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elbegewa May 2nd, 2017 12:21 PM

Oct - 30 Day Trip to Australia & New Zealand
Ok ... Thank you for your thoughts on our earlier post!!! We think we've finally settled on an itinerary for an apx 30 day trip to Australia & New Zealand, leaving the last few days of Sept 2017 continuing through most of Oct. We're asking for potential tweaks to it. And we will follow with specific questions about specific portions of the trip in other posts.

First, it's a whirlwind. We know. Any one of the destinations could deserve 2 weeks or much more. We're just trying to get a sampler-taste of a region of the world we'll likely not travel to again.
Second, we love mountains (ski, hike, scenery). Marginally less, we like the coast for scenery (not really into traditional sunny-beach life). But since we live in the area of WA, OR, BC, & AB that has spectacular mountains, glaciers, fjords, & the Salish Sea, we'd like to emphasize other things on this trip.
Third, we're a couple in our mid 70's, and are a bit beyond our camping & backpacking age :-( but are still physically fit and active and hike and bike a fair amount.
Fourth, we're frugal by choice, not by need. We seek clean comfort, but not luxury (in the States tend to stay in places like Holiday Inn Express or (prefer) similar non-chain hotels or B&B, often with character - sometimes even in private rooms w/ bath in the Y, in Europe often Ibis or similar. Not foodies: eat sensibly and wholesome.

Days 1-2 - fly Seattle to Sydney (Reccos re least uncomfortable flights?)
Days 3, 4, & 5 - Sydney (Reccos for hotels in the center of things?)
Day 6 - fly to Yulara/Uluru
Days 7 & 8, drive one day to Olgas and other to Kings Canyon, explore around Urulu in limited free time and afternoon of arrival, morning of departure. Lots will depend if we hit a hotter (as opposed to warm, hot, and hottest) spell. Likely stay in Outback Pioneer. We presume we'll need to avoid weekend here to get availability
Day 9 - fly to Cairns, transfer to Port Douglas (What's best way of transfer to/from Port Douglas?)
Days 10, 11, & 12, one day to the outer reef (likely no snorkeling, but possible), one day to Daintree, one day "free" ... debating renting car or going on tour to Daintree
Day 13 - fly to Melbourne
Days 14, 15, & 16:Melbourne (& Vicinity?)
Day 17: fly to Hobart
Days 18, 19, & 20: Hobart, incl. MONA, day trip to Port Arthur (to where an ancestor was transported to 1800's) Following advice from an earlier post read "The Fatal Shore..." ... it was a great suggestion
Day 21: fly Hobart to Melbourne to Queenstown NZ
Days 22, 23, & 24: Queenstown, incl. very long day trip excursion to Milford Sound w/ boat trip
Day 25: fly to Auckland
Days 25, 27, & 28: Auckland & vicinity incl. Waiheke Island to visit good friend who lives there
Day 29: fly home to Seattle

Bokhara2 May 2nd, 2017 02:34 PM

Looks as if your trip is coming together well, with a little flexibility here & there for weather & whim.

I'll just make a couple of comments re your Australian leg.

Sydney hotels: have a look at for properties, location & rates. When you have a short list, let us know & we can comment. Airbnb is also a good option. As you will be here for a few days, a self catering apartment may suit, for the extra space, laundry & kitchen facilities. These are often around the same or less expensive rates as hotel rooms.

A few options that may appeal include: The Lord Nelson, Sydney Harbour B&B, YHA Sydney Harbour. And as you've mentioned chain hotels, Holiday Inn Old Sydney. I'm not a great fan, but a lot of tourists like it & it's in a great location. I don't have to be a fan, I'm a local :)

Cairns to Port Douglas. Rent a car. You'll need one up there anyway.

Yulara. Book early, to make sure of your accommodation & car hire here. Demand can easily outstrip supply in this remote area.

You probably know about the Opal card for public transport in Sydney & Myki for Melbourne. Google if not - you'll need them & they are very convenient.

