Two weeks in AUS/NZ - itinerary help

Sep 12th, 2011, 05:28 PM
  #1  
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Two weeks in AUS/NZ - itinerary help

Hi all -

I am reading so many different options that I figured it would be helpful to start a specific post with our interests.

We will be 2-3 women (early 30's) heading to Australia for the first time from the US in late February - early March. Since its not easy to get over there, trying to see both Aus and New Zealand during the trip. We love to travel and specifically like to experience the following (in no particular order) when visiting new countries: social culture, adventure (hiking, rafting, road trips, etc), food & wine, scenery (beach).

With that said, we are flying in and out of Sydney and initially thinking Sydney, Melbourne (or Cairnes), Auckland, and the South Island. Leaning towards Melbourne over Cairnes because of geographical location. Initial questions are below:

- is if that is even realistic in our short amount of time to see four major areas (i keep reading that Aus and NZ is too much in 2 weeks, but the odds of ever going back to Australia are so slim we feel we need to try)
- if we wanted to do a day seeing vineyards/wineries - where is the best place to do that?
- where is the best area for relaxing at the beach?
- where would be the best city for hiking or other various active activities?
- based on our interests, are there cities we should target that we are not?
- does it make sense to venture out of any of these cities and do a road trip somewhere?

Hopefully this isn't too vague and look forward to feedback. Thank you!
cb24 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2011, 07:25 PM
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The reason you keep reading that trying to see both Australia and New Zealand in two weeks is too much is because it's too much. It's especially too much when you want to include both the North and South Islands of New Zealand.
While it's possible that this may be the only time you get to this region, that's not a good reason to rush through these countries. It's much better to choose one or the other and concentrate on what there is to see/do there. I sincerely think you will regret trying to do all you have suggested in 2 weeks. In addition, if you restrict yourselves in Australia to Sydney and Melbourne, its two largest cities, then you are depriving yourselves of the chance to see what I consider to be the best of Australia--its countryside.
(FWIW, my opinion is based on 3 trips to NZ, 3 years living in Australia and many trips to Australia both before and after the time we lived there.)
longhorn55 is offline  
Sep 12th, 2011, 08:22 PM
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I have a difficult time fitting one island of NZ into a two week trip, let alone two countries, one of which is near the size of the US.

Pick one country. You'll be glad you did.
Melnq8 is online now  
Sep 15th, 2011, 08:40 PM
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I agree with both Longhorn and Melnq8, two weeks is not enough time to do both countries. You will spend too much time inairports and aeroplanes.

If you pick Australia, I would also say don't spend all your time in the cities. Maybe go to Sydney or Melbourne, not both, spend time on the reef, in the red centre or perhaps Tasmania for hiking. Three locations is a good amount for two weeks (5 days Cairns/Daintree, 4 days Sydney or Melbourne, 4 days Alice Springs/Uluru) or maybe go to Darwin and Kakadu.
Susan7 is offline  
Sep 16th, 2011, 01:26 AM
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At that time of year it is wonderful in NZ. Come to Australia when you have a bit more time.
AlanJG is offline  
Sep 17th, 2011, 08:54 PM
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I feel your pain and am in a very similar situation. We also have 2 weeks this winter and wanted to try to have a taste it all since we likely will not be back. We have gone through so many different permutations of all the different places and possibilities for this trip. We thought about a 7-11 day tour of NZ flying into Auckland, leaving out of Christchurch (which you can avoid sightseeing here for now, I think), followed by just seeing Sydney and surrounding areas for a 1-2 days and flying out of Sydney home. It's a lot of arranging and work and would be pretty hectic. We also thought about a tour which includes a little of both countries, but it only allows the South Island of NZ in the time we have. We have thought about Australia only and skipping NZ altogether. It goes on and on.

I am more accustomed to the hectic pace of seeing as much as possible, even it if means being up at the crack of dawn every day - however, my travel partner really wants something relaxing and does not want to be more exhausted after returning from the trip back to regular life and work with jetlag and all. As a result of all this thinking and planning and trying to find the "perfect" way to fit it all in, we haven't actually made any reservations or plans at all yet!

Most likely, we will end up with the latter option - a more leisurely option in which we are in fewer places but have more opportunity to "soak it all in" a bit. I'm having a harder time committing to this and still haven't pushed a "purchase" button yet, though...

