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  1. #1
    Senior Member Qre:us's Avatar
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    Smile Visiting Down Under - Australia and New Zealand

    Hello!

    For all the members from Australia and/or New Zealand, your input would be greatly appreciated!

    My friends and I (3 of us) are planning to visit your awesome countries from mid-December to mid-January.

    We are doing approx. 2 weeks in each country.

    Any input in helping us sort out our itinerary would be awesome.

    For Australia:

    - planning to do New Year's Eve at Sydney Harbour and leave Sydney on January 3rd to head to Adelaide.

    (a) Sydney, esp. on New Year's is $$$$ for accomodations - any suggestions for places that's close to the heart of Sydney Harbour, etc., but reasonably priced? We checked a few hostels, all booked up, as it's NYE. Boo!

    (b) I'm guessing January 1st is a national holiday for you so everything will be closed. But, we don't want to waste a day, so we're thinking of hitting Blue Mountain (Three Sisters) and maybe Bondi Beach this day - as they're natural attractions so there's no "closed for holidays".

    Am I right in this assumption? We're hoping to travel there by http://www.cityrail.info/.

    However, going on the website, they do not yet have their schedule up for Jan 1, 2013. Do you know if they would run on this day, or be closed as well?

    - Cairns - what to do, in and around here?* We're partial to nature and wildlife. Is Crystal Cascades woth a visit? What's the best (cheapest) way to travel there without going with a tour?

    * We're already doing the Great Barrier Reef, scuba diving (so excited!)! And spending a few more days in Cairns aside from this....

    For New Zealand:

    - is there any other place to do Zorbing other than Rotorua?

    - Do you think it's feasible to go from Rotorua to Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal park on our own? Or should we do a tour ($$)? If we want to include a early morning trip to Wai-O-Tapu and then to Taupo, for bungy jumping and seeing the lake, all within the same day, is that feasible or are we being over-ambitious?

    - we want to go to Mt. John Observatory at Lake Tekapo (hehe, take a poo).......and are crossing our fingers for some solar flares so we get to see Aurora Australis (Southern Lights).....what are our chances to see this in late December?

    [Short of commanding Nature, I know that there's no way to really predict this, but what are our chances? Anyone ever seen it first hand from Lake Tekapo?]

    *****

    I may have more questions once we fine-tune our itinerary further. But, it's a hella expensive trip (my most expensive to date), and any help in planning to shave costs would be so helpful!

    Kia Ora!

  2. #2
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post
    Hello!

    For all the members from Australia and/or New Zealand, your input would be greatly appreciated!

    My friends and I (3 of us) are planning to visit your awesome countries from mid-December to mid-January.

    We are doing approx. 2 weeks in each country.

    Any input in helping us sort out our itinerary would be awesome.
    Cool!

    I have quite an interest in this stuff (I should get paid to advertise NZ tourism ) so I can offer as much advice as you want. 2 weeks... it's pretty hard to see the NZ in that time - you're gonna kick yourself for all the things you'll miss out on, but oh well.. Where are you planning to go?

    - is there any other place to do Zorbing other than Rotorua?
    Maybe, but Rotorua was where it was invented, so it will probably be better to do it there - they'll probably have more options and a better setup. I've never done it myself, even though I want to some day. To me it's always seems pretty expensive for a quick thrill, but I know several people who have done it and loved it. You are planning on doing other things in Rotorua, right?

    - Do you think it's feasible to go from Rotorua to Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal park on our own? Or should we do a tour ($$)? If we want to include a early morning trip to Wai-O-Tapu and then to Taupo, for bungy jumping and seeing the lake, all within the same day, is that feasible or are we being over-ambitious?
    Do you plan to hire a car/van? If not it's pretty difficult to see much of anything in NZ, as public transport is fairly rubbish outside the main cities. There are several hop on/hop off backpacker tour bus groups that cover a lot of the main tourists spots, which might be the way to go if you don't have a car.

    If you do the bus thing, it might be harder to squeeze things in. If you are getting a car, it would take about 45 minutes to drive from Rotorua to Taupo and Wai-o-Tapu is about halfway between them. It is feasible to do those activities in one day if you're up reasonably early and are organised. I've been to Wai-o-Tapu myself twice (it's beautiful!) and it would take about 1 1/2 hrs to walk around it (although it took me and my nerdy, excitable, camera-happy friends over 2 1/2hrs). If you're not doing anything particular at/around the lake then going on to the bungy in the afternoon that would be fine. The bungy spot is pretty nice, but again, you should do these things in the places that are famous for it, which for bungy jumping is Queenstown, where it was first commercialised - but Taupo is a good alternative.

