Will you be on the December 19th 2011 tour..?

Hello,

We are Maggie and Andy and we are booked on the Grand Australia & New Zealand tour which assembles in Melbourne on December 19th 2011. We live in Shropshire in rural England (UK) and this will be Maggie's first Tauck tour although Andy has previously done Canyonlands and China (Yangtzee) with Tauck and had a great time.

We will be married while on this tour - Day 6 to be precise on the Great Barrier Reef and so we are hard at it making necessary preparations!

So, if you are booked up and readying yourselves why not contribute here and we can get to know who's who before we meet up - hit the ground running, so to speak :o)

Kind regards
Maggie & Andy

Comments

  • Hi Maggie & Andy,

    Congrats on your upcoming wedding!

    Unfortunately I won't be on your Dec. tour, but will be taking this tour when it assembles on Oct. 31st. Maybe I'll be able to answer any questions when I return.

    I'm traveling w/2 other family members and this will be our first Tauck tour. I've heard great things from a family friend who was actually on the tour in February and were in Christchurch the day of the earthquake. Fortunately no one in the tour group was hurt and she had nothing but great things to say about Tauck and how they handled getting everyone on their return flights to depart New Zealand, especially since all of their luggage and was still in the hotel that they couldn't return to.

    Any way, sorry to ramble!! Hopefully more people will post and we'll see when others will be taking this tour or previous tour goers could give us some tips!

    I'll be travelling from Boston, Massachusetts and am a bit nervous about the long flight to Melbourne, but think it will be all worth it for such a great sounding trip!

    Have a great night!
    Kathy
  • Kathy0529 wrote:
    Hi Maggie & Andy,


    I'll be travelling from Boston, Massachusetts and am a bit nervous about the long flight to Melbourne, but think it will be all worth it for such a great sounding trip!


    Kathy

    Don't worry about that flight, Kathy. Nothing to it. We Aussies do it all the time. Just remember that you are not flying US domestic. I don't think any of the new, hideous cut-price airlines fly from Boston. If Tauck have done your flights I assume you'll be flying United. You will get fed and watered and might even fit in a couple of movies and a sleep. You'll lose a day coming over, but you get it back on the way home. Have a great trip!

    I'll give you a cyber wave when I'm in Boston this June and July!
  • Hi Maggie & Andy,

    We'll be joining you on the tour, that is Randy and Kathy. We are from AZ in the states and have done a number of Tauck tours. This particular one we have been planning for about 10 years now, so we are very much looking forward to going. We have six kids and fortunately they will not be attending, most are out of the house and busy with their own lives right now so they really don't mind. We also have a house full of animals, to include the two horses outside. They also will not be attending. Great to hear you are getting married, Kathy and I did something similar when we were married, only down in St. Thomas. Our wedding was soooo much fun and I'm sure yours will be too. See you in December!

    Randy & Kathy
  • Hi Maggy and Andy,

    Congratulations on your upcoming wedding. Gary and I will be joining you on that tour. We're from South Florida and hve been looking forward to this trip for several years. Unfortunately, it will be a bit bittersweet for us. My younger brother died in February; his last wish was that we scatter his ashes in Milford Sound -- preferably at Te Anu -- which he described as the most beautiful spot in the world (even the Australian embassy agreed with that assessment). I know that Tauck has modified the last few days of our trip given the earthquake that occurred in Christchurch. Hopefully, the cruise on Milford Sound is part of the equation, and we might even have some more time at Te Anu.

    On a separate note, we're arriving in Melbourne a couple days earlier. An Aussie friend of ours encourages us to do the Ocean Road Tour on our 2nd day there (he said we'd be too beat the first day). Anyone interested in joining us . . . or getting together for dinner pre-tour?

    Michelle
    [email protected]
  • edited June 2011
    Well it seems that the group is coming together...

    We are arriving in Melbourne 2 days early so that we can try and shake off the worst of the jet-lag which we are told will be worse on the way out, than on the way back. We will be coming west-to-east, London, Hong-Kong, Melbourne with Cathay Pacific - your mileage may vary if you're coming east-to-west of course.

