Australia and New Zealand

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bigez17
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Australia and New Zealand

Post by bigez17 » Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:00 pm

Looking to do a two couple trip for 3-4 weeks in A & NZ in February. Suggestions on must see and relaxing to soak in the culture?

2retire
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by 2retire » Mon Sep 15, 2014 10:41 pm

My advice would be to pick one country or the other. If you are an outdoors person, I tell people that they shouldn't go to New Zealand unless they can take five weeks. We did it in three and it felt rushed. We didn't get to spend near the amount of time we wanted to in any location. We went as backpackers with plans to do three three day hikes. We ended up only doing about 1.5 of the hikes and still felt rushed. There is so much to see and do in that country.

ebabin
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by ebabin » Tue Sep 16, 2014 8:34 am

2retire wrote:My advice would be to pick one country or the other. If you are an outdoors person, I tell people that they shouldn't go to New Zealand unless they can take five weeks. We did it in three and it felt rushed. We didn't get to spend near the amount of time we wanted to in any location. We went as backpackers with plans to do three three day hikes. We ended up only doing about 1.5 of the hikes and still felt rushed. There is so much to see and do in that country.

Some good points here. Other things to note, climate is quite the opposite in each place (sans Tasmania). Hot and dry vs cool and wet. Distances are far and beyond in Australia, closer in New Zealand but travel is slow because of the terrain. If you are bound to see both countries pick one state/island to focus on. My travels there have been many years ago but if I had that time frame you are looking at, I would spend my time in northern Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef and the south island of New Zealand. The Milford Track requires reservations in advance. Routebourne Track at the time I went did not, but possibly now it does.

jlj
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by jlj » Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:11 am

Consider first touring vast Australia, then taking a 10+ day cruise out of Sydney around the North and South Islands of New Zealand. Plan at least 4 days in Sydney. I am not usually a big cruise advocate, but our experience with Princess was good, sailing at night and touring every day. Whatever you decide, you are in for a wonderful treat meeting the fun and interesting people of both countries. Enjoy!

livesoft
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by livesoft » Tue Sep 16, 2014 9:18 am

Must see: Uluru / Ayers Rock (out of the way and many Australians do not go, but you need to)
Sydney: Harbor Tour, Bridge Climb, Australian Museum (mining, geology exhibit is superb), IMAX 3D,
Melbourne / Great Ocean Road / 12 Apostles
Plenty of nature parks with Australian animals such a Healesville.

Be sure to read Bill Bryson's "Down Under" (goes by other names in other countries) before you go or while on the trip.

New Zealand: Auckland Voyager Maritime Museum
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MtnTraveler
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by MtnTraveler » Tue Sep 16, 2014 11:00 am

I agree that it might be advantageous to pick one country or the other. I did a three week vacation to Australia five years ago and its such a big place with so much to see that you won't see everything you want. I tried to fit in as much as possible in as many places as possible and I ran myself into the ground. I rented a car and drove the Great Ocean Road but can't tell you a lot about it (other than the scenery is so diverse) because I kept having to pull over to take cat naps as I was so tired.

I spent 4 days in Sydney and I'd really recommend 6 or 7 days. That would give you time to acclimate to the time change and be able to enjoy things at a leisurely pace (along with visiting the farmers market either in China town (??) or at the Opera House). Do the in-depth Opera House tour (it includes breakfast) as you get to go behind the scenes and see most everything. I did the bridge climb and it was great but the most memorable thing about it was meeting an Aussie couple that was visiting Sydney and they told me about special events that were going on in Sydney. I ended up dumping the plans I had for the rest of the day and tagged along with them which was a priceless experience.

One thing I would note is doing a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef is (in my opinion) a waste of time. Those ships can only go so far from land so most of what you will see will be damaged and not amazing. I did a live-aboard for 2 nights and didn't know that they transfer to/from the day ship daily so they too are restricted on how far out they can go. Honestly I was disappointed in the snorkeling. It was mostly bleached and of the 4 different countries I've snorkeled in/around it was the most disappointing. If you truly want to see the Reef do a trip through Mike Ball (only after my experience did I meet some Aussie's who told me about that operation and guaranteed it is worth the cost).

Iorek
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by Iorek » Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:54 pm

Well I'll be slightly contrarian and say that 3-4 weeks is a reasonable amount of time to see both countries. Of course you won't see everything, but I expect that would be true even if you spent 6 weeks in one country. For example, in NZ you might want to consider only visiting the South Island.

I'll also suggest that you feel free to skip Uluru. It is impressive but it is a long way from anywhere ( I sort of think of it as the Niagara Falls of Australia), and the native people now request that you refrain from climbing it. IMO it's worth seeing but not necessarily worth planning your entire trip around.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by livesoft » Tue Sep 16, 2014 1:18 pm

Actually Uluru is surprisingly easy to see: Book a roundtrip flight from Sydney, book a hotel there for 3 nights, rent a car, go everywhere on your own with 2 full days of hiking.

Then you will understand such posts about market dips like this one on the Uluru omen: http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 4#p1939154 and also posts about RBDs like this one: http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 4#p1940104

You hike around it (and in other nearby areas); you don't plan your trip around it.

I'll put a plug in to watch the movie Walkabout, too.
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dgdevil
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by dgdevil » Tue Sep 16, 2014 6:04 pm

Agree with IOREK that 3-4 weeks is adequate for both countries. They are distant and expensive to reach, so best to combine so that you get an overview. You can always go back if you are enchanted and decide you want to focus on particular regions. You mentioned two couples, so I assume there will be some compromises made and places/opportunities foregone.

Melbourne and Sydney are both great cities, with plenty of nearby scenery (i.e. the Blue Mountains). Try and catch a cricket game. The people are super-relaxed and not puritanical when it comes to alcohol.

I would also put in a plug for the overlooked and unfairly maligned federal capital Canberra, 3 hours SW of Sydney, which has marvelous museums and is an interesting piece of urban planning. The National Gallery has a phenomenal Pollock (http://nga.gov.au/Pollock/), and the Americans are still scratching their heads about how they allowed it to get away.

Queensland is a mixed bag: Skip the Gold Coast/Brisbane, and it will be hotter than hell as you move up the coast. Flies will chase you around the country, but the crocs should be manageable.

