Ideal travel time

Apr 5th, 2018, 01:27 PM
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Ideal travel time

If you were going to New Zealand and/or Australia for the first time, and could go for any length of time, what would you do:

1) 3-4 weeks in New Zealand (including a few multi-day hikes)
2) 2 weeks in New Zealand and 2 weeks Eastern Australia
3) 2 weeks in new Zealand and 4 weeks in Australia
4) Other

We love to hike, and we love quaint towns and big cities. We love beautiful landscapes. Not so big on art museums, but will go (just won't spend all day), but do love museums like the British Museum and the Met. Like to poke around shops, taste wine (not really interested in wine country per se - we live near Napa and Sonoma and can get our fill any time). Love eating at local places, pubs, etc. Not interested in spending all evening at dinner, or a king's ransom eating. Love markets of all kinds, and local sporting events. Love beautiful architecture. Have never been "slow" travelers, but we'll have plenty of time.

Would really appreciate your advice.
sf7307 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2018, 01:37 PM
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I guess a lot depends on future travel plans. Will this trip be the one and only to this part of the world or will it just be the first of many? If it's the former, then my choice would be choice 3. On the other hand if you want to get a taste of both countries and come back again, then choice 2. You haven't mentioned what time of year you want to travel and my suggestions would be either November and December, or March and April. You would avoid most of the school holidays and the worst of Australia's summer weather.
Hope this helps your holiday planning.
marg is offline  
Apr 5th, 2018, 01:44 PM
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So in both cases (one and only trip vs. many returns) you'd still only choose 2 weeks in New Zealand? Is there not enough to keep one interested for 3 weeks?
sf7307 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2018, 03:30 PM
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There’s plenty to occupy & interest you for a month & more in each country.

While I think of it, I highly recommend you seek out Trip Reports by Melnq8, Songdoc, who have both travelled extensively in Australia & NZ and share some of your interests. yestravel & her husband were here last year & also wrote some most interesting & informative reports. There are others, both here and on TA, which is a much more active Forum foe this region - but my feeble brain fails me at this moment.

Australia is bigger than you think. No matter how big you think it is.

Let’s say you allow a month for each country, as a starting point. New Zealand, being south of Australia, has a cooler climate. So, whilst mid winter (July ) would be too cold for hiking in NZ, it would be ideal for Central Australia, Far North Queensland. Equally, when it’s too hot for much of the northern parts of Australia, February - March is a great time to visit our beautiful Southern State, Tasmania - and New Zealand

I think you might consider February - March for New Zealand & April - May for Australia.
Or, perhaps Spring to Summer say September -October in Australia & November - December in New Zealand.

Having the luxury of choice of both timing & length of your trip is great. This is a region that will take longer to traverse then you think, because of the size & demographic spread in Australis - and terrain in New Zealand. And you’ll want to stop an extra day or three in so many places, just to breathe in the air & atmosphere -do that extra walk. Or just sit on your cottage deck with a coffee or vino in hand & commune with the local wildlife.

I don’t know what research you’ve done so far, but for Australia, good resources are, the Destination tags & FAQ’s here and on TA.

Google maps &Rome2Rio are fairly good guides to travel distances, times &options between various places. Add about 30% to most Google maps Road time estimates.

Australia's official weather forecasts & weather radar - Bureau of Meteorology is the Australian government weather site -good for patterns, forecasts.

You will need ETAs. Apply here for Australia

That’s a start ... other’s, better travelled than me, will be along shortly.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Apr 5th, 2018, 04:22 PM
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Given the choice, I would choose 3 but it depends on the weather you need at the locations

Must see sites (nature

Uluru (NT, Australia)
Great Barrier Reef (Queensland, Australia)
Fjordland (South Island, New Zealand)

Wine country

Australia's wine country is often amongst its most scenic. In particular, you may want to visit the Hunter Valley in NSW, (relatively close to Sydney), the Barossa Valley of South Australia and the Margaret River of Western Australia.


The Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Tasmania is worth a visit and there is beautiful scenery at Cradle Mountain and Freycinet National Parks on the island.


As for sporting events, the best events that you wouldn't see elsewhere are:

1) An Australian Football League match especially at the MCG in Melbourne;
2) A rugby match in New Zealand especially featuring the All Blacks.

The Melbourne Cup is also worth a visit but it is on the first Tuesday in November, The Great Ocean Road in Victoria is also worth a visit,


The Sydney Opera House is a definite highlight.
keithfromcanberra is offline  
Apr 6th, 2018, 07:37 AM
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This is all very helpful. Bokhara, I'd forgotten that yestravel had been recently. I know her and will contact her by email to get more advice. Thanks.
sf7307 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2018, 07:57 AM
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I would go for 3 weeks, NZ only. Read all the trip reports and trip planning discussions..Three weeks is a bare minimum . I lean toward March and April which tend to be more settled and outside of the summer rush. In December (and more so November) it can be windy and subject to storms from the Tasman. I've been snowed on December 1 in the southern Alps!

Two weeks minimum on the South Island and 1 week on the North Islands. Even then it will be hard to narrow down an itinerary.

I like indiancouple's trip report as a framework for an idea of a fast paced trip.
16 days all over New Zealand

Things to add in to extend it to 3 weeks (or beyond) are North Island..Bay of Islands or wild west coast (eg Bethell's Beach and/or Muriwai); Kapiti Island from Wellington (especially if you can book a stayover) Tongariro on the way to Wellington. That doesn't include Napier which is a bit out of the way. If you can't make it to Kapiti, Wellington now has Zealandia (which I haven't visited). Farther up north there are some beautiful beaches and the kauri forests.