    Also there are a few other to see along that road. On the same loop road as Wai-o-Tapu are some pretty awesome mud pools (again, I could watch them for hours), which are free to see. Also with price of admission to Wai-o-Tapu is a geyser, which they set off at 10:15am (it would go off daily anyway, they just put a little soap on the surface to break the tension and make it go on time). If you're not going to any of the other geysers in Rotorua, this might be worthwhile. And stop off at Huka Falls (just north of Taupo) too, which is also free, as are all the best things in NZ.

    - we want to go to Mt. John Observatory at Lake Tekapo (hehe, take a poo).......and are crossing our fingers for some solar flares so we get to see Aurora Australis (Southern Lights).....what are our chances to see this in late December?

    [Short of commanding Nature, I know that there's no way to really predict this, but what are our chances? Anyone ever seen it first hand from Lake Tekapo?]
    Not entirely sure, I've only been to Tekapo once and I didn't see them. You will at least get brilliant views of the stars, probably like you've never seen them before. I will warn you I don't think the Southern Lights are as reliable and might not be as impressive in NZ, as we are further north than most people realise. But you might get lucky (there has been a lot of solar activity this year hasn't there), and Tekapo is certainly the best spot to see them. And even if you don't get to see them, just seeing Lake Tekapo from Mt John is truly lovely in and of itself, because it's the most amazing shade of turquoise...

    If you want some more general advice:

    Notes on avoiding dumb tourist behaviour

    - You have to realise how strong the sun is in NZ (and Australia, but this goes even more for here). During summer you can get burnt in 10-15 minutes so wear plenty of sunscreen, even on a cloudy day (and reapply it ever 2-3 hours if you're out in the sun). So unless you want to have lots of photos of you looking like a beetroot, take heed.

    - For god's sake be careful if you swim in the ocean. NZ has lots of dangerous rips and currents, and apparently foreigners have no experience of them. Swim between the flags, read the warning signs if there are some, be aware of your own capabilities, and pay attention to the situation. The west coast is particularly dangerous, so be extra careful there. I don't want to scare you, though, because it is safe as long as you are sensible.

    - If you are driving, be aware NZ roads are pretty hairy. They're a little rough, very windy, and you won't find too many 4-lane motorways. Don't overestimate your abilities because a lot of tourists crash on our roads. Drive at a speed you genuinely feel comfortable with and pull over regularly to let the traffic pass. One thing you may hear is, "New Zealanders are the nicest, friendliest, laid-back people you'll ever meet, until they get behind the wheel". We tend to drive fast and aggressively and don't have much patience for foreign drivers who aren't used to our road conditions, so be warned. Again, pull over and let people pass rather than piss them off; you'll probably get a friendly toot in thanks.

    - The weather is very changable here and you can't bank on it at all (even in summer). A calm, sunny, summery day can turn to bitterly cold wind and rain (or even snow in some places) in less than an hour. If you're going for a hike that's more than 2 hours long you have to check the weather reports that morning and tell someone where you're going. Always prepare for the worst and bring warm, wet weather clothing. So many tourists are fooled by the idyllic scenery and wander off on a short walk, only to end up in trouble. I always tell people: NZ doesn't have any dangerous animals or insects, here the real threat are the elements.

    - Also be aware that the period you are travelling is in the school holidays. This means prices are higher and places will book out quickly. The towns and cities pretty much empty out during this time and everyone heads to the beach (in the North Island/the north of the South Island), or to the lakes (in the South Island).

    Hope that helps!

    PS. Your Tekapo jokes aren't funny to us - we're too used to the 'strange' place names. Just saying...
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

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    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

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    Nice post, SK. I have done a lot of travelling in NZ, as well as spending 3/4 of my life there. I'll subscribe and add something if I can.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Qre:us's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    Cool!

    I have quite an interest in this stuff (I should get paid to advertise NZ tourism ) so I can offer as much advice as you want. 2 weeks... it's pretty hard to see the NZ in that time - you're gonna kick yourself for all the things you'll miss out on, but oh well..
    Thank you so much!

