Australia & New Zealand, March, 2012


Jan 15th, 2012, 06:05 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 224
Australia & New Zealand, March, 2012

Coming from U.S. in March, 2012, to Australia and New Zealland for the first time. At this point I still have to work out exact details but will be working from this outline. Please feel free to offer advice. Within Australia we intend to fly from city to city. Is it better to purchase internatuinal tickets to get to Australia and back and fly domestic discount airlines within the country or should I look for all the tickets using the international carriers? We will also fly between the two islands of New Zealand.

Planning to spend 5 days in Melbourne to include one day trip either to the Yarra Valley or the GOR. We do not plan on driving ourselves on this trip and will be booking day trips as needed. Within the various cities will be using public transit, walking, trains or taxi. Have not yet looked into hotels but generally stay close to the popular tourist sites and activities. We are not into budget hotels and I am sure we will have a good selection as we travel.

In Melbourne we plan to do the Colonial Tram Car Restaurant. Will be visiting museums, Federation Square, garderns, ethnic communities, Queen Victoria Market, Aquarium and wandering Southgate to give you an idea of what we like to do. There are a couple churchs that we will visit also..

At this point we plan on 6 days in Sydney to include a day trip to the Blue Mountains. We plan to see some type of event at the Opera House. Will be taking a behind the scenes tour of the Opera House, visiting the Botanic Gardens, an art gallery or two, St. Mary's, walking through the area of the Harbour Bridge and taking the steps to the pylon for a walk accross. Darling Harbour, Rocks, Circular Quay and Taronga Zoo with a hike of Bradleys & Chowder Head, Bondi Beach and the coastal walks to Watsons Bay or Cloverly Bay are on the schedule also.

Planning to spend 2 days in Cairns to visit the Yjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to Kuranda and the reef teach review.

Will then move to Port Douglas for 3 days. Snorkeling at Againcourt with Quicksilver is on the schedule as is Daintree to Port Tribulation, perhaps Moosman Gorge plus four mile beach just to chill. I am sure you know about the free 90 minute cruise at the Yacht Club on Wednesday night.

Queenstown for 5 days includes day trips to the Dart River Jet Boat, a day hike to be determined and a lunch cruise on Milford Sound.

We will be taking a bus from Queenstown to Christ Church with a stop at Mt. Cook.

Four days in Christ Church which includes a day trip to Akora and another to Arthur's Pass.

Next to Rotorua for 3 days. Will visit the Museum of Art & History, Agrodome and Rainbow Springs Nature Park & Kiwi Encounter. We want to do a Maori cultural experience and are looking at either Tamika Maori Village or Te Puia. They look very similar, any suggestions as to which may be better option?

Will be taking the bus from Rotorua to Auckland.

Auckland for four days. Waiheke ferry and island hike is on our schedule. The Waitemata Port of Auckland offers a free public boat tour of the harbour. Center city and Parnell, the War Memorial Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Auckland Art Gallery all look interesting. Kelly Tarlton's Antartic Encounter & Underwater World is on our to do list however, I am wondering if this will be another aquarium like the one we plan to visit in Sydney. There are also several gardens and hikes that we will be doing during our stay. We may also go to Muriwai Beach to see the gannet colony however, this is becoming a difficult task as several companies have stopped going there.

This actually results in 16 ddays in Australia, 9 days on South Island and 7 days on North Island.

The exact order of the city stops and the number of days actually spent in each place will be determined on transportation schedules. What order do you think we should fly from city to city? I know by not driving ourselves we are limiting what we see and do but, I am not very comfortable about driving on the "other side of the road". I anticipate pretty nice weather in March early April, any thoughts on this? Also I have read that Easter is not a good time in to travel in Australia therefore the March time frame, any comments? Should we purchase tours prior to our trip or is there the possibility of better pricing when we arrive in country?

Comments are appreciated. Thank you all.
MSheinberg is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 15th, 2012, 10:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,862
True, the long Easter weekend (Good Friday-Easter Monday)is very busy, both in Australia and NZ. It also coincides with school holidays in NZ. I've traveled in both Australia and NZ over Easter and hope to never do so again!

You already know that you're limiting yourself, but I'm going to give this a try anyway. While I fully understand your reluctance to drive on the left, NZ really IS best seen by car. Driving allows a flexibility that you just won't get relying completely on buses and tour operators. I can't but help think of all the precious time that will be lost.

