Destination Dreaming: Spotlight on Australia & New Zealand

Welcome! To the Australia & New Zealand wrap-up of Destination Dreaming. 

From New Zealand’s bubbling mud baths, to exploring Australia’s red centre, in this edition, we’ve compiled our top dream-worthy experiences and locations across Australia and New Zealand.

So whether you’re dreaming of your end-of-year trip away, or planning to make 2021 the year that you pack your passport and set off on your journey to Middle Earth, check out our top sites to visit and start creating your own inspired bucket list. 
Don’t forget to keep an eye on the Airtrain Blog for our Global bucket list, set to land in the coming weeks.

So, let’s get to it!

Australian Travel Bucket List

  1. A must-see for every Australian, the 12 Apostles are a collection of limestone stacks alongside Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road. Trust us, this isn’t one to miss.
  2. The most remote music festival in the world, the Birdsville Big Red Bash brings together Australian music legends, a whopper crowd, and plenty of good times for an epic 3-days of camping and music in the Simpson Desert, QLD.
  3. Byron Bay is so loved that ‘the Byron feeling’ is used to describe moments and spaces that exude serenity, radiate relaxation, and feel a lot like total freedom. Visit Byron Bay for yourself and get ‘the Byron feeling’ straight from the source. 
  4. Where the rainforest meets the reef, Cairns is Queensland’s tropical north. With beaches, forests, and a laid-back nature, Cairns is best enjoyed from the outdoors.
  5. Visit the National Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery of Australia, and the National Museum of Australia on your visit to Canberra and be floored by the history and talent of our country’s people.
  6. Darwin is the harbourside city in Australia’s top end. With a tropical climate, a diverse mix of cultures, and word-class natural and cultural attractions, it’s worth making the trip for.
  7. A ski-in, ski-out wonderland, Falls Creek in Victoria boasts 450 hectares of downhill terrain, cross-country ski paths, and bike trails. Winter or Summer, Falls Creek is loaded with outdoor activity excitement.
  8. The Flinders Ranges in South Australia is unlike anywhere else in Australia. It’s dusty, deep red earth, towering ancient cliffs, and spectacular gorges.
  9. Part of Tasmania’s World Heritage Area, the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park is remote, rugged, and home to ancient Huon Pines, that are more than 3000 years old.
  10. Heart Reef is found in the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. A composition of coral that has naturally formed into a heart shape, Heart Reef showcases the beauty of nature. Though visitors are unable to swim around the reef, the view of this natural wonder looks brilliant from the seat of a seaplane.
  11. The capital city of Tasmania, Hobart, is an idyllic blend of heritage, natural scenery, and local culture. If you’re a foodie, Hobart is the place for you. With plenty of award-winning restaurants and famous local produce, Hobart is a food-lover’s nirvana.
  12. Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre in South Australia is a 155 x 77 kilometre salt pan that fills up with desert rain once every few years. If you’re visiting after the lake has been hit with rain, expect glistening rainbow hues, a revived outback oasis, and an influx of wildlife.
  13. Lawn Hill Gorge in Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) National Park, is an outback oasis, attracting plenty of native animals and views of the red earth landscape that are end-to-end exceptional.
  14. Snorkeling, hiking, kayaking, and with all the luxuries of a 5-star holiday? This is just a taste of what it’s like to visit Lord Howe Island in New South Wales.
  15. The Margaret River region in Western Australia is home to an award-winning wine scene, a thriving arts and cultural hub, and WA’s trademark natural beauty.
  16. Arguably Australia’s most arts and fashion-focused city, laneway-streaked Melbourne is a must-visit Australian city. Your senses will thank you for it.
  17. Right by the city of Bundaberg, is Mon Repos Conservation Park. This site supports the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the Eastern Australian mainland. A critical site especially for the endangered loggerhead turtle, who the conservation park supports through the nesting and hatching programs. 
  18. Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia is a World Heritage-listed site, and is the world’s largest fringing reef. Covered with a cloak of fish, turtles, whales, and other marine life, this reef is home to the largest congregation of these animals in the world.
  19. Porcupine Gorge National Park is home to towering sandstone cliffs, deep waterholes, and vine forests. It’s a striking contrast to the bare plains surrounding the gorge. A stunning natural formation, looking up at the gorge is an experience like no other.
  20. The seafood capital of Australia, Port Lincoln brings together coastal beauty, laid-back vibes, and yep, even attracts Great White Sharks! The perfect opportunity for thrill-seekers looking to tick cage-diving off their bucket list.
  21. Australia’s most well-known city, Sydney is the go-to for big city outings like shopping, wining and dining, catching world-class cultural events, and of course, taking a seat in front of the Opera House.
  22. Spot crocodiles, check out the wildlife from horseback, or take a cruise over to the Great Barrier Reef when you visit Queensland’s Daintree region.
  23. Right at the top of our own bucket list is a trip on The Ghan, the iconic train journey that runs right through Australia’s red centre, from Darwin to Adelaide.
  24. The Kimberley in Western Australia is one of Australia’s, and the world’s, most precious wilderness regions. Here you’ll find ancient canyons, freshwater swimming holes, and postcard-perfect beaches.
  25. Spice up the coastal holiday routine with a trip to the Outback. Rugged, striking, and totally unique, Australia’s red earth landscape is truly a sight to behold. 
  26. The Pinnacles, Nambung National Park, are WA’s most visited attraction. Composed of a number of limestone structures standing as high as 3.5 metres, The Pinnacles were formed around 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.
  27. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory is far more than a photo opportunity, it’s an ancient site of wisdom, a living cultural landscape, and home to diverse animal and plant life.
  28. Known widely as ‘the heart of the Great Barrier Reef’, the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland look like something cut from the pages of magazines. Crisp white sand, cool blue water, and thriving marine life. 
  29. Wolgan Valley is nestled in the Blue Mountains. Decorated by a beautiful sandstone escarpment, the Valley is home to plenty of kangaroos, a stunning Australian bush landscape, and looks best at golden hour, in front of the fire, and with a glass of local wine in hand.

