A trip to the Pacific Islands can truly be a trip of a lifetime for some people. Not only is it an exotic and interesting destination, but for many visitors, it's literally on the other side of the world. For this reason it's best to plan ahead and make the most of your time in the region. There are so many different sights, activities, and landscapes to visit that you're sure to have a packed vacation. The trick is to make sure it's not too rushed or chaotic.
Australian Highlights Tour:
Most people fly in and out of Sydney, which has the largest international airport in the area. If you have several weeks to explore the area you can begin by heading out to the Blue Mountains. Spend a day or two exploring Sydney and then catch a flight to Cairns where you can experience the Great Barrier Reef. Head from there to the Daintree Rainforest for a completely different experience, and then fly to Alice Springs and visit the amazing site of Ayers Rock. Head to Kings Canyon before flying back to Sydney and heading home from this once in a lifetime vacation.
New Zealand South Island:
New Zealand's South Island offers impressive landscape, natural beauty, and adrenaline filled sports. You can begin your trip in the northern part of the island and head south, stopping off at Paparoa National Park, Franz Josef, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Wanaka, Mount Potts, and Hanmer Springs along the way.
New Zealand North Island:
Another option is to explore New Zealand's North Island. Begin in Auckland and head north to the Bay of Islands. From there you can back track and go to Coromandel, White Island, Rotorua, Waikaremoana, Tongariro, Taupo, and Waitomo, before heading home.
Planning Ahead to Save Money
It's important to realize how expensive both Australia and New Zealand can be before you begin planning your trip. If you budget wisely, you're sure to have a better experience and a more rewarding holiday, as you'll spend less time fretting over the finances. Remember to choose an itinerary that suites your budget. If you can't afford to fly, plan accordingly. If you want to avoid eating out, make sure you have access to a kitchen or an outdoor grill. Think about your budget as you plan your route and you'll have a better time once you're on the road.
While Australia and New Zealand are far from cheap travel destinations, there are a few tricks you can use to save money while you're in the area. Consider visiting in the low season. While the weather may not be as nice, the prices will be less and the crowds will definitely be thinner. You can definitely stretch your dollar farther if you're willing to make a few sacrifices. Australia and New Zealand are also great countries in which to consider couchsurfing. It's always nice to have a local expert who's excited to show you around. If your native language is English as well, then you can avoid the hassle of communication difficulties also. Food in these areas can add up as well, so look into accommodation that includes a kitchen. This will definitely save you a few bucks.
It's almost always cheaper to visit national parks than it is to visit cities. The main exception to this is with transportation costs. If you rent a car, use it to head off the beaten path to more remote areas that you might otherwise miss. If you're staying in a city like Sydney or Melbourne, look for free entertainment options. There are often festivals, events, or activities that are available free of charge. Check the local newspaper or online websites to find out what's going on while you're in town.
Endless Outdoor Opportunities
The islands in the Pacific are some of the most naturally beautiful and impressive places you can visit. Whether you're looking for breathtaking landscapes, adrenaline filled adventure sports, or serene trekking opportunities, you'll find no shortage in this part of the world. Most people don't head to this area for the cities, but that doesn't mean they aren't worth visiting. The culture, food, and entertainment in most of the larger cities can easily fill a few days, if not more. If you're a diver, or even a snorkeler, you should give yourself plenty of time on the coast, where you can enjoy some of the best diving in the world.
Australia offers some of the best scuba diving in the world along the famed Great Barrier Reef. Cairns is a primary access point. Before you book your trip, confirm what is included in the dive, what equipment you must have, how long each dive lasts, and where exactly you'll be going. Also ask what the size of your group is and what will happen in inclement weather. If you're not certified to scuba dive, there are also many opportunities for snorkeling along the reef. This is an experience that is not to be missed during any trip to Australia.
Both Australia and New Zealand have some stunning national parks. A major part of the experience in these countries is getting outdoors and experiencing some of the unique wildness. Fiordland, in New Zealand is a must see destination. In Australia the most recognizable is Uluru National Park, where you will find Ayers Rock. There are also more remote and less visited national parks. Do some research and find some off the beaten track areas where you can experience a more relaxed and isolated setting.
While you may not travel to this part of the world specifically for the cities, there are some diverse and culturally rich cities you should visit, the most obvious being Sydney
. Melbourne also has much to see and many great restaurants to try. If you're in New Zealand, you will likely find yourself in Auckland
at some point. It's an interesting city as well, and worth a couple of days to explore. Dining in the larger cities is excellent and you'll find a great diversity of restaurants that are multicultural and unique. In particular, there is a major Asian influence on the area and you can see this heavily reflected on the cuisine options in most of the cities.
Many people head to Australia for its world renowned beaches. The most popular destination for beach life is along Australia's Gold Coast. Check out Surfers Paradise, with its beautiful, clean sand and excellent waves. If you're planning to spend any time on the beach, consider the time of year. School holidays can be crowded with students, but the low season may give you poor weather. It's a balancing act between finding less crowds, lower costs, and good climate.
Finding Affordable Options
While Australia and New Zealand are both expensive destinations, there are a few places you can go to save money. Consider visiting some less popular cities, and spend less time in Sydney, which can soak up your budget. Melbourne is a good alternative, and it offers all kinds of free activities to entertain visitors. Also, spend more time inland and skip the parties along the beach if your budget is tight. There are many activities and factors that drive costs up along Australia's Gold Coast. Beaches are notoriously expensive wherever you are, so limit your time on the water and instead go to the mountains or do some exploring in the outback. Also, consider going to some inland national parks and experiencing Australia's untouched wilderness. There are plenty of parks to choose from and they each have something unique to offer visitors. If you're concerned about the cost of your trip, look at your itinerary and make some changes to make sure you can keep costs to a minimum.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Transportation in Australia and New Zealand can be tricky. While you can catch buses between major cities and towns, if this is your only means of transportation around then you're likely to miss a huge part of each country. Consider renting a car. This way you can truly enjoy the national parks and off the beaten path places that you really want to see. If you're traveling alone or with one other person, you may be able to meet up with people when you arrive. Sharing costs will save everybody a lot of money, but will compromise some of the flexibility that you might have traveling alone. It's best to weigh your options. If you stay in hostels, you're more likely to find other travelers who are looking to share costs. Ask around and you're sure to find some people heading in the same direction as you, but make sure they have the same interests and travel style, or the trip may end up being more frustrating than enjoyable.
Another more expensive option is to get a small RV. If you choose to do this consider fuel costs before planning your trip. RVs require a lot of gas, and the hookups in campgrounds can be more expensive, so be prepared. They do offer more space, some comfort, and the convenience of having a portable bed and kitchen with you while you travel.