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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Trip Report God bless NZ banks, trip report Australia and New Zealand

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We just returned from a 7 week trip to Australia and 4 weeks to North Island in New Zealand. We were there from early January to end of March 2013. This was our fifth trip to both countries. I am not going to give you the details of our itinerary as there is a lot of information out on both countries. I will give you a few financial snippets on our experience.

We stayed in Holiday homes and apartments so we needed extra cash as many home owners did not have credit card facilities and the out of country funds transfers cost $30 at both ends per transaction. We took some travellers cheques.

New Zealand banks charged 2.5% exchange premium plus a $4.50 service charge on travellers cheques. On cash the premium would have been higher. The money changers at Auckland airport wanted 8% plus a $45 service charge. Very unfriendly to tourists. God bless New Zealand banks.

On our last trip to Australia we paid 2.5% but now Australian banks wanted 4% to 6% plus a $15 service charge and we won't mention the airport money changers with their high rates.

Needless to say we took most of our travellers cheques for Australia back and went to a bank ATM and withdrew cash with a debit card for a 2.5% exchange premium plus $5.00 transaction fee.

Here is my priority for getting money:

1. Pay for everything you can with your credit card it costs only 2.5%
2. Get cash from bank ATM's preferably in larger amounts, the cost is 2.5% plus $5 service charge.
3. Travellers cheques in New Zealand are OK but in Australia forget about them. Foreign cash is worse, don't bother with it.
4. Don't touch the Airport money changers, they charge too much.

On this trip we found the Australia much more expensive to vacation compared to New Zealand. Accommodation cost in Australia was much higher than New Zealand
Australia Cost New Zealand Cost
Holiday properties, average per day $166AU $119NZ
Car rental full size average per day $56AU $91NZ
Gasoline per liter $1.45 to $1.55AU $2.20NZ

Food was high in both countries. Fresh fish in particular was double what we pay in Canada for the same species. Beer was expensive, on the plus side wine was real bargain in both countries. Domestic airfares are cheap in Australia.

On balance a vacation in New Zealand is considerably cheaper compared to Australia.

The quality of holiday properties selected was generally good. We did find that nice pictures and high price is not always a good indicator of a quality property. Here is our top list of places of top quality and good value in the order of priority:

1. Emaroo Magnolia Cottage in Mildura AU, The best we have seen, absolutely superb, rate 10 out of 10
2. Riverside Apartment Parahaki Whangarei NZ, super view, very clean and up to date, best value for the money, 10 out of 10.
3. York in Sydney deluxe one bedroom apartment. Very nice rate 9 out of 10.
4. Sheoaks Chalets in Augusta AU, Interesting country place with great views. Clean, good facilities. Rate 8 out of 10.
5. Silent Grove in Albany AU a secluded large cottage nicely equipped. Rate 9 out of 10.
6. Artist's Cottage Seatoun Wellington NZ. Nice place with good location to public transportation. Rate 8 out of 10.
7. Opunake Quality Beach House in Opunake Taranaki NZ. rate 9 out of 10.
8. Bickham Grange Estate, Dernancourt Adelaide. Interesting historical cottage. Very spacious and comfortable. Rate 9 out of 10.
9. Princess Wharf Apartment 1BR in Auckland. Nicely equipped, very clean, good location reasonable price. Rate 7 out of 10.

The rest of the places we stayed were OK but do not deserve a place of merit.

One other interesting thing. We stayed in Lightning Ridge, Cobar and Broken Hill with temperatures soaring to 45 degrees daily. Surprisingly we found it hot but comfortable. It must be the dry heat that makes a difference.

I hope these assorted comments will be of some help to some one.

Z

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