Oceania travel guide
Oceania may be the world’s smallest continent, but is perhaps also the most diverse. Huge swathes of arid desert contrast with fertile rainforests, coral reefs, and rich wildlife, while unspoiled natural beauty is matched by man-made splendour.
Experience the underwater natural wonder of the fertile Great Barrier Reef, before you marvel at the feat of human design that is the Sydney Opera House. See New Zealand’s glacial mountains tower over you, and then view Auckland from atop the city’s Sky Tower.
Whether you want to take an adventurous road trip around Australia, enjoy a relaxing desert island getaway in Fiji, experience a hiking holiday around New Zealand, or try snorkelling around the Solomon Islands, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Oceania.
The majority of Oceania enjoys a pleasant, warm climate throughout the year: winters are generally mild, and summers are hot, making the continent a great place to enjoy a spot of sunshine during any season. Obviously though, the precise climate will vary depending on which area of the continent you’re visiting.
Australia and New Zealand bask in the heat of summer from December to February, when skies are clear, and temperatures range between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. This makes both countries ideal holiday destinations for Europeans who want to escape the winter blues. However, this period is also peak season, when flights and accommodation can be expensive. A good way to grab a bargain holiday is to visit just outside this season, in November or March, when temperatures are still pleasant, but the rush of holidaymakers has died down.
The South Pacific islands, such as French Polynesia, Samoa, and Fiji, also enjoy a hot, tropical climate all year round. The rainy season, from December to March, is best avoided, as this is when the islands experience high levels of rainfall, and even cyclones. The dry season, from May to October, is a much better time to visit, when you can enjoy clear skies, little rainfall, and high temperatures that are tempered by the fresh sea breeze.
Although Oceania is a small continent, much of it is spread out across vast swathes of the Pacific Ocean. This means that unless you’re taking an ocean cruise, or perhaps have your own private yacht, flying the easiest way to travel from country to country. Sun Air is the main flight carrier in Fiji, Air Rarotonga caters for flights to and from the Cook Islands, and Air Niugini is Papua New Guinea’s airline.
Even within countries, cities are often separated by miles of wilderness, which makes domestic flights a popular transport choice. Qantas airlines serve most cities in Australia and New Zealand, while Samoa’s Inter-Island Airways flies between Pago Pago and the Manu'a Islands. Domestic flights are not as expensive as you might expect, and you can pick up a one way ticket for around £50.
If you don’t mind spending a day or more travelling, coaches are another option for long-distance travel within Oceania’s nations. The vehicles are comfortable, the timetables are generally reliable, and you can pick up a ticket from around £35. Intercity Coachlines are the principal coach company in New Zealand and, Greyhound run most coach routes in Australia.
If you want to explore the continent at your own pace, car hire is a good way to travel within countries. In most cities, you’ll be able to find cheap deals, which include insurance. However, if you plan to travel a considerable distance, ensure that you carry extra water and petrol and, if you can, let someone know the route that you are taking and the time that you expect to arrive.
Any visit to Australia would not be complete without exploring the Great Barrier Reef — the largest coral reef system on earth. Stretching approximately 2300km along the coast of northeastern Australia, from Bundaberg to Cape York, this spectacular natural wonder is home to approximately 400 different types of coral and 1500 different species of fish. Take a scuba diving tour of the reef to experience this underwater cornucopia for yourself.
Also worthy of a place in your Australian holiday itinerary, is a visit to the iconic Sydney Opera House. This modern architectural marvel is one of the busiest performing arts centres in the world. Come here to take the Front of House and Backstage tours, see the breathtaking views of Sydney harbour, and appreciate why 4.5 million tourists visit the site every year.
If you’re in New Zealand, be sure to travel up the country’s tallest building: the 328m Sky Tower, which dominates Auckland’s skyline. Simply take in the stunning panoramic views of the city from the observation level or, if you’re a real adrenaline junkie, put on your harness, and take part in an organised 192 metre arrested freefall off the tower, where you will reach speeds of 85kph!
Also worth a visit, is New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, which covers over 3 million acres, of ice, forests, mountains and waterfalls. Come here to see Milford Sound, the largest glacier-carved fiord in the country, and enjoy hiking, kayaking, diving, and sailing around the breathtakingly beautiful landscape.
If you’re holidaying in Tahiti, the Musée Gauguin is an ideal place to soak up some culture. Dedicated to the French artist who lived in the island’s, Mataiea district from 1891 to 1893, the museum owns several of Gauguin’s sculptures, woodcarvings, and engravings, and has a programme to borrow his major works.
One of the most visited sites in Guam is Two Lovers Point: the site of an ancient Chamorro legend about star-crossed love. There’s a gilded statue of the lovers sitting on a pedestal, on top of a 125 metre limestone cliff, where tourists come to overlook the shimmering sea, and immerse themselves in the romance of the site.
If you’re in the Cook Islands, head to the Beachcomber Gallery, which houses a collection of local arts, crafts and jewelry, which are all for sale.
When in Fiji, be sure to experience a meke – a traditional Fijian party, where locals dance to the beat of the lali drum. Island visitors are often welcomed to holiday resorts with a meke, with women dancing with fans, and men with spears.
The National Park of American Samoa is definitely worth a visit. Stretched out over 8,000 acres of land, and four volcanic islands, the park is home to miles of white sandy shores, fertile coral reefs, and a paleotropical rainforest. Come here to see fruit bats, flying foxes, and frigatebirds in their natural habitat
- Adelaide Airport (ADL)
- Melbourne Tullamarine International (MEL)
- Perth Airport (PER)
- Sydney Airport (SYD)
- Rarotonga Airport (RAR)
- Nadi International Airport (NAN)
- Guam International Airport (GUM)
- Auckland International Airport (AKL)Sydney Airport (SYD)
- Christchurch International Airport (CHC)
- Wellington International Airport (WLG)
- Pago Pago International Airport (PPG)