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Tips for Australia / New Zealand Vacation?

GamerGirl

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
175
Just starting to look into my next big trip! We are planning to go to Australia and New Zealand and hoping to spend around 3 weeks.

Right now we (me, mom, aunt, cousin and her husband - all fairly active but go-with-the-flow types) are looking around February time-frame

Any tips or tricks from all the well-travelled folks?
Or any insider tips from all the Pricescopers living in that area?

We honestly have no idea of specifics on what we want to do but here are some things that interest us:

-horse riding
-scuba / snorkelling
-i'd like to try surfing?
-hiking
-any kind of historical or nature tour
-wine :D
-shopping
-maybe golf?

I'm also not opposed to doing research if anyone has any suggestions on good sites to start off on.

Thanks!
 

Blackpaw

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 26, 2008
Messages
2,469
Exciting! No tips from me re NZ (ive only been to the north island and of course the south island is where most of the action is - so i guess id say stick with the south island as a tip) but ive seen a bit of aus and am from there too...

For timing id say a week in nz and 2 weeks in australia - simply for the sake of size, australia is much bigger and there'll be more travel time.

Now, even though im from melbourne im going to say skip it, heres what i would suggest seeing:

I would be stopping in Sydney for a few days (shopping, the bridge etc), and then maybe heading somewhere close-ish on the nsw coast for a spot of surfing.

THen i think it would be a shame not to see central australia, to see uluru and the kimberley (and opal mines if you're keen!!)

And lastly of course is Cairns/port douglas/the daintree. From there you'll get to see the great barrier reef and the rainforest =)

Re wine, not sure if i have any recs for australia that i think are worth taking time out to see when you're there a short time (unless you really love wine!). Maybe some other pricescopers know new south wales a bit better and maybe you could do it there. The main wine regions i know are in south australia (hunter valley), or there's the yarra valley in Victoria but i dont think either would be on the must-see lists for me...
 

diva rose

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Apr 9, 2010
Messages
451
GamerGirl ~ when are you heading to Australia? And if you don't mind me asking, where are you from?

I'm from Sydney so I can give you some ideas especially on places to eat! ;))

For shopping, can I highly recommend you skip this? Australia is not the best place to shop. You can pretty much find everything in the US/UK/Europe/Asia for half or much less of the price in Australia. So please save your money and use it on other things Australia has to offer - the great outdoors and delicious food.

~ Food ~ Sydney has a few of the best restaurants in the world. So if you're going to be spending money - splash it on food.
http://www.theworlds50best.com/awards/1-50-winners
http://www.theworlds50best.com/awards/51-100-winners

I highly recommend for you to try the following - I've been to all the places below and enjoyed them. :)

Fine Dining -The following places you will need to book a few months in advance or few weeks depending on the night. Email them for dates available etc.

Quay http://www.quay.com.au/
Has the wonderful view of the Opera House. I recommend going during the day for a lunch. This will give you great day views.
Must order item: Snow Egg dessert - divine!!!
http://gourmettraveller.com.au/quays-guava-snow-egg.htm

Marque http://www.marquerestaurant.com.au/
This is my husband and my absolute favourite restaurant. You have to try degustation and matching wines - it's amazing.

Other great eats:

Prime http://www.gposydney.com/Sydneys-Best-Steak-Restaurant-and-Steakhouse---Prime-15.html
Another favourite of ours ~ best steaks.
Must order item: wagyu tartare (my fav) & cote de boeuf (hubby's fav)

Cafe Sydney http://www.cafesydney.com/
Less pricey and more casual feel. Another good spot for visitors especially for night.
They have a little bar/drinks area.

Masuya http://masuya.com.au/
Great Japanese food! Sushi is very fresh and reasonable in price. Go to the Masuya Restaurant in city.
Their english link is under construction at the moment so you might have to check back later. :)

~ Other activities in Sydney/NSW:

Bridge Climb http://www.bridgeclimb.com/
If you're the outdoor type - an absolute must!

