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danen5 Jun 20th, 2016 06:03 AM

Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand
We are planning a month long trip from the US to Australia, a stop in Tasmania and off to New Zealand for the month of November. Although I am surrounded by tour books, I don't know where to begin to plan this enormous and fabulous adventure. Please offer any suggestions.

BigRuss Jun 20th, 2016 10:38 AM

So without knowing your interests, your budget, and your desired activities, we're supposed to plan for you?

Two words: Fodors' Australia.

deSchenke Jun 20th, 2016 12:08 PM

I know a month seems like a long time, but it really isn't. I'd recommend sticking to one country. I could easily fill a month on just one island of New Zealand!

danen5 Jun 20th, 2016 12:43 PM

From what I have read, I tend to agree, but then I wonder if it is foolish to travel that far and not see Australia. Also--we tend to enjoy more the small towns and villages wherever we travel. NZ looks amazing as does Tasmania. Thanks.

tripplanner001 Jun 20th, 2016 03:47 PM

With one month, assuming this does not include intercontinental travel time, you can realistically visit 5-7 places, whether that's all in Australia, NZ, or both, and depending on your pace of travel and whether or not you are flying from one place to the next. For example, I will be on the ground for 21 days this coming December and January, and will spend all of my time in Sydney, Melbourne, and Tasmania (and this will be my third trip to Australia). Keep in mind that Australia is as big as the continental U.S.

ajyn Jun 20th, 2016 04:41 PM

Hello! October will be a lovely time to visit, warm but not too hot in most parts of Australia. Do you enjoy beach locations or cities? I would recommend some time enjoying one of Australia's famous coastal (or even Island) locations, such as; Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Hamilton Island, Port Douglas, Bondi Beach or even the amazing beaches in Tasmania (may be slightly cooler however).

Sydney Harbor is a must visit for first time visitors but if you enjoy sporting events, cafe culture and are a bit of a foodie - Melbourne is also worth a visit! I recently spent 5 days driving from Hobart to Launceston and while it was brief, it still provided a look into each city (and two nights at the coast at Freycinet National Park - a must see!). You'll most likely have to fly into Brisbane/Cairns for beaches and then onto Sydney, Melbourne and then across to Tasmania. Australia's cities are not close together so a lot of flying is involved.

Further west, Perth is another great city and then you have the real heart of Australia - the outback. However, these are quite long flights from the East Coast so you'll need to weigh this up with your time available.

Bokhara2 Jun 20th, 2016 05:33 PM

Do I understand you correctly, that you will have a month in Australia ( of which Tasmania is a State) and another month in New Zealand?

Or is it one month to cover as much of Australia & New Zealand as that time allows?

As to where - look at the FAQs to see what's available where that suits your interests; to see accommodation options; to see Australian weather patterns, forecasts & climate in various regions.

Melnq8 Jun 20th, 2016 05:40 PM

Regarding your post title, just an FYI that Tasmania is part of Australia. I just point this out because it seems to be a common mistake here.

<<<I could easily fill a month on just one island of New Zealand!>>>

Me too, and I have. More than once. It'd be the SI though, not the NI for me.

I could, and have, easily spent two+ weeks in TAS. More than once. And wished it were longer.

With a month and the desire to see both countries - maybe a few days Melbourne, 10-12 days TAS, rest on SI of NZ.

You could fly open jaw, into MELB, out of SYD and spend a few days there as well, but that will cut into your time elsewhere.

Of course neither MELB or SYD are small towns, so maybe forgo them and just visit TAS and NZ.

Melnq8 Jun 20th, 2016 05:41 PM

Cross-posted with Bokhara.

danen5 Jun 20th, 2016 08:48 PM

To answer Bokhara -We have only one month to do our trip --perhaps 5 weeks.

KayF Jun 20th, 2016 11:36 PM

The weather may make a difference to your plans. The northern part of Australia - Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef etc in November is the wet season which will probably mean rain and humidity, sometimes cyclones. In Tasmania it will be much cooler. A bit like the difference in weather between Florida and New York.

You could easily spend the whole time in Australia but 3 weeks in Aust and 2 weeks in NZ would also work. Factor in the time and cost of flying between cities in Aust, the distances are generally too big to cover by driving if you have a short time. Though you could say fly into Sydney and meander your way up to the Gold Coast by car, stopping at lots of small towns on the way. Check Google maps for the distances.

For domestic Aust airlines, check Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar and Tiger. Qantas is full service, includes baggage and food in fares etc, Jetstar and Tiger are budget with add-ons for everything.

Browse through some guidebooks if you can, the library or a big book store is a start. Get a feel for the different areas. You might like to spend your time in Australia in Melbourne and some of Victoria (the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians for wildlife) and a driving holiday in Tasmania. Then see NZ on the way home.

I have found trip planning overwhelming too at times but you should find that if you read up on the areas - trip reports on Fodors are excellent for info - you will gradually start putting together some ideas to suit what you like. Come back with more questions as you start refining your plans.


tasmangirl Jun 20th, 2016 11:37 PM

Australia is pretty big...leave New Zealand for another trip. You will waste a lot of time in airports.

danen5 Jun 26th, 2016 06:43 AM

Thanks for the replys. They have really helped. We are now looking at flying into Melbourne for 5 days (seeing the 12 apostles). Then, flying to Auckland for 5 days - flying to Queenstown for 2 weeks - flying back to Auckland and on to the Cook Islands of Fiji for 4 days before returning to USA. Too much?? (We have given up the Tasmania stop in lue of time in Melbourne and the South Pacific)

tripplanner001 Jun 26th, 2016 08:13 AM

Will this be your first time in Australia and New Zealand? If so, I would recommend that you spend all of your time in one or both of these two countries. Not sure you will have the opportunity to really appreciate Australia with just a few days in Melbourne and GOR although they are both lovely. If you are set on visiting an island in the South Pacific, perhaps think about dividing your time between just New Zealand and an island. For me, I would rather spend my time in AUS and NZ although I'm not a beach person.