The best of NZ is well outside the cities too, so it seems a shame to limit yourself further by only staying in QT and Christchurch on the SI. Having said that, if one is going to do day trips, QT and Christchurch make good bases.

Weather wise, March and April should be lovely in NZ. The Dart River Jet Boat is excellent.
Melnq8 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2012, 01:52 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,415
We went to Te Puia and thought their show and dinner were excellent. That was eight years ago, though , so you may want to look for a more recent review.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2012, 02:21 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 866
If *I* can drive on the left, anyone can drive on the left... I was also extremely nervous about this, but after a couple of days I got the hang of it. If it's going to limit your itinerary, I would reconsider this. However, in cities like Auckland and Queenstown, you don't really need a car, so if the city-to-city bus transportation is fairly easy, you'd might as well go this route.
britomart is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 16th, 2012, 03:52 PM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 210
Flights - hard to say whether you'd do any better building the domestic legs into your international ticket or purchasing then separately. Choices are Qantas or Virgin, or, depending on where you're flying from/to Jetstar (QF's LCC) or Tiger. I've never flown Jetstar or Tiger and hope I never will. There's also Air New Zealand for that part of the trip. Depending on who you're flying with from the U.S., they may have a 'tour Australia' type ticket which gives you a fixed number of legs for a fixed price; however, just buying tickets locally may be better. If you're buying locally, QF (and Virgin) keep having sales but they can be unpredictable as to timing. Generally better to buy sooner rather than later as the cheap(er) tickets obviously tend to sell out.

I'm not sure about the tram car restaurant. I've never done it so can't really comment on quality etc. However, getting on a tram is how you get around Melbourne so you're probably going to be doing that anyway so no need to get the experience on the tram car restaurant. As for the food ... well, Melbourne is the food / dining / coffee / sporting / shopping / cultural capital of Australia and has restaurants of every shape and colour (and wallet-busting potential) so there are plenty of choices of good places to eat.

You definitely don't need a car in Melbourne. Driving on the "wrong side" is pretty easy so don't let it put you off - however, for the GOR or the Yarra Valley, letting someone else do the driving is easier but also has its limitations.

Much of (central) Melbourne, particularly the bars and restaurants, is hidden - down an alleyway, up an uninviting staircase, behind an unmarked door, down in a basement. Finding them is half the fun. The CBD (central business district) is a great area to explore on foot.

As for hotels, there's the usual run of prices and styles. We have friends who stayed at the Novotel - hotel is fine and its location on Collins is perfect for the tourist. There's the usual run of Hiltons, Hyatts, Sheraton etc., some in more convenient locations than others. If you have thoughts on what/where you want to stay, I'm sure people can provide commentary.
tt7 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 17th, 2012, 11:45 PM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 2,018
I think tt7 must work for the Melbourne tourism, cultural capital indeed!

In Sydney just to add to your list if you are interested in museums/galleries, the Museum of Contemporary art is worth a visit, a small portion of it has just reopened. The Museum of Sydney is an exquisite museum with many of the displays designed by artists. The Art Gallery of NSW has a good indigenous art collection permanently on display.

For history, the Barracks Museum offers an interesting insight into colonial and convict Sydney (it's also a beautiful building) and Cockatoo Island is another fascinating convict site that's now more open to the public (the ferry timetable has increased).

If you are interested in nineteenth-century church architecture the work of Edmund Blackett is worth seeing: as well as that of Francis Greenway.
Susan7 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 18th, 2012, 02:33 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 224
Been away for a few days and just getting back to planning this trip. Any other advice out there?

Thanks again.
MSheinberg is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 18th, 2012, 05:26 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 3,216
tourist do love the tramcar rstaurant-great ride and ok food -a different experience
northie is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 18th, 2012, 08:40 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,434
From Melbourne don't miss the Great Ocean Road. If you can possibly manage it, also include Phillip Island. There are countless bus tours that go to these places from downtown Melbourne.

From Queenstown you can do a Nomad Tour to Copper Canyon. (Our guide, Fran, was fantastic and the views were "WOW").

FYI, I did NOT find it the least bit difficult to drive in NZ--but I did find it a little nerve-wracking getting out of Melbourne until I found the main highway. I prefer the flexibility of driving--but you can see a great deal with bus tours.

In Rotorua don't miss Waimangu Volcanic Park. For me, that's the essence of Rotorua. IMO, the other places are pure, commercialized tourist attractions--although I admit that I did enjoy the sheep show and the Maori hangi (which is almost identical to a luau).

