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You’ve booked seven days on the Sunshine Coast and you want to make the most of it. No worries, we have the perfect sample itinerary to make your week away a blast.
1. DAY ONE
Fly to Brisbane
Six flights depart every day from Auckland Airport, taking approximately 3.5 hours. Easy.
Dine with the in-crowd
After a spot of Brisbane shopping, sport your finest threads and slink into Emporium Hotel South Bank, the glitziest new-build to bag a South Bank address. Even if you’re not staying at this well-polished abode, take the elevator 21 floors up to The Terrace; South Bank’s only rooftop bar and an angel-white arena of total opulence. With white walls, floors, a white bar and plush cream seats, it’s shinier than a Mimi millionaire’s villa - so take your shades. Reservations are advisable for this subtropical-luxe venue, which is open breakfast through to dinner. For dessert, we wholly recommend the Pina Colada Splice - Malibu soaked sponge encased in edible gold foil. Nibbling on gold while sipping Bollinger, you'll feel every inch the refined Brisbanite.
Find the boulangerie
Before departing, pop into the Emporium’s foyer patisserie, Belle Epoque. Opening into a grand Parisian-style café, pick out a gorgeous gateaux for a sweet sugar-fix later.
2. DAY TWO
Hire a car
From Brisbane CBD and get on the road early for a two-hour drive to Noosa.
Lunch and lustings in Noosa
Arrive in Noosa, the hippest little beach town on the Sunshine Coast. You can’t help but switch off here: the balmy heat and relaxed boulevards call for a slower tempo. Take a wander down Hastings Street, popping into surf shops and lusting over boutique items, then stop for lunch at Bistro C. Enjoying an absolute beachfront position overlooking Noosa Laguna Bay, you're as close to the suntanned beach-goers as you are a chilled bottle of blush. Open breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a busy pulse that never subsides, if you’re after an alfresco table, we highly recommend booking ahead. Afterwards, buy gelato and enjoy a beach siesta. When the sun dips, pre-dinner cocktails can be nursed at Boardwalk Bistro (conveniently next door to Bistro C).
Dinner at View Restaurant
Part of Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas, View Restaurant is perched high above Noosa, poking above Bunya Pines with elevated views spanning the bay. Headed by Celebrity Chef, Matt Golinski, the restaurant is more akin to an airy, vaulted airplane hangar with dining spaces divided by foliage. The ambience, like the decor, is perfectly tranquil, while Golinski - a Noosa local - ensures the menu uses the freshest of locally sourced produce.
3. DAY THREE
The beach is your highway
Ditch the driver’s seat and enjoy being a passenger today. Great Beach Drives are taking you on an eight-hour drive from Noosa to Rainbow Beach, and back again. But if you think you’re travelling by road, think again. Accessible only by 4×4, the Great Beach Sand Highway is just that, a 70km stretch of beach which is also the highway, complete with speed signs. Travel in fully air-conditioned 11-seater 4WD buses, zooming along at 80kmph and stopping at idyllic beach spots, including Rainbow Beach, famed for its multi-coloured sands. So vibrant are these sand cliffs, you can break a nugget off, add a little sea water and paint - vividly - across the beach. It's an absolute must-do.
4. DAY FOUR
Drive to Hervey Bay
Two hours north of Noosa and you’ll arrive in picturesque Hervey Bay.
Scenic flight over Fraser Island
Fraser Island, with its verdant interior and beautiful swathes of aqua-marine shoreline gives the Maldives a run for its money. Nothing is nicer on the eye than platinum-white sand with bright blue sea, and when you soar above the treetops with scenic flight group, Air Fraser Island, you get to see Fraser Island in all its bird's eye glory. Small, seven-seater planes glide across the landscape, drinking in the sunshine, hidden lake views and supreme beauty. A mere 30-minutes later you’ll land back on the strip, ready for an afternoon by the hotel pool.
Champagne sunset sail
This evening, join the crew on-board Blue Dolphin Marine Tours for a 90-minute sunset cruise around Hervey Bay. Nothing beats the relaxation of sailing, especially aboard an intimate purpose-built catamaran with few guests. Sit on the net at the front of the vessel and watch the sky erupt into a fusion of pinks and gold. With complimentary Champagne to-hand (beer, wine and soft drinks also available) and canapes constantly doing the rounds, your merriment is part bubbles-induced, part beauty-induced.
5. DAY FIVE
Fraser Island full day tour
You’ve seen it from above, now experience the natural beauty of Fraser Island by boat. Enjoy a remote and deserted Utopian experience for a full, eight idyllic hours.
While most outer-towners make a beeline to the east coast, we say west is best, purely because you’ll be sharing the sea and sand with hardly anyone else. In fact, if you’re looking for ‘gram worthy empty beaches, angel-white sand and turquoise water, this is where it’s at. The speedboat will transport you to and from various untouched beaches, where you can hop off for snorkelling, banana boating and kayaking in the mangroves. There’s a barbecue for lunch, plenty of refreshments on-board and at any given time, you might glide past one of three species of resident dolphin. Life is good.
6. DAY SIX
Humpback whale watching
For reasons unknown, Hervey Bay is the only place on earth where Humpback Whales stop (rather than simply swim through) during their annual migration, so if you book onto a whale watching tour here, you’ll get within metres of 20-metre humpbacks, often with their calves. There’s no prodding or poking these magnificent beasts, it’s 100% ethical and chartered boats are legally restricted to a 50 metre boundary, but if the whales themselves wish to swim closer (and being curious types, they often do) you’ll find yourself mere inches from 30,000 kg of heaving, rolling mammal.
…Don’t forget to exhale!
*The whale season runs between mid-July and mid-October.
7. DAY SEVEN
Hooroo to the Sunshine Coast
It’s time to drive to Sunshine Coast Airport for your return flight to Auckland, but before you go, drop by ‘Eat at Dan and Steph’s’ for a quick bite. Dan and Steph (real Aussie folk) won My Kitchen Rules back in 2013, and their family-friendly café in the heart of Hervey Bay serves a range of modern Australian dishes. Dan's a bit of a dab-hand at making snags so definitely try the home-made sausages.
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