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.

Help! What to Do/Where to Go?


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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  • Added on: May 3rd, 2011
Hello! My name is Alivia, and coming up this September, myself and two friends will be leaving Canada for New Zealand for three months, and then after that, one of them and myself will be leaving NZ to go to Australia for up to a year, potentially. I have a few questions for some fellow travellers:

1) We have the Lonely Planet guide book, but a lot of people have this, so are there places/activities that anybody would say are "MUST SEE/DO"?

2) Do you think 3 months is enough time to adequately explore the country?

3) I'm guestimating that my friend and I will have roughly $5-7000 CAD each by the time we get to Australia- is this rough estimate enough to explore the country with? I know there are cheap ways to travel, but I also know that Australia isn't it's own continent for nothing- it's HUGE (and expensive)! We had thought about buying a campervan (although we will have tents) for OZ to get around, but my sister who has spent time in both countries would be more worth it to do so for NZ instead- thoughts?

4) I've really considered travelling to the South Pacific Islands (Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati, the Cooks etc.), would love to sail through. Is it reasonable to expect that a backpacker could travel here on a backpacker's budget, or is it mainly a 'vacationers' paradise?

Thanks for any and all input!
Alivia :)


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Holds PhD in Packing
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Joined: November 20th, 2008
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  • Added on: May 5th, 2011
New Zealand is a fairly expensive country, too, but if you do the campervan route, that'll cut some costs (assuming you can resell it for a fair price).

let's see...

The North Island has a lot of marvelous places. The Tauranga area is quite lovely. If you're flying in to Auckland, it won't be too far out of your way to check it out. Just south is Rotorura, which is definitely a small town which not much to do, but has fascinating hot springs that may be worth a look.

Lake Taupo in the center of the North Island is worth a few nights; there's a national park and some neat hiking (or, "tramping" as they call it) trails there; I whizzed by in a bus and regrettably only came away with a few photos.

Wellington is a great city; Te Papa museum is worth a gander, and has free admission. They had the world's largest squid on display when I was there, haha.

Now, for the South Island:

Christchurch: Definitely go up on the gondola to the top of the Port Hills. Spectacular 360 degree views.

If you and your friends are into nature, going on one of the Great Walks may be worth your while. The Milford Track is the more famous one, but I also hear the Routeburn is equally spectacular. I also hear the Milford Sound cannot be missed.

If you're a Lord of the Rings fan at all, there are several tours... that's where most of my money went, but it was worth it.


Regarding the campervan issue.
NZ would be better suited for it since it's smaller and more compact. It'll only take you a few hours to reach your next destination with something of interest, whereas with Australia, there are miles and miles of desert that can take days to drive through. The roads can be a little scary in NZ -- no interstates, just windy two-lane roads.

I'm guessing you're getting a WHV in Australia? I've heard Australia can cost from $2k-$3k per month, even for budget travelers. I managed to live off of $1000 for one month in Australia, but I couchsurfed half of the time with some great folks...and I still saw a fair amount.

travel droppings

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Lost in Place
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  • Added on: May 12th, 2011
As for #3, here's my story:

I've been in Aus since Feb 1, 2011 and started with 8,000. Let me just say, if you move around a lot, then this country will make you bleed money. We went through 5,000 AUD in about 6 weeks. We ate in about 50% of the time and travel on buses and trains. We dont drink much either. And when we go out to eat, it is always somewhere cheap, as in less than $15 each.

It is expensive out here.

While the country offers lots of ways to spend, it also allows you to save loads if you find the right opportunities. Getting work in an outback resort means low cost of living and higher wages. After 5 months here, some backpackers have actually walked out of here with $15,000 in the bank.

So yeah, you could do Oz on 5-7,000 if you work. We are.
Work and Travel Abroad: A few ways I have worked my way around the world
All Ways Australia - Photos and tour reviews from the Outback


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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  • Added on: May 12th, 2011
Do the harbor bridge crawl during the week
See the Opera house, and dine at Bennelong for lunch
See any show (I couldn't purchase tix for the Symphony playing LOTR so I waited outside for Intermission, so smokers could get their rush, then ushered myself in for a free seat on the fourth row)
Go north to Katoomba and see the continents Grand Canyon at three sisters and Echo Point. Get a coupon for the gondola and the tram. Spend some time among the huge ferns on the floor of the canyon. You'll see the Great dividing range quite clearly here.
See the zoo, Bondi Beach, Olympic village, Botany Bay.
Go south to ACT ( Australia Capital Territory) and visit Parliament. Such an awesome structure.
Go south to Jindabyne, and Thredbo and take the lift to the ski resort. Hike to the highest peak on the continent - Mt Kosciousko. Its an easy raised steel platform to the obelisk.
Definitely get a flight to Ayers Rock - Kata Juga and stay a night at Sails resort. Go to "Sounds of Silence" (you will not ever do anything like this again). Arise early and take a van out to the Ayers Rock sunrise viewing area.
Later in the day, take a van to the base of Ayers Rock and climb. Hike to the obelisk for a photo. go to Kata Juga and explore the contrasts of the sands, the rocks and the sky. Collect some sand in an empty water bottle. You'll be glad you have it to show to friends. Absolutely amazing color contrasts.
Cheap but don't miss:
Back at Circular Quay, take the ferry out to Manly, Hornby Lighthouse and North Head beach (may see whales and porpoise
Above circular Quay, walk around Queen Anne park and over to the shopping district.
Have a cocktail above the city at the CentrePoint Tower
Visit the cathedral

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