Australia East Coast – Sydney to Cairns Road Trip

australia east coast

Sydney Opera House

Australia East Coast - Sydney to Cairns Road Trip

While you sit at home, you may be dreaming like So many people of doing that East Coast Sydney to Cairns road trip. Or the ‘East Coast Trail’ as it is called. It refers to the long stretch of road that follows Australia’s east coastline between Sydney and Cairns.

From the pristine beaches, ancient rainforests, beautiful cities, rugged national parks, islands and wildlife – the Sydney to Cairns coastline does offer a bit of everything and has enough activities to satisfy everyone even you the biggest adrenaline junkie around.

In this blog, I want to show the six best places to go along the coast from driving a 4×4 along Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, to sailing the Whitsundays Islands to scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef.

I spent four weeks touring the East Coast of Australia; so here’s my route up the coast from Sydney to Cairns. Enjoy!!!


When is the best time to tour the East Coast of Australia

 In North Queensland, where the weather is tropical, the summers are hot and humid, and the winters are dry and mild. The summer months can convey robust monsoon rains, that you’ll probably want to avoid.

 While the weather can be best within the north of Australia for the duration of the iciness months, it can be a piece cold in Australia’s south – temperatures can drop to 7 Celsius in Sydney throughout this time.

 Which means that in case you need appropriate weather in the course of your journey, you’ll probably need to strike a stability. I travelled in November when the temperature is a little cooler, and the crowds are few and far between.

 How long does it take to road experience the East Coast of Australia?

 Many people don’t appear to realize how vast Australia is. The space between Sydney and Cairns is over 2,800km, which is about 36 hours of uninterrupted riding time.

Given how significant the distances are, you’ll need to offer yourself sufficient time to look and do things alongside the way – without feeling like you probably did nothing but tour! Travel between locations regularly takes longer than it can appear at the map, so be sure to permit yourself enough time.

 I might propose an absolute minimum of 2 weeks in case you’re strapped for time, but four-six weeks is right. You may tick off the primary sights in 2 weeks, but travelling extra slowly and taking the time to discover places well will let you have a much higher experience.

Now enjoy your Sydney to Cairns road trip and explore the incredible East coast.


Coastal Walk in Sydney

The route: Sydney to Cairns Road trip


Begin your east coast journey in Sydney – Australia’s most iconic town. I propose spending at least five days here, however higher if you could! It’s a handy blend of each urban and seaside lifestyles, where global-renowned landmarks meet world-magnificence beaches.

 Manifestly, you’ll want to check out the Sydney Opera Residence and Harbour Bridge. Head to Circular Quay, where you’ll be capable of spending some time photographing those iconic landmarks.

Just a few minutes stroll far from round Quay; you’ll locate the Royal Botanic lawn. A verdant oasis within the coronary heart of Sydney, spend some time exploring the garden and possibly convey a picnic to experience.

 No visit to Sydney could be whole without trekking the enduring Bondi to Coogee Coastal stroll – a fantastically scenic 6km course so that you can take you to some of the best beaches along with the Japanese suburbs of Sydney.

 I also advocate you’re taking the ferry throughout to Manly seashore for a day, a suburb regarded for its scenic coastal walks and fantastic snorkelling. The short ferry from Circular Quay to Manly beach only takes just under a half-hour, so it’s well worth the trip up there.

Stuff to do in Sydney

  • Visit the Sydney Opera House
  • Hike the Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk
  • Visit Manly Beach
  • Surf in Bondi Beach
  • Walk around the Royal Botanic Gardens

Byron Bay

It’s easy to understand why it’s one of Austrailia’s most popular spots on the east coast. I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t fallen in love with Byron’s allure – the vibe is chilled, the people pleasant, and the beaches blessed with surprising splendour.

 There are masses of seashores, bars, and restaurants to revel in Byron, and I highly recommend a day of relaxation at Wategos beach, where it’s no longer unusual to see dolphins at play.

 One of the popular sports in Byron Bay is to hike to the Byron Bay Lighthouse at dawn. Start your walk from the seaside resort, a famous pub on Bay road. The view from the lighthouse is incredible, and I promise you the early morning wake up call is well worth it!

 At the same time as you’re in Byron, I also suggest taking an afternoon journey to Nimbin. Nimbin is an exciting place to explore, decorated with stores selling psychedelic apparel, spiritual wares, and cafes where you can relax.

