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Australia forum

Road trip in Australia or New Zealand?

Posted by travellingsarah on 6/9/2013 at 03:54 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

I know it's a matter of personal preference, but I'm keen to hear others' experiences and opinions regarding whether I should go to Australia OR New Zealand on holiday. Initially I'd hoped to cover off a bit of both - and I'd probably have to fly via Australia if going to NZ anyway so might still build in a stop over -- but if you had to choose one, which would you choose?

More specifically:
- We have 2 - 3 weeks over December / January
- The most important part of the trip is that we will hire a camper van or a car + tent for probably 10 days or so - happy to drive long distances
- We like good food and love a drink but realise that habit may be somewhat curtailed by budget
- Not too fussed about spending much time in a city, unless it's got something special going for it
- Definitely want chill time and a beach would be nice but is not essential - sitting by a lake or a river or a pool with a good book would do the trick

Not much to go on I know - but I'm just interested in others' experiences.

#1 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 681
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Posted by chinarocks on 6/9/2013 at 05:22

Hi Sarah

I did road trips of about 5 weeks in both of these countries many years ago.

With 2 - 3 weeks, I wouldn't recommend both for obvious timing reasons. I think this is the perfect amount of time to see one of the NZ islands, and my preference would be the South Island. It is a very big island so you may not want to try and see all of it. By air, you will probably arrive in Christchurch. Pre-earthquake it was a pleasant city to spend a couple of days, hopefully it still is. My highlights would be:

- Wanaka and Queenstown: these are worth a week of your time, base yourself in Queenstown. Beautiful scenery, lovely walks and drives (e.g. Arrowtown), adrenaline sports and good nightlife in Queenstown, especially as this is high season. If you fancy doing a bungee jump and want the real thing then you got Nevis jump in Queenstown - 134m of hell!

- Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula: Dunedin is an okay city but I would highly recommend a half day out at the Otago Peninsula looking at the penguins. They have underground tunnels with viewing points where you can get incredibly close to the penguins and observe in a acompletely natureal setting. It may not sound much but it was one of the best things I did in NZ.

Both of these are on the South of the South island - the Catlins and Stewart Island are also worth a look if you are in that area and depending on how much driving / travelling around you want to do.

On the North of the South Island you have the Marlborough wine region and Abel Tasman National Park, both highly recommended.

You say you have 2 - 3 weeks but only want to drive for 10 days, is this the case? If so, what will you do for the other 10 days?

I would just go straight to NZ and not bother stopping off in Oz, as NZ is truly beautiful and you will not get bored in three weeks.

Happy to answer any other qs you may have or try and give you some sort of rough itinerary depending on exactly how many days you think you will have.

#2 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740


Posted by travellingsarah on 6/9/2013 at 05:30 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

Thanks China, that does sound good - I went to NZ years ago but didn't get down to south island. My partner's not been to either so I'd be happy to revisit places but it would be good to explore new areas. One thing though - one of my good friends lives in Hawkes Bay on North Island and of course I'd want to build in a visit. I'm not sure what the roads are like out there but do you think it would be feasible to cover off the places you suggest and then drive up to Hawkes Bay? Or go by bus if it caused problems with returning the camper.

And the 10 days with the transport was based on my assumption that we might spend a chunk of time in one place - so based on your suggestion, maybe we'd start in Queenstown at a hotel and then get the camper from there.

#3 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 681
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Posted by chinarocks on 6/9/2013 at 06:00

I think with your various preferences you should fly a few routes. Say you start off in Hawkes Bay, fly in to the North Island (incidentally you may not need to connect via Oz to get to Auckland/Wellington). I know Air New Zealand go from Hong Kong to Auckland, and potentially there are some direct routes from SE Asia with Jet Star/Tiger etc. Check this out.

Once you are done with visiting your friend, fly to Queenstown from, probably, Wellington. Spend your time there, rent a van when you are finished and do a loop around the southern half of the island (taking in some of the places I mentioned) finishing up in Christchurch and flying home from there (potentially via Oz).

One caveat to all this - it may be nice to have your own transport while in Queenstown as there are some lovely trips you can do in the area which are either not served by public transport or, if they are, are more expensive and, more importantly, not as good an experience given lack of independence. I am thinking Arrowtown, Milford Sound and Wanaka.

If you would rather meet up with your friend at the end of your trip then you can effectively reverse all of the above.

