co.nz Coromandel Town Backpackers BBH 636/732 Rings Rd, Coromandel Town. coromandelholidaypark.co.nz Colville Farm BBH 2140 Colville Rd, Colville. colvillefarmholidays.co.nz Fernbird BBH 24 Harsant Ave, Hahei. bbh.co.nz/hd56 Gateway Backpackers BBH 209 Mackay St, Thames. bbh.co.nz/hd373 Golden Owl BBH 3 Moresby Rd, Karangahake. goldenowl.co.nz Lions Den BBH 126 Te Tiki St, Coromandel Town. lionsdenhostel.co.nz On the Beach Backpackers YHA, BBH 46 Buffalo Beach Rd, Whitianga. coromandelbackpackers.com
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Seabreeze Holiday Park BBH, 1043 SH25 Tairua-Whitianga Rd, Whenuakite, Hot Water Beach seabreezeholidaypark.co.nz Sunkist International Backpackers BBH, 506 Brown St, Thames sunkistbackpackers.com Tatahi Lodge BBH Grange Rd, Hahei Beach, tatahilodge.co.nz The Junction Hotel BBH 700 Pollen St, Thames. bbh.co.nz/hd920 The Pinnacles Backpackers BBH 305 Main Road (SH25), Tairua. pinnaclesbakpak.co.nz Tidewater Tourist Park BBH 270 Tiki Road, Coromandel Town. tidewater.co.nz Tui Lodge BBH 60 B Whangapoua Rd, Coromandel Town. bbh.co.nz/hd50 Whangamata Backpackers Hostel BBH 227 Beverley Tce, Whangamata. whangamata-backpackers.co.nz Wolfies Lair BBH 11 Firth View Rd, Thames. wolfieslair.co.nz
BAY OF PLENTY Astray BBH 1202 Pukuatua Street, Rotorua. astray.co.nz Base Rotorua 1286 Arawa Street. stayatbase.com Bell Lodge Motel & Backpackers BBH 39 Bell St, Tauranga. bell-lodge.co.nz Central Oasis Backpackers BBH 30 King St, Opotiki. centraloasisbackpackers.co.nz Crank Backpackers BBH, 1140 Hinemoa St, Rotorua. crankbackpackers.co.nz Eastender Backpackers BBH, 836 Rangitukia Rd, Tikitiki. eastenderbackpackers.co.nz Funky Green Voyager BBH 4 Union St, Rotorua. funkygreenvoyager.com/
Harbourside City Backpackers BBH 105 The Strand, Tauranga. backpacktauranga.co.nz Just The Ducks Nuts BBH 6 Vale St, Tauranga. justtheducksnuts.co.nz Karibu Backpackers BBH 13 Landing Rd, Whakatane. karibubackpackers.co.nz Kingfisher Backpackers Lodge BBH 122A Work Road, Katikati. kingfisher-backpack.co.nz Kiwi Paka Backpackers 60 Tarewa Road, Rotorua. nomadshostels.com Loft 109 BBH 9 Devonport Rd, Tauranga. loft109.co.nz Mount Backpackers BBH 87 Maunganui Rd, Mt Maunganui. mountbackpackers.co.nz Opotiki Beach House BBH 7 Appleton Rd, Waiotahi Beach, Opotiki. opotikibeachhouse.co.nz Pacific Coast Lodge & Backpackers BBH 432 Maunganui Rd, Mount Maunganui. pacificcoastlodge.co.nz Rotorua Central Backpackers BBH 1076 Pukuatua St, Rotorua. rotoruacentralbackpackers.co.nz Seagulls Guesthouse BBH, 12 Hinau Street, Mount Maunganui. seagullsguesthouse.co.nz Spa Lodge Backpackers BBH 1221 Amohau St, Rotorua. spalodge.co.nz The Windsor BBH, 10 Merritt St, Whakatane. windsorlodge-backpackers.co.nz
TAUPO Base Taupo 7 Tuwharetoa Street. stayatbase.com Berkenhoff Lodge BBH 75 Scannell St. berkenhofflodge.co.nz Blackcurrant Backpackers BBH, 20 Taniwha St. blackcurrantbp.co.nz
Rainbow Lodge BBH 99 Titiraupenga St. rainbowlodge.co.nz
Ski Haus BBH Carroll St, National Park Village. skihaus.co.nz
Tiki Lodge BBH 104 Tuwharetoa St. tikilodge.co.nz
Solscape Raglan 611 Wainui Rd, Raglan. solscape.co.nz
Urban Retreat Backpackers 65 Heuheu St. nomadshostels.com
Station Lodge BBH 60 Thames St, The Junction, Ohakune. stationlodge.co.nz
YHA Taupo 56 Kaimanawa St. yha.co.nz
WAIKATO A Plus Samurai Lodge BBH 41 Iwiheke Place, Turangi,. tongariro-hostel.co.nz Casara Mesa BBH Mangarino Rd, RD 6, Te Kuiti. bbh.co.nz/hd95 Extreme Backpackers BBH, 26 Ngawaka Place, Turangi. extremebackpackers.co.nz Forty Winks BBH 267 River Rd, Hamilton. forty-winks.co.nz Howards Mountain Lodge BBH 43 Carroll St, National Park Village. howardslodge.co.nz J’s Backpackers BBH, 8 Grey St, Hamilton. jsbackpackers.co.nz Juno Hall BBH 600 Waitomo Caves Rd, Waitomo. bbh.co.nz/hd94 National Park BPs BBH Findlay St, National Park Village. npbp.co.nz
The Park Travellers Lodge, BBH 2-6 Millar Street, National Park Village. the-park.co.nz Wades Landing Lodge BBH, 29 Kaitieke Rd, Raurimu. wadeslandinglodge.co.nz Waikatoa Beach Lodge BBH, 8 Centreway Rd, Port Waikato. sunsetbeach.co.nz YHA Ohakune Cnr Clyde & Rata Streets, Ohakune. yha.co.nz
HAWKES BAY A1 Backpackers BBH, 122 Stortford Street, Hastings. bbh.co.nz/hd813 Andy’s Backpackers BBH 259 Marine Parade, Napier. andysbackpackers.co.nz Aqua Lodge BBH 53 Nelson Cres, Napier. bbh.co.nz/hd81 Archie’s Bunker BBH 14 Herschell St, Napier. archiesbunker.co.nz Brian’s Place BBH 21 Potae St, Tokomaru Bay. briansplace.co.nz
Plateau Lodge BBH 17 Carroll St, National Park Village. plateaulodge.co.nz
Chalet Surf Lodge BBH 62 Moana Road, Okitu, Wainui Beach, Gisborne. chaletsurf.co.nz
Raglan Backpackers & Water Front Lodge BBH 6 Wi Neera St, Raglan. raglanbackpackers.co.nz
Criterion Art Deco Backpackers BBH 48 Emerson St, Napier. criterionartdeco.co.nz
Rap, Raft N Rock BBH 95 Waitomo Caves Rd, Waitomo. caveraft.com
Flying Nun Backpackers BBH, 147 Roebuck Rd, Gisbourne. bbh.co.nz/hd70
Riverstone Backpackers BBH, 222 Tautahanga Rd, Turangi. riverstonebackpackers.com
Glenross Lodge BBH 11730 Route 52, Pongaroa. tararua.net/glenross
Shekinah Farm BBH 122 Punga Punga Rd, Tuakau. bbh.co.nz/hd46
