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Forums » General & Multi-Country » 2 Week Trip in Australis and New Zealand

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Johanna

2 Week Trip in Australis and New Zealand

by Johanna »

I am planning a 2 week trip to Australia & New Zealand in the latter part of 2014.  I will be traveling with 10 friends. What would you say is the better month to travel between sept.-dec. ? Can you recommend a travel company tour that would best offer us a great package without breaking the back?  

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kringenwally

RE: 2 Week Trip in Australis and New Zealand

by kringenwally »

First things first - do you really want to do both Australia and N.Z. in such a short time? Would you do both the U.S. and Canada in 2 weeks? Australia is as wide and tall, end to end and top to bottom, as the US. And you lose a day going over because of the dateline - you leave home on, say, a Wednesday, the transpacific flight leaves the West Coast departure airport around midnight, and you arrive in Sydney early on Friday morning. So you lose pretty much another day, the arrival day, because after a 15-hour flight from the West Coast departure airport you'll be in a daze and you won't remember much about that first day later on. But you can't go to bed, it's early morning, and if you go to sleep you'll be turned around for the rest of the trip.

Late October into the first half of December, and late February through March, they are the times when you have the best chance at having good weather, not too hot (around Christmas and January it's a scorcher), and daylight saving (1st Sunday in Oct. to 1st Sunday in April) makes for nice long days so you get your money's worth in that regard.

First decide where you want to go, exactly. Hard to do with such a big group, make sure everybody has the same information, websites, DVDs, books, and everybody is on board and swears that they looked over the material and signs off with the plan, so that there won't be any backbiting and sniping if expectations are not met.

With those huge distances, you can only fly from so many places to so many other places in the ten days you'll realistically have, at an exaggerated pace, costing a lot of money for the domestic flights, and you won't have time to stay and see very much in each place. From Hobart in wonderful Tasmania to Cairns (most people's access to the Great Barrier Reef) it's about 1800 miles by air. In between are Melbourne and Sydney, and many other places worth going to. That still doesn't cover the Great Ocean Road, the Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves, Adelaide and Kangaroo Island, Uluru, the gold Coast, Canberra, and on and on. Never mind wonderful Western Australia, tropical Darwin with the adventurous crocodile tours and such, and many other places worth visiting. Not to mention N.Z....

Once you have settled on what is actually possible to do in Australia in the short time you'll have, look for a tour company that can satisfy your wishes if it makes you feel better, but you can easily make your own arrangements - the main thing is to choose your destinations wisely, and that takes a lot of homework.

The main newspaper of Sydney has a travel section with good resources - www.smh.com,au.

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Johanna

RE: 2 Week Trip in Australis and New Zealand

by Johanna »

Yes, it has been difficult to pin down a date and a country, to be truthful, which is why we decided to try and see both. But you're right: it's a lot to bite off. I may go back to the group and try and get them to narrow the focus. Thanks so much for your great advice!

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Bluebell

RE: 2 Week Trip in Australis and New Zealand

by Bluebell »

Agree.  Pick one country.  Trying to see two countries in two short weeks will leave you feeling as if you haven't seen much of anything.  Do your two weeks include your travel days?  If yes, then you would only have about 11 days on the ground. 

Mr. Kringen has summarized N.Z. perfectly.  Having visited three times, it really does have something for everybody.

Leave Australia for its own dedicated trip.

December and January are peak season so airfares and hotels will be higher.  Schools will be on holidays and places will be more crowded.  If you can go shoulder season (Oct-Nov or Feb-Mar) that would be better, price-wise too.

Look into Intrepid Travel out of Australia.  They cater to younger, more independent budget travelers.  Since you already have a self-made group, they may be able to put together an itinerary of your choosing, or if you like theirs go with that. 

Time for homework.

Good luck! 

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kringenwally

RE: 2 Week Trip in Australis and New Zealand

by kringenwally »

 

How about just N.Z.? It is rewarding for even shorter visits, much more compact than Australia, and yet very diverse, between the extremes of the south of the South Island (mountains, glaciers) and the north of the North Island (subtropical, palm trees, beaches), and in between you have very varied countrysides incl. hilly pastures, extinct volcanoes and you name it. The roads are excellent, although mostly one lane in each direction, and the distances manageable.

