Australia/New Zealand Three Weeks -- HELP

Old Jan 7th, 2006, 11:00 AM
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Australia/New Zealand Three Weeks -- HELP

My husband and I are in our mid 70's and will be spending 3 weeks in Australia and New Zealand arriving Sydney, Feb. 15 and departing Auckland, March 6th. We are in good health but long distance walking could be a bit of a problem.
Could someone help us with an itinerary that would include lodging, transportation etc. Our interests are varied except for beach activities. We both enjoy good food and wine (at a reasonable price), museums, shopping, sightseeing, concerts, markets, people watching, etc.
We would like to limit our travels to the east and south area of Australia -- but might consider a flight or whatever to the outback since it is so much a part of Australia. We have spent three years on Okinawa so the GBR is not a must. Nor Ayers rock.
Would anyone recommend taking the land tour which would include transportation, lodging and dining for both Aust. and NZ for the whole three weeks? Also, where would we find this information? We prefer not to drive but have no qualms using rail transportation.
We are very flexible even to extending our trip so if anyone could help us, we would be most appreciative. Thanks.
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Old Jan 7th, 2006, 09:28 PM
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I can't stand it, and have to ask " why has being on Okinawa got to do with the GBR not being a "must"? Before giving any sort of answer I would have to know that.
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Old Jan 7th, 2006, 10:38 PM
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In Sydney the Manly ferry is a nice day out if you have good weather. Also other ferry trips are an option. To Balmain for browsing, eating at cafes or to see an old Sydney suburb. To anywhere the ferry goes will be interesting and a relaxing way to see Sydney. It is a beautiful harbour.

The Fish markets are a must if you like seafood. There is a light rail from central or Chinatown that takes you close by. Though there is formal dining it is a market and the best way is to grab some take-away (take-out?) and eat at the tables outside. Very very crowded at weekends, be warned.

For shopping. Around Pitt Street mall is main shopping and also close by to the QVB. A very old huge, but beautiful arcade and the strand arcade a very small but very beautiful arcade.

There is monorail link to Chinatown and Darling Harbour areas that may be of interest.

The Rocks seem popular with tourists, very overpriced but nice for a stroll.

A nice day trip maybe a train to Kiama. Blowhole and ocean views with a nice town for places to to shop and eat.

Also a train trip to Katoomaba with transfers to the tourist bus ensures you have constant hop on hop off transport options all day. Stay an evening if you like. Then catch the train back the following day.

Another train option is one where train enthusiasts put on a trip to help finance their train restoration hobby.


So much can be done with public transport in Sydney. The only thing I have not mentioned is accommodation. this is dependant on budget, preference etc etc. I would decide what does interest you and request accommodations tips around your plans so that you are in the best location to do what you want.

Tasmania may appeal but would have to be an organised tour. We recently took a relative of about your age and very much under estimated her ability to walk distances. We tend to take off like greyhounds (though somewhat chubby ones). However, so much for everyone in Tasmania so I recommend looking into a tour that suits your particular needs.

For concerts I recommend looking through the web site and seeing if anything appeals while you are here.Also of course

Haven't been to New Zealand for a century so will leave that to others.

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Old Jan 8th, 2006, 03:11 AM
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hello - I am just a little puzzled by your reference to "the land tour". Which land tour? Maybe you are thinking of something like AAT Kings. They are one of the largest tour operators in Oz but that is pretty much all I know about them.

If you are happy to organise your own transport and accommodation and given your stated interests how does this sound?

Stay in Sydney for a week. It's easy to spend a week in this city enjoying what it has to offer (don't miss the Art Gallery of NSW and Botanic Gardens). Go up to the Blue Mts for a small taste of Australian landscape grandeur. You might also consider some time in the Hunter Valley wine region about 120 km north of the city. You can go on a day trip but I am sure there are possibilities for organised excursions that allow for an overnight stay - I just don't have the details to hand.

Then you could go to Canberra - maybe - it is after all, the capital of the country and the museums are excellent. And then Melbourne. Ditto - re museums - and there is the Puffing Billy trip that takes you out into the Dandenong Hills, and the Penguins at Phillip Island. There are plenty of organised day tours.

