This vacation offers the essential sights and unique culture of the land "Down Under," Australia, and the spectacular natural beauty of New Zealand's South Island all at an enjoyable pace. Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef provide fascinating introductions to the Aboriginal lifestyle and a world of colorful sea life unique to the area. Learn to throw a boomerang or play a didgeridoo, a traditional instrument. From your base on Green Island, there are many ways to enjoy the reef – you can scuba, snorkel or enjoy a glass bottom boat ride. Sydney will delight you with its friendly manner and sites like the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge for which Australia is famous. New Zealand…land of breathtaking terrain and stunning natural beauty offers much to see and do. Check out the strong historical and architectural reminders of a colonial past in the cities of Queenstown and Christchurch. Visit Mt. Cook, New Zealand's most famous national park. Highlights are many, including a tour of the countryside from the rugged grandeur of the Hollyford Valley, a cruise on picture-perfect Milford Sound, and a gondola ride to dinner overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the mountains. Dine with a "Kiwi" family and take with you a wonderful memory of New Zealand…a place like no other.
Day #1 1 and
Day #2 Depart From Home - Today you board your flight and begin the adventure of a lifetime. Crossing the International Dateline, you skip a day ahead.
Day #3 Arrive Cairns, Australia - Your tour begins today in Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Don’t forget to look up at the Southern Hemisphere's stars this evening after you join your mates for a welcome dinner.
Day #4 Great Barrier Reef - Board a high speed catamaran for an exciting excursion to the Great Barrier Reef. This is an immense series of 2,800 coral reefs which are home to amazingly diverse marine life. From your base on Green Island, you are able to explore the reef in many ways. Enjoy a glass bottom boat ride*, a stroll on the walking trail to take in the rain forest, relax on the beaches, snorkel or just watch the fish and sea turtles swim past from the pier. For a more adventurous encounter with the reef, optional scuba diving and an outer reef tour are also available*. Whichever way you choose, you’ll see some of the world’s most fascinating marine and plant life.
Day #5 Cairns - Today visit the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Center. You’ll see traditional Aboriginal dances, learn about the Aboriginal lifestyle, and even throw a boomerang or play a didgeridoo, a traditional instrument. Browse the renowned art gallery and visit the interpretation center, which houses a collection of interesting artifacts. This afternoon a great experience awaits as you search for crocodiles in their natural habitat during a visit to Hartley's Croc Farm! While visiting you also have the chance to meet some of the local koalas. Your evening is at leisure.
Day #6 Cairns - Sydney - Fly to the bustling city of Sydney this morning. This evening, dine atop the city at Sydney's Revolving Restaurant enjoying the spectacular views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House at night!
Day #7 Sydney - Enjoy a city tour of Sydney where the English explorer James Cook first weighed anchor in 1770. Highlights of your exploration include Kings Cross, the Harbour Bridge, Chinatown, the Rocks, Circular Quay, the Botanic Gardens and the fashionable Paddington suburb. Discover one of the world’s most fascinating architectural wonders during a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House. Later, enjoy a unique opportunity to learn first-hand how raw opals are transformed from the dark mine shafts to beautiful works of art. This evening you may enjoy Sydney at leisure or take an optional excursion.
Day #8 Sydney - Tonight, experience the best of Sydney. Chat with new friends and take in the sights during a delightful dinner cruise of Sydney Harbour during which you’ll pass by two of Australia’s most famous icons: the renowned Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
Day #9 Sydney - Christchurch, New Zealand - You leave Australia behind and fly to New Zealand en route to the historic city of Christchurch.
Day #10 Christchurch - This morning enjoy a short sightseeing tour of "the most English city outside of England," Christchurch. Highlights include magnificent gardens, the Neo-Gothic Cathedral and the downtown park district. Later, visit a Canterbury farmyard where you’ll enjoy a sheep shearing demonstration and see the herding of the farm’s animals! It’s a great opportunity to learn how a New Zealand family farm operates. This afternoon, you are invited to participate in an optional tour of the International Antarctic Center for an interactive experience and unique glimpse into the world of Antarctic expeditions. Make yourself right at home this evening when a New Zealand family welcomes you into their home for dinner! This is sure to be an unforgettable evening during which you will make new friends, learn about the customs of the “Kiwi’s” and enjoy a home-cooked meal.
Day #11 Christchurch - Today, enjoy a day of exploration on your own in beautiful Christchurch. This English city – the charming international gateway to New Zealand’s South Island – boasts countless cafes and boutiques. Stroll its cobblestone streets and enjoy the many sights that “the Garden City” has to offer. Tonight, dine inside the restored Riccarton House mansion and learn the history of the first family of Christchurch.
Day #12 Christchurch - Mt. Cook - Queenstown - Traverse the spectacular countryside to New Zealand’s most famous national park, Mt. Cook. En route, enjoy a stop at a local fruit stand to gain an inside look at the produce of New Zealand. Mt. Cook is one of the most impressive mountains in the world. You may choose to view the massive glaciers and extensive snow-covered mountain top terrain on an optional glacier flightseeing tour (weather permitting), or perhaps enjoy the park during a nature walk.
Day #13 Queenstown - Milford Sound - Queenstown - En route to Milford Sound, enjoy the rugged grandeur of the Hollyford Valley. You’ll travel through beech forest via the Homer Tunnel. During a cruise of the breathtakingly beautiful Milford Sound you’ll see why this fjord is one of the most visited sites on the South Island. With rock faces that rise nearly 4,000 feet on either side, the scenery will take your breath away. Following your cruise, you return to Queenstown. You may choose to return via a short optional flight (weather permitting) for spectacular views of New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
Day #14 Queenstown - A leisurely day in Queenstown offers several options to enhance your vacation. Shop or people watch in the village or perhaps take the optional "Safari of the Rings" which takes you through the majestic Remarkable Mountains and the breathtaking Queenstown countryside where the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed. Enjoy a gondola ride to dinner at the Skyline Restaurant which overlooks Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the mountains.
Day #15 Queenstown - Auckland - Travel to the North Island, arriving in New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, “The City of Sails.” Today enjoy a day on your own in Auckland.
Day #16 Auckland - Tour Ends - Say goodbye to this wonderful land and depart for home.