Trip in Oct/Nov to NZ, then Canberra and Sydney

Old Apr 25, 18, 8:20 am
  #1  
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Trip in Oct/Nov to NZ, then Canberra and Sydney

I'm in the early planning stages to visit NZ and Australia (I'll be traveling solo). I want to visit NZ - South Island towns (I read another post here with great suggestions here). I will then fly to Canberra to visit a friend. I will likely fly out of Sydney, but could visit a different city (Melbourne? Suggestions?)

I am aiming for the end of Oct to mid-November ~15-16 days. ~ 5-7 days in NZ ~3-5 days in Canberra (don't want to impose too much on my friend!) ~2- 3 days in Sydney.

Is there any reason to visit Canberra first then NZ?

I intend to fly business class to and from Australia/NZ/ORD. I no longer have a status with an airline. I have ~26K miles with AA but do not need to use them for this. I do not need to fly with AA/oneworld. Price will be most important as well as flight time. Should I buy economy tickets and then try to upgrade closer to departure? I don't want to take a chance of not getting an upgrade upgrade with 11+ hrs on a plane. I will use skyscanner (or others) to get between AUK and CBR and SYD (or should I fly out of a different city?)

I don't want to drive when I am there - public transportation is fine. Getting from Auckland to the Queenstown area - Intercity bus? Cab? I saw a ferry, too - but could do that in one direction, depending on the arrival and departure times of my flights.

Thanks!
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Old Apr 25, 18, 9:46 am
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Originally Posted by sophiesophie View Post
I'm in the early planning stages to visit NZ and Australia (I'll be traveling solo). I want to visit NZ - South Island towns (I read another post here with great suggestions here). I will then fly to Canberra to visit a friend. I will likely fly out of Sydney, but could visit a different city (Melbourne? Suggestions?)

I am aiming for the end of Oct to mid-November ~15-16 days. ~ 5-7 days in NZ ~3-5 days in Canberra (don't want to impose too much on my friend!) ~2- 3 days in Sydney.

Is there any reason to visit Canberra first then NZ?

I intend to fly business class to and from Australia/NZ/ORD. I no longer have a status with an airline. I have ~26K miles with AA but do not need to use them for this. I do not need to fly with AA/oneworld. Price will be most important as well as flight time. Should I buy economy tickets and then try to upgrade closer to departure? I don't want to take a chance of not getting an upgrade upgrade with 11+ hrs on a plane. I will use skyscanner (or others) to get between AUK and CBR and SYD (or should I fly out of a different city?)

I don't want to drive when I am there - public transportation is fine. Getting from Auckland to the Queenstown area - Intercity bus? Cab? I saw a ferry, too - but could do that in one direction, depending on the arrival and departure times of my flights.

Thanks!
I've never been to Australia other than to connect to NZ, so I cannot be helpful there.

Not driving NZ is a significant limitation. In your case if you want to visit the South Island scenic towns (ZQN, Wanaka, etc) I would fly into and out of ZQN (or maybe CHC or DUD) and use intercity buses and tours/guides to see the sights. If you want to visit both the N and S islands, you probably won't have enough time, but I'd highly recommend flying between the two. To drive or take the bus from AKL to CHC would be two long days, and while it's scenic, it's a tremendous waste of time and quite exhausting. Driving in NZ is not that difficult, it's different, but traffic is much less than pretty much anywhere else.

5-7 days in NZ is enough to basically see the sites directly around ZQN and Wanaka/Otago, plus take a day trip out to Milford or Doubtful Sounds. It sounds like a lot of time, but really it is not.

With only 26,000 miles you will be forced to buy business class, you won't have enough miles to upgrade and upgrades are tough to guarantee on the LAX-SYD/AKL routes. Premium economy can sometimes be affordably priced from the west coast and is a reasonable compromise between cost and comfort. NZ Skycouch is also an option to get some extra space and save some money.

Another option is to check for upgrade space on UA/AA and see if you can find someone to gift you some systemwide upgrades if you find space on dates that work for you.
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Old Apr 25, 18, 12:31 pm
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Thanks for your input. I just realized I said Auckland, I meant I would fly into and out of ZQN (Queenstown).

