help with New Zealand/Australia itinerary

Old Jan 20th, 2024, 12:06 PM
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help with New Zealand/Australia itinerary

I'm planning a trip to New Zealand and Australia with my son in Feb. I'm very overwhelmed with options and would like help planning. We are doing a self drive trip. We have 2 full weeks and want to spend more time in New Zealand. We land into Auckland and fly out of Sydney. We only want to see the Great Barrier reef and Sydney in Australia. We are estimating 2 days in each of these areas and the remaining time in New Zealand. We are not very interested in the wineries or Hobbiton. We are interested hiking and outdoor activities. We will be renting a car, but can fly between spots in New Zealand if that is a better way to use our time. There seems to be so much to see - Any help is appreciated.
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 12:23 PM
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Welcometo the Fodors forums. We moved your thread from Tech Support to the Australia & the Pacific board and tagged it for Australia and New Zealand
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 04:22 PM
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There's a ton to see and do, so being overwhelmed with so little time to plan is understandable. Are we talking about this February, as in next month?

How many days on the ground do you have for NZ?

I suggest you fly from Auckland directly to Christchurch and spend all of your NZ time on the South Island.

If you can provide the actualy number of full days you have to work with (think in nights - three nights is two full days, etc), you'll get more help.

Please keep in mind that two weeks for even a bit of Australia and NZ is giving both serious short shrift. You'll have to make some very hard choices with so little time. Don't underestimate the affects of jet lag too, especially if you're flying from Europe or the US.
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 06:58 PM
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2 days each for Sydney and the Reef is pretty much a waste of time. It's a 3 hour flight to Cairns from Sydney, so, with all the airport faffing about, that's the better part of a day. Are you taking that day from Sydney or the Reef?

It's a 3 hour flight to Sydney from NZ - so, as it's an international flight, with even more faffing about, there goes another of your days.

Our geography doesn't contract to fit into your allowed time.

Don't forget you need visas for both.
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 08:55 PM
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I had thought the same thing, that coming to Australia for such a short time seems a bit crazy. You could spend all your time in New Zealand and visit Australia another time. Do you mean next month (February) or Feb next year? Australia is a very large country and the northern part, where the Great Barrier Reef is, has two seasons, not four. It's a tropical area, they have the wet and the dry. Wet season is roughly from November to April. It will be hot and humid with rain. It's January now and a cyclone is bearing down on northern Queensland, that's not unusual for this time of year. Sometimes roads are flooded. You could be OK but equally you may get there and none of the reef boats are going out. You'd also lose most of a whole day with the flight from Sydney to Cairns. If you're flying out of Sydney to return home, does that mean you fly from New Zealand to Cairns?
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 11:23 PM
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Australia – size map: https://www.virtualoceania.net/austr...ustralia.shtml
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Old Jan 20th, 2024, 11:39 PM
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To moemcc - I just re-read what I wrote and wondered if it's a bit harsh. You said you were overwhelmed by the planning and I know what that's like. If you don't know a country at all, it's hard to know where to start. I do think just visiting one country might be a good idea but if you still want to visit Australia as well as NZ, you could just visit Sydney. There's the Opera House, Harbour Bridge, ferries to catch to places for a walk or lunch, great coastal walks etc. It would give you a taste of a small part of Australia. If you haven't booked flights yet, that may make up your mind. Check the cost of an airfare from where you live to NZ return, then check the cost if you add in Australia. You will need to look at multi-city options on the airline websites.
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Old Jan 21st, 2024, 04:07 AM
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This is very helpful. We do have our flights into Auckland and out of Sydney so that part is set, but we are flexible with everything else. It sounds like we need to narrow our trip down a lot. I think spending a day in Auckland and flying to Christchurch and focusing on the South Island then flying to Sydney for our flight home might be our best choice. Any thoughts on that or where we should focus our time in South Island.
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Old Jan 21st, 2024, 05:37 AM
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So, how many days on the ground in NZ?

Help us help you.
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Old Jan 21st, 2024, 09:03 AM
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We will be 11 days (10 nights) in New Zealand total.
Thanks !
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Old Jan 21st, 2024, 09:36 AM
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Ten nights is nine days, not 11. Not much time at all.

In that case, you might consider one of these itineraries, which will be very busy, you'll need to plan well and base your nights on what you most want to see and do.