Similarly, I agree that the South Island should be the focus of your NZ experience, though you may want to fly in to Wellington, the compact capital at the bottom of the North Island. From there, take the scenic ferry to the South Island, get a rental car or one of the ubiquitous campervans that clog the roads, and do a loop. It's not that far. The NY Times Frugal Traveler has written a lot about NZ. Clockwise highlights might include:

The Marlborough region - wine, etc.

Kaikoura - whales (if in season)

Christchurch - getting a lot of buzz, but it's a little too soon in the rebuilding process. I had my best NZ meal there: tender lamb that dripped off the bone.

Dunedin - I much prefer this college town, a little piece of Scotland, and the penguins on the peninsula.

Queenstown - the so-called adrenaline capital of the world, though very expensive in what is already a very expensive (i.e. a bit of a rip-off) country. The Jetboat is a thrill, though.

Doubtful Sound - you could take an overnight cruise, or a day trip. Some might argue in favor of Milford Sound, but the former has fewer visitors and you get to see the amazing Manapouri hydro-electric station as a bonus. Spielberg was going to shoot Jurassic Park in the area.

Then Te Anau/Mt Cook/Franz Josef. My geography might be off. The West Coat is a mixed bag of small towns. Then chill in the Nelson area at the top - Kaiteriteri beach. Apparently they get the most sunshine in the country.

If you don't feel like doing the loop, the rental car companies are very good allowing one-way rentals.

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Watty
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by Watty » Tue Sep 16, 2014 6:42 pm

2retire wrote:My advice would be to pick one country or the other. If you are an outdoors person, I tell people that they shouldn't go to New Zealand unless they can take five weeks. We did it in three and it felt rushed. We didn't get to spend near the amount of time we wanted to in any location. We went as backpackers with plans to do three three day hikes. We ended up only doing about 1.5 of the hikes and still felt rushed. There is so much to see and do in that country.
+1

I happen to be heading off to New Zealand for three weeks this weekend and there will more than enough to fill up that time. The attraction on the north and south Island are so different that in some ways it will be like going to two destinations.

Trying to do both countries will also burn up most of a day in travel time between them since you will spend time getting to the airport, flying, getting through customs and getting to your first destination in the next country. With all the other travel time a "three week" trip is basically 19 days when you are there so losing another day in travel time is significant.

Both counties in four weeks could work if you hustle but three weeks is too short.

From what I have read the peak travel seasons in New Zealand and Australia are also very different. Their summer is a the peak travel time in New Zealand with better weather. (And crowds and higher prices) In Austrailia their summer is the low season since it can be very hot and some areas can have cyclones(hurricanes) and flooding. If you want to see both countries in one trip you should look at the seasons carefully. A spring or fall trip might be a better choice.

dgdevil
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by dgdevil » Tue Sep 16, 2014 6:59 pm

Watty wrote:
I happen to be heading off to New Zealand for three weeks this weekend and there will more than enough to fill up that time.
For sure, 3 weeks is great. The weather will be blah, but the post-election drama will fascinate. You'll take a million photos of cute newborn lambs. February is a great time in both countries - the kids are back in school and the sun is out. Airport drama in both countries is refreshingly nonexistent.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by ebabin » Tue Sep 16, 2014 8:30 pm

MtnTraveler wrote:One thing I would note is doing a day trip out to the Great Barrier Reef is (in my opinion) a waste of time. Those ships can only go so far from land so most of what you will see will be damaged and not amazing.
I beg to differ. Yes, the further south you are the further you need to go to get to the reef. I took a small charter out of Cairns and went snorkeling just a few miles from town. The sea life was spectacular. Large turtles, schools of rainbow fish and giant clams cohabitate in shallow water < 30 ft on the top edge of underwater canyons.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by tj » Wed Sep 17, 2014 4:59 pm

I spent roughly 7 weeks combined in Australia and New Zealand two years ago. I was more impressed by NZ than Asutralia. Within Australia, I did a tour from Cairns to Sydney, my favorite parts were Sydney and Cairns. From Cairns, I went north to Cape Tribulation (Daintree Rainforest) first. Highly recommended. I felt like there wasn't a whole lot worthwhile in between Cairns and Sydney though. Really just a lot of beach towns. So, if I had four weeks between the two coutnries, I'd spend maybe 3-4 days in Cairns (with 1 overnight in Cape Tribulation), perhaps a couple nights on a Whitsundays Sailing yacht,, and a few days in Sydney. I feel like there's so much more to see and do in New Zealand, though it would have been nice to see other parts of Australia, such as the outback, Melbourne, or even Perth. I also did the New Zealand tour first, so I might have enjoyed it more simply because it was earlier in my trip. In terms of the North Island, I really dug Paihia (Bay of Islands) and Welllington. The glow worm caves in Waitomo are pretty cool. Auckland was meh. South Island - we had 4 nights in Queenstown and I thought that was a bit much but certainly lots of adventure activities out there....Christchurch was pretty deserted when we were there. We didn't even stay overnight there - just picked up some people who were doing south island only and spent the night in Hamner Springs.

dgdevil
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by dgdevil » Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:36 pm

Cairns to Sydney is a mother of a road trip, 1,500 miles or so. I hope you slapped the person who told you that would be a good idea.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by tj » Wed Sep 17, 2014 8:39 pm

dgdevil wrote:Cairns to Sydney is a mother of a road trip, 1,500 miles or so. I hope you slapped the person who told you that would be a good idea.
That is pretty much the route that the 18-35 (and probably other) tour companies do. I used Contiki. Topdeck Travel also does that route. They also both have separate outback tours. I think it was about 3 weeks long including going up to Cape Trib first.

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6miths
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by 6miths » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:32 pm

Just dropped my elder DS at the airport for a flight to Melbourne. He's got 8 months so hopefully will get to see a good deal of Oz. Probably won't make it to NZ.
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atwood
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by atwood » Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:48 pm

In NZ, hiking the Franz Josef glacier, ocean kayaking, whale watching (which IMO is a bit overrated), swimming with seals (Most people go for the dolphins but I've heard that because the dolphins are so fast it's in the water for a short time, back in the boat to catch up with the dolphins, back in the water and so on. In contrast, the seals come down off the rocks when they see people and swim with them, more or less.), Rotorua for the hot springs and Maori culture hot air ballooning in Christchurch. If you are into biking or hiking there's plenty of that.

