Photo by: Julia Chapple

While the dreamy isles of the South Pacific are rarely visited for a weekend, both Australia and New Zealand have plenty to offer in the way of city escapes. Wineries are a major draw for these two nations for weekend trips. Beaches and national parks are also favored by city folk escaping the traffic and smog of places like Auckland, Sydney, and Melbourne.

  1. Hunter Valley, Australia The Hunter Valley is Australia’s most notable wine region and sits just 2-3 hours drive north of Sydney. It’s home to several of the largest vineyards, as well as small inns, cellars, and decent dining options.
  2. Ohakune, New Zealand This is the North Island’s top ski destination and sits near Tongariro National Park. The resort is home to the highest vertical drop in Australasia, has the largest ski terrain in the country, and the highest lift access terrain.
  3. Barossa Valley, Australia The Mediterranean climate of this wine region makes it one of the best escapes for Adelaide. Apart from vineyards there are quaint villages and a beautiful countryside comprised of rolling hills and fertile valleys.
  4. Byron Bay, Australia The easternmost point on continental Australia is just 1.5 hours from Brisbane and 40 minutes south of the Gold Coast. Surfing beaches, posh resorts, and year round tropical climate make the one of the best escapes form across Australia.
  5. Thredbo, Australia More than 80 inches a year fall on this mountain in New South Wales and it also has the largest snow making means in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s the best terrain in Australia without question and rivals resorts in neighboring New Zealand.
  6. Fraser Island, Australia Rainforests, surf spots, sand dunes, mangrove forests, and rare wildlife make Queensland’s Fraser island one of the country’s best long weekend retreats. The World Heritage Site has no paved roads and practically a giant sandbar making it an almost 77 mile long beach.
  7. Yarra Valley, Australia Close to Melbourne, this Wine region is a major tourist stop for weekend travelers. When not knocking on cellar doors, you’ll find vibrant wildlife and stunning gardens and orchards.
  8. Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand From Kaiteriteri beach to Wainui Bay in the country’s smallest national park you’ll come to many of the best golden beaches and rocky cliffs, not to mention hiking trails, bird life, and forests.
  9. Bondi Beach, Australia Although it is practically in Sydney, it is still a place to spend the weekend and getaway. The idyllic white strip of sand lined with hotels, beach bars, and restaurants all favored by the buff crowd.
  10. Mercury Island, New Zealand Just a 25 minute helicopter ride form Auckland brings you to this posh private island can be yours - for $20,000 a day. You don’t just escape from the city, but to extreme luxury, service, fine food, and divine scenery.

Click Here for an Introduction to Weekend / City Escapes Vacations