Awww I get that camping doesn’t appeal, I really do. I live in NZ and may be biased, but I’ve also travelled to Australia. I do think you could do both, based on a great itinerary (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are about 3 hours by plane). It comes down to what you both want to do.
Camping in NZ is not like camping back in Canada where I grew up. It’s not exactly woodsy, build a fire, no access to anything and definitely not roughing it unless you go off to find a remote spot purposely. It’s more communal here, more social and the country is designed for this, so you will find showers and toilets almost at every campground (clean toilets, not like gas station don’t touch anything kind). There are also tons of glamping options. The scenery, hikes, and beauty will NOT disappoint. I promise you the views of stunning blue water, starry nights, and beautiful nature every where you look. It’s incredibly clean and untouched. But, if you want to go swimming, and have a beach life, you might find Australia more appealing. NZ has fantastic beautiful beaches, but if I compare them to North American beaches (in my experience Hawaii, California and Florida) they are much different, and think Aussie ones will be most similar.
But, in Australia, bugs can kill you 😛 spiders, crocodiles, snakes… er, you won’t find most of these here (and if so, not deadly).
I grew up camping in Canada, and I can only take so much when planning a trip. Usually a long weekend with lots of campires and smores. So when we took an 8 day camping trip in NZ, I was very hesitant. We did the west coast of NZ, and to this day, it’s one of my favourite trips. We used a campervan, and we stayed 1-2 nights in each place we travelled to. It was summer (over Christmas) and hot (not humid and uncomfortable though), and I couldn’t take a bad picture if I tried. I loved having down time and not rushing around, it doesn’t take long to travel far because it is a small country, and we could stop anywhere and enjoy a picnic. And there were tons of activities from sky diving, kayaking, boating, zip lining, bungee jumping you name it.
But you can totally travel to NZ and stay in homes (called baches, pronounced like bach in bachelor). You could book places that are oceanside or have views, enjoy a BBQ and have amentities in a house, but also plan day trips for hiking, or other activities like tours, swimming with dolphins, wine tasting. A few places I’d recommend for great views and beautiful scenery Queen Charlotte Track in the Marlborough Sounds, Milford Sounds (which is really a fiordland and ah-mazing), Coromandel (gorgeous beaches and so much to see and enjoy), Akaroa (french village), Hawkes Bay for wine tasting (but there’s heaps around the country), and Golden Bay near Abel Tasman (popular local place!).
If you have specific questions about NZ, happy to answer bee!