The Rocks - Area to check out. They do markets and stuff on weekend. Check link for details.
http://www.therocks.com/

Darling Harbour - Another area - lots of places to eat and drink there. Although..personally I don't like most of the restaurants there. I think you're better off doing food court food. This is also where the casino is.
http://www.darlingharbour.com/

Some shopping Area in Sydney ~ Pitt Street Mall/Westfield Sydney
http://westfield.com.au/sydney - they just did up the city mall - it's looks pretty modern and has a range of stores.
Other wise check out Paddington and Oxford St for some shopping.
http://www.paddingtonmarkets.com.au/

*Again ~ As I mentioned before since you don't have much time - I would skip the shopping and go do other things in Sydney. :D

For Wines ~ Hunter Valley
http://www.winecountry.com.au/
Close to Sydney - about 2 hours drive...I think.

~ The Great Outdoors outside Sydney etc ~

I have to agree with Blackpaw ~ it would be a great shame to miss out on Uluru. I've been there and it is something out of this world.
http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru/

http://www.ayersrockresort.com.au/
If you do go there - I also recommend doing the Kings Canyon

~ Great Barrier Reef/Cairns/Hamilton Island
http://www.hamiltonisland.com.au/

Hope that gives you some ideas :)
 

princesss

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 18, 2007
Messages
8,035
Not sure what to tell you yet, but I'm headed to NZ in October, so I'll let you know what's really freaking fantastic when I get back. :)
 

diva rose

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Apr 9, 2010
Messages
451
Blackpaw|1308777449|2952282 said:
The main wine regions i know are in south australia (hunter valley), or there's the yarra valley in Victoria but i dont think either would be on the must-see lists for me...
Agree again with Blackpaw :D

The Hunter Valley or Yarra Valley aren't must-sees. You are better off going to visit Tasmania.
http://www.discovertasmania.com.au/

I've been to wineries in Europe and they are much better/worth seeing.

I almost forgot the Blue Mountains.
http://www.visitbluemountains.com.au/index.php

That's within an hour from Sydney city and you can pretty much do 1/2 day trip to see it.
 

Blackpaw

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 26, 2008
Messages
2,469
diva rose|1308801323|2952625 said:
Blackpaw|1308777449|2952282 said:
The main wine regions i know are in south australia (hunter valley), or there's the yarra valley in Victoria but i dont think either would be on the must-see lists for me...
Agree again with Blackpaw :D

The Hunter Valley or Yarra Valley aren't must-sees. You are better off going to visit Tasmania.
http://www.discovertasmania.com.au/

I've been to wineries in Europe and they are much better/worth seeing.

I almost forgot the Blue Mountains.
http://www.visitbluemountains.com.au/index.php

That's within an hour from Sydney city and you can pretty much do 1/2 day trip to see it.
Oh yes thats a great idea, the blue mountains are lovely!

And in Cairns, Mossman Gorge and Kuranda are worth a visit...
 

4ever

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 9, 2008
Messages
2,260
Blackpaw|1308777449|2952282 said:
Exciting! No tips from me re NZ (ive only been to the north island and of course the south island is where most of the action is - so i guess id say stick with the south island as a tip) but ive seen a bit of aus and am from there too...
I'm an Aucklander (North Island) and I'm going to have to disagree with this statement! I think that tourism activities in the North Island are just very different to those in the Island South.

Gamer Girl - If you are spending a limited amount of time here and want to pack a lot in, I would aim for a "big" City and either Rotarua (North Island) or Queenstown (South). However, since your coming over in Feb and a lot of Queenstown tourism is based on winter activities (skiing etc) I might lean towards Rotorua and Auckland.

You can go horse riding, nature hiking, golfing etc anywhere you go really - these activities are everywhere in NZ. Same with visiting Vinyards - they're everywhere, so it's hard to choose just one! I can suggest some great day trips (or 1/2 day trips) to some great ones around Auckland if you like? I think Scuba Diving you're better off in Northern Australia, we're not quite tropical enough so there is not as much cool looking fish and reef things to see.

Surfing- their are plenty of places, the Coramandel peninsular is only a couple hours drive from Auckland or Rotorua and has a couple of good surf beaches (and is a really beautiful part of the country too) and I think Northland and the west coast also (I'll have to check for you, I'm not a surfer myself), but maybe another thing to do in AUS if your doing the scubba there too.

