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Visiting Australia and New Zealand

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Shirokuma, 12 Oct 2019.

  1. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

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    Firstly apologies to the people of New Zealand and all Zoochatting kiwis. As there isn’t an Oceania general forum I had to put this under Australia...

    My best friend is getting married in Sydney in February/March next year, the date isn’t yet fixed. I’m not working at the moment so will be able to make an extended trip to Australia and New Zealand.

    I have been to Australia once before (Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, Sydney, Canberra) in 2002. Then I managed to visit Melbourne and Taronga zoos and Sydney Aquarium. I have never been to New Zealand.

    Zoos and wildlife attractions on my initial list:
    • Perth Zoo
    • Adelaide Zoo
    • Monarto Safari Park
    • Melbourne Zoo
    • Werribee Open Range Zoo
    • Healesville Sanctuary
    • Taronga Zoo
    • Wildlife Sydney
    • Sydney Aquarium
    • Sydney Zoo (if open by then)
    • Featherdale Wildlife Park?

    • Auckland Zoo
    • Hamilton Zoo
    • Wellington Zoo
    • Zealandia
    • Orana Wildlife Park

    I’m finding the prospect a bit overwhelming and am very much in the early stages of planning. I don’t cope very well with extreme heat and humidity so North Queensland and Northern Territory are off the list. I’d like to go to Tasmania too.

    It’s not my aim to visit every possible collection but I don’t want to miss anything especially significant.

    If the timings work out I might be in Gold Coast for the Australian Eurovision final (Eurovision being my other obsession!) so that might open up the possibilities for SE Queensland attractions but at the moment that’s not a priority.

    It would be great if anyone could suggest any additions, particularly native fauna related. I’m not hugely into birding and am more interested in seeing beautiful/significant landscapes than chasing after spotting particular species in the wild.

    I’m concerned about getting burnt out so any thoughts on somewhere calm and chilled out for a view days would also be welcome.

    I can’t drive so will be entirely dependent on public transport or organised tours.

    Any thoughts would be gratefully appreciated!
     
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  2. TZDugong

    TZDugong Well-Known Member

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    Sounds great! I've never been to NZ either, but visited Australia in 2014.

    For Perth, I'd say the zoo is probably a 3-4 hour visit, it's nice but there isn't much room for backtracking and it's a mostly mammal-focused zoo. I believe they also have the only Dampier's Peninsula Monitor in captivity in the reptile house. For native fauna, there's King's Park which is massive and very beautiful, I think it's possible to see wild Echidna's there as well. Don't miss visiting Freemantle, there are no zoos in this neighbourhood but there are some great museums and interesting buildings. I also saw many Galahs if that's of interest to you.

    Taronga is of course on of the worlds great zoos, so you'll definitely enjoy yourself there. The Sydney Aquarium is a absolutely brilliant too, and the attached Wildlife Sydney is pretty good also.

    Australia is an amazing country, I really need to re-visit to see the areas I missed. Don't get stung by a jellyfish:p.
     
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  3. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    Welcome!

    The one that stands out as an easy must-add is Cleland Wildlife Park - there’s a bus that runs there from inner Adelaide, from memory, and it is my favourite of the native fauna parks I’ve visited. Monarto’s going to be hard to do - there’s no public transport there as far as I’m aware, and frankly it’s not a particularly big or noteworthy collection and I don’t think it’d be worth an expensive tour option.

    I haven’t been to Sydney Aquarium since McDonald’s took it over, but I’ve seen what they did to Melbourne Aquarium, and I wonder if you’ll get anything out of it that you won’t get from a similar fast food joint of the same chain in the UK.

    The Australian Reptile Park is doable as a (long) public transport day trip from Sydney. I’ve only been once, about 13 years ago, but it’s nice and you might find it worthwhile. Healesville is also doable by bus and train from Melbourne, but it will take a long time.

    If you do go to Southeast Qld consider going to Sea World. The shark lagoon exhibit is by some distance Australia’s best marine exhibit.

    I will warn you that February will be very hot, especially in Perth and Adelaide. If you can plan your trip so that you do your holidaying after, rather than before the wedding you should get some very congenial weather in late March and early April.

    Get a membership to Zoos Victoria, too: it will comfortably pay for itself with visits to Taronga, Melbourne, Healesville, Werribee, Adelaide and Perth, even if you don’t include Monarto.
     
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  4. TZDugong

    TZDugong Well-Known Member

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    Ah but do the Sea Life’s in the Uk have dugongs? Imo it’s worth visiting just to see the greatest animal species in the world.
     
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  5. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for those responses and suggestions!

    According to their website: “LinkSA now has a direct service from Adelaide CBD to Monarto Safari Park Monday to Friday in the morning with a return trip to Adelaide mid-afternoon to allow you a full day at the Monarto. You can also access the park from Murray Bridge via LinkSA services.

    Want a bit more flexibility, LinkSA also offers 6 connecting services to Monarto Safari Park throughout the week. From Adelaide catch an Adelaide Metro Service to Mount Barker and connect at the Dumas Street Park ‘n’ Ride with a LinkSA service taking you from Mount Barker to Monarto Safari Park. Some weekend services are also available via the Mt Barker connecting services”.


