Head Down Under and yap about bloody Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Determine the best place to buy a car, how to get a working holiday visa and the best route for travelling the east coast of Oz and around the Kiwi Islands.

Australasia and Pacific Islands Recommendations and Raves

Court

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  • Added on: May 10th, 2005
This is a new thread full of Australasia and Pacific Islands information. It is to be used for Australasia and Pacific Islands-specific tips, advice and recommendations ONLY. As a content-rich thread, we do not want any back-and-forth or questions. Please direct all questions via Private Messages (Click on "Go" in the left hand corner, select "My Space" and then "Private Messages") to the poster. You can also issue a PM by clicker on the poster's name and selecting "Private Message". Any post that does not contribute relevant information will be deleted. Examples include: responses to previous posts in the thread and questions. The information can be on any city, region or country in Australasia and Pacific Islands. Enjoy!
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Court

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  • Added on: May 10th, 2005
Nadi, Fiji is where most international flights to Fiji arrive (although the capital is a few hours away, in Suva). The city is miserable - book a trip away from it as soon as you can.

Nadi Downtown Backpackers doesn't have the best beds, but their travel agency does give the cheapest prices around.

I headed to Mana island. There are two resorts on Mana - one is more expensive than the other. Go with the cheaper one as it is less crowded, has better food and entertainment between the two hostels is combined. Ask a local to show you how to crack open a coconut.
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Luck

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  • Added on: May 11th, 2005
Going through Tahiti? Staying in the Societies for a few days? I recommend heading out to Moorea and staying at Chez Nelson. It in near the NW corner of the island and has a great beach that faces west so you can watch the sunset. They are the cheapest place by far and there are kitchen fascilities available. There is a grocery store right next door, the chicken shack guy just down the road, and go talk to Bubu at Moorea Fun Dive about SCUBA diving. You can walk down the beach to his place.

Luck
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  • Added on: May 16th, 2005
Australia:

~All, I mean ALL, food must be declared to customs. You will either get written up (like I did) or get a fine if you don't cooperate...even over something small like candy.

~Watch out for snakes & spiders. They're nearly all venomous and everybody jokes about them. But I ran into (literally) both.

~A VIP card will save you $$ where 'concession' discounts are given.

Sydney:

~Go to the visitor's area in SYD airport. They have guides that come in handy with current events.

~If you're staying a week in Sydney, purchase a 7 day GREEN TravelPass for $40AUD ( http://www.cityrail.info/fares/travelpass.jsp ). NOT to be confused with the SydneyPass ( http://www.sydneypass.info/prices/ ), which is a waste of $$. Don't make the mistake of getting it...it's $100 more expensive for nothing. The green line is good for unlimited travel on the ferries, buses, and rail in the greater Sydney area. There are tons of ferries. Make sure you at least get the green pass, there are other more expensive passes, but the green makes most sense. You can get a color coded map when you get to any station.

~Take a ferry trip to Manly (Wharf 3). Hiking from Manly to The Spit is popular and takes a good part of the day. I did that as well as taking an unpublished hike from Manly in the other direction. I couldn't even tell you what it was, but it's a well defined trail which is sooooo beautiful. You'll pass through Shelly Beach and up toward Sydney Harbour National Park. But somehow I got dumped back out onto a street near the hospital. Don't worry though, you'll find your way back. There's no place else to go...the ocean's behind you.

~Circular Quay...pronounced Key...is cool just to walk around and observe the opera house, aboriginal bands playing, street performers, all the ferries, the QE2 was in port when I was there.

~Darling Harbor can be accessed by ferry in addition to walking (Wharf 5).

~The bridge...you can do the really expensive hike up the bridge or just walk across for free.

~Bondi Beach...pronounced Bondeye. It's the most famous beach, yes...but there's also a trail along the ocean down to Coogee...pronounced Cudgie. It's really pretty and scenic as well. And if you're too tired to walk back (2-3 hours), use your travel pass and catch the bus back.

~Lesser known Balmoral Beach...accessible with that handy travelpass (bus # 233, 238, 257). Be forewarned, the beaches are nude optional. So, you know...watch where you look.

~Chinatown's pretty cool, but I was there during the Chinese New Year...go between Thurs-Sun bc Paddy's Market is open then and it's close by. You can buy all of your touristy things there.

~Kings Cross...hookers&heroin combined with scads of backpackers. Don't walk through by yourself after dark.

~Redfern: avoid it.

~Outside Sydney... the Blue Mountains. It's a bit of a ride out there. You can use your travelpass for part of the trip, but you'll end up having to pay for part of the rail ride there. Or go on an organized bus trip which will be more expensive. The cheapest one is $60AUD and the flyers are at all of the hostels.

