Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji
August 25, 2005 6:21 AM   Subscribe

A good friend of mine and I are planning a trip to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji in November. We're in our early thirties, like to have a good time, and will try anything once or twice. We will most likely be traveling the east coast of Australia, the south in New Zealand, and finally ending up in Fiji. Where exactly should we go, what hotels should we stay in, what should we do. What should we see in Sydney? Should we go into the interior in Australia? Great Barrier Reef? Other cities? What's happening in Fiji? Any info would be great!
posted by jasondigitized to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Go to Milford Sound in Fiordland and walk the Milford track or Routeburn track. Seriously great.
posted by dydecker at 6:40 AM on August 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

like to have a good time, and will try anything once or twice

Anything? Because, you know, one of the world's highest bungee jumps is in New Zealand. My friend did it when he visited, and described it as "going against every natural survival instinct in your body."

There are also some glacier helicopter/treks in NZ.

Off the SE coast of Australia is a cool little place called Kangaroo Island, almost completely overrun with koalas, roos and seals. The Great Barrier Reef is a must. Even if you don't know how to dive, there are likely to be a thousand PADI certification shops along the coast.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:52 AM on August 25, 2005

If you have alot of time to spare. In New Zealand, you can try taking the Magic Bus.

What it is:

"A flexible coach pass of your choice valid for 12 months covering New Zealand from top to bottom with the option to hop on - hop off the bus anywhere along the itinerary"

The bus stops at major attractions/towns in South or North Island. You can hop off, stay for any amt of days, and hop on the bus to the next stop.
posted by merv at 7:13 AM on August 25, 2005

Definitely go to Fiordland while you are there. I Stayed at the Village Inn in Te Anau, it is a nice place to stay and the rates are reasonable. While in Fiordland, don't miss the Doubtful Sound overnight cruise. It was incredible, perhaps the highlight of my trip to NZ.

From Christchurch to the tiny towns, the south island is a great place packed with character, gorgeous scenery and wonderful people. You'll have a great time.
posted by necessitas at 7:26 AM on August 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

It's funny how the kiwis appear out of the woodwork. There was a recent thread with some useful opinions.

I will add: DEFINITELY go see GB reef. Amazing. Millions of ways to do it, particularly out of Cairns or Port Douglas. Email me about Sydney if you have specific questions.
posted by peacay at 7:48 AM on August 25, 2005

The night before you go to the Great Barrier Reef, go to Reef Teach in Cairns. Incredibly informative, and you'll get a lot more out of your reef visit.
posted by Aknaton at 9:44 AM on August 25, 2005

You MUST go to Ayers Rock. I really enjoyed the stuff I did with Discovery Eco tours--they offer an sunset tour at Kata Tjuta (Olgas) as well. It was too cloudy the night I was supposed to do the night sky tour and I was leaving the next day, so I missed that. I didn't mind being by myself in the cities, but this has to be shared.

Even if you don't plan to buy, go to the National Opal Collection in Sydney--they have an opalized fossil.

Cockatoos are as common as pigeons at Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens.

Canberra has a beautiful landscape, ugly architecture and lots of interesting museums.

Melbourne had the slight edge over Sydney for me--I went to museums, the old gaol and the zoo, but I didn't get the chance to go to Hanging Rock.
posted by brujita at 10:17 AM on August 25, 2005

You cant' really miss with anywhere in the South Island. The west coast is great for a road trip - lots of little towns, and many many pubs. Also, amazing scenery, beautiful sunsets, glaciers, lakes etc. (photos here, for an egregious self link). Nelson, in the north of the South Island is a nice little town and a jump off point for exploring the Golden Bay region. Check out the Abel Tasman National Park (although it may be busy as hell that time of year). Definitely Queenstown for adventure stuff. I've been bungee jumping a few times and it's scary as hell. And fun. Finally, if you want to get slightly off the touristy beaten track you could head to Dunedin in the southeast of the south. It's a college town, and the Otago Peninsula where it is located is home to amazing beaches where you can see seals and penguins, as well as an albatross colony. Also consider the Catlins region in the very south-east. Feel free to email me for any more info.
posted by gaspode at 10:28 AM on August 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

Agree that South Island is just amazing -- truly, the scenery is almost heartbreakingly beautiful. If you like the idea of seeing wildlife as gaspode mentions, there are also whale- and dolphin-watching expeditions to be had as well. I spent a day in Kaikoura (north of Christhurch) for that and it was terrific.
posted by scody at 10:35 AM on August 25, 2005

Forgot to mention: in Christchurch, I stayed for a couple of nights at Dorothy's -- lovely place, great food.
posted by scody at 10:39 AM on August 25, 2005

You MUST go to Ayers Rock.

Uh, Ayers Rock is nowhere near Eastern Australia.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:45 AM on August 25, 2005

C_D, he asked about going to the interior.
posted by brujita at 11:17 AM on August 25, 2005

Oh, really sorry--I missed that completely. Yes, definately do Ayer's, then!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:45 AM on August 25, 2005

Apropos of the previous thread cited, jewishbuddha did come to dinner. He brought chocolate. He may come again. I guess we can squeeze you into the dining room too.

