South Pacific

Many dreams come true and some have silver linings.

I live for my dreams and a pocket full of gold.

- Led Zeppelin

The vast expanses of the South Pacific are scattered with isolated islands and archipelagos forming nations that spread out over hundreds of miles. Today, as it has for ages, the ocean shapes the nations and the lives of their peoples, somewhat literally with the growing impact of climate change. Transport between islands is often limited to infrequent ferries or to costly flights on regional aircraft. While this brings complications for tourists, it has also nurtured the development of distinct cultures and indigenous traditions. The remoteness of some areas, notably parts of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea have led to the preservation of wild tracts of jungle with high levels of biodiversity, regions which are increasingly coming under the threat of development from palm oil plantations and mining operations, among other commercial interests. On the urban side, rapidly expanding cities such as Jakarta and Manila have become bustling metropolises with deepening divides between the rich and the poor and growing concerns for pollution.

Australia and New Zealand have recent history as British colonial outposts and have developed high standards of living yet there are still many regions that remain largely undeveloped with low population densities. As a prime example, the majority of Australia's population is clustered around the major east coast cities like Sydney and Melbourne, and for good reason. With countless bays, harbors, and rolling hills, Sydney is among the most beautiful cities in the world, while Melbourne is an exciting cultural center. Apart from the cities, the world famous Great Barrier Reef showcases an astounding array of marine life. The forbidding interior of the Australian Outback with its extreme conditions has resisted settlement yet is still home to many Aboriginal settlements.

New Zealand too has few major population centers with a landscape that was shaped by volcanic activity on the North Island and features mountains, glaciers, and fjords on the South Island. Both islands provide a great mix of natural sights and cultural attractions with native Maori culture influencing many regions.

Despite the South Pacific's isolation and the long travel times needed to for many travelers to get there from just about anywhere, the combination of pristine wilderness, agreeable climate, and unique cultures make this region well worth the effort.

   

Select a country to view photos and stories from my travels:

 
Australia

Australia

New Zealand

New Zealand

Philippines

Philippines