A Culture at Once Foreign and Familiar

It’s no secret that Australians and New Zealanders are among the most friendly people in the world. Travelers feel very much at home here, even more so because the local cultures have migrated around the globe through literature, film, music and other media. From the light-hearted spirit of a traditional “G’Day!” greeting to sharing a Foster’s Lager around a smoking barbie, the lighter side of Australia and New Zealand has seeped into other English-speaking cultures.

As for Viking journeys to Australia and New Zealand, our itineraries visit the best of these regions, traversing dramatic coasts and connecting you to some of the world’s most engaging cultures.

Queensland, Australia

The Great Barrier Reef stretches along most of Queensland’s coast for some 1,400 miles. Boating excursions whisk visitors to prized snorkel spots amid this rich and colorful ecosystem, many of them operating out of Cairns. But this tropical city also serves as the gateway to Daintree Rainforest, an endless canvas of fertile wilderness. More coastal beauty lies farther offshore, amid the gentle, emerald-green isles and turquoise bays of the Whitsunday Islands, the Aussie’s answer to paradise. Queensland also serves up a generous portion of urban culture, whether you’re exploring the arts scene of Cairns proper; the stunning setting of Townsville, squeezed between monolithic hills and the sea; or the quaint, typical Queenslander homes that dot the cityscape of Brisbane, the continent’s relaxed “big country town” turned “new world city” and the gateway to the famed Gold Coast.

New South Wales, Australia

The most celebrated destination of Australia and capital of New South Wales, Sydney is a lively cultural center straddling the world’s largest natural harbor. The island-nation’s largest and oldest city is diverse and dynamic, as embodied in the uplifted wings of the grand Sydney Opera House. It’s just one point of pride among “Sydneysiders,” alongside the Royal Botanic Gardens and The Rocks cultural center. Beyond Sydney, Queensland’s brushstrokes are striking and surprising, as a visit to the high cliffs, sweeping beaches and manmade ocean baths of Newcastle proves.

Victoria & Tasmania, Australia

The two southern gems of Australia reveal much about the nation’s rich culture and history. Victorian architecture, the picturesque topiary of Fitzroy Gardens and stately buildings from the gold rush era lend beauty and charm to Melbourne, the capital of “Vic,” often called the world’s most livable city. Just off its coast across the Bass Strait, the island of Tasmania is home to one of the nation’s most inviting capitals, Hobart, with a small-town feel and rich sense of the past.

Beyond Australia’s Eastern States

The eastern coast of Australia witnessed the most settlements in the nation’s early days. The sheer size of the continent and the harsh arid climate of the Outback discouraged many from venturing west. Today, the central and western reaches of Australia, comprising a full two-thirds of the country’s geography, exude vibrant and enriching cultures in their own right. Outside Adelaide, the park-draped center of high culture in the state of South Australia, the Barossa Valley produces spectacular wine. The country’s southernmost city and former fortress town of Albany in Western Australia enjoys a stunning setting along a dramatic rocky coast. That state’s capital, Perth, boasts one of the largest city parks in the world. And on the continent’s “Top End” in the sparsely populated Northern Territory, the small city of Darwin is awash in a fascinating Aboriginal culture; there is a larger percentage of indigenous people here than in any other city.

About Auckland, New Zealand

Cultural capital of New Zealand’s North Island, Auckland is known as the “City of Sails” for its residents’ love of boating. With a stunning setting between the glistening Waitemata and Manukau Harbors, the city’s Māori name explains its beauty well as it translates to “the maiden sought by a hundred lovers.” This seafaring city encompasses the largest metropolitan area in the entire South Pacific, from New Zealand to Polynesia. It has hosted two America’s Cup challenges and its marinas are brimming with world-class yachts.

The Māori first settled this region of dormant volcanic slopes and cones about 700 years ago. Tribes planted terraced gardens on the slopes of nearby volcanoes and cultivated large crops of sweet potatoes and other items. Upon European arrival, development soared, first as simple shacks and later as more sophisticated buildings and city planning. From 1840 to 1865, Auckland was New Zealand’s capital and witnessed its most rapid growth as more settlers arrived from Europe and Australia. Over time, separate towns were established as newly arrived residents built Victorian, Edwardian, art deco and bungalow-style houses and public buildings. Today, these municipalities have merged into one large city, but much of their graceful historic architecture has been preserved.

About Wellington, New Zealand

Hailed by many as the “coolest little capital in the world,” Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, enjoys a splendid setting. Nestled at the southwestern tip of the North Island, it enjoys views of Cook Strait and is ringed by the mountains of the Rimutaka Range. The city’s history is embodied in its rich collection of architecture, from classic weatherboard wooden cottages and the clean lines of art deco to Edwardian and postmodern wonders.

About Christchurch, New Zealand

The largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch fans out at the feet of the scenic Southern Alps. Named by English pilgrims from Canterbury after Christ Church College in Oxford, it retains much of its original British flavor, from the Gothic Revival cathedral to the leisurely punting excursion boats on the tranquil Avon River. The city embraces another English tradition: it is home to so many green parks that it has been nicknamed the “Garden City.” Its lush Botanic Gardens, 75 acres established in 1863 along the Avon River, ranks among the most important in the world, hosting plants from six continents, a rock garden and a water garden of lilies and irises.

View our Ocean Cruises to Australia & New Zealand.