Trip 1 - NZ, Aust, SE Asia 2012-13

November 2012 to October 2013











Our first trip was, in total, a year, leaving the UK at the beginning of November 2012.

We started in Bangkok in Thailand, travelled west by train to Kanchanaburi and surroundings, then train to Chiang Mai before returning to Bangkok and flying on to Auckland in New Zealand.

In New Zealand we had six months, travelling round in a small campervan which we hired in Christchurch, after flying there from Auckland. Over Christmas we had a housesit, looking after 4 cats and changed the campervan for a car for three weeks, returning to the campervan in January. We finished NZ in the North Island dropping the campervan off at Auckland. We had another housesit in the North Island for a week and stayed with relatives for a couple of weeks, but other than that we stayed mainly on campsites with kitchen facilities, a few without facilities and, on a few occasions, free campsites in remote places.

In May 2013 we flew to Sydney and had three months on the East coast of Australia, where we rented another old, small campervan travelling from Sydney to Cooktown, with a couple of weeks with friends in Brisbane. We basically followed the coast but had a couple of excursions into the Outback. We finally flew from Cairns to Melbourne to go skiing with a friend and then stayed with other friends for a week .

Our final leg was a flight to Singapore, where we left some of our luggage, before flying to Bangkok and making a slow journey back down through the southern part of Thailand and Malaysia to finish back in Singapore, collecting our luggage and flying back home. We wanted to do the whole journey by train, but were advised the southern part of Thailand was unsafe, so we flew from Surat Thani to Kuala Lumpur, caught the train back up to the north of Malaysia and then continued by train.We eventually ditched the train in favour of the busses due to the unreliability of the trains, one broke down on us, another was cancelled due to a derailment. Bus travel is much better!

For more details of each part of this trip see below, it's divided into the following:
  1. Thailand, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi and Sangkhlaburi
  2. New Zealand, Part 1, North of South Island
  3. New Zealand, Part 2, East and SE of South Island
  4. New Zealand, Part 3, East, SE, SW, West and North coastal tour of South Island
  5. New Zealand, Part 4, South of North Island
  6. New Zealand, Part 5, West to Bay of Plenty, North Island
  7. New Zealand, Part 6, Midlands to East, North Island
  8. New Zealand, Part 7, Northland, North Island
  9. New Zealand, Part 8, Bay of Plenty and East Cape, North Island
  10. Australia East coast, New South Wales
  11. Australia East Coast, Queensland Part 1. Brisbane to Winton
  12. Australia East Coast, Queensland Part 2. Winton to Cooktown
  13. Australia East Coast, Queensland Part 3. Forsayth to Daintree & Great Barrier Reef
  14. Australia South Coast, Victoria
  15. Singapore & South Thailand, Part 1
  16. Singapore, South Thailand & Malaysia, Part 2
  17. Details of the costs of this entire trip. It includes all expenditure of our year away and can act as a guide should you be planning a similar trip. If you would like further details please insert a comment at the end and we will post a reply below your question. 

Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi and Sangkhlaburi:

  1. Arrive Bangkok from Heathrow UK: Bangkok
  2. Train journey to Kanchanaburi, Bridge on the River Kwai and Death Railway: Bangkok to Kanchanaburi, Bridge on the River Kwai & Death Railway, Kanchanaburi to Sangkhlaburi
  3. Bus journey to Sangkhlaburi: Sangkhlaburi
  4. Bus journey to Kanchanaburi, train journey to Bangkok, sleeper train to Chiang Mai: Kanchanaburi to Chiang Mai
  5. Chiang Mai tiger sanctuary, rock climbing, jungle trek: Chiang Mai 1, Chiang Mai 2, Chiang Mai 3, Chiang Mai 4, Chiang Mai 5
  6. Overnight bus journey to Bangkok, flight to Auckland, New Zealand: Bangkok 2

