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Australia or New Zealand - Which Travel Destination Is for You?

Traveller sat at Park Guell, Barcelona

By Sarah Hemsley

Last updated: 21st March 2024

Should I travel to Australia or New Zealand? Well, it’s a tough question! They’re both equally incredible destinations so it’s not surprising they’re joint first place on your bucket list. They’re at the top of ours too! If you seriously can’t pick, you’ve come to the right place.

The secret to choosing between Australia and New Zealand is knowing what your dream adventure looks like. Here are a few things to bear in mind when deciding.

Climate 🌤️

Australia

Travellers on sandy beach in Australia

It’s no surprise that Australia is known for its sunny weather, apart from Tasmania which is one of it’s cooler destinations. The seasons are opposite to the UK’s. Their summer falls in the UK’s winter with summer temperatures averaging 30°C. Perfect for all things beach! Learn to surf on the iconic 7-mile beach of our 5 day Aussie Surf Camp. Winter temperatures average 15°C so it’s still far from cold.

New Zealand

Traveller with hands in air in New Zealand

New Zealand has the same seasons as Australia but is just a touch cooler, perfect for the many outdoor activities that New Zealand is famous for. Summer temperatures average around 20°C to 25°C and winter temperatures average around 12°C. Up the mountains, it tends to also be a little chillier and in the winter, Queenstown gets plenty of snow for hitting the pistes! Sounds like your thing? Check out Ski New Zealand.

Australia or New Zealand?

Both countries have great climates (especially compared to the UK!) but if you’re a sunshine lover, Australia is the place for you. However, if you want somewhere a tad cooler for outdoor activities like hiking and biking, then New Zealand is ideal.

Sights & Landmarks ⛰️

Australia

Travellers posing in from of Sydney Harbour Bridge

Australia has the best of both worlds. From iconic sights like the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Bondi Iceberg pool to natural landmarks like Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef and the Blue Mountains, the list of things to do in Australia is endless, with something for everyone. Check out some of Australia’s best highlights on our Australia East Coast Adventure group tour where you’ll spend 5-6 weeks adventuring up the dazzling East Coast. 

New Zealand

Traveller knocking on door of house at Hobbiton

New Zealand’s sights and landmarks focus on jaw-dropping natural wonders. Think of Scotland’s landscapes but bigger and better (and on the other side of the world). Tick off the iconic Milford Sound, Franz Josef Glacier and Rotorua’s thermal pools and bubbling mud baths. Plus, walk in Bilbo’s footsteps whilst you tick the quaint homely Hobbiton off your list. Calling all Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit fans, you will be in awe of New Zealand's filming locations. Experience the best of New Zealand on our 17-day New Zealand Adventure group tour.

Australia or New Zealand?

Generally, Australia’s list of bucket list biggies outnumbers New Zealand’s. So if your dream adventure is a jam-packed trip with big bucket-list tickers, Australia is calling you. However, if you want an itinerary that’s a tad more chilled, where you have time to admire Mother Earth’s most beautiful gems, New Zealand is a better choice. Make sure to pack your hiking boots!

Wildlife 🦘

Australia

Two kangaroos on Lucky Bay beach

There’s a whole world of Australian wildlife you’re yet to discover. Of course, there are seriously adorable koalas, kangaroos and quokkas waiting for your arrival but there is more to discover underwater. Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef to swim beside giant clams, manta rays and friendly humphead wrasse.

New Zealand

Sheep grazing landscape in New Zealand

Home to many native animals including the iconic kiwi bird, New Zealand Sea Lions and a variety of rare species of penguin. We’re talking yellow-eyed penguins and little blue penguins which are the smallest in the world. Plus, spot tonnes of sheep grazing on the lush landscapes. Wildlife lovers, take it from us, you won’t be disappointed in New Zealand.

Australia or New Zealand?

The vast variety of wildlife in both Australia and New Zealand is incredibly mind-blowing, but overall, Australia is recommended for cute mammals and marine wildlife and New Zealand for native species and rare birds.

