Australian Heritage Hotel and Pylon Lookout

On Tuesday 27 February we had some great activities planned for us. Our first stop was lunch at the Australian Heritage Hotel. I must admit, the name didn't ring a bell at first but it turned out to be the oldest pub in Sydney! It's not just the oldest pub in town but the Australian Heritage Hotel is also known for its typical Australian cuisine.

Upon arrival we could immediately tell the charm the pub had. They have a wide range of great Australian beers and offer different types of Australian food. We ordered a couple of different pizzas to share with each other. We had some pizzas with emu, kangaroo, crocodile, duck… you name it.  The pub also has quite a few options for vegetarians, vegans or for people who aren't ready to try the Australian wildlife yet![/vc_column_text]


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With our bellies full, we took a short walk to the location of our next activity being the Pylon lookout. When we arrived, we started off with a video that showed us how the Harbour Bridge was made (a bit of a history lesson really puts things in perspective). After that, we climbed the 200 stairs to get to the top where our guide told us other stories about the bridge.

The view at the Pylon lookout was literally amazing (Such an amazing spot to see the city from). It’s one of the prettiest things I’ve ever seen. You have a great view of Sydney Harbour, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera house. It really gives you the chance to take some great photos and enjoy the amazing harbour city from high above.



The Pylon lookout also has a museum where you can see a collection of displays and objects such as pictures from the early days of the bridge to the pair of scissors that were used for the opening of the Harbour Bridge.

I would definitely recommend doing this if you would like to have an view of Sydney Harbour and it’s surroundings and if you’re a real history buff!


Making The Most Of The Summer On A Budget

With its vibrant culture, natural beauty and laid-back atmosphere, Sydney is one of Australia’s most popular summer destinations. Although Sydney isn’t known for being particularly budget-friendly, there are plenty of ways to make your dollars go further in Sydney this summer.

Beaches and coastal walks

Summertime in Sydney is almost synonymous with beaches. Bondi, Manly, Dee Why, Coogee, Bronte and Watson’s Bay are just a few places worth visiting – and they won’t cost you a cent. For those who are happy to spend a few hours exploring the coastline, the Bondi to Coogee walk and the Spit to Manly walk consistently rank among visitors’ favourite things to do in Sydney.

Public transport

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If you’re planning to use public transport in Sydney, pick up an Opal card when you arrive. After adding credit, you’ll enjoy cheaper public transport fares, a daily travel cap ($15.40 at the time of writing), and unlimited travel for just $2.60 on Sundays. That’s right – you can ride all the buses, trains, ferries and trams you like for the fixed price of $2.60. By contrast, a return ferry ride between Circular Quay and Manly (which is easily the most cost-effective way to cruise Sydney Harbour) can cost more than $15 on a weekday.

Free walking tours

Learn all about Sydney on a free walking tour of the city. Organisations such as I’m Free Walking Tours and Sydney Greeters are a fantastic way to learn about the city’s top attractions, local gems, and historical points of interest. Join a guided tour around the CBD, or sign up a tour of The Rocks for a glimpse into Sydney’s checkered past. Institutions such as the Royal Botanic Garden also provide volunteer-run tours every day; remember to check official websites for information on guided walks and other free activities.

Budget-friendly events and festivals

Sydney’s cultural calendar is a huge part of what makes this city so exciting. Throughout summer, Sydney hosts a wide range of cheap and free events to suit a variety of interests. Some of these include:

  • Newtown Festival: One of Sydney’s favourite community festivals. Expect a whole day of food and market stalls, discussion panels, colourful characters, and fantastic live music – all for a $5 donation.
  • Free movie screenings: Throughout summer, Sydneysiders are spoilt with a number of free, open-air cinemas. Popular events include Movies in the Park (Strathfield), Movies in the Graveyard (Newtown), Movies by the Boulevard (Sydney Olympic Park) and Tropfest, the largest short film festival in the world.
  • Mardi Gras Fair Day: A colourful festival of food, dancing, markets and live music, all celebrating love and diversity.
  • Carols in the Domain & Opera in the Domain: These open-air concerts draw thousands of people to the grassy expanse of The Domain. Bring a picnic and enjoy an evening of free, world-class entertainment.

