Australia/New Zealand Holiday

Nov 21st, 2018, 04:10 AM
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Australia/New Zealand Holiday

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. My wife and I are considering a trip of 6-7 weeks this mid to late September. I was interested in Melbourne, Sydney and the East coast of Australia. I was thinking of flying in to Sydney via USA and then immediately to Cairns area first. Would then work way down to Melbourne and then over to South Island. We are late 50, reasonably good walking shape and would enjoy visiting the beach villages along east coast . Not so interested in big cities, art or museums. My wife would love to stop and stroll along from one beach town to the next. I was thinking of 3 weeks for Australia and the rest of our time on NZ.
I struggle more with NZ. In a perfect world I was thinking of flying into Queenstown or Christchurch, get a car and drive 4 hours every 3 days and visit as many sites as possible. Glaciers, Milford sound, walks and just enjoying the beauty. Any help with itinerary or point in a direction would be most appreciated.
mcsles is offline  
Nov 21st, 2018, 03:20 PM
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Hello, more to the point, I am thinking of flying overseas to either melbourne or sydney. From there I thought we could take small plane up the east coast of Australia to Cairns or near Airlie Beach. We would spend a few nights there, visit Whitsunday area for a boat ride, Nervous about snorkeling. Then drive down the coast towards Noosa area and byron bay. Gold coast I dont think we are interested in and then head for Sydney. Lose car and visit this area and Blue mountain. Head for melbourne for 3 to 5 nights. I would think we would have 3 weeks to accomplish this at a comfortable pace. My wife would love the walks on the beaches and is interested in visiting towns not real touristy but quaint with boutique shopping and simple restaurants. Not interested in fine dining but good food.I unfortunately don't know which towns these are because my guide books don't list what's quaint versus mobbed with people. We are thinking 2 and a half to three weeks for Australia.
We are not planning on visiting outback region or west coast.
Fly from Melbourne or Sydney to South Island, Blenheim, Christchurch or Queenstown. I liked the idea of starting north near Blenheim and renting car and working way toward Nelson . Head down west coast eventually to visit glacier. Many previous posts speak of the beauty near wanaka, milford, te anau regions. I just cant figure how much time to alot for each area. I believe we could have up to 4 weeks to see the south island.
We enjoy walks, but limit our selves to 20,000 steps a day and then we are toast. I hope you all have some ideas. Many thanks
mcsles is offline  
Nov 21st, 2018, 05:30 PM
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Four weeks on the South Island will allow you to cover a big chunk of it without having to rush.

Our most recent trip to the SI in May was a month long - this was our itinerary (keeping in mind we've been visiting the SI since the mid-90's so we went out of our way to not stay in the busiest places). Having said that, October (assume that's when you'd be there) won't be flat out busy.

The itinerary:

Bannockburn – five nights (near Cromwell, Wanaka & Queenstown)

Manapouri – four nights (near Te Anau - easy access to Milford Sound)

Glenorchy – four nights (near Queenstown on the opposite end, primarily for walking/hiking)

Fox Glacier – two nights

Cape Foulwind – two nights (near Westport)

Tasman – five nights (in between Nelson and Motueka)

Rarangi – five nights (in between Blenheim and Picton)

Coalgate – three nights - (west of Christchurch, wouldn't recommend this for a first time visitor though, Christchurch would probably make a better base)

Trip report here should you be interested:

Seeking Serenity on the South Island
Melnq8 is online now  
Nov 22nd, 2018, 06:54 AM
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We did a 4 week driving trip of New Zealand with similar parameters as yours and it was one of the best trips we've ever taken. We stayed 2 to 3 nights in each location and never had more than a 2.5 to 4 hour drive to reach our next stopping point. That pace allowed us to leisurely travel and "sightsee" between stopping points. Our itinerary, which began in Auckland and covered both the North and South islands was as follows:

1) Auckland - 2 nights
2) Waiheke Island - 2 nights
3) Coromandal Peninsula (Cooks Beach) - 2 nights
4) Rotorua - 3 nights
5) Hawkes Bay - 2 nights
6) Palliser Bay - 3 nights
7) Drive to Wellington and take short flight to Nelson - 3 nights
8) Kaikoura - 2 nights
9) Christchurch - 2 nights
10) Fly from Christchurch to Queenstown then drive to Te Anau - 2 nights
11) 1 night cruise on Doubtful Sound
12) Glenorchy - 3 nights
13) Queenstown - 2 nights
13 Fly Queenstown to Auckland for final 2 nights

During our travels we took time for daysails, helicopter flightseeing tours, whale watching, land tours, hiking, etc.
RoamsAround is online now  
Nov 22nd, 2018, 07:36 AM
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We have been visiting Australia and New Zealand for the last 11 years. In Australia are more Sydney Centric these days as our son and wife live there. Even if not into cities, ther are plenty of opps to get out into the countryside from there the Blue Mountains being a prime example.

