Cruise, tour company or self directed of Aus/NZ?


Apr 5th, 2013, 07:58 AM
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Cruise, tour company or self directed of Aus/NZ?

Never been to the area and since it's a long way from Michigan this will probably be our one and only trip there. Have a deposit on a 16 day Oceania cruise, but when all is said and done we will probably spend over $20,000 for two of us. So, I looked into About Australia self directed tour, which is about half that. Then I thought, why not just plan the tour myself, which would be cheaper still. Of course, the latter is a ton more stressful and more work in the planning and I'm afraid I don't know enough about the area to plan it well. To make matters worse we are traveling with another couple and that's a big responsibility. I think we would see much more of the country on land than on a sea tour (duh). Any of your expert advice is welcome!
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Apr 5th, 2013, 11:35 AM
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How many days total, not including your travel days, do you plan to spend in Australia and New Zealand?

I would go for self-planned since that's how we like to travel, and New Zealand is pretty easy to navigate.

Lee Ann
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Apr 5th, 2013, 01:47 PM
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Hi, Maggi,

I've looked at both of your posts to see when you plan to come to Australia and New Zealand but there is nothing mentioned. Could you please let us know when you are coming as that helps with recommendation and ideas. Also your general interests so we don't suggest museums when you can't stand them!

I always plan my own trips as it is so much a part of the fun and excitement of our holidays (except for the European Heritage tour we are doing in August!) and have just planned 3 months in England and Canada with the European trip in the middle. It is scary because you don't know the must-see-and-do things, the distances between places, how long to spend in each area, and what the accommodation is like, but somehow it all comes together beautifully. My best planning companions are this site and its posters, The Lonely Planet guides, people who have been where I am going, and my travel agent who I use for booking my external flights and sometimes some of my accommodation.
Very occasionally we will use small-group tours to places in Australia where local knowledge is best or that go to places we can't in a rental car, but usually we drive ourselves. (We are from NZ)

This site is absolutely amazing for assistance so do use it. There are many suggestions on past posts for the main places to see when on a short time frame, and there are many, many knowledgeable and helpful people who will guide you.
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Apr 5th, 2013, 02:43 PM
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Thanks for your replies! We are planning to go in spring of 2014 for approximately 14 days, not including travel. The cruise would be in Feb, but I'm told it's very hot in Australia then, so I'm thinking perhaps May if we do self-directed. I/we are more interested in the flora and fauna, but would love to spend a little time in cities like Sydney and Melbourne. The AA tour is Syd, Cairns, Melbourne, Queenstown, Auckland. The cruise has Sydney, Melbourne, hobart, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Napier, Rotorua and Auckland. We definitely want some up close with Koalas. I was thinking the steam engine ride would be cool, as well as perhaps a hot air balloon, and the aerial tram.
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Apr 5th, 2013, 02:45 PM
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PS: I'm very good at doing my own research, using this site and internet resources. I planned a 6 week tour of Europe many years ago before there was internet with a huge satchel of tour books, lol. But this part of the world is so foreign to me, that's why I'm looking for extra advice.
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Apr 5th, 2013, 03:01 PM
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With fourteen days, you will need to have a short sharp itinerary. How about four nights in Sydney, four nights in Melbourne and the balance of your time in NZ. To fly to Cairns from Sydney would basically take a day each way, so unless you have a urge to visit the GBR, then not very practical.
There are hot air balloon flights over the city of Melbourne and also over the Yarra Valley (wineries, pretty area). Taronga Park Zoo is a good place to visit, but Melbourne zoo is also pretty good. Melbourne also has Healesville Sanctuary which concentrates on native animals.
In Rotorua, you can take the aerial tram to the top of the peak for lunch or dinner in the restaurant.
For New Zealand, I'd choose a small area to visit and hire a car - Queenstown and the surrounding area would be a perfect choice for a short stay. Lots to see and beautiful scenery.
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Apr 5th, 2013, 03:09 PM
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Good heavens!

It can't be more foreign to you than Europe - at least you (almost) speak the language.

Hit your local library or bookshop. Do the research. This forum (and Tripadvisor) have a multitude of people happy to gie you a hand.