I've never been to Oz.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by WhyNotUs » Thu Sep 18, 2014 9:44 am

Australia is a little smaller than the US so you can imagine how much of the US one could see in 3-4 weeks. not too much
You can either hunker down in one area and get to know it or spend the money to allow fast transit between parts of the country or AU and NZ.
When the trip planning started, we wanted to go to Sydney, Gold Coast, Queensland, and Tasmania. By the time planning was done, we were down to Queensland and Sydney only, YMMV.

We spent a little more than two weeks in Queensland and barely scratched the surface. Selected it because we are water sports people- sailing in Whitsundays, diving in Port Douglas, live aboard in Coral Sea, rainforest trip, etc.
I guess it would be like selecting CA if you were visiting US.
A beach/surf option was considered on the gold coast but it was too much to try to squeeze in the 18 days available.
Sydney was interesting but we only had a couple days to explore. Could have spent more time there but preferred time at barrier reef and Whitsundays.

You interests will define your trip, just as in USA there are big city options, beach options, history/culture options, recreation options, etc.
The airfare across AU was not too bad and it saved lots of travel time, once again like you would in the US.
I look forward to visiting NZ, maybe next year when I can no longer remember the trauma of the long flights.

Most interesting culture that we came across was a colony of aboriginal painters. Several were sisters who had dream-based paintings that are quite stunning. The sister that we met described her process and the tradition of dream painting and it was quite a tail. We bought one and I still enjoy it.

Aussies, in general, lived up to their reputation for living larger and welcoming new friends.
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Don_Qua
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by Don_Qua » Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:12 am

I'm about to leave for almost 4 months in Asia and only have plans for the first 2 months (China and the Philippines) so we're going to make it up as we go along and both Australia and NZ are possibilities since we'll sort of be in the neighborhood. I understand that as US citizens we'll need some kind of Australian government visa pre-approval, how easy is that to get via the web while we're in Asia?

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by livesoft » Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:29 am

It is trivial to get Australia entry visa on the web if you have a non-Amex credit card.
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by livesoft » Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:32 am

WhyNotUs wrote:Australia is a little smaller than the US so you can imagine how much of the US one could see in 3-4 weeks. not too much.
Right, so Australia is about the same size as the US, but most of it is essentially uninhabited, so if you neglect those parts except for Uluru, then it is about the size of a typical US state like New York, Nebraska, Colorado, Oregon, etc. :) (As long as you fly between the cities.)
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NoVa Lurker
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by NoVa Lurker » Thu Sep 18, 2014 11:48 am

We spent three weeks in Australia, about 5 years ago. Of all the good advice above, I think I agree most with tj.

We loved:
--Sydney - loved walking around and taking the ferries everywhere, especially out to Manly Beach
--Blue Mountains - we just took a day train from Sydney, and hiked around the town
--Port Douglas / Daintree (as mentioned by tj above) - we loved walking around Port Douglas, and we did a tour to see Cape Tribulation and Daintree
--Great Barrier Reef - we took an overnight boat from Cairns, it was amazing
--Litchfield National Park, outside of Darwin - amazing waterfalls and watering holes that you can hike and swim around

We should have skipped:
--Kakadu National Park, outside of Darwin - swampy and bug-infested when we went
--Darwin itself - not much to see there
--Townsville and Magnetic Island - one guy we met called it "Brownsville," which seemed about right

Worth doing, but we might not recommend:
--Brisbane - nice city, but wouldn't necessarily make the list if you only have 2-3 weeks total
--Hamilton Island, in the Whitsundays - your basic luxury beach resort experience; no reason to go all the way to Australia just to lie on an average beach; the one highlight of this leg of the trip was a day trip to Whitehaven Beach
--Cairns itself - we might have done better to stay longer in Port Douglas and go out to the reef from there

We paired the three weeks in Australia with three weeks around Southeast Asia. We had originally included Uluru in the trip, but we essentially swapped it with the Darwin area when we found dirt-cheap, one-way, direct flights from Cairns to Darwin, Darwin to Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur to Brisbane.

Have fun!

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by tj » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:10 pm

NoVa Lurker wrote:We spent three weeks in Australia, about 5 years ago. Of all the good advice above, I think I agree most with tj.

We loved:
--Sydney - loved walking around and taking the ferries everywhere, especially out to Manly Beach
--Blue Mountains - we just took a day train from Sydney, and hiked around the town
--Port Douglas / Daintree (as mentioned by tj above) - we loved walking around Port Douglas, and we did a tour to see Cape Tribulation and Daintree
--Great Barrier Reef - we took an overnight boat from Cairns, it was amazing
--Litchfield National Park, outside of Darwin - amazing waterfalls and watering holes that you can hike and swim around

We should have skipped:
--Kakadu National Park, outside of Darwin - swampy and bug-infested when we went
--Darwin itself - not much to see there
--Townsville and Magnetic Island - one guy we met called it "Brownsville," which seemed about right

Worth doing, but we might not recommend:
--Brisbane - nice city, but wouldn't necessarily make the list if you only have 2-3 weeks total
--Hamilton Island, in the Whitsundays - your basic luxury beach resort experience; no reason to go all the way to Australia just to lie on an average beach; the one highlight of this leg of the trip was a day trip to Whitehaven Beach
--Cairns itself - we might have done better to stay longer in Port Douglas and go out to the reef from there

We paired the three weeks in Australia with three weeks around Southeast Asia. We had originally included Uluru in the trip, but we essentially swapped it with the Darwin area when we found dirt-cheap, one-way, direct flights from Cairns to Darwin, Darwin to Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur to Brisbane.

Have fun!
I forgot about Port Douglas. We made a lunch stop there, I would not have minded spending more time there. Less touristy than Cairns.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by JoMoney » Thu Sep 18, 2014 3:45 pm

livesoft wrote:Actually Uluru is surprisingly easy to see: Book a roundtrip flight from Sydney, book a hotel there for 3 nights, rent a car, go everywhere on your own with 2 full days of hiking.

Then you will understand such posts about market dips like this one on the Uluru omen: http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 4#p1939154 and also posts about RBDs like this one: http://www.bogleheads.org/forum/viewtop ... 4#p1940104

You hike around it (and in other nearby areas); you don't plan your trip around it.

