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mover Jan 5th, 2005 06:55 PM

Nov - Dec Trip Report
We have just returned from a five week trip to New Zealand and Australia. Many of the places we stayed, things we did and sites we visited were suggested on this forum. Our thanks to all the forum participants for their help, ideas and assistance. I will attempt to give a trip report in the hope that our experiences might help others.

The report will be in many parts because I doubt that I will have the patience and/or the stamina to do it in a single sitting. I plan to cover each place that we stopped and give a brief description of where we stayed, what we saw, what we did and where we ate. So, each place will include – Accommodations, Dining, Activities. A warning in advance – we had made reservations at some of the best restaurants we could find. We knew they might be expensive but we wanted the best.

We started our trip from Florida and flew to Auckland via Los Angeles. A long flight but not uncomfortable. The cross country portion was on American and the trans- Pacific portion was on Air New Zealand. First stop – Auckland.

Auckland: Accommodation – Heritage Hotel (Tower Section). When we walked into our room(s) at the Heritage we were virtually “blown away”. We had reserved a nice room but what we found was a beautiful, large living room with a dining area and two – yes two – bedrooms. We could have had a great party but we didn’t know a sole in Auckland. The view was overlooking the harbor. A GREAT start to the trip. Dining - Our stay in Auckland was only overnight. We found a Chinese restaurant recommended by the concierge. Dinner was only memorable because of its mediocrity. Activities – We arrived early in the morning and our room wasn’t ready. Also, we wanted to try and adjust to the time change so we immediately got on a half day tour of the city. The tour was excellent and was a good way to get an overview of the city and environs. I would highly recommend doing this on arrival.

Rotorua: We rented an Avis car for the drive from Auckland to Rotorua. Avis service was excellent as was the car. The drive was via Waitomo Caves and also included a stop at the Kiwi House. More on this under Activities. Accommodation – We stayed at the Swiss Lodge – a B & B slightly outside the center of town. Our room was very nice, had a good view of the lake and reminded me a little of a well appointed cabin. Breakfast was a full “Continental” breakfast that included cold cuts and cheeses. Hot dishes were available at extra cost but weren’t needed. On a scale of 1 – 10, I would rate Swiss Lodge at about 7 to 8. Dining – Our first night we ate at Zanellis. This is a nice neighborhood, Italian restaurant in the center of town. The food was good and moderately priced. Certainly worth a visit. The second night we had a reservation at Bistro 1284. Reputed to be one of the best in Rotorua. We didn’t have the opportunity to experience the others, but Bistro 1284 was certainly excellent. It is a small place across from a movie theater near the center of town. Excellent meal, good service and definitely recommended. The last night we dined in Taupo at a place called Plateau. A good meal but not exceptional. (Remember we had set VERY high standards. Exceptional is what we had later in the trip.) Activities - Our drive to Rotorua included a stop at Kiwi House. Can’t recommend this. We were quite disappointed. We did see some kiwi but it was like visiting a poor excuse for a zoo. Next on to Waitomo and the caves. The glow-worm cave trip was fun. It’s an interesting spot and the guide gave a good explanation of the glow-worms. Definitely a worthwhile stop. In Rotorua we visited the Maori Arts and Cultural Center. Took the tour there and experienced the cultural show. This is a must. The center is very interesting and the tour is short and well done. Our last day in the area we went to Taupo and played golf at Wairakei International. A very nice course and a VERY good time.

To be continued:

kodi Jan 6th, 2005 04:41 AM

Mover, this is great! I'm leaving in a week's time and I'm so glad you are taking the time to post a trip report. But, like a good book, you've left me dangling at Rotorua. Can't wait for the next chapter!

