A Guide to the Top 10 Whitsundays Cruises

Known for its calm blue waters, diverse marine life, and stunning white sand beaches, the Whitsunday Islands are the perfect place for a tropical getaway. Located near the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea, this magnificent archipelago is teeming with tropical marine life, and Whitsundays cruises are undoubtedly the best way to explore its many wonders. However, with so many sailing adventures to choose from, it can be difficult to know which trip is the right option for you. 

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with choice, Backpacker Deals has got you covered! We’ve put together the ultimate guide to the top cruises in the Whitsundays to help you find the perfect sailing adventure. This comprehensive guide contains all the essential information you need to choose your cruise, from tour prices and duration to age limits, room types, and much more. We’ve even researched what kind of travellers are best suited to each cruise to ensure your chosen trip flawlessly matches your vibe!

 

Take a look through our extensive list of Whitsundays cruises below and find the perfect sailing adventure for your needs with Backpacker Deals today!

 

Explore Our Top Whitsundays Cruises

 

1. Spank Me Whitsundays Sailing & Camping Adventure

Price: $529

Duration: 2 days/2 nights

Perfect For: Friend groups, solo travellers, and couples looking to relax and make new friends.

Okay yeah, the name of this sailing tour is a little odd, but trust us when we say the experience you’ll have is anything but! “Spank Me” is an 82-foot ex-racing yacht that sleeps 27 guests and 3 crew members and has been decked out to cater to adventurers of all ages. If you’re looking to have a fantastic time at sea and get social without the party boat vibes, this is the trip for you! 

 

Visit iconic spots like Hook Island, Hayman Island, Border Island, and Whitsunday Island, sunbathe on deck, stroll along Whitehaven Beach, snorkel at the Great Barrier Reef, and catch stunning sunsets over the water. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can even spend your second night away from the boat to camp on one of the beautiful islands in the area. If that’s not holiday relaxation at its finest, we’re not sure what is!

 

The Finer Details:

Meals: All meals included (BYO alcohol and snacks)

Age Limit: All ages

Max Group Size: 27

Included Activities: Snorkelling, 1-night island camping (optional), island hopping, and whale-watching (June - October)

Room Type: Share-single and share-double open-plan bunk rooms with shared facilities

 

2. Atlantic Clipper Whitsundays Sailing Tour

Price: $649

Duration: 2 nights

Perfect For: Young solo travellers and backpackers looking to make new friends and have fun day and night!

atlantic clipper yacht whitsundays

Looking for something that’s a little less relaxing and a lot more upbeat? We’ve got you! If you’d prefer to spend your sailing trip enjoying action-packed experiences with other young, fun-loving travellers, this is one of the best Whitsundays tours you could pick. Equipped with an 8m inflatable waterslide, water chute, diving platform, and a 12-person hot spa, this boat is essentially just one big playground for adults! 

 

Spend your days splashing about in the water and snorkelling with the local marine life before dancing the night away with your fellow travellers, crisp beer in hand. With its spectacular vibes, fun-loving crew, and endless thrilling activities to try, this sailing tour is every backpacker’s dream. 

 

The Finer Details:

Meals: All meals and snacks included (BYO alcohol)

Age Limit: 18-35 years old

Max Group Size: 54

Included Activities: Whale-watching (July - September) and snorkelling

Room Type: 4-person and 3-person share rooms OR private twin and double rooms

 

3. Matador Snorkel & Sail

Price: $450

Duration: 2 days/1 night

Perfect For: Families, couples, and friend groups looking to relax on the beach and see some wildlife.

Matador whitsundays cruise

If you’re searching for the best overnight cruise in the Whitsundays for families, easygoing friendship groups, and cosy couples alike, a sailing adventure aboard the Matador is the ideal choice! Escape the mainland for one night and spend your time at sea exploring everything that makes the Whitsunday Islands so special. 

 

Go snorkelling above vibrant reefs filled with colourful fish, spot manta rays, whales, dolphins, and turtles while you sail, and drink in stunning postcard-worthy views. This sailing trip includes a visit to the iconic Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet Lookout, with plenty of opportunities to relax, soak up the sun, and enjoy quality time with your loved ones. 

 

The Finer Details:

Meals: All meals included (BYO alcohol and snacks)

Age Limit: 12 years and above

Max Group Size: 21

Included Activities: Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout, snorkelling, and whale-watching (June - October)

Room Type: Open-plan bunk rooms with shared facilities

 

4. Avatar Whitsundays Sailing Adventure

Price: $589

Duration: 2 days/2 nights

Perfect For: Luxury travellers looking to sail in style aboard the only Trimaran in the Whitsundays.

avatar trimaran whitsundays

Explore the beauty of the Whitsundays aboard Avatar and make the most of the minimal lean while sailing and extra wide deck space that this large, luxury trimaran affords. Spend your time sunbathing on the yacht’s comfortable nets, go snorkelling along the fringes of the Great Barrier Reef, and stop off at several islands for relaxing beach walks and stunning views. 

 

Avatar welcomes guests of all ages, sleeping up to 26 guests and 3 crew members who are dedicated to making sure you have the best trip possible. Boasting both open-plan bunks and private double rooms, this yacht is perfect for all luxury travellers, whether they’re looking to make new friends or simply enjoy a relaxing time with loved ones. 

 

The Finer Details:

Meals: All meals included (BYO alcohol and snacks)

Age Limit: All ages

Max Group Size: 26

Included Activities: Snorkelling, whale-watching (June - October), and island hopping

Room Type: Open-plan bunks and private doubles with shared facilities

 

5. Siska Whitsundays Sailing Tour

Price: $469

Duration: 2 days/1 night

Perfect For: Backpackers, friend groups, and solo travellers aged 18-35 looking for a budget-friendly adventure where they can party with new friends.

If you’re a young, fun-loving traveller keen to experience the beauty of the Whitsundays with a group of new friends and a cool beverage or two, this is the tour for you! Hop aboard Siska, a classic sailing yacht, and explore crystal clear waters and vibrant reefs by day before partying with your group or unwinding with a quiet drink by night. 

 

With so much to explore, endless stunning vistas to see, and a friendly, knowledgeable crew to guide you on your adventures, this is easily one of the best Whitsundays cruises out there for young backpackers. Once you’re back on shore, you’ll also have a chance to enjoy Airlie Beach’s vibrant nightlife at an electrifying afterparty that promises delicious food, refreshing beverages, and awesome live music. It’s the perfect way to say bon voyage to an unforgettable sailing experience! 

 

The Finer Details:

Meals: All meals and snacks included (BYO alcohol)

Age Limit: 18 years and above

Max Group Size: 24

Included Activities: Snorkelling, Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout, and Airlie afterparty

Room Type: Open-plan cabins with single and double beds and shared facilities

 

6. Reefsleep Great Barrier Reef & Whitsundays Experience

Price: $670

Duration: 2 days/1 night

Perfect For: Families, couples, and friends looking to enjoy a unique Great Barrier Reef experience and sleep under the stars.

If you’re after a boating tour that’s a little different to your typical Whitsundays cruises, this may just be the bucket list adventure you’ve been searching for! Reefsleep is more than a fun cruise trip; it’s a wholly immersive experience perfect for avid adventurers young and old. Relish striking sunrise and sunset views, enjoy exclusive access to the Great Barrier Reef before the daytrippers arrive, and sleep under the stars in unique and comfortable Reefbeds. 

 

Throughout your adventure, you’ll discover countless ways to explore the reef, from Reefsleep’s magical underwater viewing deck, semi-submersible tours, and snorkelling trips to optional dives, helicopter rides, and much more. Whether you’d prefer to jump right into the Coral Sea’s turquoise waters or observe its underwater beauty from afar, this trip has something for everyone.

 

The Finer Details:

Meals: All meals and some alcoholic beverages (beer and wine) included

Age Limit: 6 years and above

Max Group Size: 24

Included Activities: Snorkelling, underwater observatory, and semi-submersible guided tour

Room Type: Private single and double swags under the stars

 

7. Summer Jo Whitsundays Sailing Adventure

Price: $899

Duration: 3 days/3 nights

Perfect For: Solo travellers, small friend groups, and families with older children looking for a luxurious action-packed island adventure.

summer jo yacht whitsundays

Keen to add a little luxury to your Whitsundays sailing trip? We get it! After all, every adventurer needs a good amount of rest and relaxation if they’re going to spend their days exploring. Thankfully, Summer Jo offers exactly that! With its attentive crew, spacious decks, and various luxury cabin options, this high-class sailboat is the perfect place to recharge after a long day of adventuring. 

 

Explore the many highlights of the Whitsundays and enjoy thrilling trips to some of the Great Barrier Reef’s finest locations before relaxing in luxury back on deck. This trip offers a number of water activities, including paddle boarding, snorkelling, and diving experiences for both certified and non-certified divers. Keen explorers can even enjoy diving around the reef at night to experience its underwater world from a truly unique perspective.

