Nov/Dec New Zealand/Australia Trip

Old May 15th, 2004, 05:28 AM
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Nov/Dec New Zealand/Australia Trip

My wife and I are putting the finishing details on our planned 5 week trip to New Zealand and Australia starting the middle of November.

Our itinerary is pretty well set and is as follows:
1st night after arrival at Heritage Auckland Hotel.
3 nights in Rotorua staying at Swiss Lodge B&B. Need recommendations as to Rotorua tours, Hangi Dinner?, etc.
2 nights in Nelson staying at Long Lookout Gardens B&B. We are interested in FINE crafts.
3 nights in Christchurch staying at Weston House B&B. Have booked Alpine Safari trip for one day. Need recommendations as to tours, etc.
4 nights in Queenstown staying at Millbrook Resort. Have booked Milford Sound trip with Real Journeys. Any thoughts on Dart River Safari?
4 nights in Sydney. Nothing booked. Considering the Observatory. Any recommendations? Also considering Blue Mountain tour possibly with Mount 'n Beach Safaris. Any suggestions - recommendations?
4 nights in Melbourne - Nothing booked. Would appreciate recommendations.
2 nights on Kangaroo Island staying at Stranraer Homestead. Highly recommended by very good friends.
1 night in Adelaide. Nothing booked. Any suggestions?
2 nights in Ayers Rock staying at Longitude 131. I know it's going to be VERY hot but still think we should go.
1 night in Cairns staying in Cairns International. Just an overnight before our cruise.
4 night cruise on Endeavour to GBR.
3 nights at Silky Oaks Lodge. Considering David A's tour instead of SO tour. It sounds great. Is it much better than the one offered by SO?
1 night in Sydney before return to US.

That's it! Any comments and/or suggestions?










anzbound is offline  
Old May 15th, 2004, 07:06 AM
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Five weeks. You lucky people. It looks like a marvellous itinerary.

Just a couple of suggestions.

If it was possible to reverse the entire trip, start in Far North Queensland and work southwards, that's what I would recommend.

The later you leave FNQ, the hotter and more humid it's going to be.

Conversely, the sooner you visit New Zealand, the cooler it might be.

Also, you really would benefit from an extra night in each of Sydney and Melbourne, so I think you should seriously consider giving up Ayers Rock in order to be able to do that.

Read Cguest88's honeymoon trip report to see why you need an extra night in Sydney:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34498204

However, long you stay in Melbourne (4 nights as you now propose or 5 nights as I'm suggesting), consider spending one night away from Melbourne so that you can take 2 days to drive the Great Ocean Road.

If you stick to your guns and visit Ayers Rock, be sure to take hats with fly netting. You'll need them.

Hope this helps.
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Old May 15th, 2004, 07:56 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions, Judy. However, we're pretty well locked into this itinerary. We do have tickets for two performances at the Sydney Opera House complex - a play at the drama theater and a ballet production at the opera theater. My thought had been to take a one day tour of Sydney including a tour of Sydney Harbour. Also a 1 day tour of Blue Mountains. That would leave us 1 free day to browse around and explore other sights. None of that has been booked except for the shows.
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Old May 15th, 2004, 08:57 AM
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Hello Anzbound,

When all else fails, read the instructions. I now see that you did state, "Our itinerary is pretty well set." Sorry about that.

Anyway, in having another quick look at your itinerary, I notice you've given yourselves 4 nights in Melbourne, and then you follow that up with 2 nights on Kangaroo Island and 1 night in Adelaide.

Something you could consider is spending 2 nights in Melbourne and then 2 nights along the Great Ocean Road driving to Kangaroo Island / Adelaide (if you are not already irreversibly committed to a flight between Melbourne and Adelaide).

My previous recommendation of spending a night on the GOR so that you could drive it over 2 days was predicated on doing it as a return trip out of Melbourne.

In fact it would be more efficient to do it as a one-way drive. Since you're planning to go to Kangaroo Island and Adelaide anyway, it seems to make sense.

