A vacation in New Zealand is the perfect excuse for a side trip to the exotic South Pacific. With many islands just a three to four hour flight away, a visit is convenient, easy to arrange and gives you bragging rights to one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Here are five best South Pacific islands for your Auckland add-on.
5 Best South Pacific Islands
Flight time from AKL: 3 hours 15 minutes
The archipelago nation of Vanuatu offers much variety for the intrepid traveller. Flights from Auckland land on Efate, home to the island’s capital Port Vila, from where it’s a short hop to the outlying islands. Try Tanna, where you can visit what’s surely one of the world’s most accessible volcanoes, Mount Yasur; or visit islanders who hold the British in such high esteem Prince Philip is considered a god. If you’re a keen bungee jumper, then time your visit to Pentecost Island for the southern hemisphere autumn. You’ll be able to watch the ritual of land diving, which is said to have provided AJ Hackett with the inspiration for this popular leisure pursuit.
The Cook Islands
Flight time from AKL: 3 hours 55 minutes
The Cook Islands are a popular winter sun destination for Kiwis. So why not follow in their footsteps and jet off to Rarotonga? As well as idyllic palm-fringed beaches, try a progressive dinner. Participants walk between homes to eat each of their three courses with a different host family, giving you the opportunity to see how the Cook Islanders live and get to know what makes them tick. A short flight away is the beautiful island of Aitutaki, its vast lagoon surrounded by coral reef a picture postcard South Pacific sight.
Flight time from AKL: 2 hours 55 minutes
Multicultural Nadi is the gateway to Fiji. Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple, said to be the largest Hindu temple in the South Pacific, is a tangible reminder of the town’s sizeable Indian population; and their Hindu faith is well worth exploring. But also take the opportunity to hop on a ferry to one of the outlying islands. The Mamanuca Islands are the closest to Nadi and one of them, Monuriki, was chosen as the filming location for the Tom Hanks movie Castaway.
Flight time from AKL: 4 hours 55 minutes
It’s a couple of hours more in the air to reach Tahiti, but for many, it’s well worth the extra investment of time. The largest of the 118 islands that comprise French Polynesia, it’s renowned for its waterfall-laden lush mountain backdrop and black sand beaches. For a more exclusive offering, stick with the Society Islands. But head for Bora Bora, beloved of Hollywood royalty and those with an equally sizeable bank balance.
Flight time from AKL: 2 hours 50 minutes
In contrast to the extravagance required for Bora Bora, Tonga’s a great option for budget travellers. Base yourself in Tongatapu, the main island. Hire a sea kayak and slip through its sheltered lagoon or enjoy myriad water sports. For something a little different, visit the Stonehenge of the South Pacific, Ha’amonga ‘a Maui, a three-stoned monument with a fascinating history. Fortunately, the top stone is kept firmly in place with mortised joints so there’s no danger of it falling.
These 5 best South Pacific islands are definitely worth hopping by when you travel to New Zealand.