Australia & NZ trip - include Melbourne?

Old Jul 23rd, 2008, 04:06 PM
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Australia & NZ trip - include Melbourne?

HELP! Here's the problem. We started planning this trip 5 years ago when we only had 2 weeks vacation. We couldn't possibly do justice to both places in 2 weeks (coming from the U.S.). Now we have 3 weeks to devote to this trip, and are still unsure.

We wanted to spend 3 nights in Sydney, 3 nights in the Cairns/Port Douglas area, 3 nights Ayres Rock, 3 nights Melbourne. But also want to go to Auckland, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch & Queenstown.

We don't want to be TOO rushed so are trying to spend 2 nights at most locations in NZ. So, in order to do that, we are thinking about foregoing Melbourne and only staying 2 nights at Ayres Rock.

I would welcome opinions about this new itinerary (without Melbourne). Or are we really missing out if we don't go to Melbourne? Or is there somewhere in NZ that you would recommend skipping instead.

Our other options are:
1) spend 3 weeks in OZ this time and come back in a few years to do NZ,
2) wait until we are retired and can dedicate 4 weeks (might be 10 years).

Here is the itinerary:

Day 1 - Flight to Sydney from U.S.

Day 2 - In flight / time zone loss

Day 3 - Arrive in Sydney 6:00 a.m.; easy day in Sydney; overnight Sydney

Day 4 - Sightseeing in Sydney; harbor cruise; overnight Sydney

Day 5 - Sightseeing in Sydney (or day trip to Blue Mountains); overnight Sydney

Day 6 - Fly to Ayres Rock; overnight Ayres Rock Resort

Day 7 - Ayres Rock & Olgas (tour); evening dinner at Rock; overnight
Ayres Rock Resort

Day 8 - Fly to Cairns; overnight in Port Douglas (or Palm Cove)

Day 9 - All day Great Barrier Reef (tour boat); overnight Douglas/Palm Cove

Day 10 - Relaxing day (or drive to Rainforest); overnight Douglas/Palm Cove

Day 11 - Fly to Auckland; overnight Auckland

Day 12 - Sightseeing Auckland; overnight Auckland

Day 13 - Coach from Auckland to Waitomo (cave tour) & on to Rotorua; overnight Rotorua

Day 14 - Sightseeing Rotorua; evening hangai dinner & concert; overnight Rotorua

Day 15 - Fly to Wellington (or 5 hr. coach); overnight Wellington

Day 16 - Sightseeing Wellington; overnight Wellington

Day 17 - Fly to Christchurch; overnight Christchurch

Day 18 - Sightseeing Christchurch; overnight Christchurch

Day 19 - Train to Greysmouth; coach to glaciers; overnight glaciers

Day 20 - Coach to Queenstown; overnight Queenstown

Day 21 - All day trip to Milford Sound; overnight Queenstown

Day 22 - Sightseeing Queenstown; overnight Queenstown

Day 23 - Fly home via Auckland

Thank you for your advice. (posted in Australia, New Zealand, and Multi-country)
mscloyd is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2008, 05:41 PM
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Wow...just reading this makes me tired...

Personally, I'd devote all three weeks to either OZ or NZ or split the time between a small portion of OZ and ONE island of NZ, but I'd definitely not try to see OZ and both islands of NZ in a mere three weeks.

If you haven't done so already, I suggest you look at times/distances and take into consideration the precious vacation time you'll be spending in airports, getting to and from airports, etc.

Regarding your NZ itinerary -

What time of year do you plan to go?

One night in Franz/Fox Glacier will not give you time to DO anything there - you'll arrive from a long journey from Christchurch, check into your hotel, have a meal, poke around for awhile, sleep, get up and drive the 6-7 hours to Queenstown. You've not left any time to actually experience the area - no time for a helihike, or a glacier hike, or a walk in the rainforest or around Lake Matheson, etc.

Sure, you can drive to the glacier for a look, maybe take a short walk, but that's about it.

If that's how you like to travel, go for it...but, if you really want to experience OZ and NZ, I strongly suggest that you pare down your wish list considerably.

I think you'll be glad you did.
Melnq8 is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2008, 06:20 PM
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I think you are on the right track...

i would..

add a day to port douglas

take out wellington

fly australia-christchurch and don't spend a day in chch

take out west coast,drive chch to queenstown via mt cook.

fly queenstown auckland.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2008, 08:30 PM
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Melbourne definitely has more to offer than Wellington. The scenery in NZ is wonderful, but the cities are nowhere near as vibrant as OZ.
DownUnder is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2008, 04:04 AM
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You're right, I'm afraid we'll be so exhausted that we won't even be able to enjoy the trip. But, I see and hear about all these 'tours' that move even more quickly than this.

So, IF (a big IF) we decide to do both NZ & OZ, it sounds like we should add 3 days in Melbourne back in and skip Wellington altogether. Is the train trip not worth the effort? Is Christchurch worthy of a day?