I'll put a plug in to watch the movie Walkabout, too.
:!: :!: :!: Is this what you did ? You could easily spend several days making that drive from Sydney, and unless you had a car full of people you'd probably spend the same on petrol as a plane ticket would cost. Uluru is way way out the middle of the desert outback. There is no direct road out from the east or west coast unless you want to trek across unsealed dirt roads for a thousand miles. But if you really want to take in the country that might be an adventuresome way to do it. Driving south along the coast to Adelaide would probably be the preferred route and would give you the opportunity to go through Melbourne and maybe detour by the Great Ocean Road when you start up the Stuart Highway you can visit Coober Pedy. Australia is a lot of wide open space with cities at the edges, I'd watch some videos like this and try to get some feel for what I might be getting into before deciding to drive across it.
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by livesoft » Thu Sep 18, 2014 5:52 pm

I flew from Sydney to Ayers Rock and rented a car there. The car gave me time to explore the area on my own and at my own pace instead of booking tours at specific times.

I've been to Australia now 3 times and I would go again and again.
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by Pacific » Thu Sep 18, 2014 6:02 pm

I tell people that they shouldn't go to New Zealand unless they can take five weeks. We did it in three and it felt rushed.
True, but you could go to Queenstown on the South Island and do everything imaginable in about 8 hours!

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by JoMoney » Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:59 am

livesoft wrote:I flew from Sydney to Ayers Rock and rented a car there. The car gave me time to explore the area on my own and at my own pace instead of booking tours at specific times.

I've been to Australia now 3 times and I would go again and again.
Sorry.. I misunderstood the statement "Book a roundtrip flight from Sydney, book a hotel there for 3 nights, rent a car, go everywhere" to mean a round trip flight from the U.S. to Sydney, then you rent a car in Sydney and went 'everywhere'... It makes more sense now. Seemed like a helluva' journey driving all around Australia
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by Wricha » Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:45 pm

Spent a month in Australia and a month in NZ. I think you would be wise to give that 3 or 4 weeks to NZ only. And 3 of the 4 weeks to the South Island. OMO NZ is easier to get around, much nicer scenery, very kind to Americans and generally more exciting. Australia is more cosmopolitan (Sidney) outrageously expensive, everything is extra (bread with meals, bags for groceries, it never stops) service is average at best, many many miles between sites. If you must go to Australia the Great Barrier Reef is worth it and don't overlook Tasmania. Australians (mainland) don't think much of Tasmania. Ayers rock is kinda of long way to go to see a place that is now, over the top on regulating tourist. Use the money to go to the Great Barrier Reef instead of Ayers Rock. NZ is a treasure, the South Island reminded me of a mini Alaska.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by WhyNotUs » Fri Sep 19, 2014 8:24 pm

livesoft wrote:
WhyNotUs wrote:Australia is a little smaller than the US so you can imagine how much of the US one could see in 3-4 weeks. not too much.
Right, so Australia is about the same size as the US, but most of it is essentially uninhabited, so if you neglect those parts except for Uluru, then it is about the size of a typical US state like New York, Nebraska, Colorado, Oregon, etc. :) (As long as you fly between the cities.)
Hmm, reminds me of the New Yorker cartoon where there is NYC, LA, and Chicago and nothing between. Many people would disagree that there is nothing to see in other parts of AU, YMMV.

Port Douglas was nice, did good diving off of there. It is a master planned resort (boulevards, discreet signage, two story buildings, architectural control, everything is manicured) and if you like master planned resorts, then you will like it. I was done with it after two days.

It is not far from Cairns and a nice alternative.
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by curmudgeon » Fri Sep 19, 2014 9:27 pm

Having been to both over the years, I'll throw in a few thoughts. Recognize that different things appeal to different people, so apply your own filter to what you get here...

If flying on Air New Zealand, think about adding a stopover in the Cook Islands (Rarotonga). Interesting place, very laid back, and has a weekly flight from LA as well as more frequent flights to NZ.

Both islands of NZ have quite a bit to offer in terms of rural charm and scenery. South Island has more in the way of adventure tourism and more rugged scenery. Be aware that most rental cars will be manual transmission (at least they were a few years ago), which adds another layer to driving on the "wrong side of the road".

For me, the highlight of my AZ trip was snorkeling/diving at the Great Barrier Reef. I did one day on one of the huge boats out of Cairns/Port Douglass, and one day on a much smaller boat. The big boats are a good option for people who are not super comfortable with the open ocean, as there is more space and services on the boat and options for non-swimmers. A smaller boat with 20-30 passengers will have more flexibility to adapt where they go based on weather conditions and be much less of a mob scene in the water.

I found Sydney interesting, but not compelling. It felt like a blend of San Francisco and San Diego.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by gatorman » Sun Sep 21, 2014 1:15 pm

I've been twice. Both are amazing, but New Zealand is by far the most scenic. If you like wine, the Marlborough district at the North end of the South Island is worth visiting. You'd need to stay in Blenheim, accommodations are fairly limited as I remember. There's a ferry from Auckland which would probably be quicker than flying from Auckland to Christchurch and driving North. Kaikura (sp?) is a good place to go whale watching, but prepare to be disappointed. The sperm whales come to the surface briefly every half hour or so to breathe and rest. Basically, all you see are their backs sticking out of the water and an occasional spout, no jumping or other acrobatics. Christchurch was devastated by an earthquake several years ago and is still in the process of rebuilding. It was a beautiful small city before the quake, not sure how it is now.

Australia is great, too. If you go to Sydney, make sure to have lunch in Chinatown, amazing dim sum. We saw a performance at the Sydney Opera House the first night we were there. It may have been good, I don't know as I was so jet lagged I fell asleep almost as soon as they turned down the house lights. Still, the Opera House is a great building and worth seeing. The harbor museum is very good and there is a submarine and WWII warship one can tour. Sydney also has a great zoo and as a bonus, you have to take a water taxi to get to it, so you get a great view of the city from the harbor. Melbourne is great also. The Yarra valley wineries are not far away and are worth visiting, but for a true winery experience, I'd make the (much longer) drive to Tahbilk in Central Victoria and try the old vines Shiraz and the Viognier for which it is famous. The St. Kilda area of Melbourne is worth visiting, lots of pastry shops and cafes and some good bookstores. I enjoyed snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef and would highly recommend a trip to see it. If you are going to be taking underwater photos, study up on the appropriate camera settings, I didn't and my photos do not do justice to the vibrant colors one sees in the reef.
Enjoy,
gatorman

dgdevil
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by dgdevil » Sun Sep 21, 2014 2:02 pm

gatorman wrote:There's a ferry from Auckland which would probably be quicker than flying from Auckland to Christchurch and driving North.
Small correction: the ferry is from Wellington (to Picton). But I agree with you on the relatively dubious merits of Kaikoura. One could skip the northeast quadrant of the South Island by flying into Christchurch, drive clockwise around the island to finish in Blenheim, and then backtrack 28 km to Picton to grab a daytime ferry over to Wellington.

