Australia

Australia and New Zealand Planning Part IV

For many travelers, Australia and New Zealand are dream destinations.  Filled with endless beauty, culture, and adventure, it is no surprise that Australia and New Zealand are featured so prominently in travel documentaries, magazines, and television shows.  They have been destinations on my bucket list for quite some time and I am beyond thrilled to be able to be checking them off this year.

Queenstown Cover

In the first three articles I wrote about our trip planning process I outlined how we decided on a general itinerary for our trip and then how I filled that itinerary for Australia and New Zealand.  This included when we will be visiting, for how long, and where we plan to go and what we plan to do.  If you haven’t reviewed those articles already, I have included links to them below.

Travel-Pic Australia and New Zealand Travel Planning Part I
Travel-Pic Australia and New Zealand Planning Part II
Travel-Pic Australia and New Zealand Planning Part III

In the final installment of my Australia and New Zealand planning, I am going to walk you thru the planning for our hotel accommodations.  Apart from our flights, the accommodations will be the biggest expense of our trip.  This is why it will be important for us to book the right places at the right prices.  Failure to book the right accommodations can put a significant damper on your travels or a significant dent in your bank account.  If you would prefer them not dampened and dented, then you will want to pay close attention to this phase of the planning process.

My Hotel Shopping Process

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Before we get into the specifics of how I am choosing the accommodations for our Australia and New Zealand trip, you will want to be sure to review my process for maximizing savings on hotel and hostel accommodations.  I have a tried and true method, which I have linked to below, that I use to save a significant amount of money on hotels and hostels.

Travel-Pic The Definitive Guide to Maximizing Your Hotel Savings When Traveling

Determining the Best Location to Look for Lodging

The first step I take when determining which accommodations to book for a trip is to determine the best location to look.  For instance, if I am looking to book accommodations in a large city, I will want to determine which neighborhood in that city would be the best location to stay in.  If I am looking to book accommodations in a more rural area, I will want to determine which small city is closest to the things that I want to see.  That is where I will start my search for accommodations

The process I use to determine the best location is to map out all of the places I would like to see and then place several circles with different diameters on the map.  I use the distance legend for the map to create circles with 10-mile, 5-mile, and 2.5-mile diameters.

Red Circle: 10-mile diameter
Blue Circle: 5-mile diameter
Purple Circle: 2.5-mile diameter

This gives me a search radius of increasingly smaller areas in which to search.  The purple circle will be my ideal search area, the blue circle my probable search area, and the red circle is my overall search area.  If I can find a hotel in the purple area, that is the best case scenario.  However, I would prefer not to have to look outside the red area for my accommodations.

Calculating the Cost of Hotels

After I have my search area, I will use several of my go-to hotel booking sites to start my hotel and hostel search.  Again, if you would like more details on this process, I would suggest you read the article that I linked to above on maximizing hotel savings for travel.

I will typically find 10-12 hotels that I like that are in the right location and then do a price comparison on each of those hotels using each of the hotel booking sites.  When determining the overall cost of each hotel or hostel, I calculate the cost on each hotel booking site the following way:

Hilton.com cost is calculated by subtracting from the rate the value of the Hilton HHonors points earned.
Hotels.com cost is calculated by subtracting from the rate the Capital One Pts earned, Ebates cash back, and money earned towards a free night after booking 10 nights.
Orbitz.com cost is calculated by subtracting from the rate the Orbucks earned and the Ebates cash back.
Expecia.com cost is calculated by subtracting from the rate the value of the Expedia points earned and the Ebates cash back.

Once I have the cost for each hotel or hostel on each of the hotel booking sites, I can start to narrow down my choices and make decisions on my accommodations.

Choosing a Sydney Hotel

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The first location I need to book accommodations for is Sydney, Australia.  This is where we will be landing and spending the first three days and three nights of our trip.

