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Nov. 29th, 2008



australian flights

My love and I are thinking about doing WHV to Australia and then perhaps going straight into one in New Zealand.

Our projected leaving time would be mid august 2009. Right now I can find a one way ticket on Air Pacific for $742. Since they don't have dates/prices online for a whole year and a half in advance, I don't know how to compare that price (2x) for estimating a return flight vs. what the airline might offer me at this stage a year in advance. I know that I can call them and find out, but I was just curious as to what people here spent on the plane ticket, or what their experiences in general were regarding airfare.

we are definitely NOT going through BUNAC as it is sooooooooooo much cheaper to just fill out the paperwork yourself since its on both the Australian and New Zealand government websites! For US residents its only about 120 USD for Australia and FREE FREE FREE for New Zealand.

Oct. 13th, 2008


(no subject)

Sorry the posts have been lacking lately. The gamble I took to work for a company I was interested in Sydney did not pay off so the free internet has been few and far between the last few weeks and all my time online has been allocated else where. The work in Sydney has been quite slow as well and I am moving on to the traveling portion of my time away so hopefully I'll have more tips to post in the New Year when I settle in Melbourne.

In the meantime, here are some happenings going on with recent visa changes (list is not complete, please feel free to post your own research):

1) According to the BUNAC website, college students can now work in France for 3 months over the summer holidays! Very awesome! Not sure if you *must* get the visa through BUNAC or if you can get it on your own (anyone care to dig deeper into this?)

2) No more WHV to the UK at the moment. The list of countries to be included in the new scheme won't be announced until the end of November (fingers crossed the US is on it!)

3) BUNAC finally got smart and now offer the New Zealand starter pack without the visa for less money! I personally still think it is really expensive for what you get as you can find packs in other places that are cheaper but it's good they offer this option. (Obviously this doesn't apply to the 30 to 35 year old set, as BUNAC is your only option and it's great that they offer this).

Anyway, hope your travels and planning are going good and please post your own tips and queries!


Aug. 21st, 2008


Tip of the Day!

ahh, museums. you love them, you hate them, you feel you must go to them no matter what city you are in. it's less of a hassle when they are free though! and you can't get more free then Te Papa, New Zealand's national museum. you could spend a whole day in this place and then some. highly recommend not going on a weekend or when the kids are on school holidays as this place is a madhouse at that time. because i made the unfortunate time to visit it then, i had to actually go twice to cover it all. plus, it was a great place to take refuge from the crazy wellington weather. and great, reasonably priced coffee and snacks in the cafe! can't beat that.


Aug. 20th, 2008


Tip of the Day!

Now I am not a zoo person really at all. I love animals, but seeing them in cages is just kind of whatever for me. I know they are a little kid thing anyway, but I have never really cared all that much. So if I recc a zoo, you know it's sort of a big deal. I loved the zoo in Sydney, the Taronga Zoo! It starts off with a boat ride there (yay!) and a sky bucket ride up the hill to the entrance. You can drive or take a bus as well, but come on! Boat ride! Apparently they just redid a bunch of exhibits and stuff and I think it's a great zoo. Loads of different animals and huge enclosures and maybe it was the time of day, as we went after lunch, but most of the animals were pretty active at that time! We also hit it during the weekday and it was pretty empty.


Aug. 19th, 2008


Tip of the Day!

When looking to recommend one of my favorite books on London, I went to Amazon to find the link so everyone could get it, only to find out that it is currently out of print!!! I am still going to recommend it, if you happen to come across it somewhere, even though it's probably simi-out of date as well, as guide books tend to do by the time they even get to your hands.

London in a Lunchtime was a great book when I was in London a few summers back. Not only did it take you to the little out-of-the-way places around town, but nearly everything could be done in about an hour, which was perfect for me! I wish there was a series like this that included other cities. Just another thing to add to my to-do-in-life list.


Aug. 15th, 2008


Tip of the Day!

Bringing your computer while travelling, it's a personal issue that I'll debate later, but at some point or another in your travels you'll have to use an internet cafe anyway.

There is a chain in the S. Pacific called Global Gossip which have yet to steer me wrong. While at first hesitant to use them as they run in the $3/hour range in most cities and that is on the higher end of the price scale, I got a card and $5 time on it and really haven't looked back since. They are very fast (by S. Pacific standards, which by American standards is just about normal as most things here are way slower then we're used to), have all the major programs loaded on (itunes is a major one that most comps don't have), allow you to plug in your usb drives and best of all, "clean themselves" when you are done, so it's like using a new computer every time you sit down in front of one, so very little fear of your passwords being stolen. Plus, you can use your card at any GG site and keep loading money onto it and get free hours with your points.

Secret Tip! While most of the GG sites charge $1 for the first 15 minutes, $1 for the 2nd 15 minutes and $1 for the 3rd 30 minutes (bringing your total to $3/hour), the GG site in the Woolworths on George Street in Sydney charges 50cents for each 10 minutes (bringing your total to $3/hour as well) but instead of using the computer in 15 and 30 minute segments, you only need to use the computer in 10 minute segments, to make and maximize your time.


