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  #1  
Old August 10th, 2012, 01:57 PM
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Default Best bets for animal encounters

We're going on the Celebrity Solstice and will be visiting the following ports:

Sydney, Australia (3 days)
Melbourne, Australia
Dunedin, NZ
Akaroa, NZ
Wellington, NZ
Tauranga, NZ
Auckland (3 days)

I would dearly love to get up close to some native species, like kangaroos, koala's, lemurs, etc. If I could feed a kangaroo, or hold a koala, I'd be in heaven. I'd also be interested in seeing penguins, dingoes, really any interesting animal not found in North America. I love the idea of seeing animals in the wild, but realize that there is no guarantee of a sighting, and close encounters are ill-advised in an animal's natural habitat.

Which ports offer the best options for animal activities? Any must-do experiences?
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Old August 10th, 2012, 02:39 PM
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Brenda,

Sydney has a wonderful Zoo accessible by water taxi, prepared as it is very hilly. If your timing is good you may be able to see "March of the Penquins" in Melbourne. There may be zoos outside of Sydney or Melbourne where you can get up and personal with the Australian wildlife. I did in Hoboart, Tasmania and it was magical. In Dunnedin, you should be able to book tours to see the Albatross, penguins and dolphins. Enjoy your cruise, one of my favourites and have cruised there 3 times. Hopefully, your doing the Milford, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds-breathtaking. Crossing the Tasman Sea is very unpredictable, calm to heavy seas and everything inbetween.

Valerie(Canadian ex pat in Palm Springs)
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  #3  
Old August 10th, 2012, 02:48 PM
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For the Australian animals, your best bet is going to be seeing them in a zoo. It would theoretically be possible for you to see some of these animals in the wild outside of Sydney and Melbourne, but you'd have to drive a far piece to do so.

You've got the most time in Sydney, so that may be where you want to concentrate your Australian animal viewing. There are 3 choices for zoos in Sydney: Taronga Zoo, Featherdale Wildlife Park and Wild Life Sydney. Taronga Zoo is a beautiful place and has all types of animals, including a large number of native Australian animals. However, you can't hand feed the kangaroos and you can't hold a koala. (In fact, you can only hold koalas in Queensland and you aren't going there.) There is a "Koala Encounter" at Taronga where you can get close to koala but I don't know if you are allowed to touch it. Featherdale Park is a smaller zoo that focuses on native animals (no lions or tigers or bears, oh my). There, you can hand feed the kangaroos and you can have a close encounter with a koala. You will be able to stand next to a koala for a photo op and maybe pet the koala, but the zookeeper will hold the animal. I have visited both of these zoos and while they focus on different things, they are both good. I have not visited Wild Life Sydney and know nothing about it personally.

For penguins (in Australia), you can see them at the Sydney Aquarium or you could go to the nighttime Penguin Parade outside of Melbourne, if it fits your schedule there. I have not been to the Penguin Parade and there are some who love it, but others (like my sister) who thought it was an expensive waste of time.
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Old August 10th, 2012, 06:34 PM
6andy6 6andy6 is offline
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I am pretty sure one of the Celebrity excursions in Melbourne take your up in the hills behind Melbourne to the Healsville Sanctuary (which is run by the Royal Melbourne Zoo) which specializes in Australian fauna of all types including kangaroos, koalas, etc etc.

Check the cruise website.

http://www.zoo.org.au/HealesvilleSanctuary

The Melbourne stop will not be long enough to go down to Phillip Island (which is at least 100 klm away) to see the penguins which return from the ocean in the evening (as it will be summer for your cruise sometime between 7pm and 9pm). As the ship leaves at 7pm it will be impractical.
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Last edited by 6andy6; August 10th, 2012 at 06:40 PM.
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  #5  
Old August 10th, 2012, 07:44 PM
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Melbourne: Yes, the penguin parade happens at dusk and Philip Island is a min 2 hr drive each way from the ship. And even then it's VASTLY overrated IMO, some penguins running up the beach. Er, that's it!

Healesville wildlife sanctuary is worth the trip but again it's a couple of hours drive away. You can see the animals up close but you won't be able to cuddle a koala - why do ALL our visitors want to do that?. They aren't as cute as they look (the koalas I mean).

The best zoo is Taronga in Sydney. Catch a ferry from Circular Quay and there's a cable car that takes you to the top of the hill. The views of the bridge, harbour, opera house are spectacular.

