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Bubbling mineral springs and pools promise maximum relaxation in Rotorua, on New Zealand's North Island. Therapeutic hot mud pools, dramatic geysers and a buried village are within easy reach of the city. What happens in the bubbling mud geysers of "Rotovegas"—the area at the top of Fenton Street—stays in Rotovegas. Once you've made the most of the mud, soar nearly 2,000 feet on the Skyline Gondola for views of Lake Rotorua, then zip back down to explore the lake by paddle steamer, fishing charter or WWII amphibious vehicle.
The Māori call Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau — a maiden desired by 100 lovers,
and a valuable territory fought over for centuries for its fertile land and
natural harbours on the Pacific Ocean (to the east) and Tasman Sea (to the
west). Today, it’s New Zealand’s largest city: A vibrant and diverse place
where nature and urban life go hand-in- hand, with 48 volcanic cones, more
than 50 islands, and 29,000 km of coastline and beaches just minutes away
from the arts and shopping of the central city.
Byron Bay's beaches are dotted with lighthouses and surrounded by bottlenose dolphins, rays, whales and sea turtles. This former New South Wales whaling station turned tourist town is still strongly influenced by its recent bohemian past, when hippie lifestyles flourished. Bongos and didgeridoos sound in parks, sarongs and dreadlocks are common, and vegetarian restaurants abound. Give in to the casual vibe and stroll between beaches and bars for a low-key and happy day.
Australia’s third-largest city, Brisbane is the hub of Queensland culture, offering a peek at the past and a glimpse into the future. Visit the historic Windmill and Old Commissariat Store, built by convicts in 1828, or fast-forward to the present (and beyond) with a trip to the new Gallery of Modern Art. Mingle with locals atop Mount Coot-tha, cruise the Brisbane River to South Bank’s sandy beach on the City Cat and make sure to fill the cuteness quota at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, home to koalas and kangaroos.
The postcard-perfect beaches of Sanur are truly idyllic, the realization of all those daydreams about Bali beach vacations. More laid-back than neighboring vacation destinations, Sanur is the type of place where hip Europeans who have outgrown the party scene come to recharge. Every year, the endless blue skies are peppered with flecks of vibrant color during the International Kite Festival.
Home to Bali International Airport, Denpasar is usually overlooked by visitors flocking to Bali’s beaches. For those who stick around, this culture-rich city serves up ornate temples and some of the island's most authentic Balinese food.
Yogyakarta boasts stunning architecture and a truly spiritual sensibility. The ancient Hindu temples of Prambanan look like hand-drizzled sand castles, while the Sultan's palace is reminiscent of a gilded music box filled with jewels. Known for its arts and handicrafts, Yogyakarta is a cultural hub, a nerve center for traditional and modern puppetry.