You're coming at a great time. School holidays will be over by the time you leave Sydney.

Melnq8 May 2nd, 2017 02:48 PM

Whirlwind is an understatement.

Just the thought of only 5.5 days in beautiful New Zealand makes me want to cry, let alone only three days on the South Island.

For cheap and cheerful QT accommodation, you might like the Bella Vista Motel - walking distance to town without being right IN town (which can be noisy).

I assume you won't even bother renting a car for the NZ portion?

northie May 3rd, 2017 03:53 AM

We stayed at the Outback Pioneer a month ago - it's the mid range choice - well set out , good rooms etc.
Melbourne - stay in the CBD - lots of options .

Diamantina May 4th, 2017 06:38 PM

I looked at your previous post and see you were hoping to see penguins in New Zealand. You might see Fiordland Crested Penguins (Tawaki) in Milford Sound as it'll be breeding season. However, I'd also recommend while in Melbourne, AU, you take a trip to Phillip Island's Penguin Parade to see the Little Penguins. You can take a tour from Melbourne if you don't want to drive, and I'd recommend this as you'd be getting back to Melbourne late. Info about Phillip Island Penguin Parade:
Video here:

I took a tour with Bunyip Tours:

Melbourne's a lovely cosmopolitan city with great museums, terrific restaurants, pretty parks, and the Yarra River. The CBD is walkable and served by free trams (only in the Free Tram Zone). Scroll down this page to Free City Services:

Another reminder of those NZ holidays:
NZ school holidays fall from Saturday, September 30 through Sunday, October 15, 2017. Labour Day will be on October 23.

Australia: Term 3 School Holidays 2017
Australian Capital Territory: 23 September to 8 October
New South Wales: 23 September to 8 October
Northern Territory:  30 September to 8 October
Queensland: 16 September to 2 October
South Australia: 30 September to 15 October
Tasmania: 30 September to 15 October
Victoria: 23 September to 8 October
Western Australia: 23 September to 8 October

Chinese Golden Week runs from October 1 through October 7. Many Chinese tourists visit NZ at this time, not sure about Australia.

I agree with Melnq8, three days in Queenstown (or vicinity) won't be enough. But what can you do?

Regarding your days in Auckland. Will you be based in Auckland or Waiheke (with your friend)?

I agree with Bokhara2, self-catering apartments are a good idea as you are not foodies and prefer to "eat sensibly and wholesome." This would give you the option of making your own breakfasts, salads, simple meals, etc. in addition to or as alternative to dining out. I also find it saves time when on the go.

northie May 5th, 2017 12:19 AM

Hyde Park inn in Sydney- rooms have a kitchen area ideal for self catering .

ABay May 22nd, 2017 01:24 AM

Here are my comments. As you have a couple of days in Melbourne you might want to look at an apartment. If you stay somewhere near Victoria Market in the CBD which is open Tuesday, Thurs-Sunday you will have no trouble getting supplies. Whether you stay in Melbourne cbd or vicinity depends on what you are interested in seeing or doing. For example if you want to be out of the cbd but still within 15 minutes by public transport you could look at South Yarra or Prahran. If you are interested in sport you will probably be in Melbourne for the Australian Rules football finals. Depending on who is playing you might be able to get a ticket.
As for Cairns to Port Douglas I would just get a bus. If you are going out to the Reef you really have to go snorkelling.

elbegewa May 22nd, 2017 10:13 PM

Thanks for your responses, they've helped. Will eventually be asking more specifics on here and TA

Yep, it's a whirlwind. We'd prefer just going somewhere and staying a length of time.(Wouldn't it be great to start when young, work around the world, staying each place a few years?) But we wanted to just get a taste of OZ, concentrating on areas unlike our Pacific NW. We've spent a lifetime in the mtns of the Pacific NW hiking, summiting various 10,000 ft. peaks (a long time ago), skiing ... we even met each other in the mountain backcountry near Mt. Waddington BC ... so we figure if we have to short-change anything we'd short-change the NZ mtns and fjords (actually, we're shortchanging everything, eh?)

