GRAND AUSTRALIA & NZ

Considering above mentioned trip Spring 2015

Was hoping someone recently off this trip would be kind enough to email the detailed daily schedule (Tauck won't).

Recently returned from Tauck Europe tour--only received daily details on day-one and was surprised at the large amount of bus travel

Also comparing with Odysseys similar triip--for $5000 less.
However, no Melbourne--comments on Melbourne?

Please any other relevant comments

Many thanks

Comments

  • This one is not much by bus but lots of planes. You can tell whenever you change cities there will be a plane ride. In Australia they use Quantas and in New Zealand it is all done by a charter plane (your group will be the only ones on the plane). Only bus travel is usually on city tours except the day tour moves to Queenstown. Also, a some bus travel the day to the Milford Sound. You can always figure how much bus travel there is by looking at the map. Aus/New Zealand it is marked in red. Most tours it is marked in yellow.
  • First thoughts, somewhat on the run (for the train), Mike, but you can't compare apples and oranges, or in this case macadamia nuts. These are two very different tours.

    Whatever detailed comments I make when I have more time, I'll just throw this in first up. I immediately distrust any tour company that does not make the accommodation list available prominently of the front page advertising their trip. A list of hotels gives a basic point of research and reference for prospective customers, on the quality of overall the tour, general standard and proximity of accommodation to city centre and main points of interest. I would dismiss Odyssey's Australian offering on this point alone. I would only proceed looking at their offering if I was particularly interested their "tour design concept". This particular offering is not a "tour of contemporary Australia". It is a tour primarily of one, albeit fundamental, aspect of Australian history. It's a study tour designed for enthusiasts. Nothing wrong with that, but you cannot in a million years compare that with a Tauck tour designed for the American traveller.

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • Mike11 wrote:
    Considering above mentioned trip Spring 2015

    Was hoping someone recently off this trip would be kind enough to email the detailed daily schedule (Tauck won't).

    Recently returned from Tauck Europe tour--only received daily details on day-one and was surprised at the large amount of bus travel

    Also comparing with Odysseys similar triip--for $5000 less.
    However, no Melbourne--comments on Melbourne?

    Please any other relevant comments

    Many thanks

    HI Mike,
    As Jan said, you can't compare apples with oranges, or in fact tiny small oranges. Since you have taken a Tauck tour before you know how well they do things. A few years ago we needed to be in Scandinavia at a specific time to attend a wedding and could not coordinate our plans with a Tauck tour. On the advice of friends we opted for an Odyssey tour which published an itinerary similar to Tauck's. Trust me, there was no comparison. When our tour stayed at one of the 2 fjords all of our Odyssey tourmates had rooms with a view of the parking lot. Guess where the Tauck rooms were! How many meals do you want to eat where everyone is eating exactly the same mediocre meal? Don't get me wrong, our trip to Scandinavia was good, but there were so many seemingly insignificant instances of cutting corners by Odyssey that we have found the Tauck tours worth every extra penny. Just think of it, this company survives without doing any outside advertising...that is the true test of the good job they do!

    The schedule of your trip is pretty much identical to the more detailed itineraries published on the website and catalogs of the spotlight trips. We encountered relatively little bus travel, and you can always opt out and go it on your own. Melbourne and Sydney are very easy to get around on foot, on trams, on boats. Have fun.
  • Mike11 wrote:
    Was hoping someone recently off this trip would be kind enough to email the detailed daily schedule (Tauck won't).

    Recently returned from Tauck Europe tour--only received daily details on day-one and was surprised at the large amount of bus travel

    Hi Mike,

    Tauck send you the daily schedule as part of your travel package after you have made your full and final payment. The TD of the trip will give your detailed marching orders, or running sheet …. whatever you want to call it … when you all meet. There is a very good reason why Tauck won't send you this running sheet well over one year in advance of your departure date. In the best of all possible worlds, things wouldn't change … but of course even Voltaire knew that was rubbish. He wouldn't have had a plot otherwise! Tauck's TD are professionals and they run their tours like a ship's captain runs his ship. An awful lot of things can happen to the best laid plans and the TD is the man or woman on the spot who makes everything work. At the time. On the spot. Not fourteen months ahead.