    Reading your feedback has me even more excited about my trip. I agree, 2 weeks will not do NZ justice, I fear. The more we search, the more stuff gets added to our list. And narrowing down the list is the most depressing task. Alas, with financial and time constraints, it must be done.

    Where are you planning to go?
    I didn't want to bore or overwhelm with putting the whole nitty-gritty of our itinerary......but, since you're open, would love any feedback you have about it.

    I know most people start from the South Island and work their way up to the North Island. We're doing it in reverse. And our priorities are wildlife and nature. So, in most cities, we're landing to secure a home-base and travelling to sights near there. It's a pretty exhausting itinerary, but we don't want to relax on this vacation - we want ADVENTURE!

    We're hitting NZ first, then Australia. Here is our NZ itinerary:

    Day 1 - Fly Toronto to Auckland

    Day 2 – Lose a day crossing the International Dateline

    Day 3 – Arrive into Auckland

    Day 4 – Day at Leisure in Auckland, look around the city and also trying to decide between which black sand beach to visit: Piha or Whatipu - suggestion?

    Day 5 – Auckland to Rotorua, via Waitomo Caves – Blackwater rafting in the Glowworm caves in Waitomo and then drive to Rotorua

    Evening - go to a Maori village nearby in Rotorua for a traditional Maori Hangi dinner and cultural performance

    Day 6 - Still in Rotorua, in early morning head to Wai-O-Tapu geothermal national park to catch the 10:15am geyser going off (but I didn't know they purposely make it go off at that time with soap. Good to know!)

    Then, as per your feedback, we will now head to Taupo to take in the town, the Huka Falls, and maybe do bungy jumping. I had originally wanted to do AJ Hackett's bungy in Queenstown, but I looked at some options and they offer it for cheaper in Taupo, and although it's not THE ORIGINAL, I'm guessing I got to think of the $ too.

    If we head back early enough to Rotorua, we will attempt to do zorbing in the evening.

    Day 7 - Christmas! Spend pretty much the whole day on a bus travelling from Rotorua to Wellington.

    Stay at a friend's place, get some financial relief of not paying for one night's accomodations and get some laundry done! YESH! Oh...and see Wellington, but, um...even though it's the capital city and all, we really do not have much interest in the "urban life".......so.......and I heard that it's not a thrilling city, really.

    Day 8 - Overnight bus from Wellington to Christchurch

    Day 9 – From Christchurch, early morning, head to Akaroa to see the rare, endangered wild dolphins in their natural habitat (Hector's dolphins - the smallest dolphins in the world, and only native to NZ!) - maybe swim with them. Doing it through a tour company who promotes its conversation but we were warned that swimming with them is on THEIR terms as they are wild dolphins.

    Come back to Christchurch, check the city out, any suggestions on what to check out?

    Day 10 – Bus Christchurch to Lake Tekapo [name said with a VERY SERIOUS AND SOMBER VOICE] (overnight)

    Arrive early morning in Lake Tekapo, go hiking to the glaciers in Mt. Cook, check out Lake Tekapo, at night go to St. John's observatory for some star gazing.

    Day 11 – Bus Lake Tekapo to Queenstown

    Check out Queenstown, maybe go luging and/or shotover jet. Any suggestion on what to check out specifically in this city?

    Day 12 – Go to the gorgeous and breath-taking Milford Sound and return late at night to Queenstown

    Day 13 – Fly Queenstown to Sydney

    (which coincides with Dec 31st arriving at Sydney to do New Year's Eve at Sydney Harbour)

    ...which begins our Australia travels.....


    Maybe, but Rotorua was where it was invented, so it will probably be better to do it there - they'll probably have more options and a better setup. I've never done it myself, even though I want to some day. To me it's always seems pretty expensive for a quick thrill, but I know several people who have done it and loved it. You are planning on doing other things in Rotorua, right?
    Any suggestions?


