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Help! 4 Weeks in OZ / NZ in Oct/Nov. Need Itineraries, Adivce, Support and a CLUE!

Help! 4 Weeks in OZ / NZ in Oct/Nov. Need Itineraries, Adivce, Support and a CLUE!

Old Aug 13th, 2003, 10:30 AM
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Help! 4 Weeks in OZ / NZ in Oct/Nov. Need Itineraries, Adivce, Support and a CLUE!

Help! 4 Weeks in OZ / NZ in Oct/Nov. Need Itineraries, Adivce, Support and a CLUE!

Hello all! I found this board a little while ago and all I can say is WOW! What a great group of friendly, informative folks. You guys are miles away from most of the annoying garbage you see on most web-boards and forums! So thanks for a ton of great reading. Well that's enough arse-kissing On to the queries...

I'm planning my first trip to OZ / NZ (actually my first trip outside North America) for my honeymoon. We can only get away for a max of 4 weeks. I know that 4 weeks is not nearly enough time to take in the best of each beautiful country INDIVIDUALY, so I am really pushing things trying to fit both OZ and NZ into the same trip. The thing is, I don't know if I'll ever be able to afford to get back to that side of the globe again (hell, I can?t afford it this time!), so I HAVE to be able to see both NZ and OZ!

That said I hope you folks can help me out with a few answers and advice. I know the first response to a lot of my questions may be "Do a search," and trust me I am! I have found a lot of info reading though this board but I still have some questions as they pertain to the type of trip I'm planning. Any suggested Itineraries to get me started would be a big help! But before you can give me itinerary advice, I suppose I should clue you as to what type of interests, activities and plans I have in mind for the trip. Well, here are the Vitals:

Australia / New Zealand Trip
Travel time:
Planing on leaving Oct. 19th returning Sept. 16th ( I haven't bought plane tix yet, so there is some flex.)

Ages:
2 late-twenty-somethings (29 and 27)

Type of Holiday:
I like the idea of taking a tour bus (Contiki or Hop-on Hop off) type trip were you don't have to worry about driving, you meet lots of people and have knowledgeable local tour guides. The NZ/ OZ Experience sounds pretty good in their brochures, but I have heard mixed reviews about them. Were NOT interested in spending all of our time with 18 year olds just looking to get pissed and laid. But I do like the idea of bonding sharing a pint at the local pub and riding with people that really would like to see the place!

It sounds like in New Zealand the Magic Bus will be right up our ally. I read nothing but great reviews from them. I wish they operated a tour in OZ, I have yet to find a recommended similar outfit in Australia (as I said the OZ Exp SOUNDS great but I just hear so many mixed reviews...)

What types of things would we like to do/see in OZ?
The Greatest Hits! Including:
GBR / Port Douglas/ Fraser island area. As much time Diving /snorkeling (I'm certified. she is not) at GBR as we can fit in.
Learn to Surf (Manly surf school?)
Wild life sanctuaries (bring on the ?Roos, Koalas, whales and seals!)
Hiking (Alice? Uluru? Kakadu? Kings Canyon? Rainforests?)
Sailing the Whitesundays!

What types of things would we like to do/see in NZ?
Again, The Greatest Hits! Including:
Milford sound cruise
Wildlife (Penguins? Seals? Wales?)
Hiking ? Glaciers, Volcanoes, Geysers, Caves
Cave rafting (Glowworms?)
White water rafting
Jet Boat / Funyaks
Kayaking
River surfing

Anyhoo, that is the type of stuff that interests us. Now here come some questions:

1- WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH ONLY 4 WEEKS IN OZ/ NZ?
2- What tour company would you recommend for OZ / NZ?
3- How much time should I spilt between them (2 weeks in OZ ? 2 weeks in NZ?)
4- Should I hit OZ first (Late Oct) then NZ (early November)?
5- Will the water in New South Wales/Queensland be warm in Late Oct.? (I live in Florida, USA and if the water gets below 80 F, I'm cold!) Will the water/weather be warm in NZ in November?
6- Is it impossible to try and see Sydny, GBR and Alice/Uluru in one 2 weeks period, and do it justice, should I just sick with the East Coast (though it seems a sin to visit OZ and not see Ayers Rock!)
7- What is the best way to handle air travel between USA, OZ ? NZ?

Well, I think that is enough annoying questions for now. I think I will go before I wear out my welcome!

Thanks a ton, in advance. I promise I will put any info to good use and when I come back I will give a full report with all of the gory details to help poor shmucks like myself!

