I am travelling to New Zealand on January 17th 2011, we have a 13 hours gap in Sydney before we fly to Christchurch. On our return we are flying from Christchurch to Whitsundays so we both have Aussie visas.
Are we allowed to leave the airport.
Yes you should be if you have Australian visas as long as they are valid on the day you will be transiting through to NZ. In 13 hours you should be able to grab a shuttle bus and check out the harbour, opera house and bridge and grab a meal and be back in plenty of time. Taxis from airport will be expensive. Theres a shuttle from Airport to Kings cross, you could take a walk around the cross and check out the freakshow, walk down to centenial park, or take the train from kings cross station to circular quay station and walk around the opera house etc. Monorail is good fun and a nice way to see Sydney city itself and will take you back to the train line. Hope this helps
Agree with Cindy, it is plenty of time to see the major sites of the inner city - I'd favour the train from the airport to Circular Quay station as a first stop (Opera House, Sydney Harbour, Bridge) and then branch out through the Rocks and Darling Harbour. A very nice shopping centre to visit is the Queen Victoria Building. As mentioned above, taking the train is the best bet, as taxis are expensive, and road traffic to the airport can be slow at times (thus discouraging you from buses).
As for visas, you will need to check if you have a single or multi-entry visa - if it is multi-entry visa, then no problem. If it is a single entry visa then you should not leave the airport unless you are able to obtain another tourist visa on arrival. It may be that the visa you have obtained is a work one (obtained in advance) whereas a standard no-work, single entry visa might be easier - it depends on your nationality. The Australian Government Department of Immigration and Citizenship website
will have more information.
As far as I know, you can leave almost any airport,if you have loads of time, as long as you are sure you'll be able to make it back to catch your next flight!
I might be mistaken, of course, but I've had people telling me that they've done it in London, and we English folk are not the most easy going,when it comes to Gatwick or Heathrow!