Suggestions for free time in Melbourne and Auckland

Will be taking the tour in October. Appreciate any tour reviews or tips from folks who are recently back from this trip in the past couple of months, and suggestions for our extra days at the beginning and end. We are already aware of the Great Ocean Rd and Philip Island activities. We're especially looking for other nature activities or theatre experiences for the evenings.
Many thanks.


  • There is a theatre in the center of Wellington where we saw a show. At the Sydney Opera House, we saw the touring version of the Sound of Music which came from the Lincoln center in NY. I don’t know how much time you have in Wellington because we took the Australia Spotlight tour and the New Zealand tour separately way back when because it was before retiring and three weeks was too long. Yes, I know two lots of long flights instead of one, but it worked for us at the time and we added days at the beginnings and ends of each tour. There was so much to see and do in Wellington. Our favorite Wildlife find was Zealandia in Wellington where we saw the rare Tuatara and ground parrots for example. If you have time to go, I recommend that. Back then the tour Auckland hotel was in the back of beyond, you are lucky to have a better positioned hotel there now.

  • Thanks, British. Zealandia is definitely on our radar thanks to previous comments from you and others. We're contemplating coming in extra early, due to air fare prices, and are curious about additional activities in the Melbourne area. Also for Auckland, we are already planning a trip to Hobbiton, but will also have some free time the following day before our evening departure. Looking forward to additional comments.

  • Not "recently back," but I loved my independent visit to the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

  • edited February 8

    The Jewish Holocaust/Melbourne Holocaust Museum was founded by and supported by Holocaust survivors.
    I second MCD's suggestion of visiting the Shrine of Remembrance.
    There are several food markets/stalls in Melbourne, my favorite being the Queen Victoria Market.

    Edited to remove accidental shading. I mistakenly used '>' as a bullet point.

  • Yes, we went to the Shrine of Remembrance, it might have even been on the tour back then. Recommend.

  • Melbourne has a free tram zone in the downtown area that does a loop. It's a nice way to see different parts of the city and hop off/on if something looks interesting.

  • Wan, We were on this trip last September and went in a few days early. We did the Great Ocean Road trip one day and took a tour of the Mornington Peninsula the other. Stopped at an animal sanctuary on the Peninsula, as well as visited the Beach Boxes for some photos, a few art galleries and wineries. I know there are other tours you can book on your own that have hiking and may be more tailored to your interests. The Tauck tour did stop at the Shrine of Remembrance and the Botanic Gardens which are across from each other. There was not a great deal of time allotted to those so we stuck around to explore on our own, and walked back to the hotel. We rode the free tram in Melbourne and also took a boat ride on the river. Book ahead for the Sydney opera house if they have a performance that interests you. In Auckland, our tour stayed at the Park Hyatt and the ASB Waterfront Theatre was across the street from the hotel. Although we did not attend, some other members of the group did, and they enjoyed it. Additionally, quite a few people took tours related to the Lord of the Rings and really enjoyed those as well, but those are not of interest to me. Have a great time!

  • The Shrine of Remembrance, Botanic Gardens, Saw La Boheme in Sidney Opera House. In New Zealand Hobbit Town is worth seeing if you like the Lord of the Rings, the ASB Waterfront Theatre has nice entertainment.

  • If you are a Lord of the Rings fan like me, the WETA workshop in Wellington is very interesting. We just took a taxi there on our free afternoon in Wellington. We stayed over an extra day in Auckland at the end of our tour for a small group tour of Hobbiton movie set through Bush and Beach Tours, just over 2 hours by van from Auckland. I loved it! Our guide spoke Elvish and could impersonate Gollum perfectly, and had a bunch of trivia questions (How old was Bilbo on that fateful birthday party?) We learned how they made the hobbit holes look big or small, depending on who was standing in front of them, and learned some other movie-making secrets as well. Bag End (Bilbo’s house) was magnificent, although only the outside. I've heard they've completed the inside now. We had beers at the Green Dragon, then lunch in the party tent before – you guessed it – visiting the gift shop! Lol It was a full, full day. Kia Ora!!

  • Thank you all for your helpful suggestions! @BrendaAnderson, I can't say I am as enthusiastic about LOTR as you are, but I loved reading the Hobbit with my daughter when she was little. I am really looking forward to seeing Bilbo's house!

  • HI all, In addition to many of the other suggestions here I would add a walk through the Botanical gardens in Wellington, the Prison/barracks area in Sydney, and the immigration museum in Melbourne. Also, try to find the beautifully decorated hidden malls in Melbourne.

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