So If I were to plan your trip for you and you had limited time, I would split your time between Auckland (Vinyards, reasturants, shopping with a few sights) and the Rotorua-Taupo-Coramandel Reagion for all your Really neat adventure tourism type stuff, the good tours, good cultural shows and activities, lots of history, beautiful landscapes etc). I think you'd get a pretty balanced view of what NZ is really like.

I am more than happy to help where I can, so let me know if their is anything else you want to know or if you wan more specifics. FI's parents are coming over for the first time next April from the UK so we have already done a lot of brainstorming for great things to do, so I'm happy to share! :wavey:
 

GamerGirl

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
175
Blackpaw|1308777449|2952282 said:
Exciting! No tips from me re NZ (ive only been to the north island and of course the south island is where most of the action is - so i guess id say stick with the south island as a tip) but ive seen a bit of aus and am from there too...

For timing id say a week in nz and 2 weeks in australia - simply for the sake of size, australia is much bigger and there'll be more travel time.

Now, even though im from melbourne im going to say skip it, heres what i would suggest seeing:

I would be stopping in Sydney for a few days (shopping, the bridge etc), and then maybe heading somewhere close-ish on the nsw coast for a spot of surfing.

THen i think it would be a shame not to see central australia, to see uluru and the kimberley (and opal mines if you're keen!!)

And lastly of course is Cairns/port douglas/the daintree. From there you'll get to see the great barrier reef and the rainforest =)

Re wine, not sure if i have any recs for australia that i think are worth taking time out to see when you're there a short time (unless you really love wine!). Maybe some other pricescopers know new south wales a bit better and maybe you could do it there. The main wine regions i know are in south australia (hunter valley), or there's the yarra valley in Victoria but i dont think either would be on the must-see lists for me...
Thanks Blackpaw! I definitely want to see the reef and the rainforest. Not a big deal to just enjoy wine with our meals. Opal mines sound super interesting!! My list is definitely just a random collection of things we like to do -but not requirements for the trip. I was wondering about Melbourne vs Sydney so good to know I should lean us more toward Sydney and other locations. I'll have to see if everyone could maybe do 4 weeks to make sure we aren't rushing around too much. I'm getting excited to do more research now!! :appl:
 

GamerGirl

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
175
diva rose|1308800862|2952619 said:
GamerGirl ~ when are you heading to Australia? And if you don't mind me asking, where are you from?
We are looking at Feb 2012? I'm from Wisconsin (Milwaukee area)


For shopping, can I highly recommend you skip this? Australia is not the best place to shop. You can pretty much find everything in the US/UK/Europe/Asia for half or much less of the price in Australia. So please save your money and use it on other things Australia has to offer - the great outdoors and delicious food.
Got it - we honestly aren't HUGE shoppers - but if there was some cute little market or something to walk through we would be up for that. Sounds like there are TONS more things to do so I won't worry about shopping as a specific activity!!

Food ~ Sydney has a few of the best restaurants in the world. So if you're going to be spending money - splash it on food.~ Other activities in Sydney/NSW:
I haven't had time to go through all these links, but we are definitely willing to spend money on good food - I'll have to make a whole list of the recommendations. Thanks!!

Hope that gives you some ideas :)
Your post was just what I was looking for! tons of great options - thanks for taking the time to type it all out!! :appl: February can't get here soon enough - I want to go tomorrow!!!
 

GamerGirl

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
175
princesss|1308800950|2952621 said:
Not sure what to tell you yet, but I'm headed to NZ in October, so I'll let you know what's really freaking fantastic when I get back. :)
Oh yeah - I forgot you were going over there too! You definitely have to report back ;))
 

GamerGirl

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Jan 8, 2011
Messages
175
4ever|1308826101|2952737 said:
I'm an Aucklander (North Island) and I'm going to have to disagree with this statement! I think that tourism activities in the North Island are just very different to those in the Island South.

Gamer Girl - If you are spending a limited amount of time here and want to pack a lot in, I would aim for a "big" City and either Rotarua (North Island) or Queenstown (South). However, since your coming over in Feb and a lot of Queenstown tourism is based on winter activities (skiing etc) I might lean towards Rotorua and Auckland.

