Before anyone raises an eyebrow at how incredibly short 8 days is for these two countries, we’re telling you now, we couldn’t agree more. But this is all we have as full-time employees.
This trip is for Mary’s birthday and though she initially wanted to go to a different continent, I think the plan worked out pretty well.
As a backgrounder, Mary and I have both been to Sydney on separate trips so although we’re spending more time in Melbourne and Auckland, we wanted to squeeze Sydney in the itinerary so we could have photos together in our favorite landmarks.
It was around April or May when I finally convinced Mary to go for an Australia-New Zealand trip for her birthday when I saw a 3k-pesos flight from Melbourne to Auckland. I was like, wow!
The plan was: Manila-Melbourne, Melbourne-Auckland, Auckland-Sydney, Sydney-Manila in August, and yes, it’s winter. And since we were expecting a huge spending, we did each sector per month / payday to avoid incurring all the expenses at one time. So it’s like spending since May for a trip for August, that we fully paid in September (of course, credit cards!)
Step 1: Cebu Pacific flight to Australia
To make this plan work, Mary has to secure a multiple-entry visa to Australia. But yes, we booked the Manila-Melbourne, Sydney-Manila via Cebu Pacific even before we applied for Mary’s multiple visa to Australia. We figured, she would get a single entry at the very least for Australia, since she’s been there before. And if she got a single-entry, then we can always enjoy Australia and prepare for NZ next time. But then, we got what we hoped for, so it was a really good gamble. We paid a total of 27,101 for two passengers for this fare. More like 13, 550 per passenger which is way cheaper than Mary’s fare last year, booked 4 months prior, at 17,850. We were on board Cebu Pacific’s second flight to Melbourne (they inaugurated 2 days before our flight).
Other airlines you may check are: FlyScoot and Airasia (same price range as ours)
Step 2: Multiple-Entry Visa to Australia
Before I could book the Auckland flights, the plan will only work if Mary also has a multiple-entry visa to Australia since we’re entering twice. I have a 3-year multiple visa issued in 2017 so we just had to secure hers.
Read how we secured our multiple-entry visas here, DIY, via online application.
Step 3: Visa to New Zealand
Once her Australia visa was approved, we then applied for New Zealand visas, also online. The only difference was our passports needed to validated by VFS, so we had to send the passports there too. Here’s the guide for NZ tourist visa application. We only expected a single-entry visa, but we got multiple instead, albeit for only 3 months. Note that we requested for Certificate of Employments and Bank Statements for both visas so we only had to secure the papers once.
Step 4: Jetstar flight to New Zealand
After all the visas were done, we immediately booked the Melbourne-Auckland-Sydney flight via Jetstar Australia. And because we had to wait more than a month for steps 1-3 to be completed, the fare has drastically changed from about 7k pesos RT per person to 11k. But still not a bad deal considering. Only Mary added a 20kg baggage so hers totaled to 12,434. We also booked our flights 10 days apart because I encountered issues with my visa (I uploaded a document with a password, duh).
Other airlines you may check are: Air New Zealand, Jetstar New Zealand (same price range as ours)
Step 5: Choosing accommodations
After the flights were booked, we then started looking / booking our accommodation. We chose booking.com since I am a genius member and because using AirBNB meant we couldn’t see the actual address until the booking is finalized. Knowing your actual address actually helps in planning your daily itinerary. I learned that living really close to CBD, or within CBD is always beneficial if you plan to cover a lot on foot. Accessibility is key.
For Melbourne, we booked with Melbourne Connection and it was exactly the price we paid for – cheap. So unless you can turn a blind eye on a messy kitchen, table and lavatory, choose a different location. It was only 2 blocks from Southern Cross station though, and we booked a private room, not a bunk bed in a dorm-style room, so it was still okay. We only booked 2 nights because our flight to Auckland was before midnight and it was okay to leave our luggage in their storage area while we toured. It was only 2, 363 per night, or less than 1,200 per person per night. We paid in cash at the hotel.
We chose a better accommodation in Auckland because it’s where we’re celebrating Mary’s birthday. It’s an apartment / condo style that’s right within the heart of Auckland CBD. It was 10,847 for 3 nights, or around 3,600 per night. It had a washing machine and dryer, a fridge, a heater and a very comfortable couch. This was paid in full via credit card.
Lastly, since we’re barely staying for 22 hours in Sydney, we chose a hostel that’s along George Street. If you’re familiar with Sydney, this is where they’re building a new subway and if you go straight that street, you’d reach Sydney Opera House on one end and China Town on the other.
The only bad thing about this is that wifi is only available in the reception area, and not in the rooms. But this is a lot better than the one in Melbourne at about the same price. Plus, the lady in the counter is a Filipina.
If you want to book using booking.com and get a 10% rebate, you can use this link to book to get a rebate after your booking.