I Oz we really enjoyed our time in the Northern Territory, especially Kakadu and Katherine Etc.

We have spent many months in NZ always renting a campervan to travel the country. A very viable, cost and time effective alternative to renting a car. Not for everyone but we find the additional freedom it provides of being able choose where to stop overnight, or for lunch suits our style of travel well. We use a mixture of commercial, permitted freedom camping sites and the amazing Department of Conservation campsites.

The food and produce in NZ is excellent but on longer trips we do welcom the freedom of being able to cook our own food ( also a lot cheaper than eating a restaurants).

Rather than stay in one place for 3-4 nights, we tend to work out a route, stay overnight, do some hiking, move on, stop for lunch, explore a bit more etc.. occasionally we do spend 2-3 nights somewhere, usually Abel Tasman, The Glenorchy area, Wanaka ( not keen on Queenstown as a place to stay - too busy). The Abel Tasman and Golden Bay areas are also place where we will hoe up for a few days Has some great info to help plan your trip and a feature which allows you to save things that interest you online which helps a lot with te planning process.

The Dept of Conservation website @ has a ton of useful info on campsites, places of interest and the information on walks is second to none. A lot of the directions and maps for walks all ofver the country can be downloaded in pdf form. Is excellent for planning travel times .

If you did go the campervan route then there are several caompsite apps from Campermate, Rankers, Willderness which are very helpful

Finally, on our own blog @ my wife and I covered a few of the places we visited. I keep meaning to add the many other entries that are outstanding!
crellston is offline  
Nov 23rd, 2018, 02:29 AM
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Seems a tad unbalanced to me. 3 weeks for Australia, which is the size of Europe, and then 4 weeks in the south island of NZ.

If you're onlyspending 3 weeks in Australia, you don't have time for those road trips. Our country is huge.
margo_oz is offline  
Nov 24th, 2018, 10:30 PM
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I think you have too much planned for 2-3 weeks in Australia. Why not just do Sydney and northern Queensland OR do Sydney and Melbourne. The distances, as margo_oz points out, are huge. Just to drive between Noosa and Byron Bay would take about 4 hours, without stopping. The roads are not like in America where you might have four or six lanes of highway, often here it's only one or two lanes each way. If you fly the major sectors you could see Cairns, Sydney and Melbourne but you wouldn't then be able to see the smaller coastal towns in between.

Noosa and Byron Bay are very popular and can be pricey as well. For smaller, less well known coastal areas you could check out the towns along the Sunshine Coast, such as Peregian Beach, Coolum and Mooloolaba. They all have shopping and restaurants and good beaches.

Try setting out a day by day itinerary and check distances between each place to see if you need to fly or can drive.

KayF is offline  
Nov 26th, 2018, 04:48 PM
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Hello and many thanks to Melnq8, roams around, crellston for your NZ information. I have confirmed flights over to Sydney, and am looking now at around 3 to 4 weeks for NZ portion of trip. I have a confirmed flight from Sydney to Christchurch. My thoughts were to head north to Marlborough region to Picton area? Then Nelson, Abel Tasman area and work down west coast south. I am in the process of reviewing your recommendations. Any accommodations you thought were great I would also appreciate.
Margo and Kay, thanks for your Australian comments. Here is my current thoughts, no reservation made other than I now have 3 1/2 weeks to complete Sydney and East Coast.
Arrive Sydney 6:40am,thinking of getting flight to Airlie Beach the same day and 4 nights stay. Possibly do a sail cruise
Drive car to Agnes Water or 1770 2 nights stay
Fraser Island 2 night tour?
Noosa area 3 nights
Byron Bay 3 nights
Coffs Harbour 2 nights
Sydney 4 nights
20 nights here and I have 26 nights available.
A lot of thoughts on using up those extra nights, however I would appreciate your expertise.
Many thanks
mcsles is offline  
Nov 27th, 2018, 09:58 PM
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Your revised plan is better. Flying up to Airlie Beach the day you arrive is a good idea as you're already at the airport. Just allow enough time between flights in case of delays. You can fly into Proserpine which is on the mainland or Hamilton Island if you think you'd want to stay there.