Cheap internal flights can be found at Air NZ's grabaseat.co.nz site.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Sep 22, 2014 8:06 am

curmudgeon wrote:Having been to both over the years, I'll throw in a few thoughts. Recognize that different things appeal to different people, so apply your own filter to what you get here...

If flying on Air New Zealand, think about adding a stopover in the Cook Islands (Rarotonga). Interesting place, very laid back, and has a weekly flight from LA as well as more frequent flights to NZ.

Both islands of NZ have quite a bit to offer in terms of rural charm and scenery. South Island has more in the way of adventure tourism and more rugged scenery. Be aware that most rental cars will be manual transmission (at least they were a few years ago), which adds another layer to driving on the "wrong side of the road".
New Zealand is fairly unique in terms of scenery I think (South Island). Like Norway if it was 400 miles further south or Vancouver Island on 10x the scale. It apparently doesn't look *quite* as good as it does in Lord of the Rings (Tim Jackson used digital enhancement in the film) but you get the picture. Christchurch is still in a mess post earthquake, I gather. On North Island, Napier is an extraordinary town all Art Deco (an earthquake destroyed the town and it was rebuilt in the 1930s).


I found Sydney interesting, but not compelling. It felt like a blend of San Francisco and San Diego.
That's what I have heard about Sydney. Melbourne is more European (it looks more like Toronto, if that gives you a feel ie big Victorian neighbourhoods around a modern office centre, streetcars, with large Greek and Italian communities, a lot of arts, etc.). So we might say Melbourne looks more like New York (or perhaps Brooklyn, NY?).

I think what you can get in big Australian cities is available to you in the northern hemisphere (in the sense that any 2 big cities in the developed world are somewhat similar).

One might sum it up as:

New Zealand

- great people
- incredible nature particularly in the South Island
- quite rural and remote except for Auckland (which is not big by North American standards)

Australia

- people are great but the service culture is probably a bit disappointing to an American (Australia does not rely on a tip culture, the basic wages are much higher for jobs like waiters and hotel employees, Australians only 'tip the change' and get into real trouble in a place like NYC) - if you have been travelling elsewhere in Asia one would find it a bit of a shock
- cities are nice but a bit like bit cities everywhere in the world
- what you want to see is quite widely scattered - distances are big
- everyone I know who has been there has commented on how expensive it is (although AUD has fallen of late)

Either country would, in and of itself, take 3 weeks at least.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by tj » Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:30 pm

- quite rural and remote except for Auckland (which is not big by North American standards)
I did not find Wellington or Queenstown to feel at all remote or rural....

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by oneleaf » Mon Sep 22, 2014 4:45 pm

3 weeks will definitely feel rushed. We spent 2 weeks on the South Island of NZ alone and felt like it wasn't enough. If you really enjoy hiking, camping, and backpacking, 1 week in the north island and 2 weeks in the south would be a great trip. Not sure how to fit Australia into that!

I did comparatively less outdoorsy stuff in Australia so can't speak for that… Since we mostly just lived in the Gold Coast and hung around Byron Bay and Brisbane on weekends. However, having been to Sydney twice for a week at a time and spent approximately two weeks in Melbourne, I can say that Melbourne is a lot more fun in regards to city exploring in nightlife.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by dgdevil » Sat Oct 18, 2014 4:14 pm

Watty wrote: I happen to be heading off to New Zealand for three weeks this weekend and there will more than enough to fill up that time. The attraction on the north and south Island are so different that in some ways it will be like going to two destinations.
@Watty - how was it?

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by Watty » Sun Oct 19, 2014 10:27 pm

dgdevil wrote:
Watty wrote: I happen to be heading off to New Zealand for three weeks this weekend and there will more than enough to fill up that time. The attraction on the north and south Island are so different that in some ways it will be like going to two destinations.
@Watty - how was it?

Overall it was a nice trip. It was a bit earlier in the spring than I was expecting so things seems to just be greening up and getting ready to bloom and we even drove though some light snow flurries one day. I did get my share of cute lamb pictures but I have not gone through them yet.

We don't try to hit all the major “bucket list” types of attractions like some people do so we tended to spend a few days at each place we stopped instead.

Since it was the shoulder season we were mostly traveling without hotel reservations which was good since when we were on the south island a weather system came in that was going to cause a lot of rain on the west coast of the south island. You can't really complain about that since that is why there are rain forests there so you just have to go with what you happen to run into. We were able to get into Milton Sound before the most of weather front came in so that was nice. We changed our plans and ended up spending several days at Dunedin instead of the west coast which we enjoyed a lot since there were two excellent museums there and lots of things to do around there.

A few random tips for people that are going to New Zealand that might see this post.

1) Glowworm caves at Waitomo.

There are at least two companies that do cave tours and there are a number of options. We ended up doing the walking tour of the Footwhistle cave with this company.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_R ... sland.html

We were very happy with it. We were in the shoulder season so there were only four people on the tour and we did not feel rushed and at one point we sat in the dark for several minutes just looking at the glowworms. There is another company that has a short boat ride as part of their walking tour but some of the reviews I read said people felt rushed, and that is where most of the large tour buses go and their large complex felt very hectic, even in the shoulder season.

2) In Rotorua there are two large commercialize “Maori Experience” tours and the lower key Whakarewarewa Village tour. The two big operations were a bit expensive and some of the reviews made them sound a bit cheesy so we took the Whakarewarewa Village tour. It was a small group and we really enjoyed being able to talk with our tour guide and seeing a bit about how some the more traditional Maori live in the 21st century. The performance on the tour was not a large production but it was enjoyable.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_R ... _Regi.html

3) We had rental cars most of the time we were there and used APEX and they were fine. For one two day rental at the end of the trip I had booked an older model car(2006 to 2011) because of the price. We ended up getting a 2006 car and it worked OK but if I was going to do it again I would book one that was just a few years old. If you are coming from the US do not rent a car on your first day there. Jet-lag and driving on the left is dangerous can be a lethal combination.

