Usually, I post my concluding thoughts in my daily wrap up. With so many days/destinations in Australia and New Zealand, those wrap ups were plenty long enough as is. So I broke my concluding thoughts on each country out here.
New Zealand Concluding Thoughts
We loved New Zealand. We went to a lot of places and did a lot of things on this trip, but – if you made us pick a favorite spot – it would probably be New Zealand and especially the South Island. It is probably not fair considering we spent 18 days in New Zealand and much less in most other places…But, oh well, that is our answer.
Everywhere we went was very safe. We caught some of the local news shows, and rarely was there any crime to report. The people were very friendly and helpful on top of that.
The entire country was very beautiful, with a variety of landscapes. There was also a wide variety of things to do at all potential price points.
I loved how we traveled – driving from one end of the country to the other and staying in vacation rental type spots along the way. I’d highly recommend that if it is in your budget. The vacation rentals were all really cool spots, and you get to meet some of the locals (the owners) and get their insights. But, you aren’t sleeping down the hall from them like at a bed and breakfast.
We saw plenty of people renting campers and sleeping in them, and – honestly – it is probably not that bad of an option. It is definitely cheaper, and you have a lot more flexibility in your itinerary. Plus, you can stay at some of the more remote locations. Still, I’d go the vacation rental route if it is within your budget. Either way, plan on renting a vehicle and doing some driving.
Although far away and pretty isolated, I’m pretty sure we’ll be back to New Zealand some day. I’d even brave out the flight in economy if this whole frequent flyer mile gravy train dries up. That said, I don’t feel an immediate need to return. Maybe it’s because we saw and did so much while we were there that I feel like we experienced a lot of what New Zealand has to offer. Still, we’ll be back eventually…New Zealand is a place that should be near the top of every traveler’s wishlist.
Australia Concluding Thoughts
What is your idea of an Australian vacation? A week split between Melbourne and Sydney? Think again…Maybe a brief stop at the Great Barrier Reef added to that? You’re definitely doing better.
Australia is a huge country. Due to its relative isolation, you usually don’t see it next to other countries for some perspective. By area, the contiguous 48 states US land mass is only 5% larger than Australia. Imagine going on a vacation to the United States and “seeing the country.” It would take nearly a lifetime of vacations.
That said, inner Australia – aka the Outback – is very vast and barren. Nearly all of the action is on the coast, the exception being Ayer’s Rock/Uluru.
I’m not one to tell people how to vacation, but – in my opinion – Australia is an awfully long way to go if you’re just going to spend it in a city or two, which are pretty similar to US cities. Don’t get me wrong, Sydney and Melbourne were great. If you’re heading to Australia for an extended vacation, I’d definitely try to work in some time at each.
If you like water/sea life, definitely try to make it to the Great Barrier Reef. You can also hit some landside wildlife there too in the rainforests. Wine and scenery more your thing, South Australia is a can’t miss spot. It was similar to New Zealand – a very high compliment in our book.
In fact, South Australia is #1 on my list of places I want to return to in the not so distant future. It won’t be the first spot we return as a result of practical/planning considerations…but I tried to make it work before anywhere else.
So what about Australia in general…Is it worth crossing the Pacific Ocean and from North to South hemispheres to visit. In my mind…absolutely.
The Australians were a very friendly bunch, and the country is extremely safe in general. There are plenty of scenery, wildlife, and adventure options available nowhere else on the planet…there is definitely plenty to do in Australia.
I felt like we hit New Zealand pretty hard in our 18 days there, and we did. We saw a lot of what the country had to offer. On the other hand, I feel like I could leave tomorrow and easily spend a couple months in Australia doing mostly new things…
A liveaboard boat would provide a far better diving experience on the Great Barrier Reef. I feel like we barely touched the tip of what there is to do in South Australia. We didn’t make it to the Red Center. There is plenty more SCUBA diving and wine to taste along the West Coast of Australia. And Tasmania would likely provide a unique experience, perhaps similar to Kangaroo Island…and so on.
For the traveler not looking to stray too far out of his comfort zone, Australia is probably as good of an option available. The culture was very similar to America. English was spoken everywhere, and the food was pretty similar to the food available in the US. That said, it is definitely different enough that you know you are in a different country…Though that is still why I think you shouldn’t just go to Australia for the cities.