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To That Special Place: A Holiday in New Zealand, Sydney, and Hawaii

To That Special Place: A Holiday in New Zealand, Sydney, and Hawaii

Old Dec 8th, 2019, 02:11 PM
  #1  
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To That Special Place: A Holiday in New Zealand, Sydney, and Hawaii

For all of you who've followed along on the travels of my companions and me over the years here on Fodor's, you know that the lands Down Under - Australia and New Zealand in particular - hold a special place in our hearts. Together we've visited this corner of the world on numerous occasions and shared countless memorable experiences. We've had the fortune to meet its people, immerse in its cultures, learn about its history, and enjoyed the bounty that the lands and seas surrounding it offer. Not too much time lapses before we think about returning.

This trip is two years in the making. The focus of this visit is the South Island of New Zealand and its natural beauty. We could easily spend a month or two on the island and still leave with a long list of desires on the table. With just 15 nights, we are choosing to cover less geography in the hopes of spending more time at the places we do visit. Our must-visits are Milford Sound, other parts of Fiordland National Park, and the greater Queenstown area. In addition, we aim to spend days hiking and seeing wildlife. (My planning thread is included here for the benefit of those putting together their own trips: early planning for NZ South Island trip - please provide feedback

For this particular itinerary, our goal is to start in Christchurch and work our way south. The first major decision point was to the routing - we could travel via the west coast, with the glaciers as the primary attraction, or we could take an inland route stopping Aoraki Mt. Cook. We opted to go the Aoraki Mt. Cook route. We suspect we would be happy with either itinerary, although given current weather and resultant road conditions, we may be lucky with our decision to take the eastern inland route - we'll see.

Given our collective obligations at work and life, the best time for us to travel would be the final weeks of December, which is what we decided. The timing meant it made sense for us to finalizing our itinerary as soon as our dates were settled so that we could book accommodations, and we did just that. The timing also provided us the opportunity to spend New Year's Eve in Sydney once more and we jumped on it (we originally planned on 21 or so nights in New Zealand but reduced it to 15 to incorporate our interest in Sydney). Our only objective in Sydney, or Australia for that matter, is the New Year's Eve celebrations, so we didn't feel we needed our usual full week in the city.

With a few days between New Year's Day and when we needed to be home, we settled on the addition of three nights in Honolulu on our way back. None of us have been to Hawaii and understood we would require significant more time to fully immerse in it, but at least we could get a taste. And the flights would work out.

So here we are. We leave on Thursday, with the following plan in hand:

Christchurch, 3 nights
Aoraki Mt. Cook, 2 nights
Queenstown, 4 nights
Te Anau, 3 nights
Dunedin, 3 nights
Sydney, 3 nights
Honolulu, 3 nights

We are very aware of the havoc that climate has brought upon both Australia and New Zealand in recent days and weeks, and have been following its developments closely. Both for our sake but more importantly for the locals who call this part of the world home, we hope the disruptions subside and recoveries begin.

I want to conclude by saying thank you to all the Fodorites who've offered suggestions, feedback, and advice for this trip. Special thanks to Diamantina for going out of the way to provide me with the information to enhance this trip even more.

Here we go.




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Old Dec 8th, 2019, 02:39 PM
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Along for the ride. May the weather gods be in a better mood.

I leave for Christmas in Europe later this week, but will check in from afar.
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Old Dec 8th, 2019, 03:06 PM
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Melnq8, thank you for the well wishes and for all your help too. Are you going to Switzerland again? I wish you a joyful journey ahead and look forward to following along your travels as well.
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Old Dec 8th, 2019, 03:16 PM
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tripplanner - I'm off to to Germany and Austria with my niece - her first trip to Europe (spouse and I spent most of October in Switzerland - thought it'd be nice to see it in autumn, had a wonderful trip!).

Looking forward to plentiful holiday spirit and hoping for snow.

Be safe.
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Old Dec 8th, 2019, 04:05 PM
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Melnq8, thank you. I love the festive atmosphere of that part of Europe during this season. Hope you and your niece have the time of your lives.
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Old Dec 8th, 2019, 04:10 PM
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You may have a long slog going south from Christchurch. I might look into fly to Queenstown, from the looks of things! Just reading about the Rangitata

https://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-heral...l-reopen-today
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Old Dec 8th, 2019, 05:38 PM
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Mlgb, thank you. Right now, I'm hoping the situation improves in 8 days' time when we are scheduled to make the river crossing. We're planning on allotting a full day to get from Christchurch to Aoraki Mount Cook, with stops along the way on a good day or all of it for travel if things remain challenging. Will keep the flight option as a backup plan.
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Old Dec 8th, 2019, 08:58 PM
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Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to hearing more, especially Sydney and Hawaii. We've been to Hawaii quite a few times (first time was our honeymoon, MANY years ago) and would love to return.

Happy travels
Kay
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Old Dec 9th, 2019, 07:59 AM
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Will follow. Should be epic! Please post a lot of pics.
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Old Dec 9th, 2019, 09:33 AM
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Kay, you're welcome. I look forward to sharing.

Jacketwatch, thank you. Will be happy to include pics.
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Old Dec 10th, 2019, 03:17 PM
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Looking forward to following along. Our trip, which begins in January, has a couple of overlaps, Christchurch, Te Anau & Aoraki Mt. Cook, with where you are going. Have a great trip and may the weather gods send sun your way.
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Old Dec 10th, 2019, 04:40 PM
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Yestravel, thank you. With the crazy weather that New Zealand has been experiencing, Iíll be thankful for any bit of sun weíre able to get.

Last edited by tripplanner001; Dec 10th, 2019 at 04:43 PM.
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Old Dec 12th, 2019, 09:01 AM
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Hi tripplanner, I too hope that the weather Gods bless you and everyone in the southern seas with calm weather and sunshine.

Looking forward to seeing how your trip develops.
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Old Dec 12th, 2019, 11:44 AM
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Ann, thank you. Hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip in the States.
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Old Dec 12th, 2019, 04:04 PM
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Happy travels, Tripplanner! I always enjoy your TReports & am looking forward to following your wanderings vicariously.

All the best!
Bokhara
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Old Dec 12th, 2019, 09:48 PM
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Bokhara2, thank you. Iíve appreciated all the advice you and Mel have given me on Australia over the years.
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Old Dec 13th, 2019, 12:02 AM
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Wishing you best of luck for your trip and now i would go through your planning post, so as to plan my trip in the best way

I was planning to visit Europe(Italy, Switzerland, Norway and Netherland) for a 4 week trip in June 2020, but with some family engagement in Melbourne, have now decided to go to Australia for my 2nd trip and New Zealand for my first ever trip and frankly no one i know closely have every visited Nz.

A comparison these days i am trying to make is between the Nz scenic beauty with some wilderness Vs Swiss beauty + transportation which is famous all over the world (not much interested in European history)
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Old Dec 13th, 2019, 01:52 AM
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Great thanks! Wishgin you the best of luck
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Old Dec 13th, 2019, 10:15 AM
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Ann, thank you. Hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip in the States.>>

yes, it was wonderful, thanks. Can't wait to go back.
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Old Dec 14th, 2019, 08:05 AM
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Have an amazing trip TP. I look forward to reading all about it.
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