In general driving on the left was not all that bad but take your time, zero alcohol, and try to avoid driving much at night. Often the speed limit was 100 kilometers per hour (about 62 MPH) on small roads. Often I would only be going 70 or 80 on the curvy roads when the speed limit was 100. I would pull over when I could to let faster cars pass and I never had any problems with the other drivers being aggressive towards me for driving slower.

4) Milford Sound tours; We stayed at Te Anau then took a tour with this tour company that uses small vans with a maximum of about 11 people instead of a tour bus and we were very happy with it. The day we took the tour there were only the two of us on it so we basically had a personal tour.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_R ... sland.html

5) We bought a GPS with New Zealand, Australia, and US maps on eBay before we left because that was less expensive then renting one. You really don't need one when going between cities but it was very useful for finding your hotel or getting thought the cities. I would recommend buying or renting one since driving on the left and all the roundabouts is complicated enough and not having to worry about directions helps.

6) Gas stations are not as common as in the US and not all towns on the map have a gas station. Fill up your tank when you get down to a quarter or half of a tank. There was one day when we almost ran out of gas after driving through about three small towns that were fairly far apart and none of them had gas stations.

7) Some towns are smaller than you might think so there is chance that all the hotels in town will be booked when they are busy. We were traveling in the shoulder season so hotels were typically not full but there were several days when I had to search for a decent hotel at decent price since many of the more desirable ones were fully booked. If you are going during the peak season be sure to look into how far ahead you need to get your reservations.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by Hikerchick » Sat Oct 25, 2014 8:48 am

Thought I'd add my 2 cents worth about NZ. just got back from a family vacay last December (weather was fantastic) spent two weeks touring the north and South island, although being the active/adventure types, we could have spent all our time in the south island. OP doesn't mention whether they are the hiking types, but we had two noteworthy day hikes, although I really would recommend spending time "tramping" from hut to hut on the Great Walking Tracks of NZ. we did the Kepler track and the Routeburn track ( background scenery for Lord of the Rings) and honestly the Routeburn Track has some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen. Hiking paths are well maintained and there is a hut system with running water, flush toilets and propane stoves? That's ridiculous! It felt like "glamping" compared to here in washington which is the land of pit toilets and having to climb over various obstacles in the trail due to blowdowns/windstorms. These Kiwis know how to make a hiker feel welcome plus they're so darn friendly as you travel from hut to hut -there's a ranger at every hut and they post the trail conditions for each day. Anyway, I'd go back in a heartbeat - plenty more I haven't seen - have a great trip!

http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recrea ... and-walks/

PS we decided to skip the FJ glacier - plenty of glaciers to see here in WA.

but you won't want to miss seeing the little blue penguins in Oamaru. One of my favorite memories of last new year's eve - seeing the southern cross at night, while watching the little penguins return at night to the rookery to feed their chicks - priceless! BTW no need to pay to see the penguins. If you go to the old part of town and hang out while it gets dark, they come up along the shore and along the jetty there to return to their nests. you can stand along the fence line and watch them return.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by Hikerchick » Sat Oct 25, 2014 8:53 am

on the link that I posted the Routeburn and Kepler tracks are found in the Fjordland section.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by NORDO » Thu Oct 30, 2014 10:38 am

We've been planning on taking one big final pre-kids trip to Aus & NZ for a while now. It's looking like next summer (US seasons) is when it's going to happen. I've been banking miles/points for years for this. Most of my miles are with Delta, so the rough plan is to go US -> AUS -> Tahiti -> US in first class on miles. I have enough United miles to redeem for the Aus <-> NZ portion if it's pricey.

I know it's semi-insane to try and do so much on 3-4 weeks, but we really would like to see quite a bit and don't want to pass too much up on what might be the only trip across the Pacific for a few decades.

Due to my wife's work, it has to be in June or July. We'd like to spend roughly 10 days in Australia, 5-7 in NZ, and 5 in Tahiti/Bora Bora. The priciest hotels (Bora Bora) will be covered by hotel points and we're ok with hostels or other low-budget options where we're not redeeming points.

This thread's been quite helpful in terms of ideas, even if it's focused on traveling during the opposite seasons. Any general thoughts or advice on what we're looking to accomplish?

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by dgdevil » Thu Oct 30, 2014 12:04 pm

I like the contrast between first-class flying and staying in hostels. Yes, Australia and NZ will be grim in June/July - but not in a Northern hemisphere way. No need to pack your fur coats. Anyway, not much you can do about it.

Tahiti/Bora Bora for 5 days? Well, admittedly, I've never been. But this comes at the expense of more days in Australia/NZ. This is your wife's idea? Can't you just go to Hawaii or the Caribbean some other time for the beach experience?

BTW, departure taxes on "free" flights between Australia and NZ can be quite high. You may find more economically feasible cash deals on LAN or one of the other foreign airlines, and save the miles for something else.

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NORDO
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by NORDO » Thu Oct 30, 2014 12:17 pm

dgdevil wrote:I like the contrast between first-class flying and staying in hostels. Yes, Australia and NZ will be grim in June/July - but not in a Northern hemisphere way. No need to pack your fur coats. Anyway, not much you can do about it.

Tahiti/Bora Bora for 5 days? Well, admittedly, I've never been. But this comes at the expense of more days in Australia/NZ. This is your wife's idea? Can't you just go to Hawaii or the Caribbean some other time for the beach experience?

BTW, departure taxes on "free" flights between Australia and NZ can be quite high. You may find more economically feasible cash deals on LAN or one of the other foreign airlines, and save the miles for something else.
Regarding Tahiti, yes to the first question. Staying in one of those overwater bungalows is a bucket list item. Of course, with Delta (provided I can navigate the insanity that is the process of redeeming SkyMiles for award travel) it's possible to redeem on Air France / Air Tahiti Nui and book a stopover at PPT on the same award itinerary. So it's "free" in that sense of things - and on the way home.

