From the world-famous Great Barrier Reef to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and iconic Sydney Opera House – Australia and New Zealand boast some of the most spectacular natural and cultural wonders on the planet. Thanks to dedicated conservationists, many of these remarkable sites have earned a coveted spot on the World Heritage List. Among the trove of treasures, these four UNESCO World Heritage sites stand out as must-visit destinations. Connect with the rich biodiversity and cultural heritage that make this part of the world truly extraordinary.
One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef ecosystem on Earth. With around 3,000 coral reefs and 900 tropical islands, the marine park stretches over 2,300 kms along the northeast coast – it can even be seen from outer space. Inscribed as World Heritage in 1981, the reef is renowned for breathtaking underwater landscapes, vibrant coral formations and an abundance of diverse marine life.
Conservation efforts are underway to protect this fragile ecosystem from climate change and other environmental threats. However, you can visit the park all year round and one of the most reef-friendly ways is to snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef. You can also go scuba-diving, take a tour in a glass-bottomed boat or get a bird’s eye view in a helicopter joy-flight.
Where to stay
Looking for the best point to dive in? Find great accommodation options with the Barrier Reef right on your doorstep. Mackay is home to award-winning accommodation right next to snorkel tours of the reef. Townsville’s Clarion Hotel is also only a jump away – and a five-minute walk to local shops and restaurants.
The World Heritage site Kakadu National Park, in Australia’s Northern Territory, earned its place on the List in 1981 for its breathtaking natural beauty and cultural values. Covering nearly 20,000 square kms, Kakadu is Australia’s largest national park and home to remarkably diverse ecosystems, including wetlands, woodlands, and dramatic rock formations.
Discover thundering waterfalls, lush rainforests and sweeping vistas, and learn about the deep, cultural significance of the region. The ancient, rugged landscape is rich in Aboriginal cultural heritage, with rock art sites offering insights into the traditions, stories and lives of the Indigenous people who have inhabited the area for thousands of years.
Where to stay
After exploring Darwin Kakadu National Park, enjoy modern, resort-style accommodation conveniently located minutes from the airport at Quality Hotel Darwin Airport.
A symbol of 20th-century architectural brilliance, the Sydney Opera House joined the World Heritage List in 2007, after first opening its doors in 1973. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, this iconic urban sculpture stands on the tip of a peninsula jutting out into Sydney Harbour, a landmark recognised the world over.
With its distinctive sail-like profile and avant-garde design, the Opera House is a masterpiece of modern creativity and innovation, and is one of the most beloved World Heritage sites in Australia. It’s also a symbol of Australia’s creative and artistic achievements, with acclaimed performances, guided tours and stunning views of the world-famous harbour.
Where to stay
Visit the Sydney Opera House and enjoy modern, well-appointed accommodation in and around Sydney, from boutique hotels to spacious studios and apartments.
Across the Tasman in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, is another extraordinary UNESCO site. Ascribed dual World Heritage status in 1990 for both its cultural significance and outstanding natural beauty, the Tongariro National Park is a stunning volcanic wonderland. Centred on three volcanoes, with ancient lava flows and steaming craters, the 80,000 hectare park is also deeply connected to Māori cultural traditions and mythology.
A popular highlight of the park is the iconic Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a challenging yet rewarding trek through diverse terrains, including alpine landscapes and emerald lakes. Explore the cultural significance of the area in the sacred sites and historic Māori carvings. One of the top New Zealand World Heritage sites, Tongariro National Park offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.
Where to stay
Base yourself in nearby Taupō, itself inside the caldera of an ancient volcano. You’ll find great accommodation options, such as the Quality Suites Huka Falls, set on acres of landscaped gardens and vineyards. Quality Inn Acapulco is another great option, centrally located close to activities in Taupō.