I do have one question - as l will be arriving in Melbourne on christmas day - is there much open? Will there be public transport on the road to get us from airport to hostel (we are staying in THE BEACH, 97 Beaconsfield Parade, Albert Park MELBOURNE)
Dont really care about booking for xmas lunch we are meeting up with a friend and her mum and sister land at the same time as us so we are going to have a picnic in the park apparently and try and stave off jet lag!!
What about boxing day - will tourist trips get back on the road (wanna do Philip Island & as we are short on time will have to do Gt Ocean Rd by day trip too (l know l know not long enough but we are only in Melbourne for 5 nights))
Also being a complete travel snob l have never stayed in a hostel before (we are cost cutting!) and the hostel in Melbourne is the only one we have to share the bathroom facilities, anyone got any hints & tips for me! I will have to pack nightwear now and l never usually do!!
Don't worry about transport from the airport; the skybus will run as usual (best way to get you to the city center from the airport), and I think the trams and trains there will work on the sunday schedule, which still has them running quite frequently.
I seem to recall surprisingly many places being open until surprisingly late into the day on the 25th, but don't rely on that for anything essential.
If you do love zoos, then definitely try Taronga over Melbourne. Melbourne zoo is great but it's nothing spectacular. However, if you have the time, try and get to Healseville Sanctuary http://www.zoo.org.au/visiting.cfm?zoo_id=2 It's a wildlife santuary and you get to go up close and personal with some Australian native animals. It's really beautiful and it's less than an hour from Melbourne. So maybe grab some of your mates you need to catch up with and take a drive out there - there's some really good lunch spots enarby too.
Enjoy your trip!
For wine purposes I'd back up Fern1's support for Hawkes Bay - the wine tour I did there was great, definitely worth the 1 night excursion it took from Taupo - also Napier is interesting for a wander.