    We're scheduled to get in around midnight and so I guess it will be the wee small hours by the time we are tucked up in bed. We have booked in at The Rialto (Intercontinental) before we head over to The Langham to join the tour. We have already written off the first day as being wasted and plan to be very lazy...

    We have heard that the Ocean Road Tour is a must and so we would be up for joining anyone who is also thinking along those lines.

    Anyway, Randy & Kathy, Gary and Michelle, thanks for the response and good to see you here - it will be better to see you there :o)

    Andy & Maggie

    [email protected]

  • Maggie and Andy,

    My sister, brother-in-law, and niece and nephew and I will be meeting you and the rest of the tour in Auckland! We are so looking forward to this, and it is nice to know a bit about a few of the people we will be traveling with. Jean (sister), Craig (BIL) and AJ (niece) live in Ohio; my nephew Alex lives in Philadelphia, and I live in Alexandria VA (near DC). We have traveled together to quite a few countries, and look forward to being the first among our friends here in the U.S. to celebrate the New Year 2012!

    My next-door neighbor took this Tauck tour earlier this year, leaving just before the earthquake! I will have a chance to visit with her at the end of this month to get a report on everything that I need to know about this trip, and will post any suggestions or special insights here on this forum.

    Best wishes as you plan your wedding celebration,

    Regards,
    Ruthann Geib
    Alexandria, VA
  • edited August 2011
    Hey Ruthann,

    Did your neighbour share any pearls-of-wisdom regarding her experience on the tour? We are particularly interested in:

    - Is there a real need for any formal clothes or can we just just wear smart-casual (resort wear) for the evenings and also for the welcome/farewell dinners?

    - Are there good laundry facilities along the way?

    - Is finding free wi-fi a challenge.

    - How are internal flights organised. Do TAUCK use commercial flights while moving around in OZ, or are they private charters?

    - What's the revised schedule now that Christchurch is to be avoided and what time does the flight back into Auckland arrive on the last full day?

    Maybe you learned something which might answer one or two of our questions - would be nice if you could share some of that.. :o)


  • edited September 2011
    Just for information, we have learned that the schedule at Port Douglas has been changed. TAUCK have reversed the running order for days 6 and 7, which means that we will be at the SkyRail Rain Forest Gondola and Hartley's Crocodile Experience on December 24th and then the Quicksilver Barrier Reef tour on the 25th, which is opposite to that in the proposed itinerary.

    This has caused us some significant problems as we have arranged for our wedding to take place on the pontoon at Agincourt Reef on the 24th, so we have had to cancel all that and revert to plan B which is to marry on 4-mile beach instead :o(



  • Andy and Maggie asked about charter flights during the tour. When I pulled up the detailed itinerary the flights in Aus are not shown as charter, but all of those in NZ are specified as charters. From that I am assuming those in Aus are regular scheduled flights.

    Joyce and I (Allen) will be on the Dec 19 tour. We will be arriving in Melbourne early AM on Dec 18, staying at the Langham. Prior to going to Melbourne we will be in Bali, Indonesia for 2 weeks.

    We do not know if we will be up to doing any touring after arriving in Melbourne, but if so we would be interested in doing the Ocean Road Tour.

    We have also been wondering about appropriate clothes for the trip. As for whether a jacket is needed for the men, take a look at the forum titled Clothing for Dinners. On Oct 6 Maureen posted "I just now looked at my papers from Tauck and did see the note on no jacket; I guess I should read them all to see what else I missed." On Oct 5 Kathi M posted "Picked up our travel documents from our travel agent yesterday and were delighted to read that NO jackets were needed! We're packing "suburban casual" with 22" carry-ons." From those posts I am assuming a jacket is not necessary.

    Perhaps we will all know more when we receive our final packet from Tauck.

  • Well, having done 2 previous TAUCK tours and having worn a jacket to neither of them, then I am darned sure I'm not about to break a habit... So, if anyone wants some re-assurance that they will not be the only male who is in shirt and trousers then you can take this one to the bank LOL!

    Andy
  • Andy and Maggie:

    Apologies for late response. I find this website difficult to maneuver and I couldn't find this forum again until now.

    No formal clothes needed! Smart casual should be fine.

    I identified laundry facilities in at least two hotels, based on their on-line descriptions. The first on January 1, the second on January 4. Probably more opportunities after that.

