On February 21, Australia’s Prime Minister officially lifted the tourist embargo in place since March of 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Neighboring New Zealand is delaying a bit more, opening to select visitors in July, and fully by October of this year.
Both of these countries have some incredible sights and beautiful vistas and are on people’s bucket lists. Check out these seven must-see places to visit to get the most out of these long-awaited vacation destinations.
Cathedral Cove is a limestone arch located off Hahei’s scenic beaches on the Coromandel Peninsula. The picturesque rock formation is only accessible by foot or by boat.
A paved path from the nearby Hahei Beach leads to Cathedral Cove, through lush forests and past sandy beaches, all while surrounded by stunning views of the South Pacific Ocean.
The area is also part of the Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve, so you’ll spot some amazing aquatic life if you decide to snorkel in these waters.
Lord of the Rings Sites
If you’ve seen any of the Lord of the Rings films, or the recent trailer for the upcoming Amazon series, you’ll be familiar with the incredible scenery featured. There are numerous filming spots on the island of New Zealand you can visit. You can take a guided tour through Hobbiton that features the green pastures of The Shire, Hobbit holes, and other set locations.
In addition, there is a 3-day tour of the Lord of the Rings filming locations in the Wanaka area, where many scenes were filmed. If you are looking for somewhere to stay, Club Wyndham, Wanaka is a serene retreat for travelers.
If you’re looking for total relaxation on your trip to New Zealand, head to Hanmer Springs. This resort town is in the Canterbury region of the South Island and is known for its thermal pools. There are 22 outdoor thermal pools in the area, including hot sulfur pools that locals say have healing qualities.
There are also thrilling water slides at Hanmer Springs, including New Zealand’s largest aquatic attraction, “Conical Thrill.” Don’t forget to stop by Hanmer Springs Village, an alpine village with plenty of shopping and dining options.
Nugget Point is home to one of New Zealand’s most famous lighthouses, exotic wildlife, and incredible ocean views. These legendary rocks of the Catlins Coast were named by famed Captain James Cook, who thought they looked like tiny nuggets of gold.
Head down towards Tokato lighthouse, where you’ll take in the awe-inspiring sites of the seemingly endless blue waters.
You’ll want to pack some binoculars on your trip to Nugget Point to spot the world’s rarest penguins, the yellow-eyed penguin. You might also see seals, sea lions, and dolphins in the area!
Puffing Billy Railway
Take a journey back in time aboard Puffing Billy, a steam train built in 1900. Guests can hop onboard just outside Melbourne, Australia, for an adventure through the rolling hills of the Dandenong Ranges.
There is a selection of different train itineraries, including “Murder on the Puffing Billy Express.” This ticketed event includes a three-course meal and an unforgettable mystery that you get to help solve!
If you want to stay in Melbourne and are already a member of the Hilton Grand Vacations Club, you can use your Hilton Honors points to stay at the Little Queen Street Hotel.
Ferry To Manly Beach
If you’re planning on visiting Sydney, Australia, you probably want to spend some time on the area’s beautiful beaches. Of course, Bondi Beach is one of the more famous beaches, but Manly Beach is an excellent spot for a less crowded beach day.
Take the scenic 30-minute ferry ride across the Sydney Harbour to one of Australia’s most famous surfing beaches. This tree-lined beach has soft sands, fantastic surf, and beautiful views of Sydney’s cityscape.
Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
One of the most popular attractions in Brisbane, Australia, is the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Lone Pine opened in 1927, making it the first koala sanctuary in the world. There are over 130 koalas at the sanctuary amongst various animals native to Australia, such as kangaroos and wombats. Guests can experience a selection of different encounters with the animals and can even hold a koala!
New Zealand’s government recently announced a phased reopening beginning February 27, 2022. The first three steps allow fully-vaccinated New Zealand citizens, students, visa holders, and workers to enter the country.
The fourth step, which starts in July 2022, will welcome any traveler from countries that do not require a visa. These countries include the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
Every fully-vaccinated visitor will need to follow the self-isolation rules put in place by the government. Those who do not meet the vaccination requirements will need to enter MIQ, “managed isolation and quarantine.”
Fully-vaccinated visa holders can travel to Australia beginning on February 21, 2022. Visas or approved Electronic Travel Authority are required for all those visiting Australia, regardless of how long they stay. Visitors of Australia must also follow the local isolation and quarantine rules.
Whether you like to spend your vacations exploring the great outdoors or would rather take in the culture of a new city, New Zealand and Australia have endless possibilities for travelers. After two long years of closed borders, travelers will certainly experience a warm welcome from locals when visiting either of these countries.
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Mia Reid is a University of Central Florida graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English – Creative Writing. She specializes in writing, editing, search engine optimization, as well as graphic design, and digital marketing.