Part 4: Building Your Australia & New Zealand Tour
From start to finish, here's how to get your trip off the ground in 6 easy steps:
1) Figure out your must-see destinations and activities
2) Figure out how long to spend in each country
3) Decide how you want to get around
4) Work out your budget
5) Create your itinerary
6) Book your dream trip!
Step 1: Decide on your must-see destinations & activities
We get it: there are too many amazing experiences to be had, and it's hard to whittle them down. But unless you have unlimited time, it must be done!
Make a list of everywhere you'd like to go (revisit Part 3 of this article to get you started)
Divide your list into 3 categories:
Must-see: Add the bucket-list places and activities you absolutely CAN'T miss.
Want to see: Add anything you would really like to do and see.
Might like to see: Add any places that you like the look of, but don't mind missing if you run out of time.
Armed with this information, head on to step 2!
Step 2: Figure out how long to spend in each country
Look at your "Must see" destinations list.
How many destinations on your must see list are in Australia? How many are in New Zealand?
Do the same with the "Want to see" and "Might like to see" destinations on your list.
Are more of your "must see" and "want to see" destinations in one country? If so, what's the split? 60/40 to Australia? 70/30 to New Zealand?
Think about the *types* of places and experiences on your list too:
Consider spending more time in Australia if you love...
- white-sand beaches
- coral reefs
- touring big cities
- vibrant nightlife
- unique marsupials and native wildlife
Consider spending more time in New Zealand if you love...
- adventure sports
- spending time in the great outdoors
- watching wild birds and marine animals
- lakes, mountains, fiord and glacier views
- volcanic lanscapes and natural hot pools
- milder summer temperatures
- Lord of the Rings
Once you've considered these things, you'll have a much better idea of how much time to spend in New Zealand versus Australia.
Step 3: Choose your method of transport
Here's what you need to consider when deciding on transport:
Do you enjoy the journey as much as the destination...
If so, a self-drive holiday is the obvious choice - you'll enjoy the freedom of pulling over and investigating little towns, roadside fruit stalls and little surprises along the way.
...or do you find travelling to be tiring?
Many of us do! Consider a Fly-Drive or No-Drive vacation instead. A guided tour, where someone else does the driving for you, is a great idea too.
How long do you have available?
If your time is short, domestic flights are a no-brainer. Why not treat each city you land in as a "hub" and take day trips in the surrounding region?
The best part? This saves you carrying your luggage around and changing hotels every night!
Here are some cities with major airports which work well for this:
Sydney day trips: Blue Mountains, Hunter Valley
Melbourne day trips: Phillip Island, Yarra Valley, Great Ocean Road
Cairns day trips: Daintree Rainforest, Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas
Christchurch day trips: Lake Tekapo, Mt Cook, Kaikoura, Akaroa
Queenstown day trips: Wanaka, Otago Wine Region, Milford Sound
Nelson day trips: Abel Tasman National Park, Golden Bay, Marlborough Sound
Step 4: Work out your budget
We have a couple of guides to help you work out how much money you will need per day:
How much things cost in Australia
A guide to what things cost in New Zealand
Looking for ways to economise? Try these:
- Book flights for May (late autumn/fall) or September (early spring) - airfares tend to be cheapest during these months.
- Book accommodation as far in advance as possible, especially if you are travelling in high season (December to February)
- If you like dining out, choose lunch rather than evening meals - the menus are usually cheaper, but just as good!
- Hiring a car? Pick a circular route, where you start and end your journey in the same city. It's cheaper than starting and ending in different cities.
Step 5: Create your itinerary
This is the exciting part! You've make all the important decisions: now you can start to build your itinerary.
How to create your Australia & New Zealand itinerary yourself
First, grab a map (or use Google Maps online) and mark your "must-see" destinations on it.
Next, scan your list of "want to see" places. Are any of them within a reasonable travelling distance from your must-see places? If so, add them to the map.
Distance Calculator for Australia
Distance Calculator for New Zealand
Are you starting to see any patterns? Any destinations that fall in a line? Now you're starting to build a route.
Do the same with your list of "might like to see" places - if they lie along any of the routes you're creating, they might fill in a gap between long drives.
Need Inspiration? Try our Itinerary Library
Check out our Australia and New Zealand Combination Fly Drive Tours for inspiration: we have pre-designed Australia & New Zealand itineraries from as little as 15 days in length.
Or why not browse our Australian self-drive itineraries, pick one you like and combine it withwith one of our New Zealand self-drive itineraries? Then you can mix it up a bit according to your own interests.
For example, you could hit the desert on a 6-day Red Centre tour to Alice Springs and Uluru, and then cool down with a 7-day circuit of New Zealand's Southern Alps: how's that for contrast?
Step 6: Book your trip!
Booking your flights, accommodation, transport and activities is the most time-consuming aspect of building your trip. But you don't have to do it yourself if you don't want to.
If you don't fancy doing this step yourself, a good travel agent with sound local knowledge is worth their weight in gold. They can fine-tune your schedule, suggest places based on your interests, and make all your bookings so you don't have to lift a finger.
Now that you have worked out your destination wish-list, your budget and how you'd like to travel using the steps above, you can easily forward this information to an Australia & New Zealand travel specialist like First Light Travel. We can even handle all of the bookings for you: here's how it works.
The 100% Stress-Free Option: Let Us Plan Your Australia & New Zealand Trip!
Believe it or not, using First Light Travel’s Itinerary Planning Service doesn’t cost you any more than doing it yourself: we get paid out of commission to the companies we use, so you don’t need to pay us a penny for our assistance when you book with us.
While you're busy getting on with life, First Light Travel will custom-design a bespoke self-drive itinerary just for you, an itinerary which:
- Fits your budget
- Blends seamlessly with your timeframe & travel style
- Puts your bucket list items front & centre
- Offers exceptional, handpicked accommodation to suit your wallet
- Immerses you in the beauty and diversity of these two incredible countries
We'll work with you to fine-tune the itinerary until you're 100% happy, then take care of every booking and offer 24/7 support while you are exploring our part of the world.
Are you ready? Let's plan your perfect vacation! Simply fill out our Enquiry Form and someone will be in touch within 24 hours.