Cheers,
Josh
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Old Aug 13th, 2003, 07:10 PM
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Hi Josh-I just returned from a trip similar to what you are doing so I'll try to help as much as I can. Everyone will tell you that 4 weeks is not enough time for both places and that is true, but I say do what you want. I went on a Contiki trip to OZ. It was fun and nice to have someone else deal with the details, but it's a younger crowd and not what you are looking for. Plus, you don't get to spend a lot of time in cool places like Noosa and Byron Bay. I say do it on your own, even in NZ, b/c it's easy to travel around and you can pick and choose what you want to do. Plus, why do you want to be with 50 other people on your honeymoon? Okay, so in Australia you must go to Sydney for at least 3-4 days as there is heaps to do. I would say even longer if you can. Manly is right across the ferry so you can go to surfing school while visiting Sydney. I think you can also see koalas as the zoo and there is a petting zoo somewhere in the area where you can hold the koalas. A definite must-do. Then I really enjoyed Fraser Island. I was there 2 days and it was a good amount. I believe you can fly to Brisbane and get there from there. Remember, I was on a tour so everything was already arranged so I can't give you detailed info about transport but you can get a Qantas Boomerang pass that makes flight a bit cheaper (I think, that's what I read on this board). Brisbane seemed nice, but also go to Noosa which is about an hour (?) from there and is a beautiful, California-like town. The beach is right there and the town has lots of shops/restaraunts. Before I forget, you and your wife will meet heaps of people just touring around and out at night, so you don't need a tour to do that. Then go to Cairns where you can do whitewater rafting, diving (trip to Great Barrier Reef), and visit the Whitsundays. I went to Long Island/Club Crocodile which was okay but if you really want to treat yourself check out Hayman or Lizard Island. I think you can also do a day trip to Lizard for diving from Cairns through Daintree Air (daintreeair.com). It's expensive but I hear worth the trip. Perhaps base yourself in Port Douglas and do the rafting, diving, trip to Great Barrier Reef (try Fantasea boats) from there. For the Whitsundays look into a Captain Cook Cruise for a 3-4 day sailing trip. Never went to Ayers Rock and have no desire to go, plus it's far away so perhaps skip it this time and save up for another trip.

As for New Zealand....stick to the South Island. It's incredible! Queenstown for at least a few days is a must. From there I took a tour to Doubtful Sound but you can also do Milford Sound, I just chose Doubtful b/c fewer crowds but just as beautiful. I also went hanggliding, riding on the Shotover Jet, and a helicopter ride over the area. You can also do whitewater rafting there. This was my itinerary for the South Island:
Fly to Christchurch, took Tranz Alpine train across to Greymouth (1 day), drove to Hari Hari and stayed at a farmstay.
Drove to Franz Josef Glacier, went on a helicopter to the middle and went ice climbing (franzjosefglacier.com)(short drive from Hari Hari, stayed overnight, did climb next day)
Then drove to Lake WAnaka (1 night)
Drove to Queenstown (3 nights, went to a ski camp for a week, then another 3 nights)
Took bus to Mt.Cook/Lake Tekapo (1 day/night)
Lake Tekapo to Christchurch (1 day, stayed in CC for 3 days, 2 nights-not impressed with CC at all)
Christchurch to Blenheim for 2 days in wine country-must do this, it's really fun and relaxing
Took ferry to Wellington on NI.

I think you and your fiance should just make a list of priorities of things that you wouldn't want to miss and eliminate some of the other stuff to fit it all in. I would say 2 weeks in each place will give you a good overview if you skip Ayers Rock and the North Island.

As for air, I used my miles so I'm not sure but check out Qantas from the US and then some cheaper airlines like Virgin Blue for interstate airfare. It's like our Southwest. Qantas interstate had cheap airfares as well. I flew from Auckland to Christchurch for 47US one way. Perhaps you can pay to go from US-NZ-OZ (one city each) and then buy the Boomerang pass or individual tickets once you are there. In NZ, check out Inter City Buses and Atomic Shuttles as I used both and they were fine. Also very cheap-like 30US from Queenstown to Lake Tekapo (5 hour drive) and don't rent a car. Too much of a pain. This is all just my opinion, but I had a GREAT trip and it all worked out fabulously. If you want to talk more email me at [email protected]. I hope this helps, I'm kind of rambling! Cheers.
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Old Aug 14th, 2003, 12:50 AM
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Josh,

Well, you've got heaps of questions! Abby did a great job in responding, and I can respond to all as well. I'm a Yank, about your age, who's lived in Australia for the past 4 years and have travelled pretty much all of the country.