 For the duration of my time in Byron Bay, I stayed in a hostel known as Arts manufacturing facility motel, which occurred to be the very hostel. It becomes very social, served suitable meals and kindly offered a trip bus into a metropolis – tremendously recommend.

Things to do in Byron Bay

  • Walk to the Byron Bay Lighthouse
  • Take a surfing lesson
  • Spot dolphins at Wategos beach
  • Visit Nimbin
  • Relax on the beach
Byron Bay at Sunset



For enthusiasts of the awesome outdoors, Noosa is one of the best stops. It has the Noosa Heads National Park. Noosa turned into truly one of my preferred places alongside the East Coast of Australia.


 The national park accommodates of over nine,800 acres of rainforest and heathland, and there are five exact on foot tracks to choose from.


The park is somewhat on hand, too; surely stroll up the hill from Noosa main beach closer to the Noosa National Park car park, from in which 15 kilometres of trekking trails thread via the desert.


It starts at Noosa Heads and ends at Sunshine seaside, passing via lots of lovely bays, the so-known as Fairy swimming pools and lots of flora and fauna recognizing opportunities.


 Noosa metropolis itself is also a pleasing region to go exploring. Make sure to test out Hastings road, the heart of Noosa Heads, that is domestic to lots of restaurants, cafes, artwork galleries, boutiques and designer shops.


 There is also a great beach where you can surf if you want to relax on the waves for the morning or afternoon. Noosa is a quieter hub than Byron, but it makes up for it in charm. 


Noosa primary seashore, a fabulous crescent of golden sand, best for relaxing and enjoying the views. There has been a surf festival on at the same time as I was there, so the seaside town turned into quite the buzz! Sunshine coast, on the other facet of Noosa Heads, is likewise extraordinary.


Noosa is likewise home to considered one of only two Everglade systems in the world and kayaking down them is a popular pastime. I recommend an afternoon journey, or maybe a single day ride, to head kayaking on the Everglades. It’s lovely.


Things to do in Noosa

  • Go hiking in Noosa Heads National Park
  • Relax and Surf at Noosa Main Beach and Sunshine Beach
  • Go kayaking in the Noosa Everglades
Surfing in Noosa

Fraser Island

Fraser Island was one of the highlights if not the best thing I did from my time in Australia, and if you may only have the funds for one big-price ticket attraction to your east coast of Australia road journey, make sure it’s this! 

 Stretching 122km, and ample in rainforests, dunes and freshwater lakes, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the global.

 Fraser Island can be accessed from Harvey Bay or Rainbow seaside, both of that have ferry crossings to the island. 

 You can rent a four×four and power your self across the island, or you could join a guided excursion. However, in my view, chose to enrol in a guided tour and signed up for a multi-day tenting and 4×4 journey bundle, which became one of the quality things we did in Australia. We drove a 4X4 along the seashore, swam in secluded lakes, discovered shipwrecks, and camped underneath the moon and stars chatting away.

I used Palace Adventures for our trip

 On Fraser Island, you’ll discover The Maheno Shipwreck, left deserted on Fraser Island ever since.

 Different highlights consist of Eli Creek, a meandering circulation in which you could sit down on an inflatable tube and go with the flow gently alongside its waters. Climb as much as Indian Head Lookout, where you’ll be graced with a sensational view of the island.

Or, take a dip inside the Champagne swimming pools, a beautiful swimming hollow regarded for its pools of fizzy water.

 The closing highlight, although, is Lake McKenzie. Likely the maximum visited website on the island; its waters encompass pure rainwater and its shore of natural silica sand. Spend a few hours swimming in Lake McKenzie’s best pools, and enjoy the impossible herbal beauty of Fraser Island.

Things to do on Fraser Island

  • Drive along Fraser’s “sandy highway” in a 4×4
  • Swim in clear Lake Mackenzie
  • Visit the magnificent Maheno shipwreck
  • Go tubing in Eli Creek



Whitsunday Islands


From Rainbow beach, head south towards Airlie seashore– the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. The Whitsundays are a marvellous group of seventy-four islands, characterized with the aid of dense rainforest and snow-white shores. It’s no surprise it’s one of the most famous cruising destinations in the world.


 There are all forms of sailing trips to pick from – speedy-paced day trips, loopy birthday party excursions, journey cruises, family cruises, and the entirety in between. Make sure to book onto one ideal to you!


 I opted for the sailing boat, which was two days cruising around the stunning Whitsundays with fantastic food and crew on board.

 In case you’re seeking out a more chilled-out vibe, opt for a Whitsundays cruise with New Horizon as an alternative. 