Cities 🌆

Australia

Aerial view of Sydney Opera House

Australia has world-class cities, so you won't be short on places to visit here! Make sure to stop off at Melbourne, Brisbane, and of course, the thriving city of Sydney. With some of the best beaches in Australia just a stone's throw away, Sydney is no doubt already top of your Aussie bucket list. Explore the best of the city on our 8-day Sydney, Bondi & Blue Mountains group trip.

New Zealand

Auckland city, New Zealand

New Zealand is a smaller country so naturally has fewer cities. Here are 4 main ones: Auckland and Wellington, on the North Island, and Christchurch and Dunedin, on the South Island. On Best of New Zealand, visit 3 of New Zealand's cities, plus Queenstown. Although not technically a city, it’s the adventure capital of New Zealand so don’t miss it if you’re an adrenaline junky! 

Australia or New Zealand?

On the whole, if you’re looking for the trendiest bars and nightclubs, you’ll find plenty more in Australia than in New Zealand. Australian cities have a high population, buzzing nightlife, and tons of activities to keep you busy on your travels. On the other hand, New Zealand’s cities are a little more mellow. They have a smaller population, and therefore a more intimate but equally good social scene, perfect for getting to know the locals.

Food 🍽️

Australia

Meat on BBQ in Australia

Thanks to cultural influences, you can pretty much find any cuisine in Australia that your taste buds crave, but you guessed it, an Aussie BBQ is top of the menu! Think steaks, chops, sausages and seafood as the standard. To all coffee lovers, Melbourne has the best coffee in the world that you simply must taste once in your life (or more if you’re a caffeine addict). Plus, Australian Vegemite is essential to try. Will you love it or hate it?

New Zealand

Brunch in New Zealand

In New Zealand, traditional dishes consist of a mix of local land and sea produce including lamb, pork, venison, salmon, mussels, crayfish, whitebait, scallops… the list goes on! There are more sheep than people in New Zealand so no wonder lamb is their number one dish known for its rich flavour and tenderness.

Australia or New Zealand?

Whether you’re a meat lover, vegetarian, vegan or something else, there are delicious foods to indulge in at both destinations. Whichever you decide, we hope you love a pavlova dessert, as both countries claim to be its origin!

People & Culture 

Australia

Uluru in Australia

You can't visit Australia without learning about its ancient history. Adventure into the outback and seek historic aboriginal stories about their culture carved into Uluru. Nowadays, Australia has a wide range of cultures from all over the world. It’s a place where everybody is welcome. With their friendly attitudes, why not take a working holiday Down Under? Get to know the locals on Absolute Oz Jobs.

New Zealand

Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay

The protectors of the land in New Zealand are called Māori. For an authentic taste of Māori culture travel to Rotorua. Expect enchanting haka performances from warriors covered with aboriginal art and colourfully woven fabrics. You can also take a boat ride and spot the iconic Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay. Find out more as you live and work in New Zealand on Absolute NZ Jobs.

Australia or New Zealand?

Both places offer interesting cultural stories and experiences to keep you fascinated throughout your travels. Whichever destination you decide, consider doing a working holiday. Spend up to 12 months immersing yourself in these mesmerising cultures.

Activities 🏄

Australia

Travellers on sailing boat at the Whitsundays

Down Under is packed with all kinds of activities for the adventure of a lifetime. Whether you love a beach day or want to explore the Outback, Australia has you sorted. Does your bucket list go like this?

Learn to surf along the East Coast 🏄‍♀️ 
Whether you've never touched a surfboard in your life, or consider yourself a bit of a pro - Australia is truly the number one spot to catch some waves.  

Dive into the Great Barrier Reef 🤿 
An unmatched underwater world with enchanting corals, giant clams, turtles, and even whales! This UNESCO World Heritage sight is calling your name. 

Explore the Outback at Uluru 🗺️ 
Uluru is truly a sight to behold! Learn about the Aboriginal heritage of the land as you explore the landscape of the surrounding national park.