If needed, I think you can slice a day off of Auckland. While I like Auckland, it will probably not be a highlight of your trip--especially after seeing the other places.
Songdoc is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 21st, 2012, 08:58 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 224
Have worked out our time in Australia & New Zealand. Will be ariving Sydney on March 2.

Spending 4 1/2 days in Sydney plus a day trip to the Blue Mountains, considering the Hilton.

A day and a half in Cairns including the Kuranda RR, considering the Shangri-La.

Going to Port Douglas for 2 1/2 days and doing a Daintree/Port Tribulation visit plus Snorkeling on the Quicksilver. Looking at Pepppers Beach Club & Spa.

Melbourne for 3 days plus a trip on the Great Ocean Road. The Langham Hotel is a possibility although also considering the Park Hyatt.

Queenstown for 2 1/2 days to include a trip to Milford Sound and another trip on the Dart River Jet Boat. Looking at the Crown Plaza.

Christchurch for two days to include trips to Akora and Arthur's Pass. On the way to Christchurch we are stopping at Mt. Cook. We may be staying at the George Hotel.

Three 1/2 days in Auckland plus trip to Waitoma Cave. Considering thre Hilton.

Return home on March 29.

Total of 16 nights in Australia nad 11 in NZ. I know that we can probably spend more time in New Zealand but a month is all the time we have for this trip.

What are you thoughts about this itineray and what are your opinions on these hotels?

Thanks again for the assistance.
MSheinberg is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 23rd, 2012, 07:18 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 224
Need hotel in Christchurch. Suggestions please. George Hotel is booked dates planned to be in town. Peppers Clearwater Resort is just at $700US, Novotel is closed because of earthquake damage and motels don't look like much.

MSheinberg is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 23rd, 2012, 07:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,862
NZ motels are generally good value and some are very nice.

NZ has a wide range of unique accommodation to choose from - B&Bs, homestays, farm stays, vineyard stays, cottages, converted churches and school houses.... I'm personally uninterested in hotels, specifically chain hotels, so I can't comment on your particular choices.
Melnq8 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jan 25th, 2012, 10:53 PM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,014
Are you still going to Rotorua? We've just come back and thought I'd let you know of a a great Motel/Resort. REGAL PALMS MOTOR LODGE, great place has everything you'll need. We got them to arrange our Maori Cultral/Dinner experience as well. We had decided on Tamika but on their suggestion we went with MITAI MAORI VILLAGE, such a great night.

We're not really 'organised' tour kinda people and when we first got on the mini bus that picked us up from the Motel (inc in the ticket price) we were a little worried. But what fun, we laughed, learnt, ate and met some great people from all over the world.
aussiedreamer is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 30th, 2012, 01:30 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 31
britomart makes a good point about the real New Zealand being outside the towns and cities. Te Puia is the real New Zealand. You'll be visiting their home and I understand that this 'Tourism Experience' has done alot of good for the people. Te Puia is a beautiful spot on the East Coast and the drive will be lovely.

The Tamika Village is close to Rotorua and purpose built to make money from Tourism for a tribe or family that orginates from Rotorua. This region has been involved with Tourism for 160 years so they present a very slick and professional performance.

Both shows will be excellent.

All Maori understand their Culture. When it comes from the heart it has deeper meaning. You can feel it. However a good perfomance can be better entertainment.
OldKiwiGal is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 30th, 2012, 03:55 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 11,415
Te Puia is just outside Rotorua; it was called the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institue when we were there.

Lee Ann
ElendilPickle is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 31st, 2012, 08:20 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 224
Thanks for the assistance. We have changed our plans and are skipping Christchurch and Rotorua.

Our itinerary in now Sydney 6 nts, Cairns 2, Port Douglas 3, Melbourne 5, Queenstown 4 and Auckland 5 nts. All hotels and flights have been booked.

Was actually working with Qantas to help plan flights, hotels, etc but, they would only give me total prices and only broke out the air fare, nothing else. That is not how I do business so I have made all my own arrangements using some of their vendors. It is pretty easy using the web as you all know.
MSheinberg is offline  
Reply With Quote
Feb 1st, 2012, 10:04 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Posts: 12
That's a perfectly balanced holiday. You'll go home having had a great time and feeling relaxed.=) You're a good researcher by the sounds. Enjoy yourselves!!
Poida10 is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:14 PM.