~Hostels: The Pink House I stayed here, it's cheap and has free internet, but the owner is really shady. Make sure you get a receipt and your change back. He'll walk away and never give you your $$ back. But it's a great deal if you pay with exact change and don't give him your credit card #.

Kanga House is ok. If their census is low, they'll put a sign out for 3 nights/$60AUD including free internet, but the hours are limited. There's also a free BBQ (nothing special though).

I also stayed at the Blue Parrot which I would not recommend.

All are close to the Kings Cross Rail Station. Stay on Victoria St. if you can. It's quieter and nicer.

Cairns:

~I stayed at the Cairns Girls Hostel which was incredibly cheap and very modern...downside is that it's bloody hot with no AC.

~Cairns city bus...Sunbus

~ The Esplanade has regular free events and walk all the way down to the free public pool.

~Cairns Skyrail can be combined with the Kuranda Scenic Railway to take you to Kuranda ...the skyrail is prone to stop, so if you don't appreciate dangling in mid-air high above everything, stick with the train. The Skyrail also has 2 designated stops where you can get out and take pix, etc at your leisure and hop back on at no extra cost.

~ Great Barrier Reef snorkelling...don't let them sell you on something you don't want to do! There's a wide range of prices, the tourist kiosks are everywhere, and they're paid to get you to buy the priciest package. They basically all go out to the same place with a few exceptions. You also have the option of doing an 'introductory dive' without any certification. They're both relatively expensive in comparison with other countries. You tend to see the best fish near the surface. So if you're pinching pennies, stick with the snorkelling. Get the lycra suit for an extra $6AUD. It'll save you on getting stung by the jellyfish.

~Depending on the season, don't take a dip in the mudflats of Cairns bc of the deadly box jellyfish.

~Cheap airlines:

http://www.jetstar.com.au

http://www.virginblue.com.au/

http://www.qantas.com.au/regions/dyn/home/qualifier-region-au (look for red e-deals)

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  • Added on: May 16th, 2005
New Zealand:

~Same deal with customs...declare ALL of your food. NZ seemed more strict about fining, then AU.

~Hostels...if staying long, then you can buy a BBH card.

North Island:

Auckland: There's a free city bus called the Circuit. They're red, run every 10 min from 8a-6p every day of the week. They don't go very far, but it's free so nobody should complain. It can drop you off @ the Sky Tower downtown, where there's a visitor's center.

http://www.maxx.co.nz/

~There's the paid local bus called the Stagecoach Auckland . They have various bus passes. When I was there, I chose the 1 day Aucklandpass for $8NZD. It's good for all day use on the Stagecoach & Link buses and the North Shore-Downtown Fuller ferries. You can go all the way up to Long Bay on the water, and the ferry ride to Devonport is included. If you're going anywhere other than on foot, buy this pass. Auckland's buses use fares by 'stages'. So you may end up paying more than $8 for a RT to your destination anyway. If staying there for more than 1 day, then you can get the 3-day rover for $20NZD.

~Minus 5 Degrees Bar

Rotorua:

~Yes, it stinks here, but it's still worth it. On your way down, you can choose to stop at the Waitomo Caves. I stayed at the Rotorua Central Backpackers and would recommend it. They give you a bottom sheet, but if you want a top sheet, you have to pay $2. There's a hot spring tub in the back with a BBQ as well. The kitchen is huge and well stocked. It's also not far of a walk from the bus station.

Wellington:

~A miserably windy city...not gusty, like blow you away, windy.

~ Wellington local bus & train

~ Te Papa is a fantastic museum, but it's rather large...pace yourself.

~ The Museum of Wellington City & Sea is interesting as well especially if you're ready to board the Lynx.

~You can take the Cable car up and walk through the Botanic Gardens, which is free.

~I stayed at the Downtown Backpackers, but the large sign says Hotel Waterloo. It's really convenient bc the train/bus station is close and carrying your belongings in that wind becomes an issue.

~There are two viable options for getting across Cook Strait: the Lynx or the Interislander. I chose the Lynx...it looks like a fortified tank. The Interislander looks like a small cruise ship. Either can be a wild ride if the weather doesn't cooperate.

South Island:

Nelson:

~Nelson is a great place to stay on your way to Abel Tasman Park...watch out for bees...they call them wasps.

~ The Paradiso is as fancy of a hostel as you're going to find...jacuzzi, pool, 2 kitchens, the works...for next to nothing.

Further south, Punakaiki is worth stopping for it's Blow Holes and Pancake Rocks. There's a little trail leading to it.

Franz Josef:

~If you don't want to actually climb on the glacier or fly above it, you can walk pretty close up to it on the trail.

~I stayed at the Glow Worm Cottages, which was great...free spa, huge kitchen.