  • New Zealand Part 1:
  1.  Arrive Auckland, North Island on flight from Bangkok: Auckland, Auckland 2
  2. Arrive Christchurch, South Island on flight from Auckland, collect campervan, camp in Balmoral, visit Hanmer Springs, drive to Kaikoura: Christchurch to Kaikoura
  3. Whale watching, Kaikoura: Whales
  4. Kaikoura to Whites Bay: Marlborough
  5. Whites Bay to Picton & Queen Charlotte Sound: Picton
  6. Nelson, Motueka, Able Tasman NP: Nelson, Able TasmanAble TasmanAble Tasman 2 
  7.  Pohara, Paynes Ford, Farewell Spit, Kawatiri Junction, Lake Rotoiti, Greymouth: Pohara to Greymouth
  8. Arthurs Pass, Cave Stream: Arthurs Pass
  9. To Irwell, Christchurch for Christmas and New Year: Irwell, Christchurch, Irwell 2, Irwell 3, Rakaia Gorge, Irwell 4, Banks Peninsular
  •  New Zealand Part 2:

  1. Irwell to Wanaka via Lake Tekapo & Lake Ohau: Irwell, Lake Ohau, Wanaka
  2. Wanaka to Invercargill: Roys PeakInvercargill 
  3. The Catlin Coast: Catlin Coast, Catlin Coast 2 
  4. Otago railway line cycle way, Naesby, Danzy's Pass, Duntroon, Omarama: Otago cyclewayDanzy's Pass 
  5. Aoraki Mount Cook: Mount OlivierMount Cook 
  6. Peel forest to Christchurch: Peel Forest
  • New Zealand Part 3:
  1. Christchurch, Akaroa (Banks Peninsular), Irwell: Akaroa
  2. Oamaru, Moeraki Boulders: Oamaru, Moeraki Boulders
  3. Dunedin, Otago Peninsular, Balclutha: Dunedin
  4. Te Anau, Milford Sound: Milford Sound
  5. Queenstown, Remarkable Mountains: Queenstown
  6. Fox Glaciers, Kiwi's at Otariko, Arthurs Pass: Otariko, Fox Glacier
  7. Karamea: Karamea
  8. Murchison, Lake Rotoiti, Marlborough, Picton, Queen Charlotte Track: Karamea to Picton
  • New Zealand Part 4:
  1. Ferry from Picton to Wellington: Wellington
  2. Martinborough, Cape Palliser, Ngawi, Greytown: Wellington to Greytown
  3. Holdsworth & Taumatawhakatangihanga koauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu: Holdsworth
  4. Cape Kidnappers, Napier, Te Mata Peak, Taihape: Cape Kidnappers 
  5. Manawatu Gorge, Palmerston North, Levin: Manawatu Gorge 
  6. Otaki Forks, Foxton, Bulls, Wanganui: Otaki ForksWanganuiWanganui 2Whanganui River Road 
  • New Zealand Part 5:
  1. Wanganui, New Plymouth, Mount Taranaki: New Plymouth 
  2. Froggat Edge: Froggat Edge 
  3. Otorahanga, Waitomo: Otorahanga, Waitomo 
  4. Te Awamautu, Cambridge, Matamata: Cambridge 
  5.  Rotorua: Rotorua
  6. Okere Falls, Mount Maunganui, Katikati: Katikati
  • New Zealand Part 6:
  1. Katikati, Coromandel Peninsular (Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove, Cooks Beach, Thames, Route 309): Hot Water Beach, Coromandel
  2. Whakatane, Waiokea Gorge: Whakatane 
  3. Gisborne: Gisborne, Gisborne 2, Gisborne 3
  4. Wairoa, Lake Waitaremoana: Wairoa
  5. Napier: Napier
  6. Lake Taupo, Tongaririo National Park: Taupo
  7. Whakapappa, Aratiatia rapids, Rotorua: Tongariro

