Sydney, Melbourne or Auckland? I can't decide!

Jan 12th, 2005, 06:59 AM
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Sydney, Melbourne or Auckland? I can't decide!

I am planning a trip to the pacific in mid April and I wanna see one of these cities. I can't decide which is best because I know so little about the area?

What are the pros and cons of each?

When i go to a city I like to eat, shop, walk around, see a few sights and generally just take in the culture of the location. I am planning about 6 days since I will be in Singapore for 3 or 4 days before this.

I usually go to Europe (mostly Paris and London and I love both) on vacation and I want to try something new.
richardab is offline  
Jan 12th, 2005, 09:09 AM
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Richard, I have not been to Auckland, other than to land there for refuelling. However, according to the 2001 census, the population was 367,734. Speaking for myself, a city of that size typically does not hold my attention for 6 days. But maybe someone who knows Auckland will tell you about it.

Sydney and Melbourne can hold my attention for that long. Each of them has a population of about 3.5 million.

Sydney has its famous harbour, bridge, opera house, and wonderful beaches. The downtown core is fairly intense, somewhat like a North American city, with high rise buildings, etc. That said, some of the close-in residential neighbourhoods have a charming, Edwardian flare. Then there are all those inlets from the ocean, with yachts moored in them -- just magical.

Melbourne's downtown is not as intense as Sydney's. Some of its downtown streets are wide boulevards with trees planted down the middle. There are some high rise buildings, of course, but some downtown streets have an almost Parisian feel to them, because there are some lower rise buildings, and some wide streets as I mentioned before. Several of the neighbourhoods surrounding Melbourne's downtown core have a great deal of Edwardian charm. It is delightful to explore these neighbourhoods.

Both Sydney and Melbourne have beautiful botanical gardens, art galleries, etc. The National Gallery of Victoria (in Melbourne) is gorgeous IMO.

Since Melbourne is situated at the top end of Port Phillip Bay, its ocean waters are very quiet and its beaches are much more boring than those of Sydney IMO. That said, the St. Kilda Esplanade still is a lovely place to walk, rollerblade or cycle. There also are nice restaurants and cafes on the banks of the Yarra River at Southbank, immediately south of the downtown core.

The debate as to which city is better, Sydney or Melbourne, rages on indefinitely. My own opinion is that, while Sydney's harbour, bridge and beaches are more spectacular, Melbourne is a more mellow, laid back, artsy city, and the better of the two when it comes to just hanging out.

In the case of both cities, one greatly enhances one's experience if one is willing to venture out on day trips or even an overnight trip into the surrounding countryside.

In the case of Sydney, the two out of town trips are the Blue Mountains to the west and the Hunter Valley and Port Stephen to the north. (The Blue Mountains are lovely, but you will avoid disappointment if you realise that they are not mountains like the Rockies. Think of them as the Blue Hills, and your expectations will be more realistic.)

In the case of Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road beckons to the SW, and the Dandenong Ranges to the east. (Again, the Dandenongs are hills rather than mountains.)

Now we come to the question of weather. One can get some brilliant weather in Melbourne in April. The trees are wearing their autumn splendour, and one can get warm days with clear blue skies and cool evenings. The average high in April is 68 deg F, the average low is 51 deg F, the highest temperature ever recorded in April was 94 deg F, the lowest temperature ever recorded in April was 38 deg F, and the average rainfall for the month is 1.9 inches. I have experienced some glorious April weather in Melbourne, and also some crappy weather (cool and rainy).

Here are Sydney's statistics for April. The average high temperature is 73 deg F, the average low is 57 deg F, the highest temperature ever recorded was 96 deg F, the lowest temperature ever recorded was 43 deg F, and the average rainfall for the month is 4.2 inches.

Although I have visited Sydney several times, I have not spent as much time there as I've spent in Melbourne, where I lived for 2.5 years, and where I experienced a fuller range of weather possibilities. When I visited Sydney in April, it was lovely (warm and sunny), but that was just a weekend.

Much as I LOVE Melbourne, I do believe that Sydney's harbour belongs on the list of things that one should see in this lifetime if possible. So, while it is tough for me to choose between the two, my vote goes to Sydney.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 12th, 2005, 12:27 PM
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Hi Richard,

Judy is only partially correct when she says that Auckland has a population of 300k. In fact that is the population for the part of the city that is governed by the Auckland city council. There are in fact six councils in the greater Auckland region with a population of 1.2 million. In fact when Judy landed to refuel she did not actually land in Auckland city but in Manukau city. Though the only way a visitor would know they were travelling between the two would be to notice that the street signs are a different colour.

All three cities you are interested in are diverse. It depends on what you are after.

Auckland has ease of access to vinyards, harbour, islands and bushland. All of which are in the city.

Sydney has a great harbour some really good beaches and good shopping.

Melbourne has a good cosmopolitan feel, fantastic public transport which takes you everywhere you want to go and some great restaurant districts. It too has good shopping if this is what you are after, our amex bill will attest to that ha ha. It is easy to walk between attractions such as the South Bank up to the museum (Which I was impressed by) the markets. A short tram ride will take you out to some good restaurant districts such as Brunswick or Lygon street. Brunch at St Kilda is a great way to start a weekend.

As you may be able to tell, Melbourne would be my choice. That is even though I live in Auckland.

If you wanted something a bit different from the "Big City" feel than I would go for Auckland. It still has the restaurants and shopping but it also has the outdoors right on your doorstep.

Give us a few more clues as to what you like and then maybe we can hone down a suggestion for you.


