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30 July, 20196 minute read

Cinematic scenery: Australasia's epic landscapes

Iconic sights, fine wines, cultural heritage, unique wildlife... Australasia might be halfway around the world, but the journey is well worth it. Whether you opt for Australia or New Zealand (or both – why not?), you can expect landscapes that look like something out of an IMAX movie. The untamed, ochre-hued Outback. Snowy mountains set beside the longest glacier outside the Himalayas. A million hectares of forested valleys and canyons. These are truly epic landscapes – which one will you visit first?

Uluru, Northern Territory

This giant sandstone monolith stands in Australia’s barren ‘Red Centre’. At more than 1,100 feet high, it towers over its surroundings – acres of empty Outback. What you can see is just the tip of the iceberg (so to speak), as the bulk of Uluru actually lies underground. Its formation began hundreds of millions years ago, when the area sat at the bottom of a vast inland sea.

Beautiful view of Uluru, Ayers rock before sunset at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

Get up close and personal with a walk around the base. You’ll see hidden caves and Aboriginal rock art, and a few tree-shaded water holes (if you’re lucky enough to be here when it rains, the waterfalls that cascade down the rock’s sides are a sight to see).

Uluru’s ever-changing colours are at their most spectacular at sunset. As the sun starts to dip below the horizon, the rock turns from burnt orange to a deep crimson, and the sky starts to fill with stars (the dark skies make this one of the best places in the world for stargazing).

See it for yourself

Sunset and sunrise viewings are included on Grand Tour of Australia, Highlights of Australia, The Best of Australia and The Best of Australia and New Zealand.

Fiordland, South Island

Soaring granite mountains cloaked in ancient rainforest. Ink-blue fiords carved out by glaciers thousands of years ago. Waterfalls tumbling hundreds of feet down sheer cliff faces. Welcome to Fiordland National Park.

This is New Zealand at its rugged, dramatic best. Doubtful Sound is the park’s deepest fiord, its waters reaching a depth of 420 metres. With three ‘arms’, it’s easy for boats to find a quiet, sheltered spot so you can take in your surroundings. Our overnight cruises here moor up in a secluded bay, then cut the engines to give everyone a few minutes to take in the peace and stillness of the ‘Sound of Silence’.

Milford Sound – described as the eighth wonder of the world by Rudyard Kipling – is probably the best-known fiord, as it’s the only one accessible by road from Queenstown. It’s dominated by the mighty Mitre Peak, which stands tall at 1,692 metres above sea level. On still days, its reflection in the mirror-finish waters of the fiord creates a scene straight off a postcard.

See it for yourself

Enjoy an overnight Fiordland cruise on Great New Zealand Discovery or a daytime Milford Sound cruise on The Best of New Zealand and The Best of Australia and New Zealand.

Blue Mountains, New South Wales

This million-hectare World Heritage area sits a couple of hours from Sydney, and makes a great day trip. The mountains are blanketed in eucalyptus forests, which cause the blue-tinted haze that gave the area its name.

A cable car travels across a gorge in the Blue Mountains, Australia

Scenic World offers a trio of options to explore the glorious Jamison Valley. Scenic Skyway is a glass-floored gondola that glides across a gorge 270 metres above the valley floor, offering 360-degree views of Mount Solitary, the famous Three Sisters rock formation and Katoomba Falls. An amazing experience, but not one for those who don’t like heights!

Scenic Cableway and Scenic Railway (the world’s steepest passenger railway with a staggering 52-degree incline) both take passengers down to the valley floor. At the bottom, a walkway through ancient rainforest links the two attractions, so you can journey down on one and back up on the other if you like.

See it for yourself

We can arrange optional excursions to the Blue Mountains on many of our Australia escorted tours.

Bay of Islands, North Island

This subtropical region sits right up in the far north of New Zealand. It’s a wonderland of islands and inlets, white-sand beaches and rocky coves, ancient forest and groves of towering kauri trees.

The best way to explore is by boat. Venture to a few islands; look out for seals, dolphins and even whales in the warm, sheltered waters; and perhaps even cruise through the ‘Hole in the Rock’, a rock tunnel that day-trip boats can just about squeeze through in calm weather.

Just north of the Bay of Islands is Cape Reinga. Here, you’ll find 90 Mile Beach, a huge sand ‘highway’ that rolls out as far as the eye can see. It’s not quite 90 miles long – more like 55 – but it’s still an impressive sight.

See it for yourself

We spend three nights in the Bay of Islands on The Best of New Zealand and two nights there on Great New Zealand Discovery and The Best of Australia and New Zealand.

Great Ocean Road, Victoria

The Twelve Apostles rock formations rise up from the water along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, visited on Titan's Australia tours

Possibly the most dramatic (and photogenic) stretch of Australian coastline is Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. The road itself twists and turns along the cliffs, hugging sweeping bays and skirting around coves carved out by the waves.

Built in 1932 as a works project during the depression, the Great Ocean Road still traverses country relatively untouched and unpopulated. Its wild grandeur encompasses rainforests, gorges, gullies, arches and blowholes. Its most famous spot? The 12 Apostles, limestone stacks that rise up from the Southern Ocean next to a pretty stretch of beach. The stormy seas are constantly eroding these limestone formations – currently, only eight are left standing.

See it for yourself

Our route from Melbourne to Adelaide on The Best of Australia and The Best of Australia and New Zealand takes us along the Great Ocean Road. You can also book an optional day trip on Highlights of Australia and Grand Tour of Australia.

Mount Cook, South Island

Known as Aoraki (the ‘cloud piercer’) by the Maori, Mount Cook is New Zealand’s tallest peak. It sits within a larger national park area, where snow-covered mountains (many more than 3,000 metres high) stand over glaciers, permanent snowfields, wildflower and herb fields, and milky glacial lakes.

Keep your fingers crossed for clear skies while you’re here – not only does Mount Cook look stunning against a bright blue sky, but the area is part of an International Dark Sky Reserve. Look skywards after dark and you could see millions of twinkling stars and constellations (including the Southern Cross, only visible in the southern hemisphere).

See it for yourself

We’ll spend a night in Mount Cook village on The Best of New Zealand and The Best of Australia and New Zealand.

Find out more about our holidays to Australia and New Zealand.

Image of blog author Laura Weeden

Although she loves a lie-in at home, Laura is often up and about before dawn on holiday. She’s watched the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, Uluru and Angkor Wat, but her favourite was seeing the first light of the New Year sweeping across the yacht-dotted waters of Sydney Harbour.

Laura | About the author

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