J's Intro & Overview of 5 wks in NZ & 'OZ'
Replies: 16 - Last Post: Nov 18, 2012 4:43 PM Last Post By: Harry_Ramsden
Sep 2, 2012 7:53 PM
J's Intro & Overview of 5 wks in NZ & 'OZ'1) A bit of background: We are a 70 yr old couple in fairly good health who prefer shoulder season Budget-Travel & who enjoy scenery (espec'ly mtns), wildlife, history, a walk of at least a mile or 2 each day, everyday life in small towns/rural areas staying in B&Bs (Europe) or motels elsewhere - often for just one nite & often w/o reservations. Also enjoy an occasional museum & a day tour of a city. We're ok with spending 3 or 4 hours a day driving -- typically average 125-150 miles/day. We've made several trips of aprox 3 wks each to 1-2 dozen European countries via car hire - Britain, Ireland & on continent from Holland SE-ward as far as Croatia & a bit of Bosnia.
2) We are now doing preliminary planning of an aprox 5 wk (including flights) self-driving (rental cars) trip to New Zealand & 'Australia'. We expect to depart early next April? (or possibly early March?). Flight will probably be from Huntsville, ALabama. Our current thought is to go first to NZ (aprox 13 days there). Probably fly on from Auckland to Queenstown (putting us in colder climate earlier in autumn) to rent a car & drive to Milford Sound then back up (either to Mt Cook or just directly to Wanaka) & over to west coast then across to Picton ferry. From Wellington to Auckland via Tongariro, Taupo & Rotorua. I plan to post a more detailed prelim itinerary after I see any responses here, Most seem to drive north to south - AKL to Qnstown or ChCh. Is our reversing that a disadvantage?
3) From Auckland we'd fly to Sydney for later autunm tour on/near east-central coast. Tentative plan for Oz is aprox 17days in northern (from Sydney northward) NSW & southern (as far north as Rockhampton) Queensland. Tentative plan is to go up along/near coast & then inland to Emerald (or maybe Carnarvon Park?) & then southward mostly on inland-side of Dividing Range seeing Parks & countryside as return to Sydney later in autumn. OR should we reverse the circle going northward Inland & return to Sydney along/near coast when cooler? We currently envision going first to Blue Mtns then generally follow coast to Rockhampton & nearby Aboriginal Cultural Center seeing Nat'l Parks, beaches, Fraser Island & a day trip to Barrier Reef (maybe @ Lady Island?). Does that general scenerio sound reasonable?
4) Should we then complete a round trip flight by going back to Auckland? And then complete our initial roundtrip flight from the states? I usually scout out our flights on Orbitz then book directly with airline via computer. Now, for this trip, I'm thinking maybe I should either work with a travel agent OR try to work out a simpler (& hopefully less expensive) flight scheme by phone directly with an airline such as Air NZ, Quantas, etc.?
Thank You in Advance for any thoughts, suggestions or corrections you might offer!
Sep 2, 2012 8:41 PM
1I'm not sure why you see a need to put Oz and Australia in quotation marks, whereas NZ and New Zealand are not. Is there some significance to this? Care to explain?
From 3 - Coast road from Syd to Rockhampton is pretty enough. The inland road is not so pretty and is good for a quick drive to get from A to B.
- Fraser Island - you can not take your regular hire car/campervan there; you will need a proper 4WD (not All wheel drive) and if you have no 4WD experience, I would advise you go on a tour.
From 4 - open jaw flight is a little more expensive but means you don't need to backtrack. There are lots of flights from Australia to east and west coast US.
Sep 3, 2012 2:11 PM
2PhiMeow, Thanks for reply!
1) Sorry my quotation marks puzzled & bothered u. They had no real significance. In case of OZ, that was my first time to use that short name/abbreviation & I guess the quotes indicated my lack of familiarity w the term. In case of Australia, I felt like saying we were touring Australia was an overstatement when, in fact, we'll just b touring a small part of it.
2) Our logic for flying to southern NZ then driving North relates to climate/temperature. Want to do colder area earlier in autumn. Also thot we might get a better price on car rental since it appears most do opposite. At one point it appeared that a one way plane ticket was cheaper in one direction than the other - but can't recall which way now.
3) We figured we'd spend more time on coastal route than inland route (tho sounds like inland route might have a # of Parks & interesting towns - espec'ly in NSW). Another deciding factor in which route to do first will b climate. Our current thinking is that we'd find the coast/beaches more enjoyable in mid-autumn than later even tho only by a week or 2. Also by going up coastal route we'd be hitting cooler beaches of NSW earlier in autumn than the warmer beaches of QLD. Does that make sense? Unsure as to when the beach season ends & where - tho we're more interested in strolling more than swimming. Sounds like we'll want to take a (1-day?) tour of Fraser Island rather than driving there.
4) If the one way plane ticket from AKL to SYD is cheaper than round trip that would allow us to spend more to fly home directly from OZ - while avoiding backtracking & thus saving time.
Thanks again for the response!
