FAQs

Common Questions

1. How much will it cost to travel to Australia, New Zealand or Fiji?

Prices for our travel packages from the USA typically start at US$3500 per person for 2 weeks including all accommodation,  flights (domestic and international), transfers, tours, some meals and Visa issuance for entry into Australia. 

Pricing is dependent on the “class” of accommodation (3-5 Star) and the “number” of travelers in your group, the more people to share costs the less it will cost per person. Pricing is also significantly affected by the “Dates” you chose to travel ranging from Basic Season (cheap) to Peak (expensive).

2. How long does it take to get to Australia, New Zealand or Fiji?

An average non-stop flight from the USA (West Coast) to:

Australia is approximately 14 hours.
New Zealand is approximately 13 hours.
Fiji is approximately 11 hours.

On the way back, the flight time is less due to the prevailing Easterly winds across the Pacific. Flight times may vary depending on routing.

3. What is the Date Format?

Common date format in Australia, New Zealand & Fiji is: DD/MM/YY (not MM/DD/YY).

EXAMPLE: May 3rd, 2017

US Date – 05/03/17

Australia/New Zealand Date – 03/05/17

4. Are self-drive packages available for Australia, New Zealand &/or Fiji?

Yes, self-drive travel packages that include rental vehicles are available and can be tailored to suit your needs.

All drivers, including visitors from other countries, must carry their license or permit at all times when driving. You must have either a current driver’s license from your home country or an International Driving Permit (IDP). You will only be able to drive the same types of vehicles you are licensed to drive in your home country. Make sure your driver’s license is current and in English. If your license is not in English, you must bring an English translation with you or obtain an IDP. Contact your local automobile club for further details about obtaining a translation or an IDP.

Please remember that in Australia, New Zealand & Fiji we drive on the left-hand side of the road. Drivers give way (or yield) to all traffic crossing or approaching from the right. Signposting follows standard international symbols and all distances are in kilometres (km). Both drivers & passengers must wear a safety belt in both the front and back seats.

Here are some general tips and hints to help you drive safely:

  • Always drive on the left-hand side of the road and give way to your right
  • All road distances are measured in kilometres
  • When turning left, give way (yield) to traffic crossing or approaching from your right
  • When the traffic light is red, you must stop. There is no left turn rule as in North America.
  • The amber traffic light means stop unless you are so close to the intersection you can’t stop safely.
  • Random police stops for breath testing can occur at anytime 
  • Cameras are also common place along highways and stoplight intersections.  Fines are sent by post for speed or stopping violations.

5. What is twinshare accommodation?

Twin Share means “Double Occupancy.”  This term refers to two people traveling together who occupy the same room.


Emergencies

6. What do I dial in an Emergency?

In case of an Emergency whilst in Australia Dial “000″ (not 911).

In case of an Emergency whilst in New Zealand Dial “111″.

In case of an Emergency whilst in Fiji Dial “917″ for Police, or “911″ for Fire or Ambulance.


Flights (Pricing, Baggage, Points, Sales)

7. What are the Seasonal Dates for finding lower airfares to Australia?

8. What are the Current Special Airfares?

Special (cheap) airfares are often announced by the airlines to help increase flight loading during slow periods or to match fares offered by competitive airlines. 

To view current Airfare Specials click here.

9. What are the Flight Baggage Restrictions?

Qantas Airlines restrict checked baggage to 2 pieces (50 pounds per piece) per person plus 1 carry-on bag (15 pounds). This allowance is applicable to all your Qantas flights in your booking (including both International and Domestic sectors). However some flights in Australia (e.g. to Heron Island) are restricted to 1 piece per person plus a carry-on. Please check with the Airlines for baggage restrictions associated with your flights before you depart the USA. Penalties may be issued by the Airlines as a result of excess baggage. Excess baggage penalties are your responsibility. If you wish to travel with more than the checked baggage allowance you can pre-purchase an Additional Baggage Allowance before you go, at lower rates than Airport Excess Baggage charges.

More details at: http://www.qantas.com/baggage

10. What airline will I be flying with when I travel?

11. Can Frequent Flyer Points be used to pay for Flights?

Frequent Flyer Flights must be purchased by you, direct with your Frequent Flyer Program provider. Unfortunately we cannot purchase points flights on your behalf.