    Do you know if there are any issues with doing this with an overseas address? If not I can always use my friend’s Sydney address I guess.
     
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  6. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Good to know you’re visiting New Zealand! I’ve never been to Zealandia; but have been to the four major zoos many times, and would thoroughly recommend them. Auckland and Wellington Zoo are smaller city zoos; though pack a lot into the space they have, and each have a rich history. Let me know if zoo history is of interest to you and I can let you know some points of interest about Auckland Zoo that you can look at on the day.

    Hamilton Zoo and Orana Wildlife Park are larger, open zoos; though there’s less species to see, so take a similar amount of time to walk around.

    I would highly recommend the keeper talks at Orana Wildlife Park as they link them in, so you go from one talk to the next. The tours at Wellington Zoo are also very informative. Last time I went (early 2019), they got rangers (volunteers) to do the talks; but they were just as well informed as any keeper.

    What are your main interests? Primates? Big cats? Reptiles?
     
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  7. Cassidy Casuar

    Cassidy Casuar Well-Known Member

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    As you may already know, Zealandia has few truly captive species. A few Geckos are kept in enclosures near the visitor centre. There are three boxes with Maud Island Frogs inside them in a sheltered corner of the sanctuary, but I would be surprised if you actually saw the frogs in the boxes. The pair of Takahes are in a large contained area where they sometimes hide from view. The Little Spotted Kiwis are debatably also captive, but it is extremely unlikely that you will see them during a daytime visit, anyway.
    The 'Weta Motels' in the sanctuary often have Wetas inside them. You will most likely see Tuataras behind the fences on the edge of the path that leads to the second Kaka feeding station. There are two feeding stations for Kakas, where you will almost certainly see a few Kakas. These stations are often also visited by Tuis, and are sometimes visited by Brown Teals. Adjacent to the second Kaka feeding station is an artificial branch where Red-crowned Parakeets are fed with millet.
    There are two big feeding stations and another smaller feeding station for the Stitchbirds and Bellbirds. The Bellbirds always try their best to keep the Stitchbirds away from the feeders, which might make it difficult for you to get a good view of the Stitchbirds. In any case, your chance of seeing either species at these feeders is not as great as your chance of seeing the Kakas at their feeders.
    Everything else in the sanctuary requires more effort to find.
     
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  8. WhistlingKite24

    WhistlingKite24 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    If you do get the opportunity to visit the Gold Coast, I'd recommend Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. It has a great range of mammals, birds and herptiles. I find Currumbin to be usually quite peaceful (the exception being school holidays), and the sanctuary is lushly planted and has ample shade. Highlights include a fantastic bird show, their huge bird walk-through bird aviary (with a variety of rain forest birds and lemurs), two species of tree kangaroo side by side and a great nocturnal area.
    This is a rough species list (there were a few more bird species on later visits):
    Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary Species List- 11/7/18 [Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary]
    An added bonus is that Currumbin is a 10 minute drive (or 40 minutes on public transport) from the Gold Coast domestic airport. It is also accessible from Brisbane's CBD via public transport (a train and a bus).
     
    Last edited: 13 Oct 2019
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  9. toothlessjaws

    toothlessjaws Well-Known Member

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    Healesville Sanctuary. It should be number one on your list.
     
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  10. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member

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    I was traveling through New Zealand for 2 months earlier this year and it is an amazingly diverse country in terms of landscapes, just not so much in terms of wildife. But the remaining wildlife is often spectacular.

    Just remember that it takes a long time to get everywhere as highways are just simple 2 lane affairs. Travelling from Auckland to Wellington is one full day for example.

    A must visit is Tiritiri Matangi island, close to Auckland. This can be done as a day trip, but is much more rewarding as an overnight trip, as this gives you the chance to see Kiwi and Tuatara. Depending on how much time you have, you should stay from Sunday to Wednesday as there are no ferries then and you have the island for yourself. Tiritiri has some of the highest wildlife densities in the country with Kokako as highlight. These are fantastic birds and this is a good place to see them. Species line up is somewhat similar to Zealandia, Zealandia has Kaka, but no Kokako and much lower densities of the other species.

    On the S Island be sure to go to Kaikoura and do the Albatross boat tour there, it costs you some money, but is worth it.

    We went around the whole country by hitchiking, which was supereasy, but if you stick to the main sites you can get there by bus, nust be aware that services are not very regular and get more expensive the longer you wait with booking them.
     
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  11. Grant Rhino

    Grant Rhino Well-Known Member

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    I go to most of the zoos on your list at least once per year each and I would definitely recommend the following 4 as "must see":

    1. Werribee Open Range Zoo (VIC)
    2. Monarto Zoo (SA)
    3. Adelaide Zoo (SA)
    4. Mogo Zoo (NSW)

    Werribee Zoo is absolutely brilliant - it's got so much to see, and a growing Australian collection (which you said you were interested in). It's easy on public transport from central Melbourne.

