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Australia and New Zealand tour

Looking for reviews and comments about Odysseys Unlimited 22 day tour of Australia and New Zealand. As a veteran of 5 Rick Steves tours in Europe, I am hoping to find something similar in other parts of the world. If anyone has toured with Odysseys in Australia, New Zealand or elsewhere, I would appreciate your candid assessment of the company.

Posted by
943 posts

I have not traveled with Odysseys, but there is is a Rick Steves Travel guide by the name of Colin Mairs who operates a New Zealand travel company call "Mondumo Travels" . He is excellent and was our guide for our RS Scotland tour. He works for RS in the summer in Scotland and then does tours in New Zealand and Australia during their summer which is our winter.

He is very knowledgeable and friendly and went out of his way to make sure we all had a great experience in Scotland.

Posted by
5630 posts

We have been to Australia twice and New Zealand once. We visited much of Australia (except for South Australia) by taking cruises in conjunction with do it yourself travel (some day tours). We did the North Island of New Zealand with Trafalgar (excellent tour company). Originally, we had a cruise to NZ booked, but due to engine failure on the ship, it was cancelled two days before our cruise and we were lucky to find the tour instead. The North Island was great (we didn't have time to do the South Island).

I would say that it would be hard to do both countries well in 22 days, our North Island NZ tour was 8 days. Just doing NZ would take about 15 days.

We spent (totally both trip) about 8 days in Sydney, 6 in Melbourne, 3 in Perth and ports in Cairns, Darwin and Brisbane one day each.

Make sure that your tour includes Perth, Darwin, Cairns (great barrier reef), Sydney (and nearby Blue Mountains as well as wine country north of Sydney).
Also, your tour should include Melbourne and the Great Ocean Highway and Phillip Island (see the amazing penguins).
As for NZ, Auckland, sites with Maori area and Wellington. For the South Island of NZ, make sure you do the train ride that is very scenic.

Posted by
8 posts

Have been looking around at NZ tours- and have been anxiously awaiting whether Monduomo tours with Colin Mairs
will be up and running in 2023. Has anyone heard if those tours have started? NZ will be opening for travel in May.

Started calling a number of other tour companies and they all have fairly limited availabilites due to bookings. Have looked at Road Scholar, OAT and Odysseys. Has anyone had experience with any other tour company they can recommend? Thanks for your help!

Posted by
367 posts

Is this the tour? If so, Australia is really shortchanged by that itinerary. At the very least, Melbourne and The Great Ocean Road shouldn't be missed. https://odysseys-unlimited.com/tours/australia-the-south-pacific/exploring-australia-new-zealand/

I agree - Cairns really isn't worth the trouble except for the Barrier Reef and the Daintree - going to Kuranda is just cringy bad! The outback part is very, very long flights to see the most over hyped bunch of rocks - spending that time in Cape York peninsular would be much better..

Its not a bad highlights tour in NZ - but too long in Rotorua which is tourist central - and now looking very shabby after 2 years without tourists

Posted by
211 posts

I know nothing about Odyssey Tours.
I did look at that 22 day (actually only 20 days) tour. Pretty brutal and I don't imagine anything like a Rick Steve's Euro tour.
A few distances might put it into perspective.
Day 6 Cairns to Alice Springs. Distance 2000 kms.
Day 8 Alice Springs to Uluru (aka Ayers Rock) 500 kms.
Day 9 Uluru to Sydney 2800 kms.
Day 12 Sydney to Christchurch 2100 kms
Day 13 Christchurch to Mt Cook 330 kms
Day 15 Mt Cook to Queenstown 260 kms
Day 16 Queenstown to Milford Sound return 500 kms
Day 18 Queenstown to Rotorua 1400 kms
Day 20 Rotorua to Auckland 230 kms.

Posted by
2276 posts

This may not be what you want to hear if you're focused on a guided tour, but with the availability of cheap flights within Australia on JetStar (the Qantas low cost affiliate) you can put together a very nice itinerary yourself. Using one of the tour company's sample itineraries as a guide you could then modify it per your own particular interests and save yourself a lot of money in the process. After all, there's no language barrier to deal with (for the most part) so navigating your way around independently is pretty easy.
There are plenty of day trip and tour providers operating out of all of the major Aussie cities that will provide comprehensive overviews of the those attractions within the country that particularly appeal to you.
The same thing can be said about NZ.
Though Australia is indeed huge, if you concentrate on the Southeastern part of the country (Sydney & Melbourne, with maybe Cairns thrown in for the GBR and Tropical North Queensland) you can cover quite a lot of ground in a couple of weeks leaving you time to explore some of New Zealand as well. It's a 3 hour flight on Jetstar from Sydney to Queenstown for example, which is in the heart of the exquisite South Island - our particular favorite part of a universally spectacular country.

Posted by
441 posts

Why don’t people mention/tours include Canberra? The “bush capital” offers it all—small museums, culture, nearby outback/flora and fauna, kangaroos jumping around in the close-in suburbs, great food and wine, and welcoming residents? I lived there for several years and absolutely loved it. Sydney and Melbourne are nice, too, but in a different way. They’re big cities. Canberra isn’t but more than holds its own. Consider it if you’re planning your own itinerary. And, I agree about Tassie, too. A beautiful view of Australia, completely different from the mainland — sort of a country on its own. Easy to spend a week there without ever being bored.

Posted by
7996 posts

We booked Odysseys Unlimited tours to Japan and Egypt. Both tours were excellent but the one to Egypt exceeded our expectations.

We are in Sydney currently. We are not doing a tour and find it all remarkably easy to get around. Have flown up to Cairnes and taken the train to the Blue Mountains as well as ferries and trains/ buses all around Sydney.
Planning another crazy cheap flight to Melbourne to spend a week and try out the Pacific drive people have mentioned. Just looking for the easiest way to access the Outback from Sydney side instead of going the whole way to the western side. Perhaps Canberry is the answer per the earlier person's comments. We decided not to add New Zealand timewise.

Posted by
211 posts

Hi Barbara.
Are you planning on doing an organised excursion along the Great Ocean Road or self driving?
If you are self driving I will happily give you the heads up on all the best places. It is worth devoting several days.

The Outback? What part of the "Outback" do you wish to visit?
Perhaps Uluru (Ayres Rock)?

Posted by
2276 posts

For Barbara: I'd second the suggestion of Uluru for a taste of the Outback, and direct flights from Melbourne (and Sydney) make it pretty easy to get there.
If you do decide to go, ensure that your accommodations are locked in early to avoid disappointment (the resorts do sell out) and ensure that you book a flight to Uluru airport and not Alice Springs ... which looks close on the map but which is actually 5 hours away by car.