Aug. 13th, 2008


Tip of the Day!

One of the top things to do in New Zealand is going rafting in a cave. Sounds crazy, that's because it is. The caves are huge and filled with something called "glow worms" which are not actually worms but fungi. They just call them that to make them sound "cute" (as they do a lot in NZ)

They have cave tours for the weakings, where you just go under ground, stay dry and see the pretty star-like things in the caves. Or you can throw on a wetsuit, absail, tube and fly through the cave all day! I highly reccomend the latter. Another great thing about this is you never get "rained out" because you are underground the whole time. And just when you think you are going to freeze your butt off, the day is over! Perfect amount of time. Like everything in NZ, a bit expensive, but I can't think of anywhere else in the world you can do this. I had a great time. My group was about 12 people on a holiday weekend, but I had friends do this in the middle of the week in like April, so totally off season, and they had the guide to themselves!

There are a couple of tours that explore different caves, all pretty much the same but I used:


Either way, you gotta go!

Aug. 7th, 2008


Tip of the Day!

Working Holiday Visa makers in Australia is big business. The British and Irish are everywhere! Australia is about as far and extreme you can get from those countries, I guess and Sydney is full of them. A few companies that make your transition from overseas to Australia are Geoffrey Nathan (GN) TravelersXpress and Freespirit. Essentially they are all the same but they each have something they concentrate more on. They all help you get your TFN (tax file number, Australian for SS#) and point you in the direction of banks to join and places to live and most importantly help you find work.

You join for free, send them your resume and they in turn send it out to various temp agencies around town. You think, wait, this is great! I sit back and someone does the leg work for me! But then the catch. The temp agencies find you work, but you get paid through whatever company you have joined and they take some money out of your pay check for their services. Here comes the confusing part. They fiddle with your taxes so your take home pay each week is more then if you were paid directly through the agencies, but at the end because of it, your tax back is less. Essentially, the big question is, do you want more money now or at the end? No matter what you’ll get a huge chuck back at the end of the financial year, but going through one of these companies, you’ll get more money now. A plus though is if you expect to get a lot of different jobs through different temp agencies, you only have to deal with one company at the end of the financial year, which means less mess to deal with in taxes and getting your super (=401K) back.

I am very big on where my money to these companies goes. I am currently signed up with TravelersXpress and GN. From what I can tell, TravellersX put out free monthly and weekly magazines on travelling around Australia which are pretty flashy but targeting their clientele. GN seems to stick a lot of their funding into advertising and they have some pretty fancy offices and a whole flash presentation for you. TravellersX officers are smaller, but defiantly more personalized. You don’t have to join any company to get jobs and actually one of the temp agencies that got my CV through GN asked me if I wanted to be paid through them or GN. It’s really a personal decision. So far all the people I have worked with at these companies have been either Irish or British and I wish they would diversify and get more Americans in there. We are a target audience now that our visa time has extended! But it seems like some time until the business catch up to the demand.


Aug. 5th, 2008


Tip of the Day!

Arrive in New Zealand but haven't a clue on what to do next? Your first stop, weather it be looking for work or travel, should be Auckland Central Backpackers, or ACB as everyone knows it by. They have everything under one roof! Even if you don't stay here, you should definitely stop by for all the info you'll need.

The job office can point you in the right direction for the job you are after and you can join them for a nominal fee and get all their benefits. Their starter packs are great as you don't have to think about anything, but you could do it all yourself as well (like get a bank account, sim card for your cell, and ird (sort of like a SS#) number) but they make it loads easier. plus, they are cheaper then companies like bunac who wrap in tons of extras you don't need anyway and charge twice as much.

The travel desk was a great help as well. I didn't know anything about all the tourist buses that travel around the country and the employees are well trained in explaining all the details to you. Their job is pretty much to help you plan your onward travel from Auckland and they are fab at it!

The hostel is fine to stay at, a bit expensive compared to others around town, as it's prob. the biggest and most popular, but their services are top notch. You don't have to stay there to use the services, as after being in Auckland a year, I would still come in every so often to use them.


Aug. 1st, 2008


Tip of the Day!

if you plan to keep moving around new zealand, buy a car. there is a whole market for buying and selling cars to backpackers and it's super easy to do compared to the states. since i was in auckland for most of my time, i didn't buy one, but i did hire one for weekends when i wanted to get out of the town. there are loads of rental car places trying to get your dollar, so renting is pretty cheap. unfortunately, so are most of the cars. most of the time i didn't really care that much, but when my family came to visit over the hols last year and i knew we would need more room and a more reliable vehicle. i had seen explore more cars around town and they always looked clean and new and when looking for a station wagon, they were the best deals on the time i needed from christchurch to auckland one way. they offer free pick up in town, plus since they are owned by the same company as the airbus in auckland, when i paid for the car, i asked for a ticket as i was meeting my parents at the airport and then we were flying to CHC to pick up the car. i used them again when i went to CHC for easter weekend as well and got the same good service!! they were slightly more expensive then other companies, but the cars are clean and new and have great radios. i am one to pay a little more for service and quality.


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