Oz & Nz honeymoon trip report

Jan 15th, 2009, 06:00 PM
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Oz & Nz honeymoon trip report

First week of the trip, stayed privately in Sunshine Beach, Queensland. Awesome as always.

Had some nice meals at:

Rented a car from Europcar & drove down to Brissy.

We were jones-ing for asian food, so we went to the Green Papaya vietnamese restaurant (http://www.greenpapaya.com.au/) but were not impressed.

Luckily the next morning, my friends took us to a cafe for brunch called VROOM in fortitude valley. Yum.

Then we headed down to O'Reillys in the Gold Coast hineterland for a night (http://www.oreillys.com.au/) Considering the wearing drive from brisbane, it probably deserved one more night, but we didn't want to take one away from Sydney. Very comfortable room, nice hikes, friendly staff, food was nothing special. Be prepared to get charged for every extra convenience/activity. Not that I mind -- I'd prefer to go ala carte than pay for things I didn't use. Yes, they have pay-for wi-fi.

The next day we drove to Gold Coast airport in Coolangatta. Found a very convenient nice cafe (http://www.lemondekirra.com) right across from the airport for a quick bite/drink before dropping of our car

So now to the only bummer of the whole 3-week trip: flying JET-STAR to Sydney. Even though it's cheap, I will avoid it in the future & suggest you do the same. Just trust me, the check-in/boarding process is nuts. The trick seems to be to wait in line until you are so late that the lady at the counter yells "Everyone late for Sydney come up to the front!" (It was a mad scene even at mid-afternoon on a Tuesday)

But, we made the flight.

Got a GREAT hotel deal in a amazing location in Sydney -- the Quay West between circular quay and the rocks. Highly recommended for a one bedroom suite with laundry and kitchenette: http://www.mirvachotels.com/quay-grand-suites-sydney

Yes, they have paid-for wi-fi.

Stayed in Sydney for four nights & topped it off with an opera (Madama Butterfly) at the Sydney Opera House and then champagne at the Four Seasons (try the Club Sandwich)

Then -- off to New Zealand ....
scurry is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 06:26 PM
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Flew Qantas to Christchurch. Decided to save our $ for later in the trip so we stayed at the Ibis. For those who have never stayed at an Ibis, there's absolutely nothing wrong with them. They are always clean and neat and affordable. However, there's usually nothing really remarkable about them either, except they are usually in a really good location.

This one really foot the bill. First off, with the poor NZ dollar, it came to $50 US for the night. Secondly, it's in a great location in downtown CHC between the cathedral, the restaurants by the river and Yes, they even had aid-for wifi.

My wife and I really didn't know what to expect from CHC. We had heard that things shut down pretty early in NZ & although we aren't huge night-lifers, we did want to go out and have a good time. Luckily, it was a Saturday night & we had a great time walking the entire down town, stopping off for drinks here and there.

If you like Thai food, we LOVED Manee on Manchester St. double yum

Also, don't miss the cool alley-way hotspot at Sol Square (www.sol.net.nz) -- and when I say, don't miss it, I mean it. we stumbled onto it accidentily. There was another alley like it a few blocks away, but I've forgotten the name. Perhaps someone can help. Not just for youngees but a really nice feel. We really enjoyed ourselves in Christchurch!

Except the next morning came brutally early -- especially due to the timechange from Sydney. We decided not to drive through the Southern Alps but to take the train. Good plan. The train even provides a free, very diligent, shuttle bus from all the downtown hotels to the train station.

Bad news: it leaves at 8:15 a.m.

But I still recommend it: http://www.tranzscenic.co.nz/services/tranzalpine.aspx

It didn't give us the flexibility of getting out and hiking during the trip, but we liked not having to drive (and taking naps). Great views, friendly staff and well-plenished bar/food car.

We considered getting off at Arthur's Pass to overnight & catch the train the next day, but decided to push through to Graymouth. Cute little town, rented another car from Europcar.

scurry is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 07:14 PM
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So, let me just say right here that while on a roadtrip, I normally do not like to have a set itinerary with hotels and cities picked out ahead of time. This allows for more flexibility to learn about fun things/locations from people/guidebooks along the way. If you get to a town and it's disappointing, you can always drive on to the next one.

I may re-think this plan for my next visit to NZ! Sometime the next town is a loooong way way & sometimes they don't have lodging ;-)

So we drove north out of Greymouth with the plan to fly out of Nelson to Auckland 3 days later.

We drove to Punakaiki (http://www.punakaiki.co.nz/) to check out the blowholes and pancake rocks. We arrived at low tide which is not idea, but it was still a nice visit. From there, we were going to drive and stay the night in Westport, but when we got there it was a ghost-town so we decided to push on.

After another hour or so (a very long day considering the train), we arrived in Murchison & LUCKILY found a room at the Silverstone B&B.

more later!
scurry is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 07:20 PM
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That was a quick jet lag recovery! Looking forward to more installments.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 07:29 PM
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Looks as if you had a great time - enjoying your report, scurry.