Feel free to email me at [email protected] with specific questions and I'll answer them, but...for starters:
* Don't do a tour bus. As Abby noted, the crowd will be younger, and very alcohol/sex oriented. You won't have the opportunity to relax at all, and it IS your honeymoon! Australia and NZ are very easy to travel in.

*Do OZ first, as it is colder in NZ and the farther into summer you get, the better (unless you want to ski!)

*The water in Sydney will be "cold" to you, as it will be about 65-68F. It only gets to about 72 in the height of summer! Up on the reef it will be a bit warmer, but not Florida warm

I would actually suggest you do something like the following in terms of itinerary (keeping in mind that you'll want to spend some down time and do both countries):

1. Start in Sydney since most flights come in that way! Spend 5 days or so, and do some/all/none(?) of the following:
* day in the city doing Opera House and the like, as well as a wander to Bondi Beach
* Opera at night (the season will be on, and what better place to see an opera than the Opera House! Perhaps a nice dinner beforehand as well)
* Day out to the Blue Mountains. There are heaps of day trips you can take, and you can book the night before.
* Ferry to Manly and have a nice breakfast/swim at the beach there. There's no need to do a Harbour Cruise for lots of money when you can take the ferry to Manly!
* Spit to Manly hike. If you like hiking, this is THE hike in the city environs. It's about 8km (5.5 miles) of medium terrain, and amazing. Great after a breakfast in Manly, and then you can have lunch at the other end! Either end is easily accessible by bus to the city.
* Afternoon at Taronga Zoo...best views for a zoo in the world. Can be combined with morning at Manly if you don't to the hike.
* Sydney Fish Markets...seriously. The largest fish market outside of Tokyo in the world! Amazing. If you're keen cooks, you can even take an evening cooking class where you eat dinner as well! Easily accessible from the city by bus.
* Day trip down the coast to Berry and Kiama. Wonderful scenery. Relaxing. Quaint towns.

Note: I actually don't think the Hunter Valley is worth it if you have limited time.

From Sydney, fly up to Coolangatta (the Gold Coast) and rent a car. Spend a few days driving around and doing the following:
* Drive down to Byron Bay immediately and spend a few days. This is where you would take surfing lessons, drive into the hinterland and do some hiking, relax, etc. I'd spend about 2 nights in Byron Bay.
* Drive up from Byron Bay to the Gold Coast (approx. 2-2.5 hour drive). It's a sight. Think of Miami beach...lots of high-rises/holiday apartments on the water, but a nice place to spend a day or so. You can go out to the Glasshouse Mountains and spend some down time. I'd spend a night or, at most two, in Surfers Paradise.
* From the Gold Coast, drive up to Noosa (approx. 2 hours). Great hiking in the National Park, great beach, good food, good people watching, nice places to stay...etc. I'd spend 2 nights in Noosa.
* Return the car in Noosa and take a day trip/overnight trip with Kingfisher Resorts to Fraser Island. They have a one-night package that includes transportation to/from Noosa. Fraser is the most unbelievable place in Australia. Well, one of them. It's amazing. I'm sure you can read more about it.
* Fly from Noosa (Maroochydore/Sunshine Coast airport) to Cairns and do a few days up that way. Do day trips to Cape Tribulation, the Daintree, Mossman Gorge, and perhaps something like white-water rafting. Oh, and the Reef of course! As to where you could stay, there's lots of arguments for Port Douglas, or Palm Cove, or Cairns...that can be decided later and with more research on your behalf.

That brings you to about 2 weeks. You could add in something like Kakadu (there are direct flights from Cairns to Darwin) but I think you'll have enough just spending time on the east coast. You'll get in a lot of scenery, hiking, water, etc. I would consider spending an extra day or so in places you like along the way (if you buy flexible airfare that's easy, and if you have a car for some of it then you can plan as you go...hotels won't be an issue).

The rest of the time I would spend in NZ.

Phew. Tired.

If you want anything more, let me know!

Cheers
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Old Aug 14th, 2003, 12:55 PM
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Thanks Abbey and PixyChick! Killer advice from both of you. Keep it comin'!

I really like your Itinerary PixyChick. You are really getting me excited. Thanks for all of your hard work (that must have been a lot of typeing

If you don't mind, I think I'll keep bugging you guys with some questions. But it is your own fault, you shouldn't have been so darn informative!