I'm interested to know what you decide and how you plan it. It sounds like we are in similar boats and have similar thoughts on it.
itspat is offline  
Sep 17th, 2011, 09:09 PM
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itspat -

Here's the link to a fast paced trip to both islands of NZ taken by indiancouple. Sounds like you have similar travel styles so you might get some ideas from their trip report.

http://www.fodors.com/community/aust...ew-zealand.cfm
Melnq8 is online now  
Sep 18th, 2011, 07:34 PM
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Thank you, Melnq8 - quite a trip that was for indiancouple! I enjoyed reading it and getting some ideas - though many trips I have taken have been at that pace in the past, I know this time around my travel partner would never go for it!

Still planning...
itspat is offline  
Sep 20th, 2011, 03:32 PM
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Both countries offer a lot, I am kiwi and my wife is Australian and we have travelled both countries extensively.You can do both if you just want to touch the highlights. You can do a very good trip in NZ in 2 weeks an see a lot. Our Aussie relations all say the same about NZ. North Island unbelievably beautiful, South Island spectacular. Australia also has some fantastic sights but you will spend almost 50% of your 2 weeks travelling from point to point with a lot of nothing on the way.
Perhaps 2 to 3 days in Sydney and balance of time in NZ flying into Auckland and out of Christchurch, but must go to Queenstown for atleast 2 nights
kiwipete is offline  
Sep 20th, 2011, 04:48 PM
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I was also thinking, with the time available and what you want to see, that it is doable but you'd have to be okay with being constantly on the go. I don't think there would be time for a leisurely beach stay, road trips, or a whole lot of side excursions. You could pretty much get to and "touch" each place in the time have, get directly to the main sights, and then move on. Nothing wrong with that if you want to maximize what you actually lay eyes on. I've done that before. I just don't think I can do it for this particular trip.
itspat is offline  
Sep 21st, 2011, 06:12 PM
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Here's the latest of what we're thinking. We're flying in and out of Auckland (was much cheaper from the US than Sydney was).

We're thinking we're going to fly immediately to Queenstown when we land in Auckland. Then spend 4 or 5 nights in the South Island. From there head to the Sydney area for another 4 to 5 nights and then go from Sydney to Auckland for the final 4 to 5 nights.

Looking at flights, that all seems really manageable?

With that said - any advice on what to do in the surrounding areas of Queenstown, Sydney, and Auckland would be fantastic! Our original questions remain the same...

- if we wanted to do a day seeing vineyards/wineries - where is the best place to do that?
- where is the best area for relaxing at the beach? (we definitely want to do Bondi and I've heard that Waiheke Island is also fantastic)
- where would be the best city for hiking or other various active activities?
- does it make sense to venture out of any of these cities and do a road trip somewhere?

Thanks all! Appreciate all the feedback so for. Itspat - keep me posted on the direction you end up heading as well!
cb24 is offline  
Sep 21st, 2011, 06:58 PM
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Plenty to do in/around QT to keep you busy. Lots of vineyards in the area too, Otago has some fantastic pinot noir. Some of my favorite winereis are in Cromwell and Bannockburn, some info here:

http://www.atoz-nz.com/listings.asp?Cat=114&Loc=18

Most first time visitors to QT try to fit in a trip to Milford Sound. It's a long trip, but a lovely drive.

Arrowtown is very near QT as well - the town itself is a bit touristy, but there are lots of great hikes in the area if that appeals to you.

I also strongly suggest a day trip to Glenorchy - easily reached in about 45 mintues from QT - gorgeous and hiking nirvana. Loads of nice tracks in the area. The Dart River Safari a an ideal way to see the area, including spectacular Mt Aspiring Nat'l Park.
Melnq8 is online now  
Sep 21st, 2011, 07:40 PM
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Are you spending 4-5 days in Auckland? Why? I live in Auckland, and I can tell you that you should be spending that time in Australia or the South Island of NZ.
birder is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2011, 03:58 AM
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Although I am Australian and can recommend many attractive things to do here, I'd suggest spending all of your time in New Zealand. However, if you must see something of Australia, why not fly to Sydney, enjoy a few days at city and surf and then hop across the ditch and spend the balance in a much smaller, easier to get around country?
MountTaylor is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2011, 06:00 AM
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I've only visited Auckland, but I kind of have to agree with Birder who is a resident of that city--why ARE you spending 4-5 days in Auckland?
longhorn55 is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2011, 07:08 PM
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cb24 - we are now leaning toward just Australia, and specifically, basing ourselves in Sydney and finding shorter trips out of there. I wish we could do what you are doing, but we are just not in that place right now and want to compromise to make this enjoyable for the both of us.

