Continuation of our story about a family trip around the world in 2020. From the Australian East Coast to New Zealand: our hotels, activities, and recommandations.
Our week was a bit disrupted by the rainy weather on the East Coast.
The area obviously needed it after the numerous forest fires: on Monday we had temperatures of up to 38 degrees at the Zoo!
You could often find us under the misters, and with our water bottles in hand all the time!
Namely, the East Coast is known to get 300 days of sunshine over the year… we may be paying for our 15 days of good weather in Bali – in the middle of the rainy season!
Anyway, the showers being so heavy (a deluge), it was difficult to walk on the seashore with the kids and to see the highlifhts we wanted. We preferred to shorten our stay on the Gold Coast and move forward our flight to New Zealand!
Just goes to show that you can travel without having everything planned or booked! We must adapt plans every day, with the planes, the hotels, and depending on how our children feel! It takes time, money and a bit of stress sometimes but we work pretty well that way.
With that introduction, let’s move on to the activities of our week on the East Coast!
Our visits to the East Coast in the Brisbane area
After a 2-hour drive, crossing forests at times to get a view of the surrounding mountains, we arrived in Noosa and settled into our Airbnb where we stayed for 3 days.
The town of Noosa is like the Cape Cod of Bostonians: a popular destination for Australians and tourists.
Why? Because you feel like you’re on vacation with the crickets singing, the pines, the eucalyptus; because the walks are romantic and allow you to feel quite isolated; because you can shop for swimsuits or beautiful dresses that you won’t find elsewhere.
Sipping a fresh juice, or enjoying an ice cream while watching passers-by shop is enough to make you forget the daily routines. At times we felt like we were in one of our parks in Canada, and at other times we felt like we were in Provence.
After a good walk in the center, we went to the main beach, which was very beautiful; however the water was brown.
We did not stay there and preferred to take the car to explore the coast towards Peregian Beach.
There were several restaurants within walking distance of the beach as well as a shaded playground, perfect for children.
I took a look at the beach while the kids were playing: it was perfect this time, lots of waves crashing on the sand. Lifeguards were on the beach.
Then I noticed that the sea was releasing huge jellyfish on the sand.
In the end, it was only suited for surfers in wetsuits!
Noosa National Park is accessible from the center on foot or by boat, however as a family it was convenient for us to leave the car at the Park parking lot.
Spots are in demand but we were lucky and were able to do the Noosa Nature Park walk along the waterfront to Dolphin Point.
After a short evening watching a sunset over Noosa, we left the next day.
There are several zoos and animal care center on the coast, all of which are equally well known.
Australia Zoo, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary or Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Since we couldn’t do them all, we opted for the first one.
A walk punctuated by shows and presentations of the park’s various species.
There were parrots, birds, crocodiles, red panda, tiger, and many others! We had the opportunity to meet Kangaroo and Koala up close, which delighted the whole family and put stars in the eyes of our children who loved these meetings.
To be able to be so close to a Kangaroo or a Wallabee was quite unexpected, amazing, like a dream come true for us too!
In this zoo, there’s even a space for bigger children (adults):
We returned to Brisbane not wanting to leave without visiting South Bank. There are many activities for the whole family in the area.
We took a ride on the Ferris wheel, strolled along the river and ended up in the children’s playground.
South Bank is also famous for its swimming pool and its beautiful lagoon as well as its art museum.
We took the road to the Gold Coast to enjoy the last rays of sunshine before the deluge.
The Gold Coast is famous for its superb waterfront between Surfer Paradise and Dreamtime Beach, and for its skyscrapers built (almost) on the water. Kinda looks like Miami!
Our Accommodations on the East Coast
There are no Marriott hotels in this area, and other hotels are very expensive, so we opted for Airbnb accommodation in Noosa to be closer to the center and feel a bit like locals.
Our Airbnb had the advantage of being inexpensive ($100 a night) and very conveniently located since it was within walking distance of an artery filled with restaurants. We had access to the pool, which was small but perfect for our short stay.
