No longer content to play second fiddle to its southern rivals, Brisbane has reinvented itself in recent years. World-class dining, cool concept bars and funky street life have been added to the traditional drawcards of sport and the great outdoors. There are also the attractions of Brisbane’s rural and coastal hinterland to look forward to.
The best place to start is the meandering Brisbane River. Jump on a CityCat ferry and spend a day exploring the city and its riverside precincts, including the compact CBD, West End, South Bank, Woolloongabba, New Farm and Kangaroo Point.
We suggest hopping off at South Bank and strolling through the lush surrounds of the subtropical parklands, following the one-kilometre trail of the bougainvillea arbour. Begin with a bird’s eye view from the Wheel of Brisbane, take a dip at Australia’s only man-made inner city beach, and end your leisurely walk at the Epicurious Garden, where you can sample edible plants and fragrant herbs.
While we’re on the topic of food, Eagle Street and Southbank should be on your must-visit list for fine dining. Alternatively, head to Fortitude Valley or the rejuvenated West End. Once a rather dodgy inner city area, West End has blossomed into a vibrant hub for entertainment and eating. Make sure you check out the local night markets, including the biggest of them all at Newfarm.
When you’re ready to venture further afield, the Greater Brisbane region lays on a rich array of options. Drive 30 minutes north of the city and you’re in the mountains of Moreton Bay Region, with its dense forests, boutique wineries and the world’s third largest sand island. Or head south for an hour and discover the spectacular Scenic Rim, packed with luxury lodges and panoramic landscapes.
Ready for some beach time? A 30-minute drive to the Redland coast will bring you to cute bayside villages and the chance to try land-based whale watching, four-wheel driving, snorkelling and hiking. Or you could just kick back in a coastal café and enjoy the perfect flat white.
Best time to go
The autumn shoulder season (March to May) is a great time to visit Brisbane. The weather is comfortable and sunny with a daily high in the mid 20s and little rainfall. Winter and spring are also pleasant in Brisbane, although accommodation may be scarcer, especially during the Arts Festival in September. Things turn humid and rainy from December through to early March, which may put the damper on outdoor activities.
How much will it cost
You can explore Brisbane on a budget, starting at AUD $20 for a hostel dorm room, or pay four to five times that for a budget hotel room. A sit-down restaurant meal with a drink will set you back around AUD $50. For getting around town, get a Go Card – it covers buses, trains, CityCats and ferry services. A free loop bus runs from Monday to Friday around the city centre. Your taxi ride from the airport to CBD should come in around AUD $36.
New Zealand has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australia, meaning New Zealanders are entitled to some subsidised health services. This covers free treatment as a public in-patient or out-patient in a public hospital. Regardless of this, comprehensive travel insurance cover is a good idea. Vaccinations are not generally required for travel to Brisbane.
New Zealand citizens can enter Australia without needing to apply for a visa. When you arrive in Australia you will be issued with a Special Category Visa (SCV), which is electronically assigned to your New Zealand passport. This entitles you to stay in Australia for as long as you need to. Note that foreign citizens who are New Zealand permanent residents cannot get an SCV – they may need to apply for a visa applicable to the passport they are travelling on.