Step 6: Planning the itinerary
Now that we know when we’re arriving in the city, where we’re based from, it’s now easy to craft the itinerary.
For Melbourne, our priority was Great Ocean Road (a day trip outside of Melbourne), Brighton Beach (colored beach boxes), lucky if we see some penguins, and lastly, their music and food. So that’s where we centered our 3 days in Melbourne.
We got the Great Ocean Road tour from Melbourne Daily Tours for AUD65 with designated pick-up and drop off. Our pick up was around 2 blocks away so it was easy for us. I also have some credits from Scoopon from last year that I redeemed for an hour boat cruise around Yarra river but due to time constraints, we were not able to use them. We gave them to a friend instead. Hope she was able to use it.
The rest were lazy DIY trips to Hosier Lane, a recommended restaurant, wine by the river, Brighton Beach, a failed attempt to see the penguins in St. Kilda, and visiting a museum and churches.
Watch our Melbourne/Sydney and other travel videos here.
For Auckland, we wanted to see Hobbiton (another day trip outside of Auckland), the city itself and its dairy products, and we wanted to see either Waiheke for a winery scene or Rotorua for Maori culture and geysers. We were also supposed to meet a good friend of mine and her family, but because of the cancelled flight, we missed the opportunity.
You can book your Hobbiton tour via Klook and the pick-up will be in The Shire. After careful researching, there was no public transport from Auckland directly to The Shire so we booked via the official Hobbiton website instead and chose i-SITE MataMata as the pick up since most InterCity buses drop passengers off that place.
The price difference isn’t much especially if you’re not using a voucher. Klook 3,046 pesos vs Hobbiton Tours Official 84NZD (times 36 pesos = 3,024).
We booked the Auckland-Matamata-Auckland bus via InterCity for 93.99NZD (3,383 PhP) for 2 persons plus booking fee. So if you want to go to Hobbiton from Auckland, consider these two expenses (entrance and bus).
For Sydney, we just wanted to have photos together at our favorite landmarks – St. Mary’s Cathedral and Archibald Fountain, Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. They’re within walking distance from the hostel we’re staying at, including Sydney Opera House (big savings on transportation)!
Step 7: Preparing the luggage
I honestly didn’t think 20kg for two persons for 8 days, on a winter month would be enough. And it sure wasn’t. I am super thankful that Jetstar and Cebu Pacific were not as strict as their domestic counterparts here in the Philippines. Because I was sure our carry-on was more than 7kg each especially on the Sydney-Manila trip.
I only brought two warm jackets and one of them is gray, which I got to wear multiple times, 2 pairs of pants, a pair of Uniqlo heat tech undergarments, a bonnet, and 4 mufflers. I knew there’d be a washing machine with dryer so I planned on washing some of my shirts and undergarments. Mary, on the other hand (it’s her birthday, remember?) brought what she wanted (I protested a few more items though).
Baggage is expensive when traveling internationally so I suggest for you guys to stock up on classic-colored warm jackets if traveling in winter, and for me, I just wore different-colored mufflers because who wears a shirt only in winter? It’s an entirely different story for Mary, and I actually love that about her because I can always make her a cover photo / featured image in our blogs.
Step 8: Get a travel insurance
I am not one who gets the travel insurance for all the trips because I always book the lowest possible amount – no food, no baggage, no insurance. But for our US trip last year to watch Miss Universe, we got one, and for this trip too.
It’s easy to get travel insurances these days. Some are available online, some are included in your credit cards, and some are just emails away. We got Pacific Cross both times and we thought we could file a claim for the cancelled Melbourne-Auckland flight. However, the coverage only stated “forces of nature” and when Jetstar cancelled the flight, they indicated “crewing requirements” as the reason even if clearly, the weather wasn’t good in the area.
So, yes. Our insurance claim was denied. I don’t know how the claim process is if we had been through a worse scenario, like an accident or health issue happened. We’re just thankful it’s just a cancelled flight.
Jetstar Australia was generous enough to promise they would reimburse up to AUD150 per room, AUD30 for meals, and transport between airports since they did not arrange a stay for us. We then checked in at Hyatt near Tullamarine Airport. We are yet to wait for the actual reimbursement. Lol.
Step 9: Enjoy the trip, no matter what!
We had some mishaps during this trip, some mood swings, the weather not cooperating (there was a hailstorm when we toured Great Ocean Road and it was raining when we toured the Hobbiton movie set), but we managed to come home and tell wonderful stories (and sub-stories) about the trip.
I proposed at Brighton Beach and we plan on getting married in New Zealand at the end of next year, so this vacation is really one for the books!
So go on your own adventures and make the best of it. Follow the guide above if you’re preparing to go to expensive countries so you don’t have to break the bank. Good luck and enjoy traveling. Next on this blog are the Melbourne-GOR trip, and Auckland-Hobbiton.
Meanwhile, you can read all our previous Australia articles here.