Thanks for all your help. It does help to hear other opinions from people who know the area. I know that no matter how long we have, there will be some things we have to leave out, but I don't want to feel like we missed more than we saw.
mscloyd is offline  
Old Jul 24th, 2008, 04:35 AM
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Leave BOTH Melbourne and Wellington out.

CHCH is a pleasant place but not worth a day compared to Queenstown,Mt Cook and the sounds.
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Old Jul 24th, 2008, 06:37 AM
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mscloyd -

Are you most interested in cities or scenery? It seems your itinerary centers around cities...

Yes, the Tranzalpine from Christchurch to Greymouth is worth the effort - nice scenery and a good way to see the Arthur's Pass area without having to drive (although driving is good too!)

If you have time, I highly recommend you make the side trip to Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks) from Greymouth - it's in the opposite direction of the glaciers (about 45 minutes one way), but definitely worth the effort. If you're traveling in the summer (?) you'll have plenty of daylight.

You can easily fill a day (or three) in Christchurch, but if you're in NZ primarily to experience the beautiful scenery, you might want to limit your time there. Having said that, there's a lot to do within 60-90 minutes drive of the city; unfortunately, you just don't have the time.

For what it's worth, if I had to choose between the West Coast and Mt Cook, I'd pick the West Coast every time. The drive alone is spectacular and will give you a good taste of the SI.

Personally, I was underwhelmed with Rotorua,
and Auckland and Melbourne did nothing for me, but then again, I'm not a city person.

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Old Jul 25th, 2008, 08:59 AM
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I strongly recommend skipping option 1. Go now. I also recommend taking option 2, i.e. plan to go back there again, for four weeks, 10 years from now!

Skip Auckland. Fly directly to Rotorua. Fly to Christchurch. By road to Queenstown.
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Old Jul 25th, 2008, 09:05 AM
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Skip Auckland, Melbourne, and Wellington. Keep in mind that you could spend the entire 3 weeks in NZ.

When my brother and I were in Rotorua we talked to an Aussie family at a hangi dinner. The father was quite surprised that we spent 10 days or so in NZ and only 2 days in Oz. Australia is so much bigger and has so much more, he said, and NZ is much smaller.

But there he was, with his Aussie family, on holiday in NZ.
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Old Jul 28th, 2008, 09:56 AM
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Thanks everyone. I am still contemplating... I'm revising the itinerary, AND making an itinerary for each country alone to help me make the decision. One day I think, "Oh, let's just do it and see the highlights," then the next day I think, "Let's just go to OZ and have a relaxing trip," and then again, I think that it's such a long and costly trip that maybe we should wait until we have 4 weeks. I've never had such a hard time making a decision about a VACATION! I bought a home is less time!
mscloyd is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2008, 10:37 PM
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Hi, I understand your dilemma. You need time to fit in everything you want to see. If you are intending to go to NZ please don't skip out Wellington. One of the highlights of the country happens to be there--"Te Papa Tongarewa " Museum.
It's NZ's leading-edge national museum, bicultural. One of the largest museums in the world. It's magical and interactive. Once you have seen it you'll understand much more about NZ. Wellington is a beautiful city,surrounded by hills and the harbor, very different from Melbourne. You can't beat NZ for natural beauty. One of the nicest countries in the world.

My husband and I spent over 4 weeks in NZ and OZ-- Nov. and Dec. of '07, but most of our time was spent in NZ, as we rented a car there.
When we got back to The States and saw our photos we wanted to go straight back!

My moto--what you can do today don't leave for tomorrow.
We have met many Americans who have been to both countries and regretted not staying longer in NZ.
Whatever you decide to do, enjoy every minute of it.

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Old Jul 29th, 2008, 03:30 AM
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mscloyd - I hear your dilemma (and I'm not just talking about Oz and NZ). Every so often you think you've hit on THE plan, and then you think ... but ... but ..

I've concluded there is no such thing as the "perfect trip" and it's best not to try and cram too much in. Aus and destinations spread over N and S island in NZ is too much in three weeks.

I'd go with your original itinerary up to day 10 - in fact add a day to Sydney and add one to Cairns. Fly to Christchurch and overnight - do a circuit from there to Queenstown, up the West Coast and back to CHC. Fly to Rotorua and overnight - off to Auckland and home.

I loved Te Papa so you could substitute Wellington for Rotorua. Might depend on the timing of you flight out of Auckland.

Bottom line - skip Melbourne altogether; skip a day sighseeing in Auckland and Christchurch.

And plan to return!


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Old Jul 30th, 2008, 06:25 PM
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Thanks everyone. You have all been so helpful. The decision is finally made... we are going to go to Australia only on this trip and go to Sydney, Melbourne, Ayres Rock, and Cairns. We will stay 3-5 nights at each location. I think we will enjoy this pace so much more. In a couple of years, we will go to New Zealand.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2008, 02:26 AM
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I think you are right to limit your visit to one country given the time you have. I am going to be in OZ and NZ for a total of two months and am not doing some of the things you are doing. There is simply not time and each of us needs to make choices.
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