This Australia New Zealand Tour is geared toward those who desire flexibility and a more personalized travel experience. You’ll experience small group sightseeing/private excursions (20 people or less, where noted)
* International flights to Australia & New Zealand, from LAX
* Round trip airport transfers throughout
* Accommodations in 4-star hotels, centrally located
* Small group sightseeing excursions, (unless noted otherwise)
* Sydney dinner cruise
* Great Barrier Reef snorkel cruise. Snorkel equipment included
* Daily Breakfasts, 3 Lunches, 4 Dinners
PRICES: From USD$10780 per person.. Based on double occupancy.
DEPARTURE 2017: Departs Daily
HOTELS: 4-star hotels, Room upgrades available.
CHANGES: Everything on this itinerary can be changed to suite your travel needs
DAY TO DAY ITINERARY:
Day 1: Overnight Flight
Board your international flight in Los Angeles. Airport adds-on available if you live in a different part of the US – arrive 2 days later.
Day 2:- Keep flying
Enroute you will cross the International Dateline en route and skip a day ahead.
Day 3: Auckland, New Zealand – Tour Begins. (1 night)
Arrive in New Zealand’s largest North Island city – Auckland, the commercial center of the North Island. You will be taken to your hotel by shuttle (private transfers available). In the evening you’ll join a sightseeing excursion of the famous Auckland. This designer tour utilizes your own night vision to unveil the best of Auckland during the evening or at night. Departure is flexibility. With your Local Tour Guide you’ll see some of New Zealand’s finest scenery around Auckland, recently voted as one of the top 10 places to visit by Lonely Planet; such as Auckland Harbour Bridge, Westhaven Marina and Waterfront Viaduct and Wynyard Quarter areas; Take in the view from one of Auckland’s ancient volcano peaks to admire the sun setting; Tamaki Drive and Mission Bay; visit historic Cornwall Park. You’ll have an opportunity to be dropped off at a restaurant close to your hotel, if you’d like. (B) Stay at the CityLife Auckland Hotel in a standard room.
Day 4: Auckland • Waitomo Caves • Rotorua. (2 nights)
Stay at the Novotel Rotorua Lakeside Hotel in a Lakeview room. As we leave the City of Sails heading south this morning, we travel through the rich farmland of the Waikato region. We will visit the historic township of Rangiriri, once the site of a Maori fortification. We continue on through the “Bridge City” of Hamilton as we meander through the rolling farmland hills of the Waikato. We head further south on to the world famous Waitomo Glow-Worm Caves. Begin your guided tour through the long galleries and lofty chambers to view stalactites formed over thousands of years by the constant dripping of water. Our tour continues with a boat ride through the glow-worm grotto that is illuminated by thousands of tiny lights emitted by glow-worms, suspended from the cave ceiling. We then stop for a beautiful lunch before leaving this spiritual place and continue on to Rotorua, following the Waikato River to the Karapiro Dam on Lake Karapiro. As we near Rotorua we enter the Fitzgerald Glade, a section of the highway where the native forest canopy grows right up over the road, forming an overhead tunnel. The journey finally takes you up over the Mamaku Saddle and descends into the city of Rotorua. We will have you dropped off at your hotel by about 5.00pm. (B, L)
Day 5: Rotorua sightseeing • Farm Show • Evening Maori cultural show.
