Planning Your Holiday
Are you struggling to decide how long your Australian dream trip should be? Or how much time your budget will allow? First Light Travel are here to help!
Read our Blog How Long Should I Spend In Australia?
When is the best time to visit Australia? - This is a good Question. When it is Summer or Winter in the northern hemisphere, the opposite season prevails in Australia, a principle that becomes harder to apply to the transitional seasons of Autumn and Spring. To confuse things further, the four seasons only really exist in the southern half of the country outside of the tropics. We do have distinct seasons though, so it’s well worth taking time to match your hopes and desires to the best season and location.
For further detailed information about Australian Seasons. please refer to our Seasonal Holiday Planner
We know that many of you will be coming to Australia for a variety of experiences, so, therefore, your clothing and equipment needs will vary accordingly. It has to be said that Australia is a fairly informal country and very few places insist on strict dress codes, so unless you are coming to Australia for business we have compiled a useful list that tries to accommodate various requirements. We hope the information provided helps you make the right decisions, ensuring you have a trouble-free holiday.
Unless you are a New Zealand Passport Holder then all other foreign visitors to Australia need a visa irrespective of the country they are travelling from. Visitors to Australia must apply for one of five visas, depending on the purpose of their visit, and the length of their stay. You must apply for a visa before leaving home.
More questions? See our Australian Travel Guide: Australian Passport and Visa Requirements
We know it can be daunting to arrive in a new country for the first time. Especially after a long flight. Don’t worry, the information supplied below will make things run as smooth as possible for you on arrival to Australia.
Please read our Blog on Landing in Australia and What You Need to Know.
The International Date Line has confused navigators, explorers, and the everyday traveler for nearly five centuries since humans first began circumnavigating the globe. It is important you do know what date you actually land in Australia - don’t let it baffle you!
Please read our blog dedicated to explaining the International Date Line Phenomenon - The explanation is at the bottom of this post.
Australia has a wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets and requirements. We have it all! The criteria for choosing which accommodation providers we use are simple. We want to put you in the best accommodation available to suit your budget, whether Luxury Lodges or Backpacker Hostels. We have compiled our preferences with the help of invaluable client feedback and from personal experience. They may have been selected for their historic & cultural significance, unique scenery, and location, outstanding facilities, or simply because they have a host of true ‘Aussie’ character. At the least, they will be of a high standard, clean, friendly and comfortable.
There are 9 distinct styles including Motels, three, four and five-star hotels, luxury lodges, bed and breakfasts, travellers lodge / hostels, camping including campgrounds and glamping.
For more information on each accommodation style: Read a detailed overview in our Australian Accommodation Guide.
There’s nothing quite like exploring the quintessentially Australian ‘great outdoors’. With some of the most breathtaking and varied scenery in the world, untouched terrain, pristine rivers and beaches, and plenty of walking, hiking and water sport options, Australia is an outdoor playground. BUT... Every year, Australian Search and Rescue crew are called up to rescue kiwis and visitors who have become lost, injured or need emergency help. We want your trip of a lifetime to run without a hitch, so our advice is to follow the old Scouting motto and ‘be prepared’.
See our Australian holiday planner: Safety in Australia's Great Outdoors
The World Health Organization indicates that there are no vaccination requirements for any international travellers visiting Australia.
Tourism to Australia has boomed in recent years, mainly due to the growing global interest in Australia’s unique landscapes, exotic wildlife, and world-leading food and wine scene. but folks have also realised Australia offers a safe, friendly holiday destination with tons of fun things to see and do. With visitor numbers increasing we experience certain seasonal bottlenecks, so to avoid disappointment, reserving parts of your holiday well in advance is strongly recommended.
So to help you make an informed decision, take a look at our Australian Travel Guide to Seasonal Bottlenecks and How to Avoid Them
The best way to travel to Australia is obviously by air (unless you want to spend a lot of time on a boat). Most major airlines offer direct flights to Australia. It’s easy to get here on a non-stop flight from America, Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. Or you can get a connecting flight from these countries to Australia from anywhere in the world.