Christchurch:

~ Free shuttle around the city, which can drop you off near the Pak n' Save grocery store

~ City bus

~I stayed at Charlie B's, which isn't exactly close to the downtown stretch, but it was still a good deal and they have 24 hour check in/out. Their deposit is cash only, but they'll take foreign currency.

Kaikoura:

~Stop at the visitor's center, grab a map and walk up to the seal sanctuary. It's free.

General Bus Info: : I chose the Intercity Travelpass. It sounds like a good idea in theory. However, once they have your $$, they don't necessarily need to service you. The further south I got, the harder it was to make a reservation. Not only that, but they didn't tell me that for the rest of it's validity, there weren't any open seats on any of the buses headed back north. If you go off season, this will be less of an issue. The Travelpass also includes a one-way trip on the Interislander or the Lynx. This company definitely has the best selection of buses, but you may be better off purchasing tickets as you go, with them, bc they only allot X # of slots for Travelpass holders...something they don't tell you until post-purchase, of course.

http://www.travelpass.co.nz/

They also have a flexi-pass, which some ppl used. You buy a group of hours at a discounted rate and use them at your leisure (subject to their availability, of course).

http://www.flexipass.co.nz/

And then here's the site for a straight purchase:

http://www.intercitycoach.co.nz/

Now for the more 'budget', far more interesting buses with the colorful drivers. These companies don't have Intercity $$, but they do have more local riders vs backpackers. And the small buses with the connecting luggage carriers are an experience round and round those mountains. They are site specific and do not travel throughout both islands. I'll leave it up to you to do further research as to which cities they service.

http://www.coast2coast.co.nz/

http://www.kbus.co.nz/

http://www.southislandconnections.co.nz/

http://www.atomictravel.co.nz/

Flights : http://www.airnewzealand.com/gateway.jsp

kcweimer

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  • Added on: June 3rd, 2005
Though there are more remote areas of the Society Islands, do not discount Tahiti. If you get away from Papeete you will find wonderful people and sites - there is also a lot to be said for Papeetee itself.

Legends describe the island of Tahiti as a great fish that swam away for the waters of Sacred Havai'i, now known as the lagoon between Raiatea and Taha'a.

“Le truck” is Tahiti public bus service. It’s the traditional Polynesian transportation system. A good and cheap way to travel and meet locals.

One of Tahiti’s biggest roadside attractions is the Blowhole of Arahoho, located in Tiarei on the east coast.

Visit Point Venus, this site has great historical significance and it has a long black sand beach and good waves - surfing, body surfing, canoe races. Also some good snorkeling.

Taste Some Local Food : Poisson Cru, a delicious fish salad, marinated with lime juice and served with coconut milk, can be considered Tahiti’s national dish. Buy this at small stands or small local places to eat. With some french bread it makes a wonderful and inexpensive meal.

A single loop road takes you along the wild and rocky east coast of Tahiti, where you will see the spectacular black sand beaches and surfers riding their boards in the crashing waves. The eastcoast of the island is in contrast with the tamer west coast, which has peaceful lagoons and some white sand beaches. Stop in small towns like Papenoo and Faaone for friendly people and great places to try Poisoon Cru.

Visit the Papeete Market, an amazing array of fruit, fish, meat and lovely traditional arts and handcrafts can be found at the market in the heart of Papeete. “Le Marché” public market is in every sense the heart of the city. The market reaches its peak of activity very early on Sunday mornings, when Tahitian families come to shop for their Sunday lunch and dinner. This is the perfect place for photographers.
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Filup

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  • Added on: November 8th, 2005
in sydney, grab some pancakes at "pancakes on the rocks" in the historic area of the city (the rocks).

do the cliff walk from coogee to bondi (this was mentioned before, but is seriously awesome)

take a ferry to watsons bay from circular quay and go have a beer and some fish and chips at doyle's hotel.. the view of sydney from that patio is unreal

watch the sunset in sydney from lady macquarie's chair.. its an area near the botannical gardens right on the outskirts of the area called "woolamaloo" (Sp?)

speaking of woolamaloo, have a meat pie or grab a famous hot dog at "harry's hot dog de wheels" -- awesome and cheap.

rent a car or camper van and drive the great ocean road starting in melbourne and go as far as the 12 apostles along the coast. take some film!

in darwin, go to kakadu national park.. tons of companies run tours through there. some expensive, some not-- many are tailored to backpackers needs.

try and catch a sunset from cape peron on west coast south of perth on the way to margaret river. the sun sets over the water on this side of australia..

i think i could go on and on--
stay hungry, stay foolish.

GCStanat

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  • Added on: December 2nd, 2005
Here are some links from our RTW site that might be of some interest or use to fellow travelers:

Australia entries

Australia low down (summary, tips, etc.)

Australia pix & video

New Zealand entries

New Zealand low down (summary, tips, etc.)

New Zealand pix & video

Hope this helps!

