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Australia/New Zealand Tour Groups?

Hello,
I’m researching tour packages to Australia and/or New Zealand for next summer Can anyone recommend good/reputable groups for budget tours under two weeks, ideally for ages 40-60? Thanks.

Posted by
264 posts

Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT), based in Boston. Went with them last Dec., terrific trip.

Posted by
1701 posts

If you're open to an alternative to an organized tour I'd suggest that you research doing this independently.
Booking your flights is pretty straightforward - there's really no need to pay someone to do that for you. Once on the ground in either country there are day trips available that will cost much less than an all-inclusive itinerary and which can be tailored to your specific interests.
With only 2 weeks at your disposal I suggest that you concentrate on one country or the other. Each has enough to keep you occupied for several months, much less a couple of weeks.
The low-cost airline within Australia is Jetstar - a Qantas affiliate. It's a cheap, no-frills carrier that will take you where you want to go at a reasonable price - you can craft a very nice itinerary on your own. Likewise Air New Zealand has cheap flights within NZ.
If it's Australia you might explore an open jaw flight plan to save a day backtracking. There are direct flights to and from the US from Brisbane and Melbourne as well as Sydney.
If it's NZ then you'll need to make your way back to Auckland for your return flight.
Since both Australia and New Zealand are English speaking countries (more or less) there's a minimum of culture shock as compared to the rest of Asia, and thus no reason to rely on an all-inclusive organized tour to sort things out for you (IMHO).
Safe travels.

Posted by
4126 posts

We have been to Australia twice and both times did our own thing, but picked up day tours.
The tours that I found in researching Australia all would have cost us more than what our trips cost.

We did do a tour of the North island of New Zealand with Trafalgar that was excellent, but it was not cheap.

Posted by
5634 posts

Do you have to travel there in the US summer ( Australia/NZ winter)? We went in October, their Spring and we had nice weather.

Posted by
1701 posts

Suki highlights a valid concern regarding the weather. If you're locked into traveling during the US Summer (southern hemisphere winter) then take a close look at the forecasts for wherever you plan to go. Auckland in July tends to be rainy and generally gloomy - not the greatest time to be visiting the North Island in general. Queenstown on the South Island will be cold but it'll still be possible to do outside activities if you're dressed properly. Lower altitude hiking trails will be open, but you won't be able to access anything up in the mountains. You'll need to exercise an abundance of caution when driving due to the potential for icy conditions on some of the roads ... especially in the early morning. The road to Milford Sound in winter is one of the more dangerous stretches in NZ for that reason.

On the other hand, Eastern Australia (Sydney, NSW in general, Brisbane, Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef) will be delightful that time of year - a little rain but nothing excessive and with moderate temps. June/July is actually the best time to visit Uluru (Ayers Rock). It's the rainy season along the South shore (Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road, Adelaide), so not the best time of year to try to see those either.

Posted by
13 posts

Thanks the people who have posted so far. We are thinking about going in December. That should be summer there--now I'm wondering if it's too hot. Anyone have any favorite travel guides (books) they can recommend? I've been to Sydney once (years ago) so it's likely to be completely different now.

Posted by
264 posts

NZ in December had great comfy weather on both islands. We used Lonely Planet's bk.

Posted by
1701 posts

lkennelly: there is no bad time to visit Australia and NZ, although the seasons of the year will dictate where best to go. Australia is as big as the continental US so there will be extremes and seasonal variations. In December, for example, anything north of Brisbane (including Cairns, the GBR, and Darwin) will be a washout (literally). Their summer monsoons are legendary - not a good time to visit Queensland or the Northern Territory. The weather in Sydney, Melbourne & Adelaide will be delightful. Unless you catch the occasional heat wave that can jack daytime temps up into the 100's you'll find that the weather is usually temperate in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. Uluru will be bloody hot - we're talking daily average high's in the 100's ... and sometimes hotter than that. There's a reason why they call it the Red Center of Australia.
As an aside, be aware that Uluru is a 6 hour drive from Alice Springs. If you're flying in just to see Ayer's Rock be sure to book into the airport at Uluru - not Alice.
Summer in NZ is universally wonderful on both the North and South Islands - it's the ideal time to visit.
Any good guidebook will provide the information you seek. Best advice is to visit your local library or book store and scan a few to determine which format most appeals to you. Our particular preference is the Eyewitness Travel Guide from DK publishing but there are scores of others to choose from.

Posted by
1036 posts

My wife and I went to New Zealand and Australia on a Holiday Vacation Tour starting at the end of February. It was the start of their fall weather and the temperatures were very mild. I highly recommend Holiday Vacations for going to New Zealand and Australia.

Posted by
112 posts

As an Australian (and in your 40 to 60 demographic) I don’t think you need an organised tour to enjoy Australia. It should be easy to plan a trip yourself. We all speak English and are a generally friendly bunch. The main thing to remember is that Australia is very large so bus or train between cities can be very long trips so flying will be the best option if you want to see a few places in less than 2 weeks. Bus/trains between Brisbane-Sydney-Melbourne are not scenic trips as the buses don’t travel along the coast. Lonely Planet is an Australian company so their guides are very accurate.

You haven’t said where you want to go. If Sydney - best way to see the harbour is by public ferry. If Melbourne - hop on the tram and spend some time wandering the lanes in the city for great coffee and street art. Brisbane - best to use as a transit point only on your way to Noosa. Canberra - (where I live) - good food and easy to find kangaroos (less than 5 minutes from centre of town) but otherwise maybe not a priority. Hope you have a great time.

Posted by
4 posts

Hi- thanks so much for your response - I really appreciate it. Best regards

Posted by
5 posts

I've been twice to Australia and both times, it was a trip worth remembering. The first trip, as many already mentioned, was a self-organized trip in a van around the country. It was awesome, and I've met a couple in their 50s doing the same in a very old van. So, if that's the option, I really can't recommend it more.

Last year, I've visited Sydney and spent some time in Melbourne. We booked an organized cruise tour that went from Sydney, all the way to NZ and surrounding South Pacific Islands (Fiji, Vanuatu, Palau). If I remember well, we booked some last-minute deals from https://www.cruiseagency.com.au/ and we've got an awesome discount.

Posted by
3 posts

Hi, I’m Colin Mairs, I’m a Rick Steves tour guide in Scotland and I now live most of the year in New Zealand and run my own small group tours here! Check out our 14 day tour with dates and itinerary details at www.mondumo.com : )

Posted by
2070 posts

I hope you are thinking two weeks for each country and not two weeks for both. With two weeks you really need to pick one or the other.

I went to New Zealand with Mondumo last year and it was fantastic. Colin is an excellent guide!! The age range skewed older than 40-60 (i would guess 50-70), but I don’t know if this is typical. I will say that Colin attracts travelers that are fit and easy going and like to have a good time. The price is very reasonable for New Zealand, and all tips are included in the price.