Lochlea Farmstay BBH 344 Lake Road, Waipukurau. lochleafarm.co.nz TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 157
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Otapawa Farmstay BBH 255 Haunui Road, RD 3 Tiraumea. otapawa.co.nz
Taranaki Accommodation Lodge BBH 7 Romeo St, Stratford. mttaranakilodge.co.nz
Stables Lodge BBH 370 Hastings St, Napier. stableslodge.co.nz
The Missing Leg BBH 1082 Junction Rd, Egmont Village. missinglegbackpackers.co.n
The Rotten Apple BBH 114 Heretaunga St East, Hastings. rottenapple.co.nz Toad Hall Backpackers BBH 11 Shakespeare Rd, Napier. toadhall.co.nz
Wheatly Downs Farmstay BBH 484 Ararata Rd, Hawera. mttaranaki.co.nz
Wally’s Backpackers BBH, 7 Cathedral Lane, Napier. wallysbackpackers.co.nz
Barnacles Seaside Inn BBH 3 Marine Parade, Paraparaumu Beach. seasideyha.co.nz
Waterfront Lodge BBH, 217 Marine Parade, Napier. napierwaterfront.co.nz
Base Wellington 21-23 Cambridge Terrace. stayatbase.com
Downtown Backpackers Wellington BBH 1 Bunny St. downtownbackpackers.co.nz
Albatross Backpackers Inn BBH 1 Torquay St, Kaikoura. albatross-kaikoura.co.nz
Le Gite Backpackers BBH 3 Devon St, Hanmer Springs. legite.co.nz
At the Right Place BBH, 85 Bealey Ave, Christchurch. atrp.co.nz
Lyell Creek Lodge BBH 193 Beach Rd, Kaikoura. lyellcreeklodge.co.nz
Bad Jelly Backpackers BBH, 11 Churchill St, Kaikoura. bbh.co.nz/hd152
Mt Hutt Bunkhouse BBH 8 Lampard St, Methven. mthuttbunkhouse.co.nz
Bon Accord Backpackers BBH, 57 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa. bon-accord.co.nz
Old Bones Backpackers BBH 468 Beach Rd, RD 150, Oamaru. oldbones.co.nz
Buscot Station BBH Rapid No 912, Omarama. bbh.co.nz/hd235 Chester Street Backpackers BBH 148 Chester St East, Christchurch. chesterst.co.nz Chez La Mer BBH 50 Rue Lavaud, Akaroa. chezlamer.co.nz
Olive Grove Lodge BBH SH1. Oamaru – Waianakarua. olivebranch.co.nz Onuku Farm Hostel BBH 89 Hamiltons Rd, Akaroa. onuku.co.nz Rata Lodge Backpackers BBH, State Highway 73, Arthur’s Pass. bbh.co.nz/hd405
Braemar House 2 Plymouth Street, Whanganui braemarhouse.co.nz
Lodge in the City BBH 152 Taranaki St. lodgeinthecity.co.nz
Chillawhile Backpackers & Art Gallery BBH No. 1 Frome St, North End, Roberts Park, Oamaru. chillawhile.co.nz
EcoInn BBH 671 Kent Rd, New Plymouth. ecoinnovation.co.nz
Moana Lodge BBH 49 Moana Rd, Plimmerton. moanalodge.co.nz
Dolphin Lodge BBH 15 Deal St, Kaikoura. dolphinlodge.co.nz
Redwood Lodge BBH 3 Wayne Place, Methven. snowboardnz.com
Ducks & Drakes Hotel BBH, 48 Lemon St, New Plymouth. ducksanddrakes.co.nz
Nomads Capital 118-120 Wakefield St. nomadshostels.com
Dorset House BBH 1 Dorset St, Christchurch. dorsethouse.co.nz
Egmont E Lodge BBH, 12 Clawton St, New Plymouth. mttaranaki.co.nz
Rosemere Backpackers BBH, 6 Macdonald Cres. backpackerswellington.co.nz
Double Dutch BBH 32 Chorlton Road, Akaroa. doubledutch.co.nz
Rucksacker Backpacker Hostel BBH 70 Bealey Ave, Christchurch. rucksacker.com
Stillwater Lodge BBH 34 Mana Esplanade, Mana. stillwaterlodge.co.nz
Drifters BBH 408 Gloucester St, Christchurch. christchurchbackpackers.co.nz
Grandma’s Place BBH 146 Grey St, Palmerston North. grandmas-place.com Pepper Tree BBH 121 Grey St, Palmerston North. peppertreehostel.co.nz Seaspray House BBH 13 Weymouth St, New Plymouth. seasprayhouse.co.nz Shoestrings BBH 48 Lemon St, New Plymouth. bbh.co.nz Sunflower Lodge BBH 33 Timandra Street, New Plymouth. sunflowerlodge.co.nz Tamara Backpackers BBH, 24 Somme Parade, Wanganui. tamaralodge.com 158 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
The Cambridge Hotel BBH 28 Cambridge Terrace. cambridgehotel.co.nz Trek Global BBH 9 O’Reily Ave. trekglobal.net Worldwide Backpackers BBH, 291 The Terrace. worldwidenz.co.nz YHA Wellington City 292 Wakefield Street. yha.co.nz
SOUTH ISLAND CANTERBURY 1873 Wanderer BBH 24 Evans St, Timaru. bbh.co.nz/hd338
Dusky Lodge BBH 67 Beach Rd, Kaikoura. duskylodge.com Empire Hotel Backpackers BBH 13 Thames St, Oamaru. empirebackpackersoamaru.co.nz Foley Towers BBH 208 Kilmore St, Christchruch. backpack.co.nz/foley.html Halfmoon Cottage BBH 5849 Christchurch-Akaroa Rd, Akaroa. halfmoon.co.nz Jailhouse Accommodation 338 Lincoln Rd, Christchurch. jail.co.nz Kiwi Basecamp BBH 69 Bealey Ave, Christchurch. kiwibasecamp.com
Rawhiti Backpackers BBH 27 Hewlings St, Geraldine. rawhitihouse.co.nz
Sunrise Lodge BBH 74 Beach Rd, Kaikoura. bbh.co.nz/hd147 Swaggers Backpackers BBH 25 Wansbeck St, Oamaru. swaggersbackpackers.co.nz Tailor-Made-Tekapo Backpackers BBH 9-10-11 Aorangi Crescent, Lake Tekapo. tailor-made-backpackers.co.nz The Lazy Shag BBH 37 Beach Rd, Kaikoura. bbh.co.nz/hd360 The Marine Backpackers BBH, 26 Nayland St, Christchurch. themarine.co.nz The Old Countryhouse BBH, 437 Gloucester St, Christchurch. oldcountryhouse.co.nz Vagabond Backpackers BBH, 232 Worcester St, Christchurch. vagabondhostel.co.nz
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Waipara Sleepers BBH, 12 Glenmark Drive, Waipara. waiparasleepers.co.nz YHA Christchurch City Central 273 Manchester St. yha.co.nz YHA Mt Cook, Mt Cook Village. yha.co.nz
Arrow Backpackers BBH 107 Budge St, Blenheim. bbh.co.nz/hd403
Room with en suite?