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 Your cruising adventure will possibly take you to Whitehaven seashore; an impossibly white stretch of sand that’s so tender, it’ll squeak beneath your feet.


Make sure to stroll as much as the Hill Inlet perspective, where you’ll be graced with a mesmerizing landscape which includes blue and white swirls, in which the transferring tide causes the sand and ocean to curve collectively.


What to do in Whitsunday Islands

  • Visit the stunning Whitehaven Beach
  • rub yourself with the most beautiful sand in the world
  • Sunbathe on the deck of your yacht
  • Go snorkelling
Whitsunday Islands
Relaxing on the Boat


Thought of like the adventure capital of Australia, Cairns is a suitable place to finish your east coast Sydney to Cairns road trip. Cairns lies nicely between the Daintree Rainforest and of course the world-famous superb Great Barrier Reef.


It’s an energetic backpacker city, with quite a number adrenaline sports on provide – which include bungee jumping, skydiving, and white water rafting.


 Whilst Cairns itself doesn’t, in reality, have a beach, it does have a stunning human-made lagoon within the centre of town. Here, you may swim, loosen up, have a picnic, and get away from the stifling warmth of tropical north Queensland.


 Make sure to make a journey to the Daintree Rainforest, too; it’s the oldest tropical rainforest within the international, wherein you’ll discover beautiful waterfalls, beaches, and wildlife.


 It really would now not be a journey to Australia without touring the world-famous high-quality Great Barrier Reef. There aren’t any shortage of businesses prepared to take you scuba diving or snorkelling. Choose a day experience with SeaQuest, wherein you’ll be whisked away to the outer reef for an afternoon of sun, sea, snorkelling and scuba. Assume to look colourful coral, rainbow fish, and perhaps even a sea turtle.


 If you’re looking for a laugh region to live in Cairns, I suggest Gilligan’s. Famous with each local and visitors, Gillie’s is reasonably-priced and friendly, with a wild nightclub attached to the premises.


In case you’re hoping to capture up on your splendour sleep, you’ll likely need to pass a life at Gilligan’s, however it’s worth visiting for a night of partying.


Top things to do in Cairns

  • Go scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef
  • Relax at Cairns Lagoon
  • Visit the Daintree Rainforest
  • Go bungee jumping, skydiving, or white-water rafting
  • Party at Gilligans


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New Zealand South Island Itinerary

New Zealand South Island Itinerary

Doubtful Sound, Fiordland National Park


New Zealand South Island Itinerary

If you thought the North Island was good, wait till you get to New Zealand’s South Island. An adrenaline junkies heaven where you can do practically anything ridiculous from Skydiving, Bungee jumping or flying stunt planes. So here is my New Zealand South Island Itinerary.

If you plan to fly into the South Island, then Christchurch is your best bet. However, if you are taking the Ferry over from Wellington, then you will get into Picton. This is where I start my journey through the South Island.

The ferry ride over through the Sound

Quick Overview

Official Language: English & Maori

Capital: Wellington

Currency: New Zealand Dollar ($1.92 vs £1.00 – 2019)

Fun Fact: The world’s first commercial bungee jump was a 43-metre leap off the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown in 1988.

Again time and mode of transport will be a varying factor, so I encourage you to adapt it to fit your needs and preferences. These are the places where you should definitely go along the way working your way around the island, plus a few that I heard were incredible, but I couldn’t go at the time.

New Zealand south island itinerary (2)


Wine Country, situated in the heart of wine-growing Marlborough. After heading into Picton on the Ferry, a great way to spend the day is to go round New Zealand’s famous vineyards. You can move around each vineyard by bike or car and a sample of their famous Sauvignon Blanc wines. It is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand, and the mountains frame the area.

While I was there I took a tour of the Cloudy Bay Vineyards which was stunning as well as delicious more info can be found at but there are many others to choose from. Only a day or two needed here, depending on your alcohol consumption.


Moving West and into Nelson. Nelson is a great base to go off and do activities nearby. Although Nelson is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, from long golden beaches to untouched forests and rugged mountains.


One of the best things to do here is to explore the Abel Tasman National Park and what better way than Kayaking around the golden beaches and exploring the mountains by foot. While you Kayak, you can get up close with the seals and watch them bathe off the rocks. With Kayaking, you can make day trips up to 5 days going slow and immersing yourself in the area.

