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My Australia/New Zealand itinerary - what do you think?

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1. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 10y

So we have more or less planned our trip to Australia New Zealand over Christmas/New Year. Take a look tell me what you think - what are we missing out or what is not worth bothering with

23rd Dec

London - Frankfurt
Frankfurt - Singapore
Singapore - Melbourne

25th Dec - 30th Dec

Arrive Melbourne - Staying The Beach Hostel - Beaconsfield Pde, Albert Park

- see friends try to stave off jet lag
- Great Ocean Road trip (only time to do day trip)
- Philip Island Penguin Parade
- Melbourne City
- Melbourne Zoo
- Melbourne Gaol

30th Dec - 4th Jan

Sydney - Staying - Macquarie Boutique Hotel, Wentworth Ave

- Blue Mt tour
- Winery Tour
- Sydney City Tour
- New Years Celebrations
- Beach - Bondi, Coogee
- Sydney Zoo

4th Jan - 7th Jan

Auckland - Staying - Kiwi International Hostel/Hotel, Queen St

- Auckland City sight seeing
- Rotarua/Watiamo Caves
- Bay of Islands

7th Jan - 8th Jan

Wellington - Staying - Downtown Backpackers, Bunny St

- Wander around city

8th Jan - Interisland Ferry to Picton

8th Jan - 11th Jan

Picton - Staying - The Villa Backpackers Hostel, Auckland St

- Marlbourough Sounds
- Marlbourough Wine Tour(s)

11th Jan - 14th Jan - Hire Car

Kaikoura - Staying Donegal House B&B, School House Road

- Visit Blenhiem enroute to Kaikoura
- Whale watching in Kaikoura
- Explore the shore line and mountains around Kaikoura

14th Jan - 16th Jan

Christchurch - Staying - Thomas Hotel, Hereford St

- Day trip to Mount Cook?
- Sight see Christchurch

16th Jan - 20th Jan

Queenstown - Staying - Discovery Lodge, Shotover St

- Day trip Milford Sound
- Enjoy Queenstown
- Visit Doubtful Sound (dont know if this possible?)
- Jet boat ride/Gondolas?

20th Jan - 21st Jan

Auckland - Staying - Hilton Auckland (a bit of luxury on way home!)

- chill out nice dinner before long flight home!

21st Jan

Auckland - LA
LA - London Heathrow
Heathrow - Belfast

The dates are set in stone (although we are looking into perhaps changing our flights back if possible and coming home via Hong Kong and stopping off for 2 more nights); we have all our flights booked between
Belfast - LHR - bmi
LHR - Frankfurt - Lufthansa
Frankfurth - Singapore - Singapore Airlines
Singapore - Melbourne - Singapore Airlines
Melbourne - Sydney - Quantas
Sydney - Auckland - Air New Zealand
Auckland - Wellington - Air New Zealand
Wellington - Picton - Interisland Ferry
Picton - Kaikoura - Christchurch - Car Hire (too book)
Christchurch - Queenstown - Air New Zealand
Queenstown - Auckland - Air New Zealand
Auckland - LA - Air New Zealand
LA - LHR - Air New Zealand
LHR - Belfast - bmi

(All Star Alliance flights! Used airmiles to take us to Oz/NZ and back!)

All our hotels/hostels are booked some with deposits paid.

What is up for changing is what we do when in the specific areas - and if anyone knows anything about the accomodation we've booked tell me (good or bad ld rather know!)

PHEW that was quite a post!!


2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4817 posts) 10y

My main comment would be: you're travelling all the way to New Zealand, and then you're going to see the cities??

Yes, Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown are all very nice. And yes, you've planned for daytrips to other places, but really... With two and a half weeks, you could have rented a car for the entire way from Auckland to Queenstown and seen far and far more of the country then you will now with the internal flights. (Which, with check in and transport to and from the airport wouldn't save you all that much time over driving either.) There's volcanic landscapes, rolling green hills, forests, mountains, everything!