Rotorua sightseeing tour: Enjoy this morning Eco-tour and visit Rotorua’s most natural and popular geothermal parks. You will see farmland, native and exotic forest, volcanoes, geysers, New Zealand’s largest boiling mud pool, and series of colorful hot springs at Wai-O-Tapu. Next, you’ll see the Lady Knox Geyser erupt as your local naturalist guide explains the volcanic processes of Rotorua and New Zealand at work. Take a short drive to the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, where your guide will tell you about the Mt Tarawera eruption. You’ll see native flora and fauna and the geothermal features which were blown open. This is now a spectacular, bush covered, geothermal park. (Not a small group). Farm show: Next you’ll experience a guided tour of a working farm. The Agrodome is located in the heart of a real 350-acre working farm. Join a guided tour of the farm, animals and the 100% organic fruit orchard. Climb aboard the all-weather, all-terrain vehicle as you begin the tour. Along the way, there are fascinating things to learn – and a few laughs too! You’ll get to hand-feed and take photos with all sorts of friendly animals, including Romney sheep, cattle, deer, llamas, ostrich, pigs and alpacas. (B, D)This evening will give you an authentic introduction to Maori culture leaving you amazed and in awe. This is a large group experience. Enter the world of Mitai. Be enthralled by the natural bush setting, see warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient warrior canoe (waka) down the Wai-o-whiro stream, and don’t miss your only opportunity in the Rotorua area to see glow worms in their natural habitat. Marvel at the crystal clear water full of eels and trout, flowing directly from the earth at the sacred Fairy Spring. See your traditionally cooked hangi meal being lifted from the ground. During our cultural performance, you’ll learn about our past, carvings and ta moko (tattoo art). Beauty by Night: This is your opportunity to combine your cultural experience with an enchanting visit to Rainbow Springs Nature Park by Night. Following your visit to Mitai, you are escorted through the bush to start your night lit extravaganza of the Rainbow Springs Nature Park. View wildlife and bush under an array of coloured lights. This is a truly magical blend of Maori Culture and Nature in a unique all-in-one night time package to be remembered forever. A guided tour of the night-time Kiwi walk through enclosure is also included.
Day 6: Rotorua • Christchurch (1 night)
Stay at the Heritage Hotel Christchurch in a standard room. Today you’ll be transferred by shuttle to the airport to meet your flight to Chrichurch, the South Island’s largest city. This city had an earthquake several years ago so things in the city are still being restored to their original glory and it’ll take a few years before it’s complete. Once there you can visit the International Antarctic Centre or walk around and see the state of this city. (B)
Day 7: Christchurch • TranzAlpine Train • Franz Josef. (2 nights)
Stay at the Scenic Hotel Franz Josef in a standard room. Today you’ll be transferred to the start of the Franz Josef scenic train. The TranzAlpine scenic train journeys between Christchurch and Greymouth, crossing from one coast of New Zealand to the other. From the comfort of world class carriages, see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the majestic Southern Alps to Arthurs Pass National Park, before descending through lush beech rainforest to the West Coast town of Greymouth – a great base for visits to Punakaiki and the always-popular glaciers. Enjoy all this in the comfort of new world-class carriages featuring huge panoramic windows, an on board licensed café with a range of delicious Kiwi flavors, and GSP triggered at-seat audio commentary. (not small group). (B)
Day 8: Glacier Valley Walk
This morning we have included a 3 hour guided Glacier Valley Walk to the Franz Josef terminal face. Your Glacier Valley Walk will take you up alongside the mighty Waiho River bed following the glaciers path of retreat in this remarkable landscape. Here you will learn about the glacier’s history, see what is left behind by this majestic giant, and learn the legend of Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere. Near the terminal face, you will cross over the public barriers and after a brief climb you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the rapidly changing terminal face of the glacier. Please note this trip does not take you onto the ice. Afternoon at your own leisure in Franz. (B)
Day 9: Franz Josef • Queenstown. (3 nights)
Stay at the Crown Plaza Queenstown Hotel in a Lakeview room. Journey deeper into South Westland taking in the spectacle of Haast Pass, carved by the Haast River and framed by the Southern Alps. Take in the views of many beautiful lakes including Wanaka, Hawea, Dunstan and Wakatipu before arriving in Queenstown at 4.10pm where the tour concludes. (B)