Accents On The Park BBH 335 Trafalgar Square, Nelson. accentsonthepark.com Almond House BBH 63 Grove St, Nelson. almondbackpackers.co.nz Annies Nirvana BBH 25 Motupipi St, Golden Bay. nirvanalodge.co.nz Aurora Backpackers BBH 161-163 Trafalgar St, Nelson. aurorabackpackers.co.nz
Anakiwa Backpackers BBH 401 Anakiwa Road, Marlborough Sounds. anakiwabackpackers.co.nz
NELSON Abba Lodge BBH 11 Awaroa Bay, Abel Tasman. abbalodge.co.nz
Tasman Bay Backpackers BBH, 10 Weka St, Nelson. tasmanbaybackpackers.co.nz
Alpine Lodge BBH 13 Gorge Rd, Queenstown. alpinelodgebackpackers.co.nz
The Barn Backpackers BBH 14 Harvey Rd, Abel Tasman. barn.co.nz
Aspen Lodge BBH 11 Gorge Rd, Queenstown. aspenlodge.co.nz
The Bug BBH 226 Vanguard Street, Nelson. thebug.co.nz
Barnyard Backpackers BBH, 80 Mt York Rd, Lake Te Anau. barnyardbackpackers.com
Happy Apple Lodge BBH 500 High St, Motueka. happyapplebackpackers.co.nz
The Customhouse BBH 252 Haven Rd, Nelson. customhousenelson.co.nz
Base Queenstown 49 Shotover St. stayatbase.com
Hat Trick Lodge BBH 25 Wallace St, Motueka. hattricklodge.co.nz
The Green Monkey BBH 129 Milton St, Nelson. thegreenmonkey.co.nz
Koanui Lodge & Backpackers BBH, 33 Main St, Blenheim. koanui.co.nz
Honey Suckle House BBH 125 Tasman St, Nelson. bbh.co.nz/hd186
Leeways Backpackers BBH 33 Lansdowne St, Blenheim. leewaysbackpackers.co.nz
Hu Ha Bikepackers BBH State Highway 6, Glenhope. bbh.co.nz/hd427
The Innlet BBH 839 Pakawau Main Road, Collingwood. goldenbayindex.co.nz
Sequoia Lodge Backpackers BBH 3 Nelson Square, Picton. sequoialodge.co.nz
Kanuka Ridge BBH 21 Moss Rd, Abel Tasman NP. abeltasmanbackpackers.co.nz
The Buccaneer Lodge BBH 314 Waikawa Road, Picton. buccaneerlodge.co.nz
Kiwiana BBH 73 Motupipi St, Golden Bay. kiwianabackpackers.co.nz
The Jugglers Rest BBH 8 Canterbury St, Picton. jugglersrest.com
Paradiso BBH 42 Weka St, Nelson. backpackernelson.co.nz
The Grapevine BBH 29 Park Terrace, Blenheim. thegrapevine.co.nz
River Inn BBH 20 Waitapu Wharf Rd, Takaka. riverinn.co.nz
The Villa BBH 34 Auckland St, Picton. thevilla.co.nz
Shambhala BBH Hwy 60, Takaka. shambhala.co.nz
Tombstone Backpackers BBH, 16 Gravesend Plc, Picton. tombstonebp.co.nz
Shortbread Cottage BBH 33 Trafalgar St, Nelson. bbh.co.nz/hd181
Watson’s Way BBH 56 High St, Renwick. watsonswaybackpackers.co.nz
Somerset House BBH 10 Gibbs Rd, Collingwood. backpackerscollingwood.co.nz
Atlantis Backpackers BBH 42 London Quay, Picton. atlantishostel.com Cherry House BBH 71 Budge St, Blenheim. bkhlimited.com Copperbeech BBH 73 Maxwell Rd, Blenheim. bbh.co.nz/hd844 Hopewell BBH 7204 Kenepuru Rd, Marlborough Sounds. hopewell.co.nz
Eden’s Edge Backpackers BBH 137 Lodder Lane, Motueka. edensedge.co.nz Golden Bay Barefoot Backpackers BBH 114 Commercial St, Golden Bay. bare-foot.co.nz
The Laughing Kiwi BBH 310 High St, Motueka. laughingkiwi.co.nz The Palace Backpackers BBH 114 Rutherford St, Nelson. thepalace.co.nz The White Elephant BBH 55 Whakarewa St, Motueka. whiteelephant.co.nz Trampers Rest BBH 31 Alton St, Nelson. bbh.co.nz/hd179 YHA Golden Bay 25 Motupipi St, Takaka. yha.co.nz YHA Nelson Central 59 Rutherford St, Nelson. yha.co.nz
OTAGO Absoloot Value BBH 50 Beach St, Queenstown. absoloot.co.nz
Base Wanaka 73 Brownston St. stayatbase.com Billy Browns BBH 423 Aramoana Rd, Port Chalmers. billybrowns.co.nz Bob & Maxine’s Backpackers BBH, 20 Paton Place, Lake Te Anau. bbh.co.nz/hd810 Bungi Backpackers BBH Cnr Sydney & Stanley Sts, Queenstown. bungibackpackers.co.nz Bunkers Backpackers BBH 13 Argyle St, Stewart Island. bunkersbackpackers.co.nz Butterfli Lodge BBH 62 Thompson St, . Queenstown. butterfli.co.nz Chalet Backpackers BBH 296 High Street, Dunedin. chaletbackpackers.co.nz Central Backpackers BBH, 243 Moray Place, Dunedin. centralbackpackers.co.nz Deco Backpackers BBH 52 Man St, Queenstown. decobackpackers.co.nz Dustez Bak Pakas BBH 15 Colac Bay Rd, Colac Bay. dustezbakpakas.co.nz TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 159
NZSTAY Elm Lodge BBH 74 Elm Row, Dunedin. elmlodge.co.nz Empire Hotel BBH 13 Thames St, Oamaru. empirebackpackersoamaru.co.nz Freestone Backpackers BBH, 270 Hillside Rd, Lake Manapouri. freestone.co.nz Happy Inn Backpackers BBH 11 Shakespeare St, Milton. bbh.co.nz/hd253 Harbison Backpackers BBH 5 Harbison St, Otautau. bbh.co.nz/hd277 Hippo Lodge BBH 4 Anderson Heights, Queenstown. hippolodge.co.nz Hogwartz BBH 277 Rattray St, Dunedin. hogwartz.co.nz Holly’s Backpackers BBH 71 Upton St, Wanaka. hollys-backpacker.co.nz Kinloch Lodge BBH 862 Kinloch Rd, Glenorchy. kinlochlodge.co.nz Kiwis Nest BBH 597 George St, Dunedin. bbh.co.nz/hd341 Lazy Dolphin BBH 529 Curio Bay Road, Catlins. lazydolphinlodge.co.nz Manor House Backpackers BBH 28 Manor Place, Dunedin. manorhousebackpackers.co.nz McFarmer’s Backpackers BBH, 774 Portabello Rd, Otago Peninsula. otago-peninsula.co.nz Milford Sound Lodge BBH State Highway 94. milfordlodge.com Mountain View Backpackers BBH 7 Russell St, Wanaka. wanakabackpackers.co.nz
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On Top Backpackers BBH Cnr Moray Place and Filleul St, Dunedin. ontopbackpackers.co.nz Penguin Paradise Holiday Lodge BBH 612 Niagara Waikawa Rd, Catlins. bbh.co.nz/hd282 Penny’s Backpackers BBH 6 Stafford St, Dunedin. pennys.co.nz Pinot Lodge BBH 102 Barry Ave, Cromwell. pinotlodgenz.com Poplar Lodge BBH 4 Merioneth St, Arrowtown. poplarlodge.co.nz Possum Lodge BBH, 13 Murrell Ave, Lake Manapouri. possumlodge.co.nz
The Last Resort BBH 6 Memorial Street, Queenstown. tlrqtn.com
Noahs Ark Backpackers BBH, 16 Chapel St, Greymouth. noahs.co.nz
The Split Level BBH 9 Waikawa Rd, Catlins. thesplitlevel.co.nz
Punakaiki Beach Hostel BBH, 4 Webb St, Punakaiki. punakaikibeachhostel.co.nz
Villa Rose Backpackers BBH, 79 Scotland St, Roxburgh. villarose.co.nz
Riverview Cabins BBH 154 Kaniere Rd, Hokitika. riverviewcottageandcabins.co.nz
Wanaka Bakpaka BBH 117 Lakeside Rd, Wanaka. wanakabakpaka.co.nz
Royal Hostel BBH The Strand, Okarito. okaritohostel.com
Wrights Mill Lodge BBH 865 Tahakopa Valley Rd, Owaka. catlinsaccommodation.co.nz
Te Nikau Retreat BBH 19 Hartmount Place, Punakaiki. tenikauretreat.co.nz
YHA Dunedin 71 Stafford St. yha.co.nz