Planning to stay in a mix of hotels and self-catering quality 3*, maybe a few 2* or 4*? - a clean place to lay one's head, not looking to be there much.

Argh, thanks Diamantina re school holidays - we'll be at Ayers Rock/Urulu and Port Douglas right in their midst :(

We just got our flights arranged:
AR Sydney Sep 26 6:00 AM :( - lv Sep 30 - collapsing a bit from jet lag and experiencing the city. Now studying things to do, accommodation, locations. Suggestions? Will likely walk and bike a lot, take public transport)

AR Ayers Rock/Uluru Sep 30 lv Oct 3 - booked room at Pioneer Outback Hotel - will rent car, probably get to the Olgas, may get to Watarrka on day trip (heat dependent) - hike, bike, explore the outback

AR Cairns (Port Douglas) Oct 3, lv Oct 7 - AR Cairns 3:15 PM - debating staying there overnight or driving straight to Port Douglas. One day will go w/ Quicksilver to their platform, good compromise since I may or may not snorkel, DW def. not. One day to Daintree, one day as yet unplanned. Last day plenty of time to rive back to Cairns for flight at 3:25

AR Melbourne Oct 7, lv Oct 10 Now studying things to do, accommodation, locations. Suggestions? Will likely walk and bike a lot, take public transport) Tour to Phillip Island (thanks for recco Diamantina). Probably won't see Australian Football (in US been to only 3 baseball, 1 football, and 2 hockey games since I got out of college in early 70's) We debated spending 1 more day in Melbourne and 1 less day in Sydney .. we'll see if we regret the decision.

AR Holbart Oct 10, lv. Oct. 14, Will get to Port Arthur to see where gggrandfather had been "housed" and to MONA. Now studying things to do, accommodation, locations. Suggestions? Will likely walk and take public transport)

Oct 14 overnight near Sydney Airport (Ibis? or ???)

AR Queenstown Oct 15, lv Oct 19 Now studying things to do, accommodation, locations. Suggestions? Will likely walk a lot, take public transport. Will likely take one of those long-day tours to Milford Sound and pray for the weather ... if it rains, well, we're used to that)

AR Auckland Oct 19, lv Oct 23 Will likely walk a lot, take public transport ... one day will go to Waiheke Island to visit friend at their old 3rd generation family "farm".

northie May 23rd, 2017 07:38 PM

Football is finished in Melbourne by then anyway .
A few trip reports from yes travel and others have details of accommodation in Melbourne . CBD was where yes travel stayed and found it great .
I had to look up Warrtaka - didn't realize it's the Kings Canyon . Do you realize it's nearly a 4 hour drive from Uluru to there. My guess after exploring The rock area , the town activities , Kata Tjuta ((Olgas) you will have filled in your few days at Uluru .

Diamantina May 23rd, 2017 08:03 PM

As you might be taking the Phillip Island tour I recommended, I thought I should offer more details of my trip.

When I booked my Phillip Island tour with Bunyip Tours, I also booked a one-day Great Ocean Road Tour. which, in addition to viewing the 12 Apostles, also included Loch Ard Gorge, and Cape Otway Lighthouse, and looking for koalas in the wild (we easily spotted some). I didn't have a lot of time and didn't want to drive so this was a good solution for me.

Because I booked two tours, I got a free "melbourne attractions pass" (tickets to Eureka Skydeck 88 & SEALIFE Melbourne Aquarium). I enjoyed both attractions. The Melbourne Aquarium has a great Gentoo penguin display (granted, it's not like seeing penguins in the wild, but you might enjoy it). Skydeck has 360 degree views of the city.