#4 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740

Posted by neilmason on 6/9/2013 at 21:06

I think the advice to stick to the South Island of NZ is excellent. Unfortunately my friends tell me that Christchurch is not the pleasant place it used to be, so you might be better off to fly into Dunedin or Queenstown.

#5 neilmason has been a member since 31/12/2012. Posts: 39

Posted by travellingsarah on 6/9/2013 at 21:35 TF writer

Thanks guys. It all sounds great, it's just flight prices that are the issue - flying to NZ is double the price of flying to Australia. Ouch. Will keep an eye out for offers.

#6 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 681
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Posted by rcostica on 28/9/2013 at 00:37

Hi arah!

A friend of mine and his family took a tour out of Sydney a few months back and they were really pleased. It was some kind of self-driven, outback tour for about a week or so, going through desert, mountains (they showed us some amazing pictures) and included a wine tasting tour (might suite your taste for a drink) . I don't know the specifics, but if you're interested in something like that, I can ask him for some details.

#7 rcostica has been a member since 27/9/2013. Posts: 2

Posted by stefanw on 30/9/2013 at 01:12

Flights between Oz and Christchurch are around $250 one way. It is usually cheaper to fly Scoot/Air Asia to Oz then onto NZ than direct to NZ from Asia. With 3 weeks or less I would definitely say NZ is better because of the much smaller size. Australia is just massive and if you really want to see constantly changing scenery NZ is a lot better choice.

Christchurch is nothing great anymore. You could cover say the whole of the South Island and Hawkes Bay in three weeks.

#8 stefanw has been a member since 10/12/2010. Posts: 50

Posted by stefanw on 30/9/2013 at 01:13

Flights between Oz and Christchurch are around $250 one way. It is usually cheaper to fly Scoot/Air Asia to Oz then onto NZ than direct to NZ from Asia. With 3 weeks or less I would definitely say NZ is better because of the much smaller size. Australia is just massive and if you really want to see constantly changing scenery NZ is a lot better choice.

Christchurch is nothing great anymore. You could cover say the whole of the South Island and Hawkes Bay in three weeks.

#9 stefanw has been a member since 10/12/2010. Posts: 50

Posted by stefanw on 30/9/2013 at 01:13

Flights between Oz and Christchurch are around $250 one way. It is usually cheaper to fly Scoot/Air Asia to Oz then onto NZ than direct to NZ from Asia. With 3 weeks or less I would definitely say NZ is better because of the much smaller size. Australia is just massive and if you really want to see constantly changing scenery NZ is a lot better choice.

Christchurch is nothing great anymore. You could cover say the whole of the South Island and Hawkes Bay in three weeks.

#10 stefanw has been a member since 10/12/2010. Posts: 50

Posted by Azariah on 18/10/2014 at 00:17

Well to be honest Australia is closer to me in terms of attraction and things that makes me go and see it because normally when its about everything which has an impact and at the same time Sydney is one of the places which comes first for me when it comes to Australia.

#11 Azariah has been a member since 17/10/2014. Posts: 15

Posted by steamystraw on 11/12/2014 at 02:15

Hello everyone! :)

I also prefer Australia because we explored the museums in Darling Harbour and it was awesome! It's a mix of world class entertainment and historical landmarks as well. I just find Sydney a best place to unwind and to set your mind free and just enjoy. A walk with friends along Sydney Harbour bridge is quite fun. :)

#12 steamystraw has been a member since 10/12/2014. Posts: 3

Posted by Alycook on 3/7/2015 at 04:23

Because of too many weird bugs in Australia, I would rather choose New Zealand. At least, I would visit the country where Lord of the Rings was made hihi

#13 Alycook has been a member since 3/7/2015. Posts: 6

Posted by Cargill on 11/8/2015 at 04:24

There's a big difference between two and three weeks ... how long will the trip be?

Whatever, I also suggest New Zealand, for several reasons:

(1) It's not long enough to visit Australia (or very much of it)
(2) A lot of the best of Australia is too hot or too wet at that time (Barrier Reef, Uluru, Kakadu, etc)
(3) Further south (Brisbane to Adelaide) it is peak holiday season for locals, and expensive
(4) New Zealand is excellent at that time (even though crowded too).

With three weeks I would do one week North Island and two weeks South Island. With two weeks, just a Christchurch to Christchurch loop around the South Island (with various itineraries possible). And save Australia for spring or autumn, and when you have at least four-six weeks.

#14 Cargill has been a member since 11/8/2015. Posts: 2


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