Post # 1
Hi Aussies and Kiwis!! And other bees who’ve traveled down under for their honeymoons!
My FI and I are booking our honeymoon right now – which will be this November, for ~14 days – and we desperately need advice on where to go!!
I’m thinking that after the week of the wedding we’ll be totallyyyyy exhausted, so I think we should start the honeymoon at a beach-y place where we can rest. I’ve heard the Whitsunday Islands are amazing, especially Hayman Island and Hamilton Island. The travel agent we’ve been working with recommends just staying in Cairns and making a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef, though – should we stay on an island?? Which one is good for honeymoons? Has anyone stayed on Lizard Island?
And after the islands, I was hoping to see the Daintree Rainforest. Should we stay in Cairns or Port Douglas to go to the rainforest? Can we take the train to get around or do we need to rent a car?
Then, I was thinking we’d spend a few days in Sydney. (I have heaps of friends who live in Melbourne but that’ll be another trip next year, I promise!)
After that, our current itinerary has us spending 2 days in Auckland, 3 days in Queenstown, and 3 days in Fiji. But I’m leaning toward skipping Auckland and Fiji, and just spending time in Queenstown so we can do adventure day-trips and go to places like Milford Sound. What do you think??
Thanks! I’d love any advice you can give!
Post # 3
I haven’t had a honeymoon yet but I’ve been to Australia twice, although I’ve only traveled around Victoria and New South Wales. So basically all I can tell you is I think your proposed itinerary (with the country hopping) is too busy and would not be at all relaxing. Australia is HUGE. And AMAZING. And with two weeks you’ll only be able to see bits of it as it is. I would just make this trip about Australia if I were you! I totally get the impulse to do as much as possible while you’re in a part of the world that you don’t know when you’ll get back to, but I would scale it back and focus on quality over quantity (of places).
Honestly I could spend a week in Sydney easy. I love Sydney! (Melbourne is nice but more for cultural amenities/food than for natural beauty and I think you’re right to save Melbourne for another time.)
Remember that it may take you a day when you arrive to get yourself on Australia time and not be dead tired. I can give you advice on how best to do that if you want! And then you don’t want to lose too much time towards the end of your trip flying to different countries.
Post # 4
Honestly, if you don’t have multiple weeks to spend in New Zealand, I would skip it. Auckland isn’t even scratching the surface. The best part of New Zealand is the nature – if you don’t have time to spend hiking there, then skip it and come back when you have more time.
Also, expect to lose 3 of your 14 days just on the travel time to and from the US alone. Factor in even more half days getting to airports, flying, etc to all the sub-destinations you’ve listed, and you’re basically spending your honeymoon on a plane.
Spend two whole weeks in Australia OR Fiji OR New Zealand. Don’t try to do it all. I’ve spent a month in Australia, a month in New Zealand….and still felt like it wasn’t nearly enough.
Post # 5
Also, Milford Sound isn’t in Queensland, Australia – it’s on the southern island of New Zealand. Were you talking about Queenstown? Yes, a lot of tours leave from there to go to Milford, but it’s a horrendous 10+ hours on a bus round trip…in one day…spending like an hour and a half on a boat. I would recommend what we did – get a cute place to stay in Te Anau, and drive yourself from there. There are so many great hikes, beautiful scenic spots, etc that you’ll want to stop at along the way that you won’t be able to do on a guided tour.
Also, Queenstown is like a spring break in Cancun + adventure sports on steroids. It can be fun if you’re into that, but it definitely isn’t “authentic” New Zealand.
Post # 6
@crayfish: I agree with this.
Usually, I am all about running around and seeing as much as I can, but to try to fit all three in 2 weeks is pure insanity… I did a month, two weeks each Aus and NZ and thought two weeks in NZ was a good amount of time, but trying to fit even 5 cities of Aus in 2 weeks, espeically having to fly to each one was just exhausting. If you want a more relaxing honeymoon, I recommend jsut 2 weeks in NZ and just drive around at your leisure and spend some time in a few different cities for some adventure trips. Even driving 5-6 hours from one city to another in NZ is treat, it’s just so beautiful that you admire the scenery the whole way and the drive becomes as great a part of the trip as the destination.