Ramsay Lodge BBH 60 Stafford St, Dunedin. dunedinbackpackers.org
Beaconstone Eco-Lodge BBH Birds Ferry Rd, Westport. beaconstoneecolodge.co.nz
Rosies Backpacker Homestay BBH 23 Tom Plato Drive, Lake Te Anau. bbh.co.nz/hd273
Birdsong BBH 8-10 Cron 124 Kumara Junction Highway 6, Hokitika. birdsong.co.nz
Scallywags Travellers’ Guesthouse BBH, 27 Lomond Cres, Queenstown bbh.co.nz/hd264 Southern Comfort BBH 30 Thomson St, Invercargill. bbh.co.nz/hd283 Southern Laughter: Sir Cedrics BBH 4 Isle St, Queenstown. southernlaughter.co.nz Steamers Beach Backpackers BBH 77 Manapouri-Te Anau HWY, Lake Te Anau. teanau.info Surat Bay Lodge BBH Newhaven RD1, Catlins. suratbay.co.nz Swaggers Backpackers BBH, 25 Wansbeck St, Oamaru. bbh.co.nz/hd241
Chateau Franz: Sir Cedrics BBH 8-10 Cron St, Franz Josef. chateaufranz.co.nz Duke Backpackers BBH 27 Guinness St, Greymouth. duke.co.nz Drifting Sands BBH 197 Revell St, Hokitika. driftingsands.co.nz Global Village Backpackers BBH, 42-54 Cowper St, Greymouth. globalvillagebackpackers.co.nz
The Lazy Cow Accommodation BBH 37 Waller St, Murchison. lazycow.co.nz The Old Slaughterhouse BBH, State Highway 67, Hector. oldslaughterhouse.co.nz TripInn BBH 72 Queen St, Westport. tripinn.co.nz Wilderness Accommodation BBH, Pauareka Rd, Haast. wildernessaccommodation.co.nz YHA Okarito Palmerston St, Okarito. yha.co.nz
BARS Altitude Bar Base Queenstown stayatbase.com Basement Bar, Base Wellington stayatbase.com
Glow Worm Cottages BBH 27 Cron St, Franz Josef. glowwormcottages.co.nz
Element Bar, Base Taupo stayatbase.com
Hu Ha Bikepackers BBH State Highway 6, Glenhope. bbh.co.nz/hd247
Globe Bar, Base Auckland ACB stayatbase.com
Ivory Towers BBH Sullivans Road, Fox Glacier. ivorytowers.co.nz
The Lava Bar, Base Rotorua stayatbase.com
Montrose Backpackers BBH 9 Cron St, Franz Josef. montroselodge.co.nz
Pipi Patch Bar Base Bay of Islands stayatbase.com
Nomads Queenstown 5-11 Church Street. nomadshostels.com
Te Anau Lakefront Backpackers BBH 48 Lakefront Drive, Te Anau. teanaubackpackers.co.nz
Old Bones Backpackers BBH, 468 Beach Road, Oamaru. oldbones.co.nz
The Flaming Kiwi BBH 39 Robins Rd, Queenstown. flamingkiwi.co.nz
Mountain Jade Backpackers BBH 41 Weld St, Hokitika. mountainjadebackpackers.co.nz
Saints and Sinners Bar Base Christchurch stayatbase.com
Olive Grove Lodge BBH, SH 1, Waianakarua. bbh.co.nz/hd244
The Lab BBH 6 Henry St, Queenstown. thelabqueenstown.com
Neptunes Backpackers BBH 43 Gresson St, Greymouth. neptunesbackpackers.net.nz
Mint Bar Base Wanaka stayatbase.com
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Photo: Tourism Fiji
BOASTING PERFECT BEACHES AND THE WARMEST, MOST FRIENDLY PEOPLE YOU COULD HOPE TO MEET, SOME SAY FIJI IS LIKE PARADISE
Your desert island awaits...
First things first... This archipelago of hundreds of islands, with their thousands of beautiful beaches overflowing with the welcoming ‘bula’ spirit of the friendly locals, is the sort of destination you think you can only dream of visiting when planning a budget trip. It may sound clichéd, but Fiji is as close as it gets to being in a tropical paradise. However, this is one tropical paradise with a difference. Not solely the domain of fancy resorts for the super-rich, Fiji is highly affordable, making it one bit of heaven that every backpacker can grab a slice of. While you mightn’t grasp the entire native tongue, we guarantee you’ll leave knowing bula means more than just “hello”. Indeed, it’s “howdy”, “cheers” and “welcome” from the most relaxed set of pearly whites you’ve ever seen. Whether you’ve come to snorkel amongst the Yasawa Islands, party on Beachcomber Island, surf world class reef breaks such as Frigates Passage, dive with tiger sharks or just laze on a deserted beach, the bula spirit will be with you on these tropical islands, in its culture, foods and experiences, and it will stay with you long after the kava has worn off.
About Fiji The Republic of the Fiji Islands is made up of about 333 islands (but only about 105 permanently inhabited) in the South Pacific, north of New Zealand and parallel to Cairns, Australia. The two major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu,
are home to 87 per cent of the 850,000 population with a demographic of indigenous Fijians as well as Fijians of Indian, Chinese, European and Polynesian descent. While Fijian and Hindi are spoken by the locals, English is spoken everywhere. The country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1970. Since then Fiji has seen four coups in the past two decades, the most recent in 2006. Elections will not be held in the country until 2014, a decision which led to Fiji’s full suspension from the Commonwealth in 2009. While you should exercise caution in the cities, you’ll probably be spending most of your time on the islands and in the villages, which have been largely unaffected by the political upheaval. As with all travelling, however, the best bet is to check on the current situation with your country’s foreign office. Suva is located on Viti Levu and is the largest urban area in the South Pacific outside of Australia and New Zealand. May to October is Fiji’s dry season, with less humidity and milder temperatures, so for a traveller it’s the ideal time to visit. Alas, with the perfect weather comes slightly inflated prices.
Fiji culture Fijian villagers live in extended family groups under the influence of hereditary chiefs. Traditional arts and crafts such as wood carving and weaving, along with dancing and music, remain an important TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 161
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indigenous Fijian way of life. The mix leads to a great variety in food. 6!.5! ,%65 9!3!7! )3,!.$3
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part of life in the villages. There is also a strong oral storytelling tradition. Food is plentiful for village feasts, while kava drinking is still an important ceremony. In case you’re wondering, kava is a muddy-looking drink, created from the kava plant’s root, which leaves your mouth feeling numb. Most aspects of the Indo-Fijian lifestyle and culture have comfortably co-existed with the
The Ultimate Tropical Adventure...