  • New Zealand Part 7:
  1. Orewa, Wenderholm Regional Park, Scandrett RP, Leigh, Pakiri Beach, Mangewhai Head, Whangarei: Northland
  2. Abbey Caves, Whananaki, Russel, Opua, Kawakawa, Paihia: Northland 2 
  3. Haruru Falls, Waitangi, Kerikeri, Matauri Bay, Matai Bay: Matai Bay 
  4. 90 mile beach, Cape Reinga, Rarawa beach, Rawene: 90 mile beach 
  5. Koutu boulders, Dargerville: Koutu boulders 
  6. Kauri museum: Kauri museum 
  7. Helensville, Waihi, Katikati, Maketu: Katikati
  • New Zealand Part 8:
  1. East Cape: Opotiki, Gisborne, Tolaga Bay, Cook Cove walkway, Anaura Bay: East Cape
  2. Te Araroa, East Cape Lighthouse, Te Kaha: East Cape 2
  3. Matata, Maketu, Katikati, Auckland: Maketu





  • Australia East Coast - New South Wales:
  1.  Sydney, Blue mountains: Penrith, Glenbrook, Wentworth Falls: Sydney, Sydney 2, Blue Mountains
  2. Three Sisters, Tuggerah Lake, Karuah: Blue Mountains 2
  3. Cape Hawke, Seal Rocks, wingham Brush Nature Reserve, Harrington: Cape Hawke
  4. Crowdy Head, Diamond Head: Crowdy Head
  5. Port Macquarie, Smoky Cape Lighthouse, Nambucca Head: Port Macquarie
  6. Dorrigo, Urunga, Coffs Harbour, Woombah, Lismore: Dorrigo
  7. Cape Byron: Cape Byron
  • Australia East Coast - Queensland Part 1:
  1. Brisbane, Mount Barney: Brisbane, Brisbane 2, Mount Barney
  2. Brisbane, Glasshouse Mountains, Giraween NP: Brisbane 3, Giraween NP
  3. Roma, Carnarvon NP: Carnarvon NP
  4. Sapphire: Carnarvon to Sapphire, Sapphire
  5. Ilfracombe: Ilfracombe
  6. Winton, Larks Quarry: Winton



  • Australia East Coast - Queensland Part 2:
  1.  Corfield, Hughenden, Porcupine Gorge: Corfield
  2. Charters Towers, Townsville: Charters Towers
  3. Billabong Wildlife Sanctuary: Billabong
  4. Mount Stuart, Wallaman Falls, el Arish, Mission Beach: El Arish
  5. Paronella Park: Paronella Park
  6. Malanda, Atherton Tablelands, Palmer River Roadhouse, Cooktown: Malanda
  7. Cooktown: Cooktown, Cooktown to Daintree
  • Australia East Coast - Queensland Part 3:
 
  1.  Mossman, Daintree, Cape Tribulation: Daintree 
  2. Mossman, Granite Canyon Park: Mossman 
  3. Mount Surprise, Georgetown, Forsayth: Mt Surprise 
  4. Atherton, Granite Canyon Park: Granite Gorge 
  5. Port Douglas, Great Barrier Reef, Cairns: Great Barrier Reef 


  • Australia South Coast - Victoria:
  1. Arrive Melbourne on flight from Cairns, Mount Buller skiing: Cairns to Melbourne
  2. Melbourne, Sorrento, Olinda, Belgrave: Melbourne, Melbourne 2






