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Seek advice for our visit to Australia and New Zealand

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We will be taking a cruise from Auckland to Sydney from February 14 to February 28, 2017. We plan to spend 3 or 4 days in Auckland before the cruise and another 3 or 4 days in Sydney after the cruise. We will not have a car, but we want to see as much as possible in those few days. We are physically fit, love the outdoors and are used to walking 5 to 8 miles daily. We want to learn about Maori and aboriginal culture and traditions. We want to meet native wildlife and birds.
Seeking suggestions about ways to get the most out of this trip. What can you tell us about
• best ways to get around (what bus, train, or ferry passes should we considert)
• what must see places should we make sure to visit (Are there any discounts/passes)
• what must see places outside Auckland or Sydney is it reasonable to get to in the time we have and using public transportation (for example, we read about a gannet colony near Auckland and the Blue Mountains with interest, but have no idea how we might get to them on public transportation)

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    The Museum of Sydney in the heart of the CBD has a very extensive history of the early white settlement and the aboriginal culture that has existed here for thousands of years. To get to the Blue Mountains you can take a train for 90 minutes and be within walking distance from a number of stations to a number of tracks into spectacular valleys. Google the Blue Mtns Tourist information centre and they will send you information and you can talk to them on the phone. Very helpful. There is a Sydney and environs bush walking book edited by Veechi Stuart. Look for that online and buy a copy. You can get on all trains buses and ferries using an Opal Card which you can buy from any railway station and most newsagents. Airbnb Pamela Woods in Balmain for a lovely cheap place to stay near the water and Ferries in Balmain close to the city. There are aboriginal rock carvings at Bundeena- train and ferry and that then takes you into tThe Royal National Park going south. You can walk the coastline and camp in there.
    Cheers Luca

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    Auckland Museum has a Maori cultural performance several times a day and Maori exhibits.
    Rotorua offers more of the Maori experience so you could fly there on your arrival and bus back? Or there is a day trip if you don't mind a few hours in the bus.
    Muriwai is the beach for the gannets but getting there on public transport would be a big hassle. A tour out there would be the best if you don't have a car.
    Tiritiri Matangi is a wildlife sanctuary and you can see native birds there. Catch the ferry from the city.
    Auckland Zoo has some great exhibits of native birds. The Zoo is on the HOHO bus route so would combine with going to the Museum.
    Auckland's public transport is sadly lacking when compared to Sydney :( but if you stay in the city you will be handy to bus, train and ferry as well as cruise ship departure wharf.
    We have a HOP card here which you buy and load up with credit but for a few days it's hardly worth it. Students and retired people get discounts but you have to have paperwork to prove that and it all get complicated. Just take some cash to pay for the trip.

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