    Do you plan to hire a car/van? If not it's pretty difficult to see much of anything in NZ, as public transport is fairly rubbish outside the main cities. There are several hop on/hop off backpacker tour bus groups that cover a lot of the main tourists spots, which might be the way to go if you don't have a car.
    I'm from Canada, and don't know about the whole driving on the opposite side of the road and really don't want to try it out the first time on the winding roads of NZ. And we're going to be pretty exhausted given our activities and packed itinerary, so we're foregoing renting a car. We are doing Intercity buses. Checked out the bus schedules and made sure it coincides with our dates and times of when we want to travel, without us missing out on any of the tours and excursions. Magic Bus was another option but their schedule didn't match up.

    If you are getting a car, it would take about 45 minutes to drive from Rotorua to Taupo and Wai-o-Tapu is about halfway between them. It is feasible to do those activities in one day if you're up reasonably early and are organised. I've been to Wai-o-Tapu myself twice (it's beautiful!) and it would take about 1 1/2 hrs to walk around it (although it took me and my nerdy, excitable, camera-happy friends over 2 1/2hrs). If you're not doing anything particular at/around the lake then going on to the bungy in the afternoon that would be fine. The bungy spot is pretty nice, but again, you should do these things in the places that are famous for it, which for bungy jumping is Queenstown, where it was first commercialised - but Taupo is a good alternative.
    Bolded, good to know! These are the gems of advice that I was looking for. This works perfectly because then we could head from Rotorua, in the early morning (planning to leave for 8am), to do the geothermal national park tour in Wai-O-Tapu and from there, continue heading to Taupo.

    Would have loved to do bungy jumping in Queenstown, the adventure capital! However, as mentioned above.....Taupo had a cheaper option.

    It was between bungy and skydiving, but, none of my friends want to do either, and I'd rather save sky diving for when I, at least, have a buddy to share the experience with. And bungy was way less expensive than skydiving. Ah well....another place, another trip, with less-chicken friends.

    And stop off at Huka Falls (just north of Taupo) too, which is also free, as are all the best things in NZ.
    Noted!


    Not entirely sure, I've only been to Tekapo once and I didn't see them. You will at least get brilliant views of the stars, probably like you've never seen them before.
    It will be stunning, I'm sure. Probably will be the second best star gazing experience of my life. I am packing my constellation map, yup! I don't know if it will beat star gazing while camping out on the remote mountains while trekking in the Himalayas though. Either way, a pollution-free clear sky to gaze upon the heavens in awe and wonder. Humbling and peaceful. Can't wait.

    I will warn you I don't think the Southern Lights are as reliable and might not be as impressive in NZ, as we are further north than most people realise. But you might get lucky (there has been a lot of solar activity this year hasn't there), and Tekapo is certainly the best spot to see them. And even if you don't get to see them, just seeing Lake Tekapo from Mt John is truly lovely in and of itself, because it's the most amazing shade of turquoise...
    I know, I keep googling the images of the places we're planning to visit, and keep having visual orgasms. I will probably be left breathless seeing the real deal.

    Your coutry is so, so beautiful! It's like a nature lover's h(e)aven.

    If you want some more general advice:
    YES, please! Knowlege is power and, in our case, preparedness.

    - You have to realise how strong the sun is in NZ (and Australia, but this goes even more for here). During summer you can get burnt in 10-15 minutes so wear plenty of sunscreen, even on a cloudy day (and reapply it ever 2-3 hours if you're out in the sun). So unless you want to have lots of photos of you looking like a beetroot, take heed.
    Haha, thanks! I'm brown. I, thankfully, only get browner, never been burnt by the sun. But, yup, sunscreen is definitely on our list of MUST-PACK.

    For god's sake be careful if you swim in the ocean. NZ has lots of dangerous rips and currents, and apparently foreigners have no experience of them. Swim between the flags, read the warning signs if there are some, be aware of your own capabilities, and pay attention to the situation. The west coast is particularly dangerous, so be extra careful there. I don't want to scare you, though, because it is safe as long as you are sensible.
    Noted. I am a water baby but I am going to aim to curb my enthusiasm with practicality. My ESTx buddy is my tether to sensibility on this trip. Also, when we're going into the middle of the ocean, like the Dolphin tour, we're going with a tour company and so we have (hopefully) experienced people. They've already warned us that they may refuse to allow any of us in the water if the dolphins do not look like they will welcome us and/or the water is not condusive to a swim.

