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Need recommendations on 'can't miss this' places in AU/NZ

Need recommendations on 'can't miss this' places in AU/NZ

Old Jul 9th, 2023, 06:11 AM
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Need recommendations on 'can't miss this' places in AU/NZ


We are headed to Australia and New Zealand in March 2024 for 2 weeks. That said, there is so much to choose from that we are a bit overwhelmed and wanted to ask people what they might recommend as 'can't miss this' type places.

Here is what we are working with:
  • 2 weeks with 2 days for travel from Canada.
  • So far, we know we want to visit Sydney.
  • Our 'leaning' is to focus on the East side of AU to avoid too much travel between places.
  • Melbourne is a maybe. Is Sydney enough for an AU city?
  • Recommendation on time split between NZ and AU.
  • Recommendation on whether to start or finish with NZ.
  • We are active ages 50,55, and 70 in good shape.
  • Hoping to see a mix of urban and also rural for any interesting must-see spots.
  • We don't dive, but we snorkle ( as long as sharks aren't a concern ).
  • Mid range budget, not budget but not baller either.

Huge thanks in advance if people can assist with ideas or suggestions and ty!

Last edited by philipburton3414; Jul 9th, 2023 at 06:14 AM.
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Old Jul 9th, 2023, 06:26 AM
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Welcome to Fodor's.

With only two weeks, you're much better off picking one country, and then choosing a handful of areas to explore. Australia is HUGE, and distances are vast. NZ isn't as close as some people think (a three hour flight from Sydney to Auckland or Christchurch, and then you're still in a city - the best of NZ is NOT in the cities).

Even two weeks in NZ is giving it short shirft as it has two islands and loads to see and do - and getting from A to B takes longer than you might think as it's long, with limited roads.

Pick one country, then narrow down to a few areas. Sydney and Melbourne both make good bases, so that's a good place to start.

Last edited by Melnq8; Jul 9th, 2023 at 06:34 AM.
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Old Jul 9th, 2023, 06:31 AM
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Aye, we game that some thought, but figure we can probalby hit 3-4 spots, and now we just want to pick and choose very carefully. For example, AU will l ikely be 2/3rds of the trip, meaning we will need to choose just 1 spot in NZ. We recognize we'll miss a lot, but at least we'll see a bit of both countries since we don't know when we will be back again.
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Old Jul 9th, 2023, 06:43 AM
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Assuming you have 14 days on the ground (not a given as I don't know if your two travel days are in addition to your two weeks) that gives you 9.5 days in Australia and 4.5 days in NZ. NZ is a driving country - you really need a car to see it, you can't get very far in 4.5 days, and just getting there will eat up half a day.

Sure, you can see a bit of Christchurch or Auckland and surroundings, but that's about it.

Don't underestimate how wrecked you will be after crossing the international dateline - you will need time to recover from your flights and get your bearings - this all takes time.

Do you plan to drive? Are you comfortable driving on the left?

Last edited by Melnq8; Jul 9th, 2023 at 06:47 AM.
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Old Jul 9th, 2023, 11:05 AM
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We will drive where needed and totally comfortable driving on the left.
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Old Jul 9th, 2023, 04:07 PM
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Hi philip, and welcome to fodors. I have to say that I wish that we had listened more carefully to Mel's advice before we went to NZ in particular - if you think that some of the driving is slow in the UK really you haven't seen anything. Getting from A to B can take an extraordinarily long time. So I second what she says about just doing one country, either Oz or NZ with the time you've got which is really very short. We had 5 weeks in Oz and NZ and even then we only scratched the surface. Honestly I suspect that you could spend all your time in and around Sydney and not run out of things to do and see, but if you combined it with Melbourne you would have more than enough to fill your time.
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Old Jul 9th, 2023, 08:13 PM
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Asked this q on Tripadvisor as well. Got the same answers.

We were not able to convince him it's a stupid idea
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Old Jul 9th, 2023, 11:53 PM
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I probably posted these links on TA.

VISA FINDER: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visa...sa/visa-finder

Australia – size map: https://www.virtualoceania.net/austr...ustralia.shtml

Sydney map: https://goo.gl/maps/PFmeA45BAKXruh4F8

Visit Sydney: https://www.sydney.com/

Get your Visas sorted before you book anything.
As was unanimously noted by those of us who live here and those who've been here - 2 weeks is not enough time for two countries.