 

The Finer Details:

Meals: All meals, snacks, and some non-alcoholic beverages included (BYO alcohol)

Age Limit: 12 years and above

Max Group Size: 32

Included Activities: Snorkelling, diving, Whitehaven Beach, and Hill Inlet Lookout

Room Type: Shared single or double rooms OR private double, twin, or queen cabins, all with ensuite facilities

 

8. Whitsundays Sailing Experience on New Horizon

Price: $629

Duration: 2 days/2 nights

Perfect For: Couples, solo travellers, and friend groups aged 18-35 who want to party with new friends. 

new horizon whitsundays yacht

Are you ready to hop aboard an epic sailing adventure, meet incredible people from around the world, and have the best time exploring the highlights of the Whitsundays together? If you answered “yes”, then New Horizon is the place to be! Led by an amazing crew who are dedicated to providing the best experience possible, this sailing adventure promises the trip of a lifetime for young travellers looking to live it up. 

 

Stroll along the iconic Whitehaven Beach, visit the Hill Inlet Lookout for stunning island views, spot various marine animals, and go snorkelling or paddle boarding over colourful coral reefs. Then, after the day is done and the sun has set below the horizon, you can spend your nights getting to know your group over a cool beverage on deck. 

 

The fun doesn’t end once you’re back on shore either, as this is one of the few Whitsundays cruises that also offers an exclusive afterparty! Hosted at one of Airlie Beach’s liveliest nightclubs, this unforgettable party is the perfect way to round off this thrilling adventure. 

 

The Finer Details:

Meals: All meals and snacks included (BYO alcohol)

Age Limit: 18 years and above

Max Group Size: 32

Included Activities: Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout, snorkelling, paddle boarding, and exclusive afterparty

Room Type: Air-conditioned single and double share cabins

 

9. Hammer Whitsundays Sailing Adventure

Price: $620

Duration: 3 days/2 nights

Perfect For: Sociable young travellers looking to take each day as it comes, make new friends, and explore the highlights of the Whitsundays together.

hammer whitsundays sailing trip

If you like a little flexibility thrown into your adventures and are keen to explore the Whitsundays on a cruise that celebrates spontaneity, Hammer is the right sailboat for you. With no set itinerary, each trip aboard this maxi yacht is planned around the daily weather conditions, tides, and group preferences. Not only does this allow for more freedom, but it also means you’ll get to experience the Whitsundays in the best way possible every day! 

 

This Whitsundays cruise offers a range of possibilities, with the chance to enjoy multiple snorkel sites, scenic lookouts, bushwalks, island visits, match races, sunset beach hangs, and much more! Oh, and there’s no need to worry about missing out on the highlights either; every trip includes a visit to Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet Lookout, and you’re guaranteed to go snorkelling and bushwalking at some point during your adventure! 

 

The Finer Details:

Meals: All meals, snacks, and some non-alcoholic beverages included (BYO alcohol)

Age Limit: 18 years and above

Max Group Size: 23

Included Activities: Snorkelling, Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout, and bushwalking

Room Type: Single and double beds in shared dormitory-style cabins

 

10. Entice Whitsundays Sailing Adventure

Price: $669

Duration: 2 days/2 nights

Perfect For: Couples, families, and small friend groups seeking a relaxing and fun sailing experience with a small group of people and no set itinerary. 

entice whitsundays sailing trip

Much like the Hammer sailing adventure, a trip aboard Entice also has no set itinerary to allow for maximum flexibility as you make your way around the Whitsunday Islands. With a maximum capacity of just 10 people and countless exciting activities for all ages, Entice is ideal for families, couples, and close friends looking to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. 

 

Explore the water by snorkelling along the Great Barrier Reef, traversing the Coral Sea on a paddle board or glass-bottom canoe, or spotting countless marine animals from the boat. You can also enjoy time on land by relaxing on Whitehaven Beach, taking a guided walk through Whitsunday National Park, or admiring the picture-perfect vistas from Hill Inlet Lookout.

 

However you choose to spend your time, this trip is sure to deliver a truly unforgettable adventure, making it one of the best Whitsundays cruises out there. 

 

The Finer Details:

Meals: All meals included (BYO alcohol)

Age Limit: 6 years and above

Max Group Size: 10

Included Activities: Snorkelling, paddleboarding, glass-bottom canoe and sea scooter trips, Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet Lookout, and Whitsunday National Park guided bushwalk

Room Type: Shared single rooms with shared facilities OR private double, twin, or triple cabins with shared or ensuite facilities

 

Book Whitsundays Cruises Online With Backpacker Deals!

Ready to make your dream cruise a reality? Book online with Backpacker Deals today and receive an exclusive 10% cashback voucher to use on the next tour or experience you book through our website! Still haven’t found a tour that’s quite right for you? No problem! Browse our entire range of Whistundays cruises and sailing trips or contact our team to discuss your needs and allow us to help you find your perfect match today!

Your Guide to Planning the Ultimate East Coast Australia Road Trip

With its stunning coastline, epic adventures, and various iconic landmarks, it’s no wonder the East Coast of Australia is one of the most popular road trip destinations ever! Whether you’re an avid adrenaline junkie, a professional sun seeker, or a certified nature enthusiast, this dreamy stretch of paradise has something for everyone. 

 

If you’re looking to travel the East Coast of Australia, Backpacker Deals has all the expert tips and guidance you need to make your road trip dreams come true. Check out our complete guide to the East Coast below and allow our team to help you create the ultimate road trip itinerary today!

 

How We Can Help

As a seasoned team of travellers, we know there is no “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to planning the perfect trip. That’s why we decided to create our exclusive East Coast Package Builder so our customers can obtain personalised road trip itineraries that are expertly designed to meet their needs. You know what kind of adventure suits you best, and we’re here to give you the local insights and professional resources you need to make your dream road trip a reality!

 

Whether you’re a solo traveller, a couple, a group of friends, or one big family, you can rest assured that we have the passion, expertise, and insider knowledge to help you organise the perfect adventure. Try our East Coast Package Builder for yourself, or keep on reading for even more exclusive insights into planning the road trip of a lifetime!

 

Step 1: Choose How You Want to Travel

The first step for any great adventure is choosing how you’d like to travel, and your road trip across the East Coast of Australia is no different! There are multiple ways to travel along the East Coast, and you don’t necessarily need a license or a whole lot of money to get around! Check out the most popular travel options below and allow Backpacker Deals to help you find the perfect mode of transport for your adventure. 

 

Hop-on Hop-off BusHop on Hop off Greyhound Bus East Coast Road Trip

As the most cost-effective travel option, hop-on-hop-off buses are an ideal choice for budget-conscious travellers who want to drive up the East Coast without driving up the price.

 

These buses will take you to both big cities and small towns, giving you an authentic taste of East Coast life and Aussie culture throughout your journey. 

 

If this sounds like your ideal travel style, we can help you secure the perfect hop-on-hop-off bus pass for your trip. Simply tell us how long you’d like to spend travelling along the East Coast and we’ll find the perfect multi-day bus pass for your adventure. From there, you can hop on and hop off the bus as you please and explore each destination on your bucket list at your leisure. Easy!

 

Hire a Campervan

If you’re looking for a little more freedom on your road trip and would prefer to choose your own path, hiring a campervan is a great choice!

 

This option is perfect for travellers who like to take each day as it comes and is highly popular amongst couples, friendship groups, and families seeking flexibility on their adventure.

 

If you’re keen on travelling this way, Backpacker Deals can help. All you have to do is let us know your start and end location along with your travel dates and campervan preferences. From there, we’ll get to work finding a vehicle that meets your travel requirements and has all the creature comforts you need during your East Coast road trip!

 

Not Sure Which Travel Option is Right for You?

If you’re having trouble deciding how to travel, we’ve got you covered! Whether you need help weighing up your options or you’re hoping to explore other forms of transportation that better suit your requirements, we can provide the support you need. Get in touch with our team today to discuss your options and allow us to help you plan a smooth journey!

 

Try Our Custom Package Builder

 

Step 2: Explore Different Activities Across the East Coast

Before you begin your East Coast Australia road trip, it’s a good idea to take a look at the different types of activities you can enjoy on your journey. Then, once you’ve got a list of all the things you’d like to do, you can plan them all in advance so you don’t risk missing out! Researching these activities will also help you better plan your itinerary so you know exactly how much time you’ll need in each location. Nobody likes feeling rushed, right? 

 

Need a little travel inspiration to get started? We’ve got you covered! Check out our list of the most popular East Coast experiences below and find the perfect activities for your road trip today!

 

Learn How to Surf

Surf lesson east coast

Have you really been to the East Coast if you haven’t gone surfing? This righteous water sport is a way of life in Australia, and as firm believers in engaging with the local culture everywhere we go, we’d highly recommend hopping on board! 

 

Whether you’re a complete beginner or a surfing aficionado (aka a Righteous Dude), we have a range of rip-roaring adventures for you to enjoy, including introductory lessons, action-packed surf camps, and more. 

 

Chase the Adrenalineskydive east coast australia road trip

If you’re the type of friend who’d rather spend their weekend jumping out of a plane or diving with sharks instead of meeting up for a few drinks or a leisurely picnic, then we’ve got two questions for you.

 

First of all… WHY?! Just kidding (kind of)! Secondly, are you ready to experience the ultimate thrill-seeking adventure?! If your answer is a resounding “HECK YEAH!”, then you’re in luck! 

 

The East Coast of Australia is packed with all kinds of adrenaline-filled experiences, from epic skydives and heart-pounding bungy jumps to riveting off-road expeditions, jet boat adventures, and more. Reach out to our team today and allow us to help you plan your most hair-raising adventure yet! 

