Around the World to Australia and Oceania

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I’m delighted to have a fabulous duo of travel bloggers today on our Around the World in 7 days series, Dave & Deb from The Planet D blog. Their travel photography is stunning, I spent hours studying their destination world map alone! They are chatting about the Australia region, also known as Oceania.

Oceania

For those of us who hail from North America, the corner of the world known as Oceania is truly exotic. It’s about as far away as it gets, and it’s a dream destination for many of us. We’ve been lucky enough to explore a bit of Oceania, taking different trips to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. All three certainly lived up to the hype. These dream destinations are quite unique and we thought we’d share a quick overview of what to expect when traveling to each one.

 

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Fiji

The energy and beauty of Fiji was unmatched. Whenever we met someone new, we were greeted with a hearty shout of delight. “Bula!” means welcome and we felt very welcome everywhere we went on the main island known as Viti Levu.

There is never a bad time to visit Fiji, but the dry and high season happens between the months of April and November. This time of year is perfect for sunshine and beaches and rainforest trekking. But if diving and surfing are part of your agenda, you may want to travel there from December to March when the waters are warm and the surf is high.

fiji canopy tourWhat we really loved about Fiji was the culture, and when visiting this South Pacific jewel, expect to take part in many Kava ceremonies. These are an important aspect of visiting any village and it is customary to present a gift of Yaqona (Kava root) to the executive head of the village. It is then ground into a powder and strained through cloth with water before being passed around to all visitors and villagers to enjoy before the festivities begin.

Festivities often involve a feast known as The Lovo. This meal consisting of sweet potato, yams, taro and meat is cooked in the earth and served on banana leaves. Everyone sits on the ground and enjoys a shared feast followed by joyous dancing and music.

fiji beachMost people dress in sarongs when traveling through Fiji, and when visiting local villages, it’s important wear them and to dress modestly. If you don’t own a sarong, don’t worry Fiji is the perfect place to buy a traditional sarong for an authentic souvenir to take home with you.

Fijians are possibly the most welcoming people on earth. This communal society is very giving and tipping is not customary in Fiji. Many resorts instead have a communal fund for staff. It’s a safe and welcoming society and the more open you are to embracing the culture the more fun you’ll have. Make sure to try some adventures in the rainforest like their famous canopy tour, learn about their fascinating headhunter history and be sure to take advantage of the romantic sunsets and picturesque setting.

fiji-feastSo get out as much as possible to meet and enjoy the Fijian hospitality.

fiji celebration

New Zealand

New Zealand is known as the adventure capital of the world and when you visit this country, you are not only treated to incredible scenery fit for middle earth, but also the adventure of a lifetime.

New Zealand is made up of two contrasting islands, the North and South. The South Island was formed by glaciers and is filled with striking scenes of remarkable mountains; the mountain range near Queenstown is actually called the Remarkables! Speaking of Queenstown, this is the place to begin your adventure! A.J. Hakett invented the Bungy jump in Queenstown and here you’ll have plenty of opportunities to jump into deep gorges. Adventure happens throughout the country though with Sky Diving and an opportunity to fly your own stunt plane in Abel Tasman, to swimming with dolphins and hiking one of the most beautiful day hikes on earth, The Tongariro Crossing on the North Island.

 fiji beach

To truly appreciate the country, we recommend 6-8 weeks of travel and the best way to get around is to rent a campervan. There are plenty of fully equipped campsites at all destinations on each island. If you don’t feel comfortable driving – especially since it’s left hand driving, there are also excellent hop on hop off tours like The Flying Kiwi. These companies offer camping and food as well as transportation to all the top spots in New Zealand. You can even stay for a few days until the next bus comes by to take you to the next stop!

new zealand campervanIt’s easy to think that New Zealand is all about adventure, but there is also a rich Maori history. The Polynesians settled here in the 13th century and an excellent way to learn about their history is to visit the Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua where you will be welcomed by the Powhiri, a formal welcoming ceremony followed by a performance of warrior dances and songs.

