Home to some of the world’s most dramatic sights, both island nations offer an amazing variety of landscapes, historic sites and natural attractions. Whereas Australia is ruled by an interior desert and vast coastline, New Zealand is rich in waterfalls, towering mountain ranges, dense green jungle and geological wonders.
We first visit Australia, and begin in Sydney where we will enjoy a city tour featuring the iconic Opera House and take a delightful harbour cruise. Then we head for the Great Barrier Reef in tropical Cairns, where we take a catamaran cruise to the most spectacular sections of the reef, enjoy a scenic train journey through the tablelands to Kuranda and visit a rainforest and Koala Wildlife Park. in Australia's 'red centre' we see the magical monolith of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and learn about the outback in Alice Springs.
We then head to New Zealand, a breathtaking and diverse land of jagged mountains, rolling pastures, steep fjords and pristine lakes. We start with Auckland on the North Island (New Zealand’s biggest city), known as “The City of Sails” with more sailboats per capita than anywhere else in the world. We will marvel at the glow worms of Ruakuri Caves, enjoy a special BBQ lunch, explore the bubbling mud pools of Rotorua and learn of the Maori legends and traditions during a performance and typical “hangi” feast. No visit to New Zealand would be complete without enjoying a sheep shearing demonstration and the chance to watch the remarkable sheep dog trials, which we will see before flying to the South Island. Here we visit Queenstown, one of the most beautiful towns in New Zealand. With its waterfront promenade surrounded by mountains, it looks like an impressive picture postcard! We will take an evening cruise from this scenic spot to the elegant Walter Peak Sheep Station, join an awe-inspiring cruise in spectacular Milford Sound and visit charming Dunedin to see historic Larnach Castle.
Join us on this carefully planned tour for a “trip of a lifetime” to this unique part of the world.
*** This tour is suitable only for the fit and active traveller.
Day 1: Departure
We depart for Sydney, via Vancouver.
Day 2: Crossing the International Dateline
Day 3: Sydney
We arrive in Sydney. The rest of the day is free until our Welcome Dinner.
Day 4: Sydney
On our city tour we see the Rocks area (Sydney's birthplace), the magnificent Opera House, Chinatown, beautiful South Head where the harbour meets the Pacific, and “Mrs. Macquarie's Chair” for spectacular views of the city and harbour. Later we take a boat cruise of Sydney Harbour - a perfect way to see the city’s highlights, beautiful beaches and lavish waterfront homes.
Day 5: Sydney
At leisure to explore this exciting city on your own. Perhaps take the ferry to the Taronga Zoo or enjoy a stroll along the harbourfront.
Day 6: Cairns
We fly to tropical Cairns, located in beautiful coastal Trinity Bay surrounded by rainforest topped hills.
Day 7: Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef
We set sail on a catamaran to see one of the most spectacular sections of the Great Barrier Reef. There will be time for swimming, snorkeling and viewing the vibrant sea-life and coral canyons. For those who wish to stay dry, a semi-submersible tour option is available. A delicious BBQ lunch is served onboard.
Day 8: Cairns and Kuranda
We board a train for a scenic rail tour through the amazing Atherton Tablelands to Kuranda, known for its lush tropical trees and flowers. We will visit the rainforest and Koala Wildlife Park, enjoy a ride on an “army duck” vehicle and a special “Dreamtime Walk” with the local aboriginal people. Lunch and a Pamagirri dance performance are included before we finish our day on the Skyrail for a delightful cable car ride over the rainforest canopy.
Day 9: Ayers Rock
We fly to the site of the world's greatest monolith - Ayers Rock - known as the “Red Heart of Australia”. We first venture into the Outback to see The Olgas - a jumble of 30 impressive monoliths across the red desert plain. This evening we will dine in the desert, where the brilliant sunset is enhanced by the haunting sounds of the didgeridoo as we indulge in the finest of Outback cuisine.
Day 10: Ayers Rock / Alice Springs
An early morning call is available for those who wish to view the sunrise on Ayers Rock. We will then enjoy a walk around the base of the rock, before travelling by coach to Alice Springs.
Day 11: Alice Springs / Auckland
Founded in 1872, Alice Springs was a telegraph station linking Australia to the rest of the world. Today it is the base for the famous Outback cattle stations. We visit the Royal Flying Doctor centre, enjoy a panoramic view from Anzac Hill, and see the Overland Telegraph Station, before flying to Auckland, New Zealand.
Day 12: Auckland
Our full-day tour of Auckland includes a visit to the dramatically beautiful Waitakere Ranges. Here, the rugged shoreline is dotted with pristine black sand beaches and protected by soaring cliffs. Later we visit the fascinating Auckland War Memorial Museum - the spiritual touchstone for all New Zealanders.
Day 13: Waitomo / Rotorua
We first visit the magical Waitomo Glow Worm Caves for a subterranean tour. Our guide will show us glow worms, elaborate cave formations and underground rivers, and will discuss legends and sacred Maori sites. We will stop at a local farm for a hearty country-style BBQ lunch in a lovely setting, and then proceed to Rotorua.
Day 14: Rotorua
This morning we visit the Agrodome Farm Show, complete with sheep shearing and sheep dog trials. We then proceed to Te Puia Thermal Reserve, where geysers of all sizes, bubbling mud pools, hot mineral springs, glittering silica terraces in strange, enchanting formations and richly coloured craters make this a world famous tourist attraction. Tonight we enjoy a hangi - a traditional Maori feast prepared in pits the way their forefathers did centuries ago. Traditional Maori music and war dances are part of the fun!
Day 15: Queenstown
We fly to beautiful Queenstown on the South Island - the "Adventure Capital of New Zealand".
Day 16: Queenstown
Our tour of the area includes a visit of the Kiwi Birdlife Park to see many of New Zealand’s rarest and most endangered birds and reptiles. This evening we enjoy a scenic cruise on the TSS Earnslaw to the Walter Peak Sheep Station for an elegant dinner, followed by a sheep shearing and herding demonstration. The gift shop offers fine woollen goods.
Day 17: Milford Sound / Te Anau
We take a spectacular cruise in Milford Sound where we can view Mitre Peak, Sterling Falls and the steep rock walls that rise thousands of feet against a backdrop of towering mountains. A smorgasbord lunch is served onboard. We continue to Te Anau.
Day 18: Dunedin
We travel to Dunedin, where we visit Larnach Castle and learn of its exciting (and scandalous) history. Later we walk to Speights Brewery and Heritage Centre, home of New Zealand’s famous beer, for a tour and dinner at the Ale House.
Day 19: Christchurch
We head for Christchurch, stopping en route at Shag Point Matakea Reserve. Many New Zealand fur seals can be seen here on the rock shelves swimming, playing and basking in the sun. This evening is our Farewell Dinner.
Day 20: Home
We fly home via Auckland and Los Angeles.
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