The above is all cities apart from a few side trips - but if you are not interested in the beach and don't want to bushwalk, and don't want to drive, then it's hard to think of easily accessible locations.

The Opera Australia seasion will be in full swing in Sydney in February and probably the SSO too.

I hope you enjoy your visit.

And when you are in Auckland, don't miss the War Memorial Musueum and maybe you could take a trip to Waiheke Island in the harbour, or a quick whizz to Pahia and the Bay of Islands - or perhaps better, go to Rotorua for a day or two.
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Old Jan 8th, 2006, 01:18 PM
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To LizF
During our time on Okinawa we did alot of snorkelling and scuba diving but I do realize the GBR is for sightseeing as well as active water participation. I guess the time limit (10 days for Australia) is what I was considering mostly in bypassing the GBF. Thanks for taking the time to answer.
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Old Jan 8th, 2006, 01:50 PM
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To TassieTwister

Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know of all the enjoyable things to do and see while in Sydney.
We arrive early in the morning so after getting settled in our hotel probably a Harbour ferry ride would be about all we could handle after the trip across the ocean from Florida.

We definitely want to tour the Opera House so will probably try to do the Gala Opening the second night.

The Pitt Street Mall for shopping, the Fish Market, The Rocks and the Monorail Link to Chinatowna and
Darling Harbour are all very valuable pieces of information and I can't thank you enough for sharing.
The train trip to Katoomaba with transfers sounds interesting -- as well as spending the night.
We're looking forward to having a marvelous time and perhaps even extending our visit.
Thanks again.
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Old Jan 8th, 2006, 02:47 PM
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To Fuzzylogic
Perhaps I did not used the correct term 'land tour'. I was referring to an all inclusive 'land tour only'(accomodations, tours, meals)for anywhere from 1 week to 10 days as opposed to the regular 'Air and land' tours. It is not that we don't want to drive but driving on the left hand side of the road etc is something we have never done and to tell you the truth it does scare me a bit. My husband says it will not bother him so we may rent a car and drive after all.
The Blue Mountain and Hunter Valley tours sound most interesting. Also spending a couple nights in Canberra and Melbourne will be on our 'to do' list. And I couldn't agree with you more -- Canberra is the capital and should be visited.
We are very interested in the new wildlife we will be seeing and the penguins at Phillip Island will be a must see.
A tour of the Opera House is also a must. Trying to figure out what the SSO is.
We are retired military so I know we will be visiting the War Museum in Auckland. Also, upon your suggestion, have looked into visiting Rotorua and have that on our schedule also.

My many thanks to you for being so gracious with your time and sending us information which will help us out immensely. Looking forward to a fun visit.
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Old Jan 8th, 2006, 04:36 PM
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For your information - SSO would refer to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
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Old Jan 8th, 2006, 05:26 PM
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to prue

Thanks. Will check that out also.
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Old Jan 8th, 2006, 06:41 PM
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If you're planning to visit Canberra and interested in military history you shouldn't miss the Australian War Memorial, which is deservedly the city's top visitor attraction. Canberra is about 3 hours from Sydney by car or bus, a bit over 4 hours by train (which, sadly, tells you all you need to know about the place of long-distance rail in our transport system). You may also be able to catch the National Multicultural Festival, which runs 6-19 Feb. Check and

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Old Jan 8th, 2006, 10:39 PM
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Hello Lorhrp,

Something that may appeal to you, covering Blue Mountains, some wineries and a little of the Central West of NSW, with 2 nights away.

Day 1: Take a morning train to the Blue Mountains, probably Katoomba. (Alan will hopefully help me out here - I'm sure there will be hop-aboard buses to show you the local sights).

Hire a car and wander around some of the beautiful towns (Leura, Wentworth Falls,). Overnight: Do you prefer resorts/hotels/B & B's (NB: Australian B&B's are more like UK than US).