I don't know if I can post specific companies, not trying to advertise any 1 particular trip, and I'm sure you've done extensive research already, but here are a couple itineraries I've found that may be of interest to you:
http://swaintours.com/australia/itin...dencounter.asp
http://www.qantasvacations.com/plann...urs.asp?page=1
And you could add on a week in Australia
http://www.aatkings.com/us/tour.php?tour_code=QPACA
http://swaintours.com/australia/itin...ockandreef.asp
And you could add on a few days in NZ

Just to give you some ideas of how it's done... going through a company might get you to more places more efficiently than if you try to do it on your own, I'm not sure how savvy you feel with planning/coordinating international travel and multi-destinations.

Cheers, and enjoy!
itspat is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2011, 03:46 AM
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I would go to Sydney for sightseeing and beaches. See the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Botanical Garden, the Aquarium at Darling Harbor, the Opera House, maybe the Taronga Zoo (if you want to see animals with great views in the background), visit Bondi and Manly beaches. You can climb the Harbor Bridge. You can take a surf lesson at Bondi or swim at the Bondi Icebergs pool.

Ferries go to Manly, Darling Harbor and Taronga Zoo. Ferry trips are lovely during day or night. Sydney is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. You can and should take public transit around the city.

You can hire a car and drive to the nearby Hunter Valley wine region for the day. Or sign up for a tour. My favorite OZ wineries are in South or Western Australia, but you won't be in these areas.

I would suggest AT LEAST three days and nights in Sydney. You have time to fly to up to Cairns or down to Melbourne for a few days, but this will leave you with less time for New Zealand, but maybe seeing Melbourne is a priority for you (because you mentioned Melbourne in your original post). However, if you do restrict your visit to Australia to this short stopover in Sydney, you will have about 9 to 10 days in New Zealand. When planning, keep in mind that November to May is the cyclone season up in Cairns/Tropical North Queensland. Also keep in mind that if you leave from the US on Monday, you will arrive in Australia or NZ on a Wednesday because of the long flight time and change of time zones.

I would then fly from Sydney to Queenstown, NZ, on an early flight (you will have to connect and pass through customs in Auckland or Christchurch) on the day you leave Australia. If you must pass four or more hours in the Auckland Airport, I would jump in taxi and visit Villa Maria Winery, which is about 10 minutes from the Auckland Airport--as you said you are interested in wine. They have outstanding wine and it is a beautiful winery that also has a restaurant, where you can have lunch, if the timing is right. Forget about seeing Auckland itself, you don't have time, and frankly, I think if most tourists were polled on their favorite NZ sights and experiences, Auckland wouldn't be close to the top. Yes, terrible traffic. Yes, the War Memorial Museum is great, especially the Maori and Oceanic Art. Haven't been to Waiheke Island, but everyone says it is fantastic, plus it has wineries.

So fly onto Queenstown, where you can spend two or three days enjoying outdoor activities (rafting, hiking, etc.) and taking in the mountain and lake views. You can then spend your third day and possibly fourth visiting Te Anau/Milford Sound/Fjordland. You can drive yourself or sign on with an all-day organized coach tour out of Queenstown that includes a cruise on Milford Sound. Tour operators will pick you up from your Queenstown hotel. After Queenstown, rent a car and drive up to Lake Wanaka via the Crown Range Road that goes through Cardrona (not for folks afraid of heights). If you take the road past Lake Hayes (instead of through Arrowtown), you can stop at Amisfield Winery on the way. In Lake Wanaka you can visit Rippon Winery, which has amazing views and outdoor sculpture. If you arrive early enough, you can drive an hour or two along the road that passes Lake Hawea. This is a spectacular road that continues onto Mount Aspiring National Park, which you probably do not have time enough to see--but maybe, if you get going early enough and if the days are long (which they will be this time of year). Spend the night in Wanaka, which has good accommodations and restaurants.

IF you have days to spare, embark on the incredibly scenic drive from Wanaka up to Fox Glacier town. In FG town, drive and then walk to the glacier itself, later visit Lake Matheson (which is near). You can spend the night in Fox Glacier town or in Franz Josef Glacier town (a half hour away--as it is larger and has more restaurants and accommodation). On the next morning climb Franz Josef glacier, drive later to Okarito, where you can kayak in the lagoon. Spend a second night in FJ before returning south in the direction of Wanaka. Along the way, there are plenty of hiking opportunities, scenic rest stops, and beautiful beaches covered with nice rocks and/or driftwood.