 

Spot Unique Aussie Wildlife

East Coast Australia wildlife koala

The East Coast of Australia is a haven of diverse wildlife and fascinating native species. From Phillip Island and the Blue Mountains to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, this unique corner of the world is every nature lover’s dream. 

 

Whether you’d prefer to spend your time watching wildlife from afar or getting up close and personal with Australia’s most iconic creatures, we’re sure to have the perfect adventure for you.

 

Spot little penguins as they waddle onto the beach, swim alongside whales and dolphins, explore ancient rainforests and secluded water holes, and reconnect with nature in endlessly beautiful ways.

 

Set Sail on a Boating Adventure

Catamaran Sail East CoastWhen you’re planning a road trip across the East Coast of Australia, hopping on a cruising or sailing adventure somewhere along the way is a must-do activity. There’s truly no better way to experience everything that makes this beautiful destination so iconic. 

 

Hop on a whale-watching adventure, take a luxurious sunset cruise, or enjoy an overnight sailing trip and witness the beauty of the East Coast from a whole new perspective. Whatever kind of trip floats your boat, you can count on us to help you find the perfect experience somewhere along the way! 

 

Discover Diverse Underwater Worlds

Reef trip East Coast Australia

The East Coast has some truly spectacular marine life, so why not jump in and explore it all on a diving or snorkelling adventure?

 

Discover the Great Barrier Reef’s colourful corals, explore Moreton Island’s iconic Tangalooma Wrecks, swim with whales on the Gold Coast, or snorkel with turtles in Byron Bay. 

 

Whether you’re an experienced diver or a first-time snorkeller, the East Coast of Australia is jam-packed with endlessly exciting adventures for all ages and every skill level. Allow our team to help you find the perfect trip for you and dive headfirst into the vibrant underwater world of the East Coast today!

 

Step 3: Plan Your Trip Around the Top East Coast Locations

Some of the country’s most iconic destinations can be found along the East Coast of Australia, and every road trip map should include these places as essential stops along the way. If you’re not sure which must-visit locations need to be included in your itinerary, you can find them all below! 

 

Melbourne cityscape

Melbourne

Melbourne, Victoria's vibrant capital, is an unmissable spot for anyone exploring the East Coast, with many road-trippers choosing to either start or finish their journeys here. Filled with culture and history, this city is renowned for its vibrant lifestyle, world-class dining, and iconic laneway art, promising endless adventure and opportunity to all who visit. 

 

Stroll through Federation Square, indulge in the flavours of Queen Victoria Market, take in the colourful street art down Hosier Lane, or visit Phillip Island for an enchanting day of wildlife spotting. Whatever type of adventure you’re looking to have, this city is the perfect place to begin or close out your Aussie road trip. 

 

SydneySydney East Coast Australia

Sydney, Australia's dazzling harbour city, is a real highlight of the East Coast.

 

Famous for its legendary Opera House and iconic Harbour Bridge, this iconic destination offers a wealth of rich history and stunning architecture just waiting to be explored. 

 

Learn to surf at Bondi Beach, visit the Rocks to explore Sydney’s past, or walk around Circular Quay to see the breathtaking views that put this city on the map. Whether you’re a history buff, a culture lover, or simply an avid explorer seeking new adventures, this bustling metropolis is guaranteed to be a memorable stop on your journey.

 

Byron Bay LighthouseByron Bay

Immerse yourself in the laid-back lifestyle and renowned surf culture that Australia does so well with a trip to the beautiful coastal town of Byron Bay.

 

This idyllic destination is known for its stunning seaside, distinct wildlife, vibrant arts scene, and carefree way of life, offering a dreamy escape into nature to anyone who visits. 

 

Surf at Byron’s Main Beach, explore the town’s eclectic shops and cafes, or complete the beloved Cape Byron Lighthouse walk for spectacular ocean views that seem to go on forever. With its lush hinterland, gorgeous beaches, thriving local markets, and lively festivals, Byron Bay is one stop you won’t want to miss on your East Coast adventure.

 

Brisbane East Coast AustraliaBrisbane

Ah, Brisbane… Queensland’s sunny capital… As a Brisbane-based team, it might seem a little biased when we say this bustling city is our favourite on the East Coast, but we just can’t help it! As a particularly lively capital, you’ll find countless things to do in Brisbane, from discovering its hidden laneway bars and charming museums to exploring its stunning gardens and mountain vistas. 

 

Catch a show at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, experience the vibrant nightlife at picturesque riverside venues, or enjoy a seaside escape without leaving the city at Southbank’s iconic Streets Beach. However you choose to spend your time, we’re sure you’ll come to love Brisbane just as much as we do by the end of your time here. 

 

K’gari

Fraser K'gari dingo

K’gari (formerly known as Fraser Island) is a dream destination that deserves to be on every road tripper’s bucket list, and lucky for you, it’s located right along the East Coast! Take your road-tripping experience up a gear and discover the island’s boundless beauty on a thrilling off-roading adventure to its most iconic landmarks. 

 

As the world’s largest sand island, this UNESCO World Heritage site is filled with wild adventures, gorgeous animals, and breathtaking natural landscapes just begging to be explored. From the crystal blue waters of Lake McKenzie to the golden sands of 75 Mile Beach and the ancient rainforest of Central Station, K’gari showcases nature's marvels in an unforgettable way. 

 

Airlie Beach WhitsundaysAirlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands

Located further north along the East Coast of Australia, Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands promise the perfect getaway for travellers seeking island bliss and exciting adventures.

 

With brilliant turquoise waters, world-famous white sandy beaches, and exceptionally lush greenery, visiting this charming slice of paradise is like stepping into a postcard. 

 

Go jet skiing across the beautiful Coral Sea, sail around the phenomenal archipelago of the Whitsundays, visit the famous Hamilton Island, or relax on the pristine sands of Whitehaven Beach. From the lively atmosphere of Airlie’s town centre to the luxurious islands of the Whitsundays, this magnificent haven promises something for everyone. 

 

The Great Barrier Reef, Cairns, and Beyond

Masons Swimming Hole Cairns Cape Tribulation

No East Coast road trip would be complete without a visit to Queensland’s tropical north!

 

This is the ultimate destination that every East Coast adventurer dreams of, and considering everything it has to offer, it’s not hard to see why! 

 

From the world-renowned Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Rainforest to the laid-back city of Cairns, the seaside village of Port Douglas, and the stunning mountain town of Kuranda, endless adventure awaits.

 

Discover it all on your East Coast Australia road trip and allow Backpacker Deals to introduce you to everything that makes these unparalleled destinations so famous. 

 

Got a Specific Kind of Adventure in Mind?

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a nature lover, a culture vulture, a foodie, or… ah, you get it… Whatever kind of traveller you are, our dedicated team can help you plan an East Coast Australia itinerary that ticks every single box on your road trip checklist. Simply tell us what kind of adventure you’re looking to have, along with any experiences you’re desperate to try, and we will help you build the phenomenal trip you’ve been dreaming of. 

 

Plan Your East Coast Trip with Backpacker Deals Today!

Well, what are you waiting for? Your dream adventure awaits! Check out our exclusive Custom Package Builder or get in touch with our team and start planning the ultimate Aussie road trip with Backpacker Deals today! 

 

Build Your Own East Coast Package

The 15 Best Whale Watching Tours for 2024

Australia is one of the best places in the world to witness the majestic whales in their natural habitat. From the sunny coasts of Queensland to the rugged shores of Western Australia, you’ll find countless whale watching experiences throughout the country that are guaranteed to blow you out of the water (not literally; don’t worry!).

Discover the 15 best whale watching tours across Australia for 2024 with Backpacker Deals and allow our team to help you plan the ultimate ocean adventure today!

 

Whale Watching in Queensland

 

1. Hervey Bay Ultimate Whale Watch

If you ask us, there’s no better place to see humpback whales than Hervey Bay, the whale watching capital of Australia, and this tour ensures the best experience possible!

This small group tour is led by marine experts aboard a comfortable modern vessel, offering intimate whale encounters, insightful commentary, and unforgettable memories.

 

 

2. K’gari (Fraser Island) Whale Watching Encounter

Combine the beauty of K’gari with the excitement of whale watching and what do you get? An ocean adventure like no other!

Departing Hervey Bay, this whale watching tour will take you across the Great Sandy Strait in a purpose-built tour boat with a specially designed viewing platform and an underwater observatory for optimal whale spotting!

There’s even a hydrophone on board that lets you listen to the whales singing while they swim alongside you. What more could you ask for?!

 

3. Noosa Whale Watch

Join this epic Noosa whale watching adventure to see these gentle ocean giants swimming along the stunning Sunshine Coast.

Led by an experienced skipper, this eco-friendly tour emphasises whale conservation efforts, offering informative commentary on the whales and their environment as they swim and play alongside the boat.

As well as spotting whales, you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy Noosa’s scenic coastal landscapes and spot a wealth of other marine creatures, including dolphins, turtles, and migratory seabirds.

 

4. Mooloolaba Whale Watching Experience

This 2-hour tour from Mooloolaba offers a unique perspective on whale migration, with underwater HD cameras and a brand-new hydrophone live streaming the whales as they sing and play.