 
  • Singapore, South Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore Part 1: 
  1. Arrive Singapore on flight from Melbourne
  2. Singapore: Singapore, Singapore 2
  3. Arrive Bangkok on flight from Singapore: Bangkok, Bangkok 2, Bangkok 3
  4. Train to Petchaburi: Petchaburi, Petchaburi 2, Petchaburi 3
  5. Bus to Prachuap Khiri Khan: Prachuap Khiri Khan, Prachuap Khiri Khan 2
  6. Bus to Chumphon: Chumphon
  7. Bus & Catamaran to Koh Tao: Koh Tao, Koh Tao 2
  8. Catamaran to Koh Phangan: Koh Phangan, Koh Phangan 2
  9. Koh Phangan to Surat Thani then flight to Kuala Lumpur: Surat Thani
  • Singapore, South Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore Part 2:
  1. Train to Butterwoth, ferry to Penang, bus to Georgetown: Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur 2, Penang, Penang 2, Penang 3
  2. Bus to Taiping: Taiping
  3. Bus to Ipoh & Gua Temperung Caves: Ipoh, Ipoh 2
  4. Bus to Cameron Highlands: Cameron Highlands, Cameron Highlands 2
  5. Cameron Highlands to KL and on to Malacca: Malacca, Malacca 2, Malacca 3, Malacca 4
  6. Malacca to KL by bus, sleeper train to Kota Bharu: Kota Bharu, Kota Bharu 2
  7. Bus to Gua Musang: Gua Musang
  8. Train to Kuala Lipis: Kuala Lipis
  9. Bus to KL: Kuala Lipis 2
  10. Bus to Johor Bahru, taxi to Singapore: Johor Bahru
  11. Flight from Singapore to London Heathrow


  • Details of costs for this trip:

We've included this section to give other people planning a similar trip some idea of what it may cost. Searching the internet and reading travel books such as Lonely Planet are good at giving an indication of accommodation, tour and meal costs separately, but putting it all together to try to give an overall cost of a trip is hard to do as there are often incidental costs that are difficult to account for. 

The costs below are our real and complete costs and the first figure, the 'Overall total cost' is really everything we spent for the entire trip but, to be relevant to other readers, a comparison has to be made between our expectations and requirements and those of the readers, so this is our summary.
We are a 'middle aged' couple, happy in our own company but willing to meet and interact with others. We're daytime, relatively adventurous outdoor people, preferring quiet nights in, home cooking (where possible) and modest drinking rather than rowdy nights out at expensive restaurants, clubs and bars, they just don't register on our list! When we do go out for meals we are careful on our selection of restaurants and prefer local food and places where 'normal folk' would go rather than 'chic' places, as these not only keep the cost down but give us a more authentic feel for a place.
Our hotel choice is for hotel rooms with private bathrooms, clean, with breakfast and wifi if possible, but not luxury. We are happy in budget hotels as long as it is clean and everything works as it should. On campsites, when in a campervan we usually like good facilities such as clean kitchens and bathrooms/toilets and in a good location to where we want to be. We will stay in more basic hotels/campsites if the need arises and we are not afraid of this, but just prefer a bit more luxury these days. Hostels with mixed dorms we would do at a push but this would be very much the exception and only in very remote places with no alternative.

We don't spend money without justifying it, so if it's something we really want to do and it's expensive we will do it, but not very often. Most things we want to see and do cost little: rock climbing, hiking in mountains or amazing wild areas and sightseeing, but occasionally we may want to go whale watching or scuba diving, we balance the costly things against less costly or free things, always keeping in mind our overall cost and budget.

Overall total cost: £28976.00. Average daily cost over 365 days: £79.50

Flights (2 people): Before leaving the UK we booked our flights (apart from 3 internal flights itemised by country) through Trailfinders (which we probably wouldn't do again). We had to rearrange the dates for the Melbourne to Singapore and Singapore to Heathrow flights en route as Trailfinders could only book a maximum of 1 year in advance and we wanted to be away for 1 year from the date of departure not date the flights were booked. There was a small extra charge for this, but was fairly easy to do. Total cost: £2506.00. Average daily cost: £7.00 based on 365 days 

Travel insurance (2 people): We arranged worldwide insurance through 'World Nomads' to include rock climbing and trekking up to 6000m for a full year. Cost: £435.34. Average daily cost: £1.20

Thailand:
Notes: 
  1. All prices from November 2012 to October 2013
  2. All prices are for 2 people
  3. Exchange rate (2012): £1.00 = 46THB
  4. Total days/nights: 48 (2 visits)