From Lake Wanaka drive to Cromwell, where you can spend the night. It has a lot of comfortable, reasonably priced motels. On the next day, you can visit many wineries around Cromwell and the nearby community of Bannockburn. In Cromwell, you can visit Rockburn, Quartz Reef, and Wooing Tree wineries. In Bannockburn, don't miss Mt. Difficulty, Carrick, Akarua, Felton Road, and Olssens. The wineries of Central Otago excel at Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling; Quartz Reef also produces fine sparkling wine. My favorite wine regions in NZ are Marlborough and Hawkes Bay, but you won't have time to visit these areas.

From Cromwell, you can drive back to Queenstown, again visiting wineries along the way. The portion of the drive that passes along the Kawarau River Gorge is scenic. This road will also take you past several wineries, my favorites being Chard Farm and Peregrine. Chard Farm is near a top bungy jumping spot. When you return to Queenstown, you can continue to explore the area or do more outdoor activities before flying home.

Another route you might consider is flying from Auckland to Hokitika on the West Coast of the South Island, then continue to Fox and Franz Josef glaciers from there, kayak in nearby Okarito Lagoon, then drive to Lake Wanaka, then Cromwell for the wineries, then Queenstown, Te Anau/Milford Sound, then fly home from Queenstown. This is very doable in a week.

Alternately, if you find yourselves with days to spare and want to see some of NZ's more unusual wildlife, drive instead from Cromwell to Dunedin. This will take about three to four hours. In Dunedin, maybe stay at stylish St. Clair Beach Resort (it is not really a resort but a hotel), because it faces a beautiful beach. The water is cold here, despite the many surfers you might see in the water (it is one of NZ's top surf spots). Another scenic accommodation is at Larnach Castle.

Spend your first day in Dunedin visiting Penguin Place (to see the rare Yellow Eyed Penguin) and the Royal Albatross Colony (you can drive yourself or sign up for a tour through the InSite tourism office near Dunedin's Octagon). You can fly back to Auckland from Dunedin or if you decide to spend another day in Dunedin, you can do some more sightseeing: visit the ornate Railway Station, the Otago Museum, the Botanical Garden, tour Speight's Brewery, drive to Port Chalmers and Aramoana, where you can do some hiking. In summer, there will probably be a lot of wildife here. Or hike down Tunnel Beach or Sandfly Bay. Dunedin is dazzling on a sunny day.

http://www.aatravel.co.nz/101/info/F...f-Glaciers.htm
http://www.everythingqueenstown.com/...nalin-junkies/
http://activenewzealand.com/resource...queenstown.php
http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-rec...cks-and-walks/
http://www.newzealand.com/int/article/lake-matheson/
http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-rec...d-walks/otago/
http://www.dunedinnz.com/visit/see-and-do.aspx
Diamantina is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2011, 04:26 AM
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Here's a recent article about Waiheke Island:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/city-break...ectid=10752782
Diamantina is offline  
Sep 25th, 2011, 12:20 PM
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For A Aucklander knocking Auckland, they must have their eyes closed. Having a constant flow of Aussie visitors they all find the 3-4 days in Auckland is never enough time.
Day trip to Waiheke or Matakana or Murwai, gives you beaches, market, cafes, wineries and endless spectaular views ( Thats 3 days). These are all within 1hr of downtown Auckland. If you want to travel a bit further you can do a one day or overnight trip to Rotorua or Tauranga (we often take visitors on this round trip with a one night stop in Rotorua)Thats five days and no time for loacl shopping of a day walking around the Auckland waterfront beaches.
There is plenty more. If you are in town with nothing to do, make contact with us an we will give you a list of plenty to do and see.
kiwipete is offline  
Sep 25th, 2011, 01:28 PM
  #20  
 
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I'm not knocking Auckland - but if I had 4-5 days in New Zealand, I most certainly would not be spending them in Auckland! If you click on my name, you will see all sorts of things that I've recommended about Auckland: Piha/Murawai, Waiheke, Tiritiri Matangi, the Auckland Museum, ice cream and a stroll at Mission Bay, a ferry over to Rangitoto, etc.

BTW, I would never recommend Rotorua or Tauranga as day trips from Auckland. You have to take the "highway of death" (State Road 2) coming and going, and there's just no sense in rushing down to Rotorua or Tauranga, racing around to see a few sights, and then driving back late at night (and tired).
birder is offline  

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