Day 2: Get a reasonably early start and Drive West through Lithgow & Bathurst to Orange. Emerging wine, district (much less commercial than Hunter Valley)very good produce and some excellent restaurants, galleries etc. Beautiful town. ( Here, I would suggest an exceptional B&B, Cotehele, which used to be the Magistrates'Residence and is right next door to Selkirks,( one of the State's top restaurants. Also in Orange is Lolli Redini,( another excellent restaurant).

I'm almost certain there's someone in Orange who does individual drive/guide trips around the local area. (I think I found the brochure at Cotehele last trip). I haven't done this myself but think it would be great as you'd meet some locals as well as having an informative local guide show you around.

Day 3: Leisurely start - drive back to Katoomba (or where-ever you rent the car), return it, hop on the train back to Sydney.
( The road Blue Mountains- Orange is pretty much East-West, so you're best to drive West before, say 3 or 4pm and East after 8 - 9 in the summer to avoid the "sun in the eyes" hazard.)
This is just an idea and you'd see something of the country "off the usual tourist track" as well as the more well-known highlight. If you think it has some appeal for you, let me know and I'll do a little more research for you.

In Sydney: The Art Gallery of NSW ( has an excellent Wednesday afternoon/evening programme: Art after Hours - usually a guest speaker, concert and exhibition as well as the gallery being open until 9pm. Lots of locals, not many tourists know about it. At the moment we have Pissaro and Grace Cossington Smith (an Australian artist 30's - 70's) exhibitions. It's a lovely walk aross the Botanic Gardens, or up Macquarie Street (see the State Libarary, Gov't House, Conservatory of Music, Sydney Hospital (one of the first)) and through the Domain. Alternatively, there is a red "hop on/hop off" bus that goes past the A.G.

Other Galleries: MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art - in the old Maritime building on West Circular Quay).

Paddington/ Woollahara - lots of smaller commercial galleries in charming area. Good shopping and eating here (especially Hotel Bistros), too.

As an alternative to the (excellent) SSO, you might like to visit the Conservatorium of Music ( for a concert/ recital.

Also on while you're here, excellent twilight concerts at Taronga Zoo.

Hope this is helpful - happy travelling

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Old Jan 9th, 2006, 10:07 PM
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It sounds like you will only have about 10 days in New Zealand - is that correct?

If so, you may want to spend all your time on one island.

We spent 10 days on the North Island in April 2004. My rather long trip report is in this forum; if you click on my name and scroll down, it will come up eventually.

Pictures and a briefer report are at

Lee Ann
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Old Jan 10th, 2006, 12:31 AM
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OK I stand corrected - diving off Okinawa is the same as seeing the 2,500 klm of the land and sea areas of the GBR. The mere fact that they are two different climate zones could have something to do with things but you must be right.
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Old Jan 10th, 2006, 06:26 PM
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Neil -- Have checked in to both the Australian War Memorial and the Multicultural Festival in Canberra -- both sound most interesting and have been put on our 'to do 'list. Thanks so much for your help.
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Old Jan 10th, 2006, 08:04 PM
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Hi lorhrp!

You'll be leaving in a very short amount of time, and visiting during a very busy time.

Several people mentioned going to Tasmania, which I absolutely love, but I can tell you that I have clients going during the same timeframe as you and I had 4 "rejections" (full accommodations) in Launceston (during the Launceston Cup, huge horse race); 2 in Hobart, as well as several in New Zealand. Honestly, I've never had so many "sorry the inn is full" responses on one itinerary! It was only just today that I finally got everything confirmed for them. (I was getting a bit nervous)!

I would suggest going to for information as well as finding a local Premier Aussie Specialist in your area. Just click on Planning a Trip and then "travel agent", put in your zip code and you'll find your local agent. They should be able to plan a trip for you in no time!

As far as driving, don't be afraid of driving on the "other side". It's not as intimidating as you might think. You won't need a car in Sydney (but would want one in say, Tasmania), however, it's very very easy to drive in Australia. (some perspective -- there are more cars in LA than there are in all of Australia)!

I've never encounterd any "roundabouts" in Florida, but if you've been to New England, you may have experienced them. Those can be a bit challenging, but there's no harm in going around and around until you figure out what's the right direction! (I've done this so much I could be dizzy).