So If I were to plan your trip for you and you had limited time, I would split your time between Auckland (Vinyards, reasturants, shopping with a few sights) and the Rotorua-Taupo-Coramandel Reagion for all your Really neat adventure tourism type stuff, the good tours, good cultural shows and activities, lots of history, beautiful landscapes etc). I think you'd get a pretty balanced view of what NZ is really like.

I am more than happy to help where I can, so let me know if their is anything else you want to know or if you wan more specifics. FI's parents are coming over for the first time next April from the UK so we have already done a lot of brainstorming for great things to do, so I'm happy to share! :wavey:
Thanks 4ever! Do you think a week would be enough time to split between Auckland and Rotorua areas? I'm trying to see if we could stretch our trip to 4 weeks to give us more time but i'm not sure if that will actually work.

Is it easy to get from the North to the South Island? My mom and aunt are pretty good at travelling but I don't think either have actually been out of the country before so I'm not 100% sure how adventurous they are going to be about popping around according to my whims ;)) I look at it like this is definitely a once in a lifetime trip for my mom and aunt - we should take advantage of that!! Thank goodness I have been such a saver these last few years - I can splurge!!

I will totally have to hit you up with specific questions once I do a little more research / planning this weekend!
 

GliderPoss

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Sep 25, 2008
Messages
2,479

4ever

Ideal_Rock
Joined
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Messages
2,260
GamerGirl|1308840958|2952908 said:
Thanks 4ever! Do you think a week would be enough time to split between Auckland and Rotorua areas? I'm trying to see if we could stretch our trip to 4 weeks to give us more time but i'm not sure if that will actually work.

Is it easy to get from the North to the South Island? My mom and aunt are pretty good at travelling but I don't think either have actually been out of the country before so I'm not 100% sure how adventurous they are going to be about popping around according to my whims ;)) I look at it like this is definitely a once in a lifetime trip for my mom and aunt - we should take advantage of that!! Thank goodness I have been such a saver these last few years - I can splurge!!

I will totally have to hit you up with specific questions once I do a little more research / planning this weekend!
A week would give you a taste of both Auckland and Rotorua if you planned well and did quite a bit every day.
As for traveling between islands, NZ is a very long country, no point traveling that far any other way than by plane if you've only got a week. So yep, couple of hundred NZ$ will get you a two way ticket any main city in NZ. I recommend you don't do too many places if you're not here for long.

Some suggestions of things to do: In Auckland I would spend a day in the central city and do the Sky tower http://www.skycityauckland.co.nz/Attractions/Skytower.html and maybe a harbor bridge walk http://www.bungy.co.nz/auckland-bridge/auckland-bridge-climb (haven't done it, but I've hurd it's really good even if your not a tourist- and the bridge may not be their much longer) and a bit of a look around the shops and try a couple of nice restaurants and nightlife if your into that. If you like good wine and food, another day I would take the ferry to Waiheke island http://waiheke.aucklandnz.com/ and do a couple of winery tours - beautiful area, good wine, fantastic food, would be gorgeous in Feb. Maybe some sailing on an Americans cup yacht or a tour of another island, go to some of the markets.....whatever appeals.

For Rotarua I it's hard to know where to start, there is SO MUCH to do http://www.rotoruanz.com/ But to pick a bit of everything, I would definatly do a geothermal tour around one of the geothermal parks like hells gate http://www.hellsgate.co.nz/ because there is nothing else like this on earth. For relaxy time try the polinesian spa http://www.polynesianspa.co.nz/, spas are a big part of Rotarua becuase they are all naturally heated by all the crazy geothermal avtivity and were the big original tourism draw in the 1800's because they were said to be very healing. For a bit of Maori culture, I really enjoyed the tamiki maori village http://www.maoriculture.co.nz/ they will pick you up from your hotel, do a traditional welcome, you can have a look around a maori village, they do a show for you and then you get to enjoy a hangi for dinner (food cooked on hot coals underground)- a good nights entertainment. And everyone loves the adventure tourism like the lugehttp://www.skylineskyrides.co.nz/rotorua/ssr_luge/, the zorb http://www.zorb.com/rotorua and the huka jet is worth a little drive http://www.hukafallsjet.com/page/5-Home. There is literally so much to do- the first stop for most people in Rotorua is usually to the information center where you can browse through 1000's of activities brochures and just pick out the ones that appeal most and go for it.

Hope this will give you a starting point!
 

