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Travel News: Bluey, a Murray River paddle steamer and other Aussie icons

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The breathtaking Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island.

Australasian travel continues to up its game, with tourism operators in New Zealand and across the Tasman adding to their offerings and finding points of difference.

Kangaroo Island’s luxurious new lodge

Located on the scenic south coast of Kangaroo Island, Southern Ocean Lodge is open for business after four years of construction which saw the building redesigned by its original architect, Max Pritchard, and enhanced for a new era (it boasts rainwater capture and solar power). With 23 elegant suites, a restaurant showcasing local produce (think seafood and Ligurian honey) with multi-course menus that change daily and breathtaking views of the ocean and remote coastline, the cinematic clifftop building couldn’t be better placed to showcase the natural beauty of the region, while also providing high-end comforts for its guests.

First-of-its-kind vessel to make waves on the Murray River

Currently being built on the banks of the historic waterway — in Mildura, to be precise — the Australian Star will not only be the first five-star river ship in the country, but will also have the distinction of being the largest paddle steamer in the Southern Hemisphere. The impressive 35m-long vessel will offer all-inclusive cruises — ranging from one night to seven days — year-round, and with a month set for the vessel’s inaugural voyage (April 2025), register your interest for the maiden voyage to help secure a spot when fares are released in February at murrayriverpaddlesteamers.com.au.

The Australian Star will be the first five-star river ship in the country.

New names for two of Hollyford Track’s lodges

Fiordland National Park’s popular Hollyford Track will get an update for two of its luxury lodges, which have been renamed to acknowledge the mana whenua Maakawhio and the kaupapa [principles] and whakaaro [thinking] of Ngāi Tahu Tourism, which has invested $3 million in the past three years. Martins Bay Lodge is now Whakatipu Waitai (the Ngāi Tahu name for Martins Bay), while Pyke Lodge becomes Ka Tuku (which references Whakatipu Ka Tuku, one of two Ngāi Tahu names for the Hollyford River).

Two Hollyford Track lodges have been renamed to acknowledge Ngāi Tahu Tourism.
Two Hollyford Track lodges have been renamed to acknowledge Ngāi Tahu Tourism.

Bluey’s World coming to Brisbane in 2024

Set to be fun for audiences of all ages, Brisbane will be launching an immersive Bluey’s World experience in August 2024. A purpose-built venue has been created for the activation – an impressive 4000 square metres, Northshore Pavillion is located in the city’s new precinct Northshore, a district dedicated to arts and culture. The transportive experience will take visitors through life-size sets, with a requisite gift shop visit (and cafe and playground), plus the ability to book for birthday parties, so it’s sure to be a hit with fans. For those who aren’t familiar with the cartoon sensation, Bluey is a cartoon blue heeler — an iconic Australian dog — created by Emmy-winning Ludo Studio that has become emblematic for Queenslanders. The star of the hit show Bluey’s World, the character is a “home-grown Brisbane superstar”, says Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner.

Brisbane will be launching an immersive Bluey’s World experience in August 2024.
Brisbane will be launching an immersive Bluey’s World experience in August 2024.

You can fly non-stop from Christchurch to California

Fancy flying straight from the South Island to San Francisco? United Airlines has just announced a new direct flight from Christchurch to the storied Californian city, with the non-stop route whisking travellers across the Pacific. The inaugural flight lands at Christchurch Airport today.

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