On this exciting excursion of contrasts you will truly be able to immerse yourself in the culture and beauty of Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, you'll see the "big three" attractions, the Great Barrier Reef, Ayers Rock and the world-famous Sydney Opera House. You'll also experience the Australia that Aussies know--charming country towns and rainforest villages. In New Zealand, explore both North and South Islands. Highlights include a luncheon cruise on Milford Sound; dinner in the home of a "Kiwi" family; and a visit to Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve and a Maori village in Rotorua.
Day #1 1 and
Day #2 Depart from Home - Today you board your Qantas flight and begin the adventure of a lifetime to Australia and New Zealand. Crossing the International Dateline, you skip a day ahead.
Day #3 Cairns (Northern Beaches), Australia - Tour Begins - Your tour begins in the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, the northern beaches of Queensland. Tonight, enjoy a special welcome dinner with your new mates.
Day #4 Great Barrier Reef - Board a high speed catamaran for an exciting tour of the Great Barrier Reef - the most biologically diverse ecosystem in the world. From your base on Green Island, you are able to explore the reef in many ways. Enjoy a glass bottom boat ride*, take a stroll 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.
Day #5 Cairns - This morning you board the Skyrail Rain Forest Cableway for an unforgettable ride above the rain forest canopy. There are two stops where you may get off the cableway and experience the forest floor from specially designed boardwalks. The amazing diversity of plants, animals and birds will astound you. Return to Palm Cove for an evening at leisure to enjoy your tropical surroundings.
Day #6 Cairns - Ayers Rock - Fly to the heart of the Outback, arriving at Ayers Rock. Tour the sandstone domes of the Olgas and the area around the base of “The Rock.” Later, witness a stunning sunset as the colors of the Rock change dramatically.
Day #7 Ayers Rock - Alice Springs - This morning you depart for Alice Springs, located in the heart of the Australian Outback. A sightseeing tour of the area includes the Old Telegraph Station and Anzac Hill. Gain insight into the educational system in the Outback with a visit to the School of the Air - you may even see a class in session! A special experience is in store for you this afternoon as you will have the opportunity to meet the young Aboriginal group, Drum Atweme. Supported by the tour group Foundation, Drum Atweme is a musical group comprised of at-risk youth from the local community. Tonight, enjoy dining and entertainment during a traditional dinner in the bush. You’ll experience Outback hospitality and entertainment under the Southern Hemisphere's stars.
Day #8 Alice Springs - Darwin - Kakadu National Park - Begin your day with a Dreamtime Tour. Experience the culture of the Australian Aborigines and learn about their ancient culture, folklore, customs and the concept of Dreamtime. You will have the opportunity to taste some of their traditional Aboriginal food. Later, board your flight to the northern tip of Australia and the city of Darwin. You then drive into the heart of Kakadu National Park.
Day #9 Kakadu National Park - Today you experience the beauty and culture of Australia’s “Top End.” Kakadu National Park is home to wallaroos and wallabies, monitors and lizards, birds of every imaginable color, and crocodiles. See ancient Aboriginal rock art at Nourlangie Rock and enjoy an audio-visual show at the Visitors Centre. During your afternoon Yellow Waters cruise you may see crocodiles as they bask in the sun, as well as waterfowl such as jabiru, egrets, herons and eagles.
Day #10 Kakadu National Park - Darwin - Melbourne - Fly to the beautiful Victorian city of Melbourne. Enjoy a city tour which includes Fitzroy Gardens, the Shrine of Remembrance and Parliament House.
Day #11 Melbourne - Your morning is at leisure to explore Melbourne on your own. You may visit the elegant parks and gardens in this friendly city, take a ride on a streetcar, or enjoy lunch at an outdoor café in the quaint Italian neighborhood of Carlton. This afternoon you will visit Phillip Island, a renowned nature reserve and home of the world’s largest colony of Little Penguins. The Little Penguin is protected on Phillip Island and rangers diligently study them. View the Little Penguin Parade as hundreds of them waddle out of the sea and cross the beach to their burrows in the dunes. You will also visit the interpretation center where you will learn about the life of the Little Penguins and their significance to the area. Dinner is included at a favorite Phillip Island restaurant.
Day #12 Melbourne - Hobart - A flight to Hobart, Tasmania brings you to Australia's second oldest city. The rugged and pristine beauty of Tasmania provides the backdrop to your 2-night stay here.
Day #13 Hobart - Take a guided tour of the Port Arthur Historic Site, the best-preserved example of Australia’s penal colonies. Dating back to 1833, the site features a large number of stabilized ruins and restored buildings. Visit the interpretive center for a glimpse into the lives of the convicts. Later, witness the spectacular coastal rock formations known as Tasman Arch, Devil’s Kitchen and the Blow Hole. This afternoon you will get to see the Tasmanian Devil! Learn about this great creature and their plight for survival and the great efforts to save them from extinction.
Day #14 Hobart - Sydney - Return to mainland Australia today and arrive in the bustling city of Sydney.
