Auckland City and harbour view

Satisfy Your Fernweh

Image source: Contributed

If you’ve been missing the rush of travelling to far-flung places, Sarah Vercoe discovers a hop across the ditch might be just the antidote you’ve been waiting for.

For those of us with an insatiable appetite for travel the pandemic has hit us hard. We’ve been struck down with a chronic case of ‘fernweh’ – a deep-seated longing to travel the world and experience far-flung places. 

News of a travel bubble with New Zealand earlier this year resulted in a collective cheer from those of us eagerly awaiting an international jaunt to break away from a dormant existence. So, in a nod to satiating my fernweh, I’ll be joining the rush of other wayfarers boarding the first International flights out of the Sunshine Coast Airport since 2019, bound direct for New Zealand.

Sure, I could have taken to the skies in search of faraway lands from Brisbane the moment the borders opened to our distant cousins but there’s something arduous about travelling to Brisbane to catch a flight that simply sucks the joy out of travel. Call me lazy but the ease of access out of the Sunshine Coast Airport combined with significantly less time in-transit was worth waiting for.     

Taking off in June, the first flights across the ditch from the Sunshine Coast will land in Tāmaki Makaurau, more commonly known as Auckland. And while you may have visited the bustling capital city before, the Auckland of 2021 is all shiny and new with a plethora of fresh ways to experience the multi-cultural metropolis. It beckons to be explored if only for a cheeky long weekend away; just because we can.  

If you’re anything like me, a long weekend away is the perfect excuse to indulge in an extravagant stay at a ritzy hotel. Joining the ranks of luxe stays peppered throughout the city, The Hotel Britomart is anything but ordinary standing out from the crowd with its seamless eco-friendly credentials and effortless extravagance. As New Zealand’s first 5 Green Star Hotel it boasts a staggering number of hand-made bricks, reclaimed Koari wood, and a smattering of embellishments from local artists inspired by their country’s natural elements. With eco-cool credentials and organic bed linen, compostable slippers, and even a recycling plan for all those beds, The Hotel Britomart is a luxe and lavish sanctuary with a conscience.  

Spread across the metropolis is a vast array of art galleries, cultural experiences, museums and natural allures with a slew of lavish eateries thrown in for you to refuel. 

Ahi Restaurant in Commercial Bay is just one in a long list of new restaurants peppered throughout Auckland; a must-visit for any food connoisseurs visiting the city. This celebrated restaurant is home to an addictive blend of sophisticated eats and that amiable, laid-back vibe with award-winning head chef Ben Bayly serving up delectable fare that’s a celebration of the people and places of New Zealand. Sourcing his ingredients from growers and suppliers across the country with a homely ambience and stellar views across the twinkling lights towards Waitemata harbour make for an intoxicating mix.  

An experience found only in New Zealand, we urge you to visit the new Weta Studios workshop, Unleashed. Witness the mind-blowing talents of this highly-acclaimed studio that worked their magic on the likes of Lord of the Rings and Avatar.  The 90-minute guided tour where fantasy collides with reality provides a behind-the-scenes look at horror, fantasy and sci-fi movies. 

Back to reality, it would be almost criminal not to head out on the water of this harbour city. Whisking visitors over the waves is Terra and Tide, guiding nature-lovers to Hauraki Gulf aboard the luxurious Pacific Star on their fascinating Hauraki Gulf Conservation Cruise. 

Known as New Zealand’s seabird capital, you’ll be introduced to resident and migratory seabirds, dolphins, Orcas, and the local Ganet colony at Horuhoru rock while sailing the spectacular Hauraki Gulf.  Marine mammal researcher and ocean policy expert Olive Andrews is the special guest tour guide sharing her knowledge of the gulf’s unique oceanography, its natural history and the intriguing biology of its residents. Don’t miss the chance to get up close and personal with the wildlife.  

Got more than a few days? Indulge with a foray to the South Island for a winter getaway surrounded by powder-dusted mountains. 

An easy hop, skip, and jump from Auckland, Queenstown comes alive in winter with world-class ski resorts, spectacular views and an abundance of luxury hotels and spas to unwind. This is the kind of place that converts sun seekers to snow bunnies.  

The ski season here is legendary with the Remarkables, Coronet Peak, and Mt Hutt taking centre stage. Boasting powder-soft snow and vantages like nowhere else in the world, Queenstown will have you under its spell from the very first sighting of its snowy peaks; to the stunning glassy surface of Lake Wakatipu and last drinks with new friends in a tucked-away bar. 

Book your New Zealand getaway from Sunshine Coast Airport direct through Air New Zealand or with your local travel agent


• Ahi Restaurant

• Onslow

• Homeland

• Mr Morris

• Kingi


• The Hotel Britomart

• Park Hyatt Auckland

• Hotel Fitzroy


• Weta Workshop Unleashed

• All Blacks Experience

•Terra and Tide’s Hauraki Gulf Conservation Cruise

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Discover 20+ makers showcasing unique art, ceramics, jewellery, and more from the region`s finest artisans.

Shop local and creative this Christmas for the perfect gifts. Don`t miss free workshops and entertaining programs.

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Ready to reframe those thoughts and conquer anxiety? Register now via the link in the bio or call 5409 4900 and kick those worries to the curb!

Get ready to time-travel through art history @caloundraregionalgallery ! From 8 December, 2023, to 21 January, 2024, join the ultimate print party curated by Kyoji Takizawa from the Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts!

Dive into the wild world of ten artists who flipped the script on contemporary art using prints in the 1970s!

Thanks to the magic of the Japan Foundation, Sydney, and the Consulate-General of Japan, Brisbane, this show is an art extravaganza you won`t want to miss!

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Friday 8 December - Christmas Night Market from 4-8pm! Immerse yourself in the holiday magic with dazzling lights, festive treats, and a FREE climbing wall for the kiddos!

Then, on Saturday 9 December at 9am, join for a Saturday Market day like no other! Join the Christmas Card Workshop – a merry morning of creativity, crafts, and spreading holiday cheer!

Mark your calendars for a weekend of joy and jolly vibes!

Get ready to jingle all the way at the 59th Annual Peregian Beach Carols – the Coast`s OG carolling extravaganza on Wednesday 20 December.

This year, the dynamic trio of @peregianfamilyandfriends , @thevillageperegianbeach and @peregiansurfclub are teaming up to make your holiday season merry and bright in Peregian Park!

What`s on the festive menu?
- Live beats and carol classics by local bands, solo stars, and dynamic duos
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To unwrap all this awesomeness, just throw in a jolly $15 per family – covering EVERYTHING, from tunes to the main man himself, Santa!

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Sleigh bells are ringing! Have you booked your spot yet?

Join us @coolumbeer on Thursday, 7 December, as the @coolum_business_and_tourism community jingle and mingle to celebrate the merriest time of the year!

Let`s wrap up the year with a dash of holiday cheer and join your Coolum Business and Tourism community for an unforgettable evening, marking the official start of the silly season!

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Date: Thursday, 7 December, 2023
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Tickets: Members $35.00 | Non-Members $45.00