A Travellerspoint blog

March 2015

Plains, Trains and Automobiles

Getting around Australia and New Zealand

We plan to use as many forms of transport as we can whilst we are on our trip. However some options have also been ruled out, for example we have decided against a camper van or motor home as staying at different hotels, apartments and B&B's is part of the experience for us.

In Australia we have splashed out and are travelling on The Ghan (named after the old camel trains) between Darwin and Alice Springs. We have opted for gold class which is a bit of an indulgence, but balanced by cheaper options elsewhere. The journey can be done for about £145 per person if you are happy to sleep in red class in a reclining seat. Gold class is more than three times the cost but does include a free excursion when the train arrives in Katherine, and all your meals.

For the rest of the time in OZ we are travelling by hire car when the distance seems manageable (such as between Adelaide and Melborne, Sydney to Brisbane) and by plane for longer journeys such as the 1000 miles between Brisbane and Cairns.

New Zealand is easier in many ways being a much smaller country. In North Island we have a hire car for 22 days. In South Island we are using a few more options. We are taking two scenic rail journeys, the Coastal Pacific from Picton to Christchurch (stopping off in Kaikoura for some whale watching) and the Transalpine from Christchurch to Greymouth. We are also using buses for some journeys, as the NZ bus system seems very efficient and not too expensive.

A couple of tips about booking these:

  • New Zealand rail journeys can be booked from the UK using the Internet. However doing so using your normal browser means that you won't see the full range of tickets that you are entitled to purchase. My old friend The Man at Seat 61 (essential reading for anyone planning rail journeys overseas) talks you through how to get round this glitch by installing Tor Browser.
  • An Intercity Flexipass is available for use on New Zealand buses/ coaches. Again this can be bought on the Internet in the UK. Just work out how many hours you think you need and advance purchase. You can use the pass to book the Interislander Ferry and some excursions (they will tell you how many hours you need to budget for). You can then just log in any time you like, book your journeys and also top up your card if you need to. You can also sell off or give away any left over hours at the end of your trip.

I think using different travel methods all adds to the fun, although my experience of camel riding in the Moroccan desert means that I might forgo that option in the Red Centre!

Posted by Gill's Travels 02:08 Comments (0)


Research, compare and read the small print!

Nigel and I (well Nigel mostly) have spent some weeks deciding on which insurance company to go for. Some that specialise in long travel trips don't insure over 60's, and some that do this age group won't insure for long trips (like people of our age shouldn't be going off round the world!). We wanted a reasonably high cancellation/ curtailment limit (more than the standard £5,000) to make sure that we were covered for our flights, car hire, prebooked excursions (not many of those) and the hotels that do not have full cancellation option. Then there is the problem of when something is a pre-existing condition, given that many people of our age might have high blood pressure, bit of arthritis etc. In the end we have gone for LV. They gave us £10k cancellation, £500 against a single item (needed for my camera) and all the standard medical cover. In all it's costing over £1,000 for the two of us but it gives us peace of mind so I suppose it's worth it!

Posted by Gill's Travels 00:14 Tagged travel-insurance Comments (0)

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