Laughed at your "wearing drive" from Brisbane to O'Reillys. What exactly did you get up to to stretch that hour-and-a-half's drive into a "wearing" one???? On second thoughts - perhaps don't answer that (LOL) I've heard of young men taking the "long way home", but you're an old married guy now, you know
Bokhara2 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2009, 10:16 PM
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Yeah -- I don't remember it being so long either, but this drive took us well over two hours on some back windy roads

We were going by a GPS that possibly took us a bad way.

not that I'm NOT an old (happy) married man now! ;-)
scurry is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 08:26 AM
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OK - I spent 90 minutes the other night finishing up my trip report, only to have the computer eat it (quite dis-heartening) so let's try again ....
scurry is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 08:37 AM
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The Silverstone B&B in Murchison was probably a little more expensive than it was worth (no breakfast), but we didn't care at all -- just happy to not have to sleep in our car (or a backpacker's hostel) that night!

No wifi at the B&B but the hostess pointed us on a short walk down to the Riverview Holiday Park campground (http://www.jasons.com/New-Zealand/Mu...w-Holiday-Park) just down the street for a surprisingly nice casual dinner at the Rock Snot Cafe. Please don't let the name scare you off. Afterwards, a nice long walk through town at Sunset helped us forget our recent accomodation anxiety.
scurry is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 08:52 AM
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The next day, we drove to Motueka on the north coast. For some reason, we were expecting a cute seaside resort town, so we were a little disappointed (our fault, not Motueka's).

However, we had learned our lesson the night before, so we went to the helpful iVisitors bureau to book us a hotel for that evening.

Unfortunately, our first several choices were booked (Monday night in early January) so we settled on the Kimi Ora resort: http://www.kimiora.com/ above Kaiteriteri beach.

Based on the brochure, my wife was worried that it was going to be too crowded & 'corporate' -- and I feared the opposite, that it would be too hippie/alternative but we were both wrong. It was comfortable, simple, relaxed. Certainly not fancy, but fine for our needs. (We did get bitten by hellacious bugs while sleeping, but I don't think we can blame the resort for that!).

We skipped the spa's vegetarian restaurant for dinner and went to the Beached Whale restaurant(http://www.harlequin.co.nz/menu/Rest...achedWhale.asp) located down between the beach and the most crowded holiday camper park that either of us had ever seen.

Food @ the Beached Whale was OK, nothing memorable.
scurry is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 09:18 AM
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OK -- our last full day in New Zealand, and probably our best:

We drove the short way up from Kaiteriteri to Marahau right at the base of the Abel Tasman park. We didn't have time to enter, but this is one of the places where you can catch the water taxis from to get into the park.

We had a delightful un-hurried brunch at the "Hooked on Marahau" cafe (http://www.abeltasmancentre.co.nz/dining.html). I think it was our best meal in all of New Zealand. Again, nothing spectacularly fancy, but great coffee, amazing views and a wonderful Bacon Lettuce Avacado and Tomato (BLAT) sandwich. The wife greatly enjoyed a lamb salad, I believe. Very yummy -- we wanted to stay there lounging forever.

But eventually, we did motivate & boy, were we glad that we did!

As our last, special treat for our honeymoon, we decided to splurge on the Wairepo House B&B (http://www.wairepohouse.co.nz/) -- easily the best B&B we had ever stayed. Beautiful gardens amid the apple orchards, AMAZING breakfast, friendly and attentive but not intrusive hostess, (Free Wifi!) and really luxurious beds.

Certainly not cheap ($395NZ per night) but simply awesome!

Again, I was surprised at the distance into Nelson. (30 mins?) but this seemed like a fun little town that we wished we had an extra night in.

The B&B had recommended a very fancy restaurant, the Boat Shed(http://www.boatshedcafe.co.nz/) for dinner, but it wasn't really our kind of food.

scurry is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 09:31 AM
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So that's it, except to say that I continue to love my Garmin Nuvi. It has now guided us through Italy, Australia and New Zealand -- as well as our everyday life in California.

I did think that Garmin's $199 (US) price for the additional Australia map package was a little steep considering that that's about half the price of the entire unit with all US and Europe maps included!

So I was very thankful to find the NZ open GPS Project (http://nzopengps.org) that allows you to download maps for your Nuvi etc for free. They may not have all the accomodation and restaurant information that Garmin provides, but the roads are very useful. I'll certainly be giving them a donation as thanks.

scurry is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 02:50 PM
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Sounds like you had a good trip scurry. Thanks for posting.
Melnq8 is offline  
Jan 25th, 2009, 11:19 PM
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Kaiteriteri beach in January is to be avoided, it is very popular, most of Christchurch end up camping either at Kaiteriteri or Tahunanui beach in Nelson for the summer holidays. School doesn't go back until Feb 3rd. Kaiteriteri is a great beach though when it is a bit quieter.

Nelson is a lovely town too and deserves a night or two stay.
nelsonian is offline  
Jan 26th, 2009, 09:24 AM
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WOW! Thank you SO much for sharing the info about the free NZ GPS maps. You just saved me lots of $$$.

And ... thanks for the report.
Songdoc is offline  
Feb 21st, 2009, 12:59 PM
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Tag as Trip Report
scurry is offline  
May 31st, 2009, 03:35 AM
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I agree with you about the Silverstone B&B - far too pricey for what it offers. For that price they could throw the brekky in! Clean & comfie though - to be expected. We also used the free nuvi downloads - very helpful! But NZ is very beautiful.
roxley is offline  
Jun 7th, 2009, 07:34 PM
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We're taking a trip to the SI this December and I was wondering if anyone had a new link to http://nzopengps.org. This one doesn't seem to be working for me. I think the free GPS maps sounds wonderful! Thanks!
GillsinEurope is offline  
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