Scuba diving: Fiji is renowned as the soft coral capital of the world, meaning that, whatever your level, there are plenty of sites with warm deep water, teaming with life and exquisite colours. There’s also the shark dives off Mana Island or Beqa Lagoon. Diving is possible all year round at most island resorts and beach properties on the main island, Viti Levu. Surfing: Fiji is world famous for surfing and recent law changes have meant that budget travellers, not just those staying at fancy resorts, can now access the best breaks. Most legendary is Cloudbreak, off Tavarua, by Viti Levu. Also excellent are Frigate’s Passage, Sigatoka Rivermouth and Daku. Snorkelling: A must for all water lovers. See the underwater beauty as you float in the sun. Available at every resort or hotel on a beach. Other water sports: Waterskiing, parasailing, kayaking, sailing, kite surfing are all popular. River rafting: Several operators have exciting river rafting trips that pick up and drop off from Nadi. Mountain treks and village tours: There are several operators providing inland sightseeing tours, mostly full day trips. Visit a pottery village, enjoy a BBQ lunch and Fijian-style cooking, plus experience a traditional Fijian kava ceremony. Island day visits: Various well known boat operators provide day trips, mainly from Nadi. Visitors can swim, snorkel and enjoy great food and beverages at reasonable prices. Skydiving: This must-do nerve-testing activity includes spectacular views of islands and reefs, with island or beach landings. All jumps are with experienced divers. Hot air ballooning: Enjoy stunning views of the islands at a slightly more relaxing pace.
Island by island guide
Stunning views of Islands & Reefs. Beach or Resort Landings. Professional, internationally licensed instructors.
www.skydivefiji.com.fj PH: +679 6728166 162 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
The different islands offer a variety of facilities, trips and activities from Nadi’s many services to the budget traveller destination of the Yasawas. Viti Levu: Starting with your arrival at Nadi International Airport, there are a number of good backpacker hotels and hostels. Two hours drive north from Nadi are the spectacular Nananu-I-Ra Islands lying a few kilometres offshore. Beautifully hilly, they are surrounded by white sand beaches and mangroves. There are lots of beachside budget resorts and great diving. From Nadi, the Queens Highway takes you on a scenic stretch south to Suva along the Coral Coast, where different types
FIJIGUIDE of resorts dot the numerous beaches. Suva is Fijiâ€™s political and administrative capital and home to almost half the population. There are a number of small budget hotels here and visitors can easily spend a couple of days visiting the sights and shopping. Yasawa Islands: The main budget backpacker properties are situated in the Yasawa Islands, northwest of Nadi. Some 24 properties operate over 20 rugged islands, with crystal blue lagoons and great beaches. The islands are serviced daily by the Yasawa Flyer, a large and fast catamaran. Mamanuca Islands: Lying close to Nadi, there are 20 islands in the group renowned for their natural beauty. Many support resorts and large villages. Great diving and snorkelling is available and various backpacker resorts are serviced daily by boat. Vanua Levu: Fijiâ€™s second-largest island with its two major towns â€“ Savusavu and Labasa â€“ is worth a visit. There are many small budget hostels and regular flights are scheduled from Nadi, plus some shipping operators service the island. Taveuni: Called the â€˜Garden Islandâ€™ due to its lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls and a profusion of flowers. The main activities are diving and snorkelling. Flights and boats operate from Viti Levu.
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Kadavu: Fijiâ€™s fourth-largest island lies 100km south of Viti Levu. On its north coast is the Great Astralabe Reef, a famous diving spot. Local airlines have daily return flights from Suva. A ferry operates from Suva on a regular basis.
Fiji essentials There are currently no working holiday programmes in Fiji. However a free, four-month visa is granted automatically on arrival to tourists from more than 100 countries (including the British Commonwealth, North America and Western Europe) and this can be extended to six months. To gain it, you will need an onward ticket, a passport which is valid for at least six months and sufficient funds. As tourism is a major industry for Fiji, modern-day civil liberties like bank machines, major credit cards and fast internet are all available, as are phone cards with Vodafone â€“ the major mobile network. Doctors and medical facilities are listed in the phone directory â€“ competent medical services are available at a low cost. Water on the mainland and some offshore resorts is drinkable â€“ but itâ€™s always best to check. As far as your wallet goes, Fiji is cheaper than most other Pacific countries, but it is however, more
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expensive than South-East Asian nations and Samoa. Budget travellers can expect to pay around US$60-90 a day for accommodation, food and transport, while flashpackers and mid-range travellers may spend about US$180, and couples US$120/day per person.
Arriving Fiji is the crossroads of the South Pacific. Many flights from the west coast of the USA stop over in Fiji. If you’re travelling from Australia or New Zealand, Air Pacific, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand all have student-type airfares. To visit Fiji from the UK and Europe you must travel via Australia or New Zealand.
Getting around Buses: The privately owned bus operators provide cheap travel on the main islands and you can enjoy a great experience travelling on local open buses. The major tour bus operator is Feejee Experience, a hopon, hop-off bus which circumnavigates Viti Levu. Taxis: These are numerous and inexpensive. Car Hire: Avis, Budget and various local operators provide vehicles for hire. The cost can be expensive in
comparison with Australia and New Zealand. Planes: Visitors seldom need to travel by plane. However, Air Pacific operates domestic services between key cities. Boats: A major New Zealand company has established operations from Port Denerau, Nadi. Fast catamarans service the islands west of Fiji to resorts in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands. Other tourist boats operate to specific islands, including Beachcomber Island.
Accommodation There are many establishments offering inexpensive accommodation for the independent traveller. Dorms are priced from US$13 to US$19 with private rooms from US$42 to US$97, with island resorts tending to be more expensive than the mainland. This segment of the much larger local tourist industry has developed extensively over the last 10 years and increased competition has led to a dramatic improvement in standards. If you fancy kipping in a bure on one of the islands, it’s advisable to phone individual resorts in advance to make sure there’s space when you jump off the boat. ❚
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Chill, party, snorkel, dive, kayak or just laze on pristine white sandy beaches surrounded by crystal clear coral lagoons ISLAND HOPPING PASSES - Yasawa Islands.
ing land hopp Tropical is
If you have all the time in the world then this is the perfect way to explore these idyllic Islands. Passes range from 5 to 21 days and are available in two forms: ferry pass only or ferry pass plus accommodation.
EASY FLEXIBLE PACKAGES From 4 to 11 nights including vessel transfers, accommodation, meals and activities. Explore the real Fiji and stay right next to some of the nicest beaches and coral lagoons in the world.
ISLAND ESCAPES A bit like ‘Survivor’ but a lot more fun! Strand yourself on one island for three days and if you can stand the pain of deserted white sandy beaches, coral lagoons, and coconut palms, then stay a little longer!
cruise a Cora l lago on 166 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
FOR INFO OR BOOKINGS SEE YOUR TRAVEL CENTRE OR CONTACT US info@awesomeﬁji.com
Get amongst it !
GUIDED KAYAKING, SAILING, SWIM WITH SHARKS, VILLAGE VISITS...