Choosing the Location

When determining the best location to look for hotels or hostels, I laid out all of the places we want to see while in Sydney on a map.  This included Bondi Beach, the Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, and many other attractions.  Then, I placed my 10-mile, 5-mile, and 2.5-mile diameter circles on the map to set up my search area.

Sydney Hotel Range Map.png

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Finding Hotel Options

Once I got my search area defined, I took a look at the hotels and hostels in that area and started to narrow down my choices to a list of ten properties.  I mapped those properties out on a map that I have included below.

Sydney Hotels Options Detail Map

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Holiday Inn Old Sydney
Radisson Hotel and Suites Sydney
Novotel Sydney on Darling Harbour
Hilton Sydney
Hyatt Regency Sydney
Rendezvous Hotel Sydney The Rocks
Holiday Inn Darling Harbour
Holiday Inn Potts Point-Sydney
Travelodge Hotel Sydney Martin Place
Travelodge Hotel Sydney Wynyard

Finding the Best Price

The last step in my process is to calculate the price for each of these properties using each of the hotel booking sites that I prefer to use.  I calculate the cost by subtracting the savings I can get from rewards programs and Ebates from the base rate on the site.  When I am finished, I am left with the table below.

Sydney Hotel Pricing Chart

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Choosing a Cairns Hotel

Cairns

The next location I need to search for accommodations in is the city of Cairns, Australia.  This will be the second stop on our trip.  We will be spending three days and three nights exploring the nearby Great Barrier Reef and the city.

Choosing the Location

When determining the best location to look for hotels or hostels, I laid out all of the places we want to see while in Cairns on a map.  This included the Rainforest cableway, the dock where we will launch for our Great Barrier Reef tour, and the train station.  Then, I placed my 10-mile, 5-mile, and 2.5-mile diameter circles on the map to set up my search area.

Cairns Hotel Range Map

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Finding Hotel Options

Once I got my search area defined, I took a look at the hotels and hostels in that area and started to narrow down my choices to a list of ten properties.  I mapped those properties out on a map that I have included below.

Cairns Hotels Options Detail Map

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Hilton Cairns
Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort
Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
Pullman Cairns International
Pacific Hotel Cairns
Cairns Harbour Lights
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cairns
BreakFree Royal Harbour
Il Palazzo Boutique Hotel
Rydges Esplanade Resort Cairns

Finding the Best Price

The last step in my process is to calculate the price for each of these properties using each of the hotel booking sites that I prefer to use.  I calculate the cost by subtracting the savings I can get from rewards programs and Ebates from the base rate on the site.  When I am finished, I am left with the table below.

Cairns Hotel Pricing Chart

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Choosing a Melbourne Hotel

Melbourne 2

The last location in Australia that I need to plan accommodations for is Melbourne.  This is the last city we will be visiting in Australia and we will be spending 3 days and 3 nights exploring this amazing city.

Choosing the Location

When determining the best location to look for hotels or hostels, I laid out all of the places we want to see while in Melbourne on a map.  This included Campbells Arcade, Flinder’s Street Station, Federation Square, and other attractions we want to see.  Then, I placed my 10-mile, 5-mile, and 2.5-mile diameter circles on the map to set up my search area.

Melbourne Hotel Range Map

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Finding Hotel Options

Once I got my search area defined, I took a look at the hotels and hostels in that area and started to narrow down my choices to a list of ten properties.  I mapped those properties out on a map that I have included below.

Melbourne Hotels Options Detail Map

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DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Melbourne – Flinders Street
Grand Hyatt Melbourne
Sofitel Melbourne on Collins
The Westin Melbourne
InterContinental Melbourne
Wyndham Hotel Melbourne
Sheraton Melbourne Hotel
Ovolo Laneways
Pan Pacific Melbourne
Hotel Lindrum Melbourne, MGallery by Sofitel

Finding the Best Price

The last step in my process is to calculate the price for each of these properties using each of the hotel booking sites that I prefer to use.  I calculate the cost by subtracting the savings I can get from rewards programs and Ebates from the base rate on the site.  When I am finished, I am left with the table below.