Find out what’s on in Sydney during Summer and all year round here.

Rooftop bars

Sydney is a beautiful city for rooftop drinks, and summer is when you can see Sydney’s skyline in its best possible light. Popular rooftop bars include Coogee Pavilion (Coogee), the Glenmore Hotel (The Rocks), The Taphouse (Darlinghurst), Websters Bar (Newtown), Hotel Sweeney’s (CBD), The Light Brigade (Woollahra), the East Village Hotel (Darlinghurst), and the Pool Club (yes, it has an actual pool) located on top of the Ivy complex. Since most of these are relaxed venues with no cover charge, you can soak up their stunning views and atmosphere without blowing your budget.


Blue Mountains & Wildlife Park day trip

The Blue Mountains. One of the most legendary places you need to see when you're travelling Australia.

As the new intern at the Work and Travel Company I have already had the chance to visit the Blue Mountains on my second day of work. I repeat: second day! You wouldn't believe how excited I was!

I had to be at the meeting point at 7:20am, which means I had to get up pretty early. Despite having a sleepy head, I immediately met some other travellers who were going on the same trip. The day already started off well, since the tour guide was entertaining everyone on the bus with loads of enthusiasm.

After a  40 minute ride, we already arrived at our first stop: Featherdale Wildlife Park. Truly amazing if you're into wild animals, Koalas, kangaroos, crocodiles… the park has it all. I was already really excited about seeing them, so can you imagine how excited I was when I heard I could feed them? Yes, very excited! That's something I can tick of my bucket list as well.

Around noon we arrived at the Blue Mountains. It was very cloudy at first so we couldn’t actually see the Three Sisters. Despite the clouds and the cold weather, the guide still managed to entertain us. He even showed us a spot where tourists don’t find out about unless someone has told them about, this being the Katoomba Falls. They were literally so pretty! Definitely a big plus to this trip, thanks to our awesome tour guide!

After the Katoomba Falls, it was time to take our 45 minutes walk through the mountains. The clouds were gone by now so we were finally able to see the Three Sisters. Yay! They were so stunning. Seeing them in photos just don’t do them justice,  if you really want to know what it’s like seeing them in real life, you’ll have to visit Australia to really appreciate the beauty of the place for  yourself.

I’m so glad I could go to the Blue Mountains during my first week and see some kangaroos, and koalas as well. It was a real amazing experience. So, if you’re still doubting whether you should go or not, then stop! You should!


Surf Camp Experience

What do people do in Australia? Surfing, of course.

The Work and Travel Company gave me the chance to participate in one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life: Surf Camp Australia.

Excitement level was so high the night before, I couldn't sleep properly.

Get up Joana, you have a bus to catch, I told myself in the morning.

I arrived at the pick up area, and what did I see around me? Lots of Backpackers - of course, a few young couples, a 42 year old man who decided to leave his old life for a new adventure, and a dad with his daughter spending their holiday together. It's amazing how we all felt so connected through our excitement to learn how to surf and adventure, given many of us were strangers to each other a few hours ago and for some of us, we  got to know each other just a few days before hand.

The trip up to Surf Camp was uncomplicated and quick and once we arrived at the camp, it was immediate that we were going to have a great time. The vibe was just amazing!

After a brief introduction, everybody took their own place in their cabin, got fitted for our wet suits and headed out to the beach for our first lesson.

The cabins itself were very clean and comfortable and they're all placed in a circular formation facing the common area, giving a sense of small community. All the staff and the instructors are amazing! They made sure everybody stayed safe in the water and they were very helpful and patient with us no matter what our skill level or surfing experience was. You could see straight away they had passion for the their job, but not only that, it was obvious that they weren't new at this either.

Surf lessons are divided in two parts: theory and practice. We learn about how to identify good surfing conditions like waves, wind and the tide. The instructors made sure we practiced the tactical moves like standing up on the board first on the ground and then in the water.
After the afternoon class, dinner was served (the food was soooo delicious and plentiful), after dinner that night we just chilled for a bit and enjoyed each others company. Music played in the background and it didn’t take long to animate the group.

