Back in May, two billion people around the globe watched in anticipation as Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said “I do” at a Royal wedding like no other. St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle was filled with flowers, chorists and celebrities alike, while Meghan’s breathtaking silk veil represented each of the 53 Commonwealth countries.
Five months on, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have announced they are expecting a baby in the Spring of 2019, telling the world their happy news on the first day of their Commonwealth nations tour of Australasia and the South Pacific. Between the 16 and 31 October, Their Royal Highnesses will grace the shores of Australia and New Zealand, as well as the beautiful Pacific islands of Fiji and Tonga, following a programme that focusses on youth leadership, environmental conservation strategies and the rehabilitation of national servicemen and women.
In light of this, we’ve given some thought to why we think this area of the globe is so incredible, as well as what we’d do and where we’d stay if we were touring Australasia just like Meghan and Harry…
Vibrant, beautiful and Australia’s most populous city, spectacular Sydney is a (justifiably) popular feature on any Australia tour. Visit the world’s largest harbour, have a photo outside the iconic Opera House and climb to the top of the striking Sydney Harbour Bridge. When all that sightseeing leaves you weary, take the ferry over to Manly Beach for dinner with a view, or catch a few rays and waves at legendary Bondi. Those with an eye for design will love the contemporary environs of the Harbour Rocks Hotel.
Their Royal Highnesses will visit the hip capital of Victoria on 18 October, and should you be lucky enough to be following in their footsteps anytime soon, there’s a few highlights no visitor should miss in Melbourne. Shop ‘til you drop and eat ‘til you burst in the city’s trendy suburbs along the banks of the Yarra River, like St Kilda and Fitzroy. Be sure to take a journey through the glorious architecture on board one of the city’s famous trams, stopping off at the South Melbourne Market, Federation Square and Royal Botanic Gardens. A stay at the QT Melbourne will see you enjoying one of the city’s largest rooftop bars and wonderful works of art to peruse.
Wellington, New Zealand
This small and vibrant capital city is a hotspot for culture, creativity and art, featuring countless galleries and museums; the incredible Te Papa museum is a must-visit, boasting an eclectic array of fascinating national exhibitions. Absorb mesmerising panoramic views over this friendly metropolis from the great Wellington Cable Car. Just a ten-minute, ultra-scenic helicopter ride from the city, discover luxury country retreat, Wharekauhau Country Estate, Palliser Bay. An authentic working sheep station on an impressive clifftop location, this property offers incredible Pacific Ocean views. An array of outdoor activities – from horse trekking and hiking, to archery and quad biking – are yours to choose from, while an extensive food and wine event programme is held annually.
Auckland, New Zealand
Lovely, laidback Auckland enjoys a fantastic harbour setting, an area famous for its world-class sailing, as well as the incredible restaurants and delightful boutique shops that line the bustling marina. From Auckland, there is easy access to stunning Waiheke Island, characterised by its white sand beaches, sprawling vineyards and some seriously tasty food. A gorgeous boutique hotel on a Waiheke hilltop, The Boatshed offers a relaxed yet indisputably five-star experience. Our Product Manager for this region, Erica Moore, raved about the incredible cuisine here, saying she enjoyed “one of the freshest and best lunches I’ve ever had!”.
Close to wonderful Wellington, Zealandia is a huge 225-hectare wildlife sanctuary and eco-reserve, home to forty species of rare, native birds. Join a guided tour for more information on these fascinating species.
Rotorua is an incredible geothermal region on New Zealand’s North Island; as well as steaming springs, thermal geysers and bubbling mud pools, you’ll know you’ve arrived by the distinctive sulphur smell. From here, be sure to pay a visit to shimmering Lake Taupo nearby – great for trout fishing and watersports!
Due to be visited by The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Fraser Island is the largest sand island on the planet, flaunting well-deserved World Heritage status. Located north of bustling Brisbane (another great option on your tailor-made Australia tour), the island boasts the breathtaking and aptly-named 75 Mile Beach filled with shipwrecks, as well as 100 freshwater lakes – perfect for cooling off after exploring the island by foot or on a 4WD tour. The warm and welcoming Kingfisher Bay Resort enjoys an enviable location on Fraser Island, offering incredible locally-sourced cuisine as well as great guided tours.
Used as the set for Middle Earth in the famed Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, Matamata’s landscape comprises imposing mountains, rolling farmlands and green grassy hills. If you’re a fan of the films, why not visit Weta Workshop, at which a number of the special effects and props were created?
A wonderful way to complete your Australasian tour, and to make the most of being on the other side of the world, why not hop across to Fiji for a few nights of otherworldly beaches and a ‘paradise found’ feel? We recommend the luxurious Robinson Crusoe-style experience of Vomo Island Resort, an all-inclusive resort which is all about immersing guests in their island surrounds.
To create your own bespoke Royal Tour of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, speak to a member of our expert team on 01244 355 600; they will be delighted to work with you to craft a truly personalised experience of this stunning part of the world.