Day #15 Sydney - A city tour of Sydney, where modern-day Australia was born, highlights Kings Cross, the Harbour Bridge, Chinatown, the Rocks, Circular Quay, the Botanic Gardens, and the fashionable suburb of Paddington. Discover one of the world’s greatest architectural achievements as you take a guided tour through the Sydney Opera House. Dinner is included at one of Sydney's revolving restaurants which offers spectacular views of the city.
Day #16 Sydney - This morning, visit Sydney Wildlife World which showcases Australia's fascinating flora and fauna with three floors of exhibits. Within its walls, over 6,000 native animals are protected. Walk amongst the wallabies and birds when you experience Sydney Wildlife World's new interactive walk-through. Visit the koala sanctuary where you can see Australia's most famous animal species in its natural habitat. If you want to, you can even pet one! Next, enjoy a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about opals during a special presentation at the National Opal Collection, one of Australia’s top jewelry companies. An amazing evening begins with a sail on Sydney Harbour's glistening waters during a dinner cruise offering spectacular views of Sydney’s greatest icons - the Harbour Bridge and world-famous Opera House.
Day #17 Sydney - Queenstown, New Zealand - Travel to New Zealand, arriving in the gorgeous town of Queenstown.
Day #18 Queenstown - Milford Sound - Queenstown - Journey through beech forest into the rugged grandeur of the Hollyford Valley via the Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound. Enjoy a cruise of Milford Sound fjord. 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 #19 Queenstown - A leisurely day in this charming village offers several options to enhance your vacation. An optional thrilling jet boat ride on the Shotover River, or the ‘Safari of the Rings’ adventure into the spectacular Tolkian landscape, are two favorite ways to spend time here. Dinner is included at the Skyline Restaurant overlooking Queenstown, the Remarkable Mountains, and Lake Wakatipu.
Day #20 Queenstown - Mt. Cook National Park - Traveling through New Zealand’s picturesque countryside you will learn about the 19th century gold rush when you stop in Arrowtown. Later today you will arrive at Mt. Cook National Park where you may take nature walks or, if weather permits, enjoy an optional flightseeing tour to the top of the rugged mountain range.
Day #21 Mt. Cook - Christchurch - A drive through the Southern Alps, which line the western side of New Zealand's South Island, brings you to the beautiful English city of Christchurch. Located on the Avon River, Christchurch is considered to be “the most English city outside of England.” Upon arrival, enjoy a sightseeing tour along the Avon River and view magnificent gardens, the Neo-Gothic Cathedral, and the downtown park district.
Day #22 Christchurch - Today is yours to explore the historic city of Christchurch at your leisure. This afternoon you may choose to take an optional tour to the International Antarctic Centre, the gateway for expeditions to Antarctica. Tonight, experience the elegance of Canterbury as you dine in a restored mansion and learn the history of the first family to settle in Christchurch.
Day #23 Christchurch - Wellington - Traveling north along the coast you'll pass scenic river valleys and vineyards. Arriving in Picton, you will ferry to the North Island on one of the most scenic trips the world has to offer. Cruising through the Marlborough Sounds and across the Cook Strait, your final destination is Wellington, the harbour capital of New Zealand.
Day #24 Wellington - According to Maori legend, Wellington Harbour was founded in the 10th century by the Polynesian navigator Kupe and first named Te Upoko o te Ika a Maui - or "head of Maui's fish." A tour of this city showcases the Beehive Parliamentary buildings and views from atop Mt. Victoria. Later, experience Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, New Zealand's national museum which has won worldwide acclaim for its innovative, exciting and diverse range of artwork and exhibitions which relay the captivating stories of the indigenous people.
Day #25 Wellington - Rotorua - Depart for the center of Maori culture - the city of Rotorua. Here you’ll see a unique landscape of bubbling and steaming geothermal springs. Tonight you will enjoy a home stay** and dinner with a New Zealand family. This is a great way to meet the Kiwis and perhaps form lifelong friendships.
Day #26 Rotorua - This morning visit Te Puia, New Zealand's premier Maori cultural and geothermal experience. You'll be truly amazed by the landscape of erupting geysers, bubbling mud pools and other geothermal wonders. Here, the Maori keep their culture alive by teaching the tribal youth traditional carving, weaving and dancing. Learn about this unique culture as you partake in a demonstration about the importance of the Maori dress and the weaving process. Before leaving you will get to view the national bird - the Kiwi. A visit to the Agrodome will give you insight into how wool, one of New Zealand’s premier products, is processed. You will also view a special sheep shearing demonstration. Later this afternoon, meet jade carvers and discover how jade is transformed to make beautiful jewelry. This evening you receive a traditional Maori welcome at a Hangi meal followed by a traditional performance of songs, dances and other festivities.
Day #27 Rotorua - Auckland - Travel through the majestic countryside of the North Island, arriving in New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, "The City of Sails." Enjoy a day on your own in Auckland.
Day #28 Auckland - Tour Ends - Say goodbye to this wonderful land and depart for home.