New Zealand South Island


The town of Punakaiki is a small community on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand, between Westport and Greymouth. Punakaiki is best known for its Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. It is also a great base from which to explore the natural wonders of the Paparoa National Park, there are sandy beaches and rocky coastlines, through lush subtropical rainforest overhanging magical, moody rivers, to spectacular alpine tops there is something here for everyone to discover here.

You can Kayak through the rivers or take a horse riding trek through the National Park of Paparoa. This three-hour horse ride follows the Punakaiki river and up into the Punakaiki valley.

New Zealand south island itinerary (3)

Franz Josef Glacier & Fox Glacier

This is a must of the west coast. The glaciers that come down well below the snow line and almost to the sea. Here you can get a helicopter tour. Due to these Glaciers been at such a low altitude. They are among the most convenient to visit in the world. An easy walk is available to the foot of Franz Josef Glacier along the river valley with steep sides bearing gigantic horizontal scars from when the glaciers have retreated and advanced over the last decade. You can also take in the view of magnificent Fox Glacier by foot.

While I was there, I took a tour on top of Franz Josef Glacier via Helicopter. This is a great and exciting way to see the glacier with a three-hour hike through the glacier as well as the surrounding area and Westland Tai Poutini National Park.


Three and a half hours from the Glaciers is Wanaka. A picture-postcard town is known as the gateway to the Southern Alps. It is an ideal base for which to set off on your adventures. For adventure seekers, you can go skydiving, canyoning, climbing or mountaineering and there are hundreds of kilometres of tracks for hiking or biking.

The crystal-clear water of the lakes and rivers are ideal for Kayaking, fishing, lake cruises and jet-boating. You get the idea. Here list the top 10 things to do in Wanaka

New Zealand south island itinerary (5)
Franz Josef Glacier Heli Tour


Known as the adventure Capital of the world and for a good reason. From bungee jumping into a river to skydiving, skiing to swinging, this place has it all. When I was here, I went skiing in Cardrona and went bungee jumping off the Nevis Bungy, New Zealand’s highest bungee jump but also a good one to do it the Nevis Swing.

  • Bungee

  • Swinging

  • Skiing


There is so much to keep you occupied while you are here and is definitely a must-see place to experience. If you are feeling hungry though FergBurger is a place which everyone who rides into Queenstown has to try. To this day, the only burger to defeat me…..

New Zealand south island itinerary (6)

Fiordland National Park – Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound

Doubtful Sound

Save the best till last — there so many words to describe these places. While I was in Queenstown, I was recommended to do the overnight cruise in The Doubtful Sound. You can be transferred from Queenstown or Te Anau which is closer to the Fiordland National Park. Doubtful Sound is unspoiled, unmatched and unforgettable. With the overnight cruise, you can swim, kayak around the Sound and there is a guide giving you any info you have about the Sound. Here is a sample video of that the place.

Kayaking Doubtful Sound

This was the best thing I did in New Zealand. When I got back to Te Anau the following day, I cycled to Milford Sound which was around 100km. This was an incredible ride although I would get to a fantastic spot all alone, take a moment to appreciate it and then all of a sudden a couple of coaches would stop and offload people to take pictures. Even though this went on through till Milford Sounds, the scenery is incredible, and the National Park is like nothing else I have seen before. Here you can take a boat cruise around the Sound for the day and see it all up close.

  • Fiordland National Park

  • Milford Sound

  • Doubtful Sound

If you like hiking and time is on your side, then I would recommend hiking through the national park. There are huts to stay in and stunning view after stunning view.

Milford Sound is the touristy bit, and you can expect many people there throughout the day. Nevertheless, it is still well worth going, but I would go for the peace of the Doubtful Sound Overnight cruise where you really can experience this wonder of nature.

Fiordland National Park


From here I travelled to Dunedin, where I stayed for a few nights. Known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand I felt right at home. It is more of a university city.

While I was there I drove up to the Otago Peninsula – the views are endless and the beaches are beautifully rugged. The other thing Dunedin is famous for is the steepest street in the world or at least it was at the time. I believe the title has just gone to a street in Wales. Nonetheless, worth the hike up the street.

After Dunedin, I flew back to Auckland, and onto my next trip. However, there are many options for you to choose from there:


The Catlins Coast, the South Island coast is one of the most underrated spots in New Zealand. The Catlins has a massive concentration of things to do that are not only easily accessible, but they’re also free! The wild coast of the Catlins is full of major natural attractions from sea caves to waterfalls, lakes to rare wildlife.

