Ahhh hello yes. It’s a rivalry that sort of exists between two virtual neighbours – Australia and New Zealand. Australia is the world’s smallest continent, a large wide land of deserts, rain forests, beaches, mountains and more. New Zealand on the other hand is smaller. Comprised principally of the North and South Island, and is blessed with rolling hills, extreme sports, friendly folk and plenty of volcanic activity.
So which one is better, right? That’s the question you want to hear me answer, and I’ll probably answer Australia because I’m from Australia… yada yada yada.
But honestly, if time permits and you’re on a big trip, I heartily recommend visiting both. They contrast so perfectly that I would think in combination you couldn’t go wrong. Both have things the other country doesn’t have. I mean, yes you can find winter sports in Australia, but the season is limited to a maximum of three months and you have to travel a fair distance from Melbourne or Sydney to get there.
New Zealand on the other hand, on the South Island, has glaciers and snow-topped peaks a plenty. In Australia you have the outback, Uluru, deserts, you have plenty of hot weather and beaches. In New Zealand it’s only ever hot in the Summer, and then you probably want to be in the north of the country.
Whilst both countries boast excellent hiking, I think it’s more interesting (and more challenging due to the hills!) in New Zealand. Whilst Australia has mountains, it also a large section of land which is, in a nutshell, very flat. New Zealand may suffer the odd earthquake, but I still feel like there is something fascinating about thermal pools and volcanos. I hiked one near Auckland when I was there and Rotorua was brilliant for both thermal spas and seeing the sulphur pools.
Australia has deserts which may or may not appeal, but they can be great places to visit and of course in Central Australia you have the amazing Uluru. There are plenty of hiking options all over Australia too – two places that come immediately to mind are Tasmania and New South Wales’ Blue Mountains, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll find countless trails in every state.
Movies! Both countries over the years have attracted Hollywood over the last twenty to thirty years to shoot blockbusters on our/their shores. Star Wars, The Matrix films, and many more have been shot down under, however New Zealand can boast an even stronger connection to the big films. Peter Jackson brought the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films to New Zealand, which has contributed to the number of tourists that have come to New Zealand to see where they were made. And of course, you can’t go past Hobbiton for a little Lord of the Rings fix! Stroll around where they shot the films where the doors are built into the hills. It’s expensive, but it’s worth it. And then you can buy stuff at the gift shop of course!
If you’re looking for city life, then you’ll probably be drawn towards Australia as the big cities Sydney and Melbourne have so much to offer in terms of entertainment, museums, and of course night life. Not to mention festivals from Fringe, to Comedy Festivals in Melbourne, to the Mardi Gras in Sydney. And fire works off the Sydney Harbour Bridge is a hard to beat New Year’s Eve experience. Brisbane and Adelaide have lots to offer too, not being quite as big as the previous mentions. Adelaide’s Fringe Festival is world renowned.
Weatherwise Australia is a lot hotter. Which means that for snowsports New Zealand probably wins out. Although there is skiing in Victoria and Southern New South Wales in the midst of winter. New Zealand is a huge place for extreme sports (Bungee anyone???) with Queenstown having a huge reputation as the place to go to try a few out.
The heat of Australia and its amazing coastline makes its beaches a HUGE drawcard from swimming, tanning (be careful of the UV rays though) to surfing of course. Queensland might just be the best and most popular place to visit beaches and islands, but there are quieter beaches over in Western Australia that are well worth visiting. Queensland does have the Great Barrier Reef of course, although it’s not in 100% health these days, and some incredible waters. Not too bad for diving and snorkelling either.
All in all, your tastes will determine where you’d prefer to go, and if you have time on your side and are coming from afar, you might as well see if you can spend time in both Australia and New Zealand. Both have so much to offer the visitor, you won’t be disappointed. A final thing – money! Both Australia and New Zealand are pretty expensive, so be aware. However, at the moment both dollars are struggling a bit and if you’re coming from the States or Europe, you will probably find them a little cheaper than you would have say four years ago.
Thanks for reading, which tickles your fancy more? Australia or New Zealand? As always, I love getting comments so please do! May the Journey Never End!