    - If you are driving, be aware NZ roads are pretty hairy. They're a little rough, very windy, and you won't find too many 4-lane motorways. Don't overestimate your abilities because a lot of tourists crash on our roads. Drive at a speed you genuinely feel comfortable with and pull over regularly to let the traffic pass. One thing you may hear is, "New Zealanders are the nicest, friendliest, laid-back people you'll ever meet, until they get behind the wheel". We tend to drive fast and aggressively and don't have much patience for foreign drivers who aren't used to our road conditions, so be warned. Again, pull over and let people pass rather than piss them off; you'll probably get a friendly toot in thanks.
    We're not taking the stress of driving.

    - The weather is very changable here and you can't bank on it at all (even in summer). A calm, sunny, summery day can turn to bitterly cold wind and rain (or even snow in some places) in less than an hour. If you're going for a hike that's more than 2 hours long you have to check the weather reports that morning and tell someone where you're going. Always prepare for the worst and bring warm, wet weather clothing. So many tourists are fooled by the idyllic scenery and wander off on a short walk, only to end up in trouble. I always tell people: NZ doesn't have any dangerous animals or insects, here the real threat are the elements.
    Another great advice. I was already going to pack some warm clothing for Mt. Cook glacier hike and Lake Tekapo at night...but thanks for the heads-up about packing for wet weather as well. Noted!

    - Also be aware that the period you are travelling is in the school holidays. This means prices are higher and places will book out quickly. The towns and cities pretty much empty out during this time and everyone heads to the beach (in the North Island/the north of the South Island), or to the lakes (in the South Island).
    Yeah, we've reserved some accomodations already, just need to finalize stuff. Some others, we've still to book and finding availability kind of hard. Ah well.

    Hope that helps!
    Greatly.

    PS. Your Tekapo jokes aren't funny to us - we're too used to the 'strange' place names. Just saying...
    haha, noted. Hey, random question, is there any place called Tekape?

    ** I know, we are not seeing Fox Glacier an/or Franz Josef. Nor Bay of Islands. Nor Dunedin or Bay of Plenty.

    Those were part of the initial considerations but we had to sacrifice some to keep others. If only we had limitless funds and time. If only....

    THANK YOU, Southern Kross. Btw, where do you live in NZ? (don't worry, I'm not going to come knocking on your door.....maybe)

    @wolfy - would love any additional feedback if you have any!

  5. #5
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Qre:us View Post
    Thank you so much!

    Reading your feedback has me even more excited about my trip. I agree, 2 weeks will not do NZ justice, I fear. The more we search, the more stuff gets added to our list. And narrowing down the list is the most depressing task. Alas, with financial and time constraints, it must be done.
    Ugh, I know the feeling. You have to make the most of the time you have.

    I know most people start from the South Island and work their way up to the North Island. We're doing it in reverse.
    I don't think this is standard - there isn't any one direction that's best. However, one thing is, I have to admit, as wonderful as the North Island is, you have to focus your time on the South Island - especially if you've got a tight schedule. And this is coming from a North Islander...

    And our priorities are wildlife and nature. So, in most cities, we're landing to secure a home-base and travelling to sights near there. It's a pretty exhausting itinerary, but we don't want to relax on this vacation - we want ADVENTURE!
    This is the way to do it. We have some nice enough cities but don't waste your time on them, when there's so much beautiful scenery to see.

    Day 4 – Day at Leisure in Auckland, look around the city and also trying to decide between which black sand beach to visit: Piha or Whatipu - suggestion?
    I don't know Whatipu, but Piha is really lovely and probably easier to get transport to, so you should probably go there. It's popular but isn't totally overrun or overdeveloped. If you are able to, it's also good to stop off at Karekare beach which is the next beach south of Piha. It's even more pristine and is famous too because it was the beach used in the film The Piano. Also if you have time, take some of the walks around the headlands at Piha south beach. There's some nice views and little spots with interesting features - I think there's information online. Just be aware that it takes a good 45 minutes+ to get to Piha from central Auckland, if there isn't any traffic. (Things in NZ can look close on the map but take longer to get there than you'd think - again, windy roads)

    Suggestions:
    - go up the Sky tower- it has great views (but costs money)
    - wander around CBD, the viaduct and waterfront
    - take a harbour cruise - I don't think they're too expensive and it's a good way to see Auckland
    - walk up to top of Mt Eden. It's not far from CBD by bus and has great views over the city and harbour. I used to live next to it and I loved going up there regularly.