According to Google maps, it's about an 8 hour drive between Airlie Beach and Agnes Water. We've found Google maps to be quite optimistic so I'd plan on adding a couple of hours. Plus of course you'll need to time for toilet stops and to eat. If you can manage to stop overnight that might be better, Rockhampton or Yeppoon would be good stops. We drove through 1770 and Agnes Water a couple of years ago and thought if we were going to return, we'd stay at Agnes Water which is slightly bigger. They are both very small places.

If you wanted to stay on the mainland instead of Fraser Island, there is stacks of accommodation at Hervey Bay. You can easily do a day tour from there to the island, the bus will pick you up at or near your motel. The day tours are great. Not sure if you know but you need a 4WD vehicle to drive on Fraser Island as roads are not paved (it's a sand island). You are much better off doing a tour as the buses and other tour vehicles are equipped to drive on sand.

The last driving day, from Coffs Harbour to Sydney will be a long day. If you wanted to stop somewhere overnight, or for 2 nights, Port Macquarie or Newcastle would be good. Once you get close to Sydney, expect lots of traffic, especially if around peak hour.

Hope that helps.
KayF is offline  
Nov 28th, 2018, 01:35 PM
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I'd second the suggestion that you break your journey at Yeppoon - very nice beach town just east of Rockhampton. Lots of accommodation choices. You can divert off the highway to Yeppoon and follow the coast to Emu Park and then back to the highway. If you go this route, make sure you see the singing ship at Emu Park.
Another thought - instead of staying at Agnes Water, make for Bargara, a coastal town near Bundaberg. Lots of choices for accommodation - we can recommend Bargara Blue. Nice area with walking paths along the beach or perhaps you could visit to the rum distillery in Bundaberg.
I'd definitely take a tour to Fraser Island and not try to do your own thing. The boats leave from the marina in Hervey Bay and there is a Mantra hotel which overlooks the marina so only a very short walk to the departure area. Several nice restaurants in the complex.
marg is online now  
Nov 29th, 2018, 08:10 AM
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Margo and Kay, thanks so much for your help. Here is what I have so far.
Arrive Sydney September 20 and looking to book flight to Airlie same day.
2 nights Airlie, then 2 nights catamaran trip and stay one more night after boat trip in Airlie (5 total in this area)
Get car drive to Yeppoon stay 1 night
2 nights either 1770,Agnes Water, or Rainbow Beach with a day trip to Fraser Island
2 nights hotel confirmed Noosa beach
2 nights Gold Coast confirmed
2 nights Byron Bay Area
1 night Coffs Harbour potentially
1 night Port Macquarie potentially or a night in Newcastle
4 nights Sydney.
This itinerary above still leaves me 7 nights available. First, the 1770 location was all about sleeping in a hut on a beach, it sounded kind of neat. I agree it doesn’t look like enough to do for 2 nights. However the Noosa, Gold Coast and Byron area seems like more to see. The Coffs Harbour and Port stops allow more manageable drive to dump car in Sydney? Additionally, I know we wanted to take a tour of Blue mountain area but I am wondering if I can add Melbourne. Our flight leaves from Sydney to Christchurch. Many pennies for your thoughts.
mcsles is offline  
Nov 29th, 2018, 10:53 PM
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I think you need to add more nights into your trip, for example if you only have one night somewhere you won't see very much then have to leave the next morning. Also make sure you check distances, Rainbow Beach is nice but a long way off the main highway. As long as you're prepared for the time all the driving takes that's fine. Two nights on the Gold Coast only give you one day. You could spend weeks on the Gold Coast so one day is cutting it very short. I would skip Melbourne and add in extra nights to your existing itinerary. You won't have time to see anything if you rush along. Just my opinion.

If you end up with a spare day in Rainbow Beach, they often have dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay. It's not on all the time but was very popular when we were there. The wild dolphins swim up for fish, it's nice to watch even if you don't want to feed them yourself.