Total expenditure: 105793THB (£2300.00)

Average daily expenditure: 2204THB (£48.00)

Breakdown:

  1. Hotels. All 'budget' hotels, all with private bathroom, all booked in advance and all carefully researched on Trip Advisor, Bookings.com, Hotels.com etc. Generally sorting 'lowest cost first' and then selecting highest rating on various websites and balancing cost against features, location, with/without breakfast and reading previous guests reviews. Note: this takes a long time!                                                                                                                                         Total cost: 36232THB (£788.00), average per night: 788.00THB (£16.50). Average per night in Bangkok: 1200THB (£26.00)
  2. Taxis, trains, buses. Total cost: 10954THB (£238.00). Of which, overnight sleeper train Bangkok to Chiang Mai: 1650THB (£36.00)
  3. Tours. Total cost: 14570THB (£317.00). Of which, cooking course: 3100THB (£67.00), rock climbing: 750THB (£16.00), tiger sanctuary: 2400THB (£52.00), diving: 4400THB (£96.00)
  4. Meals. Total cost: 23707THB (£515.00). Average per day: 494THB (£11.00)
  5. Other expenditure. 11188THB (£243). Average per day: 233THB (£5.00)
New Zealand:

Notes:
  1. All prices from November 2012 to May 2013
  2. All prices are for 2 people
  3. Exchange rate (2013): £1.00 = NZ$1.85
  4. Total days/nights: 177
Total expenditure: NZ$27,844.00 (£15,051.00)
Average daily expenditure: NZ$157.00 (£85.00)

Breakdown:
  1. Campervan - Small 3 person 10 year old Toyota Hi-Top campervan, high enough in back to stand up. Air-con when engine running. Fridge with small freezer, 2 burner hob & grill with small gas bottle, small sink with cold tap. Kettle and toaster when connected to campsite electric supply. Hob kettle for other times. Fresh and wastewater containers. Separate battery with capacity for 3 days continuous maximum wild camping. 3 outdoor chairs with fold down table. Hired from: Wenderkreisen. Total hire cost: NZ$7998.00 (£4323.00). Average daily hire cost: NZ$46.50 (£25.00) based on 172 hire days
  2. Fuel: NZ$4015.00 (£2170.00). Average daily cost: NZ$23.34 (£13.00) based on 172 hire days
  3. Campsites - most campsites were modern with allocated space with external power supply, full kitchen on site, most had shop and many had swimming pool. We occasionally stayed in a remote or wild campsite with few or no facilities other than toilets: NZ$3944.00 (£2132.00). Average daily cost: NZ$27.00 (£15.00) based on 144 days (28 days housesitting)
  4. Shopping - we ate out very infrequently and cooked either in campsite kitchens (fun and a good place to meet others) or in our van if on a wild campsite: NZ$3843.00 (£2077.00). Average daily cost: NZ$22.00 (£12.00) - 177 days
  5. Daily expenditure - The occasional meal out, coffee stops, entrance to places of interest etc: NZ$2583.00 (£1396.00). Average daily cost: NZ$15.00 (£8.00) - 177 days
  6. Tours (see blog entries for details): NZ$2113.00 (£1142.00). Average daily cost: NZ$12.00 (£6.50)
  7. Medical - Brian had a skin cancer problem that needed treating privately (not covered on travel insurance): NZ$2454.00 (£1326.00). Average daily cost: NZ$14.00 (£7.50)
  8. Internal flight (Auckland to Christchurch): NZ$539.93 (£291.85)
  • Australia:
 Notes:
  1. All prices are from May to August 2013
  2. All prices are for 2 people
  3. Exchange rate (2013): £1.00 = AUS$1.60
  4. Total days/nights: 91
Total expenditure: AUS$10853.00 (£6783.00)
Average daily expenditure: AUS$119.00 (£74.50)

