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The holidays, in particular the Christmas/New Year’s time frame always end up being huge travel holidays, and the surcharges to reflect this. Most of the best spots around the world get booked out months, if not years, in advance.

So for this entry/update I wanted to name two spots I think would be absolutely phenomenal as a destination for this time frame. So as to not be biased towards Australia or New Zealand I’m going to pick one spot in each country. Of course, I could pick like 15-20 in each country alone, but I think one will suffice for now. I’m also keeping in consideration things like weather, climate and it being favorable to travel to this time of year.

In Australia, there are few places more majestic than the Blue Mountain Ranges in New South Wales. This is often overlooked as destination worth more than a day tour’s worth of time. However, it’s in the wild bush areas where you can find lots of local wildlife from koalas, kangaroos, kookaburras, wallabies, and even platypus. For most wildlife anywhere in Australia, the best time to see them is at dawn and again at dusk when they’re most active. However, during those times those day trips are no where near those wild places often missing the magical hours.

If you want to spend a weekend or longer tucked away from the world in resort that is understated, yet sublime, then look no further than Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa. There is no place finer for many miles than this place. The surrounding mountain ranges are draped in eucalypts and native bushland that’s a prime habitat for koalas and other wildlife mentioned above.

Wolgan (4)

You can decide to stay in your room all day, take a dip in your private infinity pool, get a massage treatment outside surrounded by old gum trees, grab a mountain bike and explore or whatever you want. The casual atmosphere mixed with elegance and sophistication in a bush setting is what puts this resort on par with some Africa’s finest. The main difference is you won’t have to be looking over your shoulder worrying about being some animals mid afternoon lunch. This is the perfect place to recover, rejuvenate and start the New Year off on the right foot.

Wolgan (2)

New Zealand is another tough one to pick, luckily being right in the middle of their summer season, it opens up the possibilities between the North and SouthIslands. However, for some people part of the whole New Year’s Eve experience is about getting all dressed up, going out for a great dinner and spending the night dancing until the early hours of the morning. In this case, then you want to be close enough to where all the action is, but not amidst it so you are not woken in the morning by the leftover revelers.

My second spot is located just outside Queenstown. This city is already a party town as it is, so being there for a night like New Years is going to be unprecedented antics. Festivities aside, you want a place that’s going to offer the very best views in the area, so that when you wake up on January 1st you have sweeping views of the lake and mountain ranges that are simply inspirational. The lodge is 7-minutes from Queenstown.

Matakauri Lodge offers the best and most refined experience. Attention to detail here is an understatement. For example a piece of furniture in one of the lounging areas was constructed from timber that was salvaged from when the Tsunami hit Thailand. There was a massive fundraiser done to help victims affected and this table was one of those pieces. Everyone you see working there is genuinely friendly and enjoys what they do. After you order your first drink they’ll remember what you’re drinking and offer it up with some nibbles the next time around.

Queenstown Moonlit background

The property is made up of 8 suites, each very secluded with a private porch, fireplace, walk in wardrobe and over-sized bath tub.

After you’ve recovered from the evening’s festivities, it’s a great launching point to go explore on a myriad of activities and adventures. Things like heli-fly fishing, hikes, jet boating, tours to the Milford Sound, private guides some of whom where location scouts for the Lord of the Rings films and are extraordinary individuals.

The two option above are towards the high end luxury end of the spectrum, but if you are traveling half way across the world and starting off a new year in style, why not start it off in style!

Have a great holiday season and safe travels for 2014!

Safe travels!