You can probably have a glimpse, but that's all it would be.

Do some homework on what's available where that piques your interest, how you will get between the various places and how long that will take, to narrow down your choices.

Lots of North Americans only have a fortnight's holiday and they usually end up with "Bridge/Reef/Rock" on a first time visit to Australia. It's a good first time Itinerary, but of course how well it works depends on individual interests.

That's Sydney, Great Barrier Reef (Cairns) and Uluru. 3 destinations in 2 weeks is realistic in a place as big as Australia.
If you do an "open jaw" flight or a "touch & go" at your arrival port, you may be able to maximise your time.
And - as Melnq8 says - it will take you longer to get around New Zealand than you think.

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Old Jul 10th, 2023, 05:27 AM
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margo - I guess I won't waste my time then. Good luck to you Philip.
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Old Jul 10th, 2023, 10:53 AM
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Although probably falling on deaf ears, as one who has been to both countries, pick one for two weeks and you will still be seeing just a bit of the “ high points”. What you are proposing is aliitle like coming to North America and wanting to see the high lights of the United Stars and Mexico in two weeks
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Old Jul 11th, 2023, 12:44 AM
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Sounds like you are not being persuaded to stick to one country and it is your trip after all. I agree with the others, it's not a good idea but here are some thoughts -

Lots to do in and around Sydney, obvious things like the opera house, bridge, botanic gardens, art gallery, Rocks area. Also ferry to Manly is a nice trip, beaches, cafes etc. Great coastal walks like Bondi to Coogee. Could visit Blue Mountains for a day or a few days. There are beaches and towns north or south along the coast if that is appealing.

Melbourne has a different feel to Sydney, people say it's more European. You'd need to fly between the two to make the best of your time. But even then, you pretty much lose a whole day. From Melbourne you could hire a car and visit the Grampians/Halls Gap for a few days (walks, wildlife), Bendigo or Ballarat for gold rush history and grand architecture, maybe head down to the Great Ocean Road. Check distances and available accommodation before making any firm plans. March is usually low season but that depends a lot on school holidays and Easter dates. Each state has slightly varied term dates, check online.

From about Brisbane north, the weather is more tropical and in March it will still be fairly hot and humid, southern states will be much cooler. Snorkeling is only likely if you head up to the Great Barrier Reef, you could fly to Cairns and stay there or Port Douglas and do a reef trip but it's the end of the wet season and not a great time to travel due to storms/cyclones etc. Impossible to predict but it will likely be hot and wet at some point.

What I would do is plan out on a spreadsheet, or piece of paper, a column for each day, another column for where you spend each night and the third for where you'll be during the day. That gives you a much better idea of how much time you'll have in each place. On your arrival day it's advisable not to drive. Wait until you are properly rested and alert. As far as the split between Australia and New Zealand, however you divide the time, it won't be enough to see very much.
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Old Jul 13th, 2023, 12:16 AM
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Whilst I agree with pretty much everything that has been said regarding sticking with one country in two weeks, we are not all the same and I recognise that we all have different travel styles and wish lists. When we were travelling full time we were the ultimate "slow travellers" . Now we limit ourselves to a maximum trip length of one month and find it much harder to decide upon where to go and what to include when we get there.

Google two week trips to Australia and New Zealand and you will come up with a plethora of choices. Here is one such trip https://www.unztravel.com/itinerarie...d-new-zealand/ there are many, many more. We have travelled in both countries a lot and hesitate to suggest specific locations but I think we all know which are the prime tourist locations.
Having said that, a few thoughts and observations.
  • Cities in Australia are generally much more interesting than those in NZ. Sydney would be high on my list. Second fav city is Melbourne . Maybe drive the Great Ocean Road between the two? A few beach locations between the two cities.
  • Open jaw tickets can save time
  • I would probably stick to one island in NZ and that would be the South , flying into Christchurch or Queenstown
  • I find driving is easy in both countries (though tbf we have usually been in NZ in the winter with no traffic!). We have always used campe vans in NZ. IME they provide a very flexible means of getting to see quite a few places in a short period
  • In two weeks I would likely just stick with the South Island of NZ. A week would be enough to cover places like Mt Cook, Wanaka, Queenstown, Milford Sound
Anyway just a few random thoughts.
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