Melbourne Hotel Pricing Chart

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Choosing a Lake Tekapo Hotel

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Once we arrive in New Zealand, we will be making our way to Lake Tekapo, which will be our first stop in the country.  We will spend one day and one night in Lake Tekapo before moving on to the nearby Mount Cook.  We will be spending one day and one night in the Lake Tekapo area.

Choosing the Location

Since Lake Tekapo is the main attraction we are looking to see in the area, my search radius focused on the lake itself.  I put 10-mile, 5-mile, and 2.5-mile perimeters around the Lake Tekapo resort region in a map below.

Lake Tekapo Hotel Range Map

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Finding Hotel Options

Once I got my search area defined, I took a look at the hotels and hostels in that area and started to narrow down my choices to a list of properties.  In the case of Lake Tekapo, there were only seven properties that I found in my search area that I liked, so I mapped those properties out on a map that I have included below.

Lake Tekapo Hotels Options Detail Map 2

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Peppers Bluewater Resort
Scott Street Apartments
Mantra Lake Tekapo
Quiraing Lake View Lodge
Lake Tekapo Village Motel
Nomads Rest Lake View Lodge
No.4

Finding the Best Price

The last step in my process is to calculate the price for each of these properties using each of the hotel booking sites that I prefer to use.  I calculate the cost by subtracting the savings I can get from rewards programs and Ebates from the base rate on the site.  When I am finished, I am left with the table below.

Lake Tekapo Hotel Pricing Chart

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Choosing a Mount Cook Hotel

Mount Cook NP

Our next stop in New Zealand will be to the Mount Cook area where we will explore Mount Cook National Park.  We plan on spending the night near the national park because we plan on doing some hiking and exploring within the park and do not want to have to drive far at the end of the day.  We will only be spending one day and one night in the Mount Cook area.

Choosing the Location

The best location to stay the South side of the park is at Mount Cook Village.  I placed 10-mile, 5-mile-and 2.5-mile diameter circles around the village so that we would have a target area to search for accommodations within.

Mount Cook Village Hotel Range Map.png

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Finding Hotel Options

Once I got my search area defined, I took a look at the hotels and hostels in that area and started to narrow down my choices to a list of properties.  In the case of Mount Cook Village, there were only three properties that still had availability, so I mapped those properties out on a map that I have included below.

Mount Cook Hotels Options Detail Map

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Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge
Aoraki Court Motel
Glentanner Park Centre

Finding the Best Price

The last step in my process is to calculate the price for each of these properties using each of the hotel booking sites that I prefer to use.  I calculate the cost by subtracting the savings I can get from rewards programs and Ebates from the base rate on the site.  When I am finished, I am left with the table below.

Mount Cook Village Hotel Pricing Chart

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Choosing a Queenstown Hotel

Queenstown

From Mount Cook National Park, we will be continuing our trip South to Queenstown.  This is a stop that we are very much looking forward to because of all of the amazing sites and activities in the area.  We plan on spending two days and two nights in the Queenstown area.

Choosing the Location

In order to determine the best place to stay in Queenstown, I laid out all of the things we would like to see and do in the Queenstown area on the map below.  I then placed 10-mile, 5-mile, and 2.5-mile perimeter circles on the map to give myself search radiuses to look for accommodations within.

Queenstown Hotel Range Map

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Finding Hotel Options

Once I got my search area defined, I took a look at the hotels and hostels in that area and started to narrow down my choices to a list of ten properties.  I mapped those properties out on a map that I have included below.

Queenstown Hotels Options Detail Map

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DoubleTree by Hilton Queenstown
Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Heritage Queenstown
Mercure Queenstown Resort
Whistler Queenstown
Wyndham Garden Queenstown
Central Ridge Boutique Hotel
Peppers Beacon
Melbourne Lodge
Millennium Hotel Queenstown

Finding the Best Price

The last step in my process is to calculate the price for each of these properties using each of the hotel booking sites that I prefer to use.  I calculate the cost by subtracting the savings I can get from rewards programs and Ebates from the base rate on the site.  When I am finished, I am left with the table below.