    Free wi-fi was apparently not too difficult to find.

    Internal flights are 28-passenger planes with very limited overhead/under-seat space. If you're familiar with the CRJs (Canadian Regional Jets), these are similar. But they are chartered, and will be just our group.

    Revised schedule (as you've probably seen by now) is an extra night in Q-town and an extra night in Auckland. I don't know about the arrival back in Auckland on the last day, but our itinerary says that we conclude the day with a reception in the Sky Tower. Nice!

    I hope this is helpful!

    Looking forward to meeting all next month!

    Ruthann
  • We also will be on the Dec 19th trip for just the australia part of the trip
    We arrive in Melbourne on Dec 18th and have decided to go to Healesville .
    animal sanctuary on the 19th
    The Ocean Road tour looked nice but the tour does not get back until 730pm on the night the Tauck tour starts at 5pm
    Does anyone know of tours that get back earlier?

    We will be travelling with my two well travelled children ages 14 and 15
    We are from Cincinnati Ohio

    Is any one else bringing children on this trip since it is over Christmas break?

    Also any laundry facilities on the australia part of the trip?

    Look forward to meeting you all

    Allan
  • edited November 2011
    Responding to "Cincy Travellers" posting I thought that this extract which appeared in a related thread elsewhere, concerning laundry might be of interest as this is where we plan to try, half-way through the tour:

    There were laundry facilities along the way.

    The best place in my opinion was a local woman in Sydney.

    We took our laundry there when we arrived and we picked it up the end of the next day.

    I believe there are 3 doors to the hotel. (Intercontinental Sydney). One will be where you enter and exit for the bus. One is by the front desk (which we never used) and then the other one which is right on the corner.

    We walked out that door and walked across the street toward the left. Go down that street and you come to an alley/street on your left. Go down the alley/street and then turn right at the next alley/street and she will be on your left.

    It is a VERY small store front.

    It is less then 5 minutes from the hotel.

    The price was VERY fair and well worth not spending your time doing laundry on the trip. Also it is half way through the trip so it's a great time to do it. There are other laundry opportunities. I believe the Duxton also had laundry facilities. When people arrived they signed up an a list in the laundry room.

    Looking at the website for Peppers Beach Resort in Port Douglas they claim to have guest laundry facilities and so that might be useful for those doing the Australian leg of the tour.

    Cheers!
    Andy and Maggie
  • Hello,

    We are Cathy and John from Baldwin, Maryland and we will be on the December 19 Grand Australia and New Zealand Tour. We will be arriving Melbourne the morning of December 18 (Quantas Flight 94 from LA) . Not sure how we will feel after such a long flight be we would be interested in doing some sight seeing on Monday. If anyone has any good ideas, we would like to hear of them.

    We are looking forward to meeting all of you.

    P.S. Congratulations Andy and Maggie.

    Cathy and John
  • Hi Everyone,

    I just returned from Australia & New Zealand one week ago today!!! It was a great trip, but exhausting. We, unfortunately, did not arrive the day early as planned as we were affected by the work stoppage on Qantas which was a bummer!! We did arrive on the first day of the tour so at least we didn't miss any part of the tour.

    Here are some answers to your questions:

    - Is there a real need for any formal clothes or can we just just wear smart-casual (resort wear) for the evenings and also for the welcome/farewell dinners?

    There is no need for formal clothes, smart casual is fine!

    - Are there good laundry facilities along the way?

    In Australia:

    In Uluru, (Ayers Rock), the hotel Sails in the Desert, there are complimentary laundry facilities, but you have to get it when you can. The time we were there, one of the two washing machines/dryers was out of order.

    In Sydney, someone has already noted about laundry outside of the hotel which is a good idea since the hotel was super expensive!!!

    In New Zealand:

    At the Amora Hotel, Rotorua, there is free laundry available, with 2 washing machines and 2 dryers. Soap is provided by the hotel. You are only here one night.

    In Wellington & Queenstown, Laundry is available, but you have to pay to use the washer, the dryer and for the soap.


    - Is finding free wi-fi a challenge.

