Luxury cruises to Australia and New Zealand
With so much to see and do, people on a luxury cruise to Australia or New Zealand are spoiled for choice when it comes to selecting ports of call and attractions, landscapes and wildlife they want to see.
Australasia, made up of Australia and New Zealand, is one of the most dreamt-about cruise destinations in the world. Modern Australia, famous for its reefs and rainforests, stunning beaches and unique wildlife, was defined by its port cities and the feeling of cruising into Sydney's famous harbour, with its coat-hanger bridge and unmistakable Opera House, will stay with you forever.
When to go:
The European winter from October to March sees many a cruise ship head for Australiasia, either as part of a world cruise segment, or just to make the most of the summer Down Under. Bear in mind, the further south you go, the more the temperature will drop, especially as you enter the stormy latitudes of the Roaring Forties and Furious Fifties.
Off the Queensland coast is the only living organism visible from space, the Great Barrier Reef, home to colourful corals, myriad sea creatures and hundreds of islands. In Tasmania, Wineglass Bay on the Freycinet Peninsula is a perfect curve of powdery sand, pinched between the sea and pink granite peaks. From Melbourne you can cruise across the Great Australian Bight, calling at Adelaide and the trendy port city of Freemantle, Perth's vibrant, artsy neighbour.
Just don't make the mistake of ignoring the west coast. North of Broome lies the awe-inspiring Kimberley, the personification of Australia's 'Big Country'. Rust-red cliffs surround fjord-like estuaries, flowering deserts hide Aboriginal rock art 40,000 years old, whales rear their calves in 27°C water, waterfalls plunge more than 100 metres, and azure blue seas break on brilliant-white beaches.
Nearby New Zealand is unique in that it crams so much scenery into so little space. For such a small country, there's also no shortage of places to dock.
Auckland is known as the 'City of Sails', from which cruise ships loop round subtropicalNorthland, past ancient kauri forests, Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga to the beautiful Bay of Islands. The town of Tauranga is the jumping-off point for the geothermal wonders of bubbling Rotorua, while art deco Napier is perfectly positioned for touring the vineyards of the Hawke's Bay wine region.
Across Cook Strait lie the stunning Marlborough Sounds, the chance to swim with dolphins in the waters off Kaikoura and the port of Christchurch, the most English of all Kiwi cities. Further south the scenery turns more breathtaking still, reaching its crescendo with the crashing waterfalls, tangled forests and sheer granite cliffs of Fiordland National Park.