"Wonderful Scene" by Jocelyn Kinghorn via Flickr Creative Commons

Rugged landscapes make up the waterways of the South Pacific from the muddy basins of the Murray in Australia to the splendors of Fiordland in New Zealand. There’s also a touch of the exotic in PNG and Fiji.

  1. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand Peter Jackson has forever cemented Fiordland as Middle Earth and you can’t argue with his choice. This windy, isolated region carved out by glaciers is definitely mystical and there’s plenty of stunning sheer rock walls, plunging blue depths, wildlife and snow capped peaks. There are 14 fjords in the park including the famed Milford Sound.
  2. Murray River, Australia This is the world’s fifth largest river and courses 1,864 miles across the Australian continent. The best way to explore its gorges, farmlands, red gum forests and wetlands is via a historic paddle steamer. Wildlife is also abundant as the Murray is a haven for 350 species of birds, sulphur crested cockatoos, kangaroos, goannas, black swans, pelicans and Murray Cod.
  3. The Sepik, Papua New Guinea The mangroves, grasslands, crocodiles, cannibals and manhood initiation ceremonies of the Sepik don’t seem to fit with the modern world but PNGs longest river seems to live in a different era. The people along its banks depend on it for transportation, water and food. And trips ashore allow you to appreciate their famed wooden carvings, Spirit Houses and a culture untouched by roads, phones, electricity or luxuries.
  4. Sydney Harbour, Australia Imagine waking up to views of the world’s most beautiful natural harbor and breakfasting as water laps around your kitchen, or rather boat. Water-side views are the best way to appreciate the Sydney Harbour.
  5. Kakadu, Australia As long as you keep a weather eye out so you don’t become croc bait, the stunning tropical paradise of Kakadu National Park can be easily explored under your own steam. The South Alligator river system is the largest in the Park and contains extensive wetlands that include a network of billabongs, channels, floodplains and swamps.
  6. Daintree River, Australia Birdwatchers and nature lovers will love the world heritage listed Daintree rainforest in far north Queensland. Drifting down the river through the rainforest you can share the river with frogs, butterflies, bats, marsupials, birds, insects and crocodiles; particularly if you take quiet electric boats and glide past silently.
  7. Katherine Gorge, Australia The thirteen gorgeous gorges that make up the Katherine Gorge lie in rugged Outback territory featuring rainforests, cliffs more than 230 feet high, rocky escarpments and unique habitats for birds and animals – including the freshwater crocodile. The 7.5 miles of winding gorge is known by its Aboriginal name Nitmiluk.
  8. Navau River, Fiji Located on the island of Viti Leyu, this river flows for 40 miles past traditional villages, lush tropical rainforests, deep gorges and strings of waterfalls. River swimming here is clear and fresh.
  9. Noosa Everglades, Australia The everglades at Noosa are probably Australia’s equivalent to the wonderful canals of Europe and perhaps even better as they are completely natural. The everglades are a system of mysterious dark waterways and crystal lakes that link to the famed Cooloola National Park’s golden beaches, colored sands and dunes. Lengthen the journey by starting on the beautiful Noosa River and traversing the Lakes of Cooroibah and Cootharaba first.
  10. Waikato River, New Zealand New Zealand’s longest waterway begins at its largest lake, Taupo, where water thunders down at Huka and boils out from geysers and mud pools. From amazing panoramic views of the snowcapped peaks of Tongariro National Park it journeys through the scenic Tutukau Gorge, where canyon walls rise 165 feet above the water.

Click here for Things To Consider about your River or Canal Vacation