Are Australia/New Zealand not for me?

Dec 4th, 2003, 10:38 AM
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Are Australia/New Zealand not for me?

Just told a friend I'm thinking of a trip (first one) to Australia/New Zealand and she recommended against it. I'm a culture vulture (anything historic or cultural - love museums, churces, quaint midieval towns) but am also interested in natural beauty (loved the Swiss alps/Rhine falls, autumn leaf watching). She said Australia/New Zealand is really best for surfing, touring the outback and drinking in pubs. I am definitely not doing any hiking or camping. Would I be wasting my time? How much else is there to do?
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 11:00 AM
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This is a good question.
Australia and New Zealand are different. There are no midieval villages, but the aborigines have an ancient culture not seen anywhere else.

For natural beauty, New Zealand is absolutely stunning, and Oz is pretty special too. Go to the outback - there's nothing in the world like it.

But, read up first on what there is to see. Get some ideas, ask questions, do your homework.

One person I suggested see the outback as the absolute spirit of Australia, complained of too much nature. Don''t be like that!

It's not easy, but it is special, and different. This is a trip to expand your horizons. Australia is NOT quaint, but you'll love it if you approach with a different mindset than that for Europe!
margo_oz is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 12:00 PM
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Your friend reminds me of the narrow minded, insular and parochial people in Australia who, when I said I was going to the USA, said " oh, I wouldn't ever go there because its too much like here"
No there is nothing here like Europe's villages.
No we don't have a medieval history and quaint churches etc.
What Australia and New Zealand have is far more special than man made things. If you just went & toured the South Island of New Zealand - flew to the Great Barrier Reef and then went to the Northern Territory and Kakadu you would take in more natural beauty, see more fantastic animals and nature at it's best and finally partake of a culture that is 60,000 years old, definately not medieval, perhaps not quaint but certainly different and very interesting.
The best part of all this is that whilst you can go to Europe and see such wonderful things it comes at a cost - in Australia and New Zealand you don't have to spend your time with 500,000 other people in some beautiful area at the one time and you won't have to pay anywhere as much to do it either. Where we have our Natural wonders you can feel that you are the only person enjoying them. Because our climate is so pleasant and mild we can enjoy them to the full all year round, where in Europe everyone in the world it seems, is out and about at the very same time as you, making anything of interest the biggest traffic jam of all time.
May I suggest that if your friend came to Australia at all she did not go to the places that we all know and love and perhaps she was not smart enough to ask on a forum like this for help and information to make her trip as enjoyable as possible.
I agree with the above poster who suggested that you do some homework first and see what we have to offer and please ask this forum for help and information.
All the above is not to say that we don't have great surfing with the best beaches in the world. You can drink in pubs but most of us don't - so I am not sure why that was mentioned, most of us prefer to drink our own sophisticated wines in a nice restaurant, and touring the outback - sure you can do that too but you can do that and go somewhere interesting or you can do that and be in the middle of no where - that is up to you.
Dec 4th, 2003, 12:31 PM
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Australia is a great place to visit, we were just there this past June and loved it. You have to remember, the place is as big as America, so there is a lot of vareity when it comes to nature/climate/cultures. So up north or out west if you want to see more of the natural beauty of the country.
Nack is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 12:35 PM
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Yeah...maybe your friend is right..

as Princess Diana said "its primitive"

and like California it's a "neck down" sort of place.
johhj_au is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 12:39 PM
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This is a wonderful question, because I had the exact same concern!!! I am an obsessive history buff, the reason's I travel are to see Medieval villages and castles.. to see the graves of historical figures, walk the same streets as this composer or that artist.. Australia wasn't even on my C list of destinations until, through a job, I got a free trip to Australia in 1993. I fell absolutely positively head over heels in LOVE with that country!The people, the environment the whole package.. which is saying quite a lot as I was there during a particularly excruciating relationship break up that had me crying in the bathroom every other night!!
I visited Tasmania, and the convict ruins, aboriginal sites, and some towns along the Murray river that literally haven't seemingly changed since 1889! I saw some top line Theatrical productions in Sydney and the Opera House.. visited some very unique art museums..
The animals were so amazing that I decided I liked seeing animals, and have since been to Africa on Safari...I owe it all to Australia! In fact. I am turning 40 in **gasp*** 10 months and have already booked my trip. For such a tough birthday, I can think of no better place on the globe to spend it.. in fact I am so anxious for the day to arrive that I am counting off the hours!!! This time I am bringing my husband who is a much better traveller then that last boyfriend.:
Frankly, I think you will love Australia, do a bit of research to get aquainted with the interesting history and I really don't see how on earth you could be dissapointed.
Thyra is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 12:43 PM
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I get the impression that your friend is jealous of your upcoming trip. Has she ever been to Australia? Probably not. I spent 11 days in Oz last Xmas/New Years and had a wonderful time. Plenty to see, shop, eat and explore. Holding a koala and petting a kangaro were exciting for me. The first time you view the Sydney Opera House is mesmerizing. I loved every minute. You go, don't hesitate. Life is too short. WILL!!!
luv2fly is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 01:06 PM
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My favorite city in the world is London and I'd call myself something of a culture vulture and lover of natural beauty. I was a bit concerned we might not find quite enough culture on our three week trip to Australia last summer. But the trip was great. There was plenty to do and we could have easily stayed longer at just about every destination we hit.

