In South Australia, travelers can view natural rock formations shaped by wind and water, watch exotic wildlife roaming the countryside, and view one the largest colonies of sea lions in the world. One way to see this area is to make the city of Adelaide, South Australia’s capital, a base and plan adventures from there. Most of the regions attractions are within an hour or two.
The Fleurieu Peninsula
Named for the French wanderer Charles Pierre Claret, Comte de Fleurieu, the peninsula is dotted with many historic towns, great coastal views and man-made attractions including an 1890s steam-powered cockle train and a double-decker tram - pulled by a Clydesdale horse. It crosses the wooden causeway from Victor Harbor to Granite Island, where little penguins make their home. Guided penguin tours are a popular visitor attraction here. (www.duatravel.com)
An ideal way to see much of this region is by four-wheel-drive vehicle. Travelers often spot kangaroos in their natural habitat. Tours also include zooming along the sand at Goolwa Beach where horse and riders roam. There are plenty of opportunities to take photographs of animals in the wild but it requires some skill, patience, and respect for the wildlife.
At the Urimbirra Wildlife Experience, a wildlife park in Victor Harbor, travelers can get close-up views of several kangaroo types, including eastern grey and red ‘roos, plus wallabies, dingoes and koalas. More than 400 species of native Australian animals and birds live here including pelicans, owls, cockatoos, crocodiles, and parrots.
Located nine miles off the coast
of South Australia, the remoteness of Kangaroo Island makes it seem like a world apart. Fly here from Adelaide in 30 minutes or take the ferry from the mainland to Penneshaw, about an hour away. The appeal of the island - 90 miles from east to west and 35 miles from north to south - is its topography and wildlife.
Travelers can begin at Seal Bay Conservation Park, home to 600 Australian sea lions, the third largest colony in the country. Half the population swims out to sea in search of food for two to three days at a time. The
others loll in the sand, resting from their deep dives in preparation for their next feeding excursion.
To view the sea lions at close range, take a guided tour of the beach - though you have to stand several feet back to allow them to rest and recover from their swim. “It’s one of the few places where you can get up close and personal with the mother seals who are back after three days at sea,” says Diana Schneider, owner of Snug Harbour Tours in Brooklyn, NY. However, she reminds travelers not too get too close to the seals as they are reconnecting with their young seals. Next, travelers can visit Flinders Chase National Park, where brown kangaroos roam at close range. These animals tend to be friendly, even in the wild, and are shorter and stockier than mainland kangaroos.
Afterward, follow South Coast Road west to see a cluster of granite boulders perched on the edge of a cliff plunging 90 feet to the sea. Known as the Remarkable Rocks, they were sculpted by wind and water and reflect the power of nature to create a sight unlike any other.
At the end of South Coast Road is the Cape du Couedic Lighthouse, a massive stone structure built in 1909 and situated on dramatic cliffs. Follow the wooden walkway down to the Admiral’s Arch, a rock cavern carved by the Great Southern Ocean. If you look down into the swirling water and the surrounding rocks, you’re likely to see members of a colony of 9,000 New Zealand fur seals - some of which may be staring right back at you. For four-wheel drive tours, Craig Wickham is a resident expert. (www.exceptionalkangarooisland.com).
New Zealand, an island nation with a mountainous interior, is dotted with inland rivers, lakes and waterways. Travelers can explore islands, harbors, sounds, and beaches as well as lakes, fiords and glaciers. Adventures include motor yachting, sailing, river rafting, kayaking, diving, and snorkeling. Other options are a fast catamaran ride to a bird sanctuary, swimming with seals and dolphins, or riding the world renowned jet boats. In Auckland, also known as the “City of Sails,” America’s Cup winning yachts or a casual harbor cruise are available. Queenstown is the place for jet-boating, bungy jumping, and heli-skiing. It’s all part of the adventure that is New Zealand.
For more information, visit Tourism Australia at www.australia.com and New Zealand Tourism at www.newzealand.com