    If you only need wifi, then you will find it at some locations. If you can use the hotel computers, then you can get internet free in some locations. I brought my Ipad and was able to use it for free wifi, I never paid as some locations it wasn’t worth it.
    Here’s the internet breakdown – I looked for free service mostly, but when I paid, I used the provided computers:

    Australia:

    Melbourne – the Langham does charge for wifi or you could use the complimentary Internet for 15 minutes in the business center. Get the log in code from guest relations or the front desk. You could get a code each day or per person.

    Uluru - Internet @ this hotel was $2.00 AUD for 12 minutes. If you just want focus on email, its fine, but for anything else, it's extremely slow!!!! Save your money till Cairns.

    Cairns - I did not use the Internet @ this hotel, but found a decent Internet service on the main street, which is a short walk from the hotel. There are some restaurants that offer free wifi, but it was too hard to search for them. The place I used was an Ice Cream place, I believe the name was Wicked, and it cost $3.00 for 20 minutes. The speed was good for email, but be warned that Face book gave me difficulty signing in. It prompts you for info because you are logging in from another country. Make sure you remember your security answers. I entered the correct one, but it still didn't work.

    Sydney – (first time I used my Ipad) - The InterContinental has expensive internet service. I believe it was $15.00 for one hour. If you want wifi, then you can get free access @ the Custom House Library which is down the street from the hotel towards Circular Quay. Walk in and go to the 2nd floor to sit down, no need to check in. Check the hours on the outside window - I believe during the week they were open from 10:00am to 7:00pm. and I'm sure the weekends were shorter hours. I did try the free wifi @ the McDonalds, but found it to be super slow. The Customs House Library was much better, but at times I had to select their wifi again to get the service back. I believe there was also paid Internet if you did not have a wifi device. I think you had today $1.00 for a 5 year library card and then the cost was $3.00 for between 15-30 minutes, but I'm not sure exactly how much time for the cost.

    New Zealand:

    Auckland - The good news with this hotel is that they have Internet available on 4 computers located on floors 5 & 6 giving you access to 8 computers total - if they're all working at the time of your visit. Most of Tauck, if not all, were located on floor 5, so at times all computers were in use. I found floor 6 was available, so a tip is to just go there and do your surfing!

    Rotorua - free wifi available, but you probably have to sit in the lobby to get good wifi reception. You have to get the log on code from the front desk. I was given a code that lasted an hour, but the front desk told me they would give me another code for access if needed. Another person was told he could only use it for 30 minutes, so I guess it may depend on who you speak to. It may not matter since you only stay here for 1 night.

    Wellington - The hotel does offer free wifi on the 7th floor near the bar for either 30 or 60 minutes. I found the wifi to be the fastest wifi offered on the whole trip. Just a note about the wifi - it also goes by Data. I received an email that had a picture and after I opened it, my time to use the wifi was over, so I basically had it for approximately 5 minutes.

    Queenstown – The hotel offers 20 minutes free wifi in the lobby, but I was able to access it by the elevators on the 4th floor. You could use their computers in their Business Center and the rate begins @ $5.00 for 30 minutes.



    - How are internal flights organised. Do TAUCK use commercial flights while moving around in OZ, or are they private charters?

    Throughout Australia, you travel on Qantas. In New Zealand, you will travel via Private Charter planes only. One 2 separate days you will go on 2 private charters, the last charter flight on each day is either 30 or 15 minutes only. The flight from Queenstown to Auckland is also a private charter of about 2 hours.

    - What's the revised schedule now that Christchurch is to be avoided and what time does the flight back into Auckland arrive on the last full day?

    The revised schedule is an extra night in Queenstown and then the night before you leave is back in Auckland. We arrived back at the Langham in Auckland around 2pm, then we left about 4:30pm to have our farewell dinner.

    Any more questions, please feel free!!
  • Hi...one more thing about wifi, in Queenstown, NZ, I found that a lot of places to eat offered free wifi, you just have to ask and they provide you with a code to get access. My Ipad was light enough to put in my bag and take with me...I was able to use it at the ice cream place and a sandwich place, both giving about 30 minutes each, so if it's not too much of a hassle, take your wifi device with you!!
  • Kathy,
    Your information is SO helpful! Thanks!

    Ruthann
  • Great information Kathy - thank you!
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