A week in Tasmania: Akl-Syd-Lst return - Air NZ Y, Virgin Y

Discussion in 'Trip Reports and Trip Photos' started by mr_osborne, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. mr_osborne

    mr_osborne Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    162
    20
    Auckland, NZ
    Hey, I didn't take any pictures, and there wasn't anything remarkable about this trip, but I did learn a few things, and it may be usefl for people traveling on the trans tasman alliance.

    For some background, I'm a business student living in auckland, with a girlfriend living in tasmania, so I like to visit her when I can. I had purchased a koru Club membership in advance of this trip and so this was my first time travelling with it, but I have travelled with my dad when he was Gold and Gold elite.

    Akl-Syd.
    It was a 7 am flight so I was up at 4:45. rocked up to the Premium checkin, where I used one of the machines, and it was nice to have someone helping me, as it was my first time, and I'm not at my peak at 5 in the morning. The lounge was nice, althnot remarkable. I was a little bit dissapointed with the food selection, but I may have just had expectations set too high.

    The flight left on time, and was fairly uneventful, apart from someone mistaking row 3 for row 27 and trying to take my seat. I was sitting in 3C, which is in the space plus zone, which is useful for me at 185cm. The middle seat was also free, so I got 2 armrests. I asked for an express pass, which Koru members don't normally get, but thought since it was an elite light load I might get lucky. The CSM came over and apologised and said they were only allowed to give them to Gold elites, which I wasn't too fussed about as I usually use smart gate. On landing in sydney (15 minutes early), we were told we would couldn't get to our airgate, as the aircraft currently in it was still waiting for six passengers, due to the customs computers crashing. This meant we were about 15-30 minutes late getting off the plane, and when we got to immigration it was a nightmare... This wasn't helped by the fact that Smartgate was out of order. (bare in mind I usually get through immigration in about 2 minutes, so I have high expectations). Once I got through to the baggage claim, I went looking for my bag, expecting it to be out. I couldn't see it so went to stand by the ramp. After waiting for over 30 minutes, I started to get a bit worried... so eventually I headed down to baggage services, and they discovered my bag had been sent to the wrong carousel, so had to go and find it. I was a little bit stressed as I had a connection, but in the end it turned out I had pleanty of time.

    The gate for transfers is a little hard to spot if you're a first timer, but I asked someone and they pointed it out for me, which was a great help. Basically, It;s just on your left as you clear customs (food etc) and before you go through the doors. I got my boarding pass, and headed outside to the bus. We had to wait for the second bus to come along due to traffic, and apart from the fact that I was worried about time it was fine. In the domestic terminal I wnet and found the lounge, and was quite impressed with the size, but dissappointed with the view.
     
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  2. mr_osborne

    mr_osborne Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    162
    20
    Auckland, NZ
    Syd- Lst
    This was the first time I had flown this route, as last time I flew from melbourne. I was in row 5, aisle again (my preference), although was disappointed I missed out on trying row 3. Tghe service seemed a lot less personal than thr Air NZ flight I had just come off, but it may have been a busier flight.

    for the meal (which i got since I was flying on a works fare (Air NZ thing)), I had a sandwhich and a few other things, the sandwhich was awful, although I couldn't quite figure out why. We landed about 15-30 minutes late, and my bag came out fairly early, which was useful.

    we did some odd jobs in Lauceston for the afternoon, then drove to scotsdale, where we had booked a stay In Beulah, a lovely bed and breakfast. I'd highly reccomed this place if you're looking for somewhere to stay. It's not fancy or anything, but the hosts are great, and so is the food. It's probably suited better to a couple, as there isn't much to do, but if you need some relaxation, it's great.
     
  3. mr_osborne

    mr_osborne Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    162
    20
    Auckland, NZ
    We then drove out east to schamander, where we had picked up a groupon voucher for Schamander Beach Resort, 2 nights for $190. As I didn't have high expectations for the place, we were pleasently surprised. We had a newly renoivated room, which trip advisor will tell you is a must, and we had a lovely ocean view. We ate at the hotel restaurant (5 spice restaurant) the first night, and were pleased, but not excited, but it is worth noting that this was about half the price of our next cheapest meal, so it's not exactly a fair comparison.