There are lots of things to do while we had some downtime to reflect on the day that was. When I looked around there were people playing cards and board games, people singing and people laughing. The atmosphere was at camp was insane. I couldn't have asked to be doing this with a better bunch of people. But one thing was for sure, it felt like we were a world away from everything, we all just felt at ease, there was a sense of calmness, peace and freedom.

If you get the chance I highly recommend sitting on the beach at night time, our group witnessed the most beautiful starry sky I had ever seen in my life, it was just something else!

Seven Mile Beach is outrageously beautiful and it is mostly reserved for the surf camp people.

If you ever wanted to learn to surf this is the only way. I had a chat with the 42 year-old man and he told me he didn’t know how comfortable he would feel being around 20 year old backpackers. Not only was it not an issue, he was appreciated for being an older person within the group. More importantly, he and we all could surf within three days. Literally. We could stand up on our surfboards and catch some good waves from day 2. I loved it.

Whether you are from overseas or a local, do yourself a favour and DO IT! Go to Surf Camp Australia and learn to surf!


written by Joana Nucci


The most Aussie terms ever

Landing in a new country has always meant finding plenty of surprises but I would have never expected to be awed by a completely new use of the English language.

The Australian version of the English is a rich tapestry, full of colourful words and phrases which have obvious meanings to the locals, but are basically incomprehensible to anyone else. To make things easier for visitors and backpackers trying to understand what everyone is talking about, I spent a weekend with a true Aussie person and here is a list of some fully Aussiest of Aussie phrases.

1) GO OFF LIKE A FROG IN A SOCK (when a party is going off)

A mysterious phrase meaning that something - a party, for example- is particularly entertaining and vibrant. Though it’s hard to trace its origins precisely, you have to imagine that at some point, some curious little Aussie put an actual frog in an actual sock, and those who witnessed it were all in agreement that it “went off”

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2) HAVE A SQUIZ

To take a look at something. Sounds perfectly natural to Australians but to everyone else it kind of sounds like you need to urinate.

3) PULL YA HEAD IN

In Australian culture, one must never overstep  one’s boundaries. A footballer, for example, who decides to express a political opinion will be told to “pull his head in” by everybody. The concern is obviously that, like a tortoise which extends its neck too far, the footballer is exposing himself to being attacked and killed by a wily predator.

4) TA

In the rest of the world “ Ta” is taught to babies because “thank you” is too difficult to say. In Australia adult people use “ta” because “thank you” is too long to say.

5) SWEET AS

Meaning “ that is very good news” or “ I am happy with that”. This expression tantalisingly declines to reveal the end of the sentence; sweet as what?! It is fun to imagine how people could finish it.

6) YEAH, NAH

Probably the most beautiful expression in the Australian dictionary. No two words placed together in the English language can convey such a depth of meaning. A real translation would take thousands of pages of text, but trying to briefly explain “yeah, nah” can be used for everything and nothing at the same time. We should translate it as the common “ whatever”

7) RIGHTO

Righto is a simple- looking word that contains a complex set of meanings. In this case, it is mostly dependent on how it is delivered. Find some variations of this expression below:

Righto: OK

Righto: Enough of this, let’s get going.

Righto: Easy! Easy! Farken ease up, turbo.

 

And more and more that came across random conversations..

8) HE WAS SPEWIN’!  = very unhappy/agitated

9) AS MAD AS A CUT SNAKE = very angry

10) WHAT A STINKER OF A DAY! = It’s a hot day

11) SHE’LL BE RIGHT = it will be ok ( reflective of their supposed generally relaxed attitude)

12) IT’S GONE WALKABOUT = it’s lost, can’t be found

13) FLAT OUT LIKE A LIZARD DRINKIN’ = very busy

14) WE’RE UP THE CREEK! = in trouble

15) BOG IN AND HAVE SOME TUCKER = let’s eat.

16) I RECKON = yes, absolutely!

This all sounds wierd, right? But as the first step to become local is starting to swallow their language and slang, let’s start to familiarize with these terms! Once you got them, you can start explore this unique country.