Sep 3, 2012 3:34 PM
3Your logic for your route in Nz is totally sound. I guess many people would do it the other way around because they arrive at the other end of the season too - so spring or summer - so leaving the south island till the end means better weather for them.
March is a very nice time in NZ. April you are starting to get into shorter days and cold nights, and more chance of rain.
Your rough plan sounds good. If you are into the occasional museum visit then Te Papa in Wellington would be worth some time.
At that time of year, acc'm in motels around NZ would be pretty straightforward, as long as you keep in mind when Easter is - as some places can be very busy then, with people taking the last opportunity for a longer outdoors holiday before winter sets in.
Sep 3, 2012 5:44 PM
re: 1 - I try not to make assumptions (have been on this forum for a while) hence the question in case you had specific reasons why OZ and Australia were specially marked. But as they had no significance we'll just move on ;-)
As you move north from Sydney to Rockhampton it will be warmer (relatively speaking) so that's a good plan.
Sep 3, 2012 6:27 PM
5Phi, does it honestly bother you about the quotation marks? "NZ". Happy?
Sep 3, 2012 6:41 PM
Sep 3, 2012 8:24 PM
- Most travellers do start North and head south. It's probably cheaper to hire a car, and take one way
flight the other way, so there's no disadvbantage I see, maybe the opposite?
- Milford Sound to Mt Cook? Are you getting this from a map? Because, while Mt Cook can be seen from the west coast, it can only be accessed from the east. You can only get to Mt Cook if travelling up the eastern side of the mountains to wards Christchurch
- Milford to Wanaka is a 5-6 hour drive. These roads are long, slow, winding and very scenic. Do not assume you will ever be going over 80 klmh. A day trip to Milford is about 12 hours, including 10 hours of driving, so best to break this up with a stop at Te Anau, in at least one direction.
- Wanaka to the glaciers is about 4 hours drive, and its spectacular driving, make sure you stop at the Haast blue pools on the way over. We thought FJ was a better stop than Fox.
- There's not much in Taupo, but the best thermal parks are between Taupo and Rotorua. We really enjoyed Wai-o-Tapu
- Sydney is well worth 3-4 days. See the Blue Mountains, take a Manly ferry, walk across the Bridge, swim at an ocean beach.
- The highway north is, for about half its distance, a single lane road, and it rarely comes within sight of the ocean, so frequent detours are needed to see the beaches.
- I've never heard of anyone just going to Rockhampton. It's a very unremarkable town. Most people either stop at Brisbane, or somewhere nearby (like the Gold Coast or Noosa) or go on to Fraser island (which is absolutely stunning) or then make the next big drive to the Reef, usually at the Whitsundays or Cairns. Rocky is not worth the extra 4 hours from Fraser IMHO.
- The Great Dividing range is just about the entire length of the East coast, and its most spectacular location would be the Blue Mountains (Sydney day trip) The Snowy Mountains (a 2-3 day trip) Barrington Tops (3 hours from Sydney, near Newcastle and the Hunter valley) Waterfall way (divert up to Armidale from the Pacific Highway). Personally, I'd skip the lot for a flight to cairns or the whitsundays to see the Reef and rainforest.
As other have pointed out, you cannot "drive to Fraser island". It's entirely made of sand and only a 4WD will do. Best take a day trip, but this requires you to overnight in hervey Bay either side, as it's not something you can see in a couple of hours. There are day trip from Noosa, but these are very long.
Sep 3, 2012 8:27 PM
Sep 3, 2012 11:38 PM
Sep 4, 2012 12:47 AM
10Yes, but you live in Australia NVG. Would you make this even one of your 17 days in Australia?
Nicer than Gladstone and more interesting than Mackay, but not as nice as Bundaberg, would be my assessment. Had they not stuck the city behind the mountain, blocking out the sea breezes (at the highest navigable part of the river) it would be fine, but it suffers, scenically and weather wise, from its historic placement. Nice pub on the river though.
Sep 4, 2012 10:29 PM
Note how I put the quote marks around your name? That's to get your attention.
Sep 5, 2012 2:31 PM
12Right now, just a brief note to let all of u know that we appreciate your responses & feedback.
Monday we learned that workmen were gonna show up early Tues morn to do some home repair/renovation work for us. It is pretty much keeping us busy moving things out of their way & then back. As soon as it slows up to where we can we will respond more fully/individually.
We've especially appreciated the various thoughts on Carnarvon Gorge. It is considerably out of our way & we'll have to eventually decide about it. Does it sound reasonable to spend 2 nites & 1 day there? Seems going to Carnarvon would add 2-3 days to our trip as opposed to just going inland as far as Emerald & then turning south?
Re Rockhampton: Given our time-frame (& distance limits) this just appeared to be a good place to head inland (whether or not we get to Carnarvon), since there appear to be opportunities to go out for a day to Barrier Reef below there - one that I recall is Lady Elliott Island - suggestions on where to go for glass bottom boat & 'surface-snorkeling'?. Also, we thought there was a major Aboriginal Cultural Center near Rockhampton. Thot I recalled it being just a few miles NE of town. Right now all I can locate nearby is Dreamtime Center. Doesn't sound as impressive as I recalled it. Recommend it? Other Aboriginal Centers or Sites?