South Island. Between day 12 and 13 I'd insert another night (or two) in Glenorchy and/or Queenstown. I stayed at Kinloch Lodge for hiking. I especially liked Sylvan Lake (easy) and the day hike at the lower end of the Routeburn. ( Invincible Mine which wasn't all that interesting). Also drove to "Paradise" but there was a lot of water so didn't go all the way. Link to Kinloch and nearby hikes Day walks. You could do the Dart River Jet or Skipper's Canyon (unfortunately the old homestead up there burned).

Also, indiancouple did not visit Dunedin/Otago Peninsula..which I would recommend for wildlife, scenery and history..nor the Catlins..either one worth an extension (it's hard to work all of this stuff in on one trip as everyone who has planned an itinerary has discovered). I also enjoy a quick stop or overnight in Ivercargill to visit the Southland Museum. You may have time to throw in a night in Invercargill if you want to do the Southern Scenic Route to the Catlins and on to Dunedin leaving from Queenstown and then continuing up the east coast to Christchurch. Driving all the way to Dunedin you really need at least one overnight along the Catlins (better than the inland routing).

I also like the northwest coast of the South Island (up toward Scott's beach, Oparara Arch, and Karamea with interesting landscape of Nikau palms and cattle ranching, plus wide sandfly-infested beaches!)..But it probably isn't for first-timers! Also haven't mentioned Golden Bay.

I haven't mentioned Oamaru or the "Pig Route" Maniototo /Otago Rail Trail, nor the wineries east of Arrowtown around Clyde/Bannockburn. Nor Kaikoura.

I guess 3 weeks is barely enough for the South Island now that I think about it. One thing is that there is a long twilight on the South Island which extends your driving time. Depending on when you decide to go, be sure to finish any west coast driving before dark (so as not to hit an possums). Nor would you want to miss any of the amazing scenery.

Last edited by mlgb; Apr 6th, 2018 at 08:05 AM.
mlgb is offline  
Apr 6th, 2018, 08:47 AM
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Thank you! (by the way, we're still debating between Patagonia/Argentina/Chile and New Zealand/Australia for this first post-retirement trip).
sf7307 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2018, 09:45 AM
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With NZ you have to deal with jet lag but I don't find it too bad going..and coming back you'll be home so can take your time catching up.

I also think March is also a good month for Patagonia. You have a better chance of hitting fall colors in the forests (we lucked out in Ushuaia ).
mlgb is offline  
Apr 6th, 2018, 11:43 AM
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We were in NZ and OZ - 4 weeks each- last year in March and April -great time to be there.
glover is offline  
Apr 6th, 2018, 01:16 PM
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I've visited NZ a dozen times and am going back later this month for a month on the SI alone.

I've also lived in and traveled throughout Australia.

If time were no object and it was my first and only visit (and knowing what I know about both countries), I'd do three weeks on the SI, 7-10 days on the NI and 6-8 weeks in Australia.
Melnq8 is online now  
Apr 6th, 2018, 01:19 PM
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And FWIW the wine experience of NZ and Australia is nothing like Napa and Sonoma. Not even close. Much more laid back and personal.

Having said that, my Australian wine region experience is limited to Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania.
Melnq8 is online now  
Apr 6th, 2018, 01:42 PM
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Actually there are also small personal wineries in Sonoma (and other parts of California), large wineries in New Zealand.

I agree that if you live in wine country, somewhere like Blenheim (flat as a pancake) isn't a must do. But you can work in winery visits along the way with a trifecta of scenery, good food, and good wine.
mlgb is offline  
Apr 6th, 2018, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by mlgb View Post
But you can work in winery visits along the way with a trifecta of scenery, good food, and good wine.
Now that sounds like a plan!!
sf7307 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2018, 12:40 AM
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I am a kiwi living in Auckland and I guarantee nothing in Napa or Sonoma is like my favourite wine destination - Waiheke Island! Well worth a visit.
I second Bokhara in the fact that Australia is BIG like REALLY BIG and getting anywhere will take time. While they have a bigger population (25 million) there are not necessarily direct flights everywhere all the time like there are in the States. People fly because it's a long way to drive anywhere. Don't discount the Aussie wine regions as there are some great wines produced in Victoria and South Australia. If you love Sav Blanc then you need to come to New Zealand.
And in NZ it's even 'worse' as we are a long skinny country divided into 2 islands. Getting anywhere here also takes up time.
You could see quite a bit of NZ in 3 weeks and then 4 weeks in Australia. Go to the West Coast as the glaciers meet the temperate rainforest there and the only other place in the world where this happens is in Patagonia. Save South America for next year and then you can write a trip report about visiting both! I doubt I will ever get to Patagonia but I'd love to read a report of someone who did.
Australia and New Zealand offer great contrasts as countries. We are green because it rains all the time...and there are dramatic contrasts in our landscapes. Australia is big, hot and dry but with a unique beauty and many weird and wonderful animals there.
tasmangirl is offline  
Apr 24th, 2018, 05:08 PM
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Thanks all for your replies. We'll keep this thread handy, but we did decide to put NZ and Australia off for another year, until we have even MORE time. We're going to southern South America next winter for a month (Santiago-Valparaiso, maybe Mendoza, trekking in Patagonia, ship around Cape Horn, Buenos Aires)
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