It is fair to say that one of the best things about spending your year abroad in Australia is the 3 month+ long summer holiday that you are given over Christmas. It allows for lots of travelling, both within and outside of Australia, as well as lots of time for sunbathing!
I started off my summer in Fiji, basically as far away from the UK that I could physically get! Fiji is an amazing country and I’m so glad that I was able to visit as it is somewhere that I never thought I’d be able to go. We spent the first couple of nights on the mainland, Nadi, which is nothing special, but a good place to base yourself in prep for the island hopping, with a choice of over 300 islands, they are the highlight of travelling in this country. However, the sunsets here are incredible! While in Nadi we decided to book a few days on Mana Island. The island was a 1.5 hour boat ride from the mainland across the beautiful clear South Pacific Ocean and was a highlight of the trip in itself. When we arrived on Mana we were welcomed with a traditional Fijian song and dance, and then left to our own devices to explore the island. The island was the most pristine place I have ever visited, and we spent most of the time lying in hammocks, sunbathing and snorkelling. Mana Island also has it’s own sand bank that is around 20metres wide and a 15 minute boat ride from the main island. On one of the days we went snorkelling here and it was such a surreal experience as there is absolutely nothing on the sand bank and it is surrounded by coral reef. A couple of my friends even saw a turtle swimming around the sand bank!
From Fiji we travelled to New Zealand. A group of 10 of us organised our own road trip spending one week on the North Island and two on the South. I unfortunately had a bit of a nasty welcome into Auckland airport as I had completely forgotten that there was an apple in my bag, and was fined $400 by immigration services for it. However, I tried to not let this dampen my mood and the next morning we started our trip heading Northwards to Opononi, visiting the Bay of Island as well. From here we headed back down south, stopping off at Rotoura and Taupo over a few days, ending in Wellington where we got the (very expensive) ferry across to the South island. From here we travelled a route through places such as Nelson, Abel Tasman, Arthur’s Pass, Franz Josef glacier, Queenstown and Christchurch. The South Island was much more aesthetic than the North and we had a lot of fun there, including a wine tour through Marlborough on bikes. We even experienced a 5.5 magnitude earthquake while in Blenheim!
Since New Zealand I have been exploring my host country, Australia, a bit more by travelling up the east coast. I started off in Sydney where I spent New Years Eve with incredible views of both the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. From Sydney I was able to travel through the Hunter Valley, Byron Bay, Noosa and Bundaberg before heading back down again to Brisbane. While in Bundaberg I went to a turtle research centre called Mon Repos and was lucky enough to see loggerhead turtles both nesting and hatching, and even got to pick up a new born hatchling to make sure that it completed it’s first journal to the sea! I was also able to spend a couple of nights on Lady Elliot Island which is on the Southern most tip of the Great Barrier Reef. Here I went on a glass bottom boat and spent a lot of time snorkelling with lots of brightly coloured fish, turtles, sharks and even had two manta rays swim 2 metres away from me which was incredible! As well as this, a few days later I visited North Stradbroke Island which is just off the coast from Brisbane, and is my favourite place that I have been to while on my year abroad so far. While here I was lucky enough to be in the sea when 7 wild dolphins started to swim and play around me!
I feel so lucky to be able to do all of this during my months off, and would encourage anybody to complete a year abroad in Australia for these experiences alone! Meanwhile, next stop Melbourne, Adelaide, Bali and Hong Kong!