    The second day we decided to drive down to freycinent peninsula, where we made reservations for dinner at the Freycinent Lodge. We got there about 3 pm, and decided to walk to the wineglass bay lookout, as last time we were there it had been undergoing renovations. I'm a photographer, so we spent quite a while up there. It was well worth the walk, although it would have been nicer if we had been staying in the lodge and been able to go and have a shower before getting dressed up for dinner. The food we had was amazing, and we both had the steak as we'd eaten there before.

    On the drive back we were a little concerned about our level of petrol, but every fuel station we passed was closed and didn't have credit card facilities... however we made it back in one piece.

    The next day we drove down to Tinderbox, which is about 15-25 minutes drive out of Hobart. More to come later... probably. Does this actually interest anyone?
     
  4. haydensydney

    haydensydney Established Member

    Feb 20, 2008
    1,363
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    Sydney, Australia
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    Thanks heaps for the report so far!

    The B&B looks quite nice. I've never done a B&B before though... is there much interaction between the owners and guests?
     
  5. mr_osborne

    mr_osborne Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    162
    20
    Auckland, NZ
    At this place, we get lots of interaction.... but at the place in Hobart, which I'll be coming to later, there wasn't.

    I feel like if you didn't want there to be, there wouldn't, but the owners at Beulah are really friendly, and we probably spent an hour checking out, because both me and my GF wanted to check emails which was in their kitchen, and we were chatting to them. Last time we were there, we had brought some goat's cheese, and crackers, so we wanted to have that by the fire. she brought us some other different cheeses and a home made quince paste to try. It's the small things like that which make it feel homely and welcoming.

    When it comes to breakfast, all of the guests are sitting at the same table unless you want to eat at a different time (which is possible). We also choose to have dinner there (I believe it was $30 per person, which got us a salmon main, with a quail egg salad and various dessert items), which I personally was very impressed with.

    I think if you go in expecting 5 star service, then you'll be disappointed, but it's service with a smile (at this place). Also, we also probably have more interaction because we're naturally an interesting couple (I'm from NZ, she's from the states, now she lives in Tasmania, we met at school in NZ, and everyone seems to have lots more questions after that...)

    When we first choose it, we choose it over another place which had a nicer room, because when we had a look, we felt welcome, whereas at the other place we were thrown the keys, and the place was in a mess, and the owners didn't seem very pleasant.
     


  6. mr_osborne

    mr_osborne Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    162
    20
    Auckland, NZ
    So, we timed our trip so that we'd be going by Kabuki by the sea, a lovely japanese restaurant, which has good food, but the most amazing views. We got a main to share, which was really yummy, but we were full, as we'd also stopped at Mt Elephant Pancakes.

    IMG_5720 [1024x768].jpg IMG_5717 [1024x768].jpg
    So, we headed down to Hidden cove Day spa retreat, Tinderbox. We got a voucher deal for it, and I can see there is another one here for those who are interested. It is quite a way out of the city compared to last time where we were 2 minutes walk from salamanca place. However, in saying that, it was nice, with a nice view, and as I live in a city, I like to escape a bit on holiday :)

    As part of the deal, it included 2 * one hour massages, and 2 facials. The massages were nice, but it may be like flying in J. Now I want them everywhere I go :p. As for the facial, I don't think I'll be getting another one, although My skin did look a little nicer for the rest of the day, but we'd gone and spent $50 on chocolate the day before, so it didn't have much of a chance. They had special prices for guests staying there, so if it's your sort of thing, then it seemed fairly reasonably priced to me.

    We were also pleasantly surprised to discover our package included a full cooked breakfast, which unfortunately we had to have at 7/7:30 both mornings due to busy days. The accommodation you stay in is quite spacious (although possibly not as practical as it could be), and there is only one.... suite? Basically, you're the only guests, so there can be lots of privacy.

    There is also a large spa, which is in a separate spa house... which is lockable if you want some privacy :).

    We ate as smolt (tripadvisor) the first night, which we felt was lovely service, but we were a little disappointed with the food. I thought I had simply made a bad choice, with the rabbit, which I felt was interesting, but a little bland.... But my girlfriend got a duck special, which was far far too salty.

