Early Planning to the South Pacific

Old Jul 12th, 2017, 01:46 PM
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Early Planning to the South Pacific

I am doing an early planning for a trip to the South Pacific. I have two options:

Option 1: Do a 3 week tour which includes a trip to 1 or 2 islands in the South Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. I am looking at from mid-January to early February for my trip. I will be spending two weeks in the South Pacific and one week in Japan.

Option 2: Do a one week vacation in Japan in February and a two week vacation in the South Pacific in April/May.

Which option is recommended? I'm not too worried about the humidity and hot weather, but how often do I expect rain to occur? Also, from what I read online, January is part of the cyclone season in the South Pacific. I know weather is unpredictable, but should I worry about cyclones in the South Pacific? I will be doing a lot of scuba diving while in the South Pacific. Would January or April/May be more suitable for scuba diving?

As far on islands to go to, which island countries are best to visit for a solo traveler? I definitely would like to do scuba diving, hiking, snorkeling, participate in cultural experiences, and seeing some beautiful scenic views. Right now, I am looking at Fiji, but I am open to other locations. I would definitely be looking at staying at a resort while I am staying at an island. Right now, I am budgeting $10,000 for the trip whether the South Pacific and Japan are combined as one or separate trips. In addition, how many days should I stay in an island country like Fiji. I also want to look into also visiting Cook Islands, but don't know if I will have the time and/or budget, but I will consider it if people recommend visiting it. Also, are there resorts that people recommend to stay in?

During my trip, I am also looking into visiting New Zealand for 3-4 days and Australia for 3-4 days. As far as New Zealand, I don't have a preferred city. Right now, I am looking at Auckland, but if there is any suggestions on where to visit in January or April/May, that would be great. I prefer not to rent a car so guided bus/group tours would be great. Of course, I don't want to rule out driving if there are places that are best to visit in a car. As far as interests go, I would like to know if there are places to do bungee jumping, ziplining, hiking, exploring waterfalls and scenic locations, and learning about the culture and area and which city is best to have most of these interests.

Similar to New Zealand, I don't have a preference when visiting Australia. It would be good to visit Sydney, but if there are suggestions on other areas of Australia, I am open to it since I never visited Australia before. It would be good to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, but I can always do that at a different time. I just want to experience what Australia have to offer with my limited time there. As far as interests go, it would be similar to my interests in New Zealand.

Again, this is still early in the planning stages, but it would be good to get some feedback so I know which islands to focus on f and areas in New Zealand and Australia to visit during my trip. Thanks in advance.
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Old Jul 12th, 2017, 02:00 PM
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Do I understand correctly that you hope to visit Japan, two islands in the South Pacific, NZ and Australia in three weeks? Please say no.
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Old Jul 12th, 2017, 02:39 PM
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That was my reaction as well. You'll be spending all your time shuttling to and from airports, going through formalities at each country's border, and in the air. At least 25% of your trip will be spent traveling!
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Old Jul 12th, 2017, 02:42 PM
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If you can only spare 3-4 days for Australia or New Zealand, don't bother. It would not be worth the flying time to get here.
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Old Jul 12th, 2017, 02:44 PM
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Melnq8. Like I said, it is early in the planning stage. Right now, the only thing that I am planning to do is spend a week in Japan for the snow festival that occurs in February in Hokkaido. Other than that, my two week itinerary through the South Pacific, whether it is in January or April/May is pretty much open for discussion. I would like to visit what I can in the South Pacific for the two weeks I am there, but I want to be practical on what I can do and getting feedback would be great. I do want to at least visit one of the South Pacific Islands whether it is Fiji, Cook Islands, Tahiti, etc. and New Zealand. Visiting a second island country and Australia would be a bonus if it can fit in my itinerary and budget. The trip is also over a year out so things could change.
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Old Jul 12th, 2017, 04:13 PM
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>>Option 1: Do a 3 week tour which includes a trip to 1 or 2 islands in the South Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, and Japan. I am looking at from mid-January to early February for my trip. I will be spending two weeks in the South Pacific and one week in Japan.>Option 2: Do a one week vacation in Japan in February and a two week vacation in the South Pacific in April/May.>at least visit one of the South Pacific Islands whether it is Fiji, Cook Islands, Tahiti, etc. and New Zealand. Visiting a second island country and Australia
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Old Jul 12th, 2017, 04:15 PM
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Okay, in that case, visit Japan and spend two weeks in NZ.

January is high season in NZ and there will be a lot of locals traveling in addition to overseas visitors. There will be copious amounts of daylight.

April/May would be my personal preference - fewer people, lower rates, generally settled weather. Avoid the long Easter weekend, which includes Good Friday and Easter Monday (same for Australia). I have no idea when it falls in 2018 so may be a moot point.

The South Pacific is a vast area; 62 million square miles kind of vast. Because you list several islands and then say AND NZ, I can only assume you want to do both. If that's the case, it stands to reason that you would select an island in close proximity to NZ.

Just keep in mind that two weeks on one island of NZ is about the minimum if you hope to really see the place. It takes a lot of time to get from Point A to Point B and there are only so many roads.

Three to four days in NZ will let you visit a city, maybe take a day trip or two, but that's about it. You'll find it difficult to fit in many of the activities on your wish list and it's hardly worth the airfare and hassle IMO.

The water in NZ is cold - year round. Are you a cold water scuba diver? I'm married to a dive master and he's only dived in NZ once in over a dozen visits. He didn't enjoy it - too cold. Not much to see. It's just not the place that springs to mind when one thinks of scuba diving.

NZ has a maritime climate, it's not warm and tropical like Fiji or other islands in the Pacific.

Australia is a continent, one helluva BIG island; it's similar in size to the US. Three or four days on a continent seem like a complete waste of time to me.