I don't know about hotels in Melbourne. I lived there for 2.5 years, but have never stayed in a hotel there. To make the most efficient use of your short time there, I recommend staying downtown (what Melbournians call "The City" and most Australians call the CBD, short for Central Business District) OR alternatively in Southbank, which is just across the Yarra River from downtown.

On your day in Melbourne, I recommend catching the free City Circle Tram which takes you around the perimeter of downtown. Do the full circuit, and listen to the pre-recorded commentary.

Visit the Queen Victoria Market in the northwest part of downtown in the morning.

Catch the City Circle Tram to get to the southeast corner of downtown in the vicinity of Flinders Street Station (an imposing yellow building with many clocks on it). Walk across the Yarra River.

Have lunch on the outdoor terrace of a riverside restaurant on the Southbank side of the Yarra.

Then visit the National Gallery of Art on St. Kilda Road, and do the interesting 1.5 hour guided tour that explains the evolution of Australian art.

From there, cross St. Kilda Road to the park known as Kings Domain, and walk through it to the Royal Botanical Gardens, ending up at the Shrine of Remembrance. By this time, you should be approaching evening.

From the Shrine of Remembrance on St. Kilda Road, catch a tram (trolley car) to Lygon Street, which is immediately north of downtown.

Walk along Lygon Street looking at the ethnic restaurants. Although many nationalities are represented, there is a particularly good selection of Italian and Greek restaurants. When you see a restaurant that appeals to you, go in. There is no need to reserve in advance.

If you're in Melbourne on a Monday or Wednesday, when the Queen Victoria Market is closed, an alternative way to use the time is to walk along the Bourke Street pedestrian mall.

If my math is right, you'll be in Australia close to Christmas. You may be lucky enough to catch a Carols By Candlelight session. Australians have a custom of gathering in a local park of an evening before Christmas and doing what the name suggests, singing carols by candlelight. It's one of my favourite things about a southern hemisphere Christmas.

The only thing that beats it, IMO, is the Anzac Day Parade which, since it takes place in April, you definitely will miss. Nonetheless, do keep an eye out for the ubiquitous WW I memorials. There will be this little town that's no more than a wide spot in the road, and it'll have a WW I memorial with 3 dozen names on it. When one considers what 3 dozen losses must have represented for a community of that size, it's a staggering thought. The proportionate losses were even greater in New Zealand.

I'll leave you in other Fodorites' good hands for your other destinations.

Hope you have a great trip.
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Old May 15th, 2004, 05:18 PM
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Hello Anz!

First of all, let me just state that I'm green with envy for 5 weeks vacation!

re: your points:

Christchurch tour suggestion: Akaroa

Dart river...I've done 3 of these jet boat cruises and have to say that Shotover is my favorite.

Sydney Observatory: you can't go wrong there. Mount N Beach - excellent, don't even look further.

Adelaide - check out Buxton Manor

Hope this is helpful!

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Kiwi Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Old May 16th, 2004, 09:17 AM
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Hi Melodie - Thanks for the ideas. Point of clarification. I'm always on vacation. This trip is to celebrate my 70th birthday. As it happened, I had been considering Bishop's Garden which is another of the North Adelaide Heritage Group. Your comments reinforced my thoughts. As for the Dart River, we had been considering the "Funyaks" which is a full day trip. It seemed a little less like an amusement park ride. Have you ever tried them? Or heard from anybody that has gone on that trip?

As for Akaroa. Are you suggesting a day trip there? I checked it on on the web and it looks like it might be an interesting excursion. Would I need a 4wd vehicle for the area?

Thanks again.
anzbound is offline  
Old May 20th, 2004, 05:47 PM
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Anz,

Not only am I green with envy I'm hoping that when I reach 70 I'm in as good a shape as you are! (you've still got a way to go though, to beat one of my favorite clients who went to Australia, leaving the wife behind, to "play some golf" at age 99).

You're "spot on" with the Heritage group, wonderful accommodations..you won't be disappointed.

