Sydney, Cairns and S. NZ: need recs

May 27th, 2004, 03:47 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 18
Sydney, Cairns and S. NZ: need recs

My wife and I will fly into Sydney for four days, fly up to Cairns for three days then fly to NZ into S. NZ for 1 week.

We know there are many of you who have been to all these places so need recs.
1. what are some places to stay and visit in Cairns?
2. In S. NZ, we are going to rent a car and drive around, any places to visit or possible itinerary?
3. What is best way to book lodging in NZ during travel? Should we purchase one of these travel lodging cards?

Any advise and recs would be appreciated.
Thank you
kairous1 is offline  
May 27th, 2004, 05:49 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 609

The link to the below site offers several suggested itineries for travelling in the South Island of New Zealand.

Some not to be missed things in the South Island would be IMHO Queenstown and the glaciers on the West Coast. However there are many many other great sights to see in the south.

As far as accomodation is concerned it depends on when you are travelling and how fixed your itinery is. If you are travelling during school holiday time or peak ski season accomodation may be tight if not pre booked.

Hope these help

Kiwi_acct is offline  
May 27th, 2004, 05:57 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,630

In Cairns the place to stay is Lilybank B&B, run by one of our main advisors Pat Woolford and her husband Mike. Within walking distance the fabulous Garden Room for dinner and downtown Red Ochre w/ seafood feast for 2 ( actually suitable for 40 for $58.

Pat knows everything about most things. and can arrange it for you. We especially liked being up on the Atherton Tablelands, similar to rural Hawai'i. We did a nice wildlife cruise on Lake Barrine up there. The wildlife park in Port Douglas is excellent. Bennet walker's son's run a good intro to aboriginal culture from near Mossman.

AndrewDavid is offline  
May 27th, 2004, 06:35 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 3,501
Hello Kairous1,

AndrewDavid has given you great advice. I myself have stated more than once that, next time I go to Far North Queensland, I want to stay at Lilybank in Cairns, if Pat and Mike are still running a B&B by the time I've saved up my pennies.

However, I don't know how much you know about FNQ, so in fairness I think I should mention to you that Palm Cove, a small coastal resort community about half an hour north of Cairns, and Port Douglas, an hour north of Cairns, also are popular places to stay.

THE reason that most people go to Queensland is to visit the Great Barrier Reef. There are essentially two ways of getting to the GBR. People based on the FNQ mainland most typically go out in a boat. A boat takes an hour, give or take, to get to a reef. Add time for snorkeling or diving at the reef, having lunch on the boat, and returning to shore, and you're pretty much looking at the better part of the day.

Another favourite activity is a trip into the tropical rainforest. A guided tour that does justice to the rainforest also takes the better part of a day. (One can drive oneself into the rainforest, but I do recommend a guided tour, because an experienced guide can explain so much about the rainforest and mangrove swamp ecosystems.)

The above has covered only the most minimal activities in FNQ. As AndrewDavid has pointed out, there are many other fun and interesting places to visit and things to do, such as the Atherton Tableland, opportunities to be introduced to aboriginal culture, opportunities to see wildlife, and so on.

Even if you undertake only the two activities that I think most people would regard as essential, the GBR and the rainforest, 3 days would be very tight.

The reason for that is the travel time to and from Cairns, and also the fact that the sea occasionally acts up and doesn't let one go out to the GBR on one's preferred day. If one has a day or two to spare, one can do another activity on land when the sea is yucky, and postpone one's visit to the GBR. There are people who have gone to Cairns on tight schedules and not managed to get out to the GBR, which I consider to be a great pity.

You might be able to maximize your sight seeing time in your 3 main destinations (Sydney, Cairns and NZ) by flying from one to the other in the evening.

The GBR and rainforest tours collect people from their accommodations in Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas, and return them there. There also is a system of shuttle buses from the airport to these three towns. So, on as short a visit to FNQ as you'll be undertaking, I don't think it's necessary to rent a car. When you book your hotel, find out if it includes an airport shuttle in its rate. If it does not, book an airport shuttle separately.

If you're going to FNQ for more than 3 days, I think it's worth renting a car and exploring some of the area on your own.

An alternative way to see the GBR and the rainforest is to fly to an island that is covered by forest and surrounded by reef. This often (but not always) is a more expensive exercise than staying on the mainland.

One of the eternal debates here at Fodors is whether to stay in Cairns, Palm Cove or Port Douglas. There are whole threads devoted to the PC versus PD debate. To be honest, I believe they are all good places.

There also is an eternal debate about which island is best. Not wanting to rush in where angels fear to tread, I'll simply leave you with a website on which you can look up information on each island:

Bon voyage.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
May 29th, 2004, 09:18 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 57

Cairns is a town of about 100,000 very spread out. The things to do from Cairns are old train journey (Kuranda Rail) up to the hills and skyrail back or reef trip. I liked the skyrail!!

We went for Sunday lunch at the Pacific International for $40 per head, all you can eat and drink (champagne or mageritas)with oysters, bugs, antipasto and great deserts. Main courses a bit ordinary but who cared. Thought I died and went to heaven.

Bad points is so many stores selling didgeridoos.

Cairns has lots of restaurants, a casino and lots of tourists from all over the world. It is lively and has buses that sell 24 hour tickets for about $8 if you want to go the northern beaches.

Palm Cove is a beautiful tourist beach, with low rise hotels resorts nestled in the trees. Palm Cove is more about lazing about relaxing with a good book and getting away from it all without going without some luxury.

It lies about 20 kms north of Cairns and is considered a northern suburb.

Port Douglas is a pretty town that has one main street that has all the tourist offerings. It has another street leading into town with the huge resort hotels. These offer a shuttle into town.

Port Douglas has the best options for reef cruises, is close to Mossman gorge and also closer to Daintree.

So if you want some action..Cairns, quiet... then Palm Cove or somewhere in between ..Port Douglas. If you want to get away from everything (Including TV)I suggest staying in Daintree at Ferntree in one of their little minature houses.

Day trips are available from all three places for Daintree and reef. Cairns best for day trips for white water rafting.

Three days stay I would suggest you choose one big day out and select the town to stay in according to your needs. I would aso suggest you stay downtown Cairns so you do not have transport issues.

Port Douglas also as waiting for shuttles wastes precious time. Stay in or near Macrossan Street if you choose Port D.
DropBear is offline  
May 30th, 2004, 06:00 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Hi Dropbear "Port Douglas has the best options for reef cruises versus Cairns". Sorry, it's the other way around. A quick count of snorkel/dive operators for day trips in the local phone reveals that there are about 30 operators out of Cairns and 10 or so out of Port Douglas. Frankland Islands are also much closer to Cairns than PD.
pat_woolford is offline  

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