Australia and New Zealand are countries that are rich with natural phenomena and human creativity. Eons of erosion, the Earth's molten core bubbling up near the crust, the beauty of nature, and many more factors have created countless inspirational destinations in these Oceania nations. Whether your sense of adventure takes you to the sea or land, Australia and New Zealand are full of life-changing destinations that you need to visit.
The Sydney Opera House is an architectural masterpiece that inspires awe in anyone who sees it. In 1957, Jørn Utzon won a competition to design the Opera House with his distinctive design. Every year, it attracts millions of visitors to admire the structure and watch the performances within. The Sydney Opera House is such an impressive sight that it earned UNESCO World Heritage status in 2007.
There are few places on Earth that feel as though they’re truly undisturbed by human activity. Milford Sound, within the Fiordland National Park in New Zealand, is one such place; a guided boat tour of the fjord will reveal all sorts of beautiful sights. Rare sights such as black coral abound in Milford Sound, and a diverse set of marine wildlife makes the area their home. If you want to find a place that feels untouched by mankind, you need to visit Milford Sound.
The Hardy Reef in Australia is an amazing natural landmark unto itself, but there’s one particular reef that draws visitors. Some happy accident resulted in the Heart-Shaped Reef turning out looking exactly like a heart. It’s protected by law, so you can’t reach it by diving. You have to catch a helicopter or a seaplane to view it from the air. But if you’re looking to surprise your partner for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary or even a proposal, it’s more than worth it.
While boulders may seem like a strange landmark, that’s not all there is to these New Zealand boulders. The Moeraki Boulders are round. No, really round. Scientists believe that over 60 million years of erosion at the seafloor molded them to a point of nearly perfect smoothness until the ocean returned them to the land. The Moeraki Boulders are a unique, interesting sight, and a charmingly mundane and direct expression of the power of time and nature.
Many people who go swimming with the dolphins describe it as a life-changing experience. Everyone has heard that dolphins are intelligent, friendly, and playful, but how many have seen it firsthand? At Kaikoura, you have the opportunity to interact with dolphins in the wild rather than dolphins that are playing tricks for treats. Seeing the sheer humanity of these animals often changes a person’s entire outlook on nature and the world.
Unfortunately, taking a drink of this champagne would scald you if you’re lucky. The Champagne Pools of Waiotapu are a breathtaking set of thermal springs. The heat and minerals produce thriving colonies of bacteria that turn the pools into a lively mix of colors. Some are green, blue, red, and yellow, but the Champagne Pools are famous for the deep orange at the edges of the pools.
Uluru is a massive monolith of red sandstone in Australia, one that draws tourists and holds great importance to local indigenous peoples. They view Uluru as the resting place of their ancestors, and Uluru itself as a living place. As such, climbing Uluru is highly disrespectful, but all are welcome to view its rich, impressive colors. Uluru formed over the course of 65 million years, and visiting it should inspire respect and admiration for the incomprehensible age of the Earth.
In New Zealand, if you delve into the caves of Waitomo, you’ll find yourself bathed in an unearthly blue light. The glowworms that live along the cave walls are millions, and together they illuminate the caves well enough that no electric light is necessary. In fact, photography is banned because the flash can harm the worms. You’ll want to leave your camera aside as you bask in the eerie, natural light of the Glowworm Caves.
You can visit the massive Daintree Rainforest on the Northeastern coast of Queensland. The protected forest stretches across an area of 745 square miles and offers countless adventures within its boundaries. You can start planning your trip at the Discovery Center before zip-lining across the canopy and cruising along the Daintree River. The ancient forest is so remarkably vibrant that it inspired the environments in James Cameron’s Avatar. You can see two natural wonders meet when you head to Cape Tribulation, where the Daintree Rainforest ends and the ocean and the Great Barrier Reef begin.
The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is a contender for the most awe-inspiring natural wonder of the world. It’s the largest coral reef network in the world and a living organism so large that it’s visible from space. It’s a lively, unique ecosystem that supports a vast network of marine life. Diving at the Great Barrier Reef will give you a new outlook on the natural world.