The state-of-the-art vessel comfortably holds 20 passengers, with uninterrupted ocean views from every seat for optimal whale watching opportunities. As you observe these magnificent creatures up close, you’ll enjoy expert commentary from your knowledgeable skipper, promising an entertaining, informative, and immersive experience.

 

5. Brisbane Whale Watching Adventure

Embark on a Brisbane whale watching adventure and marvel at humpback whales frolicking in Moreton Bay. Departing from Redcliffe, this trip provides a comfortable and educational experience for all ages.

Whale sightings on this tour are guaranteed, meaning if you don’t see any whales, you’ll get a chance to see them on a complimentary second trip!

If that wasn’t enough, a portion of the ticket sales for this tour is donated to various whale organisations to fund their ongoing research. Pretty incredible, right?

 

6. Gold Coast Whale Watching Cruise

Cruise along the beautiful waters of the Gold Coast and witness the awe-inspiring sight of humpback whales in their natural habitat!

This 3.5-hour tour guarantees whale sightings, meaning you’ll either see some whales on your trip or you’ll get to return free of change until you do!

With plenty of photo opportunities, unobstructed views, expert insights into humpback behaviour, and a fully licensed bar onboard, this cruise is by far one of the best whale watching tours on the Gold Coast. Experience the adventure for yourself and book your trip today!

 

Whale Watching in NSW and Victoria

 

7. Byron Bay Whale Watching Tour

Byron Bay is a prime location for whale watching, and this eco-friendly tour ensures you get the best views possible views throughout your adventure.

Gaze out at the scenic coastline and watch on as humpback whales frolic and play with their young on their annual migration.

Led by knowledgeable guides who share interesting facts about the whales and the local marine ecosystem, this tour promises a fun and educational experience for all.

 

8. Whale Watching Cruise from Ballina

Starting from Ballina, this 2-hour cruise takes you to the whale-rich waters around Byron Bay, offering a relaxing journey with ample opportunities to see and photograph these majestic creatures.

The tour is led by an experienced marine biologist who will share their knowledge with you as you explore.

You’ll also receive free professional photos at the end of your tour, providing the perfect memento of your incredible whale watching adventure.

 

9. Port Stephens Whale Watch Express

Experience the thrill of whale watching in Port Stephens with this fast and fun express tour!

 

Known for its diverse marine life, Port Stephens offers premium sightings of humpback whales as they migrate along the coast with their young.

This fast-paced tour lasts for 1.5 hours in total, making it the perfect choice if you’re short on time but still want to witness these incredible creatures up close.

 

10. Jervis Bay Whale Watching Tour

Jervis Bay is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life, making it a prime whale watching spot.

As one of the best whale watching tours in the area, this thrilling adventure provides breathtaking views of humpback whales as they migrate along the coast.

As well as promising premium whale watching opportunities, this tour includes informative commentary and stunning views of Point Perpendicular’s towering cliffs and Honeymoon Bay’s gorgeous lagoon.

 

11. Sydney Whale Watching Adventure Cruise

See majestic humpback whales playing along the Sydney coastline with this action-packed adventure cruise from Circular Quay.

Journeying along the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll leave Sydney’s iconic cityscape behind for a tranquil whale watching experience.

Gain fascinating insights from an onboard naturalist and cruise in comfort aboard a modern vessel that provides excellent viewing opportunities, ensuring you don’t miss a moment of the action.

 

12. Phillip Island Winter Whale Cruise

Phillip Island is a haven for all kinds of incredible marine creatures, from tiny fairy penguins to gigantic whale species.

 

With fantastic whale watching opportunities for both humpback and southern right whales, this spectacular island is an especially unique spot for wildlife adventures.

On this particular cruise, you’ll circumnavigate Phillip Island and witness these incredible ocean giants exhibiting a range of whale behaviours, with regular dolphin and seal sightings often adding to the overall experience.

 

Whale Watching in Western Australia

 

13. Augusta Whale Watching

If you thought all of Australia’s whale watching action happened along the East Coast, think again!

Located at the southern tip of WA, Augusta boasts some of the best whale watching tours in the country, offering countless opportunities to see southern right whales as they make their annual journey along the coast.

This tour offers a close look at these giants in the pristine waters of Flinders Bay, with unobstructed views around the boat.

Whether you’re enjoying close encounters on the spacious stern or bow or getting a birds-eye view of the action on the flybridge, you’re sure to have a whale of a time!

 

14. Whale Watching Tour from Perth

Enjoy watching humpback and southern right whales migrating along the coast of Perth and hop aboard the Steep Point, a purpose-built catamaran with five viewing decks across three levels.

With luxury seating, a large-screen TV to capture the underwater action, and unlimited tea, coffee, and biscuits, this tour guarantees a comfortable and informative experience.

If you’re extra lucky, you may even see the rare blue whale on your journey, so keep your eyes peeled!

 

15. Broome Whale Watching and Sunset Cruise

Experience 4.5 hours of whale watching, enjoy a delicious spread of fruit, tea, and coffee, and watch the sunset over the horizon on this unforgettable cruise.

Known as the “Humpback Highway”, Broome is one of the best whale watching spots in Western Australia, with over 35,000 humpback whales travelling along its coastline every year from June to September.

See the action up close from several vantage points aboard the catamaran and enjoy informative commentary from the crew as you travel right next to these majestic creatures. This tour even includes an educational program for kids, promising a fascinating and fun day out for the whole family.

 

Book Online with Backpacker Deals Today!

Are you ready to have a whale of a good time? Choose your favourite whale watching adventure from our top 15 picks above and book online with Backpacker Deals today to receive 10% cashback to use on any future tour you book with us!

Looking for even more wild ocean adventures? Feel free to check out our entire range of whale and dolphin watching tours throughout Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand for extra inspiration! With so many flipping fin-tastic adventures to choose from, you’re sure to be over-whale-med with choice!

Under the Spotlight: Olly Gaspar's Six Years of Non-stop Adventure Travel

When it comes to the legends of adventure travel, few names resonate as profoundly as Olly Gaspar. With six years of non-stop exploration under his belt, Olly has cemented his place as a travel expert and an inspiration to wanderlust-driven souls worldwide. His blog, "We Seek Travel," is a testament to his relentlessly adventurous spirit and passion for experiencing the world, boasting a vast audience of like-minded travellers who eagerly follow his journey and rely on his travel guides and photos to inspire their journeys.

Meet Olly: An Adventurer with Plenty to Write Home About 

Olly Gaspar is a travel blogger, photographer, and adventurer who has spent the past six years seeing as much of the world as possible. Born with an innate curiosity and a desire to explore the uncharted, Olly's journey as a “Digital Nomad” is fuelled by his relentless pursuit of raw travel experiences. 

In 2018, he packed up his conventional life in Australia and set out on a quest to see the world with his partner Haylea, seeking the most breathtaking destinations that aligned with their passion for raw travel. 

They didn’t have a lot of savings or a trust fund, but they made their dream of full-time travel happen anyway. They found online work wherever possible, teaching English and taking photos for tour companies and hotels to fund their travels.

From the lush jungles of Southeast Asia to the stunning coastal landscapes of Europe, together they have travelled to over 50 countries across 6 continents so far. 

Passionate about exploring the unknown, Olly has ventured to some of the world's most remarkable places. He has mapped out new hiking trails in Nepal, fought in Muay Thai in Thailand, sailed the east coast of Australia in a homebuilt sailboat, and trekked with Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. Last year, together with his friends Jessy and Ryan, he cycled 2,500 km through the Arctic Circle to raise over $10,000 for the Fred Hollows Foundation.

His adventures are not just about ticking places off a list but about immersing himself in the culture of each destination, connecting with the locals, and challenging himself to experience as much as possible. Whether he's hiking across rugged mountains, diving into the depths of the ocean, or navigating dense forests, Olly's experiences are as diverse as they are thrilling.

 

Building the Ultimate Travel Blog

In 2019, Olly launched his travel blog “We Seek Travel” after acting on his desire to share his incredible journeys and off-beat places he was visiting with the world, and as it turns out, a lot of people were ready to listen.

Thanks to Olly's captivating storytelling, practical travel advice, and first-hand expertise, what started as a modest blog soon grew into a comprehensive travel resource for millions of people. 

After spending so much time travelling the world, Olly had a unique perspective to offer that no travel blogger writing from the comfort of their home could replicate. This, combined with his genuine passion for adventure and travel photography, gave him everything he needed to build a travel blog that was engaging, useful, trustworthy, and insightful.

“We Seek Travel” was the resource that every like-minded adventure traveller had been searching for, and it quickly rose to the top.

Reaching an Audience of 5 Million People: The Journey Towards Success

Recently, Olly hit an incredible milestone, with “We Seek Travel” building an impressive readership of over 5 million people. Keen to experience the same type of travel Olly has enjoyed for the past six years, his large following finds exceptional value in his insightful and immersive writing style. 

Ultimately, this impressive milestone can be attributed to Olly’s genuine love of adventure and his unwavering commitment to providing his readers with valuable and real traveller-to-traveller insights. His articles go beyond mere travel guides, offering a deep dive into the essence of each destination, highlighting hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path adventures that most travellers overlook. 