Keep in mind this does not take jet lag into account, and I absolutely would not recommend driving as soon as you arrive if you've traveled any distance (you don't mention where you're coming from). These itineraries are just suggestions, and may not work with your existing flight arrival/departure times, but should give you some ideas.

Also keep in mind that February is very busy, you may not find accommodation at this late date in some areas.

Are you comfortable with driving on the left?

Inland route:

Arrive Christchurch

Drive Christchurch to Lake Tekapo/Mt Cook - two nights (this allows one full day for Mt Cook)

Drive Lake Tekapo/Mt Cook to Wanaka - two nights (one full day) or three nights for two full days, depending on what you want to do

Drive Wanaka to Te Anau/Milford Sound - two nights Te Anau - this allows one full for Milford Sound

Drive Te Anau/Milford Sound to Queenstown - three nights (two full days) or four nights (three full days) - QT makes a good base for the surrounding area, lots to do

Depart Queenstown - fly to Auckland (might need to go via flight to Christchurch)

Or, you could take the West Coast route (my personal preference)

Arrive Christchurch

Drive Christchurch to the West Coast via Arthur's Pass - perhaps overnight in Greymouth or Hokitika to break up the drive. If you plan well you can also make the detour up to Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks)

Drive Greymouth/Hokitika to the glaciers - spend 2-3 nights in Franz Josef, or Fox Glacier

Drive from Franz/Fox to Wanaka - 2-3 nights

Drive from Wanaka to Te Anau/Milford Sound - two nights Te Anau

Drive Te Anau to Queenstown - 2-3 nights

Depart QT to Auckland, possibly via CHC

Please know that driving in NZ takes much longer than you might expect. The roads are narrow and winding and there aren't that many of them. Not to mention there are a lot of reasons to stop en route. NZ is not a place you want to rush through. The good news is that days are very long in NZ in February - lots of daylight to work with.

Last edited by Melnq8; Jan 21st, 2024 at 09:48 AM.
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Old Jan 21st, 2024, 07:48 PM
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You will need Visas for both countries if you don't already have them,as noted above.

Here's the link for Australia: Download the App onto your iphone or ipad and use that. Apply now- approval for US born US citizens doesn't usually take much time, but don't assume it will be automatically within the stated times. Manual checking does happen. So do mistakes - so make sure you read the questions properly and double check your answers before you hit "Submit".VISA FINDER: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visa...sa/visa-finder



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Old Jan 25th, 2024, 08:44 AM
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You are getting some great advice. I totally agree to head for the South Island and explore the West Coast, but a rest night in Auckland isn't a bad idea. We used an overnight stay to get our minds straight, and then flew to Queenstown when we did a long cycling trip in NZ in 2011.

The information I am providing is old, and our means of travel differed. But perhaps our itinerary--around the same amount of time as you have--might be helpful. Edit away. Be prepared--I'm going to suggest you put $$ towards some adventures.

After a night in Queenstown, we met up with the group and took the TranzAlpine Train (considered one of the great train journeys of the world) over to Greymouth (I think) where we started cycling our way down the coast. Maybe you could pick up a car there.

Our first night was at the
Punakaiki Resort.
The next day we cycled down to Hokitika, famous for NZ jade. We stayed there two nights at the Beachfront Resort.

We worked our way down to Mount Hercules and Westland National Park and to the Franz Joseph Glacier. We were supposed to do a helicopter tour of the Fox Glacier (extra $$), but weather destroyed that. Our stays during this time included...
Westwood Lodge
Te Wehaka Lodge

We spent two+ days/nights at Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki and the entire group loved it there. It wasn't plush, but it had it all--total darkness, "upside down" Jurassic Park environment and glow worms. It rained all the time, and we did not care--it was a rain forest after all. We managed to take walking tours of the forest, kayak, and explore the darkness.

We then moved on to Lake Wanaka. Stayed two nights at the Edgewater Hotel there after tackling the Hasst Pass in driving rain. Just a great area to lounge a bit. We were able to a get a flight ($$) from here to Milford Sound ($$), where we spent the day on a touring cruise before flying back and/or onwards to Queenstown (I forget how that worked).

Stayed at the Sofitel in Queenstown. Our daughter (age 19) did a swan dive off the Kawarau Bridge ($$), the mother of all bungee-jumping sites. As parents, we got major street cred.

We flew back to Auckland from there. You could easily fly to Sydney.

Hope this trip works out for you.
AZ
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