Things not to forget when visiting Australia

The land of Sun, sand, surf and bronzed skin and not shrimps but prawns on the barbee. Travelling through Australia and seeing all its beauty in the different types of conditions is hard. But for today's traveller making sure you leave home with these essentials will definitely set you up for an awesome vacation. Here are our Top things not to forget when visiting Australia. 

Thongs
You might know them as jandals or flip flops and in some parts of the world thongs are a completely different type of clothing, but in Australia the footwear normally worn on those super casual days are referred to as thongs. Given the Australian climate and especially during the Summer you'll need these and even happily swap them over your super comfy pair of Jordans for that extra air flow[/vc_column_text]

Phone, Camera and Chargers
This is probably a given and let’s face it, we’d probably notice not having our phone in our pocket or bag before we noticed that we forgot to feed the dog, closed the garage door, wear the wedding ring, even forgetting to grab the kids, but you’ll still be surprised how often travellers forget to pack their phone, camera or charger and in some instances all three. Travelling through Australia and seeing all the amazing architecture, buildings and monuments setback on the most amazing natural backdrops it would be a shame not to be able to capture those experiences as a photo or video. Let’s  face it, forgetting ones phone might be up there with one of the biggest travel sins if not the biggest travel sin you can commit. Image all the instagram, snapchat, facebook and twitter opportunities you’ll be missing out on to make those friends and family envious of your adventures. Oh, and let’s not forget telling the rest of the world how awesome your life is.

Laptop
Forgetting your laptop isn’t going to break or make your trip to Australia, but certainly will make things easier. Take advantage of the free wifi at the hostel or hotel and the other various hotspots in the major cities, catch up on the local news back home, catch up on social media, contact friends and family on Skype, email, research the next bit of travelling you want to do and most importantly have a place to store all the wicked photos and videos you took throughout the day to clear up memory space on your memory card.

Appropriate clothing
It’s Australia, but don’t let the images of sun, surf and sand fool you. In most parts it’s TRUE. We have some if not THE best beaches and surf breaks in the world. But don’t forget to pack some winter apparel, especially for the colder months  and especially if you plan on heading down south to Melbourne, Hobart or Adelaide for some period. Even Sydney can be on the colder side during the winter. As a general note we experience the following weather during these months (more related to the East Coast and Southern Autralia)

December  to February – Summer
March to May – Autumn
June to August – Winter
September to November – Spring

Western Australia, Northern Territory, Northern Queensland and Central Australia (Alice Springs) are much more warmer and are much warmer throughout the year.

So packing some warmer gear from May to September would be generally a good idea but nothing like the winters our friends in Eastern Europe, UK and North America experience.

Don’t forget to pack your swimmers either, that would be travel sin #2 visiting Australia

Extra memory card for the camera
We mentioned transferring your photos onto your laptop to clear up space, but if you don’t want to lug around a laptop, then getting an extra memory card is the other option. With the evolution of technology and the “cloud” it would be also smart to create a cloud storage account to save your photos and videos over to (most are FREE for limited space BOOM!). This is super helpful as a back up storage facility also.

Cash
Now this sounds sooooo obvious but you’ll be surprised how many people forget. It’s not all that necessary for cash as soon as you arrive in Australia, but it is good to have a small sum to get you started as soon as you land. Not a big necessity but a good to have. It also helps to understand how far your budget can stretch when you’re actually spending physical cash rather than money on card to get a feel for the costs associated with travelling through Australia.

Notifying the Bank and Credit Card Company
Again pretty obvious but again you don’t want to know how many people get their credit cards frozen because people forget to notify their bank and credit card company (I won’t lie, I’ve been guilty of this myself, and trust me it’s not the biggest highlight of my life. I was at at a bar, buying a round of drinks when my card go declined and didn’t go through, not because I didn’t have the funds, but because the bank froze the card thinking it was stolen and being used in another country as I didn’t notify them – super embarrassing). Save yourself the embarrassment from mine and countless others mistake and notify the bank you are travelling. It will save you a world of pain, and a long time on hold with the bank to have your card unfrozen.

Most of all enjoy everything amazing Australia has to offer!

Learn more about how you can work and travel in Australia https://www.worktravelcompany.com/programs/work-and-travel-australia/ 

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J-1 Visa Changes May Be In The Near Future

Things are changing.