FIJIGUIDE ACTIVITIES Adrenalin Fiji Diving, surfing, hot air ballooning & more. +679 675 0061, adrenalinfiji.com Skydive Fiji Fiji’s only skydive operation. Based in Nadi. +679 992 4079, skydivefiji.com.fj
NADI & WEST Aquarius Pacific Hotel +679 672 6000
Cathay Hotel +679 666 0566, fiji4less.com Horizon Beach Resort +679 672 2832 horizonbeachfiji.com Nadi Bay Resort Hotel +679 672 3599 fijinadibayhotel.com Nadi Down Town Backpackers Inn +679 670 0600 email@example.com Nadi Hotel +679 670 0000, firstname.lastname@example.org Nomads Skylodge Hotel +679 672 2200 Saweni Beach Apartment Hotel +679 666 1777 fiji4less.com Smugglers Cove Beach Resort +679 672 6578 smugglersbeachfiji.com Travellers Beach Resort +679 672 3322 email@example.com
YASAWA IS Awesome Adventures Fiji +679 675 0499, awesomefiji.com Coconut Bay Resort +679 666 6644, ext. 1300, coconut firstname.lastname@example.org Korovou Eco Tour Resort +679 666 6644, ext. 2244 email@example.com Kuata Resort +679 651 3876
Nabua Lodge +679 666 9173 firstname.lastname@example.org Oarsmans Bay Lodge +679 672 2921 email@example.com Octopus Resort +679 666 6337 firstname.lastname@example.org Safe Landing Resort +679 623 0309 safelandingfiji.com Sunrise Lagoon Resort +679 666 6644 Wayalailai Island Resort +679 672 1377 email@example.com White Sandy Beach Dive Resort +679 666 4066
Happy days The Uprising Beach Resort +679 345 2200, uprisingbeachresort.com
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Vakaviti Motel & Dorm +679 650 0526 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rau Kini’s Hostel +679 672 1959 email@example.com The Funky Fish Beach Resort +679 628 2333 funkyfishresort.com The Resort Walu Beach +679 665 1777 walubeach.com
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SUVA Colonial Lodge +679 92 75248 firstname.lastname@example.org Lami Lodge Backpackers +679 336 2240 email@example.com
Beachouse +679 653 0500 fijibeachouse.com
Leleuvia Island Resort +679 331 9567, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Pacific Safaris Club +679 345 0498 email@example.com Rendezvous Dive Resort +679 628 4427, surfdivefiji.com Robinson Crusoe +679 629 1999 robinsoncrusoeislandfiji.com
Long Beach Backpackers Resort +679 666 6644
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Manta Ray Island +679 672 6351 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tabukula Beach Bungalows +679 650 0097, fiji4less.com
Beach Escape Villas +679 672 4442 email@example.com
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Royal Hotel +679 344 0024, firstname.lastname@example.org South Seas Private Hotel +679 331 2296, fiji4less.com Tailevu Hotel +679 343 0028
NORTH VITI LEVU
Safari Lodge Fiji +679 669 3333, safarilodge.com.fj Volivoli Beach Resort +679 669 4511, volivoli.com
VANUA LEVU Bayside Backpacker Cottage +679 885 3154, email@example.com Hidden Paradise Guest House +678 885 0106 Naveria Heights Lodge +679 851 0157 firstname.lastname@example.org Savusavu Hot Springs +679 885 0195 email@example.com
TAVEUNI Bibi’s Hideaway +678 888 0443 Matei Pointe taveuniresort.com Tovu Tovu Resort +679 888 0560, ovutovu.com
KADAVU Albert’s Sunrise +679 333 7555
Bethams Cottage +679 669 4132, bethams.com.fj
Matava Resort +679 330 5222, matava.com
Macdonalds Beach Cottages +679 669 4633
Reece’s Place +679 362 6319
Morrison’s Beach Cottages +679 669 4516 firstname.lastname@example.org
Waisalima Beach Resort +679 738 9236, waisalima.com
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Photo: Samoa Tourism Authority/David Kirkland
FROM ITS VOLCANO-STREWN JUNGLES TO ITS SUNKISSED SANDS AND STRONG CULTURE, SAMOA IS ONE PLACE YOU DON’T WANT TO SKIP
Sign up for the easy life with your very own beachside fale
First things first... This group of 10 islands, characterised as much by their beautiful beaches and rugged, volcanic peaks as their traditional lifestyles, plus devotion to rugby and religion, has just made a big change that suddenly makes it hugely appealing to backpackers who are looking for a South Pacific paradise. As of last New Year’s Eve, Samoa switched to the other side of the international date line. This means that instead of being 21 hours behind Sydney, Samoa is now just three hours ahead.
Why go to Samoa While Fiji has long been the number one choice for backpackers craving an idyllic South Pacific break from Australia or New Zealand, Samoa is fast becoming the new kid on the block. Due to its relative lack of tourists, Samoa might still lack the party atmosphere found at many Fijian resorts, but the flipside is that you’ll have much more of the place to yourself. It’s a stable country that is incredibly safe, plus it’s very cheap, while welcoming foreign visitors with a friendly ‘talofa’ (hello) is a source of national pride. It’s also easy to get a taste for the traditional
culture. Even if you’re not of a spiritual persuasion, take a trip to church on Sunday to watch just about every Samoan get dressed up in their finest. Better yet, catch a game of village rugby or try to get a local to open up about the week-long process involved in getting the traditional Pe’a tattoo – it’s a spinechilling tale you’re unlikely to ever forget! Whether you want to simply lie back in your beach hut (fale) listening to the lapping waves, soak up some culture or go caving through lava tubes, it’s a country that ticks all the boxes.
Island by island guide Upolu: Home to the capital Apia, Samoa’s second largest island is where your trip will most likely begin, at Faleolo International Airport, on the western side of the island. More a collection of sprawling villages than an actual city, the extremely laidback Apia boasts plenty of hostel options and some good bars. A swift drive inland will get you to Vailima, where you’ll find Robert Louis Stevenson’s old house, which is now a fascinating museum dedicated to the Treasure Island writer, who spent the final years of his life there, in the 1890s, during which time he became TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 169
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a hugely popular figure due to his support of the Samoan chiefs, way before independence was even on the table. Nearby you’ll also find one of Samoa’s funnest natural attractions, the Papasee’a sliding rock. There the brave can scream their way down a 5m rock slide through a waterfall into a jungle pool. Those looking for an idyllic beach getaway will most likely find themselves on the island’s south coast. Pick your spot on a stretch of staggeringly beautiful beaches dotted with low-key resorts, like at Lalomanu, where you’ll have no difficulty losing all track of time. Another of the country’s top swimming spots, and a photographer’s dream, can be found at the To Sua Ocean Trench, on the south coast. Here a wooden ladder drops into a natural cavern filled from the ocean, via a lava tube, with stunning blue water. Savai’i: Samoa’s biggest island, and the fourth largest in Polynesia, after New Zealand and Hawaii, Savai’i is even less developed than Upolu, with much of the interior covered by near-impenetrable jungle. As a result, this is where to head to discover the ‘real’ Samoa. The island is a geologist’s dream, thanks to being covered with about 450 volcanic cones and a whole lot of lava. Attractions include the Saleaula lava fields, on the island’s northern tip, and the highly dramatic Alofaaga Blowholes, in the far south. They’re widely regarded as some of the most impressive blowholes in the world. In the south-east is Mt Tafua Savaii, the island’s second largest volcano, which you can clamber to the top of for spectacular views across the island and the chance to glimpse the area’s giant fruit bats. Adventure enthusiasts should head to Paia’s Dwarfs Cave, in the north, where a villager will take you deep into the underground lava tubes, through water-filled caverns, without any of the health and safety considerations that would be the norm in Australasia. Budget beachside resorts, with cheap fales, are sprinkled all along the coast, but the biggest concentration is in the villages around Fagamalo, 170 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
in the north, which is also where the island’s best diving is found. Getting to Savai’i is easy, thanks to daily twohour ferries from Mulifanua on western Upolu. Manono: Tiny little Manono, with its complete lack of roads, dogs and general noise, is just a swift 20 minute boat ride from western Upolu, and is a great place to experience the Samoa of yesteryear. You can walk around the whole island in an hour or two, before snorkelling on the excellent reef and staying over in a fale. Also in the Apolima Straight are Nu’ulopa and Apolima islands. Aleipata Islands: Uninhabited Nu’utele, Nu’ulua, Namua and Fanuatapu are all off Upolu’s eastern tip. Nu’usafe’e Island: This dot of an island is just off the coast from south Upolu village Vaovai.