Maybe I can work in brief comments like this prior to more in-depth thots & then post a tentative itinerary.
Harry_R we espec'ly appreciated your detailed reply & hope to answer it shortly. Our thot is if we arrive at Queenstown abt noon we might (or not? - definitely not ideal but we oft go 100 miles or so in Europe after arriving there in morn or mid-day)feel like driving to Te Anau for first 2 nites - going to Milford Sound the 2nd day. We r undecided whether we will have time to go to Mt Cook given 13 days in NZ & other places we want to go. If pressed for time, it might be semi-redundant or make too much driving.
If time permits, on day 3 we'd like to drive from Te Anau to ?Omarama (seeing sights along the way) for nites 3 & 4. Day 4 would be on to Mt Cook & back. If so, day 5 might be to Wanaka where we'd like at least a few hours - either overnite there or at Haast. Day 6 would then be to one of glaciers & overnite either there or Hokitiki - which would probably depend on where we spent nite 5. But that only leaves 7 days for rest of South Island & the North Island!
So an alternative would be to drive on day 3 from Te Anau to Wanaka for it's sights & nite 3 (or on to Haast for nite 3?). Then day 4 go to glacier area. It presently seems that skipping Mt Cook would save us perhaps 1&1/2 to 2 days - which would mean we would be less rushed & would have more time for remainder of NZ. I really need to give remainder of a preliminary NZ itinerary to help w that decision.
And it will have to be another day or more before I can do that in a meaningful way.
Thanks Again for All the responses we've received!
Sep 5, 2012 7:21 PM
13definitely not ideal but we oft go 100 miles or so in Europe after arriving there in morn or mid-day)
driving 100 miles in Europe is often quite a different scenario to driving 160km in many parts of NZ. Just be aware roads are narrow, windy, and slow. there are quite a few places in the South Island where there are single lane bridges on SH1.
Wises.co.nz is a reasonably reliable site for working out travel times, rather than just distances.
Nov 17, 2012 2:31 PM
14VERY TENTATIVE 13 DAY NEW ZEALAND ITINERARY (A Followup to my 'Intro & Overview' - post above):
Tho not yet booked, we xpect to depart frm Alabama 3pm Apr 4 & arrive in Qnstown @12:05pm on Sat. April 6, pickup rental car & drive 2.5 hours to Te Anau or 1.75 hours to Mossburn & find budget motel room.
Day 2: Drive to Milford Sound, take boat cruise (better early or late cruise to miss crowds?) & return to same motel for nite 2 (possible detour to gloworm caves as we return?).
Day 3: 5 hr drive to a Twizel motel. We switch drivers every hour or so & would make a few short stops to sightsee & walk trails.
Day 4: 1 hr drive to Mt Cook, go to visitor center & on walks. Sometime after lunch start 3 hr drive (that's driving time not counting stops) to Wanaka for supper, some shopping if time permits, & overnite.
Day 5: Probably more shopping/sights in Wanaka area before 2.0 - 2.5 hr driving time to Haast plus time to stop along the way for views & a walk. Late lunch & visit Blue Pools @ Haast then 2 - 2.5 hr driving time to Fox or FJ for overnite.
Day 6: Visit one of the glaciers (how much time?) before 2 hr drive, plus stops, to Hokitika for some shopping, seeing glow worms after dark & overnite here.
Day 7: Probably more shopping in Hokitika & stops @ Greymouth, Pancake Rocks & Westport & overnite @ Murchison (4 hrs driving time).
Day 8: Drive 3 hrs to Picton (+ stop or 2). Return car & take midday Saturday ferry (older less expensive ferry that takes 3 hrs but have a faster one that makes it in 2 hrs?) to Wellington, pickup car, maybe go to Te Papa Museum & drive 30 minutes to a northern 'suburb' such as Papaparaumu for overnite.
Day 9: Seems it's about 4 hrs driving time via Wanganui to Whakapapa Village in Tongariro Nat'l Park. Suggestions of this or alternate routes, & stops along them, would be appreciated as well as ideas for budget lodging in/near Tongariro Park - for 2 nites - Sunday & Monday.
Day 10: See Park Visitor Centers, take walks & make circle drive (3 hrs + stops) outside Park via Waiouru - which direction?
Day 11: 2 hr drive to Rotorua with stops @ Taupo, a geothermal site & in edge of or near Rotorua. Route from Taupo? Go to a Rotorua visitor center, find lodging for 2 nites here & ......?
Day 12: Primary interests include the buried village & evening tour of a Maori village with hangi (Tamaki?). Would like a museum, a geothermal location or other this Wednesday.
Day 13: Need to spend tonite near AKL airport as xpect to schedule 6am LAN airways flight friday to Sydney. Need ideas besides drive to airport.
Thank You for Any & All responses - suggestions, corrections & critiques!
Edited by: JerryMiley
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