When flying to Australia you may well want to take advantage of the various stopovers available.
For further details and a list of Airlines servicing Australia please see our Travel Guide Getting Flights to Australia
There are no limits to how much cash you can bring into Australia, but if it's $10,000 (AUD) or more (or the equivalent in a foreign currency), you're required to declare it at customs.
To assist you in planning your Australian holiday we have published a comprehensive guide giving you that essential information you need to know before you go. Video and tips helping you plan a hassle-free holiday. Covering topics like the best time to go, what to pack, arriving and driving in Australia, staying connected and the best time to book - Everything You Need to Know.
Download the 'Australian Holiday Planning Guide' for FREE
Our maps page features a visual representation of iconic New Zealand hot spots in relation to both the North and South Island. Plus you have the option to download our New Zealand touring map, this is a more detailed map including travel distances and main driving routes.
When it is Summer or Winter in the northern hemisphere, the opposite season prevails in Australia, a principle that becomes harder to apply to the transitional seasons of Autumn and Spring. To confuse things further, the four seasons only really exist in the southern half of the country outside of the tropics.
Here, you’ll find reliably warm summers at the coast with regular, but brief heat waves in excess of 40°C. Head inland, and the temperatures rise further. Winters, on the other hand, can be miserable, particularly in Victoria, where the short days add to the gloom. Tasmania is cooler year-round: while weather in the highlands is unpredictable at all times, summer is a reliable time to explore the island’s outdoor attractions.
Have a look at the Australian Weather by City
One of the most important parts of planning for an overseas holiday is knowing how much things cost and therefore how much spending money you will need to budget for. Items like petrol, meals and alcohol can quickly add up to a significant amount.
We have compiled some helpful information on Australian prices to help you budget for your Australian holiday. See our Australian Pricing Guide
As with most developed countries, travellers should be aware of their own personal safety and possessions. There are similar levels of crime to other first world countries. The harsh New Zealand sun can catch out travellers to our country - whether on the beach or on the water. Remember to regularly apply sunscreen, wear hats and use protective eyewear.
Australia's many beautiful waterways must be treated with respect. Always exercise caution when swimming in unknown beaches, rivers, lakes and waterways. Never swim or surf alone or after drinking alcohol. If a beach is patrolled by lifeguards, swim between the yellow and red flags and heed the warning signs.
We do have some dangerous insects and animals - check out our blog for further details.
For further detailed information please take the time to read our Blog: Travelling Safely in Australia
In short “use plastic, but make sure it's the right plastic” We recommend you use credit cards for big purchases, car rental & hotel security bonds. Use debit cards for cash as it is less expensive. We suggest you forget about traveler’s cheques or exchanging currency.
Read our detailed article - Everything you need to know about Money in Australia
Tipping and Service Charges: Australians do not expect tips for normal service - even in restaurants and bars. However, tipping for extra special service or kindness is at the discretion of the visitor. Hotels and restaurants in Australia do not add service charges to their bills.
These days it’s easy to stay connected to friends and family while on holiday in Australia - if you come prepared. To make things a little easier we have written down a few tips to ensure you maximise connectivity during your Australian holiday.
Read our Australian Travel Planner article Staying Connected in Australia
Yes, you probably do need an Australian power plug adapter when you're on holiday in Australia, but converters are bulky and limited.
Read our comprehensive guide to Australian Power Plug Adapters & Converters
Australia has excellent medical facilities and public hospitals offering a high standard of care. Australia has a Commonwealth Government Program that guarantees all citizens and some overseas visitors access to a wide range of health services at little or no cost. But if you are not eligible, these services cost and if you don't have travel insurance it could be a lot.
