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If you long to explore New Zealand’s beautiful Bay of Islands, Paihia makes a wonderful base. Known as “the Jewel of the Bay Islands,” this seaside town has golden beaches, lovely coastal walking trails and waterfalls, and a colorful population of local birds. Paihia also holds an important role in the country’s history. It was here, after a century of conflict between indigenous Maori tribes and Western settlers, that peace was finally made and the groundbreaking Treaty of Waitangi was signed.
The seaside town of Russell is one of the most popular destinations in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands. The area teems with a mash-up of indigenous and European history, evident in its architecture and historic sites. Sail around the bay on a chartered yacht or iconic tall ship or explore the multiple personalities of The Gables 1847, which has served as a bakery, bordello and shelter for AWOL sailors on the lam.
European, Polynesian, Asian and strong Maori heritages give the Auckland its distinctive culture. Discover the history of the world's largest Polynesian city through Maori treasures at Auckland Museum and experience the lives of 19th-century settlers at Howick Historical Village. Find Polynesian handicrafts at Otara Market or people-watch in bustling Ponsonby and Parnell. Adventure junkies can get their fix from kayaking, sailing and high-octane bungee jumping.
The lush parks and golden beaches of Tauranga make it a popular destination for outdoorsy folks and watersports lovers. Here on New Zealand’s North Island, you’ll find a variety of opportunities for surfing, white water rafting, kiteboarding, hiking and golfing. Take a refreshing dip in the swimming holes by Kaiate Falls, which cascade beautifully over the bluffs. Families might like to visit one of Tauranga’s amusement park, take a guided nature tour or swim with dolphins in the Bay of Plenty.
Noumea, on the island of Grand Terre, is the capital of the French territory of New Caledonia. The peaceful port city has a diverse population and colourful European architecture, reflecting its colonial history. Having served as the headquarters of the US Army during WWII, the tropical shrubbery of Ouen Toro Mount is now under the protection of abandoned Naval guns. The Michel Corbasson Zoological and Forest Park offers visitors shaded walks amongst rare birds and views out over the lagoon.
City slickers, culture vultures and beach bums alike fall in love with Sydney. Hang ten at famed Bondi Beach or stroll the calmer sands of Coogee. Cash burning a hole in your pocket? You’ll find great shopping in the Rocks district and along George and Pitt Streets. Climb to the top of the Harbour Bridge or take a skywalk on Sydney Tower for a 360-degree view of the city. But whatever you do, don’t leave town without cuddling the koalas in the Taronga Park Zoo—they’re ridiculously adorable.
Not far from the vibrant Surfers Paradise is the calm and collected Broadbeach, a refuge of honey-coloured sands. The Gold Coast town boasts incredible dining, thumping nightclubs, homey taverns and impressive shopping. Risk-takers and thrill-seekers can press their luck at the Conrad Jupiters Casino.
Sun-drenched and built for fun, Australia's Gold Coast hugs Queensland's southeast coastline with beaches, shimmering high rises, and epic surf breaks. Though it's hedonistic at heart, there's also plenty of opportunities for adventure and family-friendly attractions beyond its well-known party scene.