Next question:

About which spot to visit first: OZ or NZ.

I was actually considering going to NZ first since I think we could get in a day or two of Snowboarding (they say the ski areas are good 'till November?). Also, since most of the ?wet stuff? (i.e. snorkeling, surfing) we will be doing in OZ, I thought it might be better to hit OZ later in the trip since the water may be warmer? Maybe not? Anyway, that's what I was considering, but it sounds like I was WAY off base!

What do you think?

Thanks Again!

Cheers,
Josh
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Old Aug 18th, 2003, 10:11 AM
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Hi! I highly recommend a visit to Ayers Rock...2 nights..3 days. We went for our honeymoon and it was a highlight of the trip. Camel riding at sunset and sounds of silence dinner.

We are actually going back this year (only 3 years later) and my husband wants to go back to Ayers rock...still debating!

Kim
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Old Aug 20th, 2003, 05:48 AM
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Hi again Josh-glad I could be of help. As far as skiing goes, I spent a week skiing at Treble Cone. It was heaps of fun but not as challenging as I would have thought. Now, as a Yank I"m spoiled after years of skiing in Colorado, Utah, and Whistler. I admit it. So, Treble was more like skiing in Vermont. Also, the drive up the mountain was horrific. The roads are totally unpaved and it's overlooking a very scary cliff. That all being said, if you can add a few days of skiing to your trip it's worth it. I"m a huge skier so that was important to me, plus now I can say I've skied in NZ of all places! The slopes were not too challenging but hard enough to enjoy if you are an intermediate/expert skier. I stayed at a ski camp but you could stay in Wanaka and drive from there, or when you are in Queenstown there are several shuttles/buses that will take you to Treble, the Remarkables, and Coronet Peak (closer to Qtown than Treble). That way you don't have to drive. Good luck and have fun! Cheers.
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Old Aug 26th, 2003, 05:20 PM
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I'm so jealous - I did this last October and wish I was going again this year. In 3 weeks (not at ALL ideal) I travelled through both OZ & NZ. My itinerary given that short time pd. worked very well, if you can stand the jumping around. DON'T DO A TOUR. I found people there to be very friendly and helpful, it's easy to strike up conversations pubs & bars, and you'll want to fly between destinations anyway to save time.

I started in Sydney. (Personally, I wanted NZ to be warmer once I got there.) Others have mentioned a petting zoo - that must be Featherdale Wildlife Park. You can pet the koalas & get up close & personal to emus, 'roos, & wallabies, among others. I was actually on a "coach" trip to the Blue Mtns. that included that stop - Oz Experience - and don't really recommend it as the time spent in the Blue Mtns. was very rushed. Other definite to-do's in Sydney - Manly, an opera, and BridgeClimb (climb the Harbour Bridge - it's amazing! but expensive). If you want a really nice evening out - dinner at Cafe Sydney - make reservations & ask for the view, which is of the harbor & beautiful at sunset, then walk over to the Opera House to catch a performance.

From there, I went up north - my base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef was Port Douglas. We went snorkeling & diving on the Haba, which was GREAT - the guides were awesome. My friend actually went out with them to dive three times during our stay. If you can, take a trip up through the Daintree (I wish I could remember our guide, he was wonderful. If I can find the info. I'll log back on).

From there I went to Uluru, which was incredible. Yes, it's out of the way, but I'm so glad I did it. We did a tour with an Aboriginal man who related myths and stories in his own language (of course there was an interpretor), hiked into Kata Tjuta, and saw wild 'roos & camels. Don't miss the Sounds of Silence dinner, esp. as it's your honeymoon. It was incredible.

Ok, so far - Sydney, Pt. Douglas, Uluru, then, Melbourne. We didn't spend much time in Melbourne, but spent 1 and a half days on the Great Ocean Road, which was wonderful. However, unless you're used to driving on the left side of the road, you may want to do a coach. We rented a car and it was just beautiful. I could have spent a week just exploring here. Place to stay - Stewart's B&B in Apollo Bay - extremely romantic, views of rolling hills w/ sheep and the ocean in the near distance, and I think one of the rooms even has a fireplace & jacuzzi. And pretty reasonable for all that, I think it came to $80US, with a HUGE breakfast.

