Skip Navigation

1. Posted by gavrace (Budding Member 2 posts) 6y

gavrace has indicated that this thread is about Australia

Hi all,

My partner and I are travelling to Australia and NZ toward the end of February. I have a few questions I could do with answering if any of you get chance ...

  • Are hostel pre-paid vouchers worth it. They look like good value but are there catches?

  • I have a YHA membership. Is it worth me getting VIP Backpackers and Nomad membership too?

  • If I was to get a VIP Backpacker membership, would I need to get one for me and one for my girlfriend, or would one be sufficient for both of us? i.e. do the hostels only ask to see one card?

  • We're going to hire a campervan (probably Wicked - purely because they seem to have the cheapest one-way fee) to travel the Great Ocean Road but we're unsure as to whether to get another campervan to travel up the east coast or use Greyhound buses and such like and stay in hostels? What would people suggest?

  • Do people generally upgrade their insurance type or do most people go with standard?

  • We're staying in NZ (south island) for 10 days. We'd like to travel the TranzAlpine railway from Christchurch to Greymouth. Again, how do people suggest we travel around the south island from Greymouth onwards?

  • Is there anywhere people would suggest for scuba diving? I know there are probably thousands. We want to try and get a scuba referral (PADI) before we go but if we can't, are they possibly/okay to do in Oz and if so, are they of reasonable cost?

  • Do most national parks charge for entry? If so, how much?

I think that's the lot ... for now. :-)

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 6y

Quoting gavrace

Are hostel pre-paid vouchers worth it. They look like good value but are there catches?

From what I remember seeing, the pre-paid vouchers are only sometimes worth it. They're cheap for hostels in the big cities, but often end up being more expensive than just paying for a bed directly in hostels in smaller towns. Plus they tie you to the hostels of whichever organization issued them.

I have a YHA membership. Is it worth me getting VIP Backpackers and Nomad membership too?

This depends on what kind of hostels you prefer to stay at. You won't find many places where there isn't both a VIP and a YHA hostel, so you always have the choice. If you'll mostly stay at the YHA hostels, then don't get a VIP membership. If you'll mostly stay at the VIP hostels, then yes, get a membership. (Probably best not to buy it in advance, but just to see when you're there if you end up going to VIP hostels, and if so, buy a membership on the spot.) As far as non-hostel discounts go, all backpacker cards are indistinguishable.

If I was to get a VIP Backpacker membership, would I need to get one for me and one for my girlfriend, or would one be sufficient for both of us? i.e. do the hostels only ask to see one card?

I don't know about VIP specifically, but I'm assuming that they're personal like YHA memberships, and that you'd thus need one each.

We're staying in NZ (south island) for 10 days. We'd like to travel the TranzAlpine railway from Christchurch to Greymouth. Again, how do people suggest we travel around the south island from Greymouth onwards?

I'd skip the TranzAlpine. Having done it twice, I found it really not all that good; the views from down in the valleys where the train rides are pretty limited. (Might be nice in the middle of winter when there's snow on the mountains, but otherwise it's pretty boring.) What I'd do instead is rent a car, and drive over Arthur's Pass yourself. The views from the car are much better, plus you have more options for stopping along the road. And then that immediately solves your problem for getting around: just keep using that rental car.
If you do take the train, then there's connecting Intercity buses in Greymouth to take you south to the glaciers, and onward from there.

Also, if at all possible, I'd spend way more than ten days in New Zealand. Absolutely gorgeous nature there; nothing in Australia can even begin to compare.

Do most national parks charge for entry? If so, how much?

Most National Parks are free. Offhand the only ones I can think of which charge an entry fee are Cradle Mountain / Lake St. Clair National Park in Tasmania, and Uluru / Kata Tjuta National Park.

3. Posted by gavrace (Budding Member 2 posts) 6y

Thanks Sander.

We're unsure what types of hostel we'll stay in. I'll take your advice and get VIP Backpacker membership out there if we find we use them.

Thanks for the heads up on the TranzAlpine trip. Did you go twice to see if the first time was a one-off disappointment? Unfortunately, we're limited to 10 days now. I've heard this is too little time to spend but we'll have to make the most of what we do have. Any must-visits we should head to?

Many thanks for your quick and concise reply. Very good of you.

Cheers.

4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 4808 posts) 6y

Quoting gavrace

Thanks for the heads up on the TranzAlpine trip. Did you go twice to see if the first time was a one-off disappointment?

I did it back and forth (with a few days in between) as I was stuck in Christchurch for a bit, but still wanted to do a short side trip.

Unfortunately, we're limited to 10 days now. I've heard this is too little time to spend but we'll have to make the most of what we do have. Any must-visits we should head to?

The musts in my eyes are Lake Tekapo (gorgeous scenery; stupendous views from on top of Mt. John, about 1-1.5 hours hiking away from the village, with the observatory cafe over there serving a wonderful cup of hot chocolate), Mt. Cook (great hiking down the Hooker Valley) and the glaciers (Peter's Pool near the carpark of Franz Josef glacier is wonderful, and the Roberts Point track setting out from there has some of the nicest rainforest scenery in all of New Zealand).

Also on Travellerspoint

Why travellers need good insurance

worldnomads promo code - SAVE7