Kiwi_acct is offline  
Jan 12th, 2005, 12:48 PM
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If you go to London and Paris and Singapore you don't need cosmopolitan - although I would not say that Sydney lacks that aspect in any case. Perhaps Melbourne is more cosmopolitan because it has the largest Greek community outside Athens but that is all.
Sydney rates as the most popular city to visit in the World ( Traveller's Choice Magazines ) most years mainly because it is probably the most beautifully setout city in the world and also because getting around it is fun and interesting - using mainly harbour traffic i.e. ferries and hovercraft. April in Sydney also is one of its best months with much to do and see and the weather is perfect.
Melbourne is a bit like some European cities with nothing in particular that is spectacular but it often has cultural happenings that are interesting.
Auckland is on my list of the 10 most boring places in the world, too big to be a small town and too little to have anything that sets it apart and lastly too darn cold and wet.
lizF is offline  
Jan 12th, 2005, 01:15 PM
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We just returned from a 17-day whirlwind trip to Australia and New Zealand and stayed in all three cities you're asking about.

We enjoyed our time in all three, but our family's clear personal favorite was Sydney. For us, it was the most vibrant of the three and the most visually beautiful. The harbor areas were bustling with stores and great restaurants, you've got The Rocks area to explore, many attractions to visit, nice beaches to relax on, etc.

Best of luck in your decision.
MountainGal is offline  
Jan 12th, 2005, 04:14 PM
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I've been to all three and my first choice would be Sydney, then Melbourne, with Auckland a distant third (my favorite city in New Zealand was Wellington).

If you like cosmopolitan, Sydney or Melbourne would probably be more to your taste. Good luck whichever you choose.
walkabout is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 08:05 PM
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I've just returned to live in Melbourne after an absence of over nine years 3+ in Qld and 6 in Sydney and am having a great time rediscovering my home city.

I agree with Judy wholeheartedly (boy she offers good advice). Sydney is a great place for a holiday - especially if you have only got 6 days, it's got the bridge and the opera house and the spectacular harbour and beaches and The Rocks and it is an interesting city from an historical point of view. If you had longer I would put in a few days in Melbourne as it really is a wonderful city with lovely architecture, gardens, fabulous restuarants, shopping and theatre. And the trams certainly give it a European air. But unfortunately a lot of the really great things to see in Melbourne and Victoria are in outlying areas (for example the Great Ocean Road, The Grampians, the Dandenongs, Wilsons Prom and the wine regions of Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Rutherglen) and you'd need a few days to explore each for all but the Yarra Valley and Dandenongs. So it would demand more time than your 6 days.
Daneille is offline  
Jan 13th, 2005, 09:06 PM
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So glad to hear you're enjoying re-discovering Melbourne, Daneille.
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jan 16th, 2005, 12:47 PM
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It sounds like although many suggest Melbourne for its European flair, Sydney is the place to go for a fist-timer.

I hate to say but I am also toying with Hong Kong, but I am afraid if I go there I might freak out from all the people.
richardab is offline  
Jan 16th, 2005, 06:50 PM
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Sydbney is the most interesting, absorbing of those cities - and April is a great time to be there.

Early in April will be the Royal Easter Show - always interesting, the middle of April is my birthday, and 25 April is Anzac Day - like your Memorial Day! and remember - Aussies ARE different!

What's not to love?
margo_oz is offline  
Jan 16th, 2005, 07:09 PM
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I have not been to Auckland or New Zealand for that matter, so I can't help you there.

Sydney is a fast paced city with a large gay population, lots of tourists, the Opera House, and some nice local beaches. It is mostly known within Australia for being a major tourist destination.

Melbourne is very multi-cultural (then again, so is most of Australia) and is known for its food, wine, theatres and fashion. Lots of artistic people live in Melbourne. It is also known for its snobbery, but I think that's only relevant to Brisbane-ites like myself, or people used to friendly environments.

Why don't you come to Brisbane instead? We are a friendly, laidback city on the eastern coast of Australia. We have a multi-cultural society also, particularly many people from Asia who choose to study in Brisbane. It is only a one hour drive south to superb beaches on the Gold Coast, a two hour drive north to beautiful Noosa and Sunshine Coast beaches. You can fly / bus to Airlie Beach and from there you can take a sailing trip out to the reef, where you can snorkel, dive, etc.

Brisbane itself has several art galleries - modern and traditional. We have theatre houses, great restaurants, fabulous seafood, fun nightclubs for all musical tastes. Fortitude Valley, a suburb 5 min from the city centre, has a market on Saturdays, as does SouthBank and the Riverside Centre has one on Sundays.

The suburb of Teneriffe, near Fortitude Valley, has some of the trendier restaurants and wine bars, as well as a great produce / seafood market and a foreign film cinema.

If you have any questions about Brisbane, I am more than happy to answer them. I can just say that millions of people from Melbourne and Sydney are moving to Brisbane each day because of the excellent and stress free lifestyle (so much so, that Brisbane-ites may well have to move to Melbourne or Sydney to find jobs!!), so obviously it is the pick of the nation for a fabulous holiday!
cerisenoir is offline  
Jan 17th, 2005, 02:19 PM
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I just visited all three, and I must say I think Sydney is the best. The city is extremely clean and beautiful, it is safe and has wonderful sightseeing.
loves_to_travel is offline  
Jan 17th, 2005, 03:00 PM
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>millions of people from Melbourne and Sydney are moving to Brisbane each day<

cerisenoir, at that rate it should take just a few days to empty both Sydney and Melbourne. Hooray! At last I'll be able to afford that house on the Harbour and a holiday shack at Palm Beach, with enough change for a Beemer to drive on the traffic-free roads!

Neil_Oz is offline  
Jan 17th, 2005, 06:20 PM
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Jeez, Neil, we could be neighbours on the waterfront!

I'm not moving to Brissie either! We could start looking for real estate on say, Monday/Tuesday of next week - everyone'll be gone by then! (based on Sydney population of 4 million!)
margo_oz is offline  

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