Bokhara2 Jun 26th, 2016 01:46 PM

If you only plan 5 days in Melbourne with a side trip to the Great Ocean Road for your sole Australian section, I'd say don't bother - spend your time in New Zealand.

Not because Melbourne & surrounds aren't worth seeing. They certainly are. But with entry & exit days, you will effectively have about 3 1/2 days to see some of a city & some of the Great Ocean Road - more or less a "stop over".

If that was your intention, fine - I've simply misread your post, as I thought you were interested in seeing a good variety of what makes Australia unique.

danen5 Jul 14th, 2016 03:55 PM

Hello Fodorites --We are taking the advice of so many of you and restricting our trip to New Zealand ONLY. We fly into Auckland the first of November - spend 5 days touring the north island - fly Auckland to Queenstown for 3 weeks then fly Christchurch back to Auckland. Now comes the fun part --planning. We are going to rent a car on both North and South Islands and pretty much freelance from there. We loving moderate hiking and biking (we are 67 years old). Milford Sound looks fantastic. What city would be a good place to base ourselves for a Milford Sound day trip? Doubtful Sound also looks amazing and an overnight cruise would be fun. Any tips on companies that do this? We would want really like a luxury cruise for this. Are the two sounds different enough to do both of them? I looking forward to some suggestions. thanks.

Melnq8 Jul 14th, 2016 05:13 PM

Brilliant plan!

I prefer Te Anau as a base for exploring Milford Road, Milford Sound and the many tracks in the area.

It's about a two hour drive from Milford, whereas Queenstown is a four hour drive. There's plenty to do in the Te Anau/Manapouri/Milford area for walkers, trust me.

Staying in Te Anau also gives you a leg up on your Milford Sound cruise day, as you can beat the buses from QT, get in and get out and spend the rest of the day exploring the wonders of Milford Road - you'll be going in the opposite direction as the buses if you start early.

I suggest either the first or the last cruise of the day. You can either drive right there, take the cruise then spend the balance of the day hiking and working your way back to Te Anau, or you can do the opposite - hike and explore en route, take the last cruise of the day and then drive straight back to Te Anau.

You'll want to check daylight hours to see what best works for November. Don't want to be driving that gorgeous stretch of road in the dark.

There's not much in the way of lodging between Te Anau and Milford (plenty in Te Anau, only one place in Milford, but not much to do IN Milford itself other than the cruise).

If you're more inclined to stay in between for a day or two to better explore the tracks in the area, Knobs Flat is a possibility. We spent three nights there a few years back to do that very thing - to prevent driving back and forth between Te Anau and Milford to walk the tracks (difficult to fit in a long walk day when you've got a drive to deal with too). It was okay, not our favorite accommodation, but definitely well located for our purposes. The sandflies were beastly though, whereas they're not nearly as bad in Te Anau.

As for companies - Real Journeys is the big player for both Doubtful and Milford, but there are other options as well. They're all very similar in my experience - we've been on Real Journeys, Red Boat and Jucy. Red Boat was our favorite, but I think it was more about timing - last cruise of the day on a beautiful sunny day - very few people on a large boat - and plenty of time to drive back to Te Anau for dinner.

Melnq8 Jul 14th, 2016 05:26 PM

And regarding doing both Milford and Doubtful...I've done both (Milford many times) but not on the same trip.

Doubtful is a very long, expensive day, and IMO it's not worth doing unless the weather is ideal, which it usually isn't. The tour operators will tell you how special both sounds are in the rain - waterfalls, blah, blah, blah - but having seen Milford in the rain and in the sunshine and in the dead of winter, I'll take the sunshine every time (preferably sunshine in the dead of winter!).

As to if they're different enough to do both - yes and no.

They're both all about getting there - the highlight of Milford is Milford Road and it's many tramping tracks IMO. Reaching Doubtful requires crossing a lake on a boat, taking a bus and THEN boarding the cruise. No hiking en route. The underground power station is a bonus, and very interesting.

Milford is easy to reach on one's own. Doubtful is not.

They're both good, but for my money, the drive to Milford on a glorious day wins every time.

danen5 Jul 26th, 2016 08:13 PM

Do you have favorite lodging suggestions in TeAnua? And, suggestions for a few days lodging in Queenstown.

Melnq8 Jul 27th, 2016 03:31 PM

In Te Anau we like The Croft (B&B), Birchwood Cottages and Amber Court Motel, in that order. Birchwood Cottages has a wide range of accommodation, so do be sure you know exactly what you've booked.

In Queenstown we like Villa Del Lago, although its been some years since we stayed there. We like it because it's in a quiet area, very near the lake, but away from the traffic in QT - we're light sleepers.

These days we stay around Arrowtown instead - more sedate, and still only a 25 minute drive from the bustle of QT.

We very much enjoyed our three visits here:

I recently stayed at Bella Vista Motel in QT, and while well located and relatively inexpensive, it was just too noisy for us and the rooms were teenie. They do of course offer larger rooms, but cooking facilities are limited, so be sure you know what you are getting.

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