Given their partnerships, I honestly plan to avoid actual Delta metal for most of the travel. We should be able to fly Virgin Australia across the Pacific and use one of the carriers mentioned above on the return.

I'm hoping that, cool and damp weather aside, traveling in the off-season may at least make most things less crowded and more budget-friendly.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by dstac » Thu Oct 30, 2014 1:07 pm

Funny, that's a similar trip to what my DW & I did years ago (before she was DW): 4-5wk trip: 1wk North Island NZ, 3wk South Island NZ, 3-4dys Tahiti

It was a great trip, but it was also after I had lived in NZ several years before. I know you're set on AUS, so you will likely want to spend a fair part of your time there and focus on a destination or two in NZ. I'd ask yourself, "Why NZ?" to help narrow down your targets.

When I took my wife on the whirlwind tour, North NZ was mostly about cultural context: 1st Contact, Maori Culture, Farming, Auckland, & Wellington. We drove everywhere & saw a lot of the countryside, but boy was it a lot of driving - but it also allowed me to hit some out of the way places (that I wanted to show off). Probably should have skipped Wellington & flew from Auckland to Christchurch. Instead took the ferry between the islands.

South Island was about nature & animals. Did a 3 or 4-night hike between the huts along the Abel Tasman coast. The huts are a really civilized way to travel if you're used to backpacking. Then water-taxied back to view the coastline from the water. Hiked on glacier on the west coast. Kayaked in Milford Sound where there are fjords. Stayed in a couple farm hostels with lots of sheep/lambs & some great food. Checked out the penguins down south. Swam with the dolphins off Kaikoura - where my wife was ready to move/retire to on the spot.

Flew LAX-PPT-Auckland, drive/ferry, Christchurch-Auckland-PPT(w/overnights)-LAX on Air Tahiti.

Regarding the time of year, we traveled in Oct-Nov and stayed in hostels everywhere. As I'm sure you know, these are not your standard youth hostels found in other countries. Get the independent hostel book: http://www.bbh.co.nz and use the ratings/descriptions & the card pays for itself. We generally called in the morning to reserve beds that night. We probably had our first choice 3/4 of the time. The best ones can book up early in high season, but the couple we really wanted we called a week in advance.

June or July is not a bad time to visit. On the North Island, I got my first skiing of the season in on the 4th of July - but lousy snow. By the end of July kids from SE Asia arrive with snowboards in tow around Queenstown. But most of the snow is in the mountains.

Love NZ, would like to go back, but w/ kids in tow I don't see it happening for a while.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by centrifuge41 » Thu Oct 30, 2014 1:50 pm

NORDO wrote:Regarding Tahiti, yes to the first question. Staying in one of those overwater bungalows is a bucket list item. Of course, with Delta (provided I can navigate the insanity that is the process of redeeming SkyMiles for award travel)
I guess you are speaking about this?
To get to Tahiti with Delta partners, you have to go from Auckland. The section for crossing the ditch is pretty much on your own - most flights sold as V Australia across the ditch (SYD-AKL) are actually on Air NZ, and not eligible for Skymiles redemption.

You could theoretically use China Airlines to go SYD-AKL, but they have blackout dates and low frequency. It may be hard to find awards there too.

Anyways, Delta is killing free stopovers soon. They already made the IT changes to kill free stopovers, so you'd have to call before December to book a trip, and you'd need the agent to allow for manual pricing. The Air Tahiti Nui segment AKL-PPT can only be booked by calling in. It is often easier to book all that you can online, then call in within 24 hours to add the missing Tahiti Nui segment. It's best to confirm award availability first.
dgdevil wrote:BTW, departure taxes on "free" flights between Australia and NZ can be quite high. You may find more economically feasible cash deals on LAN or one of the other foreign airlines, and save the miles for something else.
We are taking the trip you see in the blog article. We bought an Air NZ Flight SYD-AKL sold under V Australia (significantly cheaper, but may not include checked luggage. Apparently, checking a bag under a V Australia "Saver Lite" fare can cost ~$100 AUD. I wanted to get a one-way LAN cash flight for ~$200, but it kept erroring out. Called LAN. Turns out that for December at least, they only sell round trip, or an entire one-way to South America.

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NORDO
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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by NORDO » Thu Oct 30, 2014 2:20 pm

centrifuge41 wrote:I guess you are speaking about this?
To get to Tahiti with Delta partners, you have to go from Auckland. The section for crossing the ditch is pretty much on your own - most flights sold as V Australia across the ditch (SYD-AKL) are actually on Air NZ, and not eligible for Skymiles redemption.

[sic]

Anyways, Delta is killing free stopovers soon. They already made the IT changes to kill free stopovers, so you'd have to call before December to book a trip, and you'd need the agent to allow for manual pricing. The Air Tahiti Nui segment AKL-PPT can only be booked by calling in. It is often easier to book all that you can online, then call in within 24 hours to add the missing Tahiti Nui segment. It's best to confirm award availability first.
Yep, that's the general idea. Thanks for the tips/reminders. I knew DL was in the midst of many changes, but didn't entirely realize how little time I have to get things booked. I need to do so ASAP!

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by MoonOrb » Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:14 pm

bigez17 wrote:Looking to do a two couple trip for 3-4 weeks in A & NZ in February. Suggestions on must see and relaxing to soak in the culture?
It's hard to do New Zealand in under 3 weeks. If this were my trip, I'd split my time 3 weeks in NZ and 1 week in Australia, with my time in Australia split between Sydney and either Adelaide or Queensland, depending on whether you prefer wine country and a laid back, relaxing vibe or something more tropical and beachy.

The time in NZ I'd split as 5 days in the North Island and the rest in the South Island. The only must-see in the North Island is Rotorua, for its Maori cultural value, as well as just the general amount of interesting things to do in the area. On the other hand, almost every single thing in the North Island is also nice and would make a worthwhile trip in its own right. If you're into wine, than do the Hawkes Bay region and the Wairarapa. If you're into hiking, do the one day Tongariro Crossing, which is a fantastic day hike. Near the Hamilton area there are caves in which you can abseil and do "black water" rafting (basically underground inner tubing) which is a lot of fun. I'm not a big fan of Auckland and I wouldn't spend any time there if I didn't have to just because there's so much to do elsewhere.