You could fly into Christchurch (via Auckland), visit the Antarctica exhibit right next to the airport (fascinating, about the staging of Antarctica expeditions), tour the city, do an excursion into the alps (Franz Josef Glacier etc.), maybe take the scenic train to Greymouth and arrange to hire a coach/van with driver to take you from there to Nelson and Picton, take the ferry to Wellington, visit the fabulous Te Papa national museum, take off to fascinating Napier (art-deco town, visit wineries), go for an evening stroll on the lakefront in scenic Taupo by the former volcanic crater, Rotorua with the geothermal activity, Hamilton in horse country, and up to Auckland from where you'd fly home (be very early at the airport for check-in, a good 3 hours!).

That alone would be a fun-filled 12 days with so much variety that you’d never have a dull moment, and no hectic flights and such - just stick with your hired driver and van and take it easy.

And you’d all come back with genuine wool sweaters for everybody’s families that will last a century...

Check www.newzealand.com/us and www.tourismnewzealand.com to get you going.

Then if enough people in your group are battle-hardened for another trip, plan on an Australia trip of at least 2 weeks - it will be much more stressful than this N.Z. trip because of the distances involved, lots of early rising and flights and such, but doable if the group experience agrees with everybody's temperament.

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Johanna

RE: 2 Week Trip in Australis and New Zealand

by Johanna »

Thanks all for your advice. I'll let you know how it goes!

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Passarinho9

RE: 2 Week Trip in Australis and New Zealand

by Passarinho9 »

I don't think seeing a bit of both Australia and New Zealand is unreasonable or impractical, you just have to limit your vacation to two or three places. It just depends on what you hope to see and do, and what your budget is. You are never going to see all the  highlights of either country in two weeks, so just figure out what you most want to see and do. Sit down with all your friends and look over a couple of guidebooks with lots of photos of the two countries or checkout some websites together.

http://www.newzealand.com/us/

http://www.australia.com

 

http://www.queenslandholidays.com.au/destinations/tropical-north-queensland/places-to-visit/cape-tribulation-daintree-national-park/index.cfm http://www.cairns.com.au/visitor-information/destinations/daintree-guide.html

Even if you were to spend all two weeks in Australia, you would see relatively little as the country is so large. For instance, the flight from Sydney to Perth would take about 4.5 hours, the flight from Sydney to Darwin would take almost as long. On the other hand, the flight from Sydney to Queenstown, NZ, would take about three hours.

You could spend your entire two weeks just exploring the South Island of New Zealand, but you'd be driving around from place to place to see as much as possible and you'd be moving house every night or two. 

Both Air New Zealand and Qantas offers package trips that would allow you to spend a few days in Australia and New Zealand that would give you a few nights in a few different places:

http://www.qantasvacations.com/planner/package-detail.asp?pack_id=6484&sr=/new-zealand/specials-nz.asp?page=1

http://www.airnewzealand.com/airnzv-cairns-auckland-queenstown-sydney-great-barrier-reef

I don't know your friends, but if I were traveling to both countries with a group of my friends, I would probably rent vacation homes in two or three different places that would serve as good bases to see the surrounding areas. It would take more organizing and coordinating, but in the long run, you could come up with a trip that was more tailored to your specific needs and interests. For instance, you could rent a holiday home (that sleeps 10) for a week in Queenstown, rent another holiday home for a week in Sydney or Cairns/Port Douglas (they are about an hour apart), or maybe two days in Sydney, four days in or around Cairns/Port Douglas. You'd spend probably around US$1800 on total airfares (including those from the US, if that is where you are coming from), but you would probably save by jointly renting a hoiiday home, which would also give you the option of eating in. Dining out can be costly in NZ and Australia. You'd have a place where you could all socialize, instead of having to go to some bar or restaurant or crowd into each other's hotel rooms. 

You could make a lot of day trips out of Queenstown or Cairns/Port Douglas. In most cases, you'lll want to rent a van or a couple of cars to get around. 

