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sammyc Jan 23rd, 2006 10:34 AM

itinerary critique please: Australia & NZ
I'm planning this trip for the end of the year and just started researching. Unfortunately we only have 15 days but I'd like to give both Australia & NZ a shot. (we saw 4 Italian Cities in 8 days, so I know how hectic it'll be). Here's what I have in mind:
Day 1: Arriving in Sydney.Rest & explore the City(overnite Sydney).
Day 2: Sydney(Overnite Sydney).
Day 3: fly to Uluru(Ayers Rock), hike & see the sunset.(overnight Uluru?or closest town)
Day 4:fly to Cairns, GBR (overnight Cairns or Port Douglas)
Day 5: cruise/snorkel GRB (overnight Cairns or Port Douglas)
Day 6: fly to Queenstown, NZ. Relax..kayak?(overnight Queenstown)
Day 7: skydive/jet boat/whitewater rafting (overnight Queestown)
Day 8: explore Milford/Franz Josef/Mt Cook??(overnight Queenstown?? or is there a closer town?)
Day 9: glacier hike?? off to Christchurch (overnight Christchurch)
Day 10: tour a sheep farm/winery Canterberry (overnight Christchurch)
Day 11:fly to Rotorua, relax at thermal pools/spa (overnight Rotorua)
Day 12: zorbing, waitomo caves(overnight Rotorua)
Day 13: Bay of Islands. Sand sled & swim w/ dolphins (overnight Pahia)
Day 14: off to Auckland (overnight Auckland)
Day 15: Auckland. Flight back to US at night.

I know... this is very packed itinerary. Do you have any suggestions? Is it reasonable to get from Queesntown to Christchuch in one day? or should we fly? Do we need to spend more time around Milford Sound?We live in Chicago so don't care about the big Cities. We love to see Nature & experience adventure! Thanks!

Len62 Jan 23rd, 2006 12:17 PM

Sammyc... I am in Brisbane capital city of Queensland, and grew up in Cairns, also in Qld. I have not been to Uluru, but you cannot fly to Uluru, only to Alice Springs. Uluru is about 4 hours outside Alice Springs. So arriving the evening before, and seeing Alice the next day is a bit of a tall order. The flight to Cairns will be a few hours as well. Have you checked your Airfares ? If not, try which is a budget airline, very good and usually the cheapest. I suggest you subscribe to their emails as they have regular sales. You can also access their flights to NZ from the same site. Driving from Queenstown to Christchurch is 480kms or 6hrs 20 mins driving. Suggest you fly check out they are having a sale on at the moment.

prue Jan 23rd, 2006 01:27 PM

Just have to disagree - you can fly to Uluru - Qantas have flights from Cairns and Sydney if not other cities.

pat_woolford Jan 23rd, 2006 02:00 PM

Have to agree with prue, I live near Cairns, too. There's regular Qantas flights to Ayers Rock from Cairns, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and probably elsewhere. Check

sammyc Jan 23rd, 2006 02:08 PM

Thank you all for replying. I really appreciate any info/suggestions! If you have 5-6 days in Australia, where would you go to?

RalphR Jan 23rd, 2006 03:16 PM

Sorry Sam, but I think this itinerary is crazy. You will be spending way too much time rushing between places. First suggestion would be to see either one country or the other. Barring that, I'd spend the 5-6 days in Australia in only one place other than Sydney (your point of arrival). Which place I'd choose would depend on the time of year, for example, avoiding the outback in summer and Tasmania in winter.

tampatramp Jan 23rd, 2006 03:42 PM

sammyc, I'm just a NYC boy who's only been to Australia once for 3 wks (going again this year) and once to NZ so I'd listen to the locals. Oz is way bigger than Italy (I once did 10 countries in 10 days, so I know what you are capable of). But if you want (i.e. both countries/15 days) here's what I suggest: add a day to Sydney so you can visit the Blue mtns. & Jenolin caves, and also take a Sydney ferry (Manley, Taronga zoo, or just of the harbor). If your timing is right you may be able to do Ayers Rock in a day (I flew out of AR to Cairns) but I guess it would take 2. You will definitely need 3 nights in Cairns (I don't knowPD) so you can do the GBR and the rain forest- this is the most nature/adventure and not big city area!

NZ: Queenstown is all adventure! Milford sound is a full day trip, even if you fly back. You might be able to get a tour to FranzJ or Mt.Cook- you can stay at either. cristchurch is a nice city, you should skip it. There is a sheep farm in Rotorua (I love this place). From Auckland we took a one day tour to BOI (you don't need to stay in Pahia). Auckland is a "big city". hope this helps-I'm just a traveler, just my opinion, 2 great countries!

Neil_Oz Jan 23rd, 2006 03:56 PM

sammyc, if you'd be happy to recommend that a foreigner experience the United States by spending 2 days in NYC, 1 day at the Grand Canyon and 2 more in New Orleans (ignoring recent difficulties there), THEN spend a disproportionate 9 days exploring Canada, your itinerary is perfectly fine.