Cathedral Caves


Sadly didn’t go to Christchurch due to the earthquake, but it is an energetic city where urban regeneration, creativity and innovation thrive. Has impressive street art, and state-of-the-art architecture that is changing the way the city looks and feels, but it still has that English heritage and tradition. From Christchurch, you can fly out of the country or head up north back to Picton and take the Ferry back over to the North Island.

Mount Cook National Park

Mt Cook Village sits in the heart of the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. While small, the village is the start of many adventures to explore New Zealand’s most extreme and most beautiful alpine environment. Mountains, glaciers, lakes, braided rivers, valleys, snow, so there is plenty to keep you occupied there.

WOrlds steepest street
The Worlds Steepest Street, Dunedin

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New Zealand North Island Itinerary

New Zealand North Island Itinerary

Volcanoes in Rotorua 

New Zealand North Island Itinerary

New Zealand North Island Itinerary

A while back I was lucky enough to spend six weeks in New Zealand where I cycled from the North Island in Auckland to the South Island in Milford Sound. What is a New Zealand North Island Itinerary for me might not be the same for you, but I encourage you to adapt to fit your needs and preferences.

Key points about New Zealand

Official Language: English & Maori

Capital: Wellington

Currency: New Zealand Dollar ($1.92 vs £1.00 – 2019)

Fun Fact: Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to climb Mount Everest in 1953, was a New Zealander.

One thing to take into account is the duration of your stay, one week, two weeks, three months etc. While I was cycling and can highly recommend it, you might have the freedom of a car or be going by coach.

We will start in the North and work our way down to Wellington in the most southerly point of the North Island.

New Zealand North Island Itinerary
Volcanoes in Rotorua

The Coromandel

North of Auckland is the Coromandel, this area is renowned for its pristine beaches, misty forests and chilled vibe, it is one of New Zealand’s most popular spots.

Highlights include Snorkelling, Kayaking in Catherdral Cove or relax in the lost spring Geothermal Spa.


Largest City in New Zealand, there are few things to do in and around the City, but I recommend Waiheke is a haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves and beaches, all just a 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland.

Highlights include Food and wine-tasting, Beaches and beautiful landscapes and Walking trails.

Hobbiton Movie Set – Hamilton

For all you Lord of the Ring and Hobbit fans, south of Auckland just before Rotorua there is Hobbit Town.

This can be a great place to stop off on your way out. You can get lost among the hobbit holes and visit the Green Dragon Inn, the mill and the Party Tree.


This is a must on your way down to see the geothermal wonders of Rotorua. This Volcanic landscape it a unique experience, unlike any in New Zealand.

You have the Te Puia’s bubbling mud pools, Pohutu Geyser and the colourful silica terraces. While the volcanic smell around Rotorua is not that appealing, these displays certainly are.

New Zealand North Island

Mitai Maori Cultural Experience

Again something I missed out on but was told it is an experience worth doing.

The Mitai Māori Village family are incredibly proud of their cultural heritage and share their stories, teachings and traditions with you.

This experience is famed for being one of the most authentic Māori experiences in New Zealand.

The Mitai Māori Cultural Experience transports you back to a time with a traditional hangi feast and also includes the world-renowned Fairy Spring, the waka (Māori war canoe) paddle-by, the haka and other traditional dances.

Lake Taupo

A Lake the size of Singapore right in the centre of the North Island. While the town is not much to write home about, it is the perfect base in which to launch all those adrenaline-filled activities.

Here you can freefall into one of the worlds most dramatic skydiving zones dropzones. Bungy jumping, whitewater rafting and many more.

There is also plenty of spots for those who want something a bit more chilled out too.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

When I was in New Zealand, this volcano erupted meaning I couldn’t do it, but it is known as one of the best day hikes in the world. You hike up over two active volcanoes, and the views are just stunning (apparently).

New Zealand North Island Itinerary
Rainy day in Lake Taupo


At the bottom of the North Island is Wellington, a stunning city with the harbour at its centre point. This is the place where you can take the ferry into the South Island across the very choppy waters.

Before you do though it is worth sticking about for a bit. Wellington has the Te Papa Museum, which shows you everything about New Zealand culture and heritage.

There are the colourful and vibrant Cuba Street and a Cable Car to the Botanical Gardens where you can get a great view of the harbour, but if you want a great viewpoint there a hike up Mount Victoria gives you splendid views over City.

I know I have missed out a few places along the way, but these are a must I believe for the best New Zealand North Island Itinerary.

Comment below places I have missed out, and what were the highlights of the North Island for you?

New Zealand North Island Itinerary
The City of Wellington

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