Jed Jan 6th, 2005 10:14 AM

It would help your readers if the subsequent parts were posted as replies to this post. That way we could follow your report in a coherent manner. ((R))

mover Jan 6th, 2005 12:11 PM

Jed - Thanks for the suggestion. I'll repost the second part here along with additional sectionsa as long as I don't get objections that the thread is too long.

mover Jan 6th, 2005 12:12 PM

Before I continue, a few comments. I have been reading some of the posts on this forum and came across a thread where a person criticized an experience in OZ and then was taken to task for the criticism. In fact, I have seen this a few times on this forum. PLEASE keep in mind that ALL opinions expressed in my/our posts are MY/OUR opinions. Others may have been to the same places, maybe even at the same time, and come away with completely different opinions. How many times have you gone to a movie with other people and walked out thinking that was a great movie and hearing someone else say that it was awful. REMEMBER, DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS!!
Part 2 -
On with the report.

Nelson: We flew from Rotorua to Nelson. With the exception of Auckland to Rotorua, all inter-city travel was by air. For the remainder of the trip in New Zealand we rented cars from Apex. They were VERY good. We were always met on time, given excellent service, nice cars and overall were VERY pleased. Accommodation – For our 2 nights in Nelson, we stayed at Long Lookout Gardens. This is a small – 2 rooms – B & B slightly outside the center of town. On a scale of 1 – 10 we rated this about 10+. Our room overlooked the beautiful garden and also had a view of the harbor (harbour for our OZ and NZ friends). Our hosts were superb and very helpful with suggestions. Also excellent cooks with outstanding cooked breakfasts. When we return to NZ, we will definitely stay longer in Nelson and it will be at Long Lookout Gardens. Dining – We ate at two restaurants down by the harbor – Harbour Light and Ma Fish. We preferred our meal at Ma Fish. It was very good, well prepared fresh fish. Harbour Light was OK. When/if we return to Nelson, we would probably try different places. Activities – We went to Nelson because we like crafts and had heard that there were good crafts around this city. We visited the World of Wearable Art (WOW) and we HIGHLY recommend it. On exhibition were the costumes from the last competition and they were spectacular. We also drove our Apex hire car outside of Nelson to various galleries and artists’ studios. One place worth mentioning was Hoglund Art Glass. They have an interesting tour and a wonderful collection of FINE glass. Worthwhile visit. REMEMBER – art and crafts are VERY subjective – what we like may not be to everyone’s taste.

Christchurch: Our Apex rep met us on arrival from Nelson and got us on our way into CC. Accommodation – We had a 3 night stay at Weston House. This is a very nice, 2 guest room, B & B in the center of CC across the street from the George Hotel. The full breakfast was EXCELLENT and the hosts were very cordial. On our scale, we rate it about 8 – 9. Dining – The first night we had reservations at Pescatore in the George Hotel. How convenient. When we made the reservation, we didn’t know that it was across the street from our B & B, We had heard that it was one of the best restaurants in CC. It certainly must be because it couldn’t be too much better. Our meal was outstanding. But, be forewarned IT IS EXPENSIVE! The next night we had a reservation at C’est La Vie in Akaroa. Again, it came highly recommended. C’est La Vie is a very small, French restaurant on the main street of Akaroa. They have 2 dinner sittings – 6pm and 8:30pm. We opted for the 6pm. The restaurant serves about 20 people. Because we were the first people there, we were asked if we wanted to sit alone or share a table with other people. We opted to share. There were 8 people at our table – 3 couples and 2 single ladies traveling alone. My meal was excellent. My wife’s meal wasn’t as good. Overall the restaurant probably rated a 7. It was a lot of fun and a good time but didn’t quite live up to the hype. Our last night in CC we went back to the George. Different restaurant but equally as good. (It was raining that night and we might have tried something different but it was late and the George was convenient.) Activities – We started with the On/Off trolley around the city. Nice ride and worthwhile. We jumped off at the art center area. Visited the museum and enjoyed. We were very disappointed with the remainder of the art center. It seemed to us to be a lot of small stores with touristy undesirables. Our second day, we drove to Akaroa. This was a nice side trip. Good scenery and some interesting side roads along the way. Now for the complaining. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE THE BEGINNING OF SUMMER!! IT WAS FREEZING!. There was a South wind right off the Antarctic. It was so cold that all the boat trips in Akaroa had been cancelled. In spite of that, it was worth the trip. For our third day we had booked the “Alpine Safari Tour” from Scenic Pacific. This was a multi-part adventure that consisted of a coach ride to Waimakariri Gorge. (Explanations of the countryside and general NZ info along the way.) At the Gorge, we had an hour jet-boat experience. Sort of like an amusement park ride with beautiful scenery added. It was fun! Then a unique experience aboard a 4 wheel drive vehicle traversing a sheep station. And lastly the Trans-Alpine Express from Arthur’s Pass back to CC. A full and fun day.

