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3 week trip to Australia and New Zealand : Suggestions please

3 week trip to Australia and New Zealand : Suggestions please

Old Oct 4th, 2005, 09:23 AM
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>>Now on to researching accomodations. Again if you have suggestions, please let me know.<<

What is your budget?

Lee Ann
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 09:30 AM
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I have spent a week or two on the South Island of NZ every year since 2000 (lucky me). My husband and I got married in Christchurch on the spur of the moment, as a matter of fact.

I think you could never go wrong by staying for several weeks on the South Island. Last year, we did an open itinerary, driving in a big loop -- Christchurch up the coast to Kaikoura, on to Blenheim, through the Marlborough Sounds, to and down the west coast, and over through Wanaka to Queenstown, then up into the Mt. Potts region, ending up in Methven and then back to Christchurch. Stayed a few days here, a few days there, moving when we felt like it. It was sublime.

As for accommodation, one of the things that we really love about NZ is the people. So we tend to stay in B&Bs or small hotels -- often using the tourism office to call ahead and book places a day or two ahead (as I mentioned, we had a very free itinerary).

I realize this isn't the way a lot of people like to travel, but we really feel like we make good friends this way, and it's been great to rely on the very lovely, spot-on, friendly advice of our hosts and locals we meet along the way to steer us to "must-see" locations. I have one memory of sitting in Blenheim airport with a map -- and a lovely woman from a car rental company (waiting to pick someone up) sat down next to me and started telling me where SHE would go if she was on holiday. And her suggestions were fantastic!

Even if this free schedule isn't your style, do take advantage of talking with the locals whereever you go. You can't go wrong on the South Island, in my opinion.
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 09:53 PM
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Yes we would like to keep it flexible too. Is it ok if we don't book ahead, given that Dec is close to peak season?

We do not want to spend too much on accomodations (since we will be spending a lot on activities!). We would prefer hostels or B&Bs rather than big hotels.

Need recommendations for
Sydney
Cairns/Port douglas
Auckland
Rotoura
Christchurch
Hokitika
Somewhere near Glaciers
Wanaka/Haast
Queenstown
Te Anau

Thanks in advance!
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Old Oct 4th, 2005, 11:19 PM
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The YMCA in Christchurch was a good deal. Usually, I stay in hotels (3* and up, I never did the hostel thing as a youngster and don't want to start now). But when I looked into accommodation in Christchurch, the hotels looked expensive and/or characterless. So I decided to save my money for a special place somewhere else. The Y in Christchurch has both dorm-type beds and ensuite private rooms (which, of course, are more expensive, but still very reasonable). The ensuite private rooms are similar in quality and features to reasonably new university residences, which was fine by me. They had a good breakfast, and the hotel was within walking distance of the city centre, and has a gym, laundry facilities, internet etc. Go to www.ymcachch.org.nz

If you can find a B&B, it will have more character, but the Y is a good alternative.

In Sydney, I stayed at once at the Grace Hotel, a converted department store. It doesn't seem to show up in guidebooks, and you can sometimes get a good deal. It wasn't cheap, but it seemed like a good value. Some of the rooms of quirky layouts and some face interior courtyards, but I liked the decor and the hotel was very central. Go to www.gracehotel.com.au

Don't ignore Best Westerns in NZ. A lot of the them are small, friendly, family-run hotels. Not high on charm in design, but very high on charm in terms of friendliness. One of my favourites was the Lobster Inn Motor Lodge in Kaikoura (I didn't know that lobsters could drive cars, nor that they stayed in motels ...)
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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 12:23 PM
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We also stayed at Grace Hotel in Sydney - it was a fabulous location. Rooms were quirky but clean and perfect. Good inexpensive breakfast places nearby to start your day. You don't seem to be near any of the McSweeney eco-lodges, but if it ends up you are they are very much like b&b's in the sense of small, friendly, groups talk about which hike, tour they did that day, -w e kept meeting same people at his eco-lodges (ecological not economy) b/c they fit in w/ the environment/ water usage, etc. very clean and lovely unless the kiwi birds were playing in the water gutters and interrupting our shower supply ! but it took them no time to get them out and the water running.
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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 12:59 PM
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Vandy, I can't help with specific hostels, but I can recommend the Backpacker Budget Hostels website - www.bbh.co.nz - for listings of hundreds of hostels all over New Zealand. Many of them are smaller properties and have double rooms with ensuite baths. We were really pleased with the two BBH hostels we used.

