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Australia & New Zealand, March, 2012

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Coming from U.S. in March, 2012, to Australia and New Zealland for the first time. At this point I still have to work out exact details but will be working from this outline. Please feel free to offer advice. Within Australia we intend to fly from city to city. Is it better to purchase internatuinal tickets to get to Australia and back and fly domestic discount airlines within the country or should I look for all the tickets using the international carriers? We will also fly between the two islands of New Zealand.

Planning to spend 5 days in Melbourne to include one day trip either to the Yarra Valley or the GOR. We do not plan on driving ourselves on this trip and will be booking day trips as needed. Within the various cities will be using public transit, walking, trains or taxi. Have not yet looked into hotels but generally stay close to the popular tourist sites and activities. We are not into budget hotels and I am sure we will have a good selection as we travel.

In Melbourne we plan to do the Colonial Tram Car Restaurant. Will be visiting museums, Federation Square, garderns, ethnic communities, Queen Victoria Market, Aquarium and wandering Southgate to give you an idea of what we like to do. There are a couple churchs that we will visit also..

At this point we plan on 6 days in Sydney to include a day trip to the Blue Mountains. We plan to see some type of event at the Opera House. Will be taking a behind the scenes tour of the Opera House, visiting the Botanic Gardens, an art gallery or two, St. Mary's, walking through the area of the Harbour Bridge and taking the steps to the pylon for a walk accross. Darling Harbour, Rocks, Circular Quay and Taronga Zoo with a hike of Bradleys & Chowder Head, Bondi Beach and the coastal walks to Watsons Bay or Cloverly Bay are on the schedule also.

Planning to spend 2 days in Cairns to visit the Yjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to Kuranda and the reef teach review.

Will then move to Port Douglas for 3 days. Snorkeling at Againcourt with Quicksilver is on the schedule as is Daintree to Port Tribulation, perhaps Moosman Gorge plus four mile beach just to chill. I am sure you know about the free 90 minute cruise at the Yacht Club on Wednesday night.

Queenstown for 5 days includes day trips to the Dart River Jet Boat, a day hike to be determined and a lunch cruise on Milford Sound.

We will be taking a bus from Queenstown to Christ Church with a stop at Mt. Cook.

Four days in Christ Church which includes a day trip to Akora and another to Arthur's Pass.

Next to Rotorua for 3 days. Will visit the Museum of Art & History, Agrodome and Rainbow Springs Nature Park & Kiwi Encounter. We want to do a Maori cultural experience and are looking at either Tamika Maori Village or Te Puia. They look very similar, any suggestions as to which may be better option?

Will be taking the bus from Rotorua to Auckland.

Auckland for four days. Waiheke ferry and island hike is on our schedule. The Waitemata Port of Auckland offers a free public boat tour of the harbour. Center city and Parnell, the War Memorial Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Auckland Art Gallery all look interesting. Kelly Tarlton's Antartic Encounter & Underwater World is on our to do list however, I am wondering if this will be another aquarium like the one we plan to visit in Sydney. There are also several gardens and hikes that we will be doing during our stay. We may also go to Muriwai Beach to see the gannet colony however, this is becoming a difficult task as several companies have stopped going there.

This actually results in 16 ddays in Australia, 9 days on South Island and 7 days on North Island.

The exact order of the city stops and the number of days actually spent in each place will be determined on transportation schedules. What order do you think we should fly from city to city? I know by not driving ourselves we are limiting what we see and do but, I am not very comfortable about driving on the "other side of the road". I anticipate pretty nice weather in March early April, any thoughts on this? Also I have read that Easter is not a good time in to travel in Australia therefore the March time frame, any comments? Should we purchase tours prior to our trip or is there the possibility of better pricing when we arrive in country?

Comments are appreciated. Thank you all.

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