 

It's in the news. The media can't stop talking about it. It's got a lot of people asking questions. So what is it?

It's President Trump.

Love him or hate him, but he's following through on his promises to change immigration to the USA - and unfortunately, one of these promises is to end the J-1 visa program.

No change has been made as of yet that affects Australians or New Zealanders hoping to work and travel on the J-1 visa, but there is reason to believe that changes may be coming in the near future. During his campaign for election, now-President Trump expressed on multiple occasions his intentions to terminate the J-1 visa program. Given his recent policy changes to immigration, many sources believe that the J-1 program could be one of the next affected by these policy changes.

 

What can you do about it?

 

Not much, except act fast. If you are thinking about spending a year working and travelling in the USA, get in touch with us NOW - it may be your only chance to lock in a J-1 visa before the program is affected by changing legislation.

For the moment, this is still speculation and proactive measures - but things can change in an instant. As soon as more information becomes available, we will be sure to update this post.

 

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Hump Day - Camels, Dolphins, and Whales, Oh My!

Wednesday. Middle of the week. Get over the “hump”. The weekend's getting closer - life's getting better.

So why be down? Let's make the best out of this day! You're in Australia, and there’s so much to do every day - Wednesday is no exception! You might as well make this hump something fun and exciting - and what better way to do it than explore the real life humps of Australia?

I'm Sofie and my first blog post is about my daytrip to Port Stephens, where it is indeed possible to explore some real humps: riding camels and watching humpback whales!

Port Stephens is a large natural harbour located 160 kilometres north east from Sydney. It might be a bit tricky (and a long way) to get there on your own (four and a half hours by train and bus). So I went with Colourful Trips and cruised up on a comfy bus instead. The ride up is two and a half hours, and you're guaranteed to get an eye-full of nature to look at along the way - win!

Before lunch we stopped at Birubi Beach; what a special place! On one side there are sand dunes as far as your eye can see, and on the other a lovely beach! It’s a perfect way to start your adventure to Port Stephens. And yes, you get to explore the dunes. You can do sand boarding, camel riding, horseback riding and 4W drive or just walk around; it’s up to you, but camel riding was a personal must for me. We were met by these big animals in the middle of the sand dunes. The trainer told them to lie down; and they did. We climbed on, and when the camels got up it was almost like riding a rollercoaster. If you're ready to let your inner child run free, sand boarding is crazy fun too.

14628215_10153825358280933_10227381_nAfter all the excitement in Birubi, we drove on to Nelson Bay to get some lunch, and when we got there we were met by the nicest seaport! Picture this: lunch in the sun with the beautiful, peaceful harbour as our backdrop, getting pumped for the big event of the day – Dolphin watching! You can pick Humpback whale watching if you prefer, but... dolphins!! I grabbed the best spot on the boat – right in front in the sun, and it didn’t take very long before we were surrounded by a herd of mother dolphins! In case you don't know, dolphins are super playful animals, and they were ready to put on a show. Needless to say, there was plenty to watch and everyone on the boat was really excited to be this close to this many dolphins.

14696759_10153825354930933_1582996264_nWe left the area with all the dolphins but some of them followed the boat, jumping and playing with the foam from the boat - adorable. When we finally “escaped” the dolphin herd, we just cruised along the beautiful beaches, admiring the crystal-clear turquoise water with the sun shining bright; what more could you ask for? When we got back to Nelson Bay Marina, we had to wait around a bit until the rest of the group was back from whale watching. It's a longer trip and a bit more expensive, but you see humpback whales - enough said. The high season ends in mid November, so if you want a chance to see these amazing animals you should go ASAP!

In the end, it was "mission successful", since it didn’t really feel like I had to get over any humps in order to get passed this Wednesday - my kind of Hump Day!  My recommendation: book in a trip for the next Wednesday, you won't regret it!


WTC Travel Stories - New Zealand

New Zealand is (seriously) the magical land under down under. You will find nature here that can't be found anywhere else. There's glaciers, blue lakes, and endless mountains (it's also the land of the hobbits). We just love this place and want to share the best of it, so here are the real-life travel experiences of our intern Josefin for your reading pleasure!  Check out her great photos too...