Queenstown Hotel Pricing Chart

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Choosing a Te Anau Hotel

Milford Sound.jpg

After Queenstown, we will be heading further South to the town of Te Anau to explore Fiordland National Park.  This is one of the most beautiful areas on New Zealand’s South Island and we cannot wait to start exploring the area.  We will be spending two days and two nights in the Te Anau area before moving on.

Choosing the Location

To determine the best place to stay when exploring Fiordland National Park, I laid out all of the things that we would like to see and do in the area on the map below.  This included a number of fantastic viewpoints on the way up to Milford Sound, which is the number one item on our list to see in the area.  Even though a majority of the things we want to see and do are North towards Milford Sound, there aren’t many places to stay in that area.  In fact, the only place that I was able to find was Fiordland Discovery, and it costs over $800 per night.

I thought about staying in Queenstown extra nights and using that city as a base area to explore Fiordland National Park, but that would require two-plus hour commutes two-and-from the park each day, which wasn’t appealing to us.   So instead, we are focusing our search for accommodations in the Te Anau area, which would put at us much closer to what we want to see and do.

Te Anau Hotel Range Map

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Finding Hotel Options

Once I got my search area defined, I took a look at the hotels and hostels in that area and started to narrow down my choices to a list of ten properties.  I mapped those properties out on a map that I have included below.

Te Anau Hotels Options Detail Map

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Radfords on the Lake
Lakefront Lodge
Birchwood Cottages
Bella Vista Motel Te Anau
Te Anau Lodge
Arran Motel
Fiordland Lakeview Motel and Apartments
Distinction Te Anau Hotel And Villas
Distinction Luxmore Hotel
Alpine View Motel

Finding the Best Price

The last step in my process is to calculate the price for each of these properties using each of the hotel booking sites that I prefer to use.  I calculate the cost by subtracting the savings I can get from rewards programs and Ebates from the base rate on the site.  When I am finished, I am left with the table below.

Te Anau Hotel Pricing Chart

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Choosing a Wanaka Hotel

Wanaka.jpg

After spending a few wonderful days exploring Fiordland National Park, we will start heading back North on the home stretch of our trip.  Our first stop after turning back North will be the Wanaka area.  Here we will get to explore the beauty of Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring National Park.  We will spend two days and two nights in the area before moving on.

Choosing the Location

We want to explore Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring National Park and I thought the best place to use as a base camp to do so is the city of Wanaka.  I have had a lot of people recommend that we stay in Wanaka as it is a beautiful and peaceful city.  In order to confirm that this would be the best place for us to stay, I again laid out all of the things that we would like to see and do on the map below and used a 10-mile, 5-mile, and 2.5-mile diameter circle to locate the best area to stay.  As you can see, a number of the viewpoints and trailheads that we are interested in are near the Wanaka area, so the city does make the perfect base camp to use.

Wanaka Hotel Range Map

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Finding Hotel Options

Once I got my search area defined, I took a look at the hotels and hostels in that area and started to narrow down my choices to a list of ten properties.  I mapped those properties out on a map that I have included below.

Wanaka Hotels Options Detail Map

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Riverview Terrace
Lakeside Apartments
Lime Tree Lodge
Wanaka Luxury Apartments
Edgewater
Wanaka Springs Lodge
Clearbrook Motels Wanaka
Wanaka Alpine Lodge
Bella Vista Motel Wanaka
Wanaka Homestead Lodge & Cottages

Finding the Best Price

The last step in my process is to calculate the price for each of these properties using each of the hotel booking sites that I prefer to use.  I calculate the cost by subtracting the savings I can get from rewards programs and Ebates from the base rate on the site.  When I am finished, I am left with the table below.

