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Is it possible to do highlights of Australia & NZ in 2 weeks?

Is it possible to do highlights of Australia & NZ in 2 weeks?

Old Aug 21st, 2013, 09:12 AM
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Is it possible to do highlights of Australia & NZ in 2 weeks?

My husband and I are hoping to go to Aus. & NZ in March 2014 for our 20yr anniversary. We live in the US, in NJ. We have never been there before.
I don't think we can do more then a 2 week (door to door) trip. I guess a tour or even a cruise wouldn't be out of the question. Or we can rent a car and do it on our own.
Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.
We are going for the scenery.
pegpaz is offline  
Old Aug 21st, 2013, 09:24 AM
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Australia is as big, top-to-bottom and end-to-end, as the United States. Lots of void in the center except the Ayers Rock/Uluru area and the city of Alice Springs. The rest is all along the coastline, plus the lovely island Tasmania at the very bottom.

So no way can you see "THE highlights" - the best you can hope for is to see A FEW highlights.

If you leave home on Day One, to make your way to the West coast where flights for Down-Under leave around midnight, you will arrive in Sydney or Brisbane or Melbourne on DAY THREE - you lose a day due to crossing the dateline.

That first day will not stick in your memory - you arrive early in the morning and you have to stay on your feet all day, otherwise - if you go to sleep - you will be turned around for the rest of your trip.

So forget Day THREE for any meaningful sightseeing - in Sydney just stroll near the Circular Quay area, marvel at the views, the bridge, the Opera House, take a ferry for the fresh air on the harbour, walk The Rocks streets...

So your trip really begins on Day FOUR - do the math - pick a few targets that you consider highlights, factor in the long distances and the flying times (and cost), and make a plan.

To want to visit N.Z. on the same short trip would not be advisable.

Can you find a way to make it at least three weeks?
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Old Aug 21st, 2013, 09:29 AM
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Wow. Thanks for the quick reply michelhuebeli !
I had a feeling someone would say that it's not enough time. Have you been to both Aus. & NZ ? If so, would you suggest one over the other? I really doubt we could do 3 weeks.
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Old Aug 21st, 2013, 12:56 PM
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Pick one country.

Then pick 2-3 states or one island (and I'd suggest the South).
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Old Aug 21st, 2013, 07:29 PM
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I've been to both Australia and NZ multiple times and, in addition, lived in Australia for a few years.

On our first trip to Australia, we only had two weeks. We chose three destinations and it worked out great. I still think a maximum of 3 destinations is the best option for a 2-week trip. The iconic "City, Rock, Reef" option (Sydney, Uluru, Cairns/Port Douglas) works very well for a 2-week vacation. But, based on your own interests, you might want to choose other destinations within Australia.

On our first trip to NZ, we also only had two weeks. We managed to do a credible visit to both the North and South Islands. On a subsequent visit to NZ, we spent an entire two weeks just on the South Island and that was fantastic!

But, there is NO way that you can do both Australia and NZ in two weeks.

It is possible to take a two-week cruise that includes both Australia and NZ, but you won't see much of either country that way. You'll have a few hours each day in various ports, but you won't really have time to do much in any one place. And you won't have an opportunity to visit any sights in the interior of those countries either. A cruise of Australia and NZ is fine if your main goal is to take a cruise and visiting Australia and NZ is secondary, but that doesn't sound like what you want for this trip.
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Old Aug 21st, 2013, 07:30 PM
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I'm with Melnq8, pick one country and then 3 locations. In Australia people often do: Sydney, Reef (Far North Queensland) and Rock (Uluru).

You could also do Melbourne (for an urban experience) and Tasmania (great for nature and scenery). I'd give Tasmania a minimum of 10 days--you would need to drive. Melbourne is easily navigable by public transport.
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Old Aug 22nd, 2013, 06:27 PM
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You can do it, but you will spend a lot of time in airports and in the air, so not really practical, nor economic. But if that is your thing, so be it.

Generally, whirl wind tours just leave you exhausted and confused.

Pick out your main interests. Both countries are special for their landscapes. The cities are much the same as cities anywhere else, with the exception of one or two iconic buildings/bridges that can be seen in a day.

What do you like doing? Focus on those and accept the harsh reality that there is never enough time to see everything, so you might as well see a few things well.

A car would be good in NZ and parts of Australia. If time is against you tours will keep you moving cover the highlights. With your own car your plans will likely go out the window.

I tend to disagree with Mel. The North island has a great variety to offer in a relatively small space. The south Island is magnificent, no argument there, but the venues are further apart and require more time to get from place to place. Not ideal for a quick trip. Better for a three week trip.

TRIVIA - Sort of.
Einstein theory of relativity comes into play. Research was done on people looking at a wall for 20 minutes and looking at an action film for 20 minutes. They were asked immediately afterwards how long it had been. The wall watchers said it was way more than 20 minutes. The action film watchers less than 20 minutes. They were then asked months afterwards. The wall watchers said less than 20 minutes, the film watchers more than 20 minutes.

How does this apply to holidays? If you do very little it feels like it takes ages to go by but your memories of it will be only minor.

If you pack a lot in it will fly by at the time but memories will be longer.

It seems that our memories are a bit like pieces of writing. To write down staring at a wall takes a sentence. To describe everything in an action sequence takes lots. This is how your brain records it. So when you go back to your filing cabinet in your brain you take out a small piece of paper for the wall and a ream for the action sequence.

