Although you might be dreaming of seeing the thundering waters of Iguassu Falls, or stepping foot on the icy Columbia Glacier, let’s not forget that we are so fortunate to have two trans-Tasman countries that are home to some jaw-dropping natural wonders – and right in our backyard, too! Here are 7 natural wonders that are found only in Australia and New Zealand.
Horizontal Falls, Western Australia
As its name suggests, this is not your regular waterfall! Controlled completely by the ever-changing tides, the falls are formed by a build-up of water that flows horizontally through two narrow gorges. As each change of tide comes, so too does the direction of the falls! The Horizontal Falls – also known as Garaangaddim to the local Indigenous people – are located on the coast of the Kimberley region in the Horizontal Falls Marine Park. Boats can cross the falls, catering to thrill-seeking locals and tourists alike.
Huka Falls, Taupō
Just five minutes’ drive from Taupō are the majestic Huka Falls. Follow a short path from the carpark and hear the thunder of the water get louder and louder as you draw closer. Your eyes will immediately be drawn to the white and blues hues of the rapids, flowing so fast that it would fill an Olympic swimming pool in just 11 seconds! The mighty Waikato River is normally 100-metres wide, so when the water is forced through a 15-metre gap, it bursts out and over the 11-metre drop of the falls. It’s not surprise that the Huka Falls are New Zealand’s most-visited natural attraction!
Great Barrier Reef, Queensland
Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space? We’d be silly to not include the world’s largest carol reef system! Here are some mind-blowing facts about the creatures that call the Reef home.
- 30 species of cetaceans have been recorded (including the humpback whale)
- Large populations of dugongs live here
- More than 1,500 fish species live on the reef
- 17 species of sea snake live in the warmer, northern waters
- 6 species of sea turtle come specifically to the reef to bread
- More than 200 species of birds visit or call the surrounding islands home
The Great Barrier Reef is a unique area to visit. The ecosystem is fragile due to several causes (man-made and natural) so remember to take the utmost care when visiting so that it can continue to grow and prosper in the future.
Ruakuri Cave, Waitomo
First discovered by the local Māori between 400 – 500 years ago, Te Ruakuri is also referred to as “The Den of Dogs” as wild dogs were found living in the entrance of the cave. Nowadays, the cave is home to glow worms, limestone formations, underground rivers and hidden waterfalls. A guided tour through the Ruakuri Cave will take you down a spiral ramp to see these incredible feats of nature.
Wineglass Bay, Tasmania
Named for its whaling connections, Wineglass Bay is one of Australia’s top beaches. Its blue sea hues juxtaposed against the lush green forest makes for one of the most photographed places in Tasmania. Found in Freycinet National Park, Wineglass Bay is a one hour walk from a nearby carpark which includes stunning views from a lookout. Once there, it’s an adventure-seeker’s paradise! Hire a kayak, rock climb, dive or snorkel…activates abound!
Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast
Enter New Zealand’s Glacier Country for the ‘coolest’ experience yet! Franz Josef Glacier is the third most visited tourist spot in New Zealand, drawing many to view its stunning slopes. Even though it is a retreating glacier, it’s a must-visit for your New Zealand adventure! If it takes your fancy, take a guided hike of the glacier through a safer section, or a helicopter ride is a popular way to see the glacier’s depth and breadth beneath your feet too.
12 Apostles, Victoria
Stretching along part of Victoria’s coastline alongside the Great Ocean Road are the indomitable 12 Apostles. Being so exposed to the elements, the 12 Apostles were created by constant erosion of the limestone cliffs of the mainland to form caves that eventually collapsed to form arches; and the 12 Apostles as we now know them. Despite the name, there were never actually 12 rock stacks! There were 8 original stacks (with now only 7 standing strong), with additional ones located further west.
These natural wonders are just a small selection of what’s on offer in our own backyards, so it’s time to get out there and explore! Some of our Globus and Cosmos tours through Australia and New Zealand include these aforementioned 7 natural wonders, so take a look today.