A Guide to Australia & New Zealand

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For many people traveling the world or taking a gap year, Australia and New Zealand are unmissable destinations that need to be experienced.

Australia is home to some amazing beaches, surfing and incredible wildlife (among other things). Its warm climate and friendly people make it a great place to visit.

New Zealand (often referred to as ‘Godzone’ (i.e. “God’s own”) by the locals) is an incredibly diverse and attractive country, with vast mountain ranges, volcanoes, glaciers, fjords, rainforests, swamps and just about everything in between. For outdoor enthusiasts, New Zealand is heaven.

As Asia (particularly South-East Asia) and North America are both extremely popular travel destinations, the position of Australia and New Zealand on the globe means that they can act as a great link between the two.

Unmissable Highlights

Australia

  • See the Sydney Opera house and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
  • Go snorkeling around the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Visit the set of the TV show ‘Neighbours’ and take a tour of Ramsey Street.
  • Visit Australia’s best kept secret: Byron Bay.

New Zealand

  • See the albatross colony on the Otago Peninsula.
  • Go hiking in the Tongariro National Park (i.e. the land of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings films).
  • Visit 90 Mile Beach and bodyboard down the sand dunes.

Getting Around

The distances between places in Australia are unlike anything most Europeans will ever have imagined. Driving between cities is not recommended, as breaking down (or running out of gas) in the middle of nowhere (where there’s no cell phone coverage) can be fatal.

An alternative is to fly between cities (which certainly makes sense a lot of the time if you can afford it) or to use private bus services (such as Oz Experience or Firefly Express) which are much cheaper.

In New Zealand, distances are much shorter than in Australia, and because the scenery is so amazing it’s well worth hiring a camper van with some friends and driving around the islands yourself.

Kangaroo

What to Expect

The seasons in the Southern Hemisphere (where Australia and New Zealand are located) are the opposite to those in the Northern part of the world (i.e. Europe and North America).

For example, December is classed as summertime and the skiing season starts in June!

Although Australia is often thought of as being incredibly warm and dry by people who have never been there (and who have watched ‘Crocodile Dundee’ one too many times), due to the sheer size of the country there are wide variations in weather and climate.

For example, the sub-equatorial region of Darwin is no stranger to monsoons and the average rainfall in Perth (in Western Australia) is higher than London!

Of course, Australia can be very hot and sunny, so it’s important to properly protect yourself from the sun whenever outside (Australians are typically very well educated and disciplined on this) to avoid sunburn.

Despite Australia being such a large country, most people live right on the edges (80% of the population live within 20 miles of the sea), meaning most of the country is undisturbed by human life. While exploring the outback (or ‘the bush’) might sound fun and exciting, remember that most of the wildlife won’t be as friendly as the locals.

Poisonous snakes, spiders, crocodiles and box jellyfish are the order of the day, and are all extremely lethal. Because of this, be wary of venturing out too far without a guide or at least some knowledge of the area.

Australia

Visa
All tourists entering Australia must have a visa, and buying on in advance is compulsory. An electronic visa can be bought online (for the fee of $20) from Visas Australia or from the Australian Immigration Department’s website.

Currency
Australia’s currency is the Australian Dollar (AUD). Here’s how it related to US Dollar (USD) and Pound Sterling (GBP).

  • $1 = 0.93 Australian Dollar
  • £1 = 1.48 Australian Dollar

Recommended Daily Budget
$50 – $60 per day (excluding travel costs)

New Zealand

Visa
British citizens can enter New Zealand as a visitor for up to six months on arrival without a visa. U.S. citizens can also enter New Zealand without a visa, but can only stay for 3 months.

Currency
New Zealand’s currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD). Here’s how it related to US Dollar (USD) and Pound Sterling (GBP).

  • $1 = 1.20 New Zealand Dollar
  • £1 = 1.90 New Zealand Dollar

Recommended Daily Budget
$40 – $50 per day (excluding travel costs)

Note that exchange rates may have changed since this article was published. For up-to-date exchange rates, check out XE.com.


Related posts:

  1. How to Get a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa
  2. How to Get a Working Holiday Visa for Australia
  3. A Guide to South America
  4. A Guide to Africa
  5. A Quick Guide to Travel Visas




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