Olly’s dedication to uncovering the extraordinary in every journey has garnered the loyal following he has today. With thousands of readers turning to “We Seek Travel” for inspiration and guidance each week, he has been able to build this once humble blog into something truly remarkable. 

Keeping Up With Olly’s Travels

Today, Olly's journey is far from over. As he continues to explore new horizons, he remains dedicated to inspiring others as they set out on their own adventures. Through "We Seek Travel," he hopes to continue igniting the spark of wanderlust in his readers, encouraging them to seek out their own unique paths as they create unforgettable memories.

If you’d like to keep up with Olly’s adventures, feel free to check out the “We Seek Travel” blog for yourself. No matter which destination is next on your list, Olly is sure to have all kinds of useful tips and travel guides to help you plan the journey of a lifetime!

The Ultimate Guide to Freedom Camping in New Zealand — Everything You Need to Know

Freedom camping in New Zealand can be a wonderful way for international visitors to experience the country’s sheer beauty and take in its endlessly stunning landscapes for free. However, it’s not without responsibilities, and understanding your obligations when freedom camping is incredibly important. 

If you’re curious to learn more about freedom camping, how it works, and how you can participate responsibly during your next NZ adventure, we’ve got you covered. Check out our complete guide to freedom camping in New Zealand below and allow Backpacker Deals to provide you with all the information you need to camp with care!

What is Freedom Camping?

As a growing number of tourists search for more flexible, low-cost ways to experience the country’s countless stunning landscapes, freedom camping in New Zealand has become increasingly popular with each passing year. But what is freedom camping, exactly, and how can you do it properly? 

Put simply, freedom camping is when people visiting New Zealand camp on public land (excluding formal campgrounds or holiday parks) in a motor vehicle, tent, or other temporary structure. This public land could be a scenic parking area, a spot by the beach, by the side of the road, near an official Great Walks Track, or somewhere similar. 

While the definition itself is pretty straightforward, there are quite a few rules that freedom campers in New Zealand must follow. These rules have been put in place to protect New Zealand’s precious wilderness, preserve its natural beauty, and maintain the reputation of all freedom campers. 

 

Freedom Camping Rules in NZ

To protect certain areas and avoid hefty fines, it’s important to properly understand the rules before going freedom camping in NZ. This includes knowing where you can and cannot stay, how to respect the space you’re camping in, and how to look after yourself during your trip. To make sure you’re familiar with your responsibilities before you set up camp, we’ve outlined the most important rules and regulations below. 

Do Not Camp in Prohibited Areas

"self contained vehicles only" sign

Freedom camping is predominantly permitted on public land managed by New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) or local councils. However, there are some exceptions to this, and it’s important to take note of which areas prohibit freedom camping before you set up camp for the night. 

The majority of these prohibited areas tend to be near roads where inappropriate freedom camping has historically caused problems, or special conservation circumstances (such as a sensitive native species inhabiting the area) require camping activities to be restricted.

"no freedom camping permitted" sign

If you’re unsure whether you are allowed to go freedom camping in a certain area, there are a few things you can do to check. First, keep an eye out for any “no camping” signs or “self-contained vehicles only” signs in the area. 

These signs can be found at off-limits public conservation sites across the country and they let people know when a certain area prohibits freedom camping.  Unfortunately, not every prohibited site is signposted, but you can double-check whether freedom camping is permitted in a specific area by referring to a few different resources. 

Check out the DOC’s interactive map of prohibited and restricted areas or peruse their comprehensive list of sites where freedom camping is banned or restrictions are in place for more information.

Alternatively, if you’d like to check whether you can go freedom camping on a specific council-managed site, you can find the appropriate local council for the area and check in with them directly. 

Stay Safe

Photo credit: twowanderingsoles.com

When freedom camping in New Zealand, looking after yourself is just as important as looking after the area you are staying in. As a wilder form of camping, it’s even more important to remain vigilant and take all the right precautions to stay safe from the elements and other potential hazards. 

Firstly, make sure you set up camp in a safe spot away from risky areas such as roadsides, steep drops, and deep bodies of water. Ideally, your chosen spot should also be close to a public toilet block if possible. If you’re camping in a motorhome, you should also take care to lock your doors at night and place any valuables out of sight.

You should also check you have everything you need with you before you set off on your trip. This includes food, navigational equipment, a mobile phone, and any other essentials you will need during your trip. You should also pack warm clothing and wet weather gear, as New Zealand can get pretty cold and wet at times. 

On that note, you should also stay updated on local weather warnings while travelling and camping. Never plan to travel in extreme weather, but if conditions get too wild unexpectedly, pull over somewhere safe, seek shelter, and wait it out before continuing your journey.

Last but not least, make sure you let someone know of your travel plans, including where you’re going, how long you’ll be gone, and when you expect to be back. This is especially important if you are freedom camping alone or you plan to do any hiking or similarly adventurous wilderness activities while you’re travelling.

Respect the Environment

This one might be a little obvious, but to protect and preserve NZ’s wilderness, you need to respect it. This means being mindful of your environment and taking care not to interfere with or damage any flora or fauna in the area. 

Clean Responsibly

If you’re using a natural water source to clean with, only use biodegradable soaps and take care not to use these in or near the source itself. Even biodegradable soaps cannot properly break down in water, and using them in or near natural sources can lead to contamination, unintentionally harming the wildlife in the area. 

To avoid this, you should use a container to take the water far away from the source (at least 200 ft) before you start cleaning. Then, once you’re finished, dispose of the used water (known as grey water) with care. 

Freedom camping spots in NZ rarely have designated disposal sites for grey water, but you can still dispose of it responsibly by using a method called “broadcasting”. To do this, simply throw the grey water in a sweeping motion over some soil far away from the original source. This will help to evenly disperse the water and allow it to break down properly in the soil. 

Cook Responsibly

If you do any cooking while freedom camping, we recommend using a portable stove or the cooking facilities in your camper, as these have a lower environmental impact than fires. 

If you need to make a fire to cook, you should first confirm that you’re permitted to do so. Open fires may be prohibited in certain spots, especially in dry periods, so make sure you check local fire restrictions before you get cooking. 

When building your fire, keep it as small as you can and only use dead wood. Using dead wood not only prevents unnecessary environmental damage, but it is also easier to burn, saving you time and allowing you to build a more effective fire. 

Once you’re done with your fire, make sure to extinguish it properly by dousing it with water. You should also check the ashes for food scraps or rubbish and remove anything left over before you leave. 

Leave No Trace

On that note, you’ll also need to correctly dispose of any other rubbish you generate while camping to ensure you leave no trace when you depart. 

You can dispose of this rubbish in the general waste and recycling bins provided. If there are no suitable bins in the area, please take your rubbish with you when you leave and dispose of it correctly when you next have the opportunity. 

Speaking of waste… when nature calls, you won’t be able to use it as your own personal bathroom. Instead, anyone freedom camping in NZ is required to use the restroom facilities located nearby or on-site. If your chosen camping location doesn’t have restrooms, you’ll need to camp in a specific kind of vehicle to avoid any (pardon the pun) illegal dumping.

What Type of Vehicle Do You Need to Stay at Freedom Camping Spots With No Facilities?

The vast majority of freedom camping spots in NZ do not have on-site facilities, meaning you can only stay in these areas if you are in a certified self-contained (CSC) vehicle. New requirements for CSC vehicles have recently come into effect, meaning all vehicles must now have the following features to be certified self-contained: 

These features also need to be capable of meeting the needs of the vehicle’s approved number of occupants for a minimum of three days. During these three days, occupants need to be able to live in their vehicles without requiring more water or having to dump their waste. If your camper does not meet these standards, you cannot go freedom camping in New Zealand in any area that requires you to have a CSC vehicle. 

Freedom Camping Rules for Certified Self-Contained Vehicles

If you’re travelling around in a CSC vehicle, there are still a few rules you’ll need to follow while freedom camping in New Zealand. These rules have changed in recent years, so even if you’re an experienced freedom camper, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re familiar with these changes before your next trip.

Disclose Your Vehicle’s Compliance

Photo credit: RNZ

Firstly, you must confirm that your vehicle complies with the self-containment requirements. To do this, you will need to obtain a self-containment certificate for your vehicle and keep this on hand to provide to any enforcement officers upon request. You will also need to display your CSC warrant card on the front windscreen of the vehicle. 

Displaying a blue responsible camper sticker alongside the mandatory warrant card is also highly recommended. While this isn’t an official requirement, doing so can help officers more easily identify your vehicle’s CSC status. 

If you are hiring a campervan for your travels around New Zealand, the hire company will provide you with these documents when you collect your vehicle. If you’re unsure whether the camper you wish to hire is a CSC vehicle, don’t hesitate to ask before you take it on the road. You can also verify your hired vehicle’s certification online by looking up its registration on the NZCMS website and obtaining a copy of its current certificate. 

Dispose of Waste Properly

If you need to empty your wastewater, you must do so in a responsible manner. 

When doing any kind of cleaning or washing up in your CSC vehicle, you should avoid the use of non-biodegradable products/chemicals. This is because these chemicals will enter your vehicle’s wastewater system and potentially have adverse effects on sewerage network operations after the wastewater is dumped. 