Please read our detailed guide on - What to do if I have an accident in Australia
Driving & Rental Cars in Australia
You can legally drive in Australia if you have either a current driver’s licence from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP). The law here requires all drivers to carry their licence or permit when driving. You will only be able to drive the same types of vehicles you are licensed to drive in your home country. Just make sure your driver’s licence is current and if not in English you should bring an English translation with you or obtain an IDP.
A translation of your overseas drivers permit or Licence can be issued by:
- An Australian Transport Agency authorized translation service provider.
- A diplomatic representative at a high commission, consulate or embassy.
- The authority that issued your overseas permit or license.
These documents will also be acceptable as a translation:
- An international driving permit that has been issued in accordance with a United Nations Convention on road or highway traffic.
- A translation document issued by a Notary Public Office in China.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are caught driving without an acceptable English translation or an international driving permit, you may be prosecuted for driving unlicensed or for driving without an appropriate license and will be liable for an infringement fee of AU$400 or up to AU$1,000 on a conviction in court.
We drive on the left using right-hand drive vehicles and, if you are not overtaking, stay in the left-hand lane on motorways.You can drive on your own driver’s licence for up to 12 months after arriving, and you must keep your licence with your when you are driving. Everyone must wear a seatbelt and children up to age 7 must be in an approved child seat.
You must not talk on a hand-held phone while driving, compose or read SMS messages, or access services on your phone that require you to hold the phone. NZ uses kilometres per hour for speed and kilometres for distances.
The important speed limits are:
For further information please see: Australian Road Rules
Choosing the right vehicle for your Australian road trip is a question of safety!
Choosing the right vehicle is probably one of the most important decisions you can make when planning your driving holiday in Australia. This article has been designed to help you decide which is the best vehicle to rent for your Australian road trip. The rental vehicles we select from when planning your road trip are brand new, modern vehicles with an average age no older than 6 months) and the latest models, including the latest safety features.
For detailed information on Australian rental cars and the safety features to look out for, read our article on Choosing the right vehicle for your Australian road trip
Choosing the right vehicle for your Australian road trip is essential. Make sure that your vehicle has enough room to comfortably seat yourself and fellow travellers including your luggage. Our rental locations/depots are found throughout Australian, covering all major airports and city centres.
We have a fleet of modern, late-model vehicles - sporting the latest safety features. Our fleet includes all popular models of car, including sports, 4WD/SUV, mini-coach, and vans.
Please link through to see our full Australian Hire Vehicle Range.
Australian Car Hire Insurance is different from other countries. To fully understand please read Australian Rental Car Insurance - Demystified
When planning an Australian self-drive holiday or road trip, use our Australian Driving Time and Travel Distance Calculator Below to work out the best route between two towns or cities. This calculator will give you average driving time taking into consideration obstacles like mountain passes, winding roads, single lanes etc. It does not allow time for stops, heavy traffic or the impact of various weather conditions. We recommend you allow extra time to enjoy your journey with safety. When travelling between mainland Australia and Tasmania you'll need to catch a ferry or flight.
Bookings, payments, cancellations and insurance
It’s easy. Just contact us directly by phone or email email@example.com and one of our travel consultants will be happy to discuss your travel plans and talk you through the reservation process. If you would like a no-obligation customized itinerary Fill in the Form and we’ll work with you to craft the perfect trip. If you’re not sure what you would like, don’t worry – we’ll reach out with some tailor-made suggestions.
Phone Us Toll-Free
Our prices are all-inclusive - there are no hidden costs. You will find details of what is included or optional in each itinerary. Our premium hosted tours include all excursions, activities, meals and accommodation. If you are still unsure, we are happy to discuss any aspect of an itinerary with you.
We will provide as best an alternative as we possibly can at no additional charge to you. On our hosted tours all the details will be taken care of for you. If you are on a self-drive tour, simply call our freephone number and we will endeavour to either book you onto a different activity of your choice, determine whether the activity can be rescheduled or, in the event that there are no suitable alternatives, we will refund to you the cost of the activity. Note that this does not apply if you change your mind on a particular activity – only if the activity is cancelled.
