The PM's announcement of the Transtasman safe-travel corridor has unlocked the prospect of overseas holidays for the first time in over a year. From 19 April, Kiwis – and Australians – can enjoy quarantine-free travel across the ditch without needing to vaccinate against Covid 19.
"It is a world first," prime minister Jacinda Ardern told media ahead of today's cabinet meeting. "I don't know of any other country in the world which are maintaining an elimination strategy and opening up a travel bubble."
"This represents the start of a new chapter in our covid response story, that makes New Zealand and Australia unique," she said.
Certainly, uniqueness is a quality that Australia has in spades.
The marsupial motherland is home to thousands of critters you won't find anywhere else, human and geological history that far outdates Kupe's Kiwi expedition.
While geographically they may be our closest neighbours, Australia is worlds apart.
Here are eight uniquely Australian experiences that Kiwis will be able to visit – in under a fortnight:
Red rock centre: Uluru
In the Red Heart of Australia's Northern Territory is a natural wonder taller than the Eiffel Tower, and older than the dinosaurs.
Ayers Rock has been the load stone of Australia for 550 million years. Central to the geography and culture of the Anangu and traditional owners of what is now the Uluṟu–Kata Tjuṯa National Park. While Uluru is a classic, which has newfound spiritual significance for tourists, the Northern territory is full of other landmarks that are sure to rock your world.
Nearby are the 36 red-rock domes of the Kata Tjuta also called "The Olgas" is an equally impressive red rock formation. See them from above with the Fly Uluru helicopter tours.
Otherwise you can take an Outback Odyssey from Alice Springs on the Larapinta Trail. A Great Walk to match New Zealand's own backcountry yomps, the four-day track follows the fold of the MacDonnell Ranges.
The World's oldest spoken culture
Dating back 60,000 years the inhabitants of the Torres Strait have a culture that predates the Pyramids of Egypt – let alone the great Pacific migration. This little visited part of the Australian story is one of Queensland's most compelling corners. With unique ceremonial practices that are still reflected in a world-recognised contemporary arts scene, you can come and learn about the First Australia with local operators today.
Adventure North Australia, in Tropical North Queensland invite you to visit the homeland of the Kuku Yalanji people to try traditional fishing and foraging methods.
Unique animals in their natural habitat
Koalas are cute, but do they have the novelty of an egg-laying echidna? You can visit the evolutionary enigma that is a Platypus in person in New South Wales' Highlands with an Australian Wildlife Journeys platypus tour.
Then for wildlife lovers looking for a challenge and a critter that is diabolically hard to spot, you can go on the track of a Tasmanian legend at Devil's Cradle. Tasmanian Devils are one of the living fossils that define the unique living landscape of Desmon Land.
Gem of an experience in the Opal Capital
Coober Pedy in the South Australian desert is a precious place in the heart of Sci-fi fans and opal hunters. The underground city has inspired film franchises including Mad Max and Star Wars – however there's very terrestrial treasure to be found as well.
The world's largest sand island, bar none
123 km from top to tail, Queensland's Fraser Island is a record-breaking desert island. The traditional name 'K'gari' literally means 'paradise', which is exactly what it is for lovers of long walks on sandy beaches. Roam along the 75 Mile Beach. Take four wheels to explore on a self-drive adventure.
A meeting of World Heritage surf and turf
Australia is so full of heritage treasures they are practically abutting into one another. In Queensland you'll find the only place where two Unesco World Heritage sites overlap – at the border of the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef. Set sail from Port Douglas north of Cairns for an adventure with one foot in each side of the natural sites.
Going on the Ghan
A 3000km journey From Darwin to Adelaide, the Ghan railway is a classic desert cruise that offers luxury, and romantic rails. Otherwise if you're not ready to commit to the epic outback rail journey – the Australind is a 180km hop from Perth to Bunbury on coastal Western Australia.
A new beach every day for 27 years
While there's plenty to see 'Out Back' – Australia is known for its coastal culture and oceanfront hubs. With more than 10,000 beaches to visit there's a lifetime worth of beach days to experience.
Each have secrets, special features and views that demand a visit. In Broome, for example, the Staircase to the Moon is a natural phenomenon that is worth waiting for. In March and early November the full moon appears to create a 'staircase' to the heavens in the reflective mudflats.
For information regarding Covid-safe travel to Australia - see the Tourism Australia information site for state by state information and travel updates.