I have not heard about the Funyaks, but now I'm intrigued! (must do a search on that one)! I'll be going to the Kiwi Conference June 10th in LA and will check with other Specialists to see if they have clients who've done this.

Yes, a day trip to Akaroa is what I was suggesting, or, if you have your own car (and you won't need a 4WD), maybe even an overnight.

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Kiwi Specialist
wlzmatilida is offline  
Old May 20th, 2004, 06:19 PM
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Thanks for the tips, Melodie. The reason I asked about 4wd - when I looked up Akaroa the site www.akaroa.com has a map which shows a number of 4wd roads leading from Akaroa to the shore.

As for golf, I hope I'm still playing when I'm 99. I do plan to play a few times during the trip. Was thinking of playing Wairakei or the Rotorua course, Millbrook Resort and possibly once in Australia. However, my current wife (she's also my first wife - 48 years) wouldn't think of staying home.

Any suggestions for places to stay in Melbourne?

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Old May 21st, 2004, 05:59 AM
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Anz,

I've now educated myself on "funyaks"...interesting. If you're not looking for the "amusement park ride" experience (as you put it then I guess this would be the way to go. Personally, I love those jet boats! I would do the jet boat there, and save the kayck type experience for when you're in Nelson.

Btw..as you said you like fine crafts, you can get a very good mini-brochure from the NZ tourism board that lists the artists & locations in the area. (it could also be on the website, not sure).

Regards,

Melodie
Certified Kiwi Specialist
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 12:35 PM
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This is a great itinerary, me and my wife are planning on taking a similar trip in Decemeber for 4 weeks to Australia and New Zealand.

A question I have is - how are you planning to moving from city to city ? Is flying the best option, or driving or bus or train etc ? I checked the Quantas Boomerang package and its fairly expensive $$$ !!!! And since both me and my wife are from America and have never driven anywhere else, I dont know if we can manage the left hand side driving conditions.

What is everyone's opinion on shuttling from city to city without breaking the bank ?

Thanks !
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 02:00 PM
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CP2
It depends on what ypu want to see, do!

Oz is roughly the same size as mainland USA, but without the population. There are long distances between cities, and not ,much between.

You might, however, find this an attraction.

Give us some idea of your plans.
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 07:04 PM
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CarolPost2 - I suggest that you monitor the Virgin Blue website for cheap flight deals, also JetStar, a Qantas low-cost spin-off (BTW, there's no "u" in Qantas). I'm guessing that there'll be some hot competition in the coming months, but it will probably take the form of spot offers such as Virgin Blue's recent $48 fare blitz - these sell out quickly and are for specified periods, so you need to buy as soon as you see a deal that's right for you.

As for driving on the "wrong side", my wife and I had to deal with that for the first time when we visited the US, and we racked up a few thousand miles without incident (well, apart from the heart attack suffered by that old guy in the pickup truck....). But everyone's different, so if it worries you, flying may be your best bet. As Margo says, it's a long way between cities. Naturally you can use long-distance buses, but for my money they're the last card in the pack.
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 07:11 PM
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Hi CarlPost2 - My wife and I are driving from Auckland to Rotorua. We plan on having a car in other spots in New Zealand but we're flying from point to point. We'll use the car for touring in the area. In Australia, we don't plan on having a car at all. The distances are too long and time too short. We're flying from stop to stop.

As for driving on the left, I haven't done it for many years. However, when I lived in England for a year, I found I got used to it fairly quickly. The worst times are when there is NO traffic to follow. That and the turns.

What's your itinerary and when are you going?

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Old May 24th, 2004, 03:36 PM
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We are thinking of flying into Sydney and then going to Melbourne, Cairns, Brisbane and Gold Coast in Australia. Also planning on visiting Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland in NewZealand. All this is in December 2004.

We love nature, wildlife, architecture, scenery etc - any thoughts on whether this list of cities is a good idea or if we should add or remove something from this list ?