    If you are planning a land trip, take the time to look at the map for your trip and read the itinerary as advertised. Without much effort, you can generally get a pretty good idea for what, and by what mode, travel time is involved. As Crackers has already told you from experience, the Australian trip covers vast internal distances. You are flying from point to point. The lower 48 fits inside Australia. There is no way in the world, or Australia, that you could cover the distance involved in your trip in the 9 days available. The same goes for New Zealand. More mouse that roared than bigger, even than Texas.

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • Mike
    All the comments above are absolutely true. We did this tour from the UK last year and it really is stunning. The vastness of Australia blows your mind, and so the variation of experiences you will get is fantastic. I certainly agree with the comment about not trusting any tour company which will not publish accommodation up front. In fact, we saw another tour by another company which we fancied around chateaux in France. Loved the itinerary, but could not get hotel info before booking and even handing them payment seemed to be difficult so we gave them a miss.
    The one thing which you can rely on with Tauck is TRUST and QUALITY OF EXPERIENCE. We have done 7 tours with them and never disappointed. Tauck is our first choice.
  • Since New Zealand may well be our next tour with Tauck, I am on the prowl in this forum. First, I would like to see Mike respond back to all the very helpful responses to his original question. Second, I am not really sure what he means by detailed itinerary not forthcoming from Tauck, when you read the day to day itinerary on the website, it looks pretty detailed to me apart from what time the tour begins each morning. Third, I am always surprised when people make comments about being on the bus too long. I look at it this way-- do you want to see a good part of what the area or country has to offer or not. If you do not want to be on a bus, travel independently and stay in each area for longer and immerse yourself there. This of course will take you a lot longer to see the country-- but it may be what you personally want to do. Other people may complain and say, hey we wanted to see (insert a country) but they only took us to a couple of places. Whenever I have been on the 'bus' day with Tauck, there is always plenty to see out of the bus, and on our recent long travel day in Africa, the odd stop to see a lion! The rest stops often are a highlight on their own, a really good meal, a museum, a quick decent shopping opportunity, a fantastic view.
    Finally, I took a quick look at the Odyssey website, it's almost transparently said that there is a good chance some of the accommodation may be within universities and B and B where there are shared bathrooms. Now B and B may be nice in the US but this is not the case in some other countries at all, perhaps Jan can comment about Australia. I can only say that as a child we had to do B and B in England because my parents could not afford hotels. I can clearly remember trotting down the hall to go to the bathroom and finding that someone was having a long leisurely bath while I hopped up and down desperate for a toilet! Now I have worked hard all my life, been careful to save, raise my children and seen them through college, I want more quality and I think deserve the Tauck experience.
  • edited July 2014
    First, I appologize about the large size of the photos. I'll get this figured out someday. Use the scroll bar at the bottom to see all of the text.

    I haven't done Australia/NZ . . . . yet :) , but Tauck really does an excellent job of finding the best hotels in the best locations, whether in the heart of Edinburgh, London, Munich, or the Alps! Bus travel is a necessity, but Tauck goes to great lengths to ensure that the legs are not too long and that they are broken up into manageable segments. They even put a lot of effort into choosing "routine" places to stop along the way. The routes are often off the beaten path on true "Yellow Roads" as Tauck likes to say in their literature. These places don't even appear on the formal itinerary, so it is always an unexpected and pleasant surprise, and just one of the many things that sets Tauck apart.

    I have been going through my photos from our recent Alps and Dolomites trip, and even though my addled brain sometimes needs a reminder where we were when I took a particular photo, I truly was amazed at what we experienced, not only at major destinations, but at restroom/refreshment stops and even through the bus window! Here are just three examples. The two stops were NOT destinations, just "stops along the way."

    This photo was taken at a quick photo op stop in a little town (Heiligenblut am Großglockner) we went through after crossing Hoctor pass in the Alps. I don't think I realized it at the time and probably didn't hear our guide tell us, but that is the Grossglockner summit in the background (highest peak in Austria), and yes, if you think you have seen a photo similar to mine in travel brochures, you are right! just google the town!