Day 10: Queenstown at Leisure
Today you will have your day at leisure to relax and walk around the vibrant city center. Queenstown is considered to be the ‘adventure capitol of the world’ so you’ll have options here such as sky-diving, bungy jumping, jet-boating, white water rafting among others. Optional: Enjoy a cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard a steamship, then sit down to a wonderful BBQ dinner. Afterwards you’ll find a sheep herding experience. (B)
Day 11: Milford Sound • Lake Cruise
Take an unforgettable journey into the heart of Milford Sound, New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination. You’ll experience the world-famous fiord in all its natural glory – surrounded by dense rainforest, glacier-carved valleys and beautiful waterfalls. Leaving Queenstown and travel through the rugged mountain terrain past Te Anau, a quiet town on the shores of the largest lake in the South Island. Your glass-roof coach will provide amazing views of the skyline. Journey through the Southern Alps and along the picturesque Eglinton Valley, a place of ancient alpine forest and gushing waterfalls and one of only a few road-accessible glacier valleys in New Zealand.Take advantage of the photo opportunities on offer at the stunning Mirror Lakes, where on a calm day the surrounding mountain ranges are perfectly reflected in the still waters. Travel through the Homer Tunnel, a 1.2km passageway drilled into solid rock, then experience A truly truly unique and interactive experience, with our small bus we are able to access many areas for sightseeing and photo stops that the bigger buses just can’t get to. Enroute we stop for a nice bush/alpine walk enjoying the fresh mountain air then relax for our delicious BBQ lunch at one of our special locations inside the Fiordland National Park. Once in Milford Sound, climb aboard the purpose built boat with outdoor observation areas and comfortable indoor areas. Look out for Dolphins and NZ Fur Seals!Between November and April, we connect with a 1:30pm Milford Sound cruise boat, this is an “off peak” time and avoids the big groups of travellers. Help yourself to complimentary tea and coffee during the cruise and be sure to try some clean mountain water. Between May and October (winter), we replace the BBQ with a hot buffet lunch on the cruise. May to October can be the nicest time of the year to visit Milford Sound with fewer people traveling and sometimes lots of beautiful snow. (B, L)
Day 13: Queenstown • Melbourne, Australia (2 nights)
Stay at the Langham Hotel Melbourne in a Riverview room. Today you will be transferred to the airport and then take a flights to Melbourne, Victoria. This is one of Australia’s major cities and was voted the most ‘livable city in the world’ several years back (it’s now always in the top ten). This city is known for its amazing shopping, culture and fine restaurants. The city is very walkable and has a certain European flair about it. To get around, beyond the city center, you can hop in a charming tram and visit a nearby beach enclave called St. Kilda. Melbourne has many parks which are walking distance from the city center. (B)
Optional: Ride the Colonial Tramcar restaurants and experience dinner in a charming tram, while the tram circles the city. 3 or 5 course dinners are available. Extra cost
Day 14: Melbourne City Tour • Afternoon Penguin Parade
Melbourne city tour: Melbourne has it all – magnificent architecture, fine restaurants and bars, beautiful gardens, a fascinating history and a great diversity of arts and culture. On this informative city tour we would like to invite you on a journey to see the highlights of this wonderful city. We aim to show you a variety of sights and experiences incorporating modern Melbourne and its history and cultural presence – a city considered to be one of the most liveable cities on earth. Highlights of this tour include: architecture of some of Melbourne’s famous landmarks, Visit St Paul’s Cathedral, Victorian Parliament, Flinders Street Station and Federation Square, visit the cafe cultures of St Kilda and Williamstown, beautiful Fitzroy Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens and the Flagstaff Gardens. (B, D)Philip Island Penguin Parade: This evening experience one of the most unique and memorable tours offered in Australia Each night at dusk the Little Penguins waddle up Summerland Beach and make their way to their burrows in the dunes, a ritual that has been followed for thousands of years. You will be taken down to Phillip Island to watch this amazing phenomenon and be part of this unique experience. Scenic views of Westernport Bay will be yours on the drive down. (not small group) When actually watching the Penguins waddle up the beach you will experience the Ultimate Adventure experience which includes only 10 people max along with a Ranger.
