Relax under a palm tree on a tiny island, soak in thermal hot springs with views of snow-covered mountains and explore a vast, red desert in this continent of extremes.
Visit the Southern Hemisphere islands of Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific to enjoy spectacular beaches, forested hinterlands and Polynesian cultures.
Australia is a vast country of sophisticated cities and beautiful landscapes. On the southern shores, follow the Great Ocean Road to enjoy a celebrated scenic drive. Visit Bells Beach, home of a World Championship Tour surfing competition.
Drive farther on to see the 12 Apostles natural rock sculptures rising dramatically out of the sea. In Melbourne, watch cricket and rugby matches, visit the Royal Botanic Gardens and sample Yarra Valley wines.
Continue north to Canberra, Australia’s capital, to see impressive government buildings, monuments and galleries. Farther north, Sydney is noted for its striking opera house and harbor bridge, beautiful beaches, the Taronga Zoo and Hunter Valley wines. Learn about Australia’s indigenous people at the Australian Museum.
The Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are known for surfing. See this for yourself in the town named Surfers Paradise. Nearby Brisbane is a sophisticated city straddling a winding river. Enjoy the koala sanctuary and venture into hinterland wilderness.
Visit Port Douglas and Cairns in the far north to see the Great Barrier Reef, ideal for snorkeling, diving or viewing colorful fish and coral from a glass-bottom boat. See kangaroos, cassowaries and other animals at the Wildlife Habitat and exotic birds in the Daintree Rainforest.
Fly west to enjoy other famous Australia areas including the giant red rock of Uluru, the Barossa Valley wines of Adelaide and food and wine tours of Perth.
New Zealand is actually two islands. On the North Island, visit Auckland to sail from its lovely harbor and appreciate multiethnic culture and food. Drive to Rotorua to experience sulfur springs, cooking corn on the cob over the hot steam eruptions or relaxing in a natural hot tub. Continue to the southern city of Wellington, the capital, to enjoy a beautiful harbor surrounded by cultural attractions.
The South Island has mountains, glaciers, fjords and blue-green glacial lakes that provided Mount Cook and other locations as fantasy film settings for The Hobbit. Visit Christchurch where the indomitable spirit of its residents has helped to maintain colorful gardens and rebuild the city after a devastating earthquake. Queenstown has an eclectic community of backpackers, artists and adventure seekers. Ski, rock climb and bungee jump. Enjoy New Zealand wines throughout the country.
Elsewhere in the South Pacific, explore islands that were described by James Michener as having “endless ocean” with “coconut palms nodding gracefully” and “lagoons, lovely beyond description.” Find this beautiful scenery at Fiji, Samoa, the Cook Islands and French Polynesia. Learn about the Polynesian explorers who once sailed the high seas in outrigger canoes.