An epic trip to Oceania – Southeast Australia & New Zealand

Outline of one month on the road on the other side of the world

Oceania has been out of reach for my husband and me so far. There were plenty of reasons for that: too far away, too extensive, the unwillingness of using the annual vacation entitlement on one destination, business obligations … But the day came when I persuaded my husband to use a gift for his length of service for his employer in the form of additional four weeks of vacation. Once the decision had been made, a long planning period followed until we could set off to Oceania. We decided to explore only one small part of Australia, the southeastern one, and both islands of New Zealand, and we had exactly 15 days for each country!

Such a long vacation was a novelty to us. Never before we were away more than three weeks at a time and in the recent past, we limited ourselves to long-distance travels usually lasting 10 to 16 days at most, what allowed us to make more trips a year! But back to our epic trip to Oceania … We could not help but establish some kind of a framework for this vacation.

Port Campbell National Park, Australia


As outlined on my blog (“About me”/”About my blog”), we like the finer things in life – a great meal, a luxury hotel, a good bottle of wine. But it is important to us that we get value for money, we are not ready to pay outsize prices! Having said that, it is not always easy to determine whether a rate is adequate or not as it depends on many factors such as destination, season, travel purpose, length of stay … That has to be established in the case in question.

Anyway, we wanted to travel Oceania in style, but not in all respects. Here is how we did it in detail: 
  1. Transport: We decided against flight transfers including scenic flights and chose instead to rent our own car for getting around.
  2. Accommodation: we wanted to have upscale lodging but were not willing to pay an enormous amount for so-called ultra-luxurious hotels – which I encountered every now and then during my research – offering services we did not need as we only stayed one or two nights.
  3. Restaurants: We were eager to check out local hot-spots, but this did not mean in any case the most acclaimed restaurants in town. We like it varied, a fine dining restaurant one night, a casual local favorite the other night, essential is that the food is good. One further point, we normally skip lunch when we travel as we usually have a hearty breakfast, followed by having a bite to eat and a coffee or tea in the afternoon (we even snacked in the car when we had long drives). So, we are able to splurge in the evening – at least every now and then without gaining weight on vacation!
  4. Activities: We are usually keen on exploring the area by foot, so we looked for opportunities to do walks and (short) hikes.
Car & Accommodation on Kangaroo Island

Itinerary problems in the run-up

As far as Australia was concerned, we knew from the beginning that the trip should start in Adelaide and end in Sydney. My research showed that you need about three weeks to cover the most important highlights for the area between these cities. As to New Zealand we wanted to see both, the North and the South Island, but the latter should be the main focus. From studying itineraries for this destination, I learned that you should allow at least four weeks to get a reasonably good impression of the place.

Well, we had 15 days each … This was not an easy problem to solve! We set some conditions to find a solution for it:
  1. We would stay only one or two night(s) in a place.
  2. We would usually have two nights in the same hotel when there were longer activities scheduled. When this was not possible, we should have only a short start-up time before the activity.
  3. The maximum driving time per day should be no more than six hours, and this only in cases of an exception.
So, I started working on the itinerary. I read travel guides, studied blogs, checked reviews on TripAdvisor etc., and finally I succeeded to do so. I was aware that it was not perfect, certain omissions had to be accepted. But I was happy with it and in hindsight, it worked out nicely!

Blue Mountains National Park, Australia

Another problem popped up from time to time, and this was the impossibility to find an adequate accommodation in some places. In certain areas, you could not find a hotel for demanding travelers as there were only modest lodging opportunities. In this case, we got around it by booking bed and breakfast accommodations or self-contained apartments in some cases (especially in Australia).

Self-Contained Apartment in the Grampians National Park, Australia

As mentioned earlier, I came across ultra-luxury hotels once in a while. When I speak of properties like these, I mean those charging 1,500 US$ and more per night (including dinner and sometimes also pre-dinner drinks and other services). As I consider such a pricing as inflated, I refrained from booking such hotels, with one exception. In the most southern point that we reached in New Zealand, I was at a total loss on a suitable lodging so that we decided to stay at such a place. It was however a lodge that belonged to the lowest price class of the affiliated hotel chain (900 US$). While we enjoyed our stay (beautiful property with great views and tasty food), we thought that we definitely paid about 200 US$ too much.

Ultra-Luxury Hotel in the South West of New Zealand's South Island

At the end of our planning period, we had booked all 19 accommodations, all dinner restaurants with a few exceptions and had mapped out almost all activities. Most of the latter were self-guided ones, we only had two guided ones in New Zealand (Abel Tasman National Park and Milford Sound), which we booked a few days ahead when we knew the weather forecast).

Day Trip to Milford Sound, New Zealand's South Island

Final version of Itinerary

As you already learned in the last chapter, we had a rather densely packed program for our Oceania journey. There were more than 6,000 kilometers (about 4,000 miles) to drive and this with a speed limit of 100 or 110 kilometers (62 or 68 miles) per hour, few freeways and often winding roads! In the following you find our (ambitious) itinerary:

My next blogposts will be about some highlights of our Oceania trip, be it a perfect stay – often a great accommodation in combination with just such activities –,

Ben Boyd National Park, Australia

outstanding restaurant experiences

Restaurant Highlight in Sydney, Australia

or memorable day trips.

Day Trip to Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand's South Island

At the end of my reporting on this unique journey I will make two Google Maps – one for Australia and one for New Zealand – with all the accommodations we stayed at, the restaurants we dined, the cafes we went and the activities we did, and this with my photos and comments. Come back later, check out the announced blogposts on highlights of our epic trip and learn about how to receive my detailed travel Google Maps.

Date of stay: November 2018

Auckland, seen from Waiheke Island, New Zealand's North Island

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