Samoa essentials Travellers from the EU, North America and Australasia are automatically granted free 60-day visas on arrival, as long as you have onward tickets and at least six months left on your passport. The local currency is the Samoan tala ($). Make sure you stock up on cash at the airport or in town as, once you hit the villages, ATMs are few and far between. The talas go a long way, however, thanks to Samoa being cheaper than most destinations in the region, including Fiji. Outside of Apia, either in the villages or resorts, the cheapest accommodation option is sleeping in a fale, which are basic beachside huts with a mattress on the floor and palms for blinds. The simplest fale will set you back around $65 (AU$27) a night, including dinner and breakfast, or you could pay slightly more for an actual bed and a few luxuries. Getting around the islands can be a challenge. There is a comprehensive bus network, and using it is a great way to meet some locals, but don’t expect to get anywhere fast, with buses generally leaving when they’re full, rather than according to any schedule. The two main islands are linked by an efficient ferry service (see samoashipping.com), but when on land your best bet is to hire a car or join a tour. Check out samoa.travel for tour company listings. Take note that despite enjoying t-shirt and boardies weather all-year round, Samoa does get a lot of rain, especially during the wet season, between November and March. August is peak season, when it’s advisable to book ahead. Regular direct flights are available from Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Fiji with Virgin Samoa, Air New Zealand, Air Pacific and Polynesian Airlines. Keep some cash back when leaving for the $40 departure tax. ❚
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Find out more on www.samoa.travel
Like taking the road less travelled? Like to live without a computer voice giving you directions? Then venture forth to Samoa. Wind your way around our islands and you’ll discover spectacular waterfalls, dramatic blowholes, stunning coral reefs and crystal clear lagoons where you can swim with turtles. You’ll also meet wonderfully relaxed and welcoming people. Unless it’s a Sunday, when most families will go to church, make ‘toonai’ (Sunday lunch) and rest for the day, then you may have a little trouble finding someone to ask for directions! Samoans adhere to a 3,000 year old tradition called Fa’a Samoa which places great emphasis on traditional values like respect for family and elders. It’s their way of knowing where they’re going in life. Fa’a Samoa. The Samoan way.
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Papua New Guinea ONE OF THE PLANET’S MOST CULTURALLY-DIVERSE AND UNEXPLORED NATIONS, PAPUA NEW GUINEA IS AS ADVENTUROUS AND COMPELLING A DESTINATION AS YOU COULD HOPE TO VISIT...
Photo: PNG Tourism Promotion Authority
Get your tribal culture fix
Why go to PNG If you want to get off the beaten track and discover a rugged land of mountains and adventure, where more than 800 languages are still spoken, you’d struggle to do better than Papua New Guinea, just 160km north of Australia. A place of natural beauty, untouristy cultural experiences, the iconic Kokoda Trail, huge flora and fauna diversity, plus world-beating diving, PNG is simply unforgettable.
PNG essentials Travellers from most countries (check papuanewguinea.travel) can get a 60-day tourist visa on arrival at the capital Port Moresby for 100 PNG Kina (about $50). There are plenty of flights linking Port Moresby with Cairns, Brisbane and Sydney, operated by Air Niugini, Airlines PNG, Virgin’s Pacific Blue and Qantas Link. The coastal regions experience a year-round tropical climate (the dry season being May to November), with temperatures ranging between 24-30°C, with the mountains a chillier 15°C or lower. Take note the Australian government 172 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
advises travellers to “exercise a high degree of caution” when in PNG due to “high levels of serious crime”. See smarttraveller.gov.au for detailed info.
PNG adventures Diving: PNG is home to some of the world’s most spectacular diving, thanks to being located in the coral triangle of marine diversity with the highest array of tropical fish and coral in the world. Highlights include whale sharks and wreck dives that feature WWII ships and aircraft. Trekking: PNG’s often rugged and mountainous terrain is abundant with walking tracks. The most popular is the five to nine-day Kokoda Trail, but some lesser-known tracks, like the newly developed Black Cat Track (seven days) and Bulldog Track (six days), are just as challenging and rewarding. Surfing: PNG is a relatively new surf destination, meaning that uncrowded waves can be discovered all over the country, from Taurama Point, just 10 minutes out of Port Moresby, right up to the Northern Provinces. The most consistent waves are in Vanimo. ❚
S D E E N Y D O EVERYB S R U O B H G I E N GOOD PNG
Travel destinations don’t come more diverse than this! – encompassing surfing, trekking, cruising, fishing as well as heaps of cultural & adventure opportunities …All this & more is just a 90 minute flight from Australia! PNG Tourism Promotion Authority www.papuanewguinea.travel TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 173
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Stopover destinations WHEREVER YOU ARE, IT’S A FAIR BET THAT AUSTRALASIA IS A LONG, LONG WAY AWAY – SO BREAK UP YOUR TRIP AND GET A BONUS HOLIDAY
Thailand: more appealing than staying on the plane?
While the ITG is a guide to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, here are a few ideas for places you might want to see on the way. Talk to your travel agent about potential stop-overs included in your ticket.
islands or hostels in the urban areas. How long will it take? From London, 12 hours; to Sydney, nine hours.
From the hi-tech gadgets, best sushi imaginable and neon-clad skyscrapers of Tokyo to the fascinating culture and stunning mountains of the wider country, Japan has to be seen to be believed. Tokyo is one of the most exciting, completely alien and endlesslyinteresting cities you could hope to visit. Expect to find yourself taking several million photos. Japan is also home to some of the world’s best ski slopes. Beware that English is barely spoken and that you may have difficulty using your bank cards. Where will I land? Tokyo’s Narita International. Where will I stay? There’s plenty of hostel options, with dorm beds generally costing US$20-25. For a real Japanese experience, however, pay a little more and stay in a ryokan, a traditional inn complete with futons and mat flooring. How long will it take? From London, 12 hours; to Sydney, 10 hours.
Probably the number one stopover for travellers heading Down Under, Thailand is likely to head your “I want to go there!” list. A mix of natural beauty, fascinating culture, great food, friendly people and erm, lots of other travellers, make a Thailand stopover de rigeur for many. Most of the backpackers hang out on the sublime islands of Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan, where there’s a kicking beach-party scene that’s definitely worth a look. But if you want to get off the beaten track there are hundreds of other tropical islands to choose from, plus a mainland dotted with golden temples, rainforests, elephants, hospitable hill tribes and ancient ruins. Of course, you could also visit Thailand’s wonderful neighbours too – Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Where will I land? The insane capital Bangkok. Where will I stay? Generally beach huts on the 174 TNTDOWNUNDER.COM
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China/Hong Kong From the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong to truly iconic sights like the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors, via one of the world’s oldest cultures, China should make it onto every intrepid traveller’s itinerary at some point in their lives. Leave plenty of time to sort out a visa. Where will I land? Most likely Hong Kong or Beijing. To avoid confusion, make sure you have your accommodation name written down in Chinese. Where will I stay? There are more and more budget beds turning up in the major cities. A trip can cost under US$20 a day. How long will it take? From London, 10 hours; to Sydney, 12 hours.