On that note, when you are ready to get rid of your vehicle’s wastewater, you must dispose of it safely at a designated dump station. To find your nearest dump station, you can: 

Do Not Exceed the Approved Number of Occupants

Every CSC vehicle is certified to meet the ablutionary and sanitary requirements of a set number of occupants for three days minimum. If you go freedom camping in an area where only CSC vehicles are allowed, it’s important you do not exceed this number during your stay. 

“Okay, but what if my camper can cater to one occupant for three days and I only want to stay somewhere for one day? Can it cater to three occupants for one day instead?” 

We hear you (and we respect your mental maths skills), but unfortunately, the answer is still no. Trust us; there’s no way to skirt around this rule. In fact, ignoring it could lead to a pretty hefty fine, which kind of takes the “free” out of “freedom camping”, doesn’t it? 

Can You Go Freedom Camping With Dogs in NZ?

If you want to go freedom camping in New Zealand with your dog, you can only do so on conservation land where both freedom camping and dogs are permitted. This means if you want to go to any of the freedom camping spots in New Zealand’s national parks, Fido will have to stay at home. 

During your stay, you will need to keep your dog under control the entire time. If your dog is deemed a nuisance, causes damage to the area, or injures any protected wildlife species during your stay, you can be held legally responsible for this. 

Freedom camping areas that allow dogs may also require you to follow additional access rules and bylaws when staying here with your fur friend. You can learn more about where you can take your dog and which rules you must follow by visiting the DOC website. 

Are You Ready to Go Freedom Camping in New Zealand?

Now you know everything there is to know about responsible freedom camping, it’s time for you to start planning your journey! If you’re looking for a little extra guidance to plan the best freedom camping adventure ever, the Backpacker Deals team is here to help. 

Check out our campervan hire services and allow us to assist you in finding the perfect certified self-contained vehicle for your travels. 

Alternatively, if you’re already prepared to hit the road and are wondering where to go, feel free to read through our comprehensive guide to the best freedom camping spots in NZ. No matter what kind of travel advice or inspiration you need, you can count on our team to help you organise the ultimate adventure every time!

The 10 Best Freedom Camping Spots in NZ

Renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and vibrant outdoor culture, New Zealand is a true paradise for freedom campers who are looking to experience stunning scenery and unforgettable adventures. 

There are over 500 responsible freedom camping spots in New Zealand, each with its own charm and appeal. However, with so many incredible places to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. 

At Backpacker Deals, we’ve put together a list of our ten favourite freedom camping spots across the country to get you started on your next wilderness adventure. Check out our top picks below and allow our team to help you plan the ultimate freedom camping experience today! 

Where to Go Freedom Camping in the North Island

Known for its beautiful beaches, gorgeous islands, and spectacular volcanoes, the North Island of New Zealand is the perfect place for anyone looking to experience a real action-packed adventure. Immerse yourself in the many wonders of the North Island on your freedom camping trip and pay a visit to these top spots… 

Ngawi Camping Area, Wairarapa

Ngawi Camping Area, Wairarapa

Located on the southern coast of the North Island, Ngawi Camping Area offers a unique coastal experience for freedom campers. With rugged cliffs, low light pollution, and expansive ocean views, it's the ideal spot for anyone who wants to spend time fishing, surfing, or stargazing. 

As if that wasn’t enough, its close proximity to the Cape Palliser lighthouse guarantees an extra special touch to any stay. Not only is this lighthouse steeped in history, but it also boasts the largest colony of fur seals on the North Island!

Facilities: toilets, rubbish bins

Maximum duration of stay: 21 days

Dawson Falls, Taranaki

Dawson Falls, Taranaki

Nestled in the Egmont National Park, Dawson Falls provides a serene alpine environment, with sounds of birdsong and tumbling rapids to lull you to sleep.

Take a dip in the ancient natural pools, enjoy the sight of the magnificent waterfall, and journey along the diverse hiking trails that wind through the lush forest. This freedom camping spot is perfect for nature lovers who enjoy bird-watching and exploring the great outdoors.

Facilities: toilets, visitor centre

Maximum duration of stay: 4 nights

Whakaipō Bay Recreation Reserve, Taupo

Whakaipō Bay Recreation Reserve, Taupo

The gorgeous Whakaipō Bay is a hidden gem nestled right on the northern shores of Lake Taupo. Located just a 10-minute drive from the town of Taupo, this serene camping spot offers spectacular scenery and a deeply peaceful ambience.

The nearby trails are great for biking and hiking, and the still waters and stunning lakeside views are perfect for kayaking, swimming, and picnicking. 

Facilities: n/a

Maximum duration of stay: 4 nights

Hamilton’s Gap, Awhitu 

Hamilton’s Gap, Awhitu 

A secluded beachside spot on the Awhitu Peninsula, Hamilton’s Gap is ideal for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

This epic freedom camping spot boasts awesome black sand dunes and dramatic cliffs that create a stunning backdrop for any overnight stay. It's a fantastic location for beachcombing, fishing, and enjoying the tranquillity of nature.

Facilities: toilets, showers, picnic tables

Maximum duration of stay: 2 nights

Snells Beach, Auckland

Snells Beach, Auckland

Situated just north of Auckland, you’ll find the freedom camping site at Whisper Cove in Snells Beach. This quiet spot offers a convenient getaway with beautiful coastal scenery.

The beach is perfect for swimming, paddleboarding, and relaxing by the water, and the nearby Mahurangi Regional Park provides additional opportunities for hiking and exploring.

Facilities: n/a

Maximum duration of stay: 2 nights


Where to Go Freedom Camping in the South Island

If snow-capped mountains, crystal blue rivers, and vast rolling hills are a little more your style, then you won't want to miss the many freedom camping spots the South Island has to offer. Check out our favourite South Island sites below and start planning your camping trip today!

Jimmy Armers Beach, Kaikoura

Jimmy Armers Beach, Kaikoura

Known for its enchanting marine life, incredible scenery, and stunning sunsets, Jimmy Armers Beach in Kaikoura is by far one of the best spots for freedom camping on the South Island.

Campers who are lucky enough to stay at this must-visit destination can take in panoramic views of the ocean and mountains, enjoy delightful beachside picnics, and seize the chance to spot seals, dolphins, and (if you’re particularly lucky) even whales. 

Facilities: toilets, shower, rubbish bins, picnic tables

Maximum duration of stay: 1 night

Te Moana Gorge, Timaru

Te Moana Gorge, Timaru

Located inland from Timaru, Te Moana Gorge is a highly picturesque camping spot. The gorge features a beautiful river, delightful walking tracks, and lush surroundings, making it perfect for swimming, fishing, and exploring. 

The area is incredibly rich in native flora and fauna, offering a peaceful nature retreat to anyone who visits. During your stay, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the diverse birdlife in the area, especially the elusive whio, Timaru’s very special native blue duck. 

Facilities: toilets, picnic tables

Maximum duration of stay: 3 nights

Crown Range Summit, Roaring Meg

Crown Range Summit, Roaring Meg

Renowned as the highest main road in New Zealand, the Crown Range Road offers breathtaking vistas of the scenery below, promising an unforgettable camping experience.

The Roaring Meg area provides a dramatic backdrop with its rugged terrain and panoramic views. It's an ideal spot for photography enthusiasts, hikers, and nature lovers who simply want to soak in the stunning scenery.

Facilities: n/a

Maximum duration of stay: 4 nights

Hanmer Springs River Reserve, Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs River Reserve, Hanmer Springs

Located within the resort town of Hanmer Springs in Canterbury, the Hanmer Springs River Reserve offers a tranquil riverside camping experience with awe-inspiring views.

This freedom camping spot is an incredibly popular location, so you’ll want to get there early if you want to stay the night! The reserve is perfect for picnicking, swimming, and relaxing by the river, with many guests making the most of the therapeutic hot pools nearby after a day of exploration.

Facilities: toilets

Maximum duration of stay: 2 nights

Monowai Campsite, Fiordland

Monowai Campsite, Fiordland

Nestled just within Fiordland National Park, Monowai Campsite offers an immersive wilderness experience and serves as an excellent base for exploring the stunning natural beauty of the South Island’s Fiordland.

Surrounded by dense forests and serene lakes, this freedom camping spot is a real paradise for hikers, anglers, and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

Facilities: toilets, tap water (untreated), picnic tables

Maximum duration of stay: 1 night


Plan Your Next Freedom Camping Trip With Backpacker Deals!

Are you ready to hit the road and check out these top freedom camping spots across NZ? At Backpacker Deals, we’re here to assist you with all your freedom camping needs! 

Check out our campervan hire options and allow us to help you find the perfect self-contained vehicle for your upcoming adventure. Alternatively, you can peruse our comprehensive guide to freedom camping in New Zealand to ensure you’re up to date with all the rules, regulations, and responsibilities before heading out on your trip. 

How to Get to K’gari (Fraser Island)

Just off the coast of Hervey Bay in South East Queensland, you’ll find K’gari (formerly known as Fraser Island), the largest sand island in the world.

Packed with incredible things to do and breathtaking sights to see, this spectacular location is every adventurer’s dream. However, as a remote island with no bridges connecting it to the mainland, getting there can require a little extra research and planning. 

So how do you get to K’gari, exactly? At Backpacker Deals, we have the answers you’re looking for. Check out our complete guide on how to get to K’gari below and allow us to help you plan the perfect island getaway today!

