The climate throughout most of the region is pleasant year-round; winters are mild and almost non-existent in northern Australia and some islands. Summers are hot, but rarely unbearably scorching, except for the outback, the inland desert areas of Australia.
When to fly to Oceania
Summer is between December and February and is the peak season for domestic travel in Australia. New Zealand is a popular skiing destination in winter. For South Pacific islands such as French Polynesia, Fiji and the Cook Islands, the best time to go is in the dry season, from May to October. During the wet season, generally from December to March, it's very humid and there can be tropical cyclones. Papua New Guinea has a monsoonal climate, while Guam is wet year-round and typhoons tend to occur between July and November.
Getting around Oceania
Given the distance, domestic flights are the best option for travelling within Australia and New Zealand. Interstate trains and buses cover most of Australia, as long as you're not in a hurry. New Zealand has an excellent bus service but to really explore the country at your own pace, hire a car.
Flights to the Pacific Islands, PNG and the Cook Islands are available but might require flying via Australia or New Zealand. Taxis in Guam, the Cook Islands, Papa New Guinea and Fiji, are not always metered, so it’s best to agree on a fare to your destination in advance.
Oceania insider information
- One of Australia's lesser-known sites is the Grampians National Park, a three-hour drive from Melbourne. This scenic mountain wilderness region is rich in cultural and natural attractions, including waterfalls, unique rock formations and some of Victoria’s finest examples of Aboriginal rock art. The Brambuk cultural centre has excellent displays about the history and culture of local Aboriginal communities.
- You don’t need to dive to explore the deep blue at Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic Encounter and Underwater World in Auckland. You can travel through a transparent acrylic tunnel on a conveyor belt, while fish, sharks and stingrays swim around you.
- In the Cook Islands, you can pick up some unique pieces of island jewellery, art and crafts at the Beachcomber Gallery, a restored 1845 building once used as a Sunday school.
- Tahiti's Musée Gauguin is dedicated to the French artist who produced some stunning paintings depicting Tahitian life during his years living on the island.
- In Fiji, make sure you see a meke – a traditional Fijian feast and dance accompanied by bamboo tubes and the lali, a wooden drum.
- Guam's Two Lovers Point, on the peak of a 125m limestone cliff, is the site where according to an ancient Chamorro legend, two lovers leapt to their deaths after being forbidden from being together. A gilded statue of the couple stands testament to their ill-fated love.
- At Papua New Guinea's Lake Kutubu, you can swim among rare fish species and watch butterflies flutter by. The area, one of five national parks, has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country.
- The National Park of American Samoa (Ta'u) includes a paleotropical rainforest, flying foxes and other tropical wildlife, on a massive park covering more than 3237 hectares.