 

Auckland

Auckland is the largest and most populated city in New Zealand. It is located on the North Island, and is a good starting point before "the adventure begins". The city has a little bit of everything and you can combine beach-life with city-life pretty easily. There are a lot of restaurants, bars and also a nice harbour. The highest building in New Zealand is Auckland's Sky Tower, where you can go up to get a 360 degree view of the city. Auckland is built up on craters, which means that there are many beautiful hills, so it was a really beautiful way to see the best angle of Auckland.

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Bay of Islands 

At the top of the North Island is the Bay of Islands, which is a large area with around 150 little islands together. It's really a sub-tropical paradise where you can go whale-watching, swimming with dolphins, and fishing. We stopped in Paihia, located in the heart of the Bay of Islands. Here we went on a boat watching dolphins, which was absolutely fantastic. We also took a day trip to Cape Reinga, the most northern point of New Zealand, where we walked out to the lighthouse and the lookout. Furthest out at the tip is also the place where two oceans meet - The Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean in the east! We drove down a long, beautiful beach and to finish the day tour we went sand boarding. It was so much fun!

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Waitomo Caves

South of Auckland, under the green hills of Waitomo, you have this labyrinth of caves, sinkholes and underground rivers. The area's name comes from the Maori words wai (water) and tomo (hole). You can either take a day tour, or stay over for one night. On the tour, we first climb down in the caves, then we floated on a tube through the water rapid. The best thing about this was to see the glow worms on the walls and ceiling of the caves. It looks like a sky full of stars, it's incredible!

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Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in New Zealand, located in the central North Island. When we came to Tongariro we walked The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is one of the most popular day hikes in New Zealand. Tongariro's nature is a long range of volcanic mountains and the hike passes over active volcano Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom). A fun fact: Mount Ngauruhoe was used as a stand in for the fictional Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings movies. We decided to climb Mount Doom, but it was pretty difficult to do this, so I would recommend that you are a little bit experienced with this kind of mountain climb before having a go at it. Otherwise it was a really cool experience ;-)

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Picton

Picton was probably one of my favourites, despite it not being one of those places where many people stay; a lot of people just arrive here from Wellington to continue travelling down south, as it's just a small town on the north of the southern Island, nestled at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. A good way to see Marlborough Sounds is from the Wellington - Picton ferry. When we arrived we stayed at a "hippie" hostel, which was a cool place, and also really cheap.
One of the best activities here is to go out by boat in Marlborough Sounds and go swimming with dolphins! We went out with the boat early in the morning, and on the way we saw the beautiful scenery of the valley and animals like albatross and the (typical New Zealand) Hectors Dolphin, which is a smaller type with a round fin on the back and completely adorable! After that we got our swimsuits and rocked out to the place where all the big dolphins were. We jumped in the water and the tour guide asked us to make noises and sing, because that would attract the dolphins. Imagine a bunch of tourists splashing around and make funny noises in the water, it must have looked so ridiculous! When the dolphins finally found us, they were not shy at all. It's so cool when they swim under you and jump just beside you, just as curious and happy to see us as we are to see them. It was an amazing experience!

Another thing that Marlborough Sounds is well known for is the wine, with some of the world's best sauvignon blanc being grown here. In the afternoon (the same day as the dolphin tour) we went for a wine tour and visited the famous vineyards Cloudy Bay and Saint Claire. It was a good tour, and we got to taste some beautiful wines (best part). In the evening, we went on a night-walk in the forest around the valley, where we saw even more glow worms! This day was really one of the best days of my whole New Zealand trip, and it all happened in the small town of Picton.

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Nelson

Nelson is located by the water of Tasman Bay a little down south from Picton. The most common thing to do here is to explore the Abel Tasman National Park, which we did, of course. We took one of the coastal track walks, and had some lunch at the beach (where you also could take a dip in the beautiful clear water). We walked up to some of the lookouts, and ended the walk by a beach where we took a kayak to paddle back to where we started. It was a very pleasant hike and it wasn't so rough to walk (like Mount Doom...). We also got to hear a lot of history about Abel Tasman, which kept the walk extra interesting!