Day 15: Melbourne • Cairns • Cairns Night Zoo with BBQ. (3 nights)
Stay at the Mercure Cairns Harbourside Hotel in a Superior waterview room. Today you will be transferred to the airport to board your flight to Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and Australia’s last remaining rainforest. This is a tropical region where time has slowed down and there are a number of activities to occupy it. You will be transferred to your Cairns however if you want to upgrade, then may I suggest staying in Palm Cove – a quaint beachside community or Port Douglas, a village set among the great Rainforests. This is a larger group experience. (B, D)Cairns Night Zoo with BBQ. This evening you will be transferred to the Cairns Zoo and experience an exceptional evening.Your guides will greet you at 7.00pm sharp at the Night Zoo entrance and escort you to our famous Aussie BBQ. Enjoy a delicious barbeque dinner of steak, sausages and seafood with fresh garden salads followed by a dessert. Relax with a drink from our licensed bar. After dinner, your guides will provide you with a torch and lead you into the darkness to meet the creatures of the night. Learn how owls hunt, touch a possum and pat a koala. On clear nights our guides will take you star gazing. See the Southern Cross, the Big Dipper and other well-known constesllations. Follow our guides as they lead you safely through the crocodiles’ lair. See the croc eyes glow in your torchlight. In the Aussie bush, there’s always a chance you will cross paths with a “Swaggie” (an original Australian bushman). Join our hospitable Swaggie and enjoy billy tea and damper with him by the campfire. His friends, the kangaroos, will come down to say G’day and maybe even share a bite to eat! After complimentary cold beer or wine, join in the fun as our guides teach you some famous Aussie Bush Dances. Dance and sing along – it’s more fun than you can imagine! (not small group)
Day 16: Great Barrier Reef Snorkel Experience with Lunch
For your experience of a lifetime, discover a world of beauty, vibrant coral gardens and diverse marine life when you cruise to the Outer Great Barrier Reef with Quicksilver – Australia’s most awarded reef cruise. Quicksilver’s high speed wavepiercing catamaran will take you in air-conditioned comfort to an exclusive activity platform moored at the renowned Agincourt Reef, a jewel-like ribbon reef on the very outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef. The Agincourt ribbon reef systems provide unsurpassed coral formations, colourful marine life and spectacular underwater visibility. From the spacious activity platform guests of all ages, swimmers and non-swimmers alike, can experience this stunning reef world in comfort, whether you choose to get wet and snorkel or stay dry and observe. Friendly and attentive crew, including professional marine biologists, are on hand to ensure you enjoy and gain the most from your day. Explore the reef from the comfort of a semi-submersible (cruise as many times as you like!), discover in the underwater observatory, watch the fascinating fish feeding presentation or snorkel and dive in the beautiful coral gardens. Exciting optional activities include introductory diving, certified diving, Oceanwalker helmet diving or an adventure snorkel tour with a marine biologist. Scenic helicopter flights provide another perspective. Snorkel equipment included. (not small group). (B, L)
Day 17: Day at leisure
Spend this day relaxing. As an option you can take a shuttle buses to the 2 areas mentioned above. Payment will be made on the bus. (B)Optional sightseeing excursions: Extra cost
-Kuranda Rainforest village with Skyrai/Scenic train
-Cape Tribulation Rainforest & Daintree River
-Hiking or white water rafting.
Day 18: Cairns • Ayers Rock • Kata Tjuta Domes • Sounds of Silence Dinner. (1-night)
Stay at the Sails in the Desert in a standard room. Kata Tjuta Dome Tour: You will travel to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park to a place where unique flora and fauna thrive, Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). Here your guide will reveal the many attributes of this diverse environment and describe the cultural significance of Kata Tjuta as a sacred Aboriginal men’s ceremonial site. Arriving at Walpa Gorge you will walk between the mighty conglomerate domes and hear how these 36 domes that make up Kata Tjuta have evolved over millions of years. Take time to listen to the wind (Walpa) far above and view the scale of the rock walls that surround you. The spirituality of this amazing location embraces everyone who ventures here. Your guide will return you to your hotel in time for those people joining the Sounds of Silence dinner. (B)Sound of Silence Dinner: This experience is must on any Australia Ayers Rock itinerary. Watch the setting sun and dine under a canopy of stars at the award-winning Sounds of Silence dinner. In a wonderful setting in the middle of the desert, witness a spectacular sunset over Ayers Rock. Taste classic Australian delicacies like bush tucker – barramundi, kangaroo, emu, bush salads and some delectable Australian desserts. After the meal enjoy a guided tour through the constellations by the resident Star Talker. Away from distracting city lights, in the pitch darkness of the Red Centre, discover the Universe beyond.