Brown.Eyed.Girl

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jun 4, 2008
Messages
6,893
Omg, NZ!! I'm so excited for you!

Here is my thread: Link

And my itinerary from when we were planning:

NZ%20Trip%20Itinerary.jpg

NZ%20Trip%20Itinerary%202.jpg

NZ%20Trip%20Itinerary%203.jpg

NZ%20Trip%20Itinerary%204.jpg

NZ%20Trip%20Itinerary%205.jpg
 

ForteKitty

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 7, 2004
Messages
4,582
omg BEG, that looks like my itinerary when i travel, down to sunrise-sunset times!!!
 

Rae~

Shiny_Rock
Joined
May 23, 2005
Messages
291
I really want to give you some ideas for FNQ (Cairns/ Port Douglas/ Atherton Tablelands etc) but I just don't have time at the moment, I'm so sorry!

I promise I will come back and add more in the next few days or so. :halo:

As a general guide, can I ask approx or very general ages/age groups of the travellers? I know you said "active" but just trying to work out what activities/might suit.

I am sure you will have a GREAT holiday. :D
 

klewis

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 21, 2008
Messages
871
Gamer Girl, I live in the North Island and this is what I would arrange for friends visiting the North Island.

If your arrival into NZ is in the North Island it will most likely be Auckland. February usually gives us the best summer weather so you've chosen a great time to visit but weather-wise , anything goes these days. The school year will have resumed but keep in mind it's the height of summer so you'll likely need to book most hotels and flights in advance.

Auckland

If your arriving from Australia you won't be too fatigued - it's only about a 3 hour flight. Stay somewhere central. I really like Quest Apartments in Queen Street, they're reasonably priced and central and it seems you can walk everywhere from here. It's in the centre of the city - insist on a Park side room (3 star accommodation) and the lady in the restaurant is fascinating!
Spend a day or two here. Walk from your hotel to The Domain and visit the Auckland Museum where, among other things, you'll find the giant Moa bird (not live). I once took a US friend to see the Moa and I had her close her eyes and led her right up to the display. When she opened her eyes she screamed and we almost got thrown out of the museum.
From The Domain walk down through Parnell. It's relaxed shopping and do stop in on Sutcliffes jewellery. Keep walking in the same direction to the viaduct basin (the wharf) and have a meal at one of the many restaurants in the area. If you like seafood this is the place for it. K Road ( Karangahape road) and Ponsonby road are interesting shopping walks and close to the Quest.

4ever's suggestion of a visit to Waiheke Island is a good day trip option from Auckland but do also check out Tiritiri Matangi island (great birdlife there) and Rangitoto island whose volcanic cone dominates the Auckland harbour.
Alternatively, you could take the ferry from downtown Auckland across to Devonport. If you have time, try to make it to RDG Robinson Designer Goldsmiths while you're on that side of the harbaour and tell them you're a PSer.

Rotorua is about 2 1/2 hours from Auckland and is very volcanic. I would hire a car in Rotorua and drive to Waimangu Valley. I like this of all the thermal reserves, it is the most natural and on a larger scale than the others - I think it's about 26 km out of the city.
Or drive to lake Tarawera, past the blue and the green lakes. This is a beautiful drive and the views of the brooding Mt Tarawera are lovely.

Next drive to Whakatane on the East Coast. Generally the east coast beaches are white sand, the West coast black sand. This drive (1 1/4 hours) takes youi along the edges of several lakes Rotorua, Rotoiti, Rotoehu and Rotoma and on to the coast. The reason for going to Whakatane is to take the boat the day trip to White Island our most active volcano, mostly submerged, just the tip protruding from the ocean. You get off the boat wearing your hard hat and walk escorted to the crater. Stay at a Bed and breakfast in Whakatane and then drive around the East Cape where travel back in time 20 or 30 years. Give yourself 3 days from Whakatane to drive back to Rotorua via Gisborne and the Waioeka Gorge, Back in Rotorua you can take a direct flight to the South Island.
I hate to say it but avoid Christchurch, is it still experiencing major earthquakes, the last large quake of a few weeks ago has resulted in another 70 major buildings listed for demolition so perhaps Rotorua to Queenstown is a good option.

Happy planning!
 
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