I will get on the road in 5 days for a 3 weeks trip to Australia and New Zealand. I had for years postponed my trip to Australia thinking why I should travel such long way just to experience another modern western looking country. Well – I for much different reasons treated China the same way in the past and found excuses to not go there only to fall in love with the country as soon as I set foot in China. This thought me to disregard my pre-trip prejudices that I occasionally develop. I hope that Australia will be from one of those places that I will fall love in love with at first sight (I have no doubts that it will be the case for New Zealand!). Here are few notes on the preparation stage for this three weeks journey.
What I Read
(1) “Australia’s Double Wild Appeal: Big City to Outback”– article by Emma John published in the May/June 2015 issue of the amazing travel magazine AFAR. Even though I will not be covering the Northern town of Darwin in this trip – anything published in AFAR is worth reading. May/June 2015 issue of AFAR also holds a very special place in my heart for a personal reason as it was the first magazine where a travel photo of mine had been published and I actually got paid for it! (2) “Songlines” – a book by famous travel writer Bruce Chatwin – the story takes place in the outback Australia. (3) “Going Native in the Australian Outback” – an article by Rolf Pottss – you may know him as the writer of “Vagabonding”.
What I Watched
(1) “Holy Smoke” – a movie by Jane Campion featuring Kate Winslet and Harve Keitel. Most of the story takes place in an Australian desert. (2) An amazing road movie taking place in Australia: “Japanese Story” featuring Toni Collette of Little Miss Sunshine. (3) The movie “Australia” by two Australians – Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. (4) “Perfect Mothers” with amazing coastal scenes from Australia and featuring two of my favourite women actresses- Naomi Watts + Robin Wright Penn.
Plane + Bus Tickets
(1) Since I live in Turkey and therefore use Turkish Airlines most of the time (a member of Star Alliance), for the routes not covered by Turkish Airlines, I always pick a Star Alliance member for mileage related reasons. I am this time flying with Turkish Airlines until Singapore and then get on a Singapore Airlines flight for Australia. There is a slightly cheaper alternative also including Star Alliance carriers – flying with Thai Airways and changing planes in Bangkok. Roundtrip tickets between Istanbul and Sydney cost around USD 1000-1300. (2) I purchased my plane ticket for the Australia and New Zealand leg from another Star Alliance member Air New Zealand. Two one way tickets – Melbourn to Christchurch + Queenstown to Sydney cost me around USD 350. Be aware though, I have reasons to suspect that you are offered more advantageous fares if you use the New Zealand website of Air New Zealand as opposed to US or international site (meaning not .com but .co.nz). (3) I will be using the bus company InterCity for moving around in the South Island of New Zealand. Intercity has an extensive network covering almost the entire New Zealand. I paid around USD 90 for 5 different trips – pretty good deal and also very easy to manage your booking online including changes and possible refunds. If you will go on a longer trip – they also offer valuable bus passes covering the entire New Zealand.
Australia and New Zealand are not the most budget friendly countries. Considering that I am a little too old for hostel type accommodation, I spent a lot of time looking up for good hotel deals, try to not blow up my budget but still maintain some accommodation standard. I mostly secured my rooms by choosing the pre-payment option (as opposed to free cancelation options) and so far managed to stick to a daily hotel cost of USD 70. I will tell you how my choices turned out and write about the accommodation experience during and after my trip. I will again try to report on a daily basis during my trip under the “Trip Diaries” section and most of the posts will again come through instagram (account name: bizarrejourneys).