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How long should we stay in Sydney?

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New York City, New...
posts: 31
How long should we stay in Sydney?

Hi,

We just got home from South Africa and of course we are planning our next vacation. We are planning to visit NZ & Australia later this year for 2 weeks in late December- early January. It's a lot but we would love to do both if possible. How many days do we need in Sydney? We love dramatic scenery, beautiful drives, wildlife, and fine dining. Basically anything beautiful and scenic- we love photography. We are planning to fly from NYC to Queenstown and spend 5 night there and then fly to Sydney. We'll have 8 nights in Australia. Should we just stay in Sydney the whole time or do we have enough time to visit another place?

TIA.

Christina

12 replies to this topic
Sydney/Melbourne
posts: 11,502
reviews: 47
1. Re: How long should we stay in Sydney?

Just visiting Sydney and believing you have seen Australia is like visiting NYC and thinking 'that's the US'.

I would certainly suggest you visit at least one other destination. The usual recommendation would be The Great Barrier Reef but December/jean isn't the ideal time. If you love nature, wildlife and photography, at that time of year I would suggest a short visit to Tasmania. It's an hour and a half flight from Sydney to Hobart.

Just remember that from the middle of December it's school holidays here and places and flights book out early, especially in popular locations. If you plan on being in Sydney over New Year, be prepared to make your hotel bookings now and pay rates three and four times the usual.

If you take up the Tasmania suggestion, Hobart is also very busy with the finish of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race around New Years Eve.

Another area you might consider is around Byron Bay. stunning beaches and spectacular countryside.

The south coast of NSW offers the same if you are inclined to do a 3 or 4 day road trip out of Sydney.

There's also the Blue Mountains a couple of hours west if Sydney. Plenty to do and see there for a few days.

If you enjoy wine, then the Hunter Valley north of Sydney might suit you. again, it would involve driving.

Melbourne
posts: 697
reviews: 5
2. Re: How long should we stay in Sydney?

You would have the time to see somewhere else if you want, most people find 3-4 days in Sydney is enough to do the tourist stuff. The other place most tourists want to head is up to Cairns for the Great Barrier Reef but Dec/Jan is the middle of the cyclone (hurricane) season and the worst time of year to go.

In my opinion 2 weeks isn't enough to see one country, let alone two. New Zealand isn't as big as us but it jam packed with things to see and do, and Australia is the size of the USA. I would strongly suggest picking one country, if its New Zealand then focus on the South Island and if its Australia then pick 3 locations.

Just remember that late Dec/Jan is the school summer holidays here. It will be busy in popular tourist places and accommodation will be at premium prices with minimum night stays. And as I said earlier its Cyclone season up North and its sweltering hot down south, so plan accordingly.

New York City, New...
posts: 31
3. Re: How long should we stay in Sydney?

Thank you very much for your prompt responses- it seems like I should pick either NZ or AUS. I know I'm posting in the Sydney forum, but which do you think works best for our interests- beautiful scenery, drives, wildlife & food? We will definitely want to visit both in the future. We are in our late 20's/ early 30's and want to travel a bit and see the world before we start a family (honeymoon in Antarctica winter 2015). Don't know which is a better vacation to do in the future as a family and which is better for a relatively "young" couple. TIA.

Sydney/Melbourne
posts: 11,502
reviews: 47
4. Re: How long should we stay in Sydney?

I would love to say come to Australia, but I'm going to recommend NZ for this trip.

It's at its best in the summer months, especially the South Island.

Australia's most spectacular sights from a scenery point of view and popular with most visitors are the Great Barrier Reef, The Top End (Kakadu, Litchfield and Katherine) and Uluru. All of these areas are pretty inhospitable in December/January.

In the north it's the wet season and cyclones are a distinct possibility. Swimming in the sea is a PITA as it's stinger season and you need to don a stinger suit or stay in hotel pools.

In the centre it's blisteringly hot with daytime temperatures regularly over 100 degrees.

Sydney is nightmarishly busy over the Xmas holiday period with accommodation hard to find and expensive. The whole world wants to be here for NYE and accommodation providers certainly take advantage of the fact.

Save your trip to Australia until you can arrange your visit for a better time if year. Spring (Sept-Nov) and fall (Apr-June) are probably the best all round times to visit.

Melbourne
posts: 697
reviews: 5
5. Re: How long should we stay in Sydney?

I agree with above, with your time constraints and the time of year, New Zealand would be best. When you do come to Australia, try to come for at least 3 weeks, and in either Spring or Autumn as it will give you the best balance of weather across the country.

New York City, New...
posts: 31
6. Re: How long should we stay in Sydney?

Wow, thank you both for the advise. Seems like NZ is the better choice this time. We would love to spend a month in Australia in the future and visit Tasmania, Great Barrier Reef, Outback, Sydney... Thanks again for all your help!

Sydney
posts: 1,228
reviews: 7
7. Re: How long should we stay in Sydney?

Hmm while I see what the other posters are getting at, at the end of the day it is a long flight from NYC and I doubt you'll be back soon.

Flights from NZ to Sydney are pretty cheap - $300-400 return. If you want return direct flights from Queenstown to Sydney its more like $550-700 return. Even if you don't get time to head up to the tropics, red centre or Kakadu, I still think it's definitely worth it at least visiting Sydney for a few days. It's really one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with interesting similarities to NYC (Did you know the NYC skyline in The Great Gatsby is actual Sydney with the harbour bridge removed?)

While I don't really get the attraction of NZ over Aus (it's like us visting Canada having never been to the US), I'm sure you'll have a great time regardless.

Edited: 10:59 pm, April 01, 2014
Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Business Travel, New South Wales
posts: 26,465
reviews: 575
8. Re: How long should we stay in Sydney?

To travel such a long way & not see Australia would be a shame.

Jan / Feb is pretty hot & sticky in Australia in all States. However; with 8 nights I would highly recommend using some of your time in Sydney. As mentioned by aussieboy Sydney is one of the prettiest cities in the world.

Sydney, Australia
posts: 2,487
reviews: 1
9. Re: How long should we stay in Sydney?

Plan carefully if you are going to spend whole 2 weeks in NZ (presumably both north and south island). A side trip to at least Sydney is very feasible (Kiwis are our number one visitors for a good reason).

Just be careful where you plan to be on NYE - Sydney hotels will be booked out and expensive (because so many people want to be here).

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney, Bargain Travel
posts: 16,584
reviews: 42
10. Re: How long should we stay in Sydney?

It's a tough one.

I understand both sides of the debate, but I too would probably agree to keep it to just NZ.

However, if you choose to visit Sydney in between, I would plan your itinerary around the dates you visit sydney. The traditional NYE 'period' is between 28th December to 3rd January (can vary slightly from hotel to hotel), when minimum stay requirements are enforced. Over this period, the hotels in the city will increase just like NYC. In fact Sydney had the second highest average room rate behind NYC last NYE.

So your decision to include NYE - or not - will impact your itinerary dates in NZ.

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