Lizard Island here I come!
I recently did an interview with CAA Magazine and was asked what's at the top of my bucket list? It's a question I really should expect, being the author of bucket list books. And yet... I stopped actively pursuing my bucket list some years ago, when I accepted that I'd done everything I'd ever imagined (and then some), and bucket list experiences that continue to pop up are icing on the cherry sundae. Although, to be fair, there has always been the Great Barrier Reef along the East Coast of Australia.
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.
Air NZ's Economy Skycouch
Just kidding! I declined the upgrade and spent 12 hours in the company of a beautiful lady who would later agree to marry me. Not quite as cool a story as finding your doppelgänger seated next to you, but flights can still change your life. This time I'll be on my own, so I hope my wife doesn't mind me cuddling up to a fellow passenger on Air New Zealand's nifty Economy Skycouch. Right on AirNZ. Seating innovations are too few and far between, especially for those of us in Economy.
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.
Please come in. Mahalo for removing your shoes.
After many years running a behemoth of a blog called Modern Gonzo, I've decided to a: publish a book or eight, and b: make my stories more digestible, relevant, and deserving of your battered attention.
Here you will find some of my adventures to over 100 countries, travel tips and advice, rantings, ravings, commentary, observations and ongoing adventures.