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First trip outside the Americas - Australia and New Zeland

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Hi everyone!

I just found out about this forum when researching for my first trip outside the Americas. Me and my husband are from Brazil, and have never traveled so far away from home, but we dream to go to Australia and New Zeland... and we will be going in January 2014, a dream come true!

But I would like to ask for help regarding planning the trip. My husband wishes to go in a Contiki group... but I am just not so sure! I do not like to party late or anything like that - I would like to make this trip something like a second honeymoon.

But we don't know anything or anyone in Australia, and we would not be able to drive... so maybe a group tour could be a good idea.

So... does anyone recommend a group tour or something similar for us?

We would like to visit: Sydney, the great barrier reef, melbourne, and somewhere in New Zeland that is shown in the Lord of the Rings movie =)

Can anyone help us with any recommendations regarding cities to visit and any group tour to guide us?

Thank you!!

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    Sorry, I forgot to give more details about us to help...

    Me and my husband will be travelling between Christmas and mid-january (30 days). We're both 30 y/o and have enough budget to stay in simple hotels (we do not want anything too expensive, but we want to stay together in rooms for example). Maybe we could pay for a more expensive hotel in a city just to celebrate our 5th anniversary =)
    Also we are more into nature, natural parks and museums... not so much into partying or drinking...

    Thanks!

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    I suggest you check out some of the small group/medium budget tours. See if they appear to meet your needs on the surface and then add on to their offering, as you mention, for a few more days.

    Companies such as GAP Tours, Intrepid Travel, Peregrine, etc.

    As an example, I'm going to Sydney in two weeks, spending 4 days there at the Intercon, then joining up with such a group for two weeks. I like it because, as I'm traveling alone this trip, it's a built in group with all ages (so some party and some don't), low cost while providing reasonable accommodation often en suite, a variety of transportation often public, plenty of free time to pursue your own ideas. (Oh, and four days after that tour to decompress on my own.)

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    You can totally do this on your own. Totally! Many do this every day.

    The one thing that has me curious - why do you say "we would not be able to drive"? Because it's on the left? Thousands land in Australia and N.Z. every day and hop into cars and take off, having a great time, just as they do in Great Britain and elsewhere.

    If you'd rather not be a sheep in a herded tour group, then you must do your own homework. Watch some DVDs, search online resources, get a book or two from your library - there is plenty of material available.

    Xmas and January will be peak travel and vacation time, the height of summer, prices will be high and places will be busy, so get going and nail things down in the next couple of weeks. Australia is a very expensive county these days, so take a good look at prices and fares and your budget, and if something seems not possible this time around, count on coming back another time.

    Maybe leave New Zealand for another trip - to go there only for a movie-locale seems a bit extravagant, Australia has so much to offer that a month will go by quickly.

    Realize that it's a huge continent, take note of the travel times and cost from Sydney to Melbourne and up to Cairns - make a day-by-day planner sketch and pencil in all kinds of possibilities, until the scheme comes together.

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    Michelbueeli has given you some excellent advice--you CAN do this trip on your own. I would recommend a self-guided tour (i.e. doing it on your own) as opposed to a tour group for three main reasons: 1) you choose the itinerary, accommodations, activities, etc. and not the tour company; 2) you'll likely pay a lot less and get a lot more if you go on your own as opposed to a tour group and 3) you won't be stuck with sitting in a bus for hours on end with other people. Make your vacation a romantic trip a deux!

    I also agree that you need to get working on this trip right away because you are going at the busiest time of the year. If your only destinations in Australia are Sydney, Melbourne and Cairns/Port Douglas (Great Barrier Reef), you can easily do that in two weeks and then go to New Zealand for 2 weeks. Of course, if you go to New Zealand, you'll want to see a lot more than LOTR movie locations--it's one of the most scenic countries in the world!

    Finally, as Micelhuebeli said, unless there is some physical, legal or other restriction keeping you from driving in Australia and New Zealand, there's no reason why you can't do it. I worried about it before I went and driving on the left turned out to be quite easy--you'll catch on within a day. There's no need to drive in the big cities (Sydney and Melbourne) because they've got great public transportation. And driving outside of the cities is not problematic--traffic is pretty light in both Australia and NZ.

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    I agree that if you can drive (if you both have drivers licences you should be OK) you will enjoy the freedom of going where you want, when you want. If you really can't drive, you could check out Intrepid Travel. My sister and a friend have travelled with them in Europe and both enjoyed the tour.
    http://www.intrepidtravel.com/au

    If you are travelling independently, outside of the big cities you can stay fairly cheaply at caravan parks. They just about all have decent cabins complete with double beds, kitchen and bathroom facilities. Post again if you want some links to the chains.

    Going to NZ as well will add a lot on to your budget. Do some costings first then decide if you want to just see Australia on this trip. As mentioned above, it's a big country with huge distances between cities. Check out airfares too, not just from Brazil but from say, Sydney to Cairns. I find domestic airfares expensive but it depends on what you are used to. The airlines are Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin and Tiger. Jetstar and Tiger are the cheaper airlines with minimal service.

    The period you are thinking of visiting is when all the schools have their main annual break of about 6-8 weeks so a lot of people have holidays then and accommodation etc is expensive. You will still be able to find places to stay but start looking now.

    I'm sure if you have the time and interest to look into planning the trip yourselves you will get a lot of help on the internet and this forum.

    Kay

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