Travel insurance is not compulsory except on group diving and some specific adventure tours but is strongly recommended. Please enquire for further details.
For further information please read Travel Insurance for Australia
No. But we regularly have access to some special fares for flights to Australia and the South Pacific. If you require flights please ask and we can get a quote for you.
For further detailed Flight Information please read our Travel Guide on Getting Flights to Australia
Although most tours include your accommodation and transport, each tour is different with regards to meals and activities that are included. Please check the itinerary to see what is included or contact us. Items of a personal nature, such as laundry, phone calls, tipping, room service, optional excursions, wine & beverages, etc. are not included in tour and holiday costs and are your own responsibility. Tour and Holiday prices also exclude International and Australian departure taxes, customs and immigration fees.
If you have read any of our reviews then it has probably become evident that our guests are a priority at First Light Travel, we make an utmost effort to go that extra mile to make sure every situation is dealt with properly.
Travel Advocate – We’re there when you need us! 24 hour Guest Helpline
What do you do if the hotel has lost your reservation? What would you do if the car rental agency has run out of cars? Specifically, whom are you going to call? Who’s going to help you, especially if one incidence has snowballed, disrupting your whole itinerary – a nightmare in the making!
If you book through First Light Travel - a local based agent. All you have to do is make one simple phone call and everything will be taken care of. We work quickly and efficiently to resolve any potential “snags” that may happen during your travels. We are based down here; in the same time zone you will be in, so we are available to talk to the suppliers if in the unlikely event a misunderstanding has occurred.
Without a locally based travel agent, you’re on your own when time counts.
Here is an excerpt from our ‘Essential Australian’ booklet provided to those travelling with First Light Travel
First Light Travel Assist Helpdesk operates a 24 hour Travellers Assistance helpdesk for your peace of mind whilst you are on holiday. This facility puts you in touch with us in the event of a serious problem with your holiday arrangements.
Please follow the guidelines below and take a look at the examples on the next page…
PROBLEMS: If you encounter a problem on your holiday it is important that in the first instance you take the matter up directly with the hotel or supplier to give them the opportunity to put the matter right. If you cannot resolve the issue in this way and are still dissatisfied, you may contact us via the listed telephone numbers below.
CANCELLATIONS: If an Operator Cancels your excursion due to weather disruptions or the like, you don't need to do anything, as you will receive a 100% Refund from First Light Travel automatically.
IMPORTANT: It is important that we are given the opportunity to resolve any problem as we have found from experience that it is very difficult (in some countries impossible) for us to obtain redress for you once travel has been completed. If you have not given us this opportunity we may not be able to arrange for a refund or compensation from the service provider after you get home.
Here are a few tips to help you get quick effective results…
Cancellations: If you elect to cancel an excursion or activity whilst in Australia, the operators generally require at least 24 hours notice, however specialist or private excursions may require more notification as they will be less likely to re-sell their services at short notice. If you simply do not show up for an excursion or activity, no refund will be available.
Reconfirmations: Don’t forget to reconfirm your activities the day prior with the operators. The contact information can be found on your itinerary. This is important in case of potential weather interruptions or unexpected amendments.
Insurance Claims: If you need to make an insurance claim, medical or otherwise, please contact your insurance company directly. You will then be given a list of the documentation you require for a hassle free claim. If you have experienced a theft it will be necessary to visit the local Police Station and file a report. Please ensure you ask for the ‘Police File Number’ (Complaint Acknowledgement Form) for insurance purposes.
Car Trouble: Lost your keys or broken down? Contact the car hire company immediately. If you have broken down and it is outside of normal business hours please contact the AA (Automobile Association) 24-hour roadside assistance. The details are outlined in the documentation provided by your car hire company.
Flights: If your flights have been delayed or cancelled or your luggage has been lost, the most effective way to handle this is to speak directly with the Airline especially if you are at the airport. You are more likely to get results from crew on the ground that fully understand the situation than phoning a help desk that is likely to be located in another city or country who don’t have up to the minute info. If you are going to miss arrangements because of flight delays, please try and contact suppliers directly if possible.