    The second night we ate at Ciuccio.(Tripadvisor) We were very disappointed, both with the service and the food. We had come in earlier in the day, and made a booking, but when we turned up, the guy who we had spoke too, seemed confused. He then pointed at a table, and told us to sit there and someone would be with us. However, we had to wait for around 20 minutes for the menus to be brought to us. We both got a veal based dish, and I found mine very unappealing, and my partners ok.

    We then drove all the way up to cradle mountain, which seemed about the furtherest drive you can do in Tasmania, taking us the best part of the day. Some cool places to stop on the way include The Honey farm, where you can get the most amazing vanilla ice cream I've ever had (the taste is pretty good, vanilla with a hint of honey, but... the... Giapo uses the word "mouth feel", and I can't think of a better term, is amazing, it melts in your mouth, so smooth). A deep fried Mars bar from Campbell town while looking at how people were exiled to the other side of the world for stealing a few sheep, great for children with a playground, it's also a good place to stop when travelling between Hobart and Launceston.

    Next, we almost get run over by a truck on the roads of tasmania...
     
  7. serfty

    Moderator

    Nov 16, 2004
    36,543
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    MEL
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    LoL, SWMBO and I have great memories of Kabuki from the late 90's - however it was a grey day and the swell surging into Great Oyster bay crashing onto the rocks below was awe inspiring.
     
  8. mr_osborne

    mr_osborne Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    162
    20
    Auckland, NZ
    It probably hasn't changed much, it seems a little older...

    I'd be curious to know if anyone has actually stayed there...
     
  9. mr_osborne

    mr_osborne Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    162
    20
    Auckland, NZ
    Re: Tasmania Travels: Akl-Syd-Lst return - Air NZ Y, Virgin Y

    So, the drive up to launceston was uneventful, and I appreciate the 110 speed limit, coming from NZ where it's 100, and 105 will get you a ticket :(.
    Once we got off the main road and hit the back roads, then it got interesting....
    Basically, there weren;t many people around, so we were driving along, and hadn't seen anyone else for about 15 minutes, then all of a sudden, as we were going around a corner, a truck was coming around the other way, and wasn't in his lane peoperly.... Now I was in a Hyundai I20, which is a great little car, but not something you want to hit a truck with. Fortunately, there was just dirt on the side of the road, so we went off a little, but only shaken up....

    We had booked at the Cradle Mountain Lodge, for the Thursday night, and I was flying out saturday lunch, so we would have to sort out the friday night, and we were contemplating either a second night in cradle mounbtain, or heading back to launceston.

    We rocked up to Cradle Mountain Lodge in the late afternoon, where there was slight drizzle, and after driving past the main lodge/reception, we managed to find it. As an A|Club Platinum, I enquired about an upgrade, and a welcome drink or gift, as well as a late check out. I wasn't expecting all of it, bt was expecting at minimum the welcome drink/gift, and was hoping for the late check out (even 1-2 would have been great). The reception desk lady basically told me that they didn't recognise A|Clua b status, and they couldn't do anything (They were also very full, but in saying that, when I'd emailed them in advnce, they said, sorry, we don't have any rooms free for an upgrade. in the next paragraph, they said they would be happy to upgrade me for money, so I was a bit sceptical of them being 'full', but it turns out later they were (I think)). I asked her to check with her manager, and when she came back and said it hadn't changed I asked tospeak to the manager.

    Basically what the manager explained to me, was that they are affiliated with accor, but not owned by accor, and as part of the contract they had signed with accor, they didn't sign the A|Club status part (But they do give points). I explained my concerns, that I booked it because it was an accor property, (pointed to the accor sign hanging in the reception) as if it wasn't for accor we would have tried the chateau (we loved freycinent lodge when we stayed in it, owned by the same people). She looked at my booking, and we were booked for one night, she said she couldn't upgrade me, but we were in one of the best pencil pine lodges there was, the one she normally gives to honeymooners, overlooking the lake (I'll post a picture of the view later), and she also offered to send a cheese plate up to us. I was more than happy with this, as the main thing I'd been upset with was the receptionists attitude. we were looking at spending a second night at the lodge, but had only booked one night because we thought we may also want to try out another place or head back to launceston, as I was flying out at lunch after the second night.