From Queenstown, you could visit Wanaka, drive a bit on Haast Pass and into Mt. Aspring National Park; see the nearby towns of Arrowtown and Glenorchy (whch are in different directions), go wine tasting in the Central Otago (Gibbston Valley, Bannockburn, Cromwell), and spend quite a bit of time doing things in Queenstown itself, gondola, jetboat, bungy, Queenstown bike trail, etc. There are bus tours that will take you to Milford Sound and back in a day, which include the Milford Sound cruise and some stops along the way, and will even give you the option of taking a scenic flight back. The drive is a long one (4.5 to 5 hours from Queenstown to Milford Sound) so I don't think you'll want to do this drive yourselves (too much time in the car) unless you do an overnight cruise on Milford Sound, which can be lovely. The overnight cruise includes dinner and gives you a chance to kayak or take a boat trip onto the sound when it is so quiet and calm. In the morning, you'll get back to the dock early with enough time to slowly make you way back to Queenstown. You can even stop for a hike along the way. I suggest the 3-hour round trip hike to Key Summit from Main Divide parking (the start/end of the Routeburn Track). Definitely stop at Mirror Lakes (very little walking required) and the Chasm (15 minute walk), both off Milford Road. Milford Road is gorgeous. 

From Cairns or Port Douglas, you could make a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef to scuba or snorkel, take the Skyrail or Kuranda Railway, see an Aboriginal performance. visit the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation.

There are so many things you can do and see in Sydney and you wouldn't need a car.

The other thing you should consider is the weather. The wet season in Tropical North Queensland begins in November. Supposedly, this is when the weather starts to warm up and dry out on the South Island of New Zealand, but not necessarily. Last summer, there were horrendous storms on the South Island that led to road closures and emergency rescues. A bridge on NZ's West Coast was washed away. 

As for seeing a bit of two countries in two weeks, I don't see this as an issue. A lot of folks vacation in Hawaii, or in the South Pacific,  or Asia, before continuing on to NZ or Australia. Here in NZ, where I live, I meet a lot of folks who have been to the US. It's not unusual for them to fly San Francisco to Las Vegas to New York. Or to from Los Angeles to Texas, or wherever. On many of my trips from the U.S. to Australia and NZ, i have often vacationed in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, or the South Pacific along the way.  

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pirouette

RE: 2 Week Trip in Australis and New Zealand

by pirouette »

We did two weeks just in Australia a few years back and I wished we'd had longer. So I have to agree with the others. Concentrate on one or the other. Both are incrdibly rich, varied countries.

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Passarinho9

RE: 2 Week Trip in Australis and New Zealand

by Passarinho9 »

 

I agree two weeks in Australia wouldn't be enough. Even a few months in Australia wouldn't be "enough.'"  What is "enough," anyhow? It depends on what you expect from your vacation. Do you want to see and do as much as possible in the time you have? Do you want to relax and enjoy your vacation with your companions? Do you want to do a bit of both?

Two weeks on just the South Island of NZ wouldn't be enough either, but I know a lot of tourists try to make it enough, by driving all around in two weeks, spending only a night or two in each place. They follow the crowded tourist trail to the must-see places, traveling the circuit from Christchurch to Arthur's Pass to Panakaiki to the West Coast glaciers to Queenstown to Te Anau and Milford Sound, maybe Doubtful Sound, then up to Wanaka then Mt. Cook and Lake Tekapo then maybe up to Hanmer Springs and Kaikoura before returning to Christchurch to catch their flights home. Some even squeeze in Marlborough and Abel Tasman or Queen Charlotte Sound in these two weeks. Of course, not everyone follows this route, but this is one typical two-week South Island itinerary. 

This does not look relaxing to me, but I understand, travelers have a limited time and choices must be made. Ultimately, this group of friends will have to decide what is most important to them, what kind of trip would best serve all their interests. 

It might be hectic to travel around like this with nine friends. This kind of rushed itinerary is easier for a couple or a family. This is just my opinion, but I think 10 friends would be better better off picking two or three places, renting a great house or large apartment with a fabulous view in each place, and use this a base to explore the surrounding area and as a base to enjoy time with each other. Queenstown makes a great base because you are close to other fabulous places that you can make day trips to without having to pick up and move house each night (and maybe make one overnight trip). Queenstown has restaurants, bars, supermarkets, tour operators, bike rentals, etc. The area offers a wide range of landscapes and things to do, from appreciating the natural landscape to wine tasting to high adrenaline type activities. There are also many vacation rentals around Queenstown or Wanaka. Though it is best to avoid the height of ski season and mid-summer.

