NZ road trip and excursion to Australia

Old Sep 7th, 2012, 07:05 PM
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NZ road trip and excursion to Australia

My husband and I are interested in traveling the countryside in NZ and enjoying the beauty of nature, lakes, and mountains, and then taking an excursion to Australia where we'd like to experience wildlife and the rain forest - and specifically be able to hold a Koala Bear!! We want to put together a self guided tour but since we have not traveled much, we are at a loss as to where to start. We are considering taking a 2 week vacation and going either in late Nov. to mid Dec., or not until June, so would like to know the best time for outdoor experiences weather wise. We would even consider a road trip in a rented motorhome, so mostly just need help with an itinerary suggesting a place for us to land and begin the trek, stops along the way where we can park with hookups if that is a desireable accommodation option, and recommendations on how long to stay at each destination, an ending spot in NZ where we could then travel to Australia, and make note of a couple of highlighted areas to see there, including the best Zoo type place to visit to get the Koala bear fix in!, and the most logical place to fly back out of!! Any detailed assistance would be greatly appreciated!!
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Old Sep 7th, 2012, 07:11 PM
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Two weeks total? Suggest you pick either Australia or NZ, and then only one island of NZ. Too much territory to cover.

Where are you arriving from?
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Old Sep 7th, 2012, 07:17 PM
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I agree with Melnq there is no way you can do NZ and Australia in two weeks. The best time to travel to NZ would be late Nov to mid Dec, school will still be in, and the weather will be reasonably warm!!!.
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Old Sep 8th, 2012, 10:49 AM
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We are coming from California, and are open to taking as much time as needed to get a taste of the area. We have sortof narrowed it down to a 10 day motorhome road trip in Nov/Dec, along the southern scenic route of NZ, then flying in to Cairns and staying there for as long as necessary to visit that area and parts of the No. territory. Any good recommendations of sites to see or must do's in those parameters?
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Old Sep 8th, 2012, 01:11 PM
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Based on my many travels in both Australia and NZ, including all the places you mention above, I would say you are looking at a minimum of 4 weeks' travel. You should devote at least 2 weeks for the South Island of New Zealand and 2 weeks to visit Cairns/PD/GBR and the Northern Territory. (What part of the NT are you planning to visit: the Top End or the Red Center?)

Since my (or anyone else's) recommendations of what to visit might hold no interest for you, your best bet is to start reading some guidebooks. You may find many of them in your local library. My favorites are Lonely Planet and Rough Guide, but there are other good ones which you may prefer.
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Old Sep 8th, 2012, 01:51 PM
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Thank you so much for the suggestions and the tidbits on the time it will take to cover the area we are looking at. I am not sure yet what section of the NT we will check out, so the recommendation to research the books you mentioned is very helpful. I appreciate all of the input as it will help me to narrow down our travels and reduce a lot of the guessing on my part, so thank you all for taking the time to write!!
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Old Sep 8th, 2012, 02:11 PM
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Greetings. We did a 'blitz' tour of PART of Australia, and selected bits of NZ, and spent over 3 weeks including travel time. (if you click on 'view next 25' topics, I think you can still find my trip report, if you want to know how our own express trip was managed.)

Anyway, while I am sympathetic to your constraints, I must warn you that if you shave off time yet further, to 2 weeks, you will have to be very, very specific in what you see. Also, this will not be a cheap trip, it can't be otherwise given how far you are flying. I strongly advise you work out your air itinerary first. On this, everything else will depend, and in particular, it will be a major driver of cost, of whether it will be practical to do the motorhome thing, and how much time you will get in any one place. So, spend some time acquainting yourself with the air routes.

Coming from California, indeed coming from almost anywhere in North America, you will be flying out of SFO or LAX. If you fly first to New Zealand, you will land first in Auckland, in the north island, but you want to see mainly the south island. No problem, you fly onward on a domestic flight to, well, where? Christchurch or Queenstown? Next, you have to figure out how to connect to Cairns from the south island (or vice versa, if you do Cairns first.) Chances are, you will have to connect to Cairns (CNS) via a major gateway like Sydney, and depending on your gateway in the south island, you might get a direct flight to Sydney, but equally your flight may also end up routing through Auckland. What I'm trying to warn you about is the time you may end up spending just connecting from place to place, depending on the specifics of your flight itinerary.