The tour to Phillip Island also included a stop at Moonlit Sanctuary (where you can get close to tame kangaroos and see other endemic animals), and the Nobbies, home to a large offshore Australian fur seal colony ("Seal Rocks"). The Nobbies also has a snack bar, and boardwalk. You must look at the fur seals through coin-operated telescopes because they're not close.
Here in New Zealand, there are many sites where you can see NZ fur seals without the aid of telescopes or binoculars, including Milford Sound, where you'll be going! Bunyip also brought us to a chocolate factory, which I was dreading, but I actually enjoyed it. I don't think is part of the tour anymore.

Diamantina May 23rd, 2017 11:17 PM

Continuation of Melbourne attractions...

Within the city itself, you might want to visit one or two museums. If interested in "Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian art from the colonial period to the present day" there's the Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square.

Depending what's on, you might want to visit NGV International in Southbank (same link as above), which has collections and special exhibitions of art from Europe, Asia, America, and Oceania. To get to it from Federation Square, you can walk along St. Kilda Road or take a tram. The walk takes about 10 minutes, crosses the Yarra River and meanders past the Arts Centre.

The Melbourne Museum, reputedly the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere, in Carlton Gardens, is great, with its main focus being natural history.
Its Forest Gallery is outstanding:
Native birds fly freely through its Forest Gallery. If you're lucky, you might see the Satin Bowerbird doing its mating dance, or gathering bits of blue plastic to build a nest to impress its mate. The Tawny Frogmouth (a bird) might be perched on a branch.
The museum's First Peoples Gallery, or Bunjilaka and Milarri Garden Trail, is also interesting:

The City Circle Free Tram (that I mentioned in your other post)will get you close to all three museums. Rather than wait for trams, I usually just walked. Here's a great map of the Inner City:
More maps here:

You might want to pop into St. Paul's Cathedral on Flinders Lane and Swanston, across from Federation Square. It's not as grand as some of the Gothic cathedrals of Europe, but quite lovely in its own right. There's a photo of its interior on this link:

Inner Melbourne is known for its pedestrian laneways. You might want to view the street art on Hosier Lane, which is near both St. Paul's and Federation Square.

More things to do on Melbourne's website:

I've stayed twice in a higher-floor-with-balcony studio apartment at City Tempo. Not a fancy place, but inexpensive and modern, with a kitchenette. It's a block and a half from Queen Victoria Market (a must-see), a few blocks walk to a major supermarket. It's a block from the City Circle and other tram lines, close to many restaurants and shops, about a 15-minute walk to Federation Square or to Carlton Gardens.
You could probably get a cheaper rate through a booking site, such as, or, or

Melnq8 May 24th, 2017 10:59 AM

Dread a chocolate factory tour? How is that possible???

elbegewa May 26th, 2017 05:00 PM

I wouldn't dare go to a chocolate factory ... I can't resist any sweets, cheap or good quality; sugar! yeah!. (I can't figure out how I can remain so thin in spite of my sweet tooth). :) Fortunately DW heads us to healthy foods.

Thanks Diamantina ... great ideas for Melbourne ... City Tempo looks like it may be good for us.

Right now we're looking for accommodations in Port Douglas for 4 nights. Looking for clean, comfortable, some character & charm, moderate price range ... either hotel style or self-catering, both work. We'll probably just sleep there and spend most of our waking hours out and about.

Any recommendations?

Doing the normal TA and searches and comparing.

northie May 26th, 2017 08:25 PM

I have been twice to the chocolate factory at Phillip island and thought it was awful - just took visitors who really wanted to go there.

There's also a tourist info booth in Fed Square and one in Bourke street mall. They have a map for streets and lanes tour which includes Hosier, ACDC - the latter being much better than The former.

There's also a tourist bus - cost $5 which goes to Carlton and other areas that the tram doesn't . NB not the expensive on/off tour - just the City of Melbourne bus.

Melnq8 May 27th, 2017 01:36 AM

I'm a chocoholic and loved the chocolate tour at Cadbury in Dunedin ages ago and the Cailler tour in Switzerland a few years back.