Thanks in advance !
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Old May 25th, 2004, 10:15 AM
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We've never been. This is our first time also. However, from what I have read, you might want to look at Queenstown instead of Auckland. I understand that the fjords of the South Island are magnificent and shouldn't be missed. Milford Sound and/or Doubtful Sound are possible day trips or overnight trips from Queenstown.
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Old May 25th, 2004, 02:57 PM
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Hi anzbound - going back to your original post, which Daintree trip is Silky Oak recommending? Pete's Heritage and Interpretive tour(very small groups) is also worth looking at and picks up at Silky Oaks.
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Old May 25th, 2004, 03:11 PM
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Hi CarlPost2 and ANZbound

I read with interest your planned itineries and hope that you both enjoy your trip here to New Zealand.

As far as driving is concerned it is fairly straightforward here even if it is on the left. The roads when out of the cities are generally very uncluttered with the primary routes having passing lanes to enable you to pass slower traffic or let faster traffic pass you if you are looking at the scenery.

You do not need a 4WD unless you are planning to go seriously offroad. The road from Christchurch to Akaroa is sealed all the way with a 100kmh limit. There is a hill to cross before you decend into Akaroa. Take the chance to stop at the Bar/Cafe there and enjoy the view.

CarlPost2 if you are limiting your visit to three centres in New Zealand I would suggest that you fly between them. Travel times by car are 8-9 hours Auckland to Wellington and including the ferry trip it is about 7-8 hours from Wellington to Christchurch. However if you fly it is an hour from Auckland to Wellington and then a further 50 minutes to Christchurch from Wellington.

Also as a suggestion if you are into scenery perhaps you could consider dropping Wellington and going to Queenstown/Milford Sound instead. Stunning part of the world and definately IMHO (though I am biased) a must see. You can fly direct to Queenstown from Auckland or Christchurch.

One thing to remember with NZ driving is the give way rule. Always give way to traffic on your right when you are turning left. Ask your car rental company person to demonstrate this. New Zealand is now the only country left with this rule, it is however very easy to understand when seen in action.

ANZbound as far as the Hangi is concerned, type in "Hangi" to the serch option and you will find several discussions on this and a few tips on which provider to choose.

Happy travels
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Old May 25th, 2004, 06:59 PM
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The Daintree - Cape Tribulation trip offered by SO is described in this site - http://www.silkyoakslodge.com.au/tour1.htm
I had read a number of threads that rave about David A's trips and thought that might be the way to go.
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Old May 25th, 2004, 08:05 PM
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A bit more on Australian domestic air fares - it's reported today that with Virgin Blue and JetStar slugging it out we could be looking at a seat oversupply for some time to come, which suggests continuing availability of low-fare specials.

In the last 12 months VB's load factor (percentage of seats occupied) fell from 84% to 75% as its fleet grew from 29 to 44 planes. By mid-2006 JetStar will have 23 Airbus A320s and VB 49 Boeing 737s. By August this year JetStar expects to be running 800 flights per week, compared with Qantas' 2500 and VB's 1600, total 4900.

There's been a view for years that the Australian market can't support more than two major domestic carriers. We'll see.

(Source, Sydney Morning Herald, 26 May)
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Old May 25th, 2004, 08:15 PM
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Tours from Rotorua:
I'd like to suggest Thames/Coromandel region, but probably too far away for the time available. Shame you'll miss it. Instead, Lake Taupo, calling in to Waimungu or Waiotapu on way there or back for the very best of the thermal experience. Wairakei is on that route too (someone mentioned playing golf there?).
Also make sure you get out to the Blue & Green Lakes, and Lakes Rotomahana and Tarawera (a short trip of 2 hours).
From Christchurch:
Yes, definitely Akaroa. 4WD not needed. Stop at Hilltop for the view.
Other Chch trips include Port Lyttelton via tunnel (Heathcote gondola en route) returning over hill to Sumner; and on the more local front, check out the Art Centre Weekend Markets if you're there on a weekend.
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