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Australia New Zealand and South Pacific vacation

Southbury...
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Australia New Zealand and South Pacific vacation

We are planning a trip Nov.28th through Dec 21, 2014 to Australia, NZ and The south Pacific.

It all really started with booking a week- long cruise to Tahiti, Bora Bora and some of the other French Polynesian Islands. That is on the Paul Gauguin Cruise line from 12-13 to 12-20, 2014.

We erroneously thought Tahiti was fairly close to Australia ( and since we are coming from the East coast of the USA, relatively speaking, it is close!) So we decided to plan our dream vacation to Australia.

However,( never satisfied), we thought we would go to NZ as well. I could probably skip this but my husband really wanted to go, and the flights from NZ to Tahiti are cheaper than from cities in Australia.

So this is what I have worked out thus far:

Nov 28 through Nov 30 Fly to Sydney

Nov 30 Sydney ( plan on doing Zoo and Harbour area...we have been told to do things which are not too relaxing so that we will stay awake until a decent time in the evening.)

Dec 1 or 2nd Blue Mountains

Dec 3 Fly to Alice Springs for a taste of the Outback ( flight would be 9:50 am to 11:30 am)

Dec 4 full day in the outback

Dec 5 1/2 day in Outback fly to Cairns at 5:20 PM arrive in Cairns at 8 PM

Dec 6, 7,8 full days at the great Barrier reef

Dec 9 fly to Auckland, NZ 12:20 PM arrive at 12:20 AM ( are we getting the day we lost back?) it is a non stop flight 5.25 hrs

Dec 10,11 full days in NZ

Dec 12 NZ to Papette ( leave 6:35 PM arrive 12:50 am)

Dec 13th leave in the evening for our cruise...finally able to relax!

Dec 21 fly to LA then to JFK in NY

When I added up the Australia, NZ , Tahiti flights up it came to $1467 a person. ( we are using frequent flier points to fly to Sydney and to fly home from Tahiti)

I does seem fairly packed, however, I suppose since we have to fly to Tahiti anyway, why not stop in NZ rather than another city in Australia. So what do you think? Any suggestions?

Darwin, Australia
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1. Re: Australia New Zealand and South Pacific vacation

Well, I think its a bit crazy.

In reality you have 2 days in Sydney,1 day out of Sydney

3 days in Cairns area.

2 days in NZ- to see what ??

I would cut out one country or another. If you are going via NZ, stay there and spend 7 days of quality time, You will spend all your time in airports and the legs of flights you are doing are all generally over 3 hours no including the customs, transit time. You lose 1/2 days each time you do this.

Pick a few parts of NZ and focus on that

What does the dream to Australia mean to you re what you want to see ?

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: Australia New Zealand and South Pacific vacation

December 9 sounds strange. Australia and NZ are on the same side of the International Date Line, so you would not be getting the lost day back on that leg. You should be getting it back on December 12 when you fly from NZ to Tahiti. I think your plan is OK, though there is a lot of flying. I would spend extra time in NZ as suggested above. I like Auckland, but the best sights are in the country areas such as the volcanic areas around Rotorua.

Edited: 26 June 2014, 01:51
Southbury...
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3. Re: Australia New Zealand and South Pacific vacation

Update to Australia New Zealand and South Pacific vacation

Aside from the flight to Austrailia, the cruise in French Polynesia, and the flight from Tahiti to LA, none of the rest of the itinerary is booked.

Our potential flight from Cairns to NZ arrives at 12:20am on Wednesday Dec 10 and it is 8 hr and 50 minutes not 5.25.

Also, should we spend more time in the Outback and give up a day at the GBR since we will be doing a lot of snorkeling and tropical beach things in French Polynesia?

BTW... I know it is rainy season which I am not too thrilled about but I will hope for the best!

Thanks for your advice!

Darwin, Australia
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4. Re: Australia New Zealand and South Pacific vacation

What!! Do you want to add one more location into 8 days ie. Sydney, blue mountains, carins and "the outback" -where are you thinking of going in the 'outback' ? If you are not interested in snorkelling etc in Cainrs then why add Cairns to the itinerary?

I honestly think this is just way too ambitious and as I said before you will be spending a lot of time flying and transiting and not seeing much at all. However, if you take those days for NZ you narrow a possibility of an extra 4 flights down to maybe 1 if you stay in NZ.

Southbury...
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5. Re: Australia New Zealand and South Pacific vacation

Thanks for the great advice. I do think that you are right in suggesting we limit the flying. and although it probably makes the most sense to spend the 7 days in NZ, I think we are considering eliminating NZ and going to Melbourne instead. Melbourne is only a 3 hr and 20 min flight from Cairns and it would put us in a major city for our flight to Tahiti.