    Monarto is also brilliant, and can be reached easily from Adelaide. While you are there definitely see Adelaide Zoo. For Australian animals, check out Gorge Wildlife Park and Cleland if you are in Adelaide. Gorge has heaps of albino wallabies.

    Mogo isn't on your list - but it is a brilliant zoo for a private zoo! It is definitely worth making your way to Bateman's Bay to see it! Around the corner from it is a wildlife park with Australian animals too (but I haven't been to that one) - so you can get 2 zoos in the same area.

    As someone else said earlier, buy a membership for Zoos Victoria (at Werribee for instance) and it gets you into Melbourne, Healesville, Werribee, Adelaide, Monarto, Taronga, Dubbo and Perth. So it's certainly worth it for $100 Australian dollars!

    Send me a private message if you want any more specific info.
     
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  12. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the positive and helpful responses! I’m starting to feel a bit more excited and less daunted. This will easily be the longest and biggest trip I have ever been on so I’m grateful for all these pointers and tips.

    Mogo was on my list but I was a bit put off by the location and wasn’t sure how I would get it into my itinerary.
     
  13. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

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    Sorry I’m trying to quote multiple posts and it doesn’t seem to be doing it correctly... So Grant Rhino’s quote ended up being attributed to Zoofan15 and my response to them doesn’t show up...

    ...anyway in response to their point about my interests, I’m more interested in visiting zoos for the sake of visiting zoos than any particular species groups although of course I’m keen not to miss out on any rarities or unique animals.
     
  14. Simon Hampel

    Simon Hampel Administrator Staff Member

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    To be clear - Monarto Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the world - by size, with land area of 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) and is fantastic for seeing animals in wide open spaces - that is what makes it quite unique compared to other zoos which try to pack as many species into limited space as possible.

    It's also one of my personal favourites and I consider it to be my "home" zoo - being only a couple of km from where I grew up. It's great if you want to go wandering though native scrub-land and view wild birds on your way between viewing rhinos, cheetahs and lions - but if you've got limited time and little interest in birds - there's probably better facilities to visit.

    I would highly recommend Monarto because it is quite unique in its layout, the sheer size of the place and the relaxed feel of the place, but if time is limited and the goal is to see as much native fauna as possible, I would probably agree with @CGSwans and recommend Cleland Wildlife Park instead (or do both if you can!).

    Again, for native species in Victoria I would highly recommend Healesville Sanctuary. I also enjoyed Werribee for its layout and space.

    Mogo is one of my favourite zoos - I'm hoping to visit it next week in fact. However, given its location over 4 hours drive south of Sydney - it's not exactly a pleasant day trip and is difficult to get there unless you're already heading south from Sydney.
     
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  15. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    \

    ... I forgot about the dugongs. I suppose they're worth putting up with all the plastic for. Just once.

    I agree that Mogo is great for a private zoo, but does it really make sense for a non-driver from overseas? The collection is almost exclusively exotic mammals that are common overseas. The exhibit standards are mostly very good, but they're not *unusually* good, and Mogo is a very long way from any capital city with at best very limited transport links.

    If Shirokuma *was* to go off the beaten track a little, especially without a car, the zoo I'd recommend instead would be Halls Gap, which has one of the world's most comprehensive marsupial collections, though I'd really only add it to this particular itinerary if there's ample time available.

    (edit: Halls Gap might in fact be a good choice for a relaxed place to rest and recuperate from busy cities for a few days, though both it and Batemans Bay will be very busy at Easter and during school holidays.)

    I actually agree with this - my comment above was predicated on there being no public transport links and Monarto requiring a package tour to get to, which would have added greatly to the cost and likely prevented there being time for the walking trails. I didn't know there's now a public bus, and so if the time is available I'd certainly add it to the list, though if it came down to a choice between Cleland and Monarto I'd also stick with the former.
     
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  16. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    Just a further note in response to this. Australia is expensive and getting around can be a bother due to the immense distances involved, but aside from that it's a pretty easy and relaxed country to travel in. You will have no language barrier to deal with, people are generally friendly and helpful towards tourists and the cities are safe and reasonably simple to navigate.

    I have no idea about your accommodation plans and budget, but you can avoid having to undertake long and complicated day trips to zoos by staying in Murray Bridge, Healesville and (if you take up the Australian Reptile Park suggestion) Gosford.

    Distances and costs aside, this is one of the best parts of the world for you to try a long, multi-city journey. I haven't been to New Zealand but I'm very confident the same advice applies there.
     
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  17. Cassidy Casuar

    Cassidy Casuar Well-Known Member

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    I lie. There are actually two boxes with frogs in them; not three.
    Also, today I learned that the Kaka feeding stations now have small fences in front of them to prevent visitors from getting too close. The fences shouldn't make the Kakas hard to see, though.
     
    Last edited: 21 Oct 2019
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  18. Shirokuma

    Shirokuma Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for all the tips and advice. Sadly the wedding has been called off! So I won’t be going back to Australia just yet and a visit to New Zealand isn’t going to be happening any time soon.
     
  19. CGSwans

    CGSwans Well-Known Member

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    :( I'm sorry to hear that, and especially sorry to hear for the unhappy couple.
     
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