Second only to annual leave and the office Christmas party, long weekends are often the most anticipated days of the working year.
That extra 24 – 48 hours can transform your regular weekend break into a decadent getaway, action packed adventure, cultural tour or culinary feast.
Like any other overseas trip, you’ll need to purchase travel insurance, but the next big question you’ve got to ask yourself is what kind of holiday would you like to have? There’s plenty of potential to be unlocked in just a few short days and if you pick the destination that’s right for you, your quick trip will feel like a long escape.
Here are our top five suggestions:
A city break - Melbourne or Sydney anyone?
Who can resist the shopping, culinary delights and heat of Australia’s big cities…oh and did I mention the shopping!
Both Sydney and Melbourne are a short flight away to an action packed long weekend of art, culture, food and wine and of course some of the best high street shopping in Australasia. Melbourne is renowned for fabulous cuisine, great coffee and theatre. Sydney is all about beautiful beaches and the glistening harbour, which offers effortless ferry trips to explore new pockets of Sydney you may not have experienced before.
Both cities are becoming shopping destinations for the world’s leading fashion houses. If the top designers like Chanel, Prada and Louis Vuitton seem a little pricey, you could try the myriad of other European High St stores. Recently flagship stores such as H&M, Zara, Top Shop and Uniqlo have opened in both cities so you can now experience the hype of a multi-level fashion extravaganza.
Now that you’ve shopped up a storm, stay safe! Avoid becoming a target for thieves when shopping and don't load your arms full of store bags. If possible try to put purchases into one or two bags, to make it easier to keep an eye on them. Remember to keep them out of sight in your hotel room.
Australia Zoo - Home of the Crocodile Hunter
Located 45 minutes north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast, Australia Zoo is one of the best animal experiences the whole family can enjoy. You can cuddle a Koala, hand feed a red panda or giant tortoise, walk with one of their tigers or handle a snake… as well as many more amazing hands-on animal experiences. These animal encounters are in a controlled environment with experts, which makes them one of the safest ways to interact with wild animals. Check out their website for up and coming events, show times and planning your day. www.australiazoo.com.au
Like any all-day activity, make sure you are prepared for all situations. Take sunblock, a hat and sunglasses. Queensland’s sun can be harsh even during winter. Staying hydrated is important in hot climates so take a water bottle with you. There are water fountains around the Zoo for refills. Heatstroke and dehydration can ruin a well-planned holiday in no time and a trip to the doctor can be costly, so make sure you always have travel insurance – even for Australia.
Australian theme parks - Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is the theme park capital of Australia. Your short break will be filled with thrills, spills and excitement. Take your pick from Dreamworld, Sea World, Movie World, White Water World and Wet ‘n’ Wild. Theme park combo deals are an affordable way to visit your choice of parks and offer many added extras. www.themeparks.com.au
Like many adventure filled activities, be prepared. If you have young children check the height restrictions before you buy passes. Get a map of the park before you head out and study the layout. If you’re only there for one day, you want to make the most of that day. Take snacks and drinks. Take advantage of the shows on offer – they’re a great a chance to sit down and take a break. It’s easy to lose each other in the crowds so make sure when you arrive you arrange an easy to find meeting place and write the name of that place on a tag along with your phone number for your kids to show staff if they get lost. When you arrive at the theme park make sure your family knows where the first aid station is. Always take the Southern Cross Emergency Assistance phone number with you because should an accident happen, the team can give you advice on what to do.
Fiji - The heart of the South Pacific
Fiji is just over three hours away from New Zealand. It has over 333 tropical islands, which are famous for their white sandy beaches, fabulous resorts, warm tropical climate and excellent snorkelling and diving. Fiji has a variety of accommodation options including family friendly hotels offering daily kids club activities, spa and wellness retreats and 5 star resorts.
Fiji has a vast range of activities on offer. You can surf the outer islands of Nadi in the Mamanuca island chain. Go on a fishing charter – it’s a great way to island hop and experience the local culture. Try snorkelling the tropical coral reefs. There are shark diving tours for the more adventurous and for the golf enthusiasts, Fiji has a vast range of golf courses including several championship courses. Check out www.fiji.travel for accommodation ideas and activities.
One of the hazards of surfing, diving and snorkelling the coral reefs is coral cuts. Even the smallest of cuts can leave a small piece of coral in the wound that can quickly develop into an infection needing urgent attention. In some circumstances you may need to be flown back to New Zealand to receive medical treatment if it’s unavailable in Fiji. Having travel insurance helps to provide peace of mind for these unexpected events.
Rarotonga - Slow down and take it easy
Rarotonga is the jewel in the crown of the Cook Islands and is renowned for it’s laid-back attitude. At just under four hours from New Zealand it’s the perfect getaway to glorious white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. Activities include snorkelling, diving, hiking, deep-sea fishing, scenic flights to the remote outer atolls… and of course relaxing.
Rarotonga is only 32 km in circumference and hiring scooters is one of the most popular ways to explore its many beaches, restaurants, the main township and markets. If you don’t have a motorbike license and want to hire a scooter, you’ll need to get a Cook Islands driver’s license from the police station in Avarua. You’ll need to present your driver’s licence, pay a fee, have a picture taken and take a practical test driving around the block. Remember the TravelCare policy only covers motorbikes and scooters under 200cc, you must wear a helmet at all times and you must have a valid local drivers licence. Scooter accidents are very common for holidaymakers, so if you’re unfamiliar with riding, consider taking some lessons before you embark on your adventure. Whatever you do, obey the local road rules. Check out www.cookislands.travel/Information for the driving rules and regulations.
We hope these travel ideas and tips help motivate you to get out there and plan your next long weekend holiday. Safe travels from the team at Southern Cross Travel Insurance.