    10576991_904034792945981_3221822903309532924_n.jpg

    One restroom/refreshment stop included a short gondola ride (paid for by Tauck) up to a restaurant/lodge in the Dolomites. It yielded this fantastic vista:

    10525971_904051606277633_4321299844536829330_n.jpg

    This photo was also taken in the Dolomites- from our bus window- if you snooze, you lose! Can you see a yellow gondola- I didn't know it was there when I snapped the photo.

    10356258_904050146277779_6838175712563607732_n.jpg
  • HELP PLEASE MODERATOR.
    Something has happened to the Grand OZ & NZ pages because the right side of all the text is missing. I access the forum on a Windows XP machine and on a MACBOOK PRO with the same result.
    In this message, for instance, in the first line it ends with "...machine and" but I have in fact typed "...a Macbook PRO" which does not show anywhere. I notice while typing this that as I reach the end of a line the whole thing gets screwed to the left until I start a new line.
  • You can get by this situation, Richard, by using your computer's mouse/curser to scroll across your monitor's screen. The rest of the text is there … just round the corner … or in the wings, sort of.


    Cheers,

    Jan
  • edited July 2014
    Richardb wrote:
    HELP PLEASE MODERATOR.
    Something has happened to the Grand OZ & NZ pages because the right side of all the text is missing. I access the forum on a Windows XP machine and on a MACBOOK PRO with the same result.
    In this message, for instance, in the first line it ends with "...machine and" but I have in fact typed "...a Macbook PRO" which does not show anywhere. I notice while typing this that as I reach the end of a line the whole thing gets screwed to the left until I start a new line.

    Sorry, it was my fault- the photo I linked to on Facebook was too large. This is not the first time this has happened. I alerted Tauck IT to the problem earlier and they are looking into it.

    Many/Most forums using "bulletin board" software code have an option that allows users to add sizing info when they post photos to prevent this, but it either doesn't work or not a feature of the Tauck software. Also the "new post" alert doesn't see to work, either.

    I have temporarily added the sizing info to the offending photos above which doesn't work, but prevents them from being posted and messing things up. If it happens again somewhere you can do as Jan said. It is a pain, but you can recenter the text on your screen by using the scroll bar located just above the line of Tauck logos below (it only appears if there is an overrun).

    Until I get an answer from Tauck IT or figure a work-around, if you want to see the pics, just highlight the URL (starts with https and ends with jpg) then, if using Windows, right click and select "Open link in a new window."
  • British wrote:
    Since New Zealand may well be our next tour with Tauck, I am on the prowl in this forum.
    I have some NZ suggestions which I'll post in that forum, British.

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • AlanS wrote:
    First, I appologize about the large size of the photos.
    Great photos, Alan. I will never get to the bottom of my bucket list!

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • British wrote:
    Now B and B may be nice in the US but this is not the case in some other countries at all, perhaps Jan can comment about Australia. I can only say that as a child we had to do B and B in England because my parents could not afford hotels. I can clearly remember trotting down the hall to go to the bathroom and finding that someone was having a long leisurely bath while I hopped up and down desperate for a toilet! Now I have worked hard all my life, been careful to save, raise my children and seen them through college, I want more quality and I think deserve the Tauck experience.
    I remember those B & Bs from my first trip to England, too, British! Nylon sheets. Bathrooms down the hall. Miserly & nosey landlady types. Tinned tomatoes. Masonite pretending to be toast. Minute specks of margarine. Yes, we've come a long way, baby.

    Nowadays, Aussie B & Bs, just like the current English versions, are very up market. I think they equate with what Americans call Inns. Often, they are in converted old or architecturally impressive homes with lovely, sometimes large, gardens. They are often in very scenic areas, like wine-growwing regions. They often provide gourmet dining and factor their pricing on couples. People will make the house a destination in itself, much as is the case with English country house hotels. Rates are often more expensive than a comparable large city, 5 star hotel. I doubt you'll ever get to see some of our lovely B & Bs if you only allow 9 days to cover our whole continent. That's a very good reason to use the Tauck trip as a taster for an in-depth return visit. No nylon sheets in any hotel Tauck uses!