NZ is a wonderful place for being alone or just among friends in the serenity of the landscape without having to rush off to the next place. Queenstown is not the most serene place, but it is close to serene places. Also, the privacy of your vacation rental in Queenstown can also be a serene place. Imagine chilling out with a glass of wine with your friends from the deck of your vacation rental, while staring out at Lake Wakitipu, The Remarkables, or the Shotover River after a busy day, without having to pack up and drive off to somewhere new. 

Plus, this group of folks wanted to visit the two countries. I assume they know they won't see it all in two weeks. If they are looking for a taste of some of the best of each country, then I think this can be done. I think it would be great to go from the alpine region of NZ's South Island to the rainforests and coral reefs of Australia's Tropical North Queensland within a couple of days. What variety! Of course, it won't be enough time to see both countries, but it will insure that they will want to return to see more,  and if they can never return to either country, they will have seen something really unique to each. 

As I said before, and as all of us who have been there know, the travel distances between major tourist areas in Australia can be immense. It only takes two hours to fly from Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, to Darwin, Northern Territories, Australia. It takes more than twice that long to fly from Darwin to Sydney! It takes 3 hours to fly from Cairns to Sydney, and 3 hours 20 minutes to fly from Sydney to Queenstown. So flying from Australia to New Zealand is not a big deal. There are plenty of flights and there are several airlines to choose from, including Jetstar, Virgin Australia, Qantas, and Air New Zealand.

When I still lived in the US, I made 11 trips to Australia--because it was never "enough." It's my favorite country (though the best singular trip of my life was to South Africa). Now I live in New Zealand, and as soon as (or if) the Aussie dollar drops a bit, I will visit Australia again as there are still major regions I would like to explore for the first time and places I would like to revisit (actually, i would like to revisit nearly all the places I've already been to). 

Another couple of things that should be considered. These bear no relation to each other. I'm just throwing these out there. Australia is costlier than New Zealand. The days are longer in our summer, which means more daylight hours to enjoy. 

 

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orzie

RE: 2 Week Trip in Australis and New Zealand

by orzie »

I agree with most of the opinions that doing both is a bit crazy. I am a quick, energetic traveller but I would never try to do OZ & N.Z in 2 weeks! I recently did N.Z in 2 weeks and that was RUSHED! Both of these places have lots to offer. If you prefer sun, surf & sand (and the scorching outback) go with Oz. Each city has something to offer but beware it is expensive (more expensive than New Zealand). However, with 2 weeks in just Oz you will not see much. Even flying from place to place you could probably only get in 4-5 places max. My favourite spots in Australia (I only saw the East Coast & the Outback) are the Great Ocean Road between Adelaide and Melbourne, Sydney, Melbourne, & the Barossa Valley just North of Adelaide. I would also recommend Shark Cage diving in Port Lincoln, South Australia. The Outback was also unique but you can't really do that quickly because it is such an effort to get in & out. We also saw Surfers Paradise & the Gold Coast, but I found it boring. It is a good place to party though. We were in Sydney over the Christmas holidays and the weather was fantastic, not too hot at all.

As for N.Z, everything is more compact. However, don't let the distances trick you. We had a campervan and spent over a week on the South Island and under a week in the North Island. It was DEFINITELY not enough time. We saw a lot less than we thought we would see, even at the blistering pace we were going at. We are usually fast travellers but we underestimated the distances. We saw a lot of great places though and we were able to cover the following in our 2 weeks there: Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula, Lake Taupo, Napier, Wellington, Rotorua (North Island).......Nelson, Abel Tasman National Park, Pancake Rocks, Franz Joseph & Fox Glacier, Queenstown, Te Anau and some Fjordland, Invercargill/Bluff, Dunedin, Moeraki Boulders, Oamaru Penguins, Christchurch (South Island). 

Again, I would pick only 1 place, if you picked 2 I don't think you would enjoy the trip at all.

Cheers

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