Meet the happiest animal in the world 🤗 
We’re talking about quokkas. You'll fall in love with these lovable residents of Rottnest Island. You can also now see quokkas at Australia Zoo!

Party in the heart of Sydney 🎉 
Meet lifelong friends in this incredible city and hit the party scene hard. Hop on a boat party, and join in at karaoke bars before you dance the night away in Sydney’s best nightclubs. 

Sail the stunning Whitsundays ⛵️ 
It’s truly paradise on earth. Watch in total awe as you cruise through its dazzling hues of blue. Look out for seriously adorable sea turtles!

Check out our Australia trips.

New Zealand

Two paragliders, Queenstown

With so many natural wonders, from mountains and lakes, glaciers and fjords, volcanoes and natural thermal baths, New Zealand is truly a thrill-seeking playground! When in New Zealand, your itinerary may go like this…

Hop on a cruise to explore stunning Fjords 🛳️ 
Exploring Milford Sound by boat is a memorable experience. You'll glide past cascading waterfalls and spot wildlife, including dolphins and seals!

Soak in naturally heated hot springs 🔥 
Check out Rotorua's geothermal landscape. Get your adrenaline pumping with white water rafting, or simply relax in the mineral-rich waters. 

Experience a unique glacial hike 🥾 
Franz Josef offers unreal scenery as one of the only glaciers with a mix of lush rainforest and ice so close together. Choose to hike, or rent a kayak.

Stargaze at a dark sky reserve 💫 
Aoraki doesn't only offer spectacular hiking locations, it is also a huge 'dark sky reserve' - resulting in a stargazing experience you won't find anywhere else!

Explore the adventure capital of Queenstown 🪂 
Go big or go home. There’ll be no time to pinch yourself as you jump from New Zealand's highest bungee jump of 134 metres. Or opt to go skydiving, water rafting, canyoning, jet boating and more!

Watch in awe as the glow worm caves illuminate  😲 
As you float down Waitomo's underground river, the cave walls are lined with glow worms. You won't believe your eyes as the walls light up!

Check out our New Zealand trips.

Australia or New Zealand?

Both are just as adventurous as the other! Australia is the best for surfing, scuba diving and sunbathing on gorgeous beaches, but if you’re more of a thrill-seeker, and fancy a leap of a lifetime as you bungee jump from the sky, New Zealand is incredible! 

Cost 💰

Australia

Melbourne park on sunny day

Food, accommodation and activities can cost more in Australia than back in the UK, however, if you’re on a working holiday then wages are also typically higher. Expect to pay more in major cities like Sydney and Melbourne. If you’re travelling on a budget think about going in the low season (June - August). Flights to Australia are also generally quite expensive so start topping up your travel savings now. It’ll all be worth it for the memories and friendships you’ll make along the way.

New Zealand

Traveller skimming stones on lake in New Zealand

Travelling in New Zealand generally costs less than in Australia. With more affordable flights, food and accommodation, you’ll have more money to spend on memorable activities and thrilling-seeking add-ons. There are fewer hostels and hotels in New Zealand than in Australia so, make sure to book in advance.

Australia or New Zealand?

If you’re on a budget, a great way to travel is by joining an organised group tour, as typically your accommodation and loads of activities are included (and often some food as well!). Being a set price, paid for in advance, you can more easily budget for your dream trip. Overall, New Zealand tends to work out cheaper, but both destinations are worth every penny. All the adventures, experiences and new friendships you’ll make will be priceless, plus, you know what they say ‘travel because money returns and time doesn’t’!  Plus, if you run short of money, you can always take a Working Holiday. 

In Summary 👀

So, Australia or New Zealand? Which one will it be? Whichever you decide to travel to, you’ll have an unbelievable trip packed with adventure! 

Or why not do both? Book a one-way ticket and prepare for a bucket-list-ticking trip of a lifetime. Sounds like a dream right? Take a look at our Australasia group trips and see you on the other side 🌏

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