Breakdown:
  1. Campervan - Small 3 person 10 years (plus!) old Toyota Hi-Top campervan, high enough in back to stand up. Air-con when engine running. Microwave, kettle & toaster (when connected to campsite electric supply), fridge, 2 burner hob & grill with small gas bottle, small sink with cold tap. Fresh and wastewater containers. Separate battery with capacity for 3 days continuous maximum wild camping. 3 outdoor chairs with fold down table. Hired from: Travellers Autobarn. A very old, vehicle needing maintenance and repairs at several location en-route which were all well handled, but the vehicle was clearly nearing the end of its life, but was priced accordingly. Travellers Autobarn Total hire cost: AUS$2185.00 (£1366.00). Average daily hire: AUS$25.00 (£16.00) based on 87 days hire (7 of these days were actually car hire in Melbourne, but we haven't separated this as the difference is small)
  2. Fuel: AUS$1088.00 (£1130.00). Average daily cost: AUS$12.50 (£13.00) - 87 days
  3. Campsites - most campsites were modern with allocated space with external power supply, limited kitchens on site often with only a BBQ and sink available, some had a shop and some had a swimming pool. We occasionally stayed in a remote or wild campsite with few or no facilities other than toilets: AUS$2012.00 (£1257.50). Average daily cost: AUS$27.50 (£17.00) based on 73 days (14 days staying with friends)
  4. Shopping - we ate out very infrequently and cooked either in campsite kitchens (fun and a good place to meet others) or in our van if on a wild campsite: AUS$1358.00 (£848.50). Average daily cost: AUS$15.00 (£9.50) - 91 days
  5. Daily expenditure - The occasional meal out, coffee stops, entrance to places of interest etc: AUS$1722.00 (£1076.00). Average daily cost: AUS$19.00 (£12.00) - 91 days
  6. Tours (see blog entries for details): AUS$771.00 (£482.00). Average daily cost: AUS$8.50 (£5.50)
  7. Hotel (4 days in Sydney): AUS$601.50 (£376.00).
  8. Internal flight (Cairns to Melbourne): AUS$366.90 (£229.31)
  • Singapore:
  Notes:
  1. All prices are from August to October 2013
  2. All prices are for 2 people
  3. Exchange rate (2013): £1.00 = SP$2.00
  4. Total days/nights:5 (2 visits)
Total expenditure: SP$1000 (£500.00)
Average daily expenditure: SP$200.00 (£100.00)


Breakdown:

  1. Hotel. Perak Hotel, room with private bathroom. Total cost: SP$360 (£180.00), cost per night: SP$72.00 (£36.00).
  2. Tours. Total cost: SP$30.00 (£15.00).
  3. Meals & general expenditure. Total cost: SP$408 (£204.00). Average per day: SP$82 (£41.00)
  4. Flight, Singapore to Bangkok. SP$202 (£101).


  • Malaysia:
Notes: 
  1. All prices from September 2013 to October 2013
  2. All prices are for 2 people
  3. Exchange rate (2012): £1.00 = RM5.00
  4. Total days/nights: 42

Total expenditure: RM7005.00 (£1401.00)

Average daily expenditure: RM167.00 (£33.50)

Breakdown:

  1. Hotels. All 'budget' hotels, all with private bathroom, all booked in advance and all carefully researched on Trip Advisor, Bookings.com, Hotels.com etc. Generally sorting 'lowest cost first' and then selecting highest rating on various websites and balancing cost against features, location, with/without breakfast and reading previous guests reviews. Note: this takes a long time!                                                                                                                                         Total cost: RM3018.00 (£604.00), average per night: RM72.00 (£14.50)
  2. Taxis, trains, buses. Total cost: RM701.00 (£140.00). Average daily cost: RM17.00 (£3.50)
  3. Tours. Total cost: RM497.00 (£100.00)
  4. Meals. Total cost: RM1554.00 (£311.00). Average per day: RM37.00 (£7.50)
  5. Other expenditure. RM1695 (£339.00). Average per day: 40THB (£8.00)



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