I believe Whitsunday is only accessible by tour, there are no facilities on the beach there. For Daintree, unless you book a tour from the city, you’ll need a car. Port Douglas is a really cute port town, Cairns is more citish and not very impressive. From what they told us, the further north and out you go, the nicer the reefs, so Port Douglas may be a better location to stay to get to slightly more colorful reefs. I honestly wasnt too impressed with the reefs they took me to.
Post # 7
- Wedding: July 2012 - Baltimore Museum of Industry
I agree with the PP- pick one country. We’re going to NZ for our honeymoon, and are planning on 3 weeks. I’ve been to NZ previously, and could easily spend 3 months there.
Since you’re planning on going to Australia at some point anyway, I’d suggest NZ or Fiji for your honeymoon. The simpler, the better!
Post # 8
I agree with the others that all 3 is too much! We spent 1 week in NZ and 3 in Australia and we need to go back because we barely scratched the surface.
I really liked the rainforest in Port Douglas and we went to the Ribbon Reef on a tour that left out of Cairns and dropped us at Port Douglas. I don’t know how old you are, but you can’t rent a car there unless you are 25 so you might want to just look into tours for the areas you want. That is what we did. I’m not really sure if I would want to drive on the other side of the road anyway.
Post # 9
Thanks for all the tips girls!!!
I think we have a better itinerary now:
Fly to the Whitsunday Islands, stay on Hamilton Island (supposed to be like one of the Greek islands!!) for 3-4 days and go scuba diving and sailing and relax from the wedding and trans-pacific travel. Fly to Sydney, spend 3-4 days there. (We live in a big city and are actually looking forward to spending some time in nature – we spent 4 days in NYC over New Year’s and that was actually plenty of time to get enough of the urban scene!) Fly to Queensland, spend 3 nights there (to be close to nearby activities), do adventure sports (white water rafting, river surfing, etc. and hopefully some good hikes nearby!), drive to Fox Glacier for heli-icing, and spend one more day driving through New Zealand – probably en route to Christchurch. Hopefully we’ll find a cool B&B in a smaller town in New Zealand those last 2 nights. (By the way, I don’t mind renting a car and driving on the wrong side of the road – I rented a car and drove the whole circumference of Ireland last summer and it wasn’t too bad!!) Fly out of Christchurch back home. Definitely skipping Auckland though – thanks for the tip! I suspected it was much less remarkable than the less populated parts of NZ!
If it’s too expensive to stay on Hamilton Island, we will stay at Port Douglas or at one of the beach towns between Cairns and Port Douglas. Either way, we are going to try to see some coral reefs – I didn’t know that some are better than others, so we’ll have to research good reef tours.
I know it’s not enough time – I LOVE traveling and would spend any extra time there that I could – but my future hubby and I each only have 2 weeks of vacation a year, so we are already stretching it.
I had to cut out Fiji but I think we can manage with this itinerary – we are both very adventurous people and I think a few days in each place will be OK, at least to get a taste for where to go back on our next trip 🙂
Post # 10
That sounds like a good distribution of time! If you want to stay near Christchurch before flying out, check out Akaroa. It’s a cute little town about an hour away or an hour and a half away on the coast.
Post # 11
The only thing I want to caution you on is that it is suggested you leave at least 24hrs between scuba diving and flying. Also don’t let your travel agent book you on Tiger Airlines in Australia- they are notorious for cancelling flights and have pretty bad customer service (no changes, if your late for checkin too bad etc).
Honestly it sounds really really rushed- because you have to rememeber that you will lose time flying- you are already at 13 nights with your last itinerary and you will be spending a lot of your honeymoon on planes! Plus we have some ridiculous airline rules like having to checkin (at the airport) at least an hour before your flight but it is safer to get there 1.5hrs prior (due to queues).
You can do a lot of the adventure sports you listed in Australia as well (except the snow ones but it will be late spring in NZ when you go over and this year is tipped to be a not so great snow year <we go to NZ to snowboard every year> so it could be a great place to visit another time?)