Catching the K’gari (Fraser Island) Ferry

Sealink K'gari - Fraser Venture Ferry

As mentioned above, there are no bridges leading onto this island, which means you won’t be able to get to K’gari by car or bus alone. Instead, you’ll have to catch the ferry over there by first travelling to either Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach. 

If you’re not visiting K’gari on a guided tour, you must drive to your chosen mainland ferry terminal in your own vehicle (private or hired). You will be required to drive this vehicle onto the ferry yourself, and (unless you are travelling from River Heads to Kingfisher Bay Resort), this vehicle must be a 4WD. 

 

If you plan to drive your own vehicle on K’gari, you must first purchase a vehicle permit from Queensland National Parks before boarding your ferry.

Learn more about vehicle access permits, or purchase yours online via the Queensland National Parks Booking Service today. 

Hervey Bay to Fraser Island Ferry – River Heads Terminal 

If you’re travelling to K’gari from Hervey Bay, you’ll want to catch a ride over there from the River Heads ferry terminal located nearby. You must book this ferry trip in advance to secure your spot, and you’ll need to report for check-in at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure time.

These ferries are operated by Sealink K’gari and depart daily, dropping passengers off on the island at either Wanggoolba Creek or Kingfisher Bay Resort.

River Heads to Kingfisher Bay Resort

If you are staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort, the ferry terminal here is by far the most convenient place to disembark. As well as offering direct access to the resort, this ferry terminal is also the only one on the island where passengers can disembark in a 2WD.

However, anyone disembarking here in a 2WD vehicle must still plan to either join a tour or rent a 4WD upon arrival, as you cannot travel around the rest of K’gari any other way.

Kingfisher Bay Resort - K'gari

 

River Heads to Wanggoolba Creek

The Wanggoolba Creek stop is ideal for travellers who wish to disembark closer to K’gari’s main attractions, such as Lake Mckenzie and the Central Station rainforest. This stop is also ideal for anyone staying at K’gari’s other main resort, Eurong Beach Resort, as it offers a more direct driving route there.

To hop off at this terminal, passengers must disembark the ferry in a 4WD, as the driving conditions here are unsuitable for any other vehicle.

Wanggoolba Creek - Image Credit: Ken Duncan

 

Rainbow Beach to Fraser Island Ferry – Inskip Point Terminal

If you’re making your way to K’gari from Rainbow Beach, you’ll want to head to the ferry terminal at Inskip Point. These ferries are operated by Manta Ray Barges and depart for K’gari every half-hour from 6 am until 5 pm. Anyone travelling on these ferries is not required to book their trip in advance.

Manta Ray Barges Ferry Terminal

Passengers should note that the Inskip Point ferry terminal is only accessible via 4WD. This could be your own 4WD, one you’ve hired, or a tour vehicle. 

The ferry journey from Rainbow Beach to K’gari takes roughly 15 minutes to complete. Upon reaching K’gari, travellers will disembark at Hook Point, which is located at the southern tip of the island on the famous 75 Mile Beach.

As a more remote ferry terminal, Hook Point is ideal for anyone looking to camp on the island and explore more of K’gari’s wild side away from a resort. 

Can You Catch the Ferry Without a 4WD?

So, now you know how to get to K’gari, you know where to get the ferry from, and you know where to disembark. Now what? Do you need a 4WD to catch the ferry? Can you get on board without one? If you’re asking yourself these questions, don’t worry, you’re not alone. 

As mentioned earlier, the only circumstances where you do not need your own 4WD are:

Anyone else must have a 4WD to board the ferry. If you don’t own a 4WD or can’t bring it with you for whatever reason, you’re probably wondering what to do. Thankfully, there’s no need to worry!

75 Mile Beach - K'gari

If you’re confident enough in your off-roading skills, you can hire a 4WD from one of the many rentals around Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach. These rentals also often allow you to purchase your vehicle permit at the same time for added convenience. 

If you’re planning on driving your own 2WD car to Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach, you can leave your car parked at any one of the secure parking facilities in Hervey Bay.

If you’re not sure where to park, feel free to ask your 4WD hire company for nearby recommendations. Then, you just need to hop in your designated 4WD and make your way to the ferry from there.

If you can’t or don’t want to drive your own car here, there are a couple of alternative ways you can travel to your chosen hire place. 

Catching the Train to Maryborough West

While there aren’t any trains that run directly to K'gari, you can take a train to Maryborough West Station and make your way from there instead.

These trains operate daily from Brisbane, Rockhampton, and Cairns. Once you arrive at Maryborough West, you’ll be able to hop on a RailBus to Hervey Bay and catch the ferry from there. 

If you're travelling to K’gari from a state other than Queensland, you’ll first want to take a train to Roma Street Station in Brisbane. From here, you’ll need to transfer to another train that will take you to Maryborough West Station.

If you’re planning on travelling this way, you’ll need to book both your train and RailBus tickets in advance. Find out more about Queensland Rail’s train and RailBus services to Hervey Bay and plan your journey today.

Travelling by Private Coach to Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach

If you don’t fancy switching from a train to a RailBus, you can also travel directly to Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach on a private coach with a company like Greyhound Australia. These private coaches offer daily services to both locations from multiple towns and cities across Australia.

Check out our selection of Greyhound Bus Passes or plan your journey to Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach with Greyhound Australia online. 

Flying into the Closest Airport to K’gari (Fraser Island)

While K’gari does not have an airport itself, there is one nearby in Hervey Bay, with flights regularly arriving here from Sydney and Brisbane.

This airport has several 4WD hire places right outside and is located a short 15-minute drive to the River Heads ferry terminal, making it a super convenient way to travel. 

Visit K’gari on a Guided Tour from Backpacker Deals!

If you’re looking for the easiest way to get to K’gari, you won’t find a better option than a guided tour. These tours are planned by local experts who take care of everything for you, from the ferry fares and the vehicle permits to the driving and the itineraries.

Take the stress out of planning your K’gari trip, see all the highlights, and gain endlessly fascinating insights into the history and culture of the world’s largest sand island.

Fraser Dingo 4WD Tour

 

Whether you’re looking for an action-packed day trip or a multi-day adventure, Backpacker Deals has a range of tours and activities for you to choose from.

Take a look through our complete list of things to do in K’gari and book your next trip online with us today!

The Great Barrier Reef: Why is it Important and How Can You Protect It?

The Great Barrier Reef is a wonderland of colourful corals and vibrant marine life, making it a haven for both animals and tourists alike. However, this incredible destination is as popular as it is vulnerable, and protecting its unique ecosystem has never been more important. 

If you’re planning to visit the reef sometime soon and are interested to know how you can look after it during your trip, we’ve got you covered! Check out our top tips for tourists visiting the reef below and learn how you can do your part to protect the Great Barrier Reef today!

Why is the Great Barrier Reef Important? 

The Great Barrier Reef is important for several reasons, from its ecological value to its economic impact and deep cultural significance. As one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, it provides much-needed shelter to several rare and endangered species. 

However, that’s not where its significance ends. The Great Barrier Reef also plays a vital role in the broader marine environment. The reef’s complex food chain allows its many marine animals to easily and very effectively cycle nutrients and filter water. This directly impacts the Ocean’s health overall, creating clean, clear waters that support a range of marine life forms. 

How Can We Protect the Great Barrier Reef? 

As climate change and other environmental impacts continue to endanger the reef’s diverse biosphere, conservation is more crucial now than ever before. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do as a visitor to the Great Barrier Reef to help protect the future of this enchanting natural wonder. 

Dive and Snorkel Responsibly

One important step you can take is to practice responsible diving and snorkelling practices during your reef trip. These practices include wearing reef-safe sunscreen to protect the corals and yourself, avoiding direct contact with the corals, and following the guidelines set out by your tour operator. 

Reduce Your Environmental Impact

Minimising your environmental impact during and after your tour is another great way to protect the Great Barrier Reef and its animals. We suggest bringing a reusable water bottle on your tour to avoid using single-use plastics. You can also make sure all your trash is correctly disposed of on your tour boat or taken with you to dispose of properly once you’re back on solid ground.

Choose Eco-Friendly Tours

You can also choose eco-friendly reef tours from environmentally-conscious operators who engage in responsible practices and actively work to minimise their impact on the environment. Some tour operators also participate in reef conservation programs such as coral planting or marine research. Choosing these operators can help to fund and support their conservation activities, directly supporting the reef’s future. 

Check Out Our Eco-Friendly Reef Tours Today!

If you haven’t booked your trip to the Great Barrier Reef yet, then Backpacker Deals can help! We have a range of eco-certified and sustainable reef tours for you to choose from, making it easy to plan your perfect day out! Take a look through our entire selection and book your next trip with Backpacker Deals today!

The Best Time to Visit the Northern Territory

The Northern Territory is an extraordinary place to visit, with its tropical climate offering a wealth of lush rainforests, intriguing wildlife, and exciting outdoor activities for you to discover. However, this tropical climate also brings varying temperatures and a range of different activities during each season, leaving a lot of visitors wondering when they should visit to get the most out of their trip. 

If you’re wondering when exactly is the best time to visit the Northern Territory, Backpacker Deals has got you covered! We’ve outlined the many perks of visiting the Northern Territory’s top tourist attractions at different times throughout the year so you can plan the perfect trip for your needs. Check out our comprehensive list below and allow our team to help you plan the ultimate Northern Territory adventure today!

