San Jose (California)
Planning a trip next year to Sydney Australia in Sept 2017. I've never been, and it will be me, my wife and another couple, no kids on this trip. What should I do in my 8 days? What are my can't miss things to do? If I had another 3 days to travel to a neighboring area like New Zealand let me know if you recommend it. Since I am not going till next year should I get PADI certified here in the US so I can enjoy out there? I will likely never go back to this place of the world again so help me figure out my can't miss scenarios. Wife and I love a mix of things, some outdoors, some theater, some nice places to eat, beach time, water sports, and of course relaxing, so not really focused on any one area of thing to do.
Sydney Harbour Climb is fun and gives great views. Visit The Rocks-old area of Sydney now with great restaurants, bars, etc. Take ferry to Manly-you may see the tiny penguins if you're lucky. Taronga Zoo. Sydney Opera House Opera House. Viewing platform of Sydney Tower for views. Shop in the Queen Victoria Building.Do a Sydney Harbour cruise-Fantasea and All Occasion Cruises are 2 companies offering them.Get the ferry from Circular Quay to Fort Denison in the harbour and have lunch at the restaurant and visit the museum. Consider day trips-can do a tour to Hunter Valley Wine Tasting Toursr will be about $189 pp.(AUD) Day trip to Port Stephens-can do a bus tour which calls at Australian Reptile Park, goes on a dolphin watching cruise then takes you to Stockton Bight Track sand dunes where you can try sandboarding-about $189 pp. Day trip to Blue Mountains City Council-or stay up there-national park-walking trails,in Katoomba steepest funicular railway in world (Katoomba Scenic Railway) or the cable car over the Jamison Valley-amazing views (Scenic Skyway). Jenolan Caves-about 175K from Sydney-can self drive, or take train to Katoomba from SydneyCentral and then get Blue Mountains Bus Company bus. Or day trips-Gray Line, AAT KIngs, FJ Tours, IEC, and Colourful Trips do day tour. Each cave is charged separately-cost between $35 and $48 each. Can stay at Jenolan Caves in Caves House-pre book.
3 days is not much time to see New Zealand-if you want to do that, you will have to choose a destination and just see a very small part. About 4 hours fly time to NZ.
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Sydney is an amazing city.
1. Go up the southern pylon lookout of Sydney Harbour (cost is minimal and view is great) and also do Bridge Climb.
2. Do a tour around the Sydney Opera House. You can see a show there as well.
4. See Kangaroos in the wild. Kangaroos are beautiful creatures and there are tours that specialise in seeing kangaroos in the wild.
6. Visit the Blue Mountains City Council, a huge area of bushlands not far from Sydney.
7.Have dinner at Sydney Tower. The revolving restaurant offers views over Sydney as well as the opportunity to taste kangaroo, emu and crocodile.
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September - should be nice weather but will still be mild, and the water which lags a bit, even cooler. I'm guessing not to different from San Jose in April? Nice enough for being on the beach, but you'll need to be keen to brave the water. So choose a beach with a bit more to offer than swimming. Bondi Beach or Manly are obvious choices - lots of hustle and bustle next to the sand. Personally I opt for a ferry ride to Manly then a walk to Shelly beach.
Sydney Harbour is Sydney's jewel, I'd do a walk along side it, probably the Spit to Manly Walk or the Balmoral to Taronga Zoo If the latter stop on the way at Ripples Chowder Bay or Gunners BarracksRipples or the Gunners Barracks for morning tea. And start with breakfast at the Public Dining Room at Balmoral Beach.
As for the Zoo, while you may end up there, I would make a separate trip there. It is on a very steep site, and you'll probably be footsore by the time you get there. But do do it. It's got animals and is well done yadda, yadda, but it is on a beautiful site overlooking the harbour and the city. Seriously it's more or less compulsory.
Climb the Harbour Bridge, either the ridiculously expensive Bridge Climb or the more reasonable Southern Pylon. Then go for a stroll round The Rocks.
There are bike tours that give you a good overview of the city. In fact I think there's a bunch who do it on Electric Bikes called Blue Bananas(?). That would allow you to tick off most of what town has to offer fairly efficiently. The Rocks, Royal Botanic Gardens, Oaks Hyde Park Plaza, Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House, Barangaroo
Maybe do a bit of shopping -- If you want the upmarket stores head for town, but it'll probably mainly be what you have at home. The Strand Arcade and QVB, York St, Stand B I quite like though for their historic presence. If you prefer cheaper and edgier stuff head for King St, Newtown - that's Sydney's own "Latin Quarter". Or maybe you'd like markets. The Rocks Markets are quite touristy -- but you're a tourist, so they may suit you well. Kirribilli Markets are also good and pretty accessible.
Further afield, the Blue Mountains City Council should be lovely in September (their siflingly hot in Summer and freezing in Winter). Catch a train from Central to Leura (twee) or Katoomba (spectacular) and if you're keen plan a bushwalk, otherwise, head for Echo Point and "Scenic World" (expensive but fun... and, yeah, more or less worth it).
Take a 190/E90 bus from Wynyard up to Palm Beach. Have fun on the beautiful beach and climb up to Barrenjoey Light House. then catch the Ferry across Pittwater to the Basin/Coaster's Retreat, where you'll see Goanna's & Wallabies. Take a picnic. There's a lagoon there, which is somewhat shallow and so maybe warm enough for swimming.
If you're feeling flush, skip the bus and catch a seaplane there from Rose Bay. In which case the next day take another Seaplane to either Berowra Waters Inn, or Cottage Point Inn for lunch.
You've now had too much lunch, so the next day do the Bronte to Bondi Walk along the coast. Then keep going all the way to Watsons Bay and get smashed in the Watson's Bay Hotel, or play Lords an Ladies with a High Tea in Dunbar House. Catch a Ferry Home.
Catch a show at the Opera House, preferably in the Concert Hall or the Opera Theatre. There are some other smaller auditoriums there, which are nothing special, though I love interval outside on the Harbour, and it is still the Opera House. Say hello to the seals on the steps.
If you can't see anything that interests you at the Opera House, have a look at the Wharf Theatre at Miller's Point, (Hit the Sydney Theatre Company web site). You'll also find crowd pleasing musicals at the Capitol Theatre or the Lyric Theatre in the casino. Hit TicketMaster or Ticketek for tickets.
New Zealand I'm not really qualified to advise on except that Auckland is fairly pedestrian (sorry guys) and Queenstown is absolutely stunning. And they'll still have skiing.
Diving in Sydney is good, but not (I believe, I'm not a diver though I have friends who are) superlative. For that head to Cairns or Lorde Howe Island (which are distant and expensive respectively). Though if you like you can go diving with the "Labradors of the Sea" (I'll let you Google it).
There are plenty of people who'll take you on a Harbour Cruise, but if you like watersports perhaps you'd like to go sailing on a yacht with East Sail.
Darling Harbour is under construction right now, but should be finished when you arrive. But it has always been a tourist trap. Don't bust a gut to get there.
Hope that's helped?
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