Post # 12
im an aussie (who dives) and spend the last 2 christmases in NZ and i wouldnt base myself in cairns and do day trips – you are spending a lot of time on cattle boats so look at basing yourself on an island
its not in the honeymooners category but for diving i would suggest Lady Elliot Island (you have to fly there on a small plane from either brisbane, hervey bay or bundaberg). the accomdation is basic, meals are served buffet style but the diving is really really good – i have dived all over the south pacific and LEI delivers a lot
and as someone said earlier, you cant dive and fly – you need a certain number of hours due to nitrogen buildup, especially if you are doing multiple dives on multiple days
NZ is big so when you have arrive queenstown, drive to fox glacier then one drive to christchurch – you are not allowing yourself much time to see/do anything
Post # 13
I think your new itinerary sounds better. Cairns isn’t very nice for a honeymoon so Port Douglas or an island would be better for sure. Auckland (and the north island generally) isn’t very special so I think you’ve chosen a better part of NZ to focus on. I agree with the others that it’s pretty rushed and a packed itinerary with a lot of time on planes and in airports (even worse than planes in my opinion), but some people thrive on holidays like that! Things are expensive here so budget lots for accommodation and food, and I’m sure you’ll have a great time 🙂
Post # 14
We spent 10 days in New Zealand a couple of years ago and didn’t do nearly everything we wanted to. I would only do Auckland or Queenstown, not both, so you at least get a good, full experience in one of the cities. Many of the activities in Queenstown are either half day or full day events. For example, we went whitewater rafting on the shotover river (AMAZING) and were up early and got back late afternoon and barely left Queenstown for it. Milford Sound is an entire day (AMAZING). Our helicopter ride to a glacier was half a day. We weren’t able to go out and climb glaciers like I really wanted to or do many of the other extreme sports offered in the area on our 4 days there. We got a taste but not a full experience.
We spent 4 days in Auckland and got a good taste of that city. A day exploring town and going to the aquarium, walking some of the dormant volcanoes and such. We spent a whole day driving back and forth to Piha (AMAZING). We spent a whole day on Rangitoto. We spent another day or so in town doing more shopping and exploring. I thought that was enough time to experience the city.
Post # 15
Thanks for all of the tips everyone!! @j_jaye we are going to probably dive on our 2nd full day in Australia so we should have 2 days before and 2 days after to recover. I read about decompression sickness and it sounds awful! And thanks for the tip about Tiger Airlines – we are getting Qantas Passes so hopefully we’ll get to ride on the A380, at least for the trans-Pacific flight 🙂 We have the same airport rules here in the US – we usually get to the airport at LEAST an hour and a half early, since security takes so long since 9/11. So do you think it’s not such a good idea to go heli-icing on a glacier in November? I know it’s the beginning of summer but I thought maybe there would still be some snow then..
@pinkshoes We’ll have to check out Akaroa if we make it to Christchurch 🙂 I love staying in small towns!
@eloping I’ll ask our travel agent if we can stay on Lady Elliot Island, that sounds amazing. I’d honestly rather stay at regular accomodations near better diving, than stay at a 4-star resort. Have you stayed on Lizard Island? Someone at work recommended that to me but it looks really expensive to stay there!
@awagy86 I can’t wait for the white water rafting!! Did you rent a car to drive yourself to Milford Sound? You didn’t stay the night near the glacier? We are thinking about staying at Fox Glacier overnight so we can spend the whole day hiking around the glacier and heli-icing. The drives around New Zealand are scenic right? My FI and I have done heaps of road trips, I think getting there is half the adventure – but if the scenery is dreary maybe driving to the glacier and to Milford Sound is not the best use of a day…
Post # 16
@MsVoyageur: the only queensland island ive stayed at was LEI as i usually go overseas for our dive trips. the accomodation is very basic, think demountable buildings turned into rooms so its NOT something i would recommend for honeymooners but for divers i do. mantas and turtles, leopard sharks and fish, its the most south of the great barrier reef and i think its missed by most tourists
you can book LEI directly via their website btw
IF you are coming to sydney/new south wales, 6hrs drive from sydney is South West Rocks for amazing grey nurse shark diving – last time i dived it i lost count at 40 sharks in the gutter
for Milford sound – the best way to get in and out is hiring a car. From Te Anu to Milford is about 2hrs one way, from queenstown to milford is about 5hrs and thats one way. if you drive and are going to do one of the cruises you can get on the earlier boats and they are less crowded – the boats with the bus trips get crowded
i found the drive from Te Anu to Queensland not very scenic – we are going to do the glaciers this christmas so i havent seen them yet