To be continued.

mover Jan 6th, 2005 01:46 PM

Part 3

Queenstown: Once again, our flight from CC to Q’town was met by our Apex rep, we got our car and were on our way. Accommodation - We didn’t actually stay in Q’town. We stayed at Millbrook Resort in Arrowtown. We had a very nice suite – living room and bedroom – on the golf course. There was a washer and dryer right outside our room. Believe me this was a BIG help. Getting wash done always conveniently always seems to be a problem on an extended trip. The grounds at Millbrook are beautiful. They have a number of restaurants, a full service spa (We didn’t avail ourselves.), 18 hole golf course, etc. I could certainly recommend staying there. Dining – We were in Q’town for 4 nights and had reservations for 3 of them. The first night we went to Saffron in Arrowtown. Reputed to be one of the best in town. Maybe we caught it on an off night. We thought it was over priced and under good. It has an excellent reputation, and I spoke to friends that went there and loved it. However, as stated above – “different strokes”. The 2nd night we didn’t have a reservation and wound up at The Postmaster’s House in Arrowtown. Our dinner there was very good and certainly a place I would consider trying again. The 3rd night we had reservations at Gantley’s. Again reputed to be one of the fine dining places in the area. It was. Expensive but good. They have a very extensive wine list including wines costing over $2,000 per bottle. WE DIDN’T HAVE ANY OF THEM!!!! However, the food was excellent. 2nd best of our stay in Q’town. The last night turned out to be the best dining. Also one of the better restaurants of our entire trip. (That’s saying a lot as you will see when you read the OZ portion of the trip.) We ate at Solera Vino in the middle of Q’town. This is a very small restaurant that I had heard of before. We had reservations which I think might be required if you want to dine there. I think they may have an upstairs room which wasn’t open the night we were there. The downstairs seats about 12 - 14 people. The dinner was outstanding as was the service. We recommended this to some friends that were going to be there after us and they also raved about their dinner. Try it, you’ll like it! Activities – The day we arrived in Q’town there was snow on the ground!! This is summer?? It warmed up considerably the next day which was fortunate as we had booked a one day trip to Milford Sound. We went with Real Journeys. The coach ride down to Milford was long but nice scenery. The boat ride on the sound with Real Journeys was EXCELLENT. Maybe we lucked into a good captain and guide but both were enthusiastic about the sights and what they were doing. It’s a large boat and carries a LOT of people. However, the enthusiasm of the captain and guide rubbed off onto the passengers and the resulting excursion was a pleasure. When there was something of interest, the captain would pull the boat as close as possible to the shore and keep it there while people had an opportunity to see the attraction (birds, seals, waterfall, etc.) Our return trip to Q’town was by small plane. An interesting change from the coach. You see things from a completely different perspective. I would have liked to return by helicopter but there wasn’t space available. Our third day, we played golf. As it happens, we met some Canadian golfers on the Milford trip and we all played Millbrook. Can’t say the course is great but the company was good and we had a good time. There is a lot to do around Q’town. Many of the activities seem to be challenges to your daredevil nature, i.e. bungee jumping, hang gliding, jet boating, etc. We didn’t partake. Maybe we’re too old.

Before we leave NZ, I will register our one complaint. We were there for just under 2 weeks and IT WASN’T LONG ENOUGH!! The same was true about our stay in OZ. There wasn’t enough time to see all the things we wanted in the places we stayed and we didn’t get to many places we would have liked to visit.