Wanaka Hotel Pricing Chart

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Choosing a Fox Glacier Hotel

Fox Glacier

The last place that we will have to find accommodations near in New Zealand is the Fox Glacier area.  We plan on exploring both the Fox Glacier and the Franz Joseph Glacier while in the area and then plan on staying overnight in this area.  The next day we will get up early and start heading back to Christchurch.  On our way, we will make one last stop to check out the Arthur’s Pass area.

Choosing the Location

In order to determine where it would be best to look for accommodations in the Fox Glacier area, I laid out all of the things that we would like to see and do in the area on the map below and then started my search for accommodations.  Most of the hotels are in the Fox Glacier area so this would be the best place for us to use as a base camp.

Fox Glacier Hotel Range Map

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Finding Hotel Options

Once I got my search area defined, I took a look at the hotels and hostels in that area and started to narrow down my choices to a list of ten properties.  I mapped those properties out on a map that I have included below.

Fox Glacier Hotel Options Detail Map

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Distinction Fox Glacier Te Weheka Boutique Hotel
Lake Matheson Motel
Mt Cook View Motel
Fox Glacier Lodge
Bella Vista Motel Fox Glacier
Rainforest Motel
The Westhaven Motel
High Peaks Hotel
Heartland Hotel Glacier Country
Sunset Motel

Finding the Best Price

The last step in my process is to calculate the price for each of these properties using each of the hotel booking sites that I prefer to use.  I calculate the cost by subtracting the savings I can get from rewards programs and Ebates from the base rate on the site.  When I am finished, I am left with the table below.

Fox Glacier Hotel Pricing Chart

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Choosing a Sydney Airport Hotel

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Once we are back in Sydney, the last accommodation that I need to arrange for our trip is a place by the Sydney Airport to stay on our final night of the trip.  We will be getting up early to head to the airport, so we will only be spending one night at this hotel or hostel.

Choosing the Location

Because we want to be close to the Sydney Airport, I setup a 10-mile, 5-mile, and 2.5-mile diameter circles on the map below so that I could concentrate my hotel and hostel search in these areas.  Ideally, I would like to find a hotel or hostel that is just a few miles from the airport at most.

Sydney Airport Range Map

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Finding Hotel Options

Once I got my search area defined, I took a look at the hotels and hostels in that area and started to narrow down my choices to a list of ten properties.  I mapped those properties out on a map that I have included below.

Sydney Airport Hotels Options Detail Map

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Mercure Sydney International Airport
Quality Hotel CKS Sydney Airport
Comfort Hotel Sydney Airport
Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport
Mantra Hotel at Sydney Airport
Travelodge Hotel Sydney Airport
Pullman Sydney Airport
Holiday Inn Sydney Airport
ibis budget Sydney Airport
ibis Sydney Airport

Finding the Best Price

The last step in my process is to calculate the price for each of these properties using each of the hotel booking sites that I prefer to use.  I calculate the cost by subtracting the savings I can get from rewards programs and Ebates from the base rate on the site.  When I am finished, I am left with the table below.

Sydney Airport Hotel Pricing Chart

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Summary

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In order to find the best accommodations for our trip, I started my process in looking for accommodations by laying out our itinerary.  Using the itinerary, I was able to identify when and where I would need to find accommodations.  With this information in hand, I was then able to start narrowing down the specific areas to start my search by laying out all of the things we wanted to see and do on a map and then placing search radius circles on the map.  This helped me make sure I was looking for hotels and hostels in the right locations.

Once I knew when and where to search, I looked at the hotels and hostels in the area and started putting together a cost chart for each area.  These cost charts would let me know how much I would ultimately need to spend to book each hotel or hostel.  By using my knowledge of the hotel booking site rewards programs and Ebates cash back deals, I could get a better idea on what the cost would ultimately be for each property thru each booking site.  Now, all we have to do is make a decision on which hotels or hostels to book and then book them.

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