There is so much to see and do in NZ and Australia, that trying to reduce either one to 3-4 days makes me want to cry.

Do you have a private plane?

It's difficult to give a concise answer to such a vague question, but there you have my two cents.
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Old Jul 12th, 2017, 05:46 PM
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janisj. I will be visiting Hokkaido in Japan for one week for the snow festival. I know one week in Japan is too short. I already planned to travel to Japan for 3 weeks next year, but it is still not nearly enough to see what I want to see. Visiting the South Pacific and Japan in 2019 won't be the only time I will visit since I am planning to visit more in the future.
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Old Jul 12th, 2017, 06:19 PM
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Melnq8, thanks for the info. I will look into option 2. I know one week in Japan is not enough, but I am already planning to travel there for 3 weeks next year and still not enough for what I want to see. I will just be visiting for one week since the snow festival occurs during February.

I think I would visit closer to May than April so I should be able to avoid Good Friday and Easter and hopefully also miss the cyclone season.

As far as visiting New Zealand, I know even one week is not enough to visit one island, not to mention the whole country. My travel plans would be just to either visit the north or south island for my first trip to New Zealand. I wanted to get feedback on which part of New Zealand to visit first. Would it be best to travel to a city like Auckland and just take day trips from there or visit the south island and travel to cities like Christchurch or Queenstown and take day trips from there. Like Japan, I will be doing future trips to New Zealand to see the other areas that I haven't been to yet. It's just with my work and saving up for traveling, it would be impossible to take time off of more than 3 weeks at a time. I wish I could spend more time, but it is just impractical for me.

Thanks for the info about scuba diving in New Zealand. I will do my scuba diving when I visit one of the South Pacific island countries. When visiting New Zealand, I will mainly be doing land based activities.

As far as visiting an island closer to New Zealand, I'm guessing Fiji or Cook Islands would be a more logical choice than say Tahiti? I'm just narrowing down which island country to visit first on my first trip to the South Pacific. I'm thinking of visiting Fiji for a week, but wanted to see if people have other suggestions besides Fiji as a place for a solo traveler and go scuba diving. As far as Fiji goes, what resort would be best to stay at?

I will definitely be visiting the South Pacific more than my first trip in 2019. I am just trying to narrow which countries to visit first.

It looks like doing Australia as a separate trip might be advisable. I know visiting the country for 3 weeks is not nearly enough, but hopefully like Japan and New Zealand, I will be taking multiple trips there so I could just focus on a few cities at a time.
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Old Jul 13th, 2017, 03:27 AM
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NZ isn't about the cities - the best bits of NZ are it's natural beauty.

The base city concept doesn't work particularly well there as the distances between natural attractions is quite large and involves a bit of driving. Which is what eats up the time.

But, if I had to choose one city that offers a lot for visitors, is beautiful and has many things to do/see within reasonable drive distance, I'd choose Queenstown. From Queentown you can easily get to Wanaka, Arrowtown, Glenorchy and even make the very long day trip to Milford Sound (people do it all the time, although I don't recommend it).

You have spectacular lakes, jagged mountains and fabulous scenery right at your doorstep. You can hike, bike, Segway, bungee jump, luge down Bob's Peak (Skyline Gondola), take a jet boat trip, go skydiving, visit wineries you name it, QT probably offers it and within beautiful surroundings.

As long as you're realistic and don't expect Queenstown to be a good base for seeing the glaciers or Mt Cook, or sights further north, it could work for you.

You'll still need lots of time, but if you can dedicate at least 4-5 days to Queenstown and environs, you can experience a number of the SI's best bits.

Or if you can allow up to 8-10 days, you can make a one way trip from Christchurch to Queenstown and see even more.
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Old Jul 13th, 2017, 08:01 AM
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Why not spend two weeks in Australia and dive there (but not in January)?
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Old Jul 13th, 2017, 01:05 PM
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Patty, it's only FNQ where January is not recommended for diving in Australia.

Plenty of good diving elsewhere.

Our OP doesn't have time for Australia, but don't want others misled by misinformation.
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Old Jul 13th, 2017, 01:31 PM
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Thanks for the clarification, Bokhara2. Australia still seems like a logical choice to me since one of the OP's primary interests is diving vs spending a week in NZ and adding a second diving destination.
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Old Jul 19th, 2017, 12:19 PM
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Hi, I would definitely recommend Cook Islands, Rarotonga was amazing place, very safe to travel around, people are really nice and there is quite lot to do. Also the prices for accommodation and transportation were very affordable. And you can do a few day trip to Aitutaki - it is an incredible island, it is called Little Bora Bora, and they are right :] If you would like few tips for accommodation I can help you just with budget accommodation, not hostels, but very nice bungalows. Aitutaki with its One Foot Island is definitely a must in South Pacific and it is one of the popular scuba diving spots.

We have been to both areas - Tahiti and Cook Islands, so I can compare it and Tahiti was definitely more expensive, but it has a better sea life. Cook Island had better hikes and culture experince. At least for us :]

If you plan just few days in Australia, I would recommend just visit Sydney. It is definitely nice and doable to visit Sydney in 3-4 days and have a nice experience.

I do not think that it is worth visiting New Zealand in just 3 days. It is such an incredible country that you cannot see enough in just 3 days :/ And it is not enough time to travel anywhere further to see some mountains or national parks.

Let me know if you want more information about any area, we have traveled around New Zealand, Cook Islands, Tahiti and Japan and we used to live in Sydney. So I can help you with an itinerary.
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Old Jul 20th, 2017, 03:06 AM
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Last year I visit Australia for an week with my family. The country is so beautiful for travell. I think you also enjoy the tour very much.
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