New Zealand Travel Bucket List

  1. Bay of Islands is around a 3-hour drive from Auckland, and is a subtropical micro-region known for its stunning maritime adventures, rich Māori cultural experiences, and flourishing wildlife (yep – you can even catch a glimpse of penguins!)
  2. See two oceans collide at the Cape Reinga lighthouse. According to Māori oral history, the spirits of deceased Māori leap from the over 800-year-old pohutukawa tree into the ocean to return to their ancestral homeland of Hawaiki.
  3. Cathedral Cove is one of the most beautiful spots in the Coromandel. Walkable from the stunning Hahei beach, Cathedral Cove is an enormous arched cavern of white rock that joins two secluded coves. Built by nature and the perfect spot for Kodak moments.
  4. Christchurch is a unique mix of urban and heritage landscapes. It teams the old with the new through pairing contemporary cityscapes interwoven with some of the oldest buildings in the country.
  5. The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is 4300 square kilometres of space protected from masses of light pollution. The result? Some of the clearest sky you’ll ever see. Stargaze at the millions of stars visible in the sky, and feel a potent connection to the universe,
  6. If you’re curious about learning more about Māori culture, have a passion for great food, delicious wine, and picturesque beaches, Gisborne should be at the very top of your NZ travel bucket list.
  7. If you’re a fan of J.R.R Tolkien, you won’t want to miss a tour of the Hobbiton™ movie set. Step into the lush pastures of the Shire, and take your seat in The Green Dragon™ Inn for a delicious evening banquet. 
  8. Marlborough Sounds is a group of ancient sunken river valleys filled with the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Sandy bays, clear waters, and over 50 reserves make up this precious area.
  9. On the west coast of the South Island is Milford Sound, where sheer cliffs meet inky dark waters. It’s New Zealand’s natural wildness, in all its beauty.
  10. Aoraki Mount Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand. Home to permanent snowfields, sky-high peaks, and marvellous glaciers, Mount Cook has to be seen to be believed. 
  11. One of the best diving locations in the world, Poor Knights Islands in Northland is an ocean-worth of diving, compressed into a small area. This means more incredible underwater experiences, with less effort.
  12. Queenstown is New Zealand’s adventure centre, known world-over for the warmth of its locals and adrenaline-raising activities. Ski, hike, ride – it’s all right here. 
  13. Natural hot springs, warm bubbling mud pools and fascinating Māori culture – Rotorua is the go-to location for both thrill-seekers and relaxation-devotees.
  14. Shipwreck Bay, to the left of the Ahipara township, is known amongst surfers as a perfect wave hotspot. Claimed to have the best surf breaks in the country, even if you aren’t a surfer, it’s a fantastic spot to kick back and watch the big-wave-chasers do their thing.
  15. Wildlife sanctuary, Tiritiri Matangi Island is 30km from Auckland and has been one of the most successful conservation projects to date. Between 1984 and 1994, volunteers planted over 250,000 trees to the then-bare island. The result is the island you see today, with 60% forest and 40% grassland. Home to a number of threatened bird and reptile species, this island is one of the only places in NZ where you can walk amongst such rare species.
  16. Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the best one-day treks in New Zealand. Hike up the steep crossing and take in views of the alpine scenery that are as breathtaking as they are unique. 
  17. Treaty House is a historically significant site. In 1834, the first flag for the nation was chosen here. In 1835, the Declaration of Independence was drafted in the house by James Busby and presented to the northern chiefs. In 1840, the Treaty of Waitangi was finalised here before being read to the chiefs on the 5th of February. 
  18. In the heart of the North Island, Ruapehu is a volcanic landscape of craters, other-worldly lakes and curious rock formations. Looking like something fresh from the pages of a sci-fi novel, this location isn’t to be missed.
  19. Waikato is one of the richest agriculture and pastoral areas of the world and home to New Zealand’s famous dairy and thoroughbred horse-racing industries.
  20. The Waitomo Caves are some of the most beautiful glow worm caves in the world. Step into the darkness and be enveloped by the magic of 30 million years’ worth of natural beauty.
  21. Wellington is the embodiment of NZ’s classic offbeat way. This city is completely original, totally unique, and a whole lot of fun.
  22. New Zealand’s only living Māori village, Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley is a geothermal wonderland. Full of history, bubbling mud pools, and hot springs, a visit to this village is a must-do on your next New Zealand holiday.

Thanks for taking a peek at our Destination Dreaming’s Australia and New Zealand bucket list. Watch this space for coming news on which locations have made it onto our global bucket list.

Until then, happy dreaming!