India There are few countries that will confront you like India. Overflowing with energy and people, its cultural and geographic diversity will undoubtedly make you look at life in a different way. From the madness of Delhi to the breathtaking sacred sites scattered throughout the countryside, this is what backpacking is all about. Winter is probably the best time to visit, from September-January, when the heat is most bearable. Beware that several areas, like Kashmir, are still prone to conflict. Where will I land? Probably Delhi. From there you can book a pre-paid taxi to the city – but make sure the driver takes you where you want to go. Where will I stay? There is cheap accommodation everywhere in India, usually US$2-3 a night. Prices go up in the winter “high season”. How long will it take? From London, nine hours; to Sydney, 18 hours.
Indonesia A chain of more than 13,000 islands, the major ones are Java (home to capital Jakarta), Sumatra, Borneo and the famous pleasure island of Bali. Bali is renowned as a tourist paradise with its famous beaches and nightlife in Kuta. Take note that Kuta is top of the list for young, partying Aussies, sort of the equivalent of the Costa Del Sol for Brits. Away from the bright lights and busy beaches you’ll find stunning volcanic mountains, waterfalls and lakes to explore, and more temples than you can poke an incense stick at. It offers access to Komodo Island (home of the fearsome dragon) and beautiful Lombok. Some regions are still potential terrorist targets so check warnings (fco.gov.uk). Where will I land? Probably in Denpasar, Bali. Where will I stay? There is a wide range of budget accommodation in Bali and Lombok. Much of it is
pretty good. Beach huts are popular at resorts. How long will it take? From London, 16 hours; to Sydney, seven hours.
Malaysia A country of two halves divided by a few hundred kilometres of ocean – Peninsula Malaysia is the bit below Thailand, while East Malaysia comprises the island of Borneo. Peninsula Malaysia is more accessible and offers delights such as the Perhentian Islands, as well as some of the best food in Asia. Make the effort to get to the eastern states and you’ll be rewarded with pristine rainforest, orangutangs, longhouse-dwelling tribes and some of the world’s best diving. Where will I land? In Kuala Lumpur (or “KL”). Where will I stay? On the mainland you will find backpacker hostels, complete with dorm rooms. On the islands you’re likely to be kipping in a beach hut. How long will it take? From London, 12 hours; to Sydney eight hours.
Singapore This multicultural city state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula boasts a diverse blend of environments. Most stop-off visitors brave the fearsome humidity just long enough to take advantage of the enviable shopping opportunities, but those staying longer should escape into the surrounding jungle or even beyond into Malaysia. Where will I land? The efficient Changi Airport. Where will I stay? Many hostel beds are US$15-20. How long will it take? From London, 13 hours; to Sydney, eight hours.
UAE/Bahrain The United Arab Emirates might be a relatively new destination, but there’s no denying its impact on the world stage. Both Bahrain and the UAE have established themselves as major stop-offs and have gone about trying to build the biggest of everything, anywhere, as quickly as possible. As a result, sleepy old fishing villages have transformed into slick cities. Well, almost. Much of Dubai is still a building site. There’s no doubt that what’s finished is impressive, although those of you craving a bit of culture might struggle to keep themselves entertained. Head out into the dunes for some 4WD fun. Where will I land? The main hubs of Bahrain, Dubai or the world’s richest city – Abu Dhabi. Where will I stay? Some budget hotels have rooms as cheap as US$30, but don’t expect anything pretty. How long will it take? From London, seven hours; to Sydney, 15 hours. ❚ TNTDOWNUNDER.COM 175
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Buying your ticket SO, YOUR HEART IS SET ON HEADING DOWN UNDER AND YOU’RE READY TO PART WITH YOUR CASH? NOW YOU JUST NEED TO CHOOSE WHEN TO GO, HOW TO GO, AND WHO TO GO WITH... It’s the moment of truth, the time to start thinking about booking your flight. Well remember, it’s unlikely you’ll spend more money on any other part of your entire trip, so make sure you do your research and choose wisely. Prices can vary dramatically, but bear in mind that the cheaper the ticket, the rougher the journey is likely to be. Cheaper tickets may also offer you less flexibility, so check right from the start exactly what the fare involves, and how flexible the ticket is in terms of changing flights. Also bear in mind that the common wisdom of waiting until the last minute to get the cheapest deal no longer holds true at all, well rarely at least. So your best bet is to buy your ticket as far in advance as possible (a year is the maximum) to secure a real bargain.
From Europe you will route through Asia or Africa, plus the Pacific (Fiji) and Americas (or vice versa). Different providers offer varying routes and number of stops. Be aware that going through Latin America or Africa is more expensive than the more common Asia route, and you generally pay more the more stop-offs you want. Most round-the-world tickets are only valid for 12 months.
The obvious pro of these is their flexibility. But on the flipside, it means you have to be very disciplined with your money, not easy when you’re travelling, so that you keep some aside for your onward flight. The other downside is that you will almost certainly spend more money overall compared to if you’d bought all your flights in one go. Plus, don’t buy a one-way ticket until your application for a visa has been approved, as holders of Visitor Visas are only allowed into Australia with a return ticket.
Buy a cheap one-way ticket to Asia, travel for as long as you want, and then get cheap onward or return flights to Australia from there. Many airlines fly to Australia from the region, including budget carriers Jetstar, Tiger Airways and Virgin Australia.
If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. Simple as that. Sorry. We don’t want to sound like your Mum, but if it seems expensive to begin with, wait until you crash your motorbike/ have your backpack nicked/come down with hepatitis in India, and see how much that costs you. A good travel policy can be a total lifesaver. Quite literally. When you first begin to check out policies, the choices can seem overwhelming so it’s definitely worth spending a little time checking what’s what. Check what geographical areas the policy covers and take note that policies may not cover more adventurous activities, like diving, while more expensive items, like laptops and SLR cameras, will probably need extra cover. Also be aware that policies covering the United States and/or Japan are often more expensive.
When to travel
These are by far the most popular option. There are two types – open jaw and closed jaw. Open jaw lets you fly into one city and out of another while closed jaw means you have to fly in and out of the same place. You can normally also build a stopover into the trip for a little extra cost. A return ticket is cheaper than buying two one-way tickets and most
The date of departure can dramatically affect the cost of your trip. Australia and NZ’s holiday seasons look something like this: Low: March-June Mid: July-November, February (NZ) High: December-January (particularly around the Christmas holidays and New Year) ❚
tickets will usually last a whole 12 months. Which brings us to the negative points. Should you find yourself staying in Australia longer, you will lose the return part of your ticket, or have to pay the airline to extend it for a few months. You are also committed to a route before you leave.
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Buying your ticket
Great Barrier Reef
What’s your story
Great Keppel Island
Great Ocean Road
Mount Cook NP
High Country (Vict. Alps)
Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Queen Charlotte Track
Lady Elliot Island
Wilson’s Promontory NP
Litchfield National Park
Little Desert National Park 78
Abel Tasman NP
Tongariro National Park
Bay of Islands
Bay of Plenty
Catlins Coast, The
Cape York Peninsula
West Coast & Glaciers
Whangamata & Waihi
Cradle Mtn/Lake St Clair
Mount Field NP
Daintree National Park
New South Wales
Franz Josef Glacier
North Stradbroke Island
Olgas (Kata Tjuta)
North Viti Levu
Freycinet National Park
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