Planning a Trip to the Top End’s National Parks

The Northern Territory’s Top End is filled with flourishing national parks that are teeming with ancient culture and native flora and fauna. Kakadu, Litchfield, and Nitmiluk National Park are particularly popular, ranking among our top places to visit in the Northern Territory that aren’t in Darwin.

With so much to offer no matter the season, it’s no surprise that countless tourists flock to visit these parks at all times throughout the year. 

During the dry season, which lasts from approximately May until October each year, you’ll find the main tourist attractions are open in these areas.

People who visit at the start of the dry season will also witness the parks’ lush landscapes come to life, rejuvenated by the heavy rainfall of the recent wet season. 

However, the wet season also brings its own charm to these areas, breathing life into the roaring waterfalls and gorgeous swimming holes within the parks. This season is also typically quieter, making it the perfect time to visit if you’re looking to avoid the rush and have a more authentic rainforest experience!

The Right Time to Visit the Capital City of Darwin

Much like the national parks surrounding it, Darwin can be a beautiful place to visit all year round. 

The dry season offers clearer skies and more pleasant temperatures that are perfect for exploring the city streets, allowing you to stay comfortable without any major risk of overheating. This season also features a few of the city’s most beloved events, including the famous Darwin Festival, the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, and the First Nations-led Garrmalang Festival. 

Darwin Festival

On the other hand, the wet season promises stunning harbour sunsets and some of the best lightning shows in Australia. Without the Summer rush to contend with, you’ll also be able to walk around Darwin’s museums and explore its art galleries without having to deal with large crowds of people. What’s more, you’ll find it much easier to grab a reservation at one of Darwin’s many amazing eateries during this time!

When to Visit Uluru in the Red Centre

One of the great things about visiting Uluru is that it’s a spectacular sight to behold at any time during the year. 

The rain can dampen a lot of experiences, but Uluru certainly isn’t one of them. In fact, catching Uluru on a rainy day is considered quite lucky. As the downpour disturbs the surrounding red dust, you’ll get to witness a truly enchanting scene come to life before you, wonderfully showcasing the raw, inimitable power of nature. 

While you’re more likely to catch this natural phenomenon if you visit when the weather is warmer, visiting Uluru when it’s cooler and drier also has its perks.

Maximum temperatures during the colder months average between 20 to 30 degrees Celsius, making it easier for visitors to explore the area, especially those used to more temperate climates.

The Ideal Time to Visit Alice Springs & Tjoritja

If you’re hoping to visit the famous outback town of Alice Springs during your trip to the Northern Territory, you’ll find something different to do throughout every season. As a result, the best time to visit largely depends on how you’d most like to spend your time. 

Festival lovers will be pleased to know they can catch some of the Northern Territory’s best live events from Alice Springs. 

April welcomes Parrtjima, an extraordinary Aboriginal light festival on the outskirts of Alice Springs that promises 10 unforgettable nights filled with arts, culture, and music.

During May, you’ll find the Wide Open Space Festival further out in the Central Desert, 80 km west of Alice Springs. This festival celebrates Australia’s desert culture through music and arts, promising an epic lineup of Australian musicians and creatives every year. 

Nature enthusiasts will also be thrilled to learn that the outdoor scenery in and around Alice Springs offers breathtaking views and plenty to do all year round. 

If you prefer the cooler weather of Winter, we suggest making the most of the longer nights with some epic stargazing at the Earth Sanctuary.

Alternatively, Summer visitors can travel to the nearby Tjoritja (West Macdonnell National Park) for a sunny picnic and a refreshing dip in the park’s natural swimming spots on a hot day. 

Plan Your Trip to the Northern Territory with Backpacker Deals Today!

Keen to learn more about the Northern Territory? Backpacker Deals can help! Whether you’re searching for the top Northern Territory attractions that aren’t in Darwin or you need a little help planning the perfect trip to Uluru, we can provide the advice you need. Take a look through our blogs for more travel inspiration and allow our team to help you plan the ultimate NT getaway today!

Top Great Barrier Reef Animals to Look Out for on Your Trip 

If you’re planning a trip to the Great Barrier Reef, you’re probably curious to know what species you might be swimming with on your tour. As one of the world’s most biodiverse habitats, the Great Barrier Reef’s animals are incredibly varied, boasting everything from vibrant fish and placid sea turtles to beautiful reef sharks, playful dolphins, and more. 

Keep on reading to learn what animals live in the Great Barrier Reef and discover just how important this diverse ecosystem really is. 

How Many Animals Live in the Great Barrier Reef?

Image derived from: greatbarrierreef.com

The marine life in the Great Barrier Reef includes over 9,000 different species, with marine scientists predicting that many more are yet to be discovered. Currently, the reef harbours roughly 1,500 types of fish, over 400 coral varieties, and more than 1,000 types of molluscs. On top of this, it boasts numerous other species of sea anemones, turtles, dolphins, reef sharks, rays, and more. 

A true haven of biodiversity, this fascinating area supports more than just sea life. Its rich ecosystem serves as a fantastic food source for various types of birds, with many choosing to live and raise their young on the reef’s surrounding islands. 

Great Barrier Reef Fish Species

With well over 1,000 species of fish in the reef, you’re sure to spot plenty of colourful critters when visiting its tropical waters. One of the most beloved species to hang around these colourful corals is the Clownfish, a small, bright orange fish that lives symbiotically with sea anemones. With many visitors recognising this little fish from the hit movie Finding Nemo, the Clownfish has become a real mascot for the reef over the years. 

As well as Clownfish, you’re likely to spot a range of other notable fish species on your reef trip. These include the dazzling Surgeonfish (including the brilliant Blue Tang you may recognise as Nemo’s famed friend, Dory), the beautifully coloured Parrotfish, the elegant Butterflyfish, and the striking Angelfish. 

Types of Coral in the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef hosts a rich variety of coral species, which are broadly categorised into two main types: hard corals and soft corals. Both of these coral types play a vital role in maintaining the reef’s biodiverse ecosystem, providing vital food and shelter for many species. 

Other Great Barrier Reef Animals

The Great Barrier Reef has a number of animals beyond its diverse fish population. These organisms all contribute to the complex and intricate web of life that makes the Great Barrier Reef one of the most biodiverse and ecologically significant environments on the planet. 

From incredible whales and sea turtles to colourful crustaceans and handsome sea birds, you’ll find all sorts of amazing creatures exploring the reef alongside you, including: 

Marine Mammals

There are over 30 species of whales and dolphins that contribute to the diverse marine life in the Great Barrier Reef. Spinner dolphins are the most popular dolphin species in this area and are aptly named due to the aerial performance they like to put on when they leap from the water. 

Many types of whales, including the humpback whale, can also be spotted migrating through the reef during the winter and spring months. Travelling with their curious newborn calves, these whales will often stop to peer at the human visitors on their journey. 

As well as whales and dolphins, the Great Barrier Reef is also home to the gentle dugong. Often referred to as “sea cows”, these placid mammals can regularly be seen grazing on the seagrasses in the shallow coastal waters of the reef. 

Aquatic Reptiles

The reef’s warm waters also create the perfect habitat for several aquatic reptiles, including six species of sea turtles, most notably the green turtle and the loggerhead turtle. These iconic Great Barrier Reef animals can often be seen swimming around the reef and are known to use the nearby beaches to nest. 

As well as sea turtles, saltwater crocodiles are also known to hang around nearby, but don’t worry! Before you cancel your snorkelling trip, you should know these fearsome animals aren’t huge fans of the coral reef itself. 

Not only are the reef’s waters much too clear and far away from the shore, but they also don’t really have a taste for clownfish and sea turtles. Instead, you’ll find these prehistoric creatures minding their business much closer to the shore, as they far prefer the food resources and murky waters of the local mangroves and estuaries. 

Birdlife

Image derived from: ladymusgraveexperience.com

Numerous species of seabirds and shorebirds can also be spotted gliding around the reef’s waters or resting on the shores nearby.

White-bellied sea eagles and various species of terns and boobies can be spotted circling the waters and hanging out on the surrounding islands year-round.

Meanwhile, the nearby cays and mangroves are a much-needed respite to migratory shorebirds looking to rest during their long journeys. 

Invertebrates

In addition to the hard and soft corals that create the reef’s intricate structure, you’ll also find several other invertebrate species hanging out here. Jellyfish are one Great Barrier Reef animal in particular that regularly frequents these waters but don’t worry, your stinger suit will prevent you from receiving any unwanted zaps! 

Other invertebrate species on the reef include giant clams, lobsters, crabs, starfish, sea cucumbers, and sponges. Fun fact, these sponges are particularly effective at water filtering and are essential for providing niche habitats for smaller reef creatures. Thanks, Spongebob! 

Visit the Great Barrier Reef and its Animals With Backpacker Deals!

If you haven’t booked your trip to the Great Barrier Reef yet, our team can help! Check out our comprehensive selection of diving and snorkelling trips on the Great Barrier Reef and book your next tour online with Backpacker Deals today! Alternatively, you can check out our complete list of things to do in Cairns and allow us to help you plan the ultimate Northern Queensland adventure.