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • Thanks to someone - everything is OK again now.
    I have also posted ideas on the New Zealand section about what else to do while in North Island.
    Richard
  • We did the Grand Australia & NZ tour last year in October (Spring down below). We were very pleased, though our particular TD irritated a few folks with Marine DI attitudes. Much distance was covered by air, and buses were properly used for shorter distances. We found it pleasant to view the scenery from the buses for the trips we did take. Would certainly recommend this trip to anyone. I would note that the range of temperatures we encountered was pretty extreme. It was 95 F in the Ayers Rock/Alice Springs area (and bone dry), and snowing in the Milford Sound area -- which made for some interesting photography opportunities. It was an especially cold Spring time in New Zealand - they lost a lot of newborn lambs. It made the view from the hotel in Queenstown just stunning, though, as the local mountains were all snow capped.

    We were able to extend our stay for a week with friends in Sydney, which allowed us to take in a some additional sites. One most interesting one was an outdoor art exhibition on a bluff overlooking Bondi Bay - to the right as you look out to sea. It was not to be a permanent exhibition, though, so it may no longer be there. We also had the chance to visit the Hunter Valley wine region. Reminded us a good bit of the Napa/Sonoma areas of California, though drier - which actually made it more like the Paso Robles and Santa Ynez wine regions in California, come to think of it. Enjoyable. We saw several 'roos in the wild while there. The Sydney Zoo is also pretty impressive. The show - and the VIEW - from the amphitheater for the bird show is wonderful! The Opera House and Harbor Bridge are clearly visible - assuming the weather is good, which it was.
  • How much Australian dollars and New Zealand dollars will be reasonable and comfortable to bring aside from Travel Credit Card with a low limit ( so as not to be hacked) for some 10-12 meals not covered during Grand Australian and New Zealand Tour (20 days)?
  • it's hard to say, Elizabethe. It depends whether you are likely to prefer casual dining (on the move dining) or the sit down version … and either casual or formal styles. And if you like to shop … what girl doesn't! Gee, it's hard to say, really. Not a useful answer, I know. I assume you'll be bringing a credit card? Being in either Australia or New Zealand is not likely to put you at any more risk of CC fraud than you would be at home. We are not third world countries! And you will only be in Australia for a very short time … 10 days? … and New Zealand for another 10? You need to keep in mind that you can re-sell any left over currency when you return home to the States (I'm assuming you are US citizens) where you will receive a good fx rate .. given the US$/A$ differential. As a very rough figure I'd say you'd have change from $500 in each currency. And remember, tipping is not the norm (at least to the US extent) in either Australia or New Zealand. We do tip here in Australia, but for exceptional service, not for simply doing the job. Australian & NZ hospitality employers actually pay the wages of their employees. So that should save you heaps over what those non-Tauck meals would cost you in the States. Good news all round!

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • Yes, US citizens.

    Is that Australian $500/person and $500 New Zealand dollars or can we also use US dollars in NZ?
    Of course we have Travel Credit Cards.
  • Hi Elizabethe,

    Australia & New Zealand both have their own currencies. You can exchange your US currency at banks, fx bureaux and hotels. It is possible some traders might take US currency, but I would advise against it … who know's what dodgy rate you'd get! As for how much per person … When I travel overseas, for about 2 week's travel I take about the equivalent of A$500 in the local currency …. provided most of my travel costs have been pre-paid, that is, leaving only occasional meals and spending money. If I run out, I can use my bank/credit card at an ATM to withdraw money in the local currency. I know many Americans only use ATMs abroad … I gather they get favourable fx rates using this method. Of course, this does vary throughout the world & issuing banks. I don't worry too much about having foreign currency left over. I save it for another (travel) day! There's always another travel day!

    Cheers,

    Jan

  • Jan, good point, there is always another travel day. ???? Starting to think about our trip in January. Will be checking in with you soon to see what we can do with our extra days in Melbourne. We know we will have jet lag but want to do a few things before the trip starts on January 22nd.
    Talk to you soon, Sallie
  • Happy to help, Sallie. I'm sure I can think of something non-taxing for a couple of jet lagged newbies! ;)) Tennis, anyone? :)))

    Cheers,

    Jan
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