If you can make any change at all to the flights, I'd get rid off the Christchurch to Queenstown flight, and instead driving or taking the Newmans coach from Christchurch to Queenstown over Mt. Cook. You can do that in a day, but I'd recommend taking two days for it (between the daytrip to Mt. Cook you wanted to do anyway, and the flight, that should be just as fast), overnighting in either Mt. Cook (which is ~4 hours away from Christchurch and ~3 hours away from Queenstown) or Lake Tekapo. (My personal all time favorite location.) You'll see absolutely gorgeous scenery on the way. The Canterbury Plains aren't yet all that interesting, but once you get to Geraldine the road starts to slowly wind its way up through pretty forests, until you reach Fairlie and go up Burkes Pass to the dramatic views over the MacKenzie Country, the Southern Alps standing snow capped in the distance. The glacier-fed Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki with their respectively startling deep vivid azure and milky blue colors make a gorgeous contrast with the yellow tussock grass, and then the closer you get to Mt. Cook, the more it starts to tower over everything. And from there the MacKenzie Country remains just gorgeous until you reach the brown perfection of Lindis Pass, and then at the bottom start to follow the Kawarau Gorge with its green water perfect for bungy jumping toward, until you finally reach Queenstown. [/end commercial] ;)

Other assorted comments:

  • When in Kaikoura, make certain to walk the promenade shoreline walk. Very pretty, and lots of seal colonies right there.
  • Visiting Doubtful Sound from Queenstown is indeed possible. Same kind of (very very long) daytrip as to Milford Sound, but with slightly less people doing it.
  • I personally found the Picton area to be one of the least interesting in New Zealand. What _is_ worthwhile to do there though is to take a watertaxi and walk a part of the Queen Charlotte Track. It's been quite a while since I did it, but I think I'd recommend the half day walk up to Endeavour Inlet. (From where you can then take the watertaxi back again.)
  • In Auckland, probably the single best way to get an overview of all the pretty parts of the city is to walk the Coast to Coast Walkway, which in a very easy six hour stroll (or a 3-4 hour hike) takes you through the Auckland Domain, over Mt. Eden (complete with look into the volcano itself), and up to One Tree Hill. (You can skip the bit south of One Tree Hill if you want, although when you've come that far you'll probably want to have the accomplishment of having walked from one side of the country to the other.) :)

[ Edit: Edited at Jun 23, 2006 1:34 PM by Sander ]

3. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 10y

Thanks Sander will discuss this with other half - though cos our flights were pretty cheap (£200 for ALL the internal flights!) l would doubt we will be able to refund any.

Liked your commercial though - do you work for the NZ tourist board!!

Our main reason for the stay in Picton is the proximity to Marlbourgh Wineries - big big fans of the Sauv Blanc grapes grown there and we want to spend a good few days amongst the vines and sampling the products too!! I hear the food is pretty great too and as huge foodies that is our idea of paradise.

One thing is the water calm around the sounds - l aint a good traveller on water and whilst l will take every precaution against seasickness l have been known to get very sick (just ask the fish around the islands of Koh Phi Phi in Thailand!!)

Look forward to doing the shore line walk in Kaikoura - the seals are friendly l hope!!

Again thanks for the detail!

4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4817 posts) 10y

Within the Sound it's not quite mirror calm, but not a sign of any 'waves' higher than a few centimeters either. (This image is pretty representative.) So you shouldn't worry about the watertaxi.

The crossing from Wellington until the point that the Sound is reached (so from about 15 minutes out until an hour later, iirc) can be somewhat choppy on the windier days; you'll want to be prepared for that, just in case.

The seals actually aren't _that_ friendly. I did the walk at high tide (when it's nearly impossible, unless you like jumping rocks as I did), but I had to turn back at the halfway point as I inadvertently nearly stepped onto a seal that was hiding behind a bump, and there was no way around it whatsoever (only a narrow strip of land at that point). They recommend to stay at least ten meters away from the seals at all times, so startling it from within half a meter I did some very swift backing away (it did, too; and wow, its bark was loud!) *g* You'll be fine if you do it within an hour or two of low tide, though. :)

And given the wine, I think you'll have a great time in the Picton area, too.

5. Posted by mojorob (Moderator 1047 posts) 10y

Sydney Aquarium is good, located at Darling Harbour.