I agree with RalphR - to most people, myself included, this is a crazy itinerary. I suggest you spend your two weeks in either Australia or NZ, but not both, as you can't go close to doing justice to either this way. If you're intent on a breakneck dash through both, though, spend a few days in Sydney and another few in either Far North Queensland or Tasmania. And spend at least as much time in Australia as the far more compact South Island of NZ.

You'll be aware too that Italy is the merest fraction of the size of Australia.

sammyc Jan 23rd, 2006 04:13 PM

Ok, I need to rethink my plans...I guess I didn't factor in how huge Australia is. Tampatramp, thanks for the info on the Rotorua sheep farm & BOI from Auckland! I'll have to do some more homework on this:)

tampatramp Jan 23rd, 2006 05:17 PM

sammyc, not only is Oz big, it is not as clost to NZ as you think (like halfway across the US). Two trips (or 4 weeks) would be best, but I realize no one has enough time AND money at the same time for all the traveling they want to do. It is of course Your "crazy itenerary" (I do agree with Neil_Oz & RalphR.)

Our BOI tour did stop in Paihia and included a cruise through "Hole in the Rock" RT Auckland for about NZD 200. Rotorua: The sheep farm was at the Agrodome; and don't miss a Hangi dinner and Maori concert at night.

ExploreNZ Jan 23rd, 2006 06:14 PM

Hi, speaking from alot of experience about New Zealand...
It is totally impossible (Day 8) to do Milford/Franz Josef/Mt Cook and then back to Queenstown in one day as Queenstown/Milford and back to Queenstown takes 8 hours driving without taking FranzJosef and Mt Cook into account. As the road is very steep into Milford - I strongly suggest a guided bus tour into that area rather than driving yourself by the way.
You are able to stay overnight in both FranzJosef and Mt Cook if you are able to fit that into your itinerary. Again your idea of a glacier hike and then drive? to Christchurch on the same day is going to make for a long day (1/2 day hike and then 6hour drive at least).
Then on your day 12/13 the 'problem' I see is that it takes approx. 8 hours to drive from Rotorua to Paihia (so no time to sand sled or swim with the dolphins). Although you would be able to swim with the dolphins before your drive back to Auckland (4 hours) the next day.
In answer to your other questions.... Queenstown to Christchurch takes about 6.5 to 7 hours driving. Milford sound is gorgeous and breathtaking, so if money and time permitted and overnight cruise would be one of the best things you could do.
Feel free to email me any other questions you have as I don't mind sharing my knowledge. :-)

pat_woolford Jan 24th, 2006 04:11 AM

sammy, its also impossible to fly Cairns, in tropical northern Australia, to Queenstown in South Island New Zealand in one hop let alone still have time for kayaking or relaxing. 15 days is barely enough to scratch the surface in New Zealand, which is geographically about the same size as Italy. Australia is vast

pat_woolford Jan 24th, 2006 04:21 AM

and your schedule is far too tight and, there is no leeway for weather conditions. It would be a shame to come all the way to GBR and strike horrible reef weather - quite often you need at least 4 or 5 days in area, sometimes longer, to find a good reef day.

Len62 Jan 24th, 2006 12:38 PM

Hi Chicago !

If you are interested in nature, I would recommend you try to fly into Cairns, then fly from there to NZ. If you are after scenery South Island is for you, North Island isnt as pretty and is more heavily populated, but has the geo-thermal thing happening. You can fly from Cairns to NZ direct (about a 3 hour flight) (try budget airline for internal flights in OZ & flights to NZ. Internal NZ: Cairns: stay in town, do day tours. There are some really good 3 day tours staying in upscale camping grounds in the Daintree rainforest & touring, quite reasonable costs. when you factor in you wont be renting a car, it is even better. For a day or so, I would rent a car & drive around, northern beaches, Pt Douglas etc. There is heaps to see. Please bear in mind you will be in the TROPICS & there are only 2 seasons, wet & dry. Late Nov to Feb is the Wet season - it doesnt rain all the time, but when it rains you've never seen anything like it. NZ: You can fly internal to Queenstown, really pretty it will be spring/summer. lots to do, bungy jumping etc. Also you can do tours from here to Milford Sound, & flights to the glaciers & Mt Cook - a little expensive but saves time. You could then fly internal to Auckland or rotorua do a cupla days then fly back to US from there. Or fly USA to NZ then to Cairns & back to US from Cairns - which has a large international airport & plenty of flights os.

Over to you - I grew up in cairns so I know it fairly well. I have also been to NZ a few times (am going again in March) to feel free to email me or post & I will respond.

OZ & NZ both have a LOT to offer, I am sure you would have a great time. It would be a shame if your itenerary were to spoil that.


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