The trick is getting the balance.
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Old Aug 25th, 2013, 10:07 AM
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Agree with much of what's already been said. It's true: practically speaking you will only have 10 days. Flying between multiple destinations will only use up more precious time and leave you with only the most superficial impressions. For that reason, I would not recommend, for example, the standard Sydney-Cairns-Uluru itinerary that most short term visitors to Australia do - basically a tour of tourist traps.

Since you are open to renting a car, I would seriously consider a driving holiday based in one part of Australia or NZ - in a lot of ways you'll experience more that way, getting away from the herd - seeing more wildlife, meeting the locals and taking in amazing scenery on your own.

Some suggestions (in no particular order of preference). All provide lots to see with 7-10 days, maybe staying here and there for 2-3 nights:

1. South Island NZ
2. Melbourne and Great Ocean Rd, Victoria, including the Grampians, optionally continuing on to Adelaide
3. North Queensland - drive say from Townsville to Cooktown - see the Reef, rain forests and the lovely Atherton Tablelands
4. Sydney to Brisbane - fantastic beaches. Cut inland for quaint towns, gorgeous national parks and scads of wildlife.
5. Tasmania
6. Adelaide - tour the wine valleys then head north to the magnificent Flinders Ranges in the outback, optionally further inland to the opal capital of Coobet Pedy
7. The Red Center. Alice Springs and the gorges of the MacDonnell Ranges, Kings Canyon, Uluru and the Olgas
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Old Sep 11th, 2013, 11:23 AM
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Thank you to everyone who responded with great tips and advice! We haven't decided yet and are a bit overwhelmed with all the decision making that will be involved. A bit different then all the other places we have traveled. Being we were hoping to do this in March 2014..... I guess we need to start planning soon.
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Old Sep 11th, 2013, 12:51 PM
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hi peg -

to give you an idea, we started to plan our November trip to Australia and NZ in March, booked our flights in May, and have now just about decided on our itinerary and booked hotels, car hire, ferries etc. about 2 months out.

so now would be a good time to start.
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Old Sep 12th, 2013, 01:13 AM
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I shared only Australia. I don't Know about NZ

Sydney in Australia,

Sydney Harbour
Bondi to Coogee Beach Coastal Walk
The Opera House to the Botanic Gardens Walk
Royal Botanic Gardens
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Opera House
Urban Jungle Adventure Park
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Old Sep 14th, 2013, 06:03 AM
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I've been down under 3x and still have not been to Uhluru or the Great Barrier Reef. I did trips based on home exchanges. 2 of those trips involved NZ (one exchange each on the North & South Islands).

For 2 weeks, NZ would probably be a better fit. The distances are more compact once you get there. I would also recommend concentrating on only one of the islands.
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Old Sep 20th, 2013, 09:31 AM
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I just got back from a three week trip to Australia and think that you should pick one country instead of trying to cram everything in one trip. I went to NZ 35 years ago and then went again this year for 2 1/2 weeks in Jan./Feb.
Although I loved Australia and where we went on our trip,I really think that NZ is more special in terms of scenery,prices and ease of getting around.You can fly into Auckland and rent a car to do the North Island and drop the car at the ferry port in Wellington before taking the ferry over the straits to Picton.Once on the South Island,you pick up another car from the same rental contract and do the South Island.
Many people pass on the North Island which in my opinion is a mistake as there are many wonderful spots up there to visit as well as the South Island.Most people think that they should only visit Queenstown and the Milford Sound in the South Island but again there are so wonderful spots to visit like Kaikoura,Mt. Cook,Christchurch,etc.(Even though there was a major earthquake in Christchurch several years ago and the rebuilding is still going on, there are some interesting things to see and do in that wonderful city!)
Driving through New Zealand makes you feel as though you are in a picture postcard as each piece of scenery is better than the last! Have fun-
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Old Sep 20th, 2013, 08:26 PM
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In defense of Australia, there is plenty of good scenery there but it is hard to get a handle on Australia in a brief visit because it is so huge and many areas are difficult to get to or inaccessible. I have done 3 home exchange based trips down under and have never gotten to the outback because almost no one lives there and, when they do, the airfare can add a lot of money to the price of your trip.

I probably will not go back after 3 trips unless I get a deal in Cairns/Port Douglas near the Great Barrier Reef because I really have thoroughly covered the Australian southeast (or as much as I'd like to or need to). There is so much beautiful coastal scenery in the southeast that eventually you get anesthetized and do not look anymore.
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Old Mar 18th, 2015, 02:26 PM
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hi pegpaz, my wife and I will be headed to AUS / NZ for 15 days. Can you pls share your final itinerary? We will be flying into SYD for 3 nights, possibly Uluru 2 nights, and departing from Melbourne after 3 nights. Leaves us with 7 nights, which we there thinking of doing in NZ. This is second trip to AUS so Gold Coast will be skipped. Thanks
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Old Mar 18th, 2015, 03:14 PM
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RussnEria, it might be better if you posted a new thread with your questions. I haven't seen pegpaz around here in a while, so he/she may not be available to answer your itinerary question.

Lee Ann
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Old Mar 18th, 2015, 04:12 PM
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This is a 2 year old thread.

Suggest you start your own - and have a look at Melnq8's Trip Reports for some ideas - she probably knows NZ better than anyone else here. And writes excellent, detailed TRs.
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