Sydney: Throughout OZ we did not have any rental/hire cars. We used public transport or tour services throughout. We were in Sydney for 4 nights when we first arrived in OZ and also 1 night at the end of the trip. I will combine both Sydney stays in the one section. Accommodation – Our first stay in Sydney was at the Four Seasons. It was a special occasion and we wanted a special room with a view of both the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. That’s what we got. It was a very spacious room with magnificent view of the Harbour. This is a first class hotel and it charges first class prices. Our last night in OZ (and Sydney), we stayed at the Observatory. THIS IS A CLASS PLACE!! The hotel is a class act all the way around. The room was large and beautiful. The hallways are twice as wide as normal hotel hallways. The service is outstanding. Everything about it was superb. When we return to Sydney we will definitely stay at the Observatory. It’s located in the Rocks section so it’s not quite as convenient to Circular Quay, however, the ambiance more than makes up for that. Again, you have to be willing to pay the price. Dining – There is no shortage of outstanding restaurants in Sydney. Fortunately we had the opportunity to go to THE BEST our first night. Reservations are a must. We went to Tetsuya. This is a VERY expensive restaurant where you don’t get a menu. They tell you what you will have that evening and it changes every night. It’s what they call a “degustation menu”. The night we were there it consisted of approximately 11 courses. Each course is small but by the time you get to number 7 or 8 you realize you don’t have room for too much more. Each course is a treat unto itself. Overall it is a DINING EXPERIENCE. Without question, it was the best meal we had on our trip and one of the best dining experiences we have ever had. And that says a lot!!! If you can afford it, IT’S WORTH IT! Our other dining ventures in Sydney were disappointing. Maybe we had been spoiled on our first night, but I really think that the others didn’t live up to their reputations. We ate a Aria, Pier at Rose Bay, and Quay. All were good but not good enough to warrant the prices. All came with very good recommendations but as far as we were concerned they didn’t meet our expectations. Activities – We took a day trip to the Blue Mountains. Maybe we are a bit jaded but we didn’t find the trip to exciting. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed the day but it wasn’t something I couldn’t miss. We have seen spectacular mountains, spectacular valleys, wonderful mountain scenery. What we saw was nice but not spectacular. Possibly it’s just not our “thing” to go through vacation villages. We DID do the Bridgeclimb. I loved it. My wife was a bit “freaked out” at the portion getting to the bridge. Once on the incline, she didn’t find it as scary. We went at twilight which is definitely the best time to go. You go up while it is still daylight and you come down as the lights are going on and it becomes night. It is, without question, one of the most professionally run operations we have ever experienced. We also did what some friends of ours had done last year – chartered a sail boat for a tour of the harbour. We went with Harbour Days Sailing. Very nice tour, excellent boat, great lunch, good company. We enjoyed and would recommend it.

More to come.

Tim_and_Liz Jan 6th, 2005 05:22 PM

I am very much enjoying this report... keep it coming! :)

pb_and_j Jan 7th, 2005 12:11 PM

Thank you for posting! I'm enjoying reading your reviews and getting tips!

I have a question about Tetsuya's - how expensive is "very expensive"? Do they require a jacket & tie for men?

Thanks again and I'm looking forward to more of your trip report!


mover Jan 7th, 2005 02:55 PM

Tetsuya had a fixed price of $175 per person. There is also an option to have wine with each course which I think is about $250 per person. I didn't even have a jacket or tie with me on the trip. I just wore a nice shirt and had on a sweater. If you can swing it, try it. Take a look at their site -

mover Jan 7th, 2005 06:45 PM

Part 4

Sydney: Activities - A couple of other things we did in Sydney which I consider “must dos” were a tour of the Opera House facilities and attending performances at the complex. We took the “short” tour. However, if at all possible, I would recommend doing the “long” or behind the scenes tour. It is early in the morning and takes considerably more time, however, it would give a MUCH better understanding of the Opera House and how it works. Definitely see some performances. We saw a drama in one of the small theaters and a dance program in the Opera House venue. During the intermission of the dance program, we were treated to a magnificent view of the harbour from inside the Opera House building. Also, while still in the Sydney section, we used a private limo for transfer to and from the airport. I realize there are less expensive modes of transport, however, we opted for the convenience of the private limo. We used DJ Andrews Limo Service and he was EXCELLENT! I would highly recommend Andrew for anybody desiring a private limo.