We can however easily connect an itinerary to match your points flights. We strongly recommend we help you design your itinerary “before” purchasing your flights, because in most cases we can save you time and money by designing an ‘open-jaw’ itinerary, specifically one that “arrives” into one city but “departs” from another (this can typically save you the cost of one Domestic Flight and one night Accommodation). Once your itinerary is designed, then we recommend purchasing your points flights to match. Sometimes this may require a little extra “toing-and-froing” to make sure we get the design of your itinerary matching your Program’s “available” points flights. Please call us on Toll Free on 888-3592877 to start your itinerary design process, or “Contact Us” via our email form.

12. Can I accrue Frequent Flyer Points when I fly?

Frequent Flyer Points can be accrued during travel if your flight booking meets the ‘Rules & Conditions’ associated with your Frequent Flyer Program & the Airline operating the flight. Please let us know your Frequent Flyer program details (Airline and Membership Number) and we’ll update them into your Flight Booking so that you can earn points if your flights are eligible.


Important Dates (Timezones, School & Public Holidays)

13. What are Australia's School & Public Holiday Dates?

Australian School Terms:  http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/special-dates-and-events/school-term-dates

Australian Public Holidays: http://www.australia.gov.au/about-australia/special-dates-and-events/public-holidays

Please also see our Best Time to Travel to Australia Page for more useful vacation planning tips and travel advice.

14. What are New Zealand's School and Public Holiday dates?

For the most up to date information regarding New Zealand School Holidays, please visit http://www.minedu.govt.nz/theMinistry/EducationInNewZealand/SchoolTermsAndHolidays.aspx

For details regarding New Zealand Public Holidays, please visit http://www.kiwiwise.co.nz/info/new-zealand-school-public-holidays

15. What are Fiji's School & Public Holiday dates?


Kids

16. What are the Child Discounts on Airfares to Australia or New Zealand?


Maps

17. Where can I find online street maps?

For online Australian Street & City Maps go to www.whereis.com.au or Google Maps.

For online New Zealand Street & City Maps go to http://nzguide.newzealand.co.nz/whereis/ or Google Maps.

For online Fiji Street & City Maps go to Google Maps.


Medical & Health

18. Do I need Vaccinations?

No vaccinations of any kind are required for travel into Australia, New Zealand or Fiji.


Money (Exchange Rates, Credit Cards & ATMs)

19. What is the current exchange rate?

The rate constantly fluctuates however, if you use the following website you will be able to view the current accurate rate for Australia, New Zealand & Fiji – www.xe.com

20. Can I use my credit cards when I travel?

Visa and Mastercard are probably the most popular credit cards used in Australia, New Zealand & Fiji. American Express Credit Cards are also widely used, but may not be accepted as widely as Visa and Mastercard. Discover Cards are not commonly accepted in Australia, New Zealand or Fiji. Travelers Checks are also widely accepted throughout Australia, New Zealand & Fiji, although these are not commonly used anymore.

Australia, New Zealand & Fiji are well serviced with many ATM facilities that are globally connected. You can withdraw the local currency from ATMs using your Visa or Mastercard (please confirm with your bank that your credit/debit card is set-up correctly). Here is a link that you can use to help you locate ATMs worldwide: http://visa.via.infonow.net/locator/global/jsp/SearchPage.jsp

Please contact the Bank for your Credit Card and advise the Security Department of the dates that you will be traveling to Australia/New Zealand/Fiji. If you do not let them know they may “cancel” or “freeze” your Credit Card as soon as they see unusual Foreign Transactions appearing on your account. THIS IS IMPORTANT – PHONE THEM RIGHT NOW IF YOU ARE TRAVELLING SOON!


Passports and Visa's

21. Where/how do I get a US Passport?

To get a US passport, please visit: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html

22. Do I need a Visa to travel?

Australia:
Yes, you do need a Visitor Visa to travel to Australia if you hold a USA Passport. “No worries” though, we take care of it for you when you book your vacation with us.

For the formal Australian Government website on other Visa Options please see:
http://www.immi.gov.au/visitors/tourist/visa-options.htm

New Zealand:
No, you do not need a Visa to travel to New Zealand if you hold a USA Passport.
http://glossary.immigration.govt.nz/VisaFreeCountries.htm

Fiji:
No, you do not need a Visa to travel to Fiji if you hold a USA Passport.
http://www.fijiembassydc.com/visas.htm


Phone Adapters & Power Converters

23. Do I need Power Adapters (USA to Australia, New Zealand & Fiji)?

Yes.  For more details see: Our Power Adapters Page

24. Can I use my cell/mobile phone when I travel?

If you are taking your own cell (mobile) phone abroad, please contact your service provider to determine the Rates & Plans available to you.  We recommend you clarify the rates to: activate/de-activate the plan, receive calls, dial calls, receive text messages, send text messages and data roaming charges (email, web-browsing).  Should you be required to activate an International Plan on your phone, please remember to deactivate the plan when you return to the USA.  When abroad, turning off Data Roaming in your phone’s settings may help you avoid excessive roaming charges.  