It's highly unlikely you'll see any wildlife "in the wild" because it's too far away from where you're visiting. We don't have kangaroos hopping down the streets despite what Steve Irwin may have told you. And trust me, you do not want to get anywhere near a dingo
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Old August 10th, 2012, 09:27 PM
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There is also the Koala Park out at Pennant Hills. You can cuddle a koala there, plus see kangaroos etc, and feed them all. Check out the site www.koalaparksanctuary.com.au If you have 3 days in Sydney, then easy to get public transport out there, approx a half hr from the city cbd. Sydney zoo is fabulous too. The animals have the best views of our harbour.
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Old August 10th, 2012, 10:10 PM
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PS: OP, there are no lemurs native to Australia or NZ

We've seen kangaroos at dusk, hopping around the streets in some smaller towns south of Sydney, but you're not likely to see them at large in big towns
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  #8  
Old August 11th, 2012, 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by celle View Post
PS: OP, there are no lemurs native to Australia or NZ
You can however get up close and personal with Lemurs at Auckland Zoo. They offer additional charge Zoom experiences - very small groups (4 - 8 so book ahead) - what is on offer varies from day to day and costs vary according to the animal. Meet and feed Lemurs - $75 - Primates - $150 - Australian animals encounter $75. They do change the days according to season so email ahead to check whether the day advertised on the web site will be the same when you are in Auckland. Some start early (before the Zoo opens) but that should be OK if you are in town for three days. I did the Lemur Experience in April and loved it - there was also time for a guided tour through the primates area of the zoo with lots of inside information and a guide who was known to the animals so they came out of hiding.

http://www.aucklandzoo.co.nz/experie...es)-tours.aspx

Another option! Colleen

Last edited by cjm66; August 11th, 2012 at 12:35 AM.
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  #9  
Old August 11th, 2012, 02:22 AM
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I agree with previous posters that you will not have time ti head down to Phillip Island for the penguin parade. I also agree that Healesville is well worth a visit, though there are no up close encounters with wildlife other than the ibis wandering around.

Your best best would be at the Featherdale Wilflife Park in Sydney. I went on a full-day tour that also included a trip to the Blue Mountains. The tour picked us up before 7am at our hotel and we stopped in a valley and had breakfast with wild kangaroos. That was a land-based tour not a ship's shore excursion and I am sorry I have forgotten which tour did the tour. If you are looking for excursions, I would recommend checking out the ones that go to Featherdale, as there are many up-close-and-personal opportunities there.

And as for seeing Australian wildlife in the wild, I have lived here for a year and a half and have yet to seen any live wild-life other than magpies and sparrows! I have, however, seen more road-kill victim wombats than I care to count. The native animals are just not out and about in urban areas.
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  #10  
Old August 11th, 2012, 03:28 AM
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I agree with previous posters that you will not have time ti head down to Phillip Island for the penguin parade. I also agree that Healesville is well worth a visit, though there are no up close encounters with wildlife other than the ibis wandering around.

Your best best would be at the Featherdale Wilflife Park in Sydney. I went on a full-day tour that also included a trip to the Blue Mountains. The tour picked us up before 7am at our hotel and we stopped in a valley and had breakfast with wild kangaroos. That was a land-based tour not a ship's shore excursion and I am sorry I have forgotten which tour did the tour. If you are looking for excursions, I would recommend checking out the ones that go to Featherdale, as there are many up-close-and-personal opportunities there.

And as for seeing Australian wildlife in the wild, I have lived here for a year and a half and have yet to seen any live wild-life other than magpies and sparrows! I have, however, seen more road-kill victim wombats than I care to count. The native animals are just not out and about in urban areas.
This is to second the suggestion to visit Featherdale. You can wander amongst the kangaroos there and they are used to being fed. It's not a large place and it is good for just wandering.

About 5 years ago, my sis-in-law, who lives in one of Sydney's western suburbs, found an echidna in her garden. No idea where it wandered in from, because there is no bush area near her house. She phoned Featherdale and someone from there came and took the echidna back to Featherdale. Apparently, it's still alive and well.

(Echidnas - sometimes known as spiny anteaters - along with platypus, are the only egg-laying mammals. The female lays her egg and then puts it in a pouch on her abdomen. The egg hatches in the female's pouch, where the young then suckles. Echidnas look a bit like long-nosed hedgehogs, only bigger.)

Really, only magpies and sparrows? No rainbow lorikeets, galahs, or sulphur-crested cockatoos? They all come into urban areas.
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Last edited by celle; August 11th, 2012 at 03:28 AM.
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  #11  
Old August 11th, 2012, 06:02 AM
ellieanne ellieanne is offline
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Really, only magpies and sparrows? No rainbow lorikeets, galahs, or sulphur-crested cockatoos? They all come into urban areas.
I've heard galahs, kookaburras and what my husband calls black cockies, but I haven't seen them. My husband's family has a pet sulphur-crested cockatoo, but he lives in a cage behind their house, which doesn't really count as wild to me.

All the wildlife I have seen has been on my visit to Australia before I moved here -- the kangaroos I mentioned earlier in the Blue Mountains; kangaroos ( I held a joey!), seals, black cockatoos on Kangaroo Island; albino wallabies in the Barossa Valley; and seals at the Nobbies on Phillip Island. It's been all birds and road-kill since I've moved.
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  #12  
Old August 11th, 2012, 06:48 AM
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The best way of seeing animals in the wild would be some kind of excursion on the water.

One of the highlights of our trip was a boat trip from Black Cat Cruises in Akaroa (booked thru RCL). Lots of water birds, seals, and some of the Hector's Dolphins who only live there. This little guy was very interested in us.



