Travel deals to inspire your getaway

Akaroa: New Zealand's only French-founded community.
Akaroa: New Zealand's only French-founded community.

Christmas cruise to New Zealand

Treat yourself to an ultimate Christmas present with Ecruising's 12-night New Zealand holiday cruise.

Departing Sydney on December 23, the itinerary offers an opportunity to experience some of the best of the Land of the Long White Cloud, on board Celebrity Solstice.

The Solstice features the distinctive Lawn Club - a half-acre of real grass perched at the very top of the ship.

The journey begins with a two-day sailing across the Tasman, including Christmas Day at sea, with all the festive trimmings, including wreaths, holly, mistletoe and, of course, a chance to help decorate the Solstice Christmas tree.

Destinations in New Zealand include stopovers at the charming seaside town of Picton at the head of Queen Charlotte Sound, Napier in Hawkes Bay, home to the largest gannet nesting site in the world at Cape Kidnappers, and the nation's capital, Wellington - the centre of the country's burgeoning film industry.

Guests will also have a chance to discover the charms of New Zealand's only French-founded community at Akaroa and the majestic Fiordland National Park.

Then it's time to ring in the New Year at sea as Solstice sets sail for its return voyage to Sydney, via Newcastle.

The journey is priced from $3199 per person twin-share including all accommodation and meals on board Solstice. Even better, for an extra special Christmas bonus, spend an extra $49 per day or book a suite and receive a range of fantastic extras including free drinks, unlimited wi-fi and up to USD600 spending money. The offer applies to bookings made before September 4.

Phone 1300 369 848 or visit www.ecruising.travel.

Magnify: Turning the vision to Sydney's west. Image: Anna Kucera.

Magnify: Turning the vision to Sydney's west. Image: Anna Kucera.

Creative experiences in Blacktown

Experience the rich artistic talent within Sydney's often-maligned Blacktown area in a brand new way this August and September with the premiere of Magnify festival. Magnify will activate sites across Blacktown with music, theatre, dance, film and installations.

Local artists and communities will share stories of the region through eight new creative experiences in intimate and distinct settings.

Unique art experiences, embedded in unique spaces, will provide an exciting backdrop to the premiere of eight new works with activations taking place in laneways, showgrounds, restaurants, nursing homes, libraries and The Leo Kelly Blacktown Arts Centre.

Magnify will run across seven weeks from August 3 to September 15.

Visit www.blacktownarts.com.au.

 Metro Gladstone: From $104 per night for a one-bedroom apartment.

Metro Gladstone: From $104 per night for a one-bedroom apartment.

Special deal in Gladstone

Metro Hotel & Apartments' Gladstone property is offering a Friday-to-Sunday-night rate from $104 per night for a one-bedroom apartment.

The rate includes early check-in (after 10am), late check-out (until noon), free wi-fi and free car-parking, plus a maximum of two children, aged 11 years and under, using existing bedding, stay free.

The offer is valid for stays until October 28, is based on minimal servicing, and applies to stays of two or more nights.

Visit www.metrohotels.com.au.

Heart Reef: The Great Barrier Reef's most recognisable landmark.

Heart Reef: The Great Barrier Reef's most recognisable landmark.

See the heart of the reef in luxury

Escape the banal and take off to the Great Barrier Reef's most recognisable landmark - Heart Reef - on a James-Bond-style experience with Hamilton Island Air.

The luxury tour starts with a 30-minute scenic helicopter flight over the islands of the Whitsundays before landing on a floating pontoon aptly named Heart Island. Located only a flipper kick or two away from the pontoon is Heart Reef where guests can explore the reputedly most photographed bommie in the world before drinking in (with a glass of champagne) the vast, turquoise views.

The three-hour adventure costs $999 per person aged 14 years and above.

Visit www.hamiltonislandair.com.

Hopkinson Smith: Reputedly the world's leading exponent of the lute.

Hopkinson Smith: Reputedly the world's leading exponent of the lute.

Listen to the lute master on a harbour cruise

Swiss-American Hopkinson Smith, reputedly the world's leading exponent of the lute, will play his only recital in Sydney as part of his national 'Mad Dog: The Elizabethan Lute' on Friday 29 November aboard Captain Cook Cruises' MV Sydney 2000.

He will combine his one-hour performance with a three-course dining experience, all set to the glittering backdrop of Sydney Harbour. The concert will feature Elizabethan masterpieces by Dowland, Holborne and Johnson and more.

The cruise is priced at $199 per person and guests will be seated at shared tables of 10 people. It will depart from Darling Harbour at 7.30pm returning at 11pm.

Phone 02 9206 1111 or visit: www.captaincook.com.au.

North-west Portugal: Filled with ancient and beautiful villages.

North-west Portugal: Filled with ancient and beautiful villages.

Walk through Portugal's history

Australians can book an On Foot Holidays' self-guided walking tour in popular Portugal for 2020 and pay 2019 prices until October 31.

Hidden away in the country's north-west are ancient and beautiful villages, linked by old paved tracks and footpaths. The route takes walkers along these paths into the lush green valleys of the Peneda- Geres national park with its spectacular granite hills, where locals continue a lifestyle that is centuries old.

During their journey, guests will stay in family-run inns, charming village cottages, restored farmhouses and the Pousada Santa Maria do Bouro, a magnificent hotel originally built in the thirteenth century as a Cistercian monastery.

Highlights include visiting the medieval Lindoso Castle, and walking along ancient paved footpaths which date back to the time of the Roman Empire.

Guests' luggage will be transported from inn to inn. The walk is graded medium-hard in difficulty, with three-to-six hours of walking per day.

Including seven nights of accommodation, all breakfasts, six picnics and all luggage transfers, the walk costs from £705 (approximately A$1264 depending on exchange rates) per person twin-share.

Visit www.onfootholidays.co.uk.