It's easy to assume that Australia and New Zealand are kissing cousins, since they are both "down under" nations colonized by England and far from American shores. But each country is distinctive, starting from their origins. Australia was populated as a penal colony, New Zealand as a religious colony. And the topography is very different, with larger Australia having a huge desert heart, while New Zealand's coastal plains surround forested mountains. So if you have the time, it makes a lot of sense to see them both if you find yourself in the area. How to go? By air or by sea.

Flying from Australia to New Zealand

Unless you happen to know the wizardly art of apparating and disapparating, your fastest way of getting from Australia to New Zealand is by taking a flight, and lots of airlines connect the countries. Yes, it looks close on the map, but it's actually over 2,500 miles from the center of Australia to its smaller neighbor. That's just under five airplane hours, almost like flying from San Francisco to New York.

Of course, Australia is huge, so the time a flight will take (and the cost) both are impacted by the exact cities you are flying between. For example, from Melbourne to Auckland is just 1,600 miles, taking three and a half hours, while Perth to Auckland is double that, with a flying time of over six hours.

Boating from Australia to New Zealand

Taking a slow boat from Australia to New Zealand is not for those in a hurry, but it makes a fantastic cruise if you've got the time. Cruising to and around New Zealand is hardly a new idea. The island's first European settlers arrived by boat, and even up to the 1960s, the only way to get to New Zealand was by sea.

Australia is one of the most popular departure cities for cruises to New Zealand. You'll have to choose between two cruising seasons, the more popular summer cruise season and the shorter winter cruise season. Keep in mind that both countries are below the equator, so seasons are different. The summer cruise season runs from October to April, while the winter season from April through July.

Typically, you'll have lots of cruise lines to choose from, and at least 25 different ships visit New Zealand's shores annually. If you cruise from Australia to New Zealand, you'll get to see the entire length of both Islands that make up New Zealand, the North and South Islands. These cruises usually depart from either Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane in Australia and visit the wonders of New Zealand, like the Bay of Islands, Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Fiordland.