    Other possibilities (time and interest dependent)
    - take ferry to Rangitoto (volcanic island just outside Auckland Harbour) for half a day walk around or to the summit - although you may not have time to do this
    - take ferry across to Devonport for a look around
    - Auckland museum
    - Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World

    Day 5 – Auckland to Rotorua, via Waitomo Caves – Blackwater rafting in the Glowworm caves in Waitomo and then drive to Rotorua

    Evening - go to a Maori village nearby in Rotorua for a traditional Maori Hangi dinner and cultural performance
    Which blackwater rafting company are you going with? I've been caving and blackwater rafting there 4 times, as well as seeing the other more touristy caves, so I can offer suggestions.

    It's cool you're going to the cultural performance and Hangi too!

    Day 6 - Still in Rotorua, in early morning head to Wai-O-Tapu geothermal national park to catch the 10:15am geyser going off (but I didn't know they purposely make it go off at that time with soap. Good to know!)

    Then, as per your feedback, we will now head to Taupo to take in the town, the Huka Falls, and maybe do bungy jumping. I had originally wanted to do AJ Hackett's bungy in Queenstown, but I looked at some options and they offer it for cheaper in Taupo, and although it's not THE ORIGINAL, I'm guessing I got to think of the $ too.

    If we head back early enough to Rotorua, we will attempt to do zorbing in the evening.
    Hmm, why go back and forth? Why not do Rotorua things, stay the night and then move on to Taupo and stay the night there? You would save time and fit more in. Also if you're taking buses I don't know if you'll be able to stop off at these places. Most buses just travel from one town to another with no stop offs - that's why I suggested backpacker buses, because they stop at the interesting sights. But I may be wrong, they might have changed the ordinary services now...

    Good things to do in Rotorua:
    - Luge (either here or Queenstown - but I think this one was the original)
    - Rainbow Springs - see NZ wildlife in a lovely little park. Included in the price of the ticket is the option to return after dark to see the Kiwis (which are our national icon and are SUPER CUTE ).
    - Whakarewarewa (a geothermal park with geysers and stuff - but if you're going to Wai-o-Tapu this isn't necessary)
    - White water rafting - again you probably won't have time

    Day 7 - Christmas! Spend pretty much the whole day on a bus travelling from Rotorua to Wellington.

    Stay at a friend's place, get some financial relief of not paying for one night's accomodations and get some laundry done! YESH! Oh...and see Wellington, but, um...even though it's the capital city and all, we really do not have much interest in the "urban life".......so.......and I heard that it's not a thrilling city, really.
    Hmm, you might not get much time do anything. Rotorua to Wellington would take 6 hours in a car, but on a bus, you're looking at maybe 8 or 9hrs. Well, at least you get to see the beautiful mountains, if the weather's good. Wellington is actually a rather nice city - it's sort of similar to San Francisco. It seems to be the favourite among travellers, anyway.

    Anyway if you have time, things to do:
    -Te Papa museum (it's the national museum)
    - walk around CBD, Cuba St, the parliament buildings etc and check out the awesome cafes and bars
    - take the 100 year old Cable Car up the hill for a spectacular view, then walk back down through the lovely Botanical Gardens
    - See the view from Mt. Victoria and if you're a Lord of the Rings fan, you could see some of the locations out of the film up there

    Day 8 - Overnight bus from Wellington to Christchurch
    What! No Kaikoura?! The whale watching there is world famous.

    You have to at least stop there for a hour or so to see the seals and you might see an albatross or two.

    Day 9 – From Christchurch, early morning, head to Akaroa to see the rare, endangered wild dolphins in their natural habitat (Hector's dolphins - the smallest dolphins in the world, and only native to NZ!) - maybe swim with them. Doing it through a tour company who promotes its conversation but we were warned that swimming with them is on THEIR terms as they are wild dolphins.
    Yeah, I know about the Hector's dolphins (they're always talking about them on the news and efforts to save them) - it's cool you're going to see them. I also hear that Akaroa is a lovely little town to visit. Should be fun.

    Come back to Christchurch, check the city out, any suggestions on what to check out?
    Well, I haven't been there since the earthquakes (you are aware of the quakes right?) and sadly lots of the BEAUTIFUL old churches and buildings fell down or had to be knocked down - so that affects my suggestions. Some of them might be still up, though.