I don't know anyone with miles and I don't care if I use them this trip. I expect to have expensive airfare, but I am looking at this trip as my first and likely last visit to Australia. I will splurge to be comfortable. I have been pricing some one way tickets - running around $2900 - $3500 per leg for business class. Maybe the prices will drop in a month or so. I just don't know if it is a big risk for me to buy economy seats and pay for an upgrade closer to take-off.
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Old Apr 25, 18, 3:43 pm
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From the research I've done (and like PV_Premier said), you really need to drive to be able to do everything at your own pace and schedule.

Why don't you looked into NZ premium economy? I did some random dates in October and November for ORD-AKL then SYD-AKL, and it priced it around $3000.

I'll be leaving soon for a month in for NZ and OZ, so if you have any questions and I remember to return to this thread, I'll try to see if I can help.
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Old Apr 25, 18, 4:11 pm
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Originally Posted by sophiesophie View Post
I'm in the early planning stages to visit NZ and Australia (I'll be traveling solo). I want to visit NZ - South Island towns (I read another post here with great suggestions here). I will then fly to Canberra to visit a friend. I will likely fly out of Sydney, but could visit a different city (Melbourne? Suggestions?)

I am aiming for the end of Oct to mid-November ~15-16 days. ~ 5-7 days in NZ ~3-5 days in Canberra (don't want to impose too much on my friend!) ~2- 3 days in Sydney.

Is there any reason to visit Canberra first then NZ?

I intend to fly business class to and from Australia/NZ/ORD. I no longer have a status with an airline. I have ~26K miles with AA but do not need to use them for this. I do not need to fly with AA/oneworld. Price will be most important as well as flight time. Should I buy economy tickets and then try to upgrade closer to departure? I don't want to take a chance of not getting an upgrade upgrade with 11+ hrs on a plane. I will use skyscanner (or others) to get between AUK and CBR and SYD (or should I fly out of a different city?)

I don't want to drive when I am there - public transportation is fine. Getting from Auckland to the Queenstown area - Intercity bus? Cab? I saw a ferry, too - but could do that in one direction, depending on the arrival and departure times of my flights.
For flights USA Aust/NZ you will need to investigate
  • open jaw at reasonable price (e.g. USA-NZ and Aust-USA) with a separate trans Tasman flight. One ways will be expensive
  • USA - Aust return with separate Aust NZ return (or the other way)
  • the chances of getting a miles upgrade if you have no status is very very low (forget about it)
26,000 AA miles will get you trans tasman (Aus - NZ) award ticket. (ZQN-SYD-CBA) on QF Qantas, if available

Your 3 destinations of Queenstown. Canberra & Sydney is a lot for 15-16 days. More so if that includes flights to/from USA.
5-7 days in NZ is not a lot. It will take time to fly to destinations and effectively a day NZ-Aust or Aust-NZ (unless you fly a red eye {not recommended})
Note Auckland is AKL and not AUK

Airlines that fly USA/Canada to/from Australia (not from all airports to all airports)
  • American Airlines AA (LAX - SYD) [OneWorld Alliance] (AS partner)
  • Air Canada AC (YYR – SYD BNE. YYR-MEL from 1 Dec 2017 to 1 Feb 2018) [Star Alliance]
  • Air New Zealand NZ (LAX SFO IAH YVR via AKL) [Star Alliance]
  • Air Tahiti Nui TN (LAX via Tahiti. Last segments on codeshares) (AA & DL partner)
  • Delta DL (LAX – SYD) (VA & AS partner) [Skyteam Alliance]
  • Fiji Airways FJ (LAX SFO HNL – BNE SYD MEL ADL via Fiji) (QF, AA & AS partner)
  • Hawaiian HA (HNL – BNE SYD) (AA & VA partner)
  • Jetstar JQ JQ (HNL – SYD BNE)
  • Qantas QF (LAX SFO JFK DFW HNL YVR*– BNE SYD MEL) [OneWorld Alliance] (AS partner) (MEL SFO from 1st Sept 2018) {* seasonal}
  • United UA (LAX-SYD/MEL, SFO-SYD, IAH– SYD) [Star Alliance]
  • Virgin Australia VA (LAX – BNE SYD MEL) (codeshares with AC*) (Delta & AC** partner) [*= some routes in 2017, ** ffp late 2017(may not have happened)]
And others via Asia & Middle East