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Franz Josef Glacier

This is a real adventure place. It's located in the western part of the southern Island and the main thing to do here is climb the glacier. One reminder is to stay there for a couple of days because, when it's bad weather, the climb usually get's cancelled. We were lucky to finally go on our third and last day, after it's was cancelled two times already! We started by going up in a helicopter to reach the spot to start the climb. The helicopter ride was so cool! While up there you felt like a real wilderness adventurer, with full-on equipment like spike shoes and ice pick. It was a really cool experience to walk through all the ice caves and see the AMAZING views from the glacier. We also walked to see the bottom of the glacier on another day, and did some pretty fun horseback riding just outside Franz Josef. Don't miss this experience!

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Fox

Fox is a really small town just below Franz Josef. The thing you do here is to go see Lake Matheson, called "Mirror Lake". Not many people go all the way out here, but we wanted some more time to really explore the lake. We took a bike-ride early in the morning, when the the lake is really still (and actually looks like a mirror!) and went all around the lake. It was incredible to see the reflections from the mountains, which are New Zealand's highest peaks - Aoraki (Mount Cook) and Mount Tasman are just behind the lake!

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Queenstown

Queenstown is located in the mid-south of the southern island, and is the epicentre of adrenaline and partying. Here you have one of the worlds biggest bungy jumps - Nevis Bungyjump, a serious 134 metre drop!! It's also a good place to go skydiving but, unfortunately, we didn't do either of these things. Instead, we did something that was just as scary: hang-gliding! I have skydived before, but this was way scarier. We first took a bus on really bumpy and narrow roads up a mountain, and then basically jumped off the mountain cliff. It's terrifying at first, but everything is going slow when you're up there, so you have the time to calm down and take in the beautiful view.  Hint: Make sure to eat a Fergburger while you're in Queenstown; you can't miss the queue.

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The Roteburn Track

The Roteburn Track is located just north-west of Queenstown, and is arguably one of the world's most beautiful walking tracks. We took a 3-day hike, which you have to book early because the cabins that you stay in along the way get fully booked really fast. You'll need all the proper equipment like hiking clothes, sleeping bag, and food for a solid 3 days on the track. We stopped by 4 checkpoints, two being overnight stays, and two lunch breaks. Thankfully, there were toilets at every checkpoint and some had kitchen equipment too (the checkpoint, not the toilet, that would be weird...).  The first day we walked through the enchanted forest (!!) and the second day was up in the mountains, which were both pretty tough hikes. It pays off though, with amazing views over the mountains and the valley. It was totally worth going uphill for a while to see that :-) The third day was a hike down through the valley, and it was really beautiful. A fun thing here: it's really common to see the New Zealand Kaka, which is a parrot that lives in the forests of New Zealand and is super cute.

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Lake Tekapo

If you go by bus between Queenstown and Christchurch, along the way you can see Lake Tekapo. It's one of the bluest lakes in the world and it was amazing to see in person! You can also go horseback riding around the lake, which I definitely recommend.

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Kaikoura

The last stop on our journey was whale watching in Kaikoura.  Located off the north-west coast of the southern Island, it's very common to see sperm whales here - but, unfortunately, we didn't see any of them. One thing we did see was a load of seals, just lying around and relaxing on the cliffs. You could get really close to them if you wanted to, so we did!

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Want to experience it for yourself?  Our travel desk can help you plan the same kind of journey that Josefin experienced, just send us an email here!


Best Camping Spots in Australia

Van 1Camping in Australia is a must that everyone has to try. When you’re camping, you are able to see so many more places and wake up to completely unbeatable views, that you never would see if you stay at a hostel or a hotel. Australia has the most beautiful and varied nature, and to take a camper van or stay in a tent to some of the places here will change your view of this country completely. Why not wake up to a stunning view over dramatic mountains, a warm beach breeze or the sounds of birds in the rain forest?

We have listed the BEST camping spots in Australia right here for you. So if you’re out on the road, or are interested in going on a trip, you should definitely stop in at one of these incredible places!