Melbourne: When we were first planning this trip, we had excluded Melbourne as being just another big city. We changed our itinerary and stayed 3 nights in Melbourne. A big mistake. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE!!! Where Sydney is “alive”, hopping with young people, and bustling with activity, Melbourne appeared to us to be the “cultural” center. Accommodation – This was a bit of a disappointment. We stayed at the Lindrum Hotel. The same friends that had recommended the Sydney harbor sail recommended the Lindrum. This is what might be termed a “boutique” hotel. Modern décor, somewhat smaller rooms and somewhat higher prices. We wanted a “room with a view”. Our view was overlooking some construction and commercial areas. It was comfortable, clean and served the purpose, but we will stay elsewhere when we return to Melbourne. Dining – Our first night in Melbourne we had reservations at Flower Drum. This is reputed to be one of the best Chinese restaurants anywhere. We’ve been to many Chinese restaurants and Flower Drum ranks no less than a tie for number 1. The food, ambiance, service were all excellent. If you have a chance, go! The other two nights were non-descript dining. One night was a small place on Lygon Street. As long as you know what to expect, it’s ok. We didn’t expect fine dining and we weren’t surprised. The last night we wanted something quick and near to the Art Center. We ate at River Seafood Grill. Again, it was adequate and fulfilled our needs. It’s a fine place to eat but not a SPECIAL place to dine. Activities – A “must do” is a trip along the Great Ocean Road. We did a one day trip and went as far as the Twelve Apostles and London Bridge. We had a fabulous day. On our trip our guide took us to a place where we saw a lot of koalas. We saw echidna. And all that was in addition to seeing the wonderful coastline and the spectacular sights at the Twelve Apostles, etc. The bulk of our time in Melbourne was spent visiting galleries, the art center and the National Museum. The Sydney Opera House is spectacular from the outside (also good inside), but we thought the Melbourne Art Center facilities surpassed the Opera House facilities. They were amazing. Again, we recommend attending a performance. We were treated to a wonderful concert. (By the way, that’s why we wanted dinner near the Art Center.)

Still more to come.

Judy_in_Calgary Jan 7th, 2005 09:11 PM

Thanks for the great trip report, mover.

It's nice to find another fan of Melbourne out there.:)

sandi Jan 8th, 2005 05:17 AM

Another vote for MEL over SYD. Of course, we arrived into SYD and enjoyed out time there, but found it so very touristy. The reason we rnted a car got out to the Blue Mntns and small communities in the area on one day. Also another day out to the beaches and the towns along the way.

But MEL was my personal favorite. We didn't stay in the commercial center, rather in St.Kilda at a beachfront hotel. The area was so charming, eclectic, regentrified, restaurants galore. It was easy enough when we wanted, to hop on the tram into the CBD, to Victoria Market. And one day rented a car and drove the Great Ocean Road to the Twelve Apostles.

mover - great report so far, waiting on the rest.

mover Jan 8th, 2005 10:13 AM

Part 5

Kangaroo Island: You have to wonder when you are scheduled on an airline that is named after a FLIGHTLESS bird. It was a very cold, windy day but our flight on the small twin engine plane of EMU Airways was one of the smoothest flights of the trip. Accommodation and Dining - We stayed at Stranraer Homestead. This is a 4 – 6 room B & B on a sheep station owned by one of the long time families of KI. Maybe it should be termed a B & B & D since we had bed, breakfast and dinner. Graham and Lynn Wheaton are excellent hosts. Lynn is a superb cook and the meals were very good. Nice place and we would certainly recommend it as the place to stay on KI. Activities - Graham took us on an afternoon and a night tour. Both interesting. The night tour was to see the fairy penguins which we had not seen outside of Mel. For the one full day we were there, we had scheduled a tour with one of the local tour companies. The tour was excellent. Our only request is that next time we visit in the summer, someone should let them know it supposed to be warm. IT WAS BITTER COLD. To make up for the cold it was also windy!

