The South Pacific has always had something of a mystique about it, ever since cartographers first realized that it connected the entire planet in one giant loop. Plus, it was about as far as you could get from anywhere, with the nearest civilization either in New Zealand, Australia or Chile, all of which were frontier communities when the oceans were first being explored. Today, though, their secrets are well-known. The South Pacific plays host to some of the most beautiful destinations in the world.
The New Zealand Southern Alps
The Southern Alps in New Zealand are perhaps among the most spectacular mountain ranges in the world. Even today, hundreds of years after their discovery, they remain almost entirely unspoiled, thanks to a lack of human habitation and strict planning laws. The Alps stretch along most of the length of New Zealand’s southern island – about 300 miles in total, and includes a host of lakes and interesting geological features. Although the creators of the Lord of the Rings movies wanted originally to shoot the film in Britain’s Lake District, they eventually settled on the southern Alps because of the sheer majesty and unspoiled nature of the location.
The Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef, sometimes described as the rainforest of the sea, plays host to a fabulously diverse range of creatures, both great and small. The reef, based on a coral ecosystem, is located about 200 miles off the coast of Australia, on the Australian shelf. Sunlight penetrates the water and provides the coral below with the energy they need to sustain all of the fish and small marine creates that use them as shelter. Great Barrier Reef tours run regularly to the area, providing tourists with a glimpse of nature at its most beautiful. Some scientists believe that ocean acidification will eventually destroy the world’s reefs, including the Great Barrier reef, so the time to visit is now if you haven’t already.
Easter Island is one of the most isolated islands in the world, situated on the Nazca plate, thousands of miles to the west of Chile. The island was once home to an ancient civilization, long since destroyed, who left giant stone carvings facing out to sea. The island is also home to unique plant life. Pharmaceutical companies have used a compound found on the island to suppress the immune system which they call rapamycin after the indigenous name of the island, Rapanui. Today visitors to Easter Island can enjoy tours and see its unique wildlife.
Brisbane is Australia’s third largest city, situated on the east coast to the north of Sydney. The climate here is hot, but there’s a lot to enjoy, including the incredible culture, the Gallery of Modern Art and the old Windmill. Nearby, you’ll find Mount Coot-tha which plays host to mountain biking in the summer, one of the best locations in all the southern hemisphere. There’s also a nearby wildlife center, the Lone Pine Koala Center, where you can enjoy some of Australia’s fuzziest animals.