Please check your phone’s Charging Unit to ensure it is compatible with a 240V power supply.  If not, then you may need to purchase a Power Adapter & Converter Kit.  For more details see: Our Power Adapters Page

Also, Cell (mobile) phones or SIM cards can be rented for short periods of time from service counters in many of Australia’s & New Zealand’s major airports. 

Note: Aussie’s do not use the term “cell phone” instead they call it a “mobile phone”.

25. Where can I find phone numbers for places in Australia and New Zealand?

For Australian Phone Numbers, Addresses & Timezones see http://www.whitepages.com.au/

For New Zealand Phone Numbers, Addresses: http://yellow.co.nz/whitepages/

For Fiji Phone, Numbers, Addresses: http://www.whitepages.com.fj/

26. How do I dial an International Phone Number from the USA?

You can use the following website for help with dialing internationally: http://www.countrycallingcodes.com/

‘61’ is the country code for Australia
’64′ is the country code for New Zealand
’679′ is the country code for Fiji

EXAMPLE – To dial an Australian Phone Number from the USA use the following example as a guide.

To phone Heron Island Resort, the Australian Number is (07) 4972 9055. From the USA dial 011-61-7-49729055.

‘011’ to dial another country
‘61’ is the country code for Australia
‘07’ is the Area Code for the Australian State of Queensland (drop the ‘0’ when dialing from the USA)
4972 9055 is the local phone number.

27. Can I buy Phone Cards to call the USA?

Prepaid Phone Cards can be used to dial both National and International numbers (e.g. USA) from within Australia, New Zealand & Fiji. They are available for purchase over-the-counter at most Service Stations (Gas Stations), News Agencies, Grocery and Convenience Stores. Most phone cards work by dialing a local Toll-Free number, then your Phone Card’s Account Number and PIN, then you are able to make your call. Prepaid Phone Cards can be purchased in many denominations (e.g. $10, 20, $50…). NB: Rates will vary depending on the card you purchase. It’s not uncommon to find cards with rates as low as “2c per minute” for an International Call from Australia to the USA.


Scuba Diving

28. What are the luggage weight restrictions onboard the dive boat?

Fly/Dive itineraries do have luggage weight restrictions of 20-25kg (45-55lbs) per person depending on the dive boat you are booked on. Luggage restrictions also may apply to itineraries that do not include a flight.  Boats do request that you keep clothing and personal items to a minimum.  You will be advised of any luggage weight restrictions prior to departure.  The Dive office may have facilities to store excess luggage.

You may be required to pack using soft sided luggage if your itinerary includes a fly/dive itinerary.

29. What essential items should I bring on board the dive boat?

Personal items, toiletries, shampoo & conditioner, swimwear, hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, casual clothing, footwear (sandals or tennis shoes) and sweatshirt (for warmth) in the winter (May – Sept).

30. What food and beverages are provided on the liveaboard dive boat?

All dive boats include all meals and snacks for the duration of your trip. Special dietary needs can be catered to with prior notice. Tea, coffee & water are complimentary on all boats. Some drinks are available at no additional charge depending on the meal service. Any alcohol served on board is available for purchase. Please do not bring any alcohol on board with you.

31. How can people reach me in an emergency?

All boats have the ability to be contacted in the case of an emergency. To be contacted, please leave contact information (phone number & email address) of the dive boat with your emergency contact. The emergency contact will need to contact the dive office to have a message relayed to you. Please ensure your contact has your name, vessel and dates of travel.

32. I have my own digital camera. Does the dive boat have an option to download onboard?

Some boats do have the capabilities to allow an option to download digital photos to onboard laptop computers

33. How do I pay any onboard expenses?

You can settle your onboard expenses with either Australian dollars or credit card.

34. What about tipping?

Tipping is not mandatory. Tips are always appreciated by a dive crew for a job well done. There is no set percentage. It is the practice of the dive boats to divide all tips received amongst the entire crew.

35. Do I need to bring my certification card?

Yes, you will need to present your certification card upon boarding.

36. Do I need a dive medical?

A dive medical is not required for all divers. If you have a history of a medical condition contraindicative to diving (i.e. asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, heart or lung disorders, etc) you will be required to provide a diving medical certificate stating you are fit to scuba dive.

