How to plan a travel journey to Australia and New Zealand?
I asked should I go to Australia or New Zealand last year.
As of today, no confirmation. But, I have taken the next step, and begun researching the journey a little, just in case.
As such, I thought it interesting to write out how I research or plan a trip like this, given the following criteria.
- I’ve not been there before
- It seems to fit many of the criteria I’m looking for on my journey
First steps of planning a trip to Australia / New Zealand
Visas – I qualify as a tourist. But not for a working visa nor the holiday working visa. I am over 30, so Australia seems to think I am not worth it. Big bummer here. If I was to work, I would need a sponsor, or do it illegally. A sponsor would need to be frothing at the mouth to go through those loop holes. I don’t like illegal work, as it’s not going to get me very far in the long run.
Yes, there is Woofing e.t.c., but I look at these as later options should I like the place and need every type of opportunity to stay. At this stage, it’s better to do something I like, than something just to stay longer.
That just leaves me as a humble tourist, on a humble budget. Keeping in mind my journey is a little different, I will initially be looking to see if Australia / New Zealand could be places for me to live. But, first things first, we gotta get to a place I like first!
Second step of planning a trip to Australia or New Zealand
My big tourist map! What do I want to see/do, first and foremost. And, what I don’t want to see/do.
Things I’d like to see and do when traveling in Australia & New Zealand
- OZ – I’d like to see, and experience the desert. Something I like, and miss very much. This leads me to Pinnacles, Alice Springs along with the journey there.
- NZ – Glaciers please, again much missed.
- OZ – Wildlife, a Kangaroo in the wild, a Koala bear, Dingoes, and a few lizards.
- NZ – Kiwi’s! Whales … maybe ,and some birds.
- Oz – Landscapes … opps back to the desert again.
- NZ – Those mountains …
- OZ – Aborigines in todays world. I’d like to see for myself. And, of course, document.
- NZ – Maori people in todays world, same as above.
- OZ/NZ – A few cities/towns to see what life / culture is like there.
- Yep, that’s pretty much it.
Things I don’t want to see in Australia or New Zealand
- OZ/NZ – A bunch of drunk party going backpackers
- OZ – Surf / Diving and beaches
- NZ – Swim with dolphins (okay I do) diving, bungy jumping etc.
- OZ/NZ Cafe’s / Bars / Clubs and fine dining (ok, yes to some but budget says no).
- OZ/NZ Humidity, I’ve had enough. So no Northern Australia it looks like.
Yep, I sound very boring. Tough. The things I like are what I like, and this is my list. I could be persuaded to go and see the great barrier reef, but, it would take a lot. Am I missing something awesome from my list? Let me know in the comments section below!
Where to get information for planning a journey to Australia and New Zealand? – step 3
Sadly The Philippines has no good bookstore outside of Manila. And, even there, it’s ridiculously expensive. So online it is.
Lonely Planet wins here not for content, but for the very basics of their intro. How much, when, what to see (photo slide show). It then drops off for anything else, as they want you to buy the guidebook, fair enough.
Closer to my time of arrival, I jump into forums. Travellerspoint is often where I start, as the community there is a lot nicer than the Thorntree (LP).
WikiTravel I prefer for a rough idea of how to get around, and a quick overview of accommodation, if I’m lucky, sometimes it’s all I need.
Traveling into Australia or New Zealand – aka which one first? – step 4
A direct flight from Manila is not going to happen due to cost. So it means either a flight from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok. A flight to Perth is my first choice, at a glance. I can travel across the south and then hop on another plane to New Zealand. A direct flight to New Zealand would be my preferred choice, but it’s not going to happen at the air fare prices I am seeing.
Mapping my way across Australia using google maps, and google docs – step 5
I open google maps, and docs. I mark out all the main places I want to see and travel. I write them down in google docs. I then open up google books (which shows an old guide book), kayak and an accommodation booking site. And, begin figuring out what to see and where to stay in each of these places. This is also where I add in the costs for my budget later on.
This is tiring, and very slow. But, the end results are worth it. My phone syncs to google maps, gps, and I know where I am going.
I read reviews of places, costs, and what they offer. I also work out how to get from point A to point B.
