Australasia is the term coined to describe Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands (Oceania). Geographically this region also includes a few of the Indonesian islands closest to mainland Australia, although due to the clear political ties for the purposes of this guide all parts of Indonesia have been classed as South East Asia. It is interesting to note though just how close the northern parts of Australia are to South East Asia; in fact Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Indonesia are all closer to Australia than New Zealand is.
In recent years this region has become hugely popular with international travellers with many choosing to take advantage of the Working Holiday Visa which allows travellers aged between 18 and 30 (from 19 participating countries) to spend a year living and working in Australia. New Zealand has a similar programme which allows travellers to spend up to 23 months living and working in New Zealand.
As one of the largest countries in the world (by area), Australia's huge landmass boasts a number of very different environments ranging from tropical jungles in the north, to desert in the centre and temperate coastal areas where the majority of the population lives. Most people associate Australia with hot weather, and while there is certainly some truth in this many would be surprised to learn that there is excellent skiing most winters in the Great Dividing Range between Melbourne and Sydney.
Favourites with travellers to Australia include the cosmopolitan cities of Melbourne and Sydney, the well worn backpacker trail along the stunning east coast; home the Great Barrier Reef, tropical islands, and the world's largest sand island. For others a trip down under is not complete without heading out into the awe inspiring Red Centre to visit Uluru (Ayres Rock), Kings Canyon and Kata Tjuta.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand is larger by area than the UK, but with a population of around 4 million has a low population density. The country is well known for its spectacular landscape and inventive ways in which the locals make use of the rugged environment. Bungee jumping, jet boating and Zorbing are all kiwi inventions!
New Zealand's stunning landscape varies from the temperate rain forest, sandy beaches and volatile volcanic geysers of the North Island to the South Island with its rugged fiords and glaciers in the in snow capped Southern Alps. In many ways all New Zealanders Maoris or those of European origin are immigrants with the Maoris only arriving in the last 1500 years New Zealand was the last major land mass to be inhabited other than its neighbour Antarctica. This may account for the travelling instinct so commonly found among Kiwi's as well as the warm welcome and excellent backpacker infrastructure found by overseas visitors.
Air New Zealand is the national carrier has been voted to be in the top 10 airlines in the world. They also have a particularly good network covering the South Pacific, an area commonly visited by international travellers who are visiting Australia and New Zealand. The most popular stop in the South Pacific is Fiji which is a permitted stop on a round the world ticket with both Qantas and Air New Zealand. For those who want to try other islands, the Air New Zealand round the world ticket offers 4 alternative stops in the South Pacific. Virgin Blue also has flights to a number of Pacific Islands from both Australia and New Zealand.
Last Edit by Site Administrators on 27/02/2010 EDIT NOW >>