After Sydney's Opera House, it is the most popular tourist attraction in the country, and one I narrowly missed years ago when I veered south towards Tasmania instead. That was before I started diving, and we are talking about the world's largest coral reef, a rich eco-system known as one the world's great natural wonders. Plus, I've heard great things about the cities of Gold Coast and Cairns, so the attraction is not all underwater either.
Knock on the door of the universe, and sometimes it answers. For a limited time, Air New Zealand is offering an economy rate of just $1,575 from Vancouver to 7 major Australian gateways, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and, you guessed it, Cairns. Together with Tourism Australia, they asked if I'd help them promote both the fare and the wonders of Australia. Since Air New Zealand is one of my favourite airlines and Cairns is a gateway to the bucket list of barrier reefs, I dinkum thought about it for sixty six seconds, which is how long it took me to locate my PADI dive certificate.
Scuba is just one aspect of it, however. How does one take on a 344,400 km2 marine park with 600 offshore islands, 1500 species of fish, 134 species of shark and rays and 150 inshore mangrove islands? There are countless experiences to be had, but what belongs on the bucket list? A wave-piercing catamaran? A luxury reef escape? A micro-brew on the busy beaches of Gold Coast?
My journey will touchdown in Auckland via LA before continuing onto Brisbane and Cairns. True story: The last time I flew AirNZ was the first and only time I've been upgraded to a business class flatbed seat on a long haul. Unfortunately, my travelling companion was not so fortunate, and since we were dating, I made the ultimate romantic gesture. I took the business class seat.
The All Blacks recently nipped the Wallabies in the World Cup Rugby Final bud, but it's inspiring to see how these two beautiful countries work and play together, including their airlines. Next post will be about my adventures down under. There might be an encounter with a giant potato cod, and hopefully, a shark or two. The Barrier Reef, and the bucket list, awaits.
Find out about Air New Zealand's Australian gateway deal here. For more information about Australia's Great Barrier Reef, visit their official site.