Hope this is helpful!


Certified Aussie Specialist
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Old Jan 11th, 2006, 07:42 AM
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To: Bokhara

Hi Bokhara,

Thank you so much for your informative response to my query. I have been going back and forth between your email and a BIG Hammond World Travel Atlas which contains 22 pages of maps of Australia and New Zealand. (Whew!)

Your suggestions for the Blue Mountains and Katoomba -- then on to Lithgow, Bathhurst and Orange sounds like a go. Is Leura not quite a way up North? Also, the only Wentworth I could find on the maps is on Hwy. 79 -- don't feel that that is the Wentworth Falls of which you were speaking -- a bit far West.

Hotels and B & B's are more to our liking and the web sites you provided in and around Orange will be most useful. Thanks also for the 'time of driving' hints.

We plan on spending several (or more)days in Sydney itself so will take advantage of your information concerning art galleries, museums, etc. We plan on a tour of the Opera House but do you feel that taking in a concert there is 'definite must' - and if so, do we necessarily have to get the 'best seats available'?

Appreciate so much the time that you have taken to help us enjoy our visit to your country. If all the emails we have received is any indication of what we have to look forward to -- we'll have a grand time!

Thanks again, Loretta
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Old Jan 11th, 2006, 08:20 AM
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To: ElendilPickle

Hi Elendilpickle

Have just gone thru your 100 webshots --enjoyed them very much. Yes, we have alotted 10 nights to New Zealand -- clearly not enough after viewing your pictures. Have not found your longer version of your trip yet but will continue to look. I get so caught up with all the interesting discussions that I forget to which site I was headed. LOL

We have a flight scheduled from Melbourne to Christchurch on Feb. 24th. We will rent a car and start our trek up North. I know that is rushing it but will have to settle with 5 days on the South Island and 5 days on the North Island, leaving from Auckland on Mar. 6th. Is this doable?

Very much appreciate your time in responding to my query. Thanks again, Loretta
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Old Jan 11th, 2006, 02:01 PM
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Hi Loretta,

Yes, your NZ itinerary is doable, though obviously a longer time would be better.

It sounds like you're a little more interested in cities than spending a lot of time out in nature.

I can't help you with the South Island except to suggest you visit wineries in the Marlborough area on the north part of the South Island. Mr. Pickle and I really wanted to do this but just didn't have the time to fit it in.

When you take the ferry from Picton to Wellington, be sure to spend at least one night in Wellington. Te Papa museum is excellent, and the city is very compact so you can walk to restaurants, shopping, etc.

Lee Ann
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Old Jan 13th, 2006, 10:07 PM
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# i do agree with your decision not to visit GBR (as 1 day cruise usually from Cairns is not impressing if u've seen some good reefs elsewhere -e.g. Sinai)
# Cairns - Daintree NP (crocs on River)
& rain Forests + Cape Tribulation is a hell of a day in Nature
more touristic is Kuranda day tour with lots of attractions.

# I do not agree on ULURU (Ayer's rock) + Kata Djuta (Olga's) IMHO a must

### South Island is a lot more attractive than North (it's trivial)
unless u've come all this way to spend your time in cities etc'
Since u r flying into CHC my recommendation is stay the whole time in South Island & visit Oakland only on the time left before flying out !

if u insist on North Island:
Volcanic geothermal phenomena r on a worldly class in Rotorua - go to WAIMANGU valley !! less touristic cause it's a bit out but amazing.

all the best
aby is offline  
Old Jan 14th, 2006, 02:54 AM
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Have you checked out the websites for Austalian Pacific Tours and Scenic Tours. Along with AAT Kings they are major Aussie tour operators and offer a variety of durations and destinations. Because of the enormous distances and the short time available you would probably find this type of travel better - no wasted time picking up and dropping off cars, missing major tourist attractions, waiting for coaches etc.

Kuranda Rail is great. Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Queenstown, NZ is spectacular and a must-see if travelling in the South Island.

Hope this helps. Have a fantastic trip!

Fiona (from Sydney)

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