Top 10 locals' guide to the Gold Coast

If you need a holiday that puts fun first, Queensland’s Gold Coast has all the qualifications for the job - gorgeous surf beaches, thrilling theme parks, reliably sunny weather and all types of accommodation.

Since the 1960s, this part of Australia has been devoting itself to the pursuit of play.

Air New Zealand operates several non-stop flights to the Gold Coast from Auckland every day. There are also non-stop flights to the Gold Coast from Christchurch.

You might already be familiar with the sun and surf of the Gold Coast, but here are a few holiday tips from locals that you may not know. Their Top 10 recommendations are:

1. Retreat to the rainforest

Deep in the heart of Lamington National Park is O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat, where the O'Reilly family have been welcoming nature-lovers since 1926. You can make this eco-experience a day trip or stay a few nights - it's a great addition for family holidays to the Gold Coast. Highlights include a birds of prey show, Segway safari, flying fox course and wildlife encounters.

2. Wrap your hands around a Balter

A bunch of pro surfers, including Mick Fanning, have caught the craft brewing wave that's sweeping across Australia. Their brand is Balter and it's based in the suburb of Currumbin. The brewery's HQ is open for tastings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Food trucks and live music are often part of the fun.

3. Learn to surf or update your skills

The Gold Coast is one of the world's best surfing locations and there are breaks for every skill level. The famous Superbank can get busy when the waves are just right, so we recommend you explore other options along the 57km Gold Coast surf trail. Consider Tugun, Greenmount, Currumbin Alley, Palm Beach, Broadbeach or Rainbow Bay. Also check out the dependable Surfers Paradise beach break.

4. Sip an award-winning cappuccino

Get your morning caffeine hit at award-winning Nook Espresso at the beach right next to Burleigh Head National Park. Locals love this hole-in-the-wall mini café for its creamy cappuccinos and tasty toasted sandwiches. Nook opens at 6:00am.

5. Shop at the Sunday market

The first and third Sundays of every month are market days at Burleigh Heads State School. It's much more than a shopping experience, because there's live music, great food and lots of socialising. On the fourth Sunday of every month, the market is at Paradise Point Park.

6. Brush up your boarding and biking skills

Daybreak is the best time for paddle-boarding along Currumbin Alley. Follow this with a surfing lesson at Greenmount Beach, which offers pleasingly long rides for newbie surfers. Then get on your bike for a leisurely four-kilometre ride from Miami to Burleigh Heads.

7. Meet the perfect espresso martini

They do a mean espresso martini at Rick Shores in Burleigh Heads, best enjoyed outside where the deck meets the sand. If the cocktail hour extends into dinnertime, the Pan-Asian menu here is pretty delicious.

8. Enjoy eggs in Miami

We have it on good authority that the best breakfast on the Gold Coast is at Paddock Bakery in Miami. You can watch the chefs at work and rejoice in the fact that everything's made on site with super-fresh ingredients. Order the dippy eggs and ask for extra avocado.

9. Go hiking up the creek

In the Gold Coast hinterland is Canungra Creek, which has 14 kilometres of walking tracks leading through lush rainforest to some of the best scenery in Lamington National Park. Afterwards you can relax at Canungra Valley Vineyards with wine and a gourmet picnic basket.

10. Head for Tumgun Lookout

Start your Gold Coast day than with an early morning walk in Burleigh Head National Park. The trails were recently upgraded, so you can spend less time looking at your feet and more time enjoying the views. Your goal is the Tumgun Lookout for an eye-widening panorama of the ocean and coast.

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