Airlines that fly USA/Canada to/from New Zealand are (not from all airports to all airports)And others via Australia, Asia & Middle East

Airlines that fly Australia (CNS* MCY* BNE OOL SYD CBR MEL ADL PER) to/from New Zealand (AKL WLG CHC DUD ZQN) (not from all airports to all airports).
  • Air Asia D7 (OOL - AKL)
  • Air New Zealand NZ Codeshares with VA. [Star Alliance] {* winter seasonal}
  • China Airlines CI (BNE SYD MEL** – AKL CHC**) [Skyteam Alliance] {** November to end March}[needs revision)
  • Emirates EK (SYD – CHC) Codeshares with QF. EK will only fly SYD-CHC from 25 March 2018.
  • Jetstar JQ (owned by QF)
  • LAN LA (SYD AKL) [OneWorld Alliance]
  • Philippines PR (CNS - AKL) Withdrew from route 06 Dec 2017
  • Qantas QF Codeshares with EK. [OneWorld Alliance]
  • Singapore SQ (CBR/MEL- WLG) [Star Alliance]WLG CBR to be replaced by WLG MEL from 04 May 2018
  • Virgin Australia VA Codeshares with Air NZ & AC*. (Delta & AC** partner) [*= some routes in 2017, ** ffp late 2017]
There is a lot of competition Australia - New Zealand on the trans Tasman route. Flights (east coast Australia BNE SYD MEL) are scheduled to take about 3:15hr to 3:45hr. East bound is faster due to prevailing winds. The flight schedules are padded so they often arrive early.

Trans Tasman pricing is very competitive. Fares are often ~AU/NZ$225-$275 one way in economy/coach, but can be more or less. Both economy & business fares can be low to very low. Or at peak times can be very high (double or triple the lowest). Air NZ often has sales. China Airlines were usually cheapest in the (southern hemisphere) summers of 2015-16, 2016-17 & 2017-18. Often best to buy on the com.au or co.nz web sites and/or select NZ or Australia in the upper part of web site as point of sale (POS).

Last edited by Mwenenzi; Apr 25, 18 at 4:30 pm
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Old Apr 26, 18, 7:46 am
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Agree that your miles aren't going to help you as you have so few. Even if you booked on AA it would cost you 25K miles plus $550 to upgrade from economy one way. I'd suggest that if you book in economy you should expect to fly in economy and not expect to be able to upgrade.

You might consider using a consolidator like AccessFares. I used them several years ago for a trip to Asia and they had good customer service. But I believe that even going that route you should expect to pay several thousand dollars for a business class ticket.

I'd suggest setting an alert in Google Flights to gauge prices for the trip you want to take. They will track prices and tell you when it goes down. I suppose that the odd fare sale could pop up from time to time. And I would also look at what the OTAs like Expedia and Orbitz. I found a special sale fare on a trip to Japan a couple of years ago that was only available via some travel agencies on Orbitz flying AC. It was cheaper than booking directly on AC. And pricing it out starting to Australia or NZ is probably worth doing although the difference is not likely to be great.

I am a bigger fan of Melbourne than Sydney but I think I am somewhat in the minority there. So I think you are wise to consider other options for which big city/gateway to exit via.

Last edited by glennaa11; Apr 26, 18 at 1:22 pm
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Old Apr 27, 18, 6:30 am
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Thanks for all your suggestions!
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Old May 14, 18, 12:01 am
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Iím 5 days into my South Island trip and I can say without a doubt - rent a car! It allows you so much freedom; I canít imagine having to follow the schedule of a bus. And after hiking, you can just throw all your gear into the car and deal with it back at your hotel instead of having to manage everything in the cramp space of a bus.
Also, it seems like many of the day hikes Iíve been on, there are no buses that will take you there. Buses only seem to go to the big sites, like Milford Sound. I didnít see any buses at the car park for Lake Marian Track or Routeburn Track, for example. If Iím wrong about this, someone please correct me.

Last edited by calbear2005; May 14, 18 at 12:10 am
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