Adelaide: A big mistake. We scheduled one day and an overnight in Adelaide. IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN LONGER!!. Accommodation – We stayed at Bishop’s Garden which is part of the North Adelaide Heritage Group. When we walked in, my wife exclaimed that we could stay there for a month. This is a VERY nice, newly remodeled apartment. You walk into a large open area that contains a full kitchen (including a washer/dryer), dining area, and living room. All this faces a very nice garden. Then there are two bedrooms, one large and one a bit smaller. Dining – Can’t say too much about dining in Adelaide. There were torrential downpours just after we arrived at Bishop’s Garden. We didn’t have a car and didn’t want to go too far or want too much for dinner. We ate at the Old Adelaide Inn. Sort of a pub. I must say that my hamburger was VERY good and so large that I couldn’t finish it. Activities – We only had one day for Adelaide and environs. NOT LONG ENOUGH. We opted to see the Barossa Valley. We had a nice tour, not great but nice. Saw a few wineries, tried some very nice wines, sampled some tasty cheeses and generally had a good time. There’s a lot to see in and around Adelaide. Next time!

Ayers Rock/Uluru/Red Center: Many Fodorites warned us about going to the Red Center in early December. Too hot. Too many flies. We went prepared. We even had netting to put over our hats and cover our faces. We ignored all this good advice and decided that as long as we were going that far we would go see “The Rock”. I’m glad we did. We had a WONDERFUL time. It was hot but not as hot as it had been our first day in Sydney. And the flies weren’t as bad as they were in Sydney. We never used the nets. Anybody interested in purchasing 2, never used head nets? Accommodation – We opted for the best and I’m glad we did. We stayed at Longitude 131. Apparently all the resorts/accommodations in the area are owned by Voyages. Longitude is brand new. It reopened in July having been rebuilt after the old facilities were destroyed by fire. The new facilities are BEAUTIFUL. We had a “tent” which is elevated off the ground, has a magnificent, unobstructed view of Ayers Rock and gives the impression of being the only people in the area. It’s termed a “tent” but it really is an elevated room, i.e. regular solid structure with the entire front being windows. Dining – Longitude is an all inclusive facility. And that is really ALL inclusive. If you want something to drink, you either ask for it or serve yourself. All meals are included. Our one complaint about Longitude was that the chef tried too hard. There should have been a better selection of entrees/mains on the menu. The descriptions on the menu sounded wonderful but the implementation didn’t live up to the description. The meals were the definite weak spot of the stay. Activities – As mentioned, Longitude is ALL inclusive including all the tours. We went on both a sunrise and a sunset trip to the Rock. Also a trip to the Olgas. All included. We were supposed to have a “Sounds of Silence” dinner but it was cancelled because they said it was too windy. That was unfortunate. If it’s within your budget, Longitude is definitely the place to stay.

Cairns/M V Reef Endeavour Cruise: We only had overnight in Cairns as we had opted for a 4 day cruise on the Reef Endeavour (Captain Cook Cruises). Accommodation - In Cairns, for our one night, we stayed at the Cairns International. The room was nice, convenient and served our purpose. Can’t really comment on the hotel except to say that is was definitely OK. On the cruise, we had a nice cabin. As nice as any cabin on the ship, however this is not one of the world’s great ocean liners. Dining – Our dinner and breakfast at the Cairns International were good. Especially the breakfast. It’s not worth a special trip just to eat there but if you’re staying at the hotel or nearby it is a nice place to eat. On the cruise, the meals were OK. We were VERY fortunate to be seated with 2 other couples and the 6 of us seemed to “click” and as a result we had a very good time. Activities - No time in Cairns for anything. The cruise was probably the big mistake of the trip. Although we haven’t been diving in quite a while, both my wife and I have done a lot of diving. I probably have done 200 – 300 dives. We chose the cruise thinking that we would see more of GBR and there would be more and better snorkeling/diving sites. We were wrong. We weren’t allowed to dive because we hadn’t been diving in too long. The snorkeling was mediocre at best. There were only two opportunities to snorkel and neither was a good example of what the GBR has to offer. Very disappointing. I guess we’ll just have to try again.