There was of course natural beauty in spades. The Sydney Harbor is breathtaking, especially at sunrise (with the time change, you may be up at sunrise early in your trip!) The outback is beautiful, and was probably my favorite part of the trip. The rainforest and GBR area is stunning.

As for culture, well I will confess I missed the New York Times. Not available at any price! But there was plenty going on at various art museums in Sydney, most of which we passed on as we were travelling with kids. We did enjoy an opera and a concert at the Sydney Opera House and also toured some historic buildings in Alice Springs. We ran out of time to fully tour the Rocks area of Sydney but it has some old buildings of note. We also found a number of good bookstores on our trip and enjoyed browsing. And of course the Aboriginal culture is the oldest still-surviving culture in the world.

Probably the thing we enjoyed most about Australia were all those amazing animals. We saw them in captivity in several great zoos and aquariums. Best of all, we saw many exotic creatures in the wild: giant clams, sea turtles, wallabies, kangaroos, etc.

I think you'll have a terrific time in Australia. It has much more to offer than surfing and pub-crawling.
Miranda is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 02:13 PM
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You might want to read Bill Bryson's book "In a Sunburned Country". I found it fascinating.

We're visiting my husband's mother in Australia in April - it's our second trip and I have to say I wasn't all that excited about going again. It was more of a trip that we both felt we 'had' to make. But I'm determined to see more of the country this time (last time was just Sydney and the Cairns area) and I think I've got a great trip planned for us. I'm actually starting to get excited about it!
SusanInToronto is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 05:17 PM
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I can only speak about New Zealand. I'm a culture vulture, too (art history degree, former museum professional, read history for fun, you get the picture). I've been to Europe about 20 times, and spent most of my time there in museums, churches, etc. I have no interest in sports, except for walking, and don't drink. Last year I spent a month driving around NZ with a friend, definitely not my usual type of trip. I LOVED it.

It's gorgeous. It's fascinating. And it does have history (sorry, but history does not begin and end with the European continent). Not to mention hot springs, fiords, glaciers, caves, cafes, contemporary crafts, weird birds, tree ferns, bookshops, friendly people, and -- yes -- even some excellent museums. I'd go back in a minute.
KT is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 05:21 PM
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On rereading my post, I realize it looks like I'm rebuking you for thinking that history is all European. Sorry. I really meant to aim that one at your friend!

Anyway, if you really want to spend 100% of your time doing cultural activities, NZ might not be the ideal choice. Otherwise, I can't recommend it highly enough.
KT is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 05:27 PM
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One man's heaven is another man's hell so they say !
If you want to find beaches, surfing and bars on your holidays ... that's what you will find.
If ... on the other hand , you are interested in history, culture and natural splendour, that is all here too.

As far as New Zealand goes, for a start at least check out

If you were to stay in the backpackers lodges and travel on the backpackers buses you might find the bars and beaches type crowd that your friend is talking about. This is popular among the young 18-30 travellers but you don't have to go that way.

These two countries are so easy to travel in that independant travel is the best option.

Hire a car, get a list of homestays and B&B's and I bet you will have the time of your life ( and meet some great people as well ) and be left wondering 'just what was' your friend on about.

New Zealand's history is not as old as Europes but is no less interesting.
Visit Russell, the original capital city, visit the Treaty House in Waitangi were you will learn about the early days of Maori and European interaction.

Learn more about the Maori culture by attending a hangi in Rotorua. These tours may seem a bit too touristy but you really do learn a fair bit about the Maori people and what makes their culture unique.

These are just a couple of ideas and then of course there is the scenery that New Zealand is renowned for.You don't have to hike or camp to enjoy it either, it is just THERE.