This is the Noisy Miner who joined us for lunch at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney. Took pieces of bread out of my hand.



Wildlife Sydney and the Aquarium are right next to each other at Darling Harbor - both very well laid out and mostly inside.

The link to pics is in my signature - Australia starts on page 9.
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  #13  
Old August 11th, 2012, 06:51 PM
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Minah birds are not native to Australia and most people who care about these things consider them to be a pest. They are extremely aggressive and territorial and drive many native species away. We had a large flock,of rainbow lorikeets that used to roost in a particular tree on our street but the minahs have scared them off.
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Old August 13th, 2012, 07:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrendaJ View Post
We're going on the Celebrity Solstice and will be visiting the following ports:

Sydney, Australia (3 days)
Melbourne, Australia
Dunedin, NZ
Akaroa, NZ
Wellington, NZ
Tauranga, NZ
Auckland (3 days)

I would dearly love to get up close to some native species, like kangaroos, koala's, lemurs, etc. If I could feed a kangaroo, or hold a koala, I'd be in heaven. I'd also be interested in seeing penguins, dingoes, really any interesting animal not found in North America. I love the idea of seeing animals in the wild, but realize that there is no guarantee of a sighting, and close encounters are ill-advised in an animal's natural habitat.

Which ports offer the best options for animal activities? Any must-do experiences?
In New Zealand native birds filled many of the niches occupied by animals in other counties. A visit to Rotorua while your ship is berthed in Tauranga would provide opportunities for you to view some of these. At Rainbow Springs you can see a variety, including the Kiwi which is a national icon and is on the threatened list. An extensive breeding program is undertaken at Rainbow Springs. You will also be able to see tuatara, a native lizard whose ancestors pre-date the age of dinosaurs. www.rainbowsprings.co.nz may help. Other native birds such as the pukeko, tui etc. which you are unlikely to see in the big cities, can also be seen. While in Rotorua you will also have time to experience a little of the extensive geo-thermal activity in the area, plus of course the Maori dimension for which it is famous. www.rotorua.co.nz or www.rotoruanz.com may help too.
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Old August 13th, 2012, 07:24 AM
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The link to pics is in my signature - Australia starts on page 9.
Hi Doug, your pics of our cruise are great. Quick question. Have tried to post a pic from my flickr account but it only posts the url address not the actual pic. I see you are also using photobucket - is this a better option to use?
For example, this is a pic taken at Bonrong Park in Tasmania
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cassamanda/7179645709/
What do i do to just show the pic without the link?
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Old August 13th, 2012, 07:55 AM
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Thank you so much to all of you for this treasure trove of information! I am copying everything into my iPad to bring with me.

Your kind assistance is much appreciated!
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Old August 13th, 2012, 10:35 AM
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Hugh & Chris - Loved your photo from Bonrong Park! We are scheduled to go there on a tour in February and are wondering what else you would suggest we see on our day in Tasmania. Thanks for any suggestions.
Jan
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Old August 14th, 2012, 02:49 AM
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Hugh & Chris - Loved your photo from Bonrong Park! We are scheduled to go there on a tour in February and are wondering what else you would suggest we see on our day in Tasmania. Thanks for any suggestions.
Jan
Definitely Bonorong Park (sorry incorrect spelling on my previous post). This could be combined with a visit to Mt Field National Park. It's a nice drive on the way through Hop fields. You can do a short walk to a lovely waterfall through the rainforest.
A visit to historic Richmond and its convict jail and the oldest stone bridge in Australia.
Visit Cascade Brewery just 10 minutes out of town.
Drive to the exclusive suburb of Sandy Bay with views over the harbour.
Explore the port by foot - visit the IXL Jam factory, Salamanca Place (markets on a Saturday), Battery Point.
Visit Port Arthur (full day)- ruins of Australia's historic penal settlement.
I can recommend Heather Henri of Show You Tasmania to assist in organising a private tour.heather@showyoutasmania.com.au
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RCI Rhapsody of the Seas 11 Feb 2013 7 night Tasmania
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Old August 14th, 2012, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by cassamanda View Post
Hi Doug, your pics of our cruise are great. Quick question. Have tried to post a pic from my flickr account but it only posts the url address not the actual pic. I see you are also using photobucket - is this a better option to use?
For example, this is a pic taken at Bonrong Park in Tasmania
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cassamanda/7179645709/
What do i do to just show the pic without the link?
Thanks. (although I'm Judy). Photobucket works best I think. You create an account and upload the photos you want to post. Click on IMG Code - which shows up along with a few other options when you put your mouse pointer on the picture. Then come back here and right click and paste - and there's your picture. It will show as text first but then you can click on preview post at the bottom to see what it looks like (don't forget to then click on submit reply like I've done a few times)
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Old August 14th, 2012, 08:46 AM
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Hugh & Chris,
Many thanks for the list of suggestions - much appreciated!!
Jan
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