As much as I like chocolate though, I was thoroughly sick of the stuff by the time the tour was over - something about the smell. A little goes a long way I guess.

What chocolate company are we talking about anyway? Just curious, in case I ever get to Phillip Island.

CounterClifton May 27th, 2017 04:16 AM

<I>The tour to Phillip Island also included a stop at Moonlit Sanctuary (where you can get close to tame kangaroos and see other endemic animals)</i>

We took my daughter to Moonlit Sanctuary last october for her birthday. A low key, privately owned sort of place but we enjoyed it. Hand fed tiny little wallabies, among other things.

The chocolate factory I'm guessing is Panney's. She always wants to go there too. Not like a big Cadbury factory, its more like an attraction with a small attached chocolate room. Fun for kids, where you play arcade games for chocolate balls, guess smells and ingredients, make your own chocolate shape. I don't even think they sell their chocolate outside the factory store.

Diamantina May 27th, 2017 04:47 AM

Elbegewa, I checked the rate for City Tempo on a random midweek date on at it was a little more than US$100 per night including taxes and fees. Rates tend to go up on the weekends. If you stay there, ask for a higher floor room.

Pegasus Apart-Hotel is a similar property down the street that's newer and has a pool, but it might be slightly more expensive.

Will you be renting a car while in Queenstown as you'll only have two free days there? (Being one of your three days is reserved for all-day Milford Sound tour.) A car would allow you to explore more in your own time, get to walking tracks, etc., but might not be worth the expense for such a short time.

If not renting a car, you might want to look at the bus schedule for Arrowtown.
There's also transport to Glenorchy:

Within Queenstown itself, the Botanic Garden is beautiful (especially in spring) and connects to a lakeside walk. The Skyline Gondola offers incredible views over the lake and town, and goes up to Bob's Peak, where you can join the Ben Lomond Track. Instead of taking the gondola up, you'd also have the option of walking to Bob's Peak using the Tiki Trail, connecting to the Ben Lomond Track. I've not done this, but there's heaps about it online, and you did say you are both active and enjoy hiking, but do consider the weather, as it can be rainy or cloudy.

Of course, Queenstown has many tour and Lake Wakitipu cruise options.

If not renting a car, stay in Central Queenstown, which has a wide range of accommodation, from private rooms in hostels to ultra-luxurious properties. Please check Trip Advisor reviews before booking, as some places on busy streets, such as Stanley St., can be noisy with the roar of trucks and buses, and partiers returning from the bars at night. Central Queenstown can be bustling; it's highly commercial (but convenient, too).

Melnq8, I was dreading the chocolate factory tour because I was more interested in wildlife and scenery. I don't have a sweet tooth, with the exception of the NZ honey I add to my morning tea, and the occasional oat biscuit. Chocolate also badly disrupts my sleep (I also gave up coffee years ago). So I didn't try any chocolate at the factory, but enjoyed seeing its penguin-themed chocolate displays and the camp, muralsize portrait of Dame Edna (Aussie Barry Humphries' drag character) done entirely with foil-wrapped chocolates, which reminded me slightly of the works of American painter Chuck Close. I wouldn't have gone out of my way to see these attractions, but they unexpectedly made this tour stop more enjoyable.

CounterClifton, yes, I just checked and it was Panny's. I agree, kids would love it, and others, too.

Melnq8 May 27th, 2017 02:47 PM

Currently in Iceland and trying to get my head around a 1,400 ISK (USD $14) locally produced chocolate bar.

I haven't succumbed...yet.

Diamantina May 27th, 2017 05:10 PM

In the interest of research, and in the pursuit of endorphins, you'll have to try some locally produced chocolate before you leave. Traveling can also be stressful, so you'll also want to make sure you stay heart-healthy:

Go ahead and succumb.

northie May 28th, 2017 01:38 AM

LOL CC - it was kids who forced me to go to Panneys !!!!

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