Seeing the South West Pacific cheaply
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Jan 2, 2012 3:00 AM Last Post By: Ozziegiraffe
Jan 1, 2012 10:43 AM
Seeing the South West Pacific cheaplyAs Dr Nick would say, 'Hello Everybody' :-)
I would like to visit the whole of the South West Pacific region - everything south of, but not including, Nauru and Kiribati. To be more specific: PNG, the Solomons, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tuvalu, the Samoas and Tokelau, Wallis & Futuna, Norfolk Island, Tonga, Niue, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Pitcairn continuing to Easter Island, as well as Australia and New Zealand ofcourse (it would be lmost impossible to avoid them lol).
First some background information: I live in Europe and have a Belgian passport - so visas arent really an issue*, waiting around for incredible last-minute deals from AUS/NZ isn't really an option, and at least one RTW would be better value than a series of Europe-South Pacific tickets, particular given that there's lots to see in the rest of the world and I have time. Also since I will be travelling solo cruises would probably not be an economical option (unless shared accomodation is available). One other point: I have approached several Travel Agents in Belgium, including those who supposably no sic specialize in rtws and/or the South West Pacific/Oceania and they are of no help - to make a long story short I don't fit into their boxes; perhaps a good TA from the region would do better.
So now my question: What would be the cheapest way to visit all these places?
OK, exclude places like Tuvalu and Wallis - there's only one way to get there (ok to Wallis there's two - but only one airline which makes sure it costs about as much whichever combination of Nadi, Wallis and Noumea you use) and places like Pitcairn and Tokelau which you can't fly to... and internal travel is fairly straightforward within all the places, so I'm pretty clear on that.
Now, I've read the LPs, I've trawled the interweb for prices and deals, rtws, low cost point-to-points, cruises, etc and I've come to a few conclusions, which perhaps you all could confirm or dispute:
1) The only real regional (ie international) airpass is the Star Alliance SWP Airpass. And although you have to submit a specific itinerary to get a price, it doesn't seem to be particularly useful since it only allows flights on AirNZ flights and almost all international flights depart from Auckland, and visits to any single airport are limited - although connections through an airport are less restricted this doesn't help much since AirNZs pacifics flights seldom offer same day connections.
Are there other currently available regional airpasses - Flysolomons has one but does anyone have experience with this - the website is sketchy on details - Boomerang, Oceanie etc are RIP as far as I can tell...
2) Since Easter Island is on my list, a OneWorld Explorer seems to be almost inevitable. But OneWorld options in the SWP are totally pathetic - Noumea and NZ are it.
3) A series of one way and return fares within the region will work out cheaper than coming back to the region and using a SA SWP airpass.
Thank you for any comments or advice :-)
*= by which I mean I won't have to hang out in places with embassies or consulates, some visas are required but it won't ffect my travel
Edited by: xvaraanx
Jan 1, 2012 11:11 AM
1Well, you already took off places like Wallis and Pitcairn from your list, that's a good sign. Two simple statements:
1. There is no cheap way to do all this. You can find cheap ways to get into the region, but then I will get a lot more expensive with every destination you keep on your list.
2. You will need at least one year to see what is still left on your list, with much of it spent in PNG alone. If you want to get a real idea of where you are every time. This region only looks small and everything closely together when you look at a map. In real you have something in mind like visiting all Europe, every country, including places like Armenia and Lithuania, Malta, the Faroer Island and the Azores. Imagine that carefully and then you have an idea what you are talking about here.
If you want to keep it cheap, leave out Easter Island, take a Star Alliance pass, get to Fiji and the Cook Islands, spend some time in both countries going to some less touristic islands too. By that you will have a fairly good idea of what the South Pacific is like. You don't need to visit every country, as you would not need to visit every European country to get to know about Europe.
PNG is a destination of its own and can hardly be seen as part of an island hopping adventure.
Have fun planning.
Jan 1, 2012 5:07 PM
2OneWorld's Global Explorer Pass includes Air Pacific, making it the best option for this region, better than Star Alliance.
OW also includes Qantas codeshare flights to PNG, a country which I did myself include into my first longer trip to this region quite satisfyingly.
If still available, Air Pacific's Bula Pass could also be useful if you fly into the region with Air Pacific through AU.
In all other respects, I can only endorse what wksamoa has already said - there is no cheap way to do this, and LOTS of time is required.
Jan 1, 2012 5:52 PM
3Have a look at airtimetable.com for route maps of the airlines in Oceania - they should give you an idea of how you could set a route to visit some of the places on your list. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of having to return to your starting point. There are a few places where you might get to visit a couple of places without back tracking - Air Calin can get you from Tahiti to New Caledonia and then on to Vanuatu - from there you can get to Fiji with Air Vanuatu or Air Pacific. Another thing I do is to have a look at the airport websites(if they are available) to see what airlines fly in and out and the schedules, as you will find some routes go only certain days. Another site I have used for complicated routes is airtreks.com - they are a travel agency specializing in out of the normal routes - you can input the various places you want to visit and get an approximate cost. In the past couple of years cutbacks in routes have made travel in the Pacific a challenge but if you scale back your 'wants' you can still have a great trip.
Jan 2, 2012 3:00 AM
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