Destination: Australia

By Susie Reese

Australia and New Zealand hold a special place in the hearts of GOGO Vacations and our sister company Worldwide Traveler. Our parent company, Flight Centre, is based Down Under, so many of our team leaders and coordinators get to venture to the land of Tam Tams, Vegemite and leaping spiders.

Australia Sunset

There’s more to Australia than leaping spiders.

But Australia and its next-door neighbor, New Zealand, are more than just delicious treats and hand-size arachnids. They are two of the friendliest countries in the world and are high on the list for single travelers and families alike. Why do so many people like Australia and New Zealand? Find out below!

 

Melbourne likes you, too (no, really, it does)

Whether you’re staying three nights or three weeks, Melbourne welcomes travelers with a bright smile and a kind greeting. After all, it’s been named the world’s friendliest city in 2014 by Condé Nast Traveler magazine, tying with Auckland for the top spot. The undisputed “capital of cool” is known for its awe-inspiring restaurants and vibrant nightlife. During the summer, the rooftops come alive with bars, restaurants and even theaters, but year round, travelers can dine among the stars at Vue de Monde at the top of the Rialto Building, which offers gourmet meals with 360-degree views of the city.

Melbourne, Australia

Named the friendliest city in the world, Melbourne offers smiles along with sites.

Get lost in Melbourne. After all, the locals are friendly, or so I’ve heard, and where once bullock carts roamed with goods in the 19th century, now locals and travelers find an escape from the modern city. Wander through the gothic laneways, where you’ll discover quirky boutiques, charming eateries and unique offerings, including hearty Italian restaurants along Hardware Lane and underground dining in a wood-paneled basement along George Parade. For a fashion foray, check out the flagship stores along Little Collins Street or local designers on Manchester or Flinders Lane.

Melbourne has exciting surrounding areas like St. Kilda with a family-friendly beach and boardwalk; Mornington Peninsula with seaside villages, vineyards, golf courses and national parks; and Yarra Valley with wineries, waterfalls and hot-air balloon rides.

Visit Melbourne and experience Eureka Skydeck 88, a Lanes & Arcades Tour, Great Ocean Road, and the Phillip Islands Penguins Up Late. Book now with Worldwide Traveler.

“I might be biased, but there’s nothing like Melbourne. Four seasons in one day, footy at the ‘G, the race that stops a nation – the Melbourne Cup, the trams, the architecture, the food, the shopping, the music and nightlife, the events all year round, the Great Ocean Road, having old-school fish and chips on newspaper by the water—Melbourne really will leave you wishing you did live there.” –Peter Dias, Worldwide Traveler

 

Sydney likes you, too (but not as much as Melbourne)

Sydney Bridge Australia

Find numerous free attractions for singles and families in Sydney, Australia.

Sydney is only the fifth friendliest city in the world. Don’t worry. We promise it still has lots of smiles to go around, and you’ll smile, too, with activities you and your family can do for free. Cross the iconic Sydney Bridge on foot and see the Sydney Opera House. Then head to the nearby Royal Botanic Gardens with its free guided walking tour. The Art Gallery of NSW offers free performances on Sundays, and admission is always free at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

Couple your time in Sydney with a stopover in Port Douglas to see the Great Barrier Reef. We’re not into scare tactics, but the reef has lost more than half of its coral cover over the last 27 years. The reef might be listed on the World Heritage in Danger list for 2015, according to The New York Times, so if it’s on your bucket list, we recommend moving it up a few slots.

Worldwide Traveler offers journeys Down Under to see Sydney, Port Douglass, Hunter Valley, and more. See all the current deals offered by Worldwide Traveler to Sydney here.

“Australia is famous for its beautiful beaches and unique wildlife, but for me, Australia is home to some of the finest wines and world class chefs that have created a food and wine lovers paradise.” – Chris Coillet, Worldwide Traveler, GO Groups, Back-Roads Touring

 

Put the “zeal” New Zealand

Sky Tower Auckland New Zealand

Jump into fun in Auckland!

Auckland ramped up its friendly factor ten-fold this year. Jumping from number 16 to number one, Auckland tied with Melbourne for friendliest city, according to Condé Nast Traveler’s annual reader’s survey. And why shouldn’t it? Auckland is well known for its clear air, fresh food and amazing culture. Museums and historical villages fascinate while the Sky Tower mystifies. Almost 1,100 feet tall and 360-degree vistas up to 262 miles, the tower impresses with amazing vistas of the city and the natural landscape just beyond it.

“The top of Sky City is gorgeous. It is fantastic to look down and see how unpopulated and natural New Zealand really is.” –Marie Reese, procurement team leader for USA, Canada and Cars

 

Jordan Payne of Flight Centre Digital Innovation ventured to New Zealand in 2009 for a driving and camping trip.

“One of the highlights for me was Milford Sound,” says Payne. “As we drove up through the mountains to reach our cruise around the Sound, the rain was torrential.”

Milford Sound waterfalls

Nature wonders abound in New Zealand, like the waterfalls at Milford Sound.

This might have deterred some travelers but not Payne. “We persevered to our destination, and my companion and I were glad we did,” he says. “The mountain range in the area is spectacular, and with heavy rain, hundreds of natural waterfalls form and stream from the rocks among the range.”

Payne suggests the natural wonders looked very similar to this.

“The real highlight occurred after we turned around at the gate of Milford Sound,” he says. “The rain cleared, and the waterfalls became rainbows that surrounded us everywhere. I don’t think I’ve seen anything that made me feel more like there might just be a higher power out there.”

 

The air up there in Australia and New Zealand

We’re not going to lie. The flight from the United States to New Zealand is loooooooooong, but it might not seem that way when you fly Air New Zealand. You have four seating options, and the service in each section is impeccable. Even in Economy, you still have 150 movies and 800 TV channels to entertain you, but if work is paramount, then most seats have a USB connection and every row a shared in-seat power connection.

Other soothing accommodations include:

– Economy Skycouch, which easily convert into a flat surface for relaxation or playtime

– Premium Economy, which offers larger, leather seats; fresh meals with premium Kiwi wines; complimentary amenities, premium headphones and more

– Business premier cabins, which include leather, lie-flat beds; gourmet meals with Kiwi wines; 11” HD capacitive touch screens, in-seat power and USB port; premium check-in, on-board amenity kits, premium headphones and a courtesy lounge entry.

“Air New Zealand has been one of my favorite flights in recent years. The service was tremendous, the inflight entertainment was great, and the economy seats were extremely comfortable. It’s rare that I talk about the flight to a destination when someone asks me how a vacation was, but in talking about NZ, I always mention the airline experience before talking about the vacation itself. Which, by the way, the country was equally impressive.— Jim Tedesco, Director of Artworks

Find your zeal for Australia and New Zealand with trips from Air New Zealand and Worldwide Traveler. Contact your local travel agent and ask for a Worldwide Traveler package!