POPULAR DESTINATIONS- PACIFIC

Australia

Sydney, capital of New South Wales and one of Australia's largest cities, is best known for its harbourfront Sydney Opera House, with a distinctive sail-like design.

Massive Darling Harbour and the smaller Circular Quay port are hubs of waterside life, with the arched Harbour Bridge and esteemed Royal Botanic Garden nearby. Sydney Tower’s outdoor platform, the Skywalk, offers 360-degree views of the city and suburbs.

Sydney Aquarium, Taronga Zoo and Wildlife Sydney Zoo shelter animals like koalas, kangaroos, sharks and snakes. Pyrmont’s Sydney Fish Market has a working seafood auction and restaurants serving the day’s catch.

There are multicultural dining opportunities all over the city, including in Haymarket’s Chinatown and the restaurants serving the Italian community in Leichhardt. A ferry ride through the harbour is part of the experience in visiting outer Sydney destinations such as Bondi and Manly Beaches – both popular for surfing.

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Melbourne

Melbourne is the coastal capital of the southeastern Australian state of Victoria. At the city's centre is the modern Federation Square development, with plazas, bars, and restaurants by the Yarra River.

In the Southbank area, the Melbourne Arts Precinct is the site of Arts Centre Melbourne – a performing arts complex – and the National Gallery of Victoria, with Australian and indigenous art. Melbourne Museum and the Royal Exhibition Building explore city history and culture.

The Immigration Museum and the Chinese Museum provide differing cultural perspectives on local settlement, while Old Melbourne Gaol offers insight into 19th-century prison life. A major shopping destination is Queen Victoria Market, a Victorian-era building with food stalls.

The city’s 19th-century "laneways" and shopping arcades are lined with cafes, galleries and boutiques. The riverside Royal Botanic Gardens shelter 10,000-plus plant species, and Yarra Park is home to the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

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The Gold Coast

The Gold Coast Coast is a metropolitan region south of Brisbane on Australia’s east coast. It's famed for its long sandy beaches, surfing spots and elaborate system of inland canals and waterways.

It’s also home to theme parks such as Dreamworld, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild. Inland, hiking trails crisscross Lamington National Park’s mountain ridges and valleys, home to rare birds and rainforest. The Q1 building with its SkyPoint observation deck towers over Surfers Paradise beach, which has a vibrant nightlife scene, a beachfront market and casinos.

Main Beach’s shops and restaurants lie along Tedder Avenue. Hotels line the canal system, which has its own inland beaches, such as Budds Beach. Surf breaks such as Snapper Rocks and Burleigh Heads are among the most popular in the country. The David Fleay Wildlife Park protects emus, kangaroos and koalas.

Other natural areas include Tamborine National Park, with waterfalls and trails, and Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, an eco-park with an elevated boardwalk through the trees

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Fraser Island

Fraser Island, off Australia’s eastern Queensland coast, is the world's largest sand island, stretching over 120km. Panoramic viewpoints include Indian Head, a rocky outcrop on the island's easternmost tip, and the Cathedrals, a cliff famous for sculpted ribbons of coloured sand.

It's a camping and ecotourism destination, with beaches and swimming sites at Lake McKenzie, Lake Wabby and other freshwater pools.

Ocean swimming is inadvisable due to strong currents and sharks, but it's possible to splash around in the Champagne Pools, pockets of sandy beach protected from the surf by rocks. Boardwalks along eastern Eli Creek and Wanggoolba Creek invite short strolls, while the 90km Fraser Island Great Walk winds through rainforest, eucalyptus stands and mangrove habitat.

Saltwater fishing is the draw along 75 Mile Beach, where 4WD Jeeps cruise between prime spots. Whale-watching boats offer outings in sheltered Hervey Bay.

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Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island is the largest inhabited island of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, Australia. It is positioned approximately 887 kilometres north of Brisbane and 512 kilometres south of Cairns.

It is also the only island in the Great Barrier Reef with its own commercial airport, with short direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns. Like most in the Whitsunday group, Hamilton Island, was formed as sea levels rose which created numerous drowned mountains that are situated close to the east coast of Queensland.

