14 Night Australia & New Zealand cruise departing from Sydney to Auckland onboard Silversea Muse.
Meander through tiny lands that have been lost for centuries. Heaving with history and hair raising traditions, wend your way through islands lost in the vast South Pacific Fabulous Fiji, with its paradisaical beaches and shallow limpid seas follows next, before New Zealand's cinematic scenery of soaring volcanoes, hidden beaches and colossal cliffs beckons exploration.
Highlights of this cruise:
Sydney belongs to the exclusive club of cities that generate excitement. At the end of a marathon flight there's renewed vitality in the cabin as the plane circles the city, where thousands of yachts are suspended on the dark water and the sails of the Opera House glisten in the distance. Blessed with dazzling beaches and a sunny climate, Sydney is among the most beautiful cities on the planet.With 4.6 million people, Sydney is the biggest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia. A wave of immigration from the 1950s has seen the Anglo-Irish immigrants who made up the city's original population joined by Italians, Greeks, Turks, Lebanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thais, and Indonesians.
With its elegant urban infrastructure in a stunning natural setting, Noumea is a truly unique island and part of the New Caledonia archipelago. Noumea started as a penal colony, but has since evolved to a lovely metropolis and today has almost two thirds of New Caledonia's population. While much of the archipelago of New Caledonia has a large percentage of Kanak people - the indigenous inhabitants who live in tribal areas across the country - Noumea is predominantly European with a strong French influence. The city's center and Place de Cocotiers, the main park, are located close to the harbor and several churches date back to the late 19th century. Other attractions include a world-class aquarium at Anse Vata, several long beaches to the south, and a noteworthy collection of Kanak and South Pacific objects at the Museum of New Caledonia.
Lenakel, Tanna Island
As one of four suitable anchorages around Tanna, trade has favoured Lenakel Bay. Tanna is Vanuatu's sixth-largest island by area although by population it is the third. Since British cotton plantations were established on Tanna's west coast in the 1860s (and soon abandoned), Lenakel has been one of the island's important settlements and today it is Tanna's largest town. Lenakel used to be the province's capital, but Isangel - less than 2 kilometres away inland- was made the administrative centre. The two towns are growing towards each other and form the nucleus of commerce and politics on the island. Unlike other parts of Vanuatu where Asian shop owners are the rule, trade and commerce on Tanna is in the hand of the locals. Almost 46% of the population is under 15 years of age, yet Kastom - local traditional culture and values- is quite strong on the island.
Pentecost Island is a lush mountainous, tropical island stretching over 37 miles from north to south. It was named after the day on which the first European, Louis Antoine de Bougainville, sighted it on 22 May 1768. There are no towns on Pentecost - most of the islanders live in small villages and grow their own food in small gardens. Local traditions are strong, including the age-old ritual of land diving. This unique ritual was first given international exposure by David Attenborough in 1960. Later, in the 1980s, New Zealander AJ Hackett used the idea to invent bungee jumping. Every harvest season from April to June, the people of southern Pentecost construct the towers around a lopped tree, using saplings and branches held together with forest vines. It can take up to five weeks to complete. Each young man who jumps must carefully select his own liana vine.
North of Nadi through sugarcane plantations and past the Sabeto Mountains is Lautoka, nicknamed the Sugar City for the local agriculture and its big processing mill. With a population of around 50,000, it is Fiji's only city besides Suva and, like the capital, has a pleasant waterfront. It's the sailing point for Blue Lagoon and the main harbor for woodchips, which can clearly be seen next to the harbor, and sugar. Legend has it that Lautoka acquired its name when two chiefs engaged in combat and one hit the other with a spear. He proclaimed lau toka (spear hit) and thus the future town was named.
Think island paradise anywhere in the world and you will almost certainly conjure up images of Dravuni Island. Shallow limpid seas surround palm tree fringed beaches that encircle the whole island bar the extremities. One of the 110 inhabited islands in the Kadavu archipelago with just 125 residents, Dravuni could be considered Fiji's mischievous little brother. Smaller, much more manageable and far less touristy than Fiji, do not expect to find an infrastructure of hotels and car hire businesses. A village school and meeting house are perhaps the sum total of civilization here, but the exceptionally friendly welcome from the residents by far makes up for any lack of modern comforts. Instead this special little island has transparent seas that are unsurprisingly a snorkeller's dream come true. A kaleidoscopic vision of colour thrives beneath the surface and is quite literally a visual feast for the eyes.
Bay Of Islands
The Tasman Sea on the west and the Pacific Ocean on the east meet at the top of North Island at Cape Reinga. No matter what route you take, you'll pass farms and forests, marvellous beaches, and great open spaces. The East Coast, up to the Bay of Islands, is Northland's most densely populated, often with refugees from bigger cities - looking for a more relaxed life - clustered around breathtaking beaches. The first decision on the drive north comes at the foot of the Brynderwyn Hills. Turning left will take you up the West Coast through areas once covered with forests and now used for either agricultural or horticulture. Driving over the Brynderwyns, as they are known, takes you to Whangarei, the only city in Northland. If you're in the mood for a diversion, you can slip to the beautiful coastline and take in Waipu Cove, an area settled by Scots, and Laings Beach, where million-dollar homes sit next to small Kiwi beach houses.
Auckland is called the City of Sails, and visitors flying in will see why. On the East Coast is the Waitemata Harbour - a Mori word meaning sparkling waters - which is bordered by the Hauraki Gulf, an aquatic playground peppered with small islands where many Aucklanders can be found mucking around in boats.Not surprisingly, Auckland has some 70,000 boats. About one in four households in Auckland has a seacraft of some kind, and there are 102 beaches within an hour's drive during the week many are quite empty. Even the airport is by the water it borders the Manukau Harbour, which also takes its name from the Mori language and means solitary bird.