The travel company did a great job for us. Everything worked as planned. Our agent was very helpful and always responded quickly to inquiries.
Aussie Open, 44C/111F on second day - Wow that’s hot. 106 & 108 F on first and third days. A bit cooler. Saw some amazing tennis and had fun despite the heat, suspended play and Williams sisters pulling out of the doubles.
Great Ocean Road is fabulous, though the coach tour is bit long, 15 hours, and stops at anything that looks interesting. I enjoyed it all, but Debbie was less thrilled due to the length and constant dialog from the guide. We learned our tolerance of guided tours is not very high.
Cairns was great: Great Barrier Reef was just spectacular. The tour was absolutely first rate. Fabulous!! Best snorkeling conditions ever and of course the reef is awesome. No sharks unfortunately.
Kurnda was wonderful and I especially loved the trip through the tree tops in the gondola.
We rented bikes in Cairns and had a blast riding along the coast. The hotel is surrounded by trees with thousands of fruit bats living in them. At dusk they all take off flying around the hotel and nearby streets. I thought it was great but the wife was a little freaked out.
Uluru was nice … and hot. Sunset was pretty, but we attracted a lot of flies. The hiking was a bit much for some of the party. Sunrise was early … and not as good as sunset. We had the same guide for both, a French woman, which was a bit disappointing for the wife - she wanted an Aussie. Beautiful place with wonderful stories.
Sydney was wonderful. Opera house tour and story of the architect made us cry. Harbor cruise was spectacular. Loved Sydney and the Rocks area.
Blue mountains were fogged in, but we had fun on the high angle train. Debbie screamed the whole way down on purpose for a Frenchman videoing the trip.. He spoke no english and we no french, but he loved the soundtrack he got. This was on Australia day.
Driving in New Zealand, South island was a snap. Te Anau was beautiful as was Milford Sound and Doubtful was the best of all. The overnight was great and we saw millions of stars, Wow! We Kayaked and swam in the Tasman sea. Cold - 59F!
Queenstown was wonderful, though the day before a couple from India told us there was nothing to do there. Ha! There was plenty to do. The gondola and luge were a blast and we really enjoyed the city. If we ever go back, Queenstown will be one of the cities we visit, along with Auckland.
We got fogged out of our helicopter trip to the Franz Josef Glacier. Refund in the works. But we did hike out to see the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Not too bad, but tough to take pictures under a cloudy sky.
TranzAlpine railroad was very nice, relaxing and beautiful. Christchurch looked like a war zone. We were surprised at the apparent slow progress some 3+ years after the earthquake. But NZ doesn’t have the resources for a quick rebuild I guess.
North Island driving was a bit more challenging due to more people, but not bad. We got a smaller car this time and it was easier to fit on the slightly narrower roads of NZ.
The Scenic Hotel in Napier was fabulous. We were sorry we were staying only one night. The view from the window was spectacular. Walked quite a bit and enjoyed the area.
The Copthorne in Rotorua was likely the worst place we stayed. Not bad (the others were great), but it needs updating. Rainy day for the area attractions tour, but we enjoyed most of it, especially the Agrodome show - wonderful! Rotorua does have a pervasive sulfur smell to it, but I got used to it.
Auckland was wonderful. We each captained (steered) a 50 foot sailboat in the harbor on a beautiful 1hr 30min cruise. Highly recommended. The Explorer hop on/hop off was OK, but not a big hit. We did see some very nice sights.
Highlight of Auckland, besides the sailing, was being “kidnapped” by a local woman, about 65-70 years old, and driven to Mount Victoria, after we took the ferry across the harbor. She gave us a history lesson, showed us all around and took us to her favorite bar afterwards. I was quite wary to start with, but we decided to accompany her in her car. Worked out very nicely.
All flights were very good, with wonderful service on the LAX-Melbourne and Sydney-LAX legs. The latter flight was about 40% full, so we could really stretch out and sleep. No jet lag to speak of on either end - we planned our sleep times well.
Doubtful Sound overnight, Sydney, Auckland, and the Great Barrier Reef were just fabulous.
Spend more time in New Zealand, especially the North Island.
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