Mossman Gorge: I guess the heading should be Silky Oaks Lodge. Accommodation - Surprise, we stayed at Silky Oaks Lodge. This was our last stop except for an overnight in Sydney on the way home. This is a FIRST CLASS place. We had a wonderful room-cabin-riverhouse. The only problem with it was that it was the furthest away from the main building/dining area and it was near the bottom of a very steep hill. These worn out old bods had to struggle up the hills. Looking back on it, it was good for us. Silky Oaks is a BEAUTIFUL facility in the rain forest along Mossman Gorge. The rooms are very well done and you really get the feeling that you’re living in the rain forest. Dining – Breakfast and dinners are included. I thought breakfasts were a bit skimpy. A hot breakfast is extra and at these prices probably should be included. Dinners were very good. Not GREAT but very good. Activities – One trip is included in our 3 night stay. We did that the last day so more about that later. Our first full day we took the advice of many Fodorites and booked a day with David Armbrust. THANK YOU FODORITES. THIS WAS REALLY SOMETHING SPECIAL!!. The day which is best described on his site - was terrific. The lunch, in keeping with the rest of the day, was great. Add us to the list of Fodorites that recommend the day with David. For our included trip, we opted for the excursion to Cape Tribulation and the rain forest. It was a good trip. We enjoyed. Unfortunately, we had been spoiled by the excursion the previous day. The boat trip on the Daintree was somewhat disappointing because we were there at the wrong time of the day and didn’t see any wildlife. It was just an hour cruising up and down the Daintree seeing the mangroves. I guess this is something else for a our return trip list.

That’s about it for our 5 week trip. As I mentioned and covered earlier, we had an overnight in Sydney and then it was on the plane for the return trip to the US.

As I hope you can tell from this report, we had a SPECTACULAR, WONDERFUL time in NZ and OZ. As I have stated many times to many people, our only complaint was that it was TOO SHORT!

kodi Jan 8th, 2005 10:48 AM

What a great report! Thanks for taking the time to post it.
NOt only is it a big help, but it certainly is adding to my excitement for my upcoming trip.
I hope you get back there someday.

lizF Jan 8th, 2005 02:35 PM

Most of the Captain Cook cruises are still based on what people may have wanted in the 60s - they need to get a reality check! What a shame that you got stuck on one of those mover.

MsODonnell Jan 11th, 2005 01:28 PM

On your trip, you mentioned driving to several places in OZ over a 5 week period. We are planning a 13-17 day trip... do you think we'd be able to drive and see several locations also, or that we might not have enough time? We are planning to fly into Sydney and end-up in Cairns. We are not completely set on what we will see and do in between.

Paul_S Jan 11th, 2005 02:02 PM

Hi Mover,

You were extremely lucky with the weather here in Alice/Ayres Rock this Christmas we had a very unseasonal cold snap which brought our temps down to almost winter daytime temps. This also took care of a lot of the flies, so you were indeed very lucky. Our weather is now returning to normal with temps exceeding 100 F and the flies have returned with a vengence.

Glad you enjoyed your trip and thanks for the report.



mover Jan 11th, 2005 07:15 PM

MsODonnell - We flew between stops in OZ. Even flying we found that 3 weeks wasa too short. Ask some of the experts, but IMHO I don't think you have time to drive between too many places. Enjoy!

rosepointe Mar 15th, 2005 02:01 PM

Hi Mover
I hope you are still reading this thread. We will be in Oz and New Zealand July and August for 7 weeks and had planned to do the Reef Endeavor Cruise for 4 nights. I know this is not a Celebrity Milleniun Ship but thought it would be a nice addition to our time up North (where it will be warmer). We are planning a total of 2 weeks including the 4 day cruise. In that the water will be too cold for my Miami born husband I thought this would be a nice addition for the 4 days. Did you enjoy this part of the trip at all?

Thank you for the restaurant suggestion in Sydney. We travel the world looking for the great restaurant experiences as well.