Grace
------
our RTW travel site: www.thirteenmonths.com

Skimaxpower

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  • Added on: January 2nd, 2006
The city of Invercargill is a boring, dirty, dive of a town. Most people only stop here as a step on a trip to Stewart Island.

Nevertheless, the Southern Comfort Backpackers was a real treat. Cheap, immaculately clean, restored Victorian home. It had a great kitchen, and was very close to Invercargill's beautiful Park and Museum.

If you're stuck in coal town for a night, stay at Southern Comfort. (Cash only!!!)

jules82

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  • Added on: February 7th, 2006
UnspecifiedGender - Nudists at Balmoral Beach!??
I live down there and you never see a nudie, perhaps a topless woman once in a while but that's it. There are too many families and kids down there for that anyway...

I also recommend going further North and checking out the Northern Beaches in Sydney, from Collaroy - Palm Beach it's beautiful! You'll feel like you are hours away from a major city.

Other things ocean and beach related:
- If you want great seafood, visit the biggest Seafood market in the southern hemisphere (that's what they say!) The Fish Markets in Pyrmont have every type of fresh Aussie seafood you can think of. Hint - get there early.
- They frequently give surfing lessons near Manly at Freshwater Beach www.manlysurfschool.com.au

J

yolly

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  • Added on: May 25th, 2006
If you're coming to Melbourne, which is a beautiful city, make sure you allow a couple of days to poodle around the Yarra Valley, just outside of Melbourne to the North East, where you will find a seemingly endless array of vineyards offering some of the finest cool-climate wines in the world.
Fantastic restaurants too. Melbourne just has to be the gastronomic capital of the world.

I reckon the thing to do is hire a car, do both the Mornington Peninsula to the east of Melbourne (more great wineries and superb beaches to ramble on, and great golf), then go down the Great Ocean Road (and don't do it in one day - wander around and checkout some of the most dramatic hinterland rain forests called the Otways as well) and then drive north to the Riverland and sample the ports, tokays, and madieras. This is one of the few areas of the world where they devote their whole lives to making these luscious "sticky" wines, and they're an experience!

Cheers
Steve

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  • Added on: May 31st, 2006
phillip island to see the tiny penguins march out of the water is priceless and there are a ton of tours from melbourne...

the wine valley's between melbourne and sydney are pretty cool, kind of off the beaten path stuff small towns, towns with 19 letter names...

australian zoo

queenstown, nz

west coast of NZ remote and really cool you will never see more stars in your life then in NZ

i will keep adding more as i remember i love nz and australia.

i would also reiterate that nadi is a miserable city in fiji get out asap, i didnt do enough research it was my first place i ever really traveled starting my 3 year run of traveling to this day on and off, definitely go to suva i heard is nice and the other islands are really nice, beachcomber etc...also make sure you shop around prices seem to fluxuate second by second...the band playing when you get off the plane is really funny...outdoor airport pretty much...
Josh has taken his much needed vacation and will be going on another Christmas to New Years 2011/2012. However, before he does read about his past trips http://blogs.bootsnall.com/eppyboy

EmmaEgg

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  • Added on: September 1st, 2006
If you're visiting Sydney, try to get away from the centre of the city, even for a day. Try going by ferry to one of the northern suburbs like Manly, or go South to try some of the beaches with less British backpackers. There are also some great suburbs like Leichhardt with lots of Italian restaurants, or Glebe, which has a market every saturday. For the more adventurous, try catching a train out to the western suburbs like Parramatta, Burwood or Penrith to see what Sydney is really like.

The thing about Sydney, is that it's actually two cities in a sense. There's the CBD, which has monuments like the harbour bridge and the opera house, which is only Sydney for a few people. Then there's everything west of there, where most of Sydney's population live, including large Vietnamese, Korean and Lebanese communities.

Even if you just catch the train out, grab a kebab and head back in, it's a great opportunity to see more of Sydney than postcard pictures.

Other cool suburbs include Newtown, Padington and Balmain, which are all very gentrified and only about 10 or 15 minutes from the city.
Meow

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  • Added on: September 10th, 2006
Looking for a great holiday destination? New South Wales, the oldest and biggest state in Australia, is just the place to be. Don’t be left behind with the big city buzz plus great beaches, outdoor lifestyle and World Heritage national parks. Made up of sixteen certainly beautiful regions, New South Wales is an ideal place where you can have the vacation you’ll surely never forget. Its so called “vibrant city” Sydney, caters all your desires with its spectacular beauty, shopping, dinning and more. Trinque

travellerslegs

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  • Added on: January 9th, 2007
TONGA.

An absolute jewel of a desintation but if you head there get away from the main island and out to the smaller island groups. Snorkelling visibility of 60metres, cheap accommodation and very friendly people.....pacific paradise!


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