The Mossman River in North Queensland.When visiting New Zealand, expect a laid back vacation. People are relaxed and dress is casual. Kiwis, as New Zealanders are known, live in Jandals (Flip Flops) and board shorts. They are fit and friendly and love the great outdoors. No tipping is necessary but it’s definitely appreciated.

You can visit New Zealand any time of year but high season is from November through March. This is summertime in New Zealand and the best time to enjoy the great outdoors. Hiking, biking, snorkeling, sailing, zorbing (rolling down a hill inside a rubber ball)…anything you can think of doing outside in the summertime, heat can be done in New Zealand. What many people don’t know is that there is a proper winter in New Zealand too! Snow capped mountains and ski slopes await snow lovers.

skydive new zeland

flying in Oceania

New Zealanders are very protective of their environment so when flying into the country, expect tight security on imports. You’ll be checked for fruit and other natural products that can disrupt their natural habitat.

Australia

Australia is a massive country that varies from State to State. We have been lucky enough to visit three different States, New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia. For this post, we thought we’d focus on Queensland, the tropical North of the country, and South Australia, an excellent place to explore the outback.

Sunset at Palm Cove in North Queensland

Australia is a safe and easy country to travel but it is expensive so budget wisely for accommodations and excursions. The upside is that tipping is not necessary so the price shown is what you pay. Because of its size, expect to fly between destinations and renting a car is highly recommended.

tongariro crossingIf you are looking for beach, sand, and surf, Queensland is the place for you. The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast attract sun worshippers and surf lovers but take care when swimming in the sea, rip currents are a very serious hazard in Australian waters causing several drownings and rescues each year.

koala in Austrailia

Queensland is also home to The Great Barrier Reef for world-class diving and snorkeling. Take a helicopter flight for a birds eye view of the world’s largest reef system or stay on a live aboard to dive some of the more pristine and less visited dive sites in the area.

Looking down the the Gold Coast from the Q1 Building.

Queensland is a lush state and the best place to witness its tropical beauty is in the Daintree Rainforest: a 12,000 square kilometer jungle housing some of the oldest plant life on earth. A dreamtime walk with an Aboriginal guide is highly recommended.

Here you’ll learn about medicinal plants, the culture of the Aboriginal people, and take part in a smoking ceremony that helps keep spirits and spells at bay.

South-Australia-Landscapes-2-XL

If wildlife is a top priority for you, South Australia is a perfect jumping off point to explore the Outback. It’s just a few hours driving from Adelaide before you find yourself in the middle of the Outback where you’ll see kangaroos and wallabies. En route you can stop to see koalas at Mikkira station near Port Lincoln or if you are feeling really adventurous, you can try cage diving with great white sharks and swimming with dolphins off the coast.

A true eco experience can be had on Kangaroo Island where you can walk on deserted beaches, witness all the Australian wildlife you imagined including seals and you can view the interesting rock formations that are aptly named, The Remarkable Rocks!

kangaroo picture in the wildAustralia was made for fun in the outdoors. There’s no bad time to visit the country. It’s so huge that while it may be the rainy season in one part of Australia, it will be hot and dry in the other. Australia has a tropical climate that rarely drops below the mid 60 in the winter. When traveling to the country make sure to check the season of the state you choose to visit. Remember, Australia is huge. What happens in one part of the country could be completely different in the other.

There are large cosmopolitan cities and completely deserted sheep stations. You can shop at high-end malls or visit outdoor markets to buy hand made didgeridoos and boomerangs. Australia is a vacation destination for everyone, but make sure not to bring any food vegetables or animal products into the country. Like New Zealand, Australia is protective of its fragile ecosystem. Expect to be scrutinized at border security. 

Oceania is a destinations filled with choices. The vast region reaches from Hawaii to New Zealand and Mirconesia to New Guinea. It’s impossible to cover the entire area in one article, but if you visit one of these three destinations, you will truly have experienced the diversity of this spectacular corner of the world.
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Visit The Planet D for more of their travels!

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Comments

  1. This is so amazing! I want to go to all of these places! New Zealand is especially high on my list. Such gorgeous pictures!!

  2. Oh that looks so cool!! So pretty!! God has made such beautiful places!!

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