My favorite city in New Zealand (or nearly anywhere) is Wellington, but it's also something you can skip unless you're craving some city stuff. If you do go to Wellington, stay as close to the CBD as possible so you can walk along the harbour, visit Te Papa, and cruise the bars and restaurants in the Manners Mall/Cuba Street/Courtenay Place area; also take the cable car up to Kelburn, walk back through the botanic gardens into Thorndon, and come back to the city centre via Lambton Quay by the government buildings, which are also worth a look-see.

The South Island is where NZ will blow you away, and there's almost too much to see and do. Queenstown and Nelson are the two cities I'd prioritize. When we did an extended trip to the South Island a few years ago, we took 3.5 weeks and we still didn't see as much as we would have liked. Queenstown is beautiful and also sort of the home of NZ's adventure tourism, so you can get your fill of things like bungee jumping, jetboating, and all kinds of other wacky things. Wanaka is also nice, but it felt slightly more pretentious and stuffy to me, and as beautiful as it was, I felt as if all things being equal, I wish I had spent more time in Queenstown. HOWEVER, of all of the fun, adventure type things we did in NZ, canyoning near Wanaka was the most fabulous, and I highly recommend it if you're at all inclined toward physical activity beyond easy hiking.

Nelson is a lovely small city with nice places to stay, a robust downtown, decent food, and most importantly, access to Abel Tasman National Park. Abel Tasman has the most glorious stretches of pristine, golden beaches, and there is a well-traveled hiking track that you can take up to four days to do. We did this twice, once as a day hike where we were picked up and dropped off by a tour bus run out of Nelson, and another time we did the entire track by foot and kayak. Highly recommended.

Other places worth visiting in the South Island: Dunedin (lovely vibrant university town), Lake Tekapo, and Kaikoura (especially if you're into whale watching). This doesn't even come close to naming everything there is to do. If you spend time in Christchurch, a day trip to Akaroa is lovely, and if you're into staying at B&B's (which is where we stayed probably 80% of the time we stayed away from home when we lived there), I can recommend The Grange in Christchurch. We stayed there at least 3 times. I'm not sure how they fared after the devastating earthquake, however.

Be sure to visit the iSite in every town you go to. People at the iSites are uniformly helpful and friendly.

You will have a fabulous, awesome time.

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by Iorek » Fri Oct 31, 2014 8:49 am

NORDO wrote:
I know it's semi-insane to try and do so much on 3-4 weeks, but we really would like to see quite a bit and don't want to pass too much up on what might be the only trip across the Pacific for a few decades.

Due to my wife's work, it has to be in June or July. We'd like to spend roughly 10 days in Australia, 5-7 in NZ, and 5 in Tahiti/Bora Bora. The priciest hotels (Bora Bora) will be covered by hotel points and we're ok with hostels or other low-budget options where we're not redeeming points.

This thread's been quite helpful in terms of ideas, even if it's focused on traveling during the opposite seasons. Any general thoughts or advice on what we're looking to accomplish?
I would try to decide how much you want to move around. People have different tolerances/approaches, but it sounds like you want to see as much as possible and I would say that in 10 days in Australia you could probably see 3 different areas, for 2-3 days apiece. So you might pick from Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Darwin, Ayers Rock, Tasmania (with the idea that you can do day trips from those bases, so from Melbourne you could see a nice part of the Great Ocean Rd, Philip Island, etc.). All things being equal, I'd probably pick Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns, but I might change that around given the season.

For New Zealand, again I think you just have to make some choices about what you want to try to do. Of course you could spend 3 weeks there and probably still be scratching the surface, but that doesn't mean you can't see/do a lot in a week. For example, a week driving around the South Island would let you see quite a bit. Or you might decide on Queenstown and a multiday hike like the Routeburn Track, or Queenstown and a couple days somewhere else (maybe Rotorua). Again, I'm not sure how being there in winter might change things.

Don't think you have to see everything or have a month to spend there to make it worthwhile. Hope you have a great trip!

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Re: Australia and New Zealand

Post by NORDO » Fri Oct 31, 2014 9:21 am

Iorek wrote:
NORDO wrote:
I know it's semi-insane to try and do so much on 3-4 weeks, but we really would like to see quite a bit and don't want to pass too much up on what might be the only trip across the Pacific for a few decades.

Due to my wife's work, it has to be in June or July. We'd like to spend roughly 10 days in Australia, 5-7 in NZ, and 5 in Tahiti/Bora Bora. The priciest hotels (Bora Bora) will be covered by hotel points and we're ok with hostels or other low-budget options where we're not redeeming points.

This thread's been quite helpful in terms of ideas, even if it's focused on traveling during the opposite seasons. Any general thoughts or advice on what we're looking to accomplish?
I would try to decide how much you want to move around. People have different tolerances/approaches, but it sounds like you want to see as much as possible and I would say that in 10 days in Australia you could probably see 3 different areas, for 2-3 days apiece. So you might pick from Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Darwin, Ayers Rock, Tasmania (with the idea that you can do day trips from those bases, so from Melbourne you could see a nice part of the Great Ocean Rd, Philip Island, etc.). All things being equal, I'd probably pick Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns, but I might change that around given the season.

For New Zealand, again I think you just have to make some choices about what you want to try to do. Of course you could spend 3 weeks there and probably still be scratching the surface, but that doesn't mean you can't see/do a lot in a week. For example, a week driving around the South Island would let you see quite a bit. Or you might decide on Queenstown and a multiday hike like the Routeburn Track, or Queenstown and a couple days somewhere else (maybe Rotorua). Again, I'm not sure how being there in winter might change things.

Don't think you have to see everything or have a month to spend there to make it worthwhile. Hope you have a great trip!
All good advice. I did a similar thing with day trips from Munich when I was in Germany a while back - worked out very well.

I actually have a friend who lives in Adelaide and we've been corresponding back and forth with ideas for a while. Some things will end up being flights-we-can-book-dependent, but you're right about focusing on a few areas. We'd definitely like to do Sydney and Cairns (wife absolutely wants to go to the reef) and I do think the South Island makes sense for NZ. We both enjoy wine quite a bit, so I suspect we'll try and fit in at least a day of wineries in each country if possible.

We're not overly adventurous folks but we do enjoy the outdoors - so I know there will be at least some diving (reef) and perhaps hiking around some scenic spots, too.

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