    Things to do:
    - I think there is a tour of the red zone (the part of the CBD that has been cordoned off for almost 2 years due to severe earthquake damage) and maybe look around at the some of the near ghost town suburbs. People probably won't mind if you're interested in looking at that stuff - they just want the tourists to come back. Besides even the Kiwis are nosey about it!
    - Go have a look at the pop-up shipping container mall. It was built temporarily because the CBD has been basically shut down for so long - it's kinda cool and fun by the look of it!
    - Take a look at the creative things that have popped up in the empty lots left over after the demolished buildings. There was/is (?) a outdoor cinema that was powered by people on cycles and one that's been painted up like a giant monopoly square. Have a look at this website to see what's up http://www.gapfiller.org.nz/
    - Go punting on the Avon river
    - Go to The International Antarctic Centre - Chch is the known as the gateway to Antarctica
    - Go and have a look around Lyttleton. It used to be a nice little town, but I heard it is pretty munted (useful NZ word, meaning destroyed, wrecked, ruined, or drunk ).


    Day 10 – Bus Christchurch to Lake Tekapo [name said with a VERY SERIOUS AND SOMBER VOICE] (overnight)
    LOL!

    Arrive early morning in Lake Tekapo, go hiking to the glaciers in Mt. Cook, check out Lake Tekapo, at night go to St. John's observatory for some star gazing.
    Oh, this will be lovely. A good short walk to do at Mt Cook is the Kea Point lookout. You get a nice view of the Mueller Glacier (although it's not particularily impressive), the mountains, especially Mt Cook . I would also really recommend going up to Tasman Lake to at least see the icebergs floating about, that have come off the Tasman Glacier. If you have time/can afford it there's also a cool boat ride you can take on the lake to see the Tasman Glacier (I've not done it - just heard about it and seen the pictures). And seeing as you're not going to Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, this might be a good idea - It's the 3rd best one to see in NZ.

    At Tekapo, I'd also recommend going up Mt. John during the day to see the view.

    BTW it's probably best just to go straight to Mt Cook village then come back to Tekapo. Keep in mind, it will take about 5hrs from Chch to Mt Cook - so that's half your day gone.

    Day 11 – Bus Lake Tekapo to Queenstown

    Check out Queenstown, maybe go luging and/or shotover jet. Any suggestion on what to check out specifically in this city?
    Again, it take a while to travel that distance, so you will have to have an early start to see/do much of anything

    Things to do in Queenstown area
    - Shotover Jet. Yes, it's awesome - you must do this.
    - Luge or at least go up the hill to see the view - IT'S STUNNING - particularly if there's still some snow on the mountains.
    - Arrowtown - a little former goldmining town (not far from Queenstown) with some really lovely old buildings and a nice walk along the river. I highly recommend this.
    - If you're a Lord of the Rings fan, you could go to Deer Park Heights. I didn't go in because you have to pay, but they filmed some very iconic shots there.
    - Eat a gourmet burger at Fergburger - you have no choice, you must do this! Apparently they're the best burgers in the world, and they're so insanely popular they've forced McDonald's and Burger King out of town.
    - there's heaps more too, but your time is short...

    Day 12 – Go to the gorgeous and breath-taking Milford Sound and return late at night to Queenstown
    Thank god you're doing this! This is an AMAZING trip. The Milford Rd alone is worth it, let alone Milford Sound. I hope you're on a day tour that stops off at all the cool spots along the way!

    Also keep an eye out for some Keas - it's an endangered native bird and the only alpine parrot in the world. Actually just watch the documentary below and be amazed. They are extraordinary creatures and you'll hear some pretty funny stories of the clever and/or cheeky stunts they pull!

    INFP 4w5 so/sp

    I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas;
    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

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    I can't compete with SK's posts, full of great info. I think, like she said, Devonport is a good stop in Auckland. That is one of the places I took my kids when we went for ten days. Also, I would go to Muriwai over Piha and the other beach, I have never heard of that either.

  7. #7
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfy View Post
    I can't compete with SK's posts, full of great info. I think, like she said, Devonport is a good stop in Auckland. That is one of the places I took my kids when we went for ten days.
    Yeah, it's a nice little place.