    The manager agreed to match the rate I'd paid for the first night (220 AUD ish including breakfast) and upgrade us to a spa suite (possibly due to the fact that we couldn't have the same room on the second night as it had been promised to a group). Needless to say, we took her up on the offer. To be honest, had I paid for it, I think I would have been dissapointed in the spa suite, as we almost preffered the Pencil pine cabin we had. Having the spa was nice, but the view from the PP cabin was amazing, and the gas fire in the PP cabin was a set and forget, as opposed to the wood fire in the suite which seemed to be either too hot or too cold. I think if we go back next time, we'll just get a pencil pine cabin, unless we were entertaining guests etc, but in saying that, me and my GF aren't too worried about lots of personal space.

    One thing which is important to mention, there is basically no mobile phone signal there. The only network which works there, is the Telstra next G, although this may change, and if it's important, I'd reccomed talking to reception. There is Wifi in the Lodge, as awell as a computer.

    We decided to eat at the Highland Restaurant, the fancier of the two food places at the lodge. One note for Accor advantage members, you can only use your dining discount at the cheaper Tavern Bar and Bistro, which looks ideal for kids, or if you want somewhere a bit more casual. The way it works is you can order 2 or 3 courses, for a set price, I believe it was 2 for $5, and 3 for $65. We both thoroughly enjoyed our meals, and I started with a beef carpaccio, and had a lovely venison for my main. My partner had an amazing Salmon sashimi for her starter, and I think she had a steak for her main. I would probably say this was probably our best meal of the trip, possibly tied with freycinent lodge restaurant. Also, The buffet breakfast is served in here each morning, and there is a wide range of things (probably the best buffet breakfast I'd ever had, not that that's saying much), although I don't think it varies a lot. I'd reccomed paying extra to get the breakfast included in the rate, as there isn't much around there (that we could see).

    The next day, we did a few things, including 2 walks, visiting the Devils @ Cradle, which I highly reccomend. For the best value for money, if you have time, what I reccomend, is that you pay for the last night session (8:30 during daylight savings 5:30 other times), but go earlier, and pay for your ticket about 5 minutes before a day session. This means that you can have a walk around the place in the light, where you get to get a good idea of the layout (very useful for when you have to come back in the dark), as well as seeing a different side of the animals. We were invited to tag along to the day tour which was great, because there was only about 5-10 people including us, as opposed to the night tour where is was more like 20-30. It also meant we got to pat a devil a second time :eek::eek::eek:. It's also good if you want to get pictures.

    We also visited The Wilderness gallery, which as a photographer, I thought was amazing. There is mainly landscape photographs, most of which are for sale, but personally I'd rather pay the $5 (?) entry fee to look at them all then just have one. If you're into photography, it's a great place for inspiration, although it can be a little intimidating :p.

    The wilderness gallery is located in the Cradle Mountain Chateau, which was another place we had considered spending a night. We ate dinner there, choosing their nice restaurant, The Grey Gum. We felt that this was a bit of a let down after the night before, and to make matters worse, we were cut short in dining time because we had to leave to get to Devils at Cradle. We had allowed 90 minutes, which we were told woiuld be more than ample at the time of booking, but in the end we were a little rushed. Oh well, lesson learned.

    We also had a quick look at the rooms, which we felt were, nice, but quite tired, and that we'd done better at the lodge. Also, location wise, the lodge is a lot closer to the Naional park (it borders it).

    My final piece of advice, the Lodge does a complimentary guided walk at 5pm every night, I'd highly reccomed you try and do this on your first night. We got to see a wild platypus, as well as learning lots, and I feel like it would be invaluable for planning the activities you do during your
    stay.

    That's a lot of writing. Next up, our drive back to launceston, the road block, and my bag goes missing...
     
  10. scaredeycat

    scaredeycat Member

    Jul 10, 2007
    303
    122
    Hobart
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    Re: Tasmania Travels: Akl-Syd-Lst return - Air NZ Y, Virgin Y

    Avoid Ciuccio - the food is fine, but the service is appalling. Young, disinterested staff. If you're after Italian you're much better off going to Maldini or D'Angelo's. The former is more sophisticated (and more expensive), the latter is straightforward and unpretentious, but at least both serve you in a timely fashion (assuming you can get a table).
     
  11. kpc

    kpc Senior Member

    Mar 11, 2003
    5,221
    1,892
    Sydney
    I stayed there in 2005. Nice place run by an Aussie chap from Sydney and his Japaneses partner.
     
