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New Zealand and Australia
Old 10-14-2014, 03:52 PM   #1
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New Zealand and Australia

The DW and I are contemplating a trip down under. We are looking for past experiences. What would you definitely do again, and what would you stay away from? Where would you spend more time? What would you skip?

We are outdoor types, not interested in city tours, bridge climbs, etc.

What say you?

Don't sweat the small stuff! And realize, it is all small stuff!
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Old 10-14-2014, 04:28 PM   #2
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I went to Katoomba and hiked the Blue Mtns. Stayed at the YHC there as it was an old school turned into a Hostel. Took the train from Sydney. Also did a hike in Sydney out at the beaches thru several of the beach towns. Nice trail and it was a blast. Took the Ferry from the Opera house to Manly beach. Was a good way to see the waterfront.


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Old 10-14-2014, 04:54 PM   #3
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We were lucky enough to live just outside of Perth for two years. Australia is a big, big country so you will need to plan accordingly. They have ranches bigger than Texas! Sydney is worth at least a night, the opera house and the rocks area are very walkable, with the amazing botanical garden with giant bats, right on the waterfront and follow up with a harbour cruise. Then you can head up the Gold Coast, Hamilton island, skip cairns, go to port Douglas and barrier reef, Daintree Forest. Then,South of Perth, a six hour flight, there is the wonderful Margaret River wine area with top notch surfing, the Mundi Biddi 1000km mtn bike trail, Busselton jetty swim, and stunning Karri forests. But if I had a chance to go back, and I had deep pockets, look into the Kimberely, very remote! Or just go to Tasmania, Australia and New Zealand rolled into one, lots of beaches, hiking and biking. That was next on our list. For a bucket list trip, fly to Sydney, do the east Coast, then to Perth, do the west coast, fly to Johannesburg South Africa, do Kruger national Park, then fly home from there. So jealous, I'd go back in a heartbeat....maybe next year! Just remember their seasons are opposite of the US, so December is stinking hot, July is freezing. New Zealand is always cold!
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Old 10-14-2014, 07:14 PM   #4
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I think it's best to work around the time of year and how much time you have...
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Old 10-14-2014, 08:30 PM   #5
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I've biked & hiked in much of NZ, and biked & hiked in parts of Australia. Since you say you're outdoor types, I think there's much more in a relatively compact place in NZ than in Oz. NZ has some wonderful national parks and great hiking ("tramping" in the local parlance). My favorite hike was the Routeburn Track on the South I, though when I did it, you could do it at your own pace without advanced reservations in the huts. I'm not sure that's true any more. Other national parks had great hiking, too, including on the North I (e.g. Tongariro NP). Also, on the Otago peninsula near Dunedin on the South Isl, I visited a rare Yellow-Eyed penguin colony and also a nearby albatross nesting area. BTW, NZ is not always cool. I had some pretty warm weather on the South Is. on my 2nd trip there (Dec/Jan). Though it's not a natural feature, I loved the extensive art deco architecture in Napier on the North Isl.

For biking, my favorite area of Australia for biking was Tasmania. It's also more mountainous and greener (i.e. wetter) than most of mainland Australia. I went on a great hike in Cradle Mtn/Lake St. Clair Nat. Park. There are no native land mammals in NZ, so if you want to see animals, Australia is your place. I saw lots of animals in the wild, esp. on Tasmania (wombat, wallabies, echidna, a venomous snake), and lots of kangaroos in parts of mainland Australia.

Among other places, my friends and I biked along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria west of Melbourne. It was nice enough, but frankly, the coast of California is nicer, IMO. Also, desert scenery in the SW USA is a lot more impressive than anything in saw in Australia's vast deserts.

I didn't get to Queensland or any tropical areas in Oz. The northern hemisphere winter is generally the wet season in Queensland, and there was flooding in Queensland when I was in Australia (Feb/Mar). So I never got there or to the Barrier Reef.

The flora of both NZ & Australia are very different from one another, and both are in turn, very different from northern hemisphere flora. I really enjoyed seeing the vegetation in both countries.
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Old 10-14-2014, 08:38 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by anethum View Post
NZ has some wonderful national parks and great hiking ("tramping" in the local parlance). My favorite hike was the Routeburn Track on the South I, though when I did it, you could do it at your own pace without advanced reservations in the huts. I'm not sure that's true any more..
Great post, anethum! I took a Flying Kiwi Adventure Tour last year and hiked the Routeburn Track as part of the trip. It was incredible! We did have to reserve spots in the huts in advance in order to do the hike. While I really love backpacking where you can pitch a tent where and when you want (for the most part), the huts were fun too. It was a very international crowd and the after dinner conversation was interesting.

If I went back to NZ, I would focus on backpacking. It is a very beautiful country.
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Old 10-14-2014, 09:17 PM   #7
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Be aware of the seasons when going to Australia. Particularly in the tropical north (the "Top End") you'll likely have a better time in the dry season (roughly late spring through summer in the Northern Hemisphere) than during the oppressively humid "build up" (our fall) and the wet season (our winter/spring) when road access can be limited.

DW and I have done about 4 months of driving around the top end over a couple of trips - but have always visited in May-August and stuck to the dry season. Our favorite spots are some of the further flung parts of the Northwestern Kimberley region - Cape Leveque, Winjana Gorge, the Ord River and down to the many beautiful gorges of Karijini in the Pilbara mining region. Further east, though a bit more touristy, parts of the Northern Territory like Kakadu Park and the Uluru (Ayers Rock) area are also not to be missed.

I've mostly mentioned driving/hiking sort of areas, but Australia is largely a maritime country. You could spend your whole trip happily swimming/diving/sailing/island-hopping if that's more your speed. There are many lovely snorkeling/diving opportunities on both the east and west coasts. Our particular favorites were Lizard Island off the east coast near Cooktown and the Abrolhos Islands off Geraldton in the west, but there are literally dozens of good choices.

Anyway, that just scratches the surface. Australia's a big wild country and we would be happy to travel around there for years instead of the months we've so far managed.
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Old 10-15-2014, 06:58 AM   #8
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I haven't made it to Oz yet but I took a VBT bike tour of New Zealand's south island and loved it. We added on some time in the south island's wine country and the north island's Bay of Islands and thoroughly enjoyed those areas as well.

Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. -- Samuel Johnson
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