We’re planning a trip down under for 4-6 weeks next year. Anyone have suggestions for good guide books for trip planning?
Suggest test driving a few at your local library or bookstore to see which format you prefer based on your particular interests.
And rather than paying full freight for a new one you might check for deals on used versions on Amazon - can sometimes find pretty good deals there.
We used DK Eyewitness guidebooks for both Australia and New Zealand. We also used the forum at TripAdvisor to get some good tips. We were there for 3 weeks and based in Cairns (rain forest, Great Barrier Reef), Sydney, Christchurch and Queenstown with a stop over at Aoraki/Mt. Cook. We flew into Cairns, flew to Sydney, flew to Christchurch and rented a car to drive to Queenstown. From there we flew to Auckland for what was supposed to be one night before our flight home. Flight was delayed 20 hours so we were "stuck" having to see as much of Auckland as we could in that time frame! :-)
A couple of tips: Australia is huge and distances between cities can be quite long. Consider flying to save time. In New Zealand, distances are not that far, but the roads have lots of curves and the speed limit is generally low so it takes longer to get where you are going than you might think. Be sure to consider the time of year you are going and what kind of weather to expect. We went in early April. I would start in New Zealand if I had it to do over because the weather there was much cooler and we had to pack a lot of extra layers.
Stephen, what car company do you recommend? Did you stay at hotels or Airbnb? Are hotels like the US, you can get 2 double in a room pretty easily? There will be 5 of us, our youngest boys sleep with us.
I have Amazon Prime, and I can read the latest guidebooks for free.
We love the DK Eyewitness books as well.
In Australia, we loved both Sydney and Melbourne. Perth was worth a visit. Wish we had spent more time at Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.
Loved the Blue Mountains near Sydney, the Great Ocean Highway and Phillip Island Penguin Parade (south of Melbourne).
Sorry fort the late reply! I just noticed you asked some questions. For rental cars, I used Avis in Cairns and Lucky in Christchurch. Both were fine.we stayed in chain hotels because I have a lot of points. The hotels are very similar to US hotels.
Hilton Cairns - great location on the water
Weston Sydney - good location with lots of restaurants nearby
Double Tree Christchurch - need a car!
Double Tree - Queenstown
Crowns Plaza Auckland - walking distance to the harbor.
We looked at a lot of different places around Lake Tekapo and Aoraki but ended up in Mt. cook village. Hope this helps!
We used Hertz for car rentals, and we used the Accor hotel chain for a lot of the reservations -- join their rewards club and you get free wifi plus it's easy to keep track of it all on their app. In places where they weren't, I used Booking.com to find some nice, small local places to stay. I second the comment about needing at least 2 weeks to see New Zealand - it's amazing. Australia is beautiful and you need to catch cheap flights to get around because the distances are so large. I got some useful help on both countries from the Trip Advisor Forum, including suggestions on tweaks to my itinerary when I posted it. Some very knowledgeable and helpful people on there.
We spent 10 days visiting our daughter in Queenstown in July of 2012. We stayed at the Hilton Resort & Spa. It shares the same property as the Double Tree and I believe they called it something different when we went. The wintertime in Queenstown can be cold. We only saw snow in the mountains, never in Queenstown. They do get a thick frost and use a lot of grit on their roads. The area around Queenstown is nice to explore. From driving around Lake Wakatipu, to visiting local towns, to taking a boat tour of the Milford Sound. Having only spent 5 nights in Sydney, I can only recommend exploring the city itself and taking a tour to the Blue Mountains. We would like to go back someday so I believe that you will enjoy your visit.