If you come in summer bring your swimsuit and enjoy the beaches and heck, even going to a bar occasionally can be fun too.

Don't give up just yet.


Christa is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 05:29 PM
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There are many places in the Capital cities that you can buy the NYTimes, but if you are somewhere that does not sell it you can always get it on-line at most any Australian Public Library (Free).
Dec 4th, 2003, 07:16 PM
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Janese, I should have found out from you where to go! It was really the huge Sunday newspaper we had hoped to find. We have found it overseas before, always at a ridiculous price because it is shipped in by air. We did not find it anywhere we looked in Sydney, which was the only large city on our itinerary. I must admit I do like spending Sunday morning with a cup of coffee and that newspaper. We didn't see the daily New York Times either though did find the International Herald Tribune, which is the international substitute with many NYT articles. Obviously, not having a particular newspaper on a pleasure trip is no big deal, but if I lived in Sydney full-time, I would miss the paper badly if I couldn't arrange to get it. Especially on Sunday!
Miranda is offline  
Dec 4th, 2003, 09:41 PM
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The only problem Miranda is that you would not be sitting in bed, coffee and bikies with the NYTimes anyway as it would be Monday here when it was due out, so that puts paid to that bit of relaxation. I know what you mean though. I usually try to read the NYTimes ( on line) at least once a week and all you have to do is a free registration and bingo you have it! I think the Washington Times requires payment though together with some other newspapers from around the world. When I am away from home I always log into the Sydney Morning Herald and see what is going on at home. Likewise it is really impressive what you can actually get on line. I read Scientific American as well and although nothing can replace a book or paper on your lap, it is great that we can do this.
Sorry nyt for highjacking your post by the way.
Just to add a bit of spice to the pot, John au, at least with Dianna not coming to Australia it kept the IQ level at a higher ratio. I would have thought that the only culture she would have known was the sort that you get on cheese after a time when you have not wrapped it properly.
Dec 4th, 2003, 10:12 PM
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If sitting in bed with the newspaper is your idea of heaven, that's what Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald is for. It lands on my doorstep on Saturday morning, and takes me the best part of the weekend to read!

Thanks to the other posters for echoing my advice, and much more eloquently!

Research,intelligence and flexibility is the key to a great trip!
margo_oz is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 07:37 AM
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Dear NYTraveler,
I also live in NYC and just visited OZ and New Zealand so I hope to be of some help. I absolutely had the most wonderful trip this summer (one month in NZ, 8 days in Australia), which was filled with adventure activities, great sights, farmstays, homestays, ski camp, tours, museums, art galleries, great restaurants and wine, etc. I cried all the way home (I"m still weeping, but that's okay). I went to Australia for a month in '01 and fell in love with the country, which is why I went back again. It is the most wonderful place on earth. The people are fabulous, it's cheaper than NY, there is heaps to do, you just can't get enough of it! I dream about going back every day. I am doing an apartment swap next July with a friend in Sydney and, if I could, I'd leave tomorrow. New Zealand was the most spectacular country in terms of natural beauty I've ever seen. Go to Milford and Doubtful Sounds, Lake Tekapo, Mt.Cook, Queenstown, it's all beautiful. There is also a good bit of history and museums in Christchurch, Wellington, and Dunedin.

I cannot imagine what my life would be like now if I hadn't been to Australia and New Zealand. Since I get summers off I plan to spend my time over there from now on. This means freezing for a good percentage of the year. IT"S WORTH IT!!!!
Abby43 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 12:32 PM
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Thanks for all the input - it was really helpful - and now it sounds like I should seriously consider the A/NZ trip. By the way I don't want to malign my friend - yes she has been to Australia - several times - she's a true world traveler and has been to over 100 countries and all continents except Antartica. This was her comment on me and my likes/dislikes - not on A/NZ which she loves. As background I had been thinking of going beyond Europe for the first time by doing Turkey but cancelled that idea due a desire not to be blown up. I raised the idea of A/NZ and she said I would probably prefer China for reasons explained originally.

Thanks again.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 5th, 2003, 11:05 PM
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Well as they say about the Northern Territory " you will never, never know if you never, never go".
Dec 6th, 2003, 09:26 AM
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I don't think your friend came across as "narrow-minded", I think it's a fair enough question that's not an attack on Australia or New Zealand -- just a caring piece of advice because your friend knows you well & doesn't want you to spend so much time and money & not enjoy yourself to the fullest.

Best of luck with whatever you decide to do.

scurry is offline  

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