5 Places to Visit – Oceania

Whilst the majority of the continent’s land mass is the nation of Australia, Oceania is actually made up of 14 different countries and 10,000 islands. Having previously travelled to Sydney and Melbourne, I’ve kept them off this list, and in fact only one Australian city features in my 5 Places to Visit in Australasia.

Adelaide, Australia

Designed as the capital of the only freely settled state in Australia (compared to the convicts sent to other areas), Adelaide is historically important in Australia’s history and its centre, designed by Colonel William Light, is listed as national heritage. Now Australia’s fifth largest city, Adelaide is known for its religious freedom and progressive political reforms and became known as the “City of Churches” due to its diversity of faiths.

Victoria Square, Adelaide – Photo by Trentino Priori via Wikimedia Commons
  • Adelaide Central Market – One of the largest undercover fresh produce markets in the southern hemisphere, the Adelaide Central market sells more than 1000 tonnes of fresh produce each month. Having operated in the same location for more than 150 years, the market is still housed in its original historic building which is now the centre of the Central Market Precinct. In addition to the market itself, this precinct includes the Central Market Arcade, home to more than 60 speciality shops, The Market Plaza, Gouger Street, and Adelaide’s China Town.
  • South Australian Museum – Turning 175 years old this year, the South Australian Museum is located in the Adelaide Parklands precinct and is home to more than 4.84 million objects. The museum has a number of collections covering a wide range of topics including Australian Aboriginal Cultures, South Australian Biodiversity and an Australian Polar Collection. The South Australian Government has also committed to splitting the museum, creating a new gallery for Aboriginal art and culture on the site of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital which is due to be completed in 2023 (although this may have been affected by Covid).
  • National Wine Centre – With its more temperate climate than some of Australia’s other states, South Australia is the ideal place for wine production. Located in the same area of Adelaide as the South Australian Museum, the National Wine Centre has an interactive permanent exhibition of winemaking as well as the compulsory wine tasting area. The building is also quite unique, designed to look like a section of a wine barrel, whilst there is also a small vineyard growing seven verities of grape allowing visitors to see the difference between the types.

Auckland, New Zealand

The largest city in New Zealand, Auckland sits towards the north of the country’s north island occupying the isthmus of land between the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea. Due to its location, Auckland is one of the few cities in the world to have harbours on two major bodies of water. Whilst Auckland’s population still has a majority of European decent, it is becoming more multi-cultural with a large proportion now of Asian descent and the city also being home to the largest Polynesian in the world.

The stunning city of Auckland
  • Auckland Zoo – Not far from the city’s Central Business District, Auckland’s zoo is due to celebrate its centenary next year having been founded in 1922. The zoo is home to more than 1400 animals and has exhibits focusing on Africa, Australia, Sri Lanka, South America and Te Wao Nui which displays New Zealand’s Flora and Fauna. The zoo is also home to the New Zealand Centre for Conservation Medicine, the first national centre for conservation medicine in the world.
  • Maungawhau/Mount Eden – Officially known by both its Māori-language name and its English name since 2016, the scoria cone of Maungawhau/Mount Eden is a dormant volcano towering over Auckland. With the summit at 196 meters (643ft), Maungawhau/Mount Eden is the highest point on the Auckland isthmus and provides stunning views over the city. A popular tourist attraction, Maungawhau/Mount Eden saw a large number of tourist buses climbing to the summit until they were banned in 2011. With this ban being extended to all vehicles in 2016, a walk to the top is now required to see the view.
  • New Zealand Maritime Museum – Located at Hobson Wharf in Auckland’s Pacific harbour, the New Zealand Maritime Museum opened in 1993, the year the America’s cup regatta was hosted by the city. With exhibits spanning New Zealand’s maritime history, you can learn about a range of maritime related subjects including the first Polynesian explorers, the European voyages of discovery and modern-day triumphs of the America’s cup.

Dunedin, New Zealand

Heading south from Auckland, across the Cook Straight and down past the southern 45th parallel we reach Dunedin, New Zealand’s 6th largest city and the 4th largest settlement below the 45th parallel. Lying on the east coast of the South Island, Dunedin has long been considered one of New Zealand’s four main centres due to historic, cultural, and geographic reasons.