Lee Ann
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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 01:50 PM
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A good site for hostels worldwide is www.hihostels.com.
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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 01:57 PM
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Vandy:

For New Zealand, one book I HIGHLY recommend is the New Zealand Bed and Breakfast Guide (otherwise known as the "black book&quot. Amazon has it. It has write-ups of B&B's, including photos.

We found MANY great B&Bs there, at short notice, and we were traveling in mid-November.

In Christchurch, I can't recommend Hambledon enough --it's actually where we got married. http://www.hambledon.co.nz/

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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 03:09 PM
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I recommend AGAINST the Y in Christchurch. The location is fine, but the doors have some type of positive closure device that results in a very loud slam. Not fun when you are trying to sleep. I could not wait to get out of there and into my usual B*B (Windsor Hotel).
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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 05:04 PM
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Information in above-mentioned New Zealand Bed & Breakfast Book (black book) is available online at www.bnb.co.nz
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Old Oct 5th, 2005, 07:00 PM
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Appreciate all the replies! I will look at the links.

BTW, for others who are planning to travel to Aus/NZ in Dec, I got a good deal (web special) from Air NZ. SFO-AKL CHC-SYD CNS-SFO for $1186.
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Old Oct 9th, 2005, 03:01 PM
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All of this intinerary planning has been so helpful to me. We are planning a trip to NZ South Island for Dec 1-16/2006 or Jan/2007. Which is the best time weatherwise? We are not interested in sport activities (maybe some light short hikes)or vising wineries so the Pawley's itinerary doesn't sound quite right for us. I have been reading and reading and have come up with an itinerary but would like some feedback.
Day 1 stay Ponsonby (Auckland)
Day 2 fly to Christchurch
Day 3 Drive Kaikoura
Day 4,5,6 drive Queenstown (see Glenorchy, and Arrowtown)
Day 7,8 drive Te Anau (Doubtful Sound or Milford?--which one? Overnight cruise?)
Day 9 drive Dunedin
Day 10 fly to Auckland (may need to overnight depending on flight to US)
We were hoping to be gone from Denver a total of 16 days including flights to and from US(does that involve 2 or 3 calendar days?) We could add one more stop for 2-3 days--what should I add? We really prefer settling into one spot and doing day trips. With the itinerary above, we sure are moving around alot. Please make suggestions. We just returned from Europe and after a week we still wake up at 3am. Won't we have the same problem in NZ? Thanks so much.
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Old Oct 9th, 2005, 03:51 PM
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Richard -

December and Jan are both good months for NZ, but as it's the high season, you'll want to make some, if not all, of your bookings in advance.

The drive from Kaikoura to Queenstown is 669 km and takes over 8 hours, so you'll probably want to break this up by staying somewhere overnight along the way.

One day each in CH, Kaikoura and Dunedin isn't giving yourself time to do much. Personally, I wouldn't drive from Te Anau to Dunedin just to catch a plane the next day (over a three hour drive).

You might consider flying in and out of Queenstown (via CH.) Glenorchy is about a 40 minute drive from Queenstown, Arrowtown is even closer, and Te Anau is a two hour drive, so these are easy side trips from Queenstown. You can also take a side trip to Wanaka if you're so inclined, although there's plenty to keep you busy in and around Queenstown for a few days.

Yep, you're gonna have jet lag - it's a long journey, but well worth the trip.

PS - I'm from CO too.
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Old Oct 10th, 2005, 07:18 AM
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melnq8--If we fly and in and out of Queenstown, are you suggesting that we base our entire 12 nights in that city? What about glaciers? We returned from Positano (Italy) last week and stayed 7 nights in one luxury hotel--our idea of the perfect trip. We did day trips daily and came back to the same comfortable hotel and good restaurants. We are not into remote isolation (we never go camping in the Colorado mountains). We are concerned that beautiful scenery will only go so far--is there enough to keep us busy for 12 days if we don't get involved with sports?
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Old Oct 11th, 2005, 01:54 PM
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Richard,
I haven't been to NZ yet (under 3 months to go!) but I have done a lot of research on the SI....
IMHO, 12 nights in Queenstown is too many. You may want to spend 3-4 nights in Christchurch (with daytrips to Kaikoura and/or Akaroa) 3-4 nights in Queenstown (daytrips to Glenorchy, Arrowtown, Fiordland) and 3-4 nights in Dunedin (daytrips to Otago Peninsula and Catlins). Other possible "home bases" could be Franz Josef for the glaciers, Mt. Cook or the Catlins. It really depends on what your interests are-- you aren't into sports or wineries-- what are your likes/goals?
I hope that helps.
Liz
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