Itinerary decisions--please give advice!

Old Nov 2nd, 2005, 07:45 AM
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Itinerary decisions--please give advice!

I have been working on details for our trip to Australia/NZ for Nov, 2006. Unfortunately, we do not have enough time to see everything and must make a decision. We will have a total of 17 days, including 3 travel days. Here's the problem: After staying in Sydney for 6 nights, we can either stay two nights in Melbourne or add that time to the 7 days on the South Island of New Zealand (including an overnight cruise on either Milford or Doubtful Sound) We are not interested in actively participating in sport activities. I am already convinced that the south island of NZ is fabulous, but will I regret bypassing Melbourne to add 2 more days

I realize that this question may spark an international debate which I do hope will be avoided. The last time I posted a similar question, the thread turned into an insternational incident and I did not get my question answered.

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Old Nov 2nd, 2005, 12:18 PM
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Having not yet been to either place (I am in the process of planning our 3 week trip for June 2006) I may not be the best person to the answer this, but I'm going to give you my thoughts. Rather than adding in an extra plane trip and getting only a taste of Melbourne, my thought would be to simplify and add the days to the South Island. We quickly realized that if we tried to do everything we wanted, that even 3 weeks was not going to be enough. So we are trying to just focus on a couple of destinations in Australia and a couple in New Zealand. We are having dinner with some friends this weekend. He grew up in New Zealand and they met in Australia, so I'll pose your question to them and try to get back to you in a few days. Frankly, the overnight cruise in Milford Sound sounds fabulous. I'm a little unsure about even going there since we will be there in winter, but I would definitely try to do that the time of your you will be there.

Happy planning. And sorry you had a bad experience on your last posting. I have mostly posted on the Africa and Latin America pages, and have found the people extremely helpful. But I guess it just depends on who happens to be reading things that particular day.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2005, 12:31 PM
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I'd skip Melbourne and lengthen your time in NZ. Melbourne is a nice city but I think the payoff for a rushed two days there would be slight.

It's a pity your question got lost in that Auckland-vs-Sydney argument, but you mustn't worry about "international incidents" between Australians and their Kiwi cousins - they're just harmless entertainment. Australians actually enjoy those references to their inherited criminal tendencies, and there's nothing a New Zealander likes more than a good joke involving undesirable behaviour with sheep. It's the sort of thing that you'll find in any decent dysfunctional family.
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Old Nov 2nd, 2005, 02:44 PM
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I'd cut two days off of Sydney and add the two Melbourne days and go to Far North Queensland, i.e. Cairns/Port Douglas. You would be able to spend a day on the Great Barrier Reef and a day in the 'jungle' and perhaps an Aboriginal experience.

The south island of New Zealand is fabulous but you can get a very good look in 5 days. I would suggest Christchurch to Dunedin by bus, Taori Gorge by train, to Queenstown by bus where you would take one day to see Milford Sound and one day to see the sights in Queenstown. Then take the bus to Franz Josef and Greymouth and take the train back to Christchurch.

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Old Nov 3rd, 2005, 03:40 AM
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"You can get a very good look in 5 days" - this re the S Is of NZ.

Disagree absolutely.

Skip MLB as, nice as it is, it is not one of those places you must see before you drop off the perch. Sydney most definitely is, and so is the stunning landscape of Milford Sound, etc.

If it were me, I would either:

spend 9 days in NZ, or
spend one day less in Sydney, and fly up to Cairns - you'd have 3 nights, 2 days there, I guess - and that's enough to trip out to the GBR and see one of the wonders of the natural world.

People say Nov is not a good time for FNQ - true, it's hot and humid, and might even rain - but out at the reef these factors are less important.

Sorry, Melbournites - I enjoy the shops, and the restuarants, etc, etc, - but you can enjoy a similar experience in many places.

OP - if eating and shopping appeal more than the mainly outdoor attractions of the SI - then just ignore me!

Happy travels.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2005, 07:52 AM
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I appreciate such good ideas. Would you please look over the following itinerary?

Day 1-6 Sydney
fly to Queenstown, arrive 5 PM
Day 7 -8 Queenstown
Day 9 overnight cruise Milford or Doubtful Sound
Day 10 overnight Queenstown
Day 11 drive 7 hrs + to F Jozef Glacier,overnight
Day 12 drive 2 hrs to Greymouth, take 12:45 PM train to Christchurch, arrive 6 PM evening
Day 12-13 Christchurch
depart for US on Day 14 + 3 days travel

The other alternative would be the southern route and staying in Dunedin? Do you think the glacier/train route is more scenic?


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Old Nov 3rd, 2005, 10:56 AM
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Hi Richard,
Your itinerary looks great. One thing you may want to consider is removing a day from CHC and adding a whole day at the glacier. If you want to do a heli-hike or even half-day hike, it could be difficult fitting it in between your long driving days.
We are going many of the same places in January. I will post a trip report when we get back, so check for it sometime in February!
Liz
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Old Nov 3rd, 2005, 11:10 AM
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Since the OP said they did not want to participate in strenous activities, I think their itinerary is fine. The only thing I would add that in bad weather, the westcoast is a bust. But in good weather it is spectacularly scenic.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2005, 04:22 PM
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We will be on the west coast mid-November (2006) Normally we have really bad luck with rain so maybe we should consider plan B and stay one night in Dunedin and pass on the glacier? We really have no interest in hiking the glacier. I guess we would drive by just to see it. We would be so disappointed if we had rain/fog the entire time on the west coast.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2005, 05:55 PM
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Could you keep that section of the journey flexible until you arrive? The weather patterns are predictable within a few days. If there is a front coming in from the Tasman, it will probably not be good, but if the weather is coming in from the east, you'll be okay. It;s a lot like Hawaii, wet side/dry side except that it switches back & forth.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2005, 07:36 PM
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We like to stay in special places and I always feel more comfortable booking far in advance to make sure we get the best accommodations available. Seems that investing most of our time on the west coast is quite a gamble. It's a very difficult call--west coast with tranzalpine train vs Dunedin. As much as we don't want to miss seeing the glaciers, we might feel better going south with an overnight in Dunedin. Maybe I should write to a few hotels and ask if they usually have last minute availability in mid-Nov. That would make me feel better. Another problem with flexibility is the car rental. I presume it would be difficult to change the drop city at the last minute?
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Old Nov 3rd, 2005, 09:04 PM
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From Dunedin to Christchurch is not so far, about 4 to 5 hours via the coast route, and mid November is not high season, so you could keep your end city the same. It would be worth checking how many days cancellation is needed at the hotels. I've found the inn-keepers in NZ mostly very flexible, at least in off-season, with a few days notice.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2005, 09:08 PM
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Another thought, when you are in Queenstown, is to look into heliflights over & to the glaciers or to Milford Sound. If the weather is predicted to be clear, I would grab one. On one trip I was in Mt Cook and was able to grab at the last minute a "Grand Circle" overflight and landing on one of the glaciers (was either Fox or Franz) , the single most fantastic sight I've ever seen.
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