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Bragging Rights

If you’re planning a trip to Australia and New Zealand, you most likely know some of the top sites and “to dos” – Sydney Opera House, Great Barrier Reef, Great Ocean Road, Bondi Beach, etc. You also probably know it’s a popular place for activities such as snorkeling, SCUBA, surfing, bungee jumping and a host of other activities. But isn’t one of the best parts of a trip exploring things that others might not have seen or done? If you want to ensure some great experiences during the trip and stories upon your return, check out these activities.

These suggestions, which are in no particular order of importance, come straight from those who have participated, so we can vouch for the authenticity and enjoyment of them. These won’t all be for everyone, but hopefully at least one or two will make enhance your Australia experience!

Beach plane on Fraser Island: With over 100 lakes, rainforest, long stretches of uninterrupted beach and dunes reaching 240 meters above sea level, it’s not tough to see why the island is a world heritage site. In addition to the 4WD tours offered on the island, a beach plane provides an incredible view of the dunes, forest, creeks, and lakes that you can get any other way. As the name suggest, the plane takes off and lands on the beach – it’s a propeller plane that generally seats two people, so you also get a private tour while up in the air.

Fraser Island from a beach plane

Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney: If you want a one-of-a-kind event, this is the one. While activities take place over two weeks, the most iconic is the Gay & Lesbian Parade. In 2010 almost 10,000 participants’ spectacular costumes and floats wowed thousands and thousands of spectators. Mardi Gras also includes a parties, Fair Day and plenty of other events. You can learn more about the events and next year’s Mardi Gras here.

Farm/Ranch Stay: This is one that may not be for everyone. Even for a city slicker though, a night at a ranch allows you to experience the way plenty of Australians live every day, albeit probably with a few more amenities and better service than most. Weather an animal ranch where you can watch sheep sheering demonstrations or an agricultural farm, these stays are definitely a way to experience a different side of Australia. You’ll also meet some fantastic people and animals!

Sunrise on Cape Byron: The easternmost point on the country’s mainland, Cape Byron is the first to catch the sun in the morning. You can take a cab from Byron Bay up to the top of the cape early in the morning. There’s also a lighthouse at the cape, the most powerful in Australia, and worth a visit in itself.

Sunrise on Cape Byron

Black water rafting in Waitomo: Bouncing through rushing rapids in a limestone cave with a head lamp as your only source of light is a quintessential depiction of the adventurous spirit New Zealand embodies. The Waitomo region is a naturally alluring region, and the cave system provides opportunities for rafting, tubing, glow worm tours, cave abseiling and more.

Franz Josef Glacier heli-hike: In a country known for it’s lush greenery, standing at the foot of a glacier, and a rather large on at that, in the back yard of the quiet town of Franz Josef, inspires a feeling somewhere between awe and disbelief. What’s almost more incredible is that people hike the glacier every day. While there are a number of tour options, the heli-hike takes hikers on a scenic helicopter tour of the glacier and surrounding area, then lands high up on the glacier, setting the stage for a two hour guided hike down. Please don’t let the title ‘glacier hike’ turn you off – there are options for all fitness levels and it’s not as challenging as hiking a glacier might sound (though don’t tell your friends that when you come back!).

Heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier

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