Is this 2 week Oz/NZ trip doable?

Travel Forums Australia / New Zealand & The Pacific Is this 2 week Oz/NZ trip doable?

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1. Posted by Barsaa (Budding Member 7 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Hi all,

American planning a trip to Oz and NZ here, and as is widely known, we don’t get a ton of vacay time over here. So basically 2 weeks is what we have to work with. I realize it’s not ideal to see everything that should be seen in these beautiful places- but would love opinions about the following itinerary. We will be going in November

Day 1: Explore Sydney, and beaches via ferry
Day 2: Sydney Zoo, opera house
Day 3: train to and from Blue Mountains
Day 4: Fly to Melbourne. Relaxed first half-day there.
Day 5: day in Yarra Valley wine region
Day 6: Explore Melbourne
Day 7: Fly to Sydney then Auckland, relaxed dinner in Auckland
Day 8: Drive to Matamata for Hobbiton!!!! then drive to Rotorua (Waitomo glow worm caves on the way?
Day 9: Fly from Rotorua to Greymouth
Day 10: Tranz-Alpine train from Greymouth to Christchurch (would love to do this on day 9 but worries about missing the train!)
Day 11: Drive from Christchurch to Queenstown via Tekapo (maybe stop for lunch)
Day 12: Explore Queenstown + do Luge
Day 13: Day at Milford Sound
Day 14: Either stay in Queenstown another day or fly back to Auckland today
Day 15: Fly out of Auckland to home

We are semi-outdoorsy, not sit-on-the-beach all day sort of people. I’m bummed this itinerary doesn’t include the Great Barrier Reef, Hunter Valley wine region, Coromandel, Wellington, or Wharariki beach, but these are all pretty out-of-the-way from what I tried to put together. Let me know if you all think this is too ambitious or if there are any other MUST sees!! Thank you!!

2. Posted by highlandspring (Budding Member 16 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

That sounds overly ambitious, I think you need an extra week or less stops.

3. Posted by Barsaa (Budding Member 7 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Again, no way to add time.

Any specific recommendations, or periods within the itinerary that seems especially ambitious/ unlikely to get done in the allotted time?

4. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5485 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Day 8 is undoable. The drive to Matamata is quite long, the Hobbiton tour takes quite a lot of time (well worth it, though, say I, having done it three times since 2003), so it'll be mid afternoon already by the time you're done with that. No way whatsoever to still cram in Waitomo, purely from a driving time perspective, let alone also still doing one of the many caves there.
Day 9 will also be undoable, as there aren't any commercial flights to Greymouth.

Since you're outdoorsy people, I'd strongly recommend spending the entire two weeks in New Zealand, and seeing it more properly, actually giving yourselves the time to stay in locations for two nights so you can do a hike or two and be in the midst of what you come to New Zealand for, the nature, rather than only getting to observe it from a car.
IF flights make sense, you could do a stop in Sydney to have sniffed up some atmosphere there, but don't try to do two counties in two weeks. (Generally, two weeks is barely enough to think about seeing more than a single one of New Zealand's islands.)

5. Posted by Andrew Mack (Travel Guru 1037 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I don't know if you've done much travelling before, but you're making the usual newbie mistake of aiming to do far too much in such a short time, which can turn it into an endurance event rather than an enjoyable tour.
No allowance for jetlag or illness (your more prone to picking up a slight bug -cold or stomach - in a new country) or just kick-back and relax days.
2 weeks in NZ and you'll leave knowing you've just scratched the surface but it's a good reason to return. And it's much smaller than Australia.
I'd suggest 2 weeks for either NZ or Sydney and Melbourne (and various bits in between).

6. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2093 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Absolutely mental schedule, should not be attempted.

No allowance made for jetlag.

I agree with Sander that with 2 weeks you could do a hurried tour round South Island.

As you want to do Hobbiton etc I suggest fly into Auckland, spend a few days seeing Waitomo, Hobbiton, and Rotorua. White Island volcano boat trip is also a highlight round here.

Then fly to Queenstown. Not sure if that means backtracking to Auckland?

Queenstown is a great base, lots to see and do. But the daytrips that are sold to Milford Sound are a killer schedule and just a box ticking exercise. I'd stay 2 nights in Te Anau and daytrip from there to have a Milford Sound cruise and do some of the walks off the Milford road.

7. Posted by Barsaa (Budding Member 7 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Haha thank you for the responses!! I was afraid NZ in particular was a bit mental...we certainly aren’t experienced travelers, not by our own choice, mostly bc of lack of time off.

I know this will get some eye rolls but we are pretty set on doing both countries, even if it’s very quick. We always say we can go back....but who knows if we ever will.

I was hoping that doing essentially just Sydney and Melbourne in a week was reasonable. The “Explore Sydney”, “Explore Melbourne” days were my sort of built in down time....figured we’d probably be very relaxed those days. Still not doable??

NZ....yeah I thought this plan might be crazy. Hobbiton is a must for me but everyone says South Island is THE island to go to, so I’m having trouble letting go of it.

Maybe we should just do the north island itinerary that you just mentioned, AndyF? And save South Island for the return we’ll hopefully make one day?

Other option- fly straight from Rotorua to Queenstown- but then like you said, a day trip to Milford sound isn’t the best way to experience it....

Another limitation- I already bought flights- fly into Sydney, fly from Sydney to Auckland a week-ish later, then fly out of Auckland to home. I could see if I could shorten our time in AUS and just do Sydney, not Melbourne.

8. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1407 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Since you've already purchased your flights and will fly from Sydney to Auckland "a week-ish later," you're unlikely to have enough time to explore the South Island.

If you hadn't already purchased your flights, I would have suggested perhaps two or three days in Sydney, fly to Christchurch to take the train to Greymouth, pick up a rental car there and drive to Franz Josef, Wanaka and Te Anau (for Milford and Doubtful sounds), then fly from Queenstown to Auckland.

Since you're a U.S. citizen you'll need an electronic travel authority to enter both Australia and New Zealand (the latter as of Oct. 1). You'll also need to pay a NZ tourism tax. See this link:

9. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 2093 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Quoting Barsaa

Maybe we should just do the north island itinerary that you just mentioned, AndyF? And save South Island for the return we’ll hopefully make one day?

Absolutely - if next time is two weeks that makes a good tour round just South Island.

If this leaves you with a little more time in the Rotorua area, other ideas to fill time there are Tongariro national park to see Mount Doom, or explore more around the Rotorua and Taupo area seeing the geothermal stuff. Coromandel peninsula is good too - Driving Creek Railway is fun. Or stop off at Mount Maunganui. If you do White Island, the trips go from Whitianga, which is okay but just south of there Ohope Beach is a lovely place to stay.

10. Posted by Barsaa (Budding Member 7 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Perfect. It’s settled then, I think I will reluctantly but rightly let go of South Island and give North Island the attention it deserves!

Thank you for the other itinerary suggestions!

Also berner256, thanks for the visa info- I just happened to stumble across this the other day and applied on the app, which is slightly cheaper...just gotta bother my husband to get his new passport so he can do it too!