Accommodation: If you are unhappy with your room please talk to hotel reception. They will go out of their way to make the situation right. If you are still unhappy please contact us.
Emergency: Police/ Fire/ Ambulance – Dial 000 – the operator will put you through to the relevant service.
Need a Doctor: For a visitor to Australia requiring non-emergency treatment go to the local ‘Accident and Medical Centre’ These are open early in the morning to late at night offering professional service with no fuss and a relatively low fee. To find your nearest facility either ask a local or Google ‘town accident and medical centre’
Important - Supplier Contact Details: All relevant contact details you need are found on your detailed daily itinerary NOT on the vouchers. The vouchers are purely for First Light Travel to communicate with either the operator or the hotel provider and may be booked through a head office or resellers (wholesaler) so the details on the voucher may not have all the information on them that is relevant to you.
Best Price Guarantee
We are confident our pricing gives outstanding value, so If you find a lower price published on another legitimate site we will refund the difference - better still we will beat it!
Earlybird Savings & Exclusive Online Specials!
Our exclusive specials and early bird booking specials ensure your booking provides you with the best value, anywhere in the world! Our specials are always being updated and are LIVE on our website so you can see what the true cost is immediately!
Australian Car Hire Insurance is different from other countries. To fully understand please read Australian Rental Car Insurance - Demystified
Questions about First Light Travel
Since 2001 we’ve been helping visitors plan their dream holiday to Australia. We aim to make it effortless for you to have the holiday of a lifetime in our beautiful land. Well, we can think of at least 10 reasons to book your trip with us...
The misconception is that booking a trip with a tour operator or travel agent costs you more. Not true! The cost to you, the consumer, is the same and, often better as we pass on our good contract rates to you.
Information overload! There is too much destination information out there to wade through on the internet, travel books and magazines, friends recommendations and other sources. It can be overwhelming, confusing and time-consuming. Then, the actual planning, setting dates, reserving, following up, reconfirming, sending payments to various locations ... there is much to do. Your time is too valuable - let us make it a process whole lot easier for you.
The glamorous part of being in the travel business is we get to travel all the time. Yeah, someone’s got to do it! The reality is, we check out all the rooms and compare the boats, resorts and operators, meet and negotiate with adventure outfitters, airlines and so forth. Most importantly, we experience firsthand the diving, kayaking, rafting and other adventure activities. Can you believe that some dive & adventure travel companies do not have employees that dive or hike? We are all dive certified with thousands of dives under our belts. Travel is our passion and we pass on our valuable knowledge to you so you will reserve the trip that is right for you. An internet site or brochure might look amazing, but the reality can lead to big-time bad experiences and then you have wasted your hard-earned vacation.
We’ve been in the travel business for many years! We know how to put together trips and what makes an itinerary work successfully. We represent only the most seasoned and reputable operators.
We coordinate every aspect of your trip. Airline connections, transfers, what works on certain days, what does not, the timing, the pacing - we know who to make it all work together. Let us handle getting you from point A to B to C for you.
We make sure you have exactly what you have requested - whether it is aisle seats, vegetarian meals, diving equipment rentals, king-size beds or honeymoon specials. As our valued clients, we provide you with important pre-departure information, which includes recommended packing lists, visa and medical information, travel insurance, suggested readings, emergency contact numbers and more.
Just when you think a trip is all set, something happens. Whether it is something major like a hurricane or coup or minor like flight cancellations, we can fix it for you. We can rearrange your trip to accommodate the change or come up with a viable alternative or handle the refund for you. We specialize in smoothing over the rough spots. We do it all the time. Also, our inbound operators are so amazing that if something happens to you in the field, they will handle any emergency or change with efficiency and care.….we provide 24/7 assistance by phone. We act as your travel advocate and deal with suppliers on your behalf.
