Australia /New Zealand
Thanks to Fodorites’ great trip reports and helpful comments on my planning posts, DH and I had an AWESOME trip to Australia and New Zealand for 5 ½ weeks from mid October to late November. I will post this TR in different segments so that no single part is too long to read. But first, here’s the itinerary, not a “typical” first trip, especially for Australia, but these were the places that I found most appealing in doing my research.
By way of quick introduction, we are a "just beyond middle age" couple (can't use the word "old" yet, we're 67 and 72), who travel more slowly than we used to. We don’t normally schedule as many “one-nighters” but since we would be having our own car everywhere except Sydney, we thought a few would be OK, especially in some of the smaller places and when there were short distances between stops. For this trip, we had a mix of hotels, lodges and B&Bs, ranging from mid-level to high-end. When selecting a place to stay, I would usually focus on whether the accommodation has a nice view since we do spend time relaxing and resting.
Oct 15: arrive Darwin
Oct 16& 17: Mary River Wetlands and Kakadu
Oct 18: overnight in Darwin
Oct 19-21: Daintree
Oct 22: Atherton Tablelands area
Oct 23: Cairns
Oct 24-Nov 1: Tasmania (1 night outside Launceston, 2 nights Cradle Mountain, 3 nights Freycinet Peninsula, 1 night Port Arthur, 2 nights Hobart)
Nov 2-6: Sydney
Nov 7-9: Glenorchy
Nov 10-11: Lake Moeraki
Nov 12: Hokitika
Nov 13-14: Arthurs Pass
Nov 15: Kaikoura
Nov 16-17: Blenheim
Nov 18: Tongariro
Nov 19-21: Rotorua environs
Nov 22: flight back
I was able to secure business class FF award seats 11 months in advance, first for the outbound, then 6 weeks later for the return. Our first flight on American from DC to Los Angeles left on time and we landed a little early. After a few hours in the Qantas Lounge, we boarded our flight to Brisbane. It was 3am for us, so we skipped supper and slept very well for about 8 hours on the comfy lie flat seats, wearing cute Qantas PJs. Unfortunately, when we arrived in Brisbane, the jet way would not connect to the plane. This was the third time this has happened to us in the last year and it has always delayed our disembarking by about an hour. With long lines at immigration, we missed our connection to Darwin. While we were in the queue, there was lots of grumbling around us about the slow moving, long lines. The re-checkin process was more confusing at Brisbane than at other airports we've been to, but we now had a long wait between flights, so it didn't matter. But with a tight connection, you've got to know your way around. There was a shuttle bus to take us to the domestic terminal.
We were put on the next flight so we had almost 3 hours to spare and used the time to buy a SIM card for our old, unlocked iPhone. Not sure if this is always the case, but the Vodaphone agent told us there was a special promotion going on and we got a pocket Wi-Fi and a second SIM card for the other iPhone for no extra charge. It turned out the pocket Wi-Fi was something we used quite a lot and it will also come in handy for all of our travels.
We finally boarded the last leg to our first. Flying from Brisbane to Darwin, which took 4 hours, reinforced our understanding of how great the remote areas of Australia are, thousands of miles of red outback and bush.
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AWESOME first trip to Australia and New Zealand
Australia /New Zealand