April-May is a pretty good time to travel almost anywhere in Australia.

14 days is the pretty standard American trip. This is a big country - so getting around can be difficult.

Have a think, establish some priorities and then ask questions. It'll be horribly rushed to do both Oz and NZ in 2 weeks!
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Apr 13th, 2013, 07:59 AM
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Having the same concerns about tours vs. self planned. We are thinking of going in Sept/Oct of 2014. The European tours I have planned have all been with accommodations in one spot, and there are many places I want to see in Australia, which would necessitate transfers/flights, etc.

I am thinking just Australia this time, probably with 12-14 nights in country. I want to see Sydney, Melbourne, Ayers Rock and the GBR. It would also be nice to add the Ocean Road and a day in the wine country.

Would appreciate any and all suggestions.
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Apr 15th, 2013, 12:49 AM
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We're a friendly lot here in Oz. I think you'll easily be able to manage arranging things yourself.

It's sometimes hard for me to imagine what a tourist thinks of our cities. I lived in Melbourne for most of my life and have been in Sydney for 5 years and whilst they are different, if I visited on a holiday I would of been happy to see one city only. I would choose Sydney to see as the sights there are more world known and you possibly have imagined visiting them.

A website Aussies swear by for accommodation is However, check with the hotels own website as sometimes they have better specials.

Good luck. I love planning. It is such an exciting time!
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Apr 28th, 2015, 05:26 PM
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You can do a cruise around both North and South island leaving from Sydney. We did the 14 days (also stopped in Melbourne). From some of the ports we pre-booked our own day trips - for example a day trip to Rotorua and Hobbiton (Movie Set of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit).
Stopped at Auckland, Bay of Islands, Napier, Wellington, Dunedin, Doubtful and Milford sounds and then Melbourne.

Check my blog for itinerary and pictures of the trip.
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Apr 28th, 2015, 08:10 PM
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Well, it's been a long time since I asked this advice and all of a sudden the topic popped up again. I should report that in the end we did a Regent Seven Seas cruise on their Voyager, beginning with 3 days pre-cruise in Sydney and one day post-cruise in Auckland in January of 2014. It was the perfect option for us and was the trip of our lifetime. I absolutely fell in love with that part of the world and, since most of the cruise was to New Zealand, I have declared that country to be one of the most beautiful I have ever visited. A caveat: it is such a good thing we did this luxury (for us) trip of a lifetime, because now my husband is very ill and we may never travel together again. If you wish to see my photos, they are here:
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Apr 30th, 2015, 08:29 AM
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Thanks for letting us know how your trip turned out, and for sharing your pictures. I'm glad you had such a wonderful time and have the memories and photos to enjoy when your travel future is uncertain.
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Apr 30th, 2015, 01:40 PM
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Thanks for coming back to tell us what you chose Maggi - love your photos!

I'm sorry to hear your husband isn't well - and yes, the "do it now" adage really is true isn't it?

All the very best to you both
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Apr 30th, 2015, 10:21 PM
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Thank you both. We took six trips last year and I kept feeling guilty and saying, "Well you have to do it while you can. We never know what tomorrow will bring." Those words ended up being so prophetic. Whatever the future holds, we were incredibly fortunate to have shared so many incredible travel experiences spanning our lives. I am forever grateful. I relive each and every one through our photographs.
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May 2nd, 2015, 02:15 AM
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Loved your photos Maggi. I noticed your photo of the wine called Summer Love. A little story about that. My sister-in-law's niece was one of the wine-makers for this wine. My nephew (the wine-makers cousin) got married in January 2013 on a hot summer afternoon and this was the main wine for the wedding. It is very popular.

It looked like a wonderful trip, as you say do these things while you can. DH and I need to do a bit more travelling. So much to see out there in the big wide world.
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May 2nd, 2015, 10:17 PM
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What a cool story, nelsonian. It was wonderful, as were so many wines we had on and off the ship. They remain my favorite here at home as well. It definitely was the trip of a lifetime and we fell in love with that part of the world.
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May 3rd, 2015, 07:52 PM
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Maggi, glad it all worked out so well. Thank you for the encouragement to never postpone. Wishing you the best for you and your husband.
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