Things in the south that haven't been mentioned: Moeraki boulders. Pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki. Pan for gold.

The one thing about the South Island is that after a while you get majestic scenery fatigue. Christ, not another bloody magnificent snow-capped vista!
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:07 PM on August 25, 2005

I spent a week in Dunedin earlier this year, and it was amazing. Thoroughly recommend the half-day kayak trip up the bay and back -- seeing seals (baby ones, too!) that close, in their native environment, was utterly mind-blowing. Following that with a visit to the Albatross colony mentioned above, and the seal (and sea lion) nurseries -- just wow.

In Australia, give the Gold Coast a big fat miss unless you're into tacky nightclubs and the bar scene. However, if you must see beaches Noosa is well worth swinging through.
posted by coriolisdave at 3:03 PM on August 25, 2005

Go to the Marlborough Sounds, at the very north bit of South Island, and stay here. It's literally the most beautiful place I've ever been, and the hotel itself is fantastic, as is the food. It was fairly quiet when we were there (April), and the staff were very attentive, and provided us with lots of things to do during our stay there. (Including a boat trip to a town famous for its green-lipped oysters!)
posted by Lotto at 3:31 PM on August 25, 2005 [1 favorite]

My last holiday was driving around South Island NZ and I can agree with all that is said above. The scenery is just astonishing. We hired an RV and found it a great and inexpensive way to travel (the company was Pacific Horizons).
I live in the mountains west of Sydney, and think you would have a great time if you visited for the day, or stayed overnight at a local Bed and Breakfast. There is lots to see and some very good bushwalking. Tours are a dime a dozen or you can take the train (about 2 hours) which deposits you in the middle of the towns up here (Katoomba is the biggest).
I grew up in Sydney, and it is a spectacular place to visit. You really, really want to do something on the harbour. I suggest lunch or dinner at Darling Harbour or the Rocks followed by a harbour cruise (like everywhere I've ever been, cruise food is not recommended).
If you are on a budget, take the commuter ferry to Manly. This cruises through the harbour to a pretty peninsular with a seaside atmosphere and a good surf beach, all for a few dollars.
Lots of tourists also rave about the organised climb up the Harbour Bridge.
At sunset you need to have a drink next to the water somewhere, For glitz, level 40 at the Shangri-La hotel in the Rocks has the Horizon Bar. Think floor to ceiling glass, cocktails and killer views, but in November it is a good idea to get outside.
Right in the city, to the edge of the Opera House is a little bar with lots of outdoor tables, atmosphere is a bit upmarket thanks to the theatre/opera crowd but nothing beats the view.
If you can make an afternoon/evening of it, take a ferry to Watson's Bay and find a spot in the Watson Bay Hotel beer garden. The view back down the harbour into the setting sun is great, there is terrific seafood and steaks to eat and the beer is cold. Its a magnet for Sydneysiders from all over so you definitely won't get cold shouldered by locals, and there are a steady stream of tourists too.
For a real Aussie pub, try the Australian Hotel in Cumberland St, The Rocks. The place is about 100 years old and quite traditional. Get a table on the footpath (sidewalk) and jugs of beer to share. Make sure you order a pizza. These don't really resemble pizza so much as launch pads for extravagent ingerdient combinations, but you can try some tasty local combinations.
It may sound adventurous, but is really quite tame, so do try the coat of arms pizza. It is half kangaroo, half emu and pretty good. The seafood pizzas are nice too.
If you want to get out of town, the best options are the beach (Manly, Bondi, Coogee, Cronulla are all big sandy surf beaches) or out of the city up or down the coast.
I like Kiama and Gerringong on the South coast, a couple of hours from Sydney, and both accessible by train or rent a car.
West is the mountains where I live, and further inland farming towns. I love the countryside in rural Australia, but I probably wouldn't make it a must see for a short trip, it takes too long to get there and too far between towns.
Going way inland to the outback is a different story altogether, really remote country which a tourist can only reasonably reach by air. Uluru (the traditional name for Ayer's Rock) and the rest of central Australia is a massive contrast to the coast and would be a great way to spend a few days.
Have a great holiday!
posted by bystander at 6:09 PM on August 25, 2005

The Blue Mountains, about 75km inland from Sydney, are well worth a weekend visit.
posted by essexjan at 2:33 AM on August 26, 2005

I'd seriously avoid Doyles @ Watsons Bay.Sydneys premier tourist trap.The restaurant recently scored a single digit, like 4 out of 20, in the Sydney Morning Herald.The reviewer even went twice giving them the benefit of the doubt.Even the bistro/beer garden food is crap.Try Guillaume at Bennelong in the Opera House for a view and food to die for.
posted by johnny7 at 4:33 AM on August 26, 2005

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