KayF is offline  
Dec 5th, 2018, 04:40 AM
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Today,I have booked the following minus the flight from Sydney to Airlie.
5 nights Airlie
1 Yeppoon
3 Hervey Bay
3 Noosa
3 Surfers Paradise
3 Byron Bay
2 Port Macquarie
Drive car and return in Newcastle and take train into Sydney. We have 6 nights stay in Sydney right next store to the Central Station. Now I would appreciate your recommendations on this itinerary and any suggestions. I also have a very rough outline for South New Zealand. Would I be better off posting that as a new thread under New Zealand?
Thanks Everyone
mcsles is offline  
Dec 5th, 2018, 12:48 PM
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Sounds much more doable although I would suggest only four nights at Airlie Beach and add another night to Yeppoon. We've been to Airlie a few times and really haven't found much to do. No beach as such, but a man-made lagoon in town for swimming. Perhaps you have plans to do an overnight trip to one of the islands?
marg is online now  
Dec 5th, 2018, 01:39 PM
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Marg, originally doing 2 night boat sail, however we missed out on the trip. So we are now thinking of just doing 2 day trips and staying in one place. I didn’t think there was much to do in yeppoon. Visiting some of the Whitsunday area via day trips sounded interesting. We will have a car also?
mcsles is offline  
Dec 5th, 2018, 04:56 PM
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We stayed not far from Central Station in Sydney a few years ago and walked a lot but also used the train to save our feet sometimes. If you get an Opal Card you can use it for all transport in Sydney and it's cheaper and easier than buying paper tickets. You can order them online. We really enjoyed walking the pathway along the sea from Bondi Beach to Coogee. Google it for pictures. The bus goes directly there, it's an easy trip. I also loved the Queen Victoria Building which is historic and quite grand. We didn't shop there (tends to be luxury brands) but you can walk through and stop for scones and tea or lunch.

Years ago we had a car at Airlie Beach and left it in a car park near the ferry terminal while we were staying at an island. I imagine it's still there (the car park, not the island . Doing a couple of day trips to islands should be easy, check online or wait until you get there and see what's available.

KayF is offline  
Dec 6th, 2018, 07:31 AM
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Kay and Margo, thanks so much again for your help. My international flight arrives Sydney at 6:40 am . How long should I expect for custom to take. I ask because the 8 am nonstop flight to Airlie I assume would be cutting it too close? My next option is a 10am via Brisbane with 1 hr plane change or a 11am via Brisbane with the same flight going onto Airlie. Should I worry more about customs delay or catching the next flight in Brisbane in a half hour? Never a dull moment.
mcsles is offline  
Dec 6th, 2018, 08:26 AM
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Reaching out for help with South NZ itinerary. Have roughly 31/2 weeks. Most likely fly to Christchurch from Sydney. We will arrive rested as we will have been in Australia prior.
2 nights Christchurch get rental car
3 nights Picton, walks, maybe wine and explore coast.
3 nights Kaiteriteri, hikes,kayak
1 night Punakaiki, visit pancake rocks Westport
2 nights Fox Glacier Franz Joseph, hikes but don’t think justify huge fee for helicopter trip?
2 nights Wanaka
3 nights Queenstown or vicinity
3 nights Te Anau
2 nights Mt Cook Village
2 nights Lake Tekapo
1 last night Christchurch near airport and early 6:30 am flight home.
considering boat ride to Milford and Doubtful Sounds, again not sure I can justify huge overnight fees. Dart river boat ride, as many short hikes as possible. We are looking forward to seeing the sights and towns, walks at a relaxed pace. If in your opinion there is a sight not to be missed I would appreciate your comments. Favorite meals, memorable lodging as well.
Thanks again,
mcsles is offline  
Dec 6th, 2018, 09:14 AM
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mike -

I think your South Island itinerary looks pretty good, but I'm curious as to why you plan two nights in Tekapo - the observatory? Otherwise not a lot on offer there, although there are some walking opportunities for those inclined - Tekapo isn't all that far from Mt Cook.
Melnq8 is online now  
Dec 6th, 2018, 12:44 PM
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You'll have to change terminals in Sydney from the international terminal to the domestic one so I certainly wouldn't plan on catching a 8 am flight to Airlie.
It's always a problem travelling with hotels booked ahead - you come across a really nice place and want to stay longer, but your hotel for the next night is kms away so you have to get going, and visa versa. Are all your bookings rigid or is there some flexibility?
marg is online now  

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