I thought about what you said "What does the dream to Australia mean to you re what you want to see ?"

Australia to me is seeing the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef. We don't care too much for cities so I don't think I need to spend too much time in Sydney. Many people have said the Blue Mountains are a sight to see, but I have not researched them yet.

I must not miss kangaroos, koala bears and penguins. Melbourne has a nice Penguin Island tour. I also heard that it is a nice British feeling town.

With my new itinerary, I would have the same time in Sydney, 2 full days and two half days in the outback, 3 full days in GBR, one full day and two half days in Melbourne.

Adelaide, Australia
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6. Re: Australia New Zealand and South Pacific vacation

The "outback" is not a place! What/where do you think it is?

And I've seen pretty well all the major cities in the world - including very many in the US and to me Sydney is still the most beautiful. Way way ahead of Melbourne IMO.

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Australia New Zealand and South Pacific vacation

Kristin, "the outback" is like saying "the midwest" or "the south" in the USA - it's an entire region encompassing thousands of square miles. What specifically did you want to see? The most common outback tourist destinations are places like Uluru (the big rock) in central Australia, or Darwin and its nearby national parks - but I really feel like if I suggest too many more places you'll be flying too much, and I have to agree with others that focusing on fewer destinations is best. (Yes definitely pick between AU and NZ with the time available.) There are some areas of rural Australia near Cairns that are worth a visit, with I suppose a bit of "outback" feel - if you do go to Cairns, you could get some of that culture near there.

Also, you need to consider time zones- Cairns to Auckland is only a 4-5 hr flight based on actual flight time. It only appears as 7-8 hrs because of the three-hour time zone change between Queensland Australia time (which doesn't have daylight saving) and Auckland time with daylight saving. Whatever site you are using for checking flights should show you the actual flying time - pay attention to that, not the departure and arrival times.

If you want to see what's unique in Australia in terms of natural environment, I really don't see why you would pick Melbourne over Sydney. Yes, Sydney is a city but it has the harbour, beaches, national parks - all right within the city which is pretty unique. Melbourne is more of "just a city" (though renowned for its culture, parks, sports, and many other worthwhile things). The vast majority of international visitors come to Sydney for at least a couple of days, and there are good reasons why.

Edited: 26 June 2014, 05:45
Adelaide, Australia
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8. Re: Australia New Zealand and South Pacific vacation

Jeremy the point of my question above was to make the OP do some of her own research which up til now seems sadly lacking.

IMO too many people come here hoping we will do all the work for them.

Edited: 26 June 2014, 05:53
Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: Australia New Zealand and South Pacific vacation

Oops, sorry! I mainly came in to clarify about the time zones - as I've taken that Cairns to Auckland flight and no way is it 8 hours long - but got carried away :)

Gungahlin, Australia
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10. Re: Australia New Zealand and South Pacific vacation

It sounds ambitious to me. I think it's worth really figuring out what your priorities are, how accurate are your expectations, and what really meets your criteria.

A few thoughts . .

Melbourne is the second largest city after Sydney. It does have proximity to Phillip Island where the penguins are, as well as other places of scenic/natural interest. But you can see penguins in zoos, eg in Sydney taronga.org.au/animals/…feature I know it's not quite the same, but in your timeframe and with stated lack of interest in cities is a detour to another large city worth it? Just something to think about.

Koalas are not bears. Just thought I'd clarify that.

The classic taste of the outback is Uluru, which is actually more than 6 hours drive away from Alice Springs, and has its own airport. but If you are really interested in the Red Centre I would suggest doing both.

It crosses my mind that we should check what you mean by Outback, do you in fact mean the remote Red Centre or more simply somewhere beyond the cities? I suppose what I'm getting at is, if I were going to the US and said that I'm not that interested in the cities I would have a whole variety of other places to choose from, the Grand Canyon, the Everglades, the Rockies, etc, all quite different. So in Australia you also have a variety of landscapes to choose from when getting out of the cities. That said, Uluru (plus Alice Springs if time permits) is rightly very popular.

The Blue Mountains is a World Heritage listed area, so that's a place to start with research. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/917/gallery/

NZ is a beautiful country and rather different to Australia in its landscapes and flora and fauna, but it really requires some time to appreciate, IMO anything less than a week is too rushed and you could easily spend a whole month touring the country as we did. The other factor is it's an extra international flight with all the rigmarole that involves, however the flight itself isn't as long as you indicated (well done Jeremy512 for figuring that out, I was quite puzzled).