Thank You

Cairns/M V Reef Endeavour Cruise: We only had overnight in Cairns as we had opted for a 4 day cruise on the Reef Endeavour (Captain Cook Cruises). Accommodation - In Cairns, for our one night, we stayed at the Cairns International. The room was nice, convenient and served our purpose. Can’t really comment on the hotel except to say that is was definitely OK. On the cruise, we had a nice cabin. As nice as any cabin on the ship, however this is not one of the world’s great ocean liners. Dining – Our dinner and breakfast at the Cairns International were good. Especially the breakfast. It’s not worth a special trip just to eat there but if you’re staying at the hotel or nearby it is a nice place to eat. On the cruise, the meals were OK. We were VERY fortunate to be seated with 2 other couples and the 6 of us seemed to “click” and as a result we had a very good time. Activities - No time in Cairns for anything. The cruise was probably the big mistake of the trip. Although we haven’t been diving in quite a while, both my wife and I have done a lot of diving. I probably have done 200 – 300 dives. We chose the cruise thinking that we would see more of GBR and there would be more and better snorkeling/diving sites. We were wrong. We weren’t allowed to dive because we hadn’t been diving in too long. The snorkeling was mediocre at best. There were only two opportunities to snorkel and neither was a good example of what the GBR has to offer. Very disappointing. I guess we’ll just have to try again.

mover May 5th, 2005 03:21 AM

Rosepointe - I haven't been on the forum for some time. Decided to take a quick look. The 4 day Reef Endeavour cruise was fun because of the people we met. We were disappointed because we have done extensive diving primarily in Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles. We thought this would be a good way to see the GBR. It wasn't! If you just want to take a nice cruise, it's OK. If you want to take the cruise to explore the GBR, I wouldn't recommend it.

Have a good time.

melissaom May 11th, 2005 09:26 AM

This is great info and was a lot of work - thanks! I am so thankful you posted as we are planning our trip for October and are also interested in good dining and travel "experiences". Did you hear from anyone while you were on the GBR of great places to stay? We are considering the Outrigger in Palm Cove - penthouse. Thanks!

pat_woolford May 16th, 2005 04:28 PM

Think you'll be very happy with Outrigger at Palm Cove, there's nothing not to like.

Wouldn't choose Reef Endeavour cruise for snorkelling or diving, for this you'd be better off with a designated liveaboard if you don't want day reef trips.

Undersea Explorer out of Port Douglas is about as good as it gets, although there are many others to choose from.

rosepointe Jun 30th, 2005 05:06 AM

Hi Mover
I just read this board for the 1st time in mas well. We have booked the Reef Explorer (got a great priced opportunity) and felt it would be a different perspective for us. We will be in Cairns 4 days and Port Douglas 5 nights (Versace). I guess I may add a reef trip from one of these sites as well.

We are booked 2 nights in KI at the same Homested as you with 2 day Safari and also have reservations at Testuya's. We will be traveling 2 months and I have really tried to pace things.

Noticed we booked the same in Auckland. We will als be in Queenstown 2 nights, bus to CC 2 nights, fly to Rototura 2 nights and back to Auckland for 3.

Thank you for your input. We leave in 2 weeks after 8 months of self planning.

Neil_Oz Jun 30th, 2005 06:42 PM

The Sydney Morning Herald ("Column 8") has been receiving reports of the scariest corkage charges (applied when you bring your own wine) in Sydney restaurants. So far Tetsuya's has the prize, with a hair-raising $18 per bottle, but the competition isn't over yet.

hcoltman Jul 1st, 2005 02:46 PM


Don't know if you are still reading these posts but where do you recommend staying in St. Kilda's Beach? I arrive in Melbourne and wanted to stay one night before hitting the road for Adelaide and stops along the way. Any recommendations from anyone out there on inexpensive nice accomodations on that journey? Thanks,

Sarvowinner Jul 2nd, 2005 07:26 AM

We always stay at the Novotel in St Kilda. Typical Novotel but the windows are almost floor to ceiling and I sleep with the curtains open watching the bay and the clouds billow across. The Stokehouse is across the street right on the water - great for lunch & dinner plus the St Kilda Baths have been renovated and have a fantastic vegetarian restaurant. You walk around the corner & you are in the heart of Funky St Kilda.

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