From Melbourne, I flew to Queenstown NZ. If you want to go to the Milford Sound, I recommend Rocco's - they have a great 1/2 day kayaking trip into the sound - we got up close & personal to a pod of bottlenose dolphins, drank fresh water out of a stream, and had a mid-morning snack in the middle of the sound. It was wonderful. You need to either stay the evening before in Te Anau, or stay at Milford as the kayaking starts early in the morning. My guide, Matt, picked me up in Te Anau at 6:00 a.m.. I also did a day hike on the Routebourne out of Queenstown - rigorous, but well worth it.Here is the website: http://www.ultimatehikes.co.nz/About_Us/
There are multi-day hikes, but since you're pressed for time, you may want to do the 1-day.
Ok, so in sum, I did (roughly):
Sydney: 5 days
Pt. Douglas: 2 1/2 days
Uluru: 3 days
Melbourne/GOR: 4 days
NZ: 4 days
Sydney: one last day

You'd have a blessed one additional week to play with - I'd put it in the Great Ocean Rd. and in NZ. I hear the Franz Josef Glacier is amazing.

[sigh] I wish I was going back! Have a wonderful trip, I hope this helps.

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Old Aug 27th, 2003, 07:02 AM
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Hear, hear to everything posted already, and I have just four words to add:

Rugby World Cup 2003

It's being hosted in Australia and New Zealand in the time frame that you will be there, and the Kiwis are the favourites to win so you are forewarned!
Personally, the game does nothing for me but I think that both countries are going to be fairly rugby-mad in that period. Shouldn't ruin anything on your trip - if you know about it, and accept it up-front then you may even enjoy it!
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Old Oct 3rd, 2003, 06:31 AM
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Dear Abby43, PixieChick, kimmyg, RobinBinNYC and traci_local_in_sa:

THANK YOU SO MUCH for all of your sage advice. Sorry I have not been able to check in with this board for the past few weeks, but I want you to know all of your advice has been very helpful. You guys RULE!

Rest assured I WILL be hanging out here on the board a lot in the next 2 weeks as I have finally purchased the tickets for our OZ/NZ honeymoon, and now I have 2 weeks to nail down the details!

October 21 to November 4 in OZ and Nov 4 to Nov 16 in NZ.

Feel free to keep the great suggestions coming in this thread while I finish up my first pass at an itinerary. I will start 2 new threads (one for the OZ leg of my tour, one for NZ) once I done. Hopefully, before the weekend is over.

Thanks again for all of the great advice and thanks in advance for all the great tips in the future!
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Old Oct 3rd, 2003, 01:52 PM
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Just a couple of points:
Fly into Brisbane and not Coolangatta and pick up a rental car there - drive south BUT take the hinterland roads up to the border ranges and do some hiking in the National Parks and get a map of the area before taking a drive through the border ranges to Byron VIA Nimbin ( town stuck in the 1960 by hippies) lovely countryside and interesting towns around then over to Byron. Come back up to Brisbane through the Gold Coast then up to Fraser Island via the southern part of the island which you get to via Gympie. Take a tour of the island as you will not be able to drive it in a conventional car.
Then take your car back to Brisbane airport where you take the plane to Cairns. I say this because you CANNOT take a plane from Maroochydore to Cairns - if you do you will pay twice the normal fare rate because you will be doing a milk run i.e. stopping at small places and this way you pay big $ for it. Brisbane will give you the discounts anyway and you can get either Virgin or Qantas flights. Check out a Boomerang Pass as others have suggested. However your time is limited and so I would seriously think about whether you have time for Byron Bay and Fraser Island as this will take you 4 days at least and you could use that better elsewhere and perhaps cut your costs down somewhat by only doing Sydney and surrounds and the far north Queensland area. If you were coming in summer I would think differently about Fraser but it will be too cold to swim in the wonderful lakes there and that is the highlight.
DO NOT DO A CONTIKI TOUR OR ANY OTHER TOUR LIKE THAT because you don't have the time and you will want to get as much out of the place as you can and doing it yourself is the best. Take tours if you want at the places you are going to but it takes a long long time to take a bus from say Sydney to Cairns and that is lost time.
If you are can sail yourself you could look at renting either a sail boat or catamaran in the Whitsundays and pulling in to one of the many uninhabited islands where you can stay overnight and perhaps cook your catch on the sand. There are 70 + islands there and the area is magnificent.
Port Douglas is the place to stay but there is plenty to do going either to islands or areas on the mainland. There are 2 wonderful fresh water lakes on the tableland that are wonderful for swimming and many other things to see as well. There are wildlife sanctuaries in Sydney, out of Sydney a bit, and around Cairns. Take a tour from Port Douglas will David Amburst (sp????) and check this site for everything that has been suggested for the areas you want to see.
Have fun!
 
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