We are not a faceless, dot-com, travel consortium run by venture capitalists trying to retire in their 30s (too late for that!). We are people who love travel and have chosen it as our profession. Whether you contact us by email or over the telephone, we enjoy hearing from you and will fulfill your requests in a timely and personable manner. Many of our clients have become our friends and return to us time and time again. We all share a great passion for travel.
We will not corral you into a pre-packaged tour that is not right for you. All of our itineraries are customised for the travel you have requested. This is time-consuming and work-intensive for us, but we feel very strongly that your vacation time is golden and you should have the perfect itinerary that is right for your travel desires.
YOUR NEXT TRIP
We value our clients and enjoy hearing your feedback and your thoughts on your next travel plans. We offer special deals to our clients and enjoy planning your trip with you. We are here for the long haul and want you to have many fabulous and exciting vacations with us!
In short, it’s our goal to inspire and enthuse you about your hard earned vacation. As a First Light Travel client, we provide you with comprehensive pre-travel information on what to do before you leave, suggested packing, vital documentation, money and medical matters, driving on the left, safety and more.
Don't take our word for it, check-out nearly 2 decades of Customer Feedback and Reviews
So what’s the next step? Contact us for an obligation free itinerary and quote. Then, relax and enjoy the convenience of having your locally-based travel specialist pull together options, pricing, and ideas. Everything from air tickets to car rentals, coach and train reservations, accommodation, insurance, and activities. We’d love to hear from you.
This is a free service
If you would like some assistance in planning your trip, there is absolutely no charge for our service. All we ask is that you use us to book your land-based accommodation, rental car, activities, flights anything that you would normally pre-book.
What's more, we can often save you time and money. The misconception is that booking a trip with a tour operator or travel agent costs you more. Not true! The cost to you, the consumer, is the same and, often better as we pass on our good contract rates to you. Because we are local and have gone to great lengths to source the best value options available.
How do you earn your money? We earn our income (wages) from a commission paid to us by the tourism operator. This commission is deducted from the normal retail rate (the retail rate is the rate you would normally pay if you went direct to the supplier)
To make your Australian travel dreams come true you need the right team in your corner. That’s where we come in! We’ve been helping travellers enjoy the very best of Australia and New Zealand since 2001 and have learned plenty of tricks which will help you have a hassle-free and super fun holiday. Our past guest testimonials speak volumes about our excellent service and tour planning ability.
See First Light Travel’s Testimonials and Reviews Page for feedback that has come to us either directly or has been pulled in from our social media channels.
A trustworthy source of reviews is social media, so here’s what our guests have to say …
Read Independent guest reviews posted on Facebook
Read Independent guest reviews posted on Google
Started in 2001, First Light Travel is owned and operated by Brent Narbey and Nigel Williamson. Adventurers themselves, with more than a few travel stories of their own, they know the ins and outs of travelling both in Australia and New Zealand. Both are absolute travel professionals with a lifetime in the industry, which means you couldn’t be in safer hands!
Backed by a dedicated team of passionate Australian Travel Specialists, we guarantee to deliver the holiday of a lifetime.
Australia is a land of incredible natural wonders with a unique ecosystem featuring many species found only on these islands - and we want to keep it that way! Sustainable tourism is everything to us, this is our country and we love living here, our job is to help others experience that very thing we treasure the most. So we have put strategies in place to promote the positive impacts and to minimise the negative.
Please take your time and read First Light Travel's Sustainable Tourism Policy
Yes, we love video and we are lucky to have a selection of great videos our guests have shared with us and a collection we have had made our-selves to show you as much as we can of our beautiful country.
First Light Travel have been given the "Aussie Specialist" designation by Tourism Australia. This means you can count on our ultra-knowledgeable Travel Specialists to create a standout Australian holiday, itinerary or vacation for you. Find out how an Aussie Specialist can help you plan your perfect trip Down Under.
Read all about Tourism Australia's - Aussie Specialists Status.