For those interested, a ferry was nearby and offered different stops ($25/per person for the day and free for children under 5) for an authentic ride but we preferred to drive to our side.
Airbnb North Lakes
Once our stroll at the Zoo was over, we had to quickly find an accommodation for the night. We wanted a quiet place with reasonable prices, and especially something to entertain the children.
The one we found met all our criteria with a chic and modern style even if a bit out of Brisbane. But we already knew that with the rain forecast we would not be able to follow our program.
It was the opportunity for us to stroll in the center, watch the kite-surfers of Redcliff and go to the cinema for a change!
Marriott Vacation Club Surfer Paradise Hotel
At first sight, it as a nice lobby with its giant ceiling fans and a beautiful staircase. We were upgraded after intense negotiations from Jean-Maximilien…
This building has 2 establishments in one: a hotel and a Vacation Club. JM booked at the Vacation Club for larger rooms with kitchen… but none of the benefits of our Marriott Bonvoy status could be applied (upgrade, breakfast…).
The pool was a sight to behold from above.
Once down, Jean-Maximilien and the children took a dip and then took refuge in the Jacuzzi, since the water was quite cold. You can swim with fishes in the lagoon, but the weather was getting bad, so we decided to go back and enjoy the Jacuzzi in our suite.
Several things gave me mixed feelings about this hotel, if I compare it to other hotels in the Marriott chain.
Our suite was large with a kitchenette and balconies, but the furniture was old-fashioned and we expected better bathroom fittings.
The hotel is well located, offers a good breakfast, but it is not included: we had to negotiate to get it with our status, as well as coffees!
A Kid’s Club is available but with our luck, was closed the 2 days we were there. We were not told anything about it being closed; on the contrary, we were told about it when we arrived.
The gym was decent, there was a beauty center with full hair room and even a tennis court.
Finally, the outside areas are beautiful in themselves, with the lagoon and a pool, but its cave would need to be repaired and not patched up.
It’s a pity because it gives the impression of poor maintenance. And this hotel will be upgraded to a category 6. In short, a bad deal in our eyes. Jean-Maximilien will give a detailed review soon on milesopedia.
Flight Gold Coast - Christchurch
Jean-Maximilien preferred to move forward our flight to Christchurch in New Zealand as already mentioned because of the weather.
He paid an extra $400, even if it meant colder weather, but at least we’d get some sun and more time to discover the South Island.
When we arrived at the airport, we left our car in the pouring rain to catch our 3-hour flight. Since we returned it 3 days early, Avis gave us a much appreciated refund!
We boarded in the rain, on the tarmac, with our children in our arms.
A flight with some turbulences at takeoff but which will continue without any problem, calmly until our arrival in the evening.
Distinction Hotel in Christchurch
Christchurch has no Marriott hotels. Actually, in New Zealand, only Auckland has a Marriott hotel: Four Points which we will try at the end of our stay.
There is a Hilton DoubleTree hotel, but not center located as we wanted.
A brand new Best Western was accessible with the points, but with only 2 single beds (remember, we were last minute because we moved our flight).
In short, after a tour on Airbnb to see very expensive accommodation, Jean-Maximilien finally found a very good price at the excellent hotel “Distinction” with a room including 2 queen size beds. Superbly located for exploring Christchurch on foot. The opportunity here to use our HSBC points for this 3 night booking!
Christchurch City Tour
The city of Christchurch is not that big, so we decided to walk around it rather than by tram ($25/adult/day) or by bus (city sightseeing bus tour from $35/adult/day).
We discovered the Remonstrance Bridge and further along the Avon River, the memorial wall in memory of those lost in the earthquake on February 22, 2011.
The botanical garden was superb, with its diversity of flowers, its rose garden, its huge trees, including redwoods, conifers, Eucalyptus… We took the opportunity to hop on a relaxing boat ride on the Avon ($30/adult – free for children under 5).
Finally, we met a couple at the children’s park, a French woman, Leila, and her Irish husband, Derick, with their two boys, who have been living here for over 8 years. This day ended in style at Hagley Park to enjoy the Night Noodle Market with music.
A busy week, the next one promises more great surprises!