This method saves me a lot of time and money once in country. Sure nothing is a set rule, but at a glance I know what’s where and how to travel there.
What I’ve learned at this stage of my plan to travel Australia – step 6
Travel in Australia is expensive. Not just compared to Asia, but compared to Europe and other developed countries. And, so be it. But, my main concern is value for money. This is where I find Australia failing in many regards.
Dorm rooms in Hostels cost on average AUS$23. Single rooms $60. That’s a huge jump in terms of no middle ground! And, somethings not sitting right with me there. Not only that, but the majority of the reviews are not that good for hostels there. Dirty bathrooms, grouchy staff and expensive internet (it seems Australia does not include free wifi in its hospitality industry).
Australian tourism boards seem to hint strongly that traveling Australia is best done by car or package tour, (or by being a guest on the Oprah show goes to Australia). I’ve checked out rentals, it’s not going to happen. Buying is cheaper, and I’ve still no interest as it’s a lot of $$ for one person.
This leaves travel via train, plane and bus. A great train trip interests me. Three days to Alice Springs through the desert sounds good. But, I have a feeling I will not be able to open a window to photograph, no stops in the desert nor hanging out a door either.
Tours are cheaper than independent travel here it seems. Book a tour from a hostel to see a place, and, it works out cheaper. Perth to Pinnacles for example. I’d love to overnight there, but local accommodation and the trip there seems more expensive than two one day trips via a tour company. And, there seems to be no local transport directly to pinnacles. At least from what I can see online.
Likewise Uluru (Ayers Rock) Where there’s no public transport or accommodation available so a tour is the only option to get there with prices starting at $250, with hidden extras.
Now lets reassess travel to Australia – step 7
Starting in Perth is making less sense. Pinnacles looks really nice, but it’s only one place. There are a few towns further south. But, the cost to value of these sites / travel is quite high. A lot of back-warding and forwarding. Then a long journey to Adelaide and onto Alice Springs.
There are cheap direct flights to Melbourne from Malaysia. It would mean traveling to Adelaide and then up to Alice Springs and back down again, or a flight back (train seems to work out cheaper). Then go and see more of the east coast. Fly from the Gold coast to Auckland New Zealand, travel back down to Queenstown, and fly back to Gold Coast.
If there were super cheap flights to Darwin from Asia, I would start there and just travel on a train down the middle of Australia. But, it seems there are no cheap flights to Darwin that match the costs of flights to Melbourne.
Australia vs New Zealand as a tourist
From my initial look at both countries online, travel in New Zealand comes across as being more appealing. Reviews of accommodation seem better, there’s more variety. And, I like the idea of some cold weather.
I don’t know if it’s easier to get around New Zealand compared to Australia in terms of what’s available. But, in terms of access to online information, New Zealand trumps Australia here too.
Observations, mistakes, advice …
I’ve left a lot out. Especially about places in New Zealand. I’m not writing a full on guide here. I know things are different on the ground. And, I know that I could meet a great person on my first day, joint buy a car and travel around Australia for 3 months etc. This is not what I am writing this for.
A) This is how I plan travel to many places. I thought it interesting to write the 2010 version down. Please feel free to comment on it, or regale on it.
B) I am open to suggestions on other places I’ve not mentioned above. Or on tips e.g. the discounted nationwide 6 month train ticket.
C) Many people say no to Australia / New Zealand in regards to my journey. Others say yes, it’s a “cool” place to go. Let’s not forget the main objective in all this. And, I still have not met many Australian or New Zealanders in terms of contacts. Everyone says hi, but everyone seems located in either Melbourne of Sydney. Or, simply only interested in having beers.
New Zealand seems like a wasteland of online communication. Which is strange considering there seems to be more about New Zealand travel online than Australia. But who knows, maybe I just haven’t found the right group of contacts yet.
Yes, I know twitter or facebook is a game of chance in sending out messages etc. But, you have to start somewhere.
So C) is – Worth the risk or not?
Tips, suggestions, observations e.t.c., are all welcome in the comments!
Please note, this is no indication that I am actually going to Australia or New Zealand next, I am nearly planning it out. Who knows, any more pickpockets / bad business / dentists and I might forget the rest of this region and just grab a plane to …