  12. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
    15,185
    10,464
    Sunshine Coast
    Nice TR.I love Tasmania and so work there frequently.Have spent a year out of the last 5 there.
     
  13. mr_osborne

    mr_osborne Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    162
    20
    Auckland, NZ
    Well, we know this now... I wish we had known it then

    Cool. I plan on staying there one day

    Really? what do you do?
     
  14. drron

    drron Enthusiast

    Jul 4, 2002
    15,185
    10,464
    Sunshine Coast
    A physician.Work at the Mersey in Latrobe mainly.
     
  15. mr_osborne

    mr_osborne Member

    Aug 17, 2011
    162
    20
    Auckland, NZ
    Re: Tasmania Travels: Akl-Syd-Lst return - Air NZ Y, Virgin Y

    So, we left the next morning, after having a lovely breakfast we headed back towards Launceston... We were low on Fuel, and had to wait 10 minutes for the petrol station to open... Because apparently tasmanians don't need petrol before 9AM...

    After getting that out of the way, it was a fairly uneventful trip until we came across a tree blocking most of the road...
    We made it into the airport in good time, but it turned out the plane hadn't departed yet, and therefore there was going to be delays...
    Turns out it was going to be delayed by 1 hour and 55 minutes... which told me it was going to be just over 2 hours, but they didn't want to comp people (they basically had a conversation to that effect in front of me whilst I was checking in)... Because there is no lounge at Launceston (for virgin) we decided to head into the city for lunch, because I really wanted to go to velvet burger. In the end I believe it was about 2:15 late in leaving, but oh well...

    I managed to secure a row 4? (I can't actually remember, but the first row of economy) seat, which was probably about the most space I'd ever had in economy, and because they had had to sub the plane they hadn't loaded meals on board, so I was told I could order off the menu for free, which was fine with me. I walked all the way from my gate to the transfer office, only to be told to walk all the way back, and just jump on the bus, which was someone what irritating, but oh well...

    After checking in at the Air NZ counter, I asked if I should do anything special with my baggage, which was meant to be checked all the way through to Auckland, but I was aware that my flight had been delayed, potentially causing problems. He assured me that there was still plenty of time, and not to worry. After battling my way thorough the Duty free maze that sydney is, and finding my way to the lounge, I made myself a Lemon Lime & Bitters, and opened my emails...

    The first call came for our flight, so I hopped up, but I figured there was no rush, since the gate was right underneath the lounge... but since I hadn't flown from sydney in a long time, I thought I should check with the staff.... They had a look on the screen, then told me to rush as I was one of 3 yet to board :|, with the others all sitting in the lounge... as I emerged from the Lounge I heard Paging Passengers Osborne, Mr... which was quite a shock..

    I had all of my side of row three to myself, which was nice after a stressful day of flying, with both a window and an aisle seat. But the thing which really made the flight special was the CSM. after hearing about my last delay, she went well out of her way to ensure I had a good flight. Small things like bringing a bottle of water when I asked for a refill, which was great, because I'm not a fan of bothering the hostess, so tend to not drink enough... she also gave me a set of noise cancelling headphones instead of the usual ones, which were far better... I asked for an express arrivals pass, which she gave me, which was useful to have, but the best thing, as I was disembarking the plane, she saw me, and told me to wait a second, and handed me a few bonus express cards, both for departure and arrivals... :D :D :D. Since I'm not normally entitled to them, they're great to have.

    After picking up duty free, and clearing customs, I was at the baggage claim about 5 minutes after stepping off the plane. The bags started to come out, but Mine wasn't with the priority ones... or the next lot... or the next plane... eventually I went over to the baggase services desk, and it turned out my bag had never been scanned on (It took them about 10 minutes to find this out for me...) and it would be here in the morning... which was not ideal, but I was tired, and my ride had been waiting for about an hour at this point, so I just accepted this and left.

    Eventualy it arrived at about 10:30 pm on sunday night, which sort screwed with my plans to get the washing done before my work week... but at least it was all in one piece, and customs was happy with everything I'd declared.

    Overall, I was fairly impressed with the service I received on Virgin, but the ground experience really let them down in my view... In saying that, Priority boarding worked well on one of the flights, and I guess a number of factors were out of their control...

    That's the end, if you have any questions feel free to ask... :)
     

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