And you still have to plan for your return to the US. It will very likely involve a route via either Sydney or Auckland, depending on which country you do first, and/or whether you fly Qantas (or an alliance partner) or Air new Zealand (or its alliance partner). These long transPacific flights tend to depart/arrive only at certain hours of the day, and needless to say, you don't want to miss your flight, or you will be out serious money.

So, start slow, and get the overall shape of your trip first.
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Old Sep 8th, 2012, 04:35 PM
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Don't underestimate the affects of jetlag kktravelbugs, especially if you're new to traveling internationally. Jetlag can slow down a holiday considerably.

You'll likely arrive very tired and your sleep will be off kilter for awhile. You'll gain a day coming from the US, which can confuse your body more than you might expect.

Years ago, we combined OZ and NZ into one trip. Like most inexperienced travelers, we didn't appreciate the distances between the two countries, let alone the distances within. We visited both islands of NZ and spent six days in Australia - we had four weeks total. We were exhausted after that trip and felt that all we did was move from place to place. It was a learning experience.

Having said that, your plan of spending a full 10 days cruising along the Southern Scenic Route (the area between Queenstown and Dunedin) is quite realistic.

I suggest flying into QT and departing from Dunedin or vice versa.

If it were me, and I were doing something similiar, I think I'd divide my time something like this:

Queenstown-Te Anau-Milford areas - four full days - these areas aren't as close to one another as you'd think - it's a two hour drive from QT to Te Anau, then another two hours to Milford Sound.

The Catlins - three full days - there are two distinct areas of the Catlins, the North and the South. Both areas can fill several days, depending on your interests.

Dunedin area - three full days

Ten days gone.
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Old Sep 8th, 2012, 04:37 PM
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I meant you lose a day when you come to OZ/NZ. Oops.
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Old Sep 9th, 2012, 09:38 AM
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Thank you guys for your detailed responses. I appreciate it so much because I do not want to end up disappointing myself with making plans that are unrealistic. So your perceptions are taken into consideration for sure. I have a couple of questions. While searching flights from Queenstown to Cairns, it says it takes 20 hours, with the stop in Sydney!! Why does it take sooo long. That is longer than it takes to get to NZ from CA in the United States!! Also, if we end up having to choose between the Southern Scenic route of exploring NZ, OR just going to the Pacific Cove area of AUS and visiting the Northern Territory, which one would you chose? Sounds like trying to do both in one trip may not be feasible. So just looking for recommendations based on people who have been there!!
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Old Sep 9th, 2012, 11:25 AM
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I think if you look at the flight details for the flight between Queenstown and Cairns (Qantas 122/5952), there is a 14 hour layover in Sydney before you continue on to Cairns. It all has to do with departure times from Queenstown and flights between Sydney and Cairns.

If you have to choose between the South Island of NZ or GBR/NT, then I would base your decision on the time of year that you are planning your trip. If you choose the November/December timeframe, the weather will be more pleasant in NZ than in GBR/NT. If you choose to travel in June, it will be much better weather-wise in the GBR/NT (particularly the Top End of the NT) than in southern NZ.
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Old Sep 9th, 2012, 11:53 AM
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Thank you longhorn55. It all makes sense. I appreciate the input so much!!
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Old Sep 9th, 2012, 04:58 PM
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There's also a two hour time difference between Queenstown and Cairns which might account for some of the travel time.
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Old Sep 10th, 2012, 04:52 PM
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Ooohh....that's interesting. Another little tidbit I wasn't aware of!!
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Old Sep 10th, 2012, 09:50 PM
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Google maps' " Get directions" function will give you a few clues about distances & travel times.

In NZ, travel time is often longer than the distance suggests because of the winding/ narrow/ mountainous roads.

Be aware we are metric here, so distances in kilometers, gas/ petrol / fuel in liters. Temperatures in Celsius. NZ & Australia both use dollars, but do not share currency. AUD 1= NZD 1.27 today. I AUD = 1.034 USD.
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Old Sep 27th, 2012, 11:35 PM
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Not sure on your flight options but quite often it is best to fly from Queenstown to Brisbane as they usually have good flight times (and there should also be good flights to Cairns from Brisbane).

In NZ I would just stay in a hotel in Queenstown and do some day trips from there, or hire a motor home if you prefer.

You could visit the Australia Zoo (http://www.australiazoo.com.au/) to hold a koala and other Australian animals. This is located on the Sunshine Coast and is about 1 hour from Brisbane. You could maybe hire a car from Brisbane airport and drive up the coast to Cairns (20 hours, but you would do it over a week or so) and see some wildlife, rainforests and beautiful beaches on the way?
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