Perth is going places – and more Kiwis are making it their go-to place for their next holiday.
Basking on the Indian Ocean coast, Australia's sunniest capital city revels in sandy beaches – 19 within the city limits; a bustling eating, bar and street-art scene, and open spaces free from the congestion, pollution and people pressures of bigger smokes.
Sitting pretty on the sparkling Swan River, its heart beats with new bars, restaurants, hotels, shopping and cultural precincts and one of the world's largest inner city parks, Kings Park and Botanic Garden. Wineries and beaches are a short drive away. On Rottnest Island's 63 beaches and 20 secluded bays, lay out your towel alongside the world's happiest animal – the quokka.
So it's easy to be seduced by Perth's natural charms – but dig a little deeper and you'll uncover world-class dining, rooftop bars and hidden laneways.
Plenty of places to lay your head
Don't worry about finding a place to sleep. In less than a decade, 50 new or redeveloped hotels have kickstarted the city's resurgence, helping new restaurants, bars and entertainment venues to sprout.
Many take advantage of warm days and balmy evenings, river and city views with rooftop pools and bars, like the luxe Ritz Carlton with its contemporary take on WA's culture, history and cuisine. Nearby, DoubleTree by Hilton Perth Waterfront spans 18 floors and features an outdoor rooftop infinity pool. Iconic Parmelia Hilton hotel has undergone a $45 million transformation, featuring locally inspired design and artwork.
The CBD's former government buildings have been re-invented with a contemporary luxury hotel, COMO The Treasury, and restaurants like Thai-inspired Long Chim and Wildflower (menu based around the six Aboriginal seasons), late-night jazz bar Pooles Temple and high-end boutiques.
Perth's original heart and soul, the 1882 Royal Hotel corner pub, has been reborn, pouring local beers and old-school brews. In the east end, Hibernian Place combines Garum restaurant and Bodhi spa.
The inner-city suburb of Subiaco has its first lifestyle hotel, Vibe Hotel Subiaco, with eateries and al fresco rooftop bar-restaurant. In Northam, 1.5 hours northeast of Perth in the picturesque Avon Valley, the former Shamrock Hotel has been transformed into a boutique property, Farmers' Home Hotel.
From great coffee to craft brewing
Vibrant Elizabeth Quay has become a focal point for visitors and locals. Look out for The Island restaurant-brewery inside a heritage pavilion, The Reveley bar-restaurant with water views, Willie Creek Pearls showroom, river cruises and a great calendar of pop-up events.
One of the original buildings along Northbridge's William Street strip, the Rechabite Hall, has been given a new lease on life as a four-level entertainment and dining venue. In the Old Swan Brewery near Kings Park, new restaurant Cooee swung open its doors late last year.
Perth's eclectic port city of Fremantle also houses a new brewery, Running with Thieves , located in the historic Sealanes warehouse opposite the beach, while Republic of Fremantle crafts signature vodka and gins. While you're there, check out the iconic Fremantle Markets, or take a tour at the World Heritage-listed Fremantle Prison.
The secret is out on two new hidden bars in Perth's cultural hub of Northbridge – Toots and Convenients, and the Swan River's first permanent floating venue, The Raft.
An easy 25-minute drive from the city, WA's oldest wine region, the Swan Valley caters for other tastes at family-friendly Bailey Brewing Co. and Funk Cider. The Swan Valley also features more than 40 world-class wineries, six breweries, two distilleries and a myriad of gourmet artisan producers.
For culture vultures
Perth's City Link project has created two new public spaces. A short walk from Perth Arena, Northbridge and Perth Cultural Centre, Kings Square visitors enjoy a bite or relax in the gardens. Yagan Square gives a taste of WA's Aboriginal heritage.
Flagship of Perth's Cultural Centre is the spectacular new WA Museum Boola Bardip, a must-see to discover Western Australia's history and culture. The $400m project restored heritage buildings to create a world-class, innovative new museum with eight permanent galleries and a special gallery for traveling exhibitions. The Art Gallery of WA's rooftop will soon be transformed into Elevate – a new gallery space and events venue with an open-air sculpture walk. Through the city, disused heritage buildings and lanes now house bars and vivid street art.
An eventful city
On Saturday, August 21, the All Blacks suit up for the first 2021 Bledisloe Cup match at 60,000-seat Optus Stadium, dubbed the 'world's most beautiful stadium'. No worries about missing the action – the 'fan-first' design features two 340sq m screens. Visitor experiences include a rooftop climb, behind-the-scenes and Aboriginal cultural tours – and Australia's biggest pub, The Camfield.
WA's renowned produce and wine is celebrated at events in Perth, Rottnest Island, the Swan Valley and the Margaret River Region in November. The Western Australian Gourmet Escape attracts some of the culinary world's biggest names to appreciate the state's fine wines, craft beers and foods.
See the sights
Burn off some of that on the Matagarup Bridge and climb the 314 steps to reach the 72-metre-high Sky View platform. New waterbiking tours allow guests to pedal and glide across the Swan River; kayak and bike trails are popular too.
Walking tours offer a way to soak up the city at a slower pace, highlighting everything from natural landscapes to vegan food, coffee, culture and history to wildlife. Kings Park visitors can learn about its spiritual significance to the Aboriginal people.
With the Tasman bubble open, why not discover a different side of Australia? Perth offers Kiwi holidaymakers a sophisticated urban hub with great food, wine, craft beer and white sandy beaches and endless blue skies.
For ideas and information, see: westernaustralia.com/nz/places_to_see/perth