Dunedin, New Zealand seen from the Unity Park lookout – Mattinbgn via Wikimedia Commons
  • Larnach Castle – Sitting on the ridge of the Otago Peninsula, Larnach Castle is a mock castle completed in 1874 by prominent entrepreneur and politician William Larnach. The castle’s gardens are one of only five in the country to have been given the rating of ‘Garden of International Significance’ and the castle itself was designated a ‘New Zealand Landmark’ in 2018. Although privately owned, the castle and gardens are open to the public on a daily basis and marketed as “New Zealand’s Only Castle” by the owners.
  • Dunedin Railways – With two routes operating north from the city, Dunedin Railways is a great way to see some more of the Otago peninsula and if you really want to splash the cash you can do both of their routes in a day! In the morning ‘The Inlander’ travels via Taioma, Parera, Mount Allen and through the Taieri River Gorge on its way to Hindon where there’s an hour to explore before heading back. In the afternoon ‘The Seasider’ heads along Otago harbour and the Pacific coast, past Port Chalmers before arriving at Waitati with a couple of hours to explore. For an adult to do both, leaving Dunedin at 0930, arriving back at 1300 for an hour and then finishing the day at 1740, the total cost is 93NZD or about £48, so definitely worth it for a full day out seeing some of the amazing scenery!
  • The Royal Albatross Centre – Located at Taiaroa Head, the headland of the Otago peninsula, The Royal Albatross Centre is the only mainland breeding colony of the Northern Royal Albatross anywhere in the world. Intensive management by the reserve rangers, whilst still allowing all albatrosses to remain wild had led to the increase of the colony from one live fledgling in 1938 to over 100 albatrosses today. The best time to visit to see the albatrosses is between mid-September and mid-November.

Nadi, Fiji

The island nation of Fiji is made up of more than 330 islands and 500 islets, although three quarters of the population live on the coast of the main island Viti Levu, which is also the location of Suva, the capital city and Nadi, the centre of Fiji’s tourist industry. Nadi was only established as a township by colonial authorities in 1947, however has now grown to a city of more than 50,000. With Fiji’s main airport located just a few miles away, the city is multicultural with a large proportion of its population Indian or Indigenous Fijian with a significant amount also being foreign tourists.

The Siri Suva Subramanya Temple in Nadi – Enzino via Wikimedia Commons
  • Garden of the Sleeping Giant – Located in the Nausori Highlands, in the shadow of a rock formation known as the Sleeping Giant, the Garden of the Sleeping Giant contains a vast collection of Asian Orchids and Cattelya hybrids and was once the private collection of Raymond Burr, the American actor. Although there is a cost to enter, you can ask for a guide to show you around the garden for no additional cost and there is even a complimentary fruit drink once you’ve explored!
  • Day cruise – Being a nation of islands, exploring some of the smaller islands seems like its got to be on the to-do list and from Denarau Island near Nadi there’s a plethora of options out to the Mamanuca Islands or Tivua Island. Most of these are a full day, with time to enjoy the sand and sea, eat some local food and, in the case of the Mamanuca Islands, follow in the steps of Tom Hanks on the ‘Cast Away’ island.
  • Sri Siva Subramaniya temple – At the south end of the city’s main road, the Sri Siva Subramaniya temple is the largest Hindu temple in the Pacific and had its foundation laid during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the TISI Sangam in 1976. Despite this, almost 20 years passed before the temple was completed, with it being consecrated on July 15th 1994. The temple is now and oasis of colour within Nadi and is said to brighten up even the rainiest of days.

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Also referred to as Pom City, Port Moresby is the capital of Papua New Guinea and is the largest city in the South Pacific outside of Australia and New Zealand. Whilst there was already an important trade centre in the area, John Moresby made landfall in February 1973 and claimed the land for Britain, naming it after his father Sir Fairfax Moresby. Papua New Guinea became independent in 1975 and since then the population of Port Moresby has rocketed from 120,000 in 1980 to more than 360,000 in 2011.

Overlooking Port Moresby “Town” from Touaguba Hill – MSchlauch via Wikimedia Commons
  • National Museum and Art Gallery – With collections dating back to the 1800s and ranging from Anthropology and Archaeology to Modern History and Contemporary Art, Papua New Guinea’s National Museum and Art Gallery tells the story of the country from its indigenous population to the modern day. The museum is located right next to the parliament building on Independence Drive in Waigani.
  • Port Moresby Nature Park – The only wildlife park in Papua New Guinea, the Port Moresby Nature Park originally started as the National Botanic Gardens but in 2012 expanded to become the nature park is home to more than 350 native animals over 30 acres of tropical gardens. The species that call the nature park home are rarely seen outside Papua New Guinea and the park has won awards for its work in conservation and education.
  • Rouna Falls – Just over 20 miles outside Port Moresby, close to the Variata National Park, the Rouna Falls are a waterfall that thunders down into the Laloki River Gorge. There are a few viewpoints available around the falls, with the popular ones being a short walk through the forest from the road. I couldn’t find much information about the falls online, but from what I could see they are definitely worth a visit for the awe-inspiring views!

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