6. Posted by Fern1 (Full Member 53 posts) 10y

You have by passed one of the great areas on the East Coast of the North Island, Hawke's Bay, Great scenery, beautiful safe beaches, a bit off the beaten track, but more than worthwhile, still in their natural state. Plenty of wineries if you are into that sort of thing,Great cafes.indoor/outdoor.Plenty of fresh produce, enjoy a stroll along the walkway,close to the main highway, stretches for miles beside the beach over farmland.

7. Posted by ciaobella (Budding Member 43 posts) 10y

hi, sounds like you have a great plan!
For melbourne, its a great idea to go up the rialto tower (melbourne observation deck) if thats not on your agenda. Its a great way to see the city and places such as albert park, and Flemington raceway (where the mebourne cup is held) and also st kilda etc. I strongly recommend a trip to st kilda- its great there! Theres the beach and the jetty and further down is Acland st which is full of culture and food shops etc! Also melbournes luna park is there.
For sydney id recommend the usual- centre point, maybe the harbour bridge climb if you want to spend the money. You can also travel up one of the four pylons which is alot cheaper! Manly is in my opinion alot nicer than bondi- although not as famous- but im sure youve heard of manly too. To get there you can go on a great ferry ride, rather than a bus to bondi.
I dont think you need to do 2 zoo trips unless you love animals! Check out what each have on when youre over. Sydneys Taronnga zoo has a great view over the harbour!
Hope that helps you!

8. Posted by zzyzx (Budding Member 16 posts) 10y

Sounds like a great trip, Heather! I just got back from two weeks in the North Island, and it was awesome. I have to agree with Sander, though - it's too bad you won't be driving through this beautiful country. The Thermal Explorer Highway route alone is mind-blowing!

Glad to see you'll be staying in Rotorua. It was my favorite city, even though it's touristy and smells like...well, it smells. The Pig and Whistle pub in Rotorua is very nice. The mud baths at Hell's Gate are fun. Zorbing is a LOT of fun. The Ohinemutu marae and St. Faith's church are definitely worth visiting as well.

I'm envious you'll be visiting the country in the austral summer, although NZ is worth seeing whatever the season. Enjoy!

9. Posted by Purdy (Travel Guru 3546 posts) 10y

Hi Everyone thanks for your suggestions!

In Melbourne we are staying more or less in St Kilda (l think!!) so that will be good, and though l really do love zoos we may give Melbourne's a miss and visit the Sydney one - we have a few sets of friends to catch up with in Melbourne!

For Sydney l think the other half wants to do bridge climb but waste of money for me - lm scared of heights!! So a day at the beach in Manley it is then!! Theres a nice costal walk you can do right??? What about the sharks? How far inshore do the come - l dont like going too deep where my feet can touch the ground!! Or should l worry about jelly fish!!

We didnt think about driving the lenght of New Zealand to be honest! We were under the assumption car hire was as costly as it is here at home but now lve checked that out l can see we were WRONG!!! Oh well lm just really glad to be visiting at all!!

I really like the sounds of the Mud Baths and what pray tell is ZORBING??? If it involves heights count me out (you could say lm very girly dont like straining myself too much - a leisurely walk is the height of it for me!!!)

Hawkes Bay is another wine region too isnt it - well it was a toss up as we will be definately doing quite a few wine tours but we love Marlbourough wines so much that it won hands down!

Again many thanks for all your comments - if anyone feels like adding their 2 pennies worth please do!

10. Posted by zzyzx (Budding Member 16 posts) 10y

Quoting Purdy

...what pray tell is ZORBING??? If it involves heights count me out (you could say lm very girly dont like straining myself too much - a leisurely walk is the height of it for me!!!)

This is Zorbing!

Heather, no heights involved whatsoever. (I hear you there - I don't like them much myself. Before the trip commenced, I'd toyed with the idea of making the SkyJump in Auckland, but once I got to the main observation deck of the SkyTower and saw just how high up we were, I nearly lost my lunch). With Zorbing, essentially, you dive into a big plastic ball filled with perhaps 6 inches of nice, warm water, and are bounced down a hill, slipping and sliding the entire time. You have your choice of the straight or zig-zag tracks. I chose the straight track, because I'm a big chicken.

But damn, even so - it was a blast!