|The crater of Mount Ngauruhoe|
Since I’ve been to both Australia and New Zealand, I’ve had a lot of people asking me which one I like better. You can read my answer at the end, but now it’s time to figure out which one you should visit first. Here’s my take on some head-to-head comparisons:
Food – This is pretty much a draw. Both are relatively close to Africa and Asia, in addition to having a lot of European influences. If you can’t find good food in Australia and/or New Zealand, you’re just too picky and set in your ways. Because I ate camel, crocodile and emu on its shores, this round goes to AUSTRALIA!
People – Australians are gregarious and have a natural exuberance. All you need to do to break the ice with an Australian is ask them about footy (Australian rules football), rugby or cricket. Boom, you’re in! With a Kiwi, there will be no need to break the ice. They are born talkers. They have a slightly more proper English vibe to them, though. You’ll find people in both countries pleasant and laid-back, for sure. But being a bit more loud and exuberant myself, I say advantage AUSTRALIA!
Scenery – The entire middle of Australia is desert. The coasts vary a bit. You’ll have rain forests, and even snowier patches! A lot of the continent is remote and unspoiled. It’s darn pretty. But holy cow, New Zealand will boggle your mind. There’s a reason epic movies and adventure-themed TV shows are filmed there. The active volcanoes, the rain forests, the glaciers! Advantage NEW ZEALAND!
Cool Stuff to Do – Australia has awesome cities, great small towns, adventures a-plenty. Camping in the Kakadu is unforgettable, as is spotting wild crocs in a billabong. What does it take to beat that? Hiking the aforementioned active volcanoes and glaciers, schweebing, zorbing, incredible national parks, parasailing, the Thermal Explorer Highway. Wow. Sorry, Aussie buds … but advantage NEW ZEALAND!
|From New Zealand Volume 1|
Transportation – In the cities, both countries are neck and neck. Australia is a huge freakin’ continent, but it’s easy to get around by air. And it’s not overly expensive. Driving is not feasible. New Zealand is small enough that you don’t really have to fly unless you’re jam-packing your schedule. This also goes to NEW ZEALAND.
Cost – The Australian dollar is a bit weaker than the American, so you can stretch your dollar. At this time, the NZ dollar is down nearly 2 to 1 to the US dollar. Mind-boggling exhange rates like this really let you get the most out of your trip. For now, advantage NEW ZEALAND!
Flora – Australia … all sorts of awesome fruits and vegetables, plus a strong coffee crop and vineyards! And there’s that wild exotic fruit farm in Cape Tribulation. Beautiful forests and bushlands. NZ has all sorts of great fruits and veges, too … and a hop-growing region along with the vineyards! But no coffee. Also great forests and bushlands. This round goes to AUSTRALIA!
|From New Zealand Volume 1|
Fauna – Oh, man … you will never see a more exotic and weird selection of native-born critters than in Australia. And just wait until you leave the airport! I kid, I kid. But seriously … salt-water crocs, box jellyish, snakes all and sundry, insects, wallabies, platypuses, kangaroos and more! New Zealand has a bunch of flightless birds, sheep and possums. Oy. This is all AUSTRALIA!
Culture – Both places are rugged and manly, with Australia having a more bawdy vibe that suits me. As for the indigenous stuff, I love the aboriginee culture for its stories, its language and the mysterious buzz of the didgeridoo. The Maori are a butt-kickin’ bunch, too, but I have to give this round to AUSTRALIA!
Intangibles – There isn’t anything I don’t love about Australia. The people, the food, the activities are all great. I would go back in a second. But I love the newness of New Zealand … a place that still seems to be growing, evolving and forming. It’s like a land before life. There is a majesty there I’ve never experienced before. Tough call, but it’s NEW ZEALAND!
The final score … Australia 5, New Zealand Australia 5. I can’t believe it! I need a tie-breaker! Let’s see … the flight time from Los Angeles is slightly less of New Zealand, so I’ve gotta give the Kiwis the nod by the very slimmest of margins.
Now, back to you: If you’re scared of big mean creatures that want to kill you, you might prefer New Zealand. But if you’re a big-city fashionista, Melbourne and Sydney will tip the balance in the Aussie’s favor.
Either place you go, have fun, be safe and send your friends!