37. What dive equipment is provided on board?

Tanks and weight belts

38. What size are the tanks?

Tank sizes range from 8 – 11.4 litre / 66-88 cubic feet depending on the dive boat selected.

39. What rental scuba gear is available?

The following gear is available*: BDC, regulator, wrist mount dive computer, wetsuits, torch and cylume sticks, alternate air source & gauges.

*Not all equipment is available on each boat. These items may be offered as a complimentary item or there may be a rental charge. Please enquire after deposit should you need to rent any equipment from the dive company.

40. What is the standard tank fitting?

US style yoke connections. DIN fittings and adaptors are not provided.
US style K valve. DIN Valves are not available, and adaptors will be required.

41. Is it required that I use a dive computer?

Yes, all divers must dive with their own dive computers depending on the dive boat selected. Dive computers may be available for rental. Some dive boats also offer a complimentary dive computer workshop.

42. What is the recommended weight wetsuit?

It is recommended that you wear a wetsuit to protect against the cold, sun and abrasions.  Lycra skin to 3mm are suggested for the summer months (Oct – Mar) and 5mm for the winter months (Apr – Sept).  Below is an average water temperature chart for the Great Barrier Reef area.

Table 5. Climate Averages for the Great Barrier Reef
(Queensland), Australia

Great Barrier Reef

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Max °C

31.8

31.5

30.7

29.3

27.6

25.9

25.6

26.4

27.9

29.7

30.8

31.8

Max °F

89

88

87

84

81

78

78

79

82

85

87

89

Min °C

23.5

23.3

22.6

21.0

18.9

17.3

16.3

16.3

17.7

19.8

21.4

22.8

Min °F

74

73

72

69

66

63

61

61

63

67

70

73

Water
  Avg °C

28

28

27

26

26

25

22

22

23

26

26

27

Water
  Avg °F

84

84

82

80

79

78

72

72

74

79

80

82

Avg # Rainy Days

16.7

16.1

18.3

15.3

12.5

9.1

7.6

7.7

6.3

7.0

9.3

11.6

Avg Rainfall (mm)

401

386

392

225

92.2

55.9

32.5

30.6

26.1

34

68

126

Avg Rainfall (inches)

15.7

15.2

15.4

8.9

3.6

2.2

1.3

1.2

1.0

1.3

2.7

5.0

43. Can I get Nitrox refills on board?

Nitrox fills are available on board at an additional cost. Please bring your Nitrox certification card with you. Regulators will need to be O2 approved by the manufacturer.

44. When is the best time of year to dive the Great Barrier Reef?

January – March is considered the wet season with amazing feeding and marine action followed by the breeding season. April – August is winter (colder water) but offers great visibility with beautiful days but stronger winds. October – December has warm weather with many coral reef species breeding at this time.

45. Concerned about seasickness when on the Dive Trip?

Most dive ships offer natural ginger tablets on board to aid in fighting seasickness. However, if you are concerned about seasickness, please consult with your pharmacist or doctor. It is best to try your seasickness remedy before your trip to familiarize yourself with any side effects you might experience. It is important to remember to keep well hydrated while taking motion sickness medicine.

46. What happens if I can’t make the Dive trip?

Dive companies do not offer refunds on late cancellations due to illness or a change in your travel itinerary/plans. It is strongly recommended you purchase travel insurance to cover you in cases of illness or cancellation.

47. Do I need dive insurance?

Depending on the dive boat selected, you may be required to have DAN insurance to cover you in an emergency situation. In a medical emergency, any expenses incurred are the financial responsibility of the diver involved.

48. Where is the nearest chamber?

The nearest recompression chamber is in Townsville, 450km to the south of Cairns. All passengers are required to carry insurance to cover for a medivac from the reef.

49. What are your recommendations for flying after diving?

It is recommended that there is a No Fly Period of 24 hours after your last dive to prevent decompression illness. This relates to any increase in altitude – including but not limited to skydiving and hot air balloons. Individual airlines have their own policies. Please verify with air carrier before departure.


Timezones

50. What time is it in Australia, New Zealand or Fiji right now?

To find the current ‘Time’ for any location within Australia, New Zealand or Fiji – go to www.worldtimeserver.com. From this website you can also display the ‘Time Difference’ from your location to any location within Australia, New Zealand or Fiji.


Weather, Climate & Seasons

51. When is the best time (climate) to travel to Australia?

Spring or Autumn.  For more details see our Best Time to Travel to Australia Page.