Australia/New Zealand Trip Report

Jan 28th, 2003, 02:32 PM
  #1  
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Australia/New Zealand Trip Report

We returned on Sat. from a month divided between Sydney and both islands of New Zealand. It was an amazing trip. The people we met in both countries were very friendly and helpful. I would like to thank everyone who helped with advice over the last months. It was most helpful. Probably the best tip was regarding the ferries. We spent a day doing the all day pass, and got to Manly, Watson's Bay, with lunch at Doyle's and then the bus from there to Bondi. We also took the ferry to the zoo, and enjoyed seeing it with the beautiful city views peaking through everywhere. The first week, we stayed at the Marriott by Hyde Park. This was not quite as convenient, but since we wanted to see the city, we had some nice walks to Darling Harbour, the Botanical Gardens and the Opera House from there. Our second leg of the trip [after returning from New Zealand] we stayed at the Renaissance, which in my opinion, was the perfect location. It was right between the east and west quay, making it so easy to head to either the Opera House or the Rocks. And, of course, the ferries were just a block away. We enjoyed dinner at Thirty Something, in the Intercontinental Hotel, which is on the top floor, and has great views. We loved the city.

New Zealand turned out to be more amazing than I expected, and I expected a lot! We were in Auckland for the unveiling of the boats for the America's Cup, so that was a pretty happening place. The Corrumandel area was beautiful. We thought the Hot Water Beach was hysterical -- people all over a small area of the beach, with shovels, and sitting in pools like the ones I used to dig for my kids when they were toddlers! Everyone was having a good time. What an experience. Napier was colorful, and the Memorial there was moving. There is a placque there that had special meaning to us, here in NY. What it said could apply to us after last year, even though circumstances were completely different. We really enjoyed the County Hotel there, both for accomodations and also for their restaurant. Rotoroa was quite an experience, even though we got to see it in pouring rain! The park in town had 'hot spots' all over, and we enjoyed our stroll through it, eerie that it was though! We loved our stay at the Peppertree B&B in Blenheim, and enjoyed exploring the wine country. The coastline from there to Christchurch was breathtaking. I loved Christchurch, especially around Cathedral Square. The view from the top of the gondola ride in Queenstown was spectacular. Franz Joseph Glacier and the area around there was impressive. We got to see Mt. Cook clearly from both coasts, which I hear doesn't happen often. And, Milford Sound, well, to say it is beautiful just doesn't do it justice..... What a trip!

Thanks once again, to all who offered suggestions and answered all my silly questions prior to my departure. This was a trip I'll never forget.
LoisL is offline  
Jan 29th, 2003, 05:47 AM
  #2  
KEC
 
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Hi Lois~
I am glad to hear that you had such a great time! I am going to NZ/OZ in July & I can't wait!

I have a question for you...
If you had to choose between the Napier area and the Blenheim area, which would you choose? We are interested in visiting wineries. If we go to Napier, we will fly to Christchurch (and miss the South East coast). Otherwise, we will go from Rotorua to Wellington & take the ferry. Then will will drive the coast to Christchurch. This will take a couple more days, I think. We have 16 days total for NZ.

What would you suggest?

Thanks!
Keri
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Jan 29th, 2003, 04:48 PM
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Hi Keri,

For some reason, although I've answered this question three times, it hasn't posted yet. Perhaps this one will. My answer has been different with each one, as I've thought of other things. It just occurred to me that you'll be there in winter, and with that, I don't know which areas will be most affected by weather. I do know that the ferry over from North Island to South can be very rocky in winter. Unless that won't bother you, perhaps you should consider that when planning the trip. We didn't explore the wineries by Napier, just around Blenheim, so I can't compare. I enjoyed the art deco, laid back community of Napier, and we enjoyed the wineries by Blenheim. Regarding the southeast coast, do you mean on the north island? If so, I can't comment on that either, as we crossed to the west coast of the north island around Palmerston. There was also another area on the south island we liked. We stayed at Punakaiki and really liked that area also. I wonder if Milford Sound would be a problem during winter. Also, Franz Joseph Glacier? I didn't do any research regarding weather in winter, but I gather there's a lot of snow through much of that area in winter. I wouldn't want to drive over some of those roads under those conditions. I'm sure whatever you plan, you'll enjoy the country. It is amazing. Good luck with your plans!
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Jan 30th, 2003, 04:47 AM
  #4  
KEC
 
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Thank you Lois. I am having a really hard time planning a trip in the winter. There are so many places that sound wonderful, I just don't know how they are affected by the weather.

When I wrote about the coast, I was referring to the South Island. If we flew directly to Christchurch, we would be missing the upper part of the South Island (unless we headed North instead of South once we got there).

Thanks again for the suggestions.

Keri
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Jan 30th, 2003, 07:52 AM
  #5  
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Keri,

SInce you mention wanting to go whale watching in Kaikaura, it is feasible to head north, go to Blenheim, then perhaps Nelson, Punakaiki, Franz Josef, Milford Sound and Queenstown. The one area I found most 'adventurous' to drive, was to and from Milford Sound. We saw people turn around and not deal with the tunnel to get to the sound, after making through all the winding roads, and at that point, they were just about there. The tunnel is over a mile long [I blieve we were told it is 1.8 km] and narrow and dark. We saw one driver stop, get out and check the space between him and the side of the tunnel, and the bus we were in had to navigate around him. We also saw another driver, who had to back up for our bus, almost go off the side of the cliff, because as he backed up, he wasn't allowing for the sharp bend in the road.

Please believe me when I say I'm not trying to scare you. Just be prepared for what you'll encounter. I'm from Long Island, NY, and it's totally flat and straight. These conditions may not affect you the same way. Also, I'm older, and maybe not as adventurous. [I thought the jetboat ride was great though.]
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Jan 30th, 2003, 08:09 AM
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We to did the drive to Milford. Yes the tunnel is very long and very dark but believe me it is well worth the trip. Once through the tunnel there is a very steep road down to Milford but it is beautiful. In the winter there is snow so I would certainly check road conditions. We enjoyed the Napier are very much but also thought everywhere on the South Island was just great. Wendy
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