    Also, I would go to Muriwai over Piha and the other beach, I have never heard of that either.
    Yeah, I thought about that after I said Piha. There's so many great beaches out west of Auckland that it's really down to individual tastes and interests.

    BTW wolfy, where are you from originally? Wellington was it?

    I just realised that I didn't respond to that last things you said @Qre:us:

    We are doing Intercity buses. Checked out the bus schedules and made sure it coincides with our dates and times of when we want to travel, without us missing out on any of the tours and excursions. Magic Bus was another option but their schedule didn't match up.
    Intercity can be quite expensive although I heard they've dropped their prices recently. Nakedbus (no real nudity required) is supposed to be good and Kiwi Experience and Stray are good in terms of backpacker bus companies. I would recommend looking them up too because they might have something cheaper or that suits you better - if only for one leg of your journey.

    Haha, thanks! I'm brown. I, thankfully, only get browner, never been burnt by the sun. But, yup, sunscreen is definitely on our list of MUST-PACK.
    Famous last words, my friend...

    Even if you are brown you can still get quite burnt in NZ. It will reduce the risk but we have the frickin' hole in the ozone layer sitting over the country during summer. We also have the worse melanoma rate in the world.

    But who knows? It might pour with rain the whole time you're here. Last summer was a bit like that - one tropical cyclone after another

    haha, noted. Hey, random question, is there any place called Tekape?
    Quite possibly, although I've not heard of it

    Really, that's nothing. There's a word in Maori called Whakapapa, which means ancestry (it also happens to be the name of a large North Island ski-field). It's pronounced, fah-kah pah-pah - say this quickly out loud to get the full effect...

    THANK YOU, Southern Kross. Btw, where do you live in NZ? (don't worry, I'm not going to come knocking on your door.....maybe)
    :horor:

    But seriously, I live in a small town near Hamilton. That's why I know a lot about Auckland, Waitomo, Rotorua and Taupo in particular - I've been to those places many times.

    I actually thought of more general advice too but I will get around to that later
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

    I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas;
    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

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    Senior Member JivinJeffJones's Avatar
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    I'd love to help you with your Sydney/Cairns itinerary but if you've done any research on them at all you probably know more about them than I do. And don't worry about these things:
    dang_03_big.jpgboxjellyfish_n3na.jpgfish+stonefish3.jpggreat-white-shark-smile.jpgredback.jpg

    You have virtually no chance of seeing one coming, so enjoy the trip. I'm only telling you because foreigners seem to think we spend at least 10% of our days dodging lethal local fauna.

    Watch out for stray Victors though, that threat is real. Whilst they are naturally endemic to the Canberra region, I can't guarantee your safety anywhere on this continent. Probably best to move around in highly armed groups just in case. And avoid free-verse after dark.


    Also, I hear they have gang trouble in NZ. If you find yourself feeling threatened by a kiwi repeat this mantra: "I love the All-Blacks. I love the haka. Richie McCaw is the greatest sportsman ever. Offside is wherever he damn well says it is." That'll get you out of most trouble although they may buy you some of their beer or sauvignon blanc.

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    From Auckland. There are a lot of nice beaches, Muriwai is a personal favourite. In the South Island I enjoyed the West Coast Express Bus Tour, that was a long time ago though. The West Coast of the South Island is best I think. Travelling down the West Coast and the doing some adventue stuff in Queenstown.

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    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JivinJeffJones View Post
    Also, I hear they have gang trouble in NZ. If you find yourself feeling threatened by a kiwi repeat this mantra: "I love the All-Blacks. I love the haka. Richie McCaw is the greatest sportsman ever. Offside is wherever he damn well says it is."


    Don't pay attention to this. The Aussies are just bitter after losing the Bledisloe Cup to us...

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfy View Post
    From Auckland. There are a lot of nice beaches, Muriwai is a personal favourite. In the South Island I enjoyed the West Coast Express Bus Tour, that was a long time ago though. The West Coast of the South Island is best I think. Travelling down the West Coast and the doing some adventue stuff in Queenstown.
    I loved the West Coast. From my travels around the country, the places I particularly wanted to see more of was the West Coast, The Mackenzie Country and Fiordland. I totally fell in love with Fiordland
    INFP 4w5 so/sp

    I've dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas;
    they've gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the colour of my mind.

    - Emily Bronte

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