Byron Bay – Hippie Holiday

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This small town is known for their amazing surf waves, hippie culture and good food. Here you can stay at one of the great camping spots and enjoy the laid back lifestyle. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find spots where camping is free, but it’s totally worth spending some money here. If you really want to go hippie you should stay at Arts Factory – a typical backpacker hostel that also has a camping ground. It’s located just 10 min walk from the beach and a really good budget alternative to some of the more “glamping” options. Another place is First Sun Holiday Park, a beachfront park in the heart of Byron. For a good view you can walk up to the Byron Bay Lighthouse and watch the sunset (or sunrise). It’s unforgettable!

 

Fraser Island – Sand, Lakes and Dingoes

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Fraser Island is located on the eastern Queensland coast, and is one of the biggest sand islands in the world. The best way of exploring the island is to go by a 4wd and drive around. The island offers you coloured sand cliffs, hikes through rainforests, meetings with native wildlife, whale-watching and swimming in freshwater lakes of all kind of different colours! The best way to stay is off course by camping, and you can choose from multiple spots to stay during the night.

 

Kangaroo Island – Meet the animals

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Photo Credit: Sam Ross via the hammock hombre

This island is Australia’s third largest and is located in South Australia, outside Adelaide. Here you’ll find some of Australia’s best kept wildlife, including Kangaroos, Emu, Penguins, and of course more Kangaroos! To reach the island you’ll have to go on the ferry from Cape Jervis. This place is fantastic for camping, with 6 great camping grounds around the Island. Three of those we really could recommend to stop by is Emu Bay, Vivonne Bay and the American River. Emu Bay is a small town west of the main town Kingscote. It’s a popular swimming beach, with white sand and beautiful blue water. It’s also one of the few beaches where vehicles are permitted. Vivonne Bay is located on the south coast of Kangaroo Island and is probably the most popular camping ground on the island. It has all the facilities you need and holds one of the best beaches in Australia. The last spot is American River, located northwest on the Island and a perfect place if you want to go fishing and explore the beautiful scenery around Pelican Lagoon.

 

Cape Tribulation – Where rainforest meets reef

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In Cape Tribulation you have the best opportunity to pretend to live in the jungle, and you’ll have a lot of different spots to go camping. You can either go by campervan (or pop a tent) for some of the campsites, or you can stay in some of the cool lodges in the Daintree forest to really get close to nature. Cape Tribulation is the perfect place to go on a crocodile river tour, take a rainforest walk or maybe sea kayaking. Here you have it all!

 

The Kimberley – Like nowhere else!

tzVmrqkThe Kimberley is the paradise of western Australia and the best way to explore the area is by camping. Here you find turquoise water, white sand, stunning lakes and endless outback. The best thing about it is that almost every campsite here is free, which means that you can choose wherever you want to stay, and you have much more freedom to explore this amazing place! Two really amazing spots should not be missed: The first one is Broome, by the coast. It’s the perfect place for sailing, fishing and to take a dip in the Indian Pacific. The other one is Purnululu National Park and Bungle Bungle Range, that is located in the eastern area of Kimberley. The nature here is quite spectacular, with beehive shaped sandstone towers and numerous secluded swimming holes that will blow your mind. The Aboriginal people have been living in the area for over 20,000 years, so you’ll also find a lot of historical rock art. Western Australia is a truly undiscovered pearl that’s perfect for camping in the wild.

 

Ayers Rock/Uluru – Sleep under the stars

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To camp in the outback of central Australia is really something you should put on your bucketlist. Ayers Rock or Uluru is a must see if you go here, and to camp there can be a bit more expensive but so worth it. Imagine a night in a sleeping bag in the middle of nowhere and staring up at a thousand stars in the sky. If you’re lucky you’re can listen to one of the aboriginal dream stories as well! Uluru is one of the worlds greatest natural wonders and here you really get an experience and understanding for the culture and ancient history of Australia.

 

Sydney – Glamping

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Just outside the city of Sydney on Cockatoo Island you’ll find a different way of camping – Glamping! You can either sleep in a pre-erected Safari Bow tent or bring your own tent, but we guarantee it will be a bit more luxurious than you are used to! You’ll have access to a large camping kitchen, multiple BBQ areas, your own fridge, microwave and a Zip boiling water system too! A really cool way of camping, with an unbeatable view over Sydney Harbour.