At the 2011 Australian Census, the island recorded a population of 1,208 people. Hamilton Island is a popular tourist destination all year round.

In late August, the island plays host to its annual Hamilton Island Race Week yachting festival, in which more than 250 yachts from across Australia and New Zealand gather for a week of races around the Whitsunday islands.

This is only one of many events hosted on the island. Hamilton Island has won multiple awards including the Australian Traveller 'Most Desirable Island Escape' Award in 2015.

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Fiji

Fiji Sun-drenched beaches, turquoise lagoons, swaying palm trees – Fiji supplies all the classic images of paradise. No wonder, then, that every year thousands of travellers come to this South Pacific archipelago for the ultimate island escape.

With over three hundred islands to choose from, Fiji is an amazingly versatile destination. Whether you’re after a luxury honeymoon retreat, a lively backpacker island or a family-friendly resort you won’t be disappointed. You’ll also find a warm, hospitable people, an intriguing blend of Melanesians, Polynesians and Indians.

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New Zealand

Auckland, based around 2 large harbours, is a major city in the north of New Zealand’s North Island. In the centre, the iconic Sky Tower has views of Viaduct Harbour, which is full of superyachts and lined with bars and cafes. Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park, is based around an extinct volcano and home to the formal Wintergardens. Near Downtown, Mission Bay Beach has a seaside promenade.

The island nation’s Maori and Polynesian history is explored at Auckland Museum, and Otara’s Polynesian market in South Auckland sells local foods and crafts.

The Ponsonby area's hip boutiques, and the international designer stores along Nuffield Street offer more shopping options. At the Toi o Tāmaki art gallery, more than 10,000 Kiwi and European works from the 14th century to the present are on display. Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium has a penguin colony exhibit and offers the chance to snorkel or dive with sharks.

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Queenstown

Queenstown, New Zealand, sits on the shores of the South Island’s Lake Wakatipu, set against the dramatic Southern Alps. Renowned for adventure sports, it’s also a base for exploring the region’s vineyards and historic mining towns.

There's bungee jumping off Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge and jet-boating on the Shotover and Dart rivers. In winter, there's skiing on the slopes of The Remarkables and Coronet Peak.

The Skyline Gondola carries passengers to Bob’s Peak for views of the mountains and Lake Wakatipu. The Queenstown Trail is a cycle path following lakes, rivers and vineyards, while the Routeburn Track is a high mountain hike heading into the glacial landscapes of Fiordland. In Queenstown, visitors cruise the lake aboard the coal-fired TSS Earnslaw steamship, or take scenic helicopter flights.

In nearby Arrowtown, the Lakes District Museum examines the region's 19th-century gold rush. Excursions from Queenstown also include the 300km road trip to Milford Sound, a steep-sided fjord with boat cruises and kayaking.

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Christchurch

Christchurch, known for its English heritage, is located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Flat-bottomed punts glide on the Avon River, which meanders through the city centre.

On its banks are cycling paths, the green expanse of Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens. In 2010 and 2011, earthquakes destroyed many of the historic centre's stone-built buildings.

Christchurch’s "Cardboard Cathedral,” named after one of its primary construction materials, is a temporary stand-in for the former neo-Gothic edifice. Stores and cafes inhabit shipping containers at the Re:START retail complex. Canterbury Museum, telling the story of the city, also has Maori and Antarctic exploration collections.

Christchurch Gondola travels up Mt. Cavendish for panoramic views of the city, the Canterbury Plains and the Southern Alps. Christchurch is a gateway for dolphin-spotting in the Banks Peninsula's Akaroa Harbour, skiing at Mt. Hutt and scenic TranzAlpine railway trips through the Southern Alps.

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Waitomo Caves

The Waitomo Caves is a village and solutional cave system forming a major tourist attraction in the northern King Country region of the North Island of New Zealand, 12 kilometres northwest of Te Kuiti.

The community of Waitomo Caves itself is very small, though the village has many temporary service workers living there as well. The word Waitomo comes from the Māori language wai meaning water and tomo meaning a doline or sinkhole; it can thus be translated to be water passing through a hole. The caves are formed in Oligocene limestone

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