Day 18: Uluru Sunrise • Sydney (3-nights).
Stay at the Grace Hotel Sydney in a Superior room. Ayers Rock Tour: Just before dawn you will be taken to Ayers Rock to watch a wonderful sunrise over Uluru. As you travel towards Uluru, its vast shape rises from the sand dunes in the early dawn light highlighting its presence in this country. Your guide will take you to a special location to watch the sun rise over this amazing monolith. You will learn the Creation stories of Liru (poisonous snake) and Kuniya (python) and hear about the Mala people. After breakfast you will visit Mutijulu Waterhole and then drive around the base of the Uluru before returning to the resort. After the tour you’ll head to the airport and make your way, by flight, to Sydney. (B)Sydney is Australia’s oldest and largest city, set on a stunning harbour. This city is home to two of the world’s most recognizable icons − the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Sydney is consistently rated as one of the world’s best cities. When you come here, you’ll understand why.
Day 19: Sydney City & Opera House Tour
Sydney city tour: Departing this morning from our hotel, we cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge and travel through picturesque Northern Suburbs, down the Wakehurst Parkway to Narrabeen Lakes and on to join the coast at Mona Vale Beach. From here we turn south and follow the amazing sandstone coast pausing at Warriewood Headland for stunning views. Driving on we see Narrabeen and Collaroy Beaches, Long Reef with its great links golf course and onto Dee Why Beach where we pause above the rock pool and observe the surfers and swimmers in the ocean and pool. Driving over Curl Curl Headland with beautiful views looking down to the beach and out to North Head. Stop at Manly Beach to see the surfers and beach volley ball and on up to North Head. We have morning tea, coffee or hot chocolate with Tim Tams with this awesome back drop. Down to Manly Cove and back to the city via Spit Bridge, Balmoral Beach and the back roads through Mosman, Cremorne and Neutral Bay. Crossing the bridge we start the more expected city aspects of Macquarie St and the historic buildings, many designed by convict architect Francis Greenway. Mrs Mac’s chair, Wooloomooloo Bay, Garden Island, Kings Cross and the Eastern Suburb Bays to Watsons Bay and The Gap. Next is Bondi Beach and heading back to the city we divert around the back of Paddington to see the beautifully restored semi-detached homes with ornate cast iron balustrades. Back in the city we see the gay and lesbian Oxford St, the Spanish Quarter, China Town and pause at Darling Harbour. Guests can have a stroll from one end to the other and we collect them at the Aquarium. We drive past the finger wharves and under the Harbour Bridge with great views of the harbor and Opera House.The Rocks is next with a detailed description of the early settlement, historic buildings and stories of rascals and convicts. Lastly we see the financial district before hotel drop off. (B)Sydney Opera House Tour. Go behind the scenes at the World Heritage listed Sydney Opera House, one of the world’s “must-see” attractions. On your one-hour guided walking tour of the Sydney Opera House, you’ll see what goes on behind the world’s most recognizable sails. You’ll hear the controversial story of the building’s construction, as dramatic as any opera plot and brought alive by the tour’s new interactive audio-visual presentation. (not small group)**As an optional alternative you can choose to end the day attending a performance at the Sydney Opera House.
Day 20: Sydney day at leisure • Dinner Cruise.
Today you’ll have your day at leisure so you can spend time discovering this city on your own. As an option you can choose to selected a Blue Mountains with Wildlife Park visit excursion. (B, D)In the evening you will come aboard the MV Sydney 2000 the most prestigious cruising restaurant on Sydney’s waterways. You will have window seats. This Sydney Harbour dinner cruise sails from either Circular Quay or King Street Wharf. – The choice is yours. It offers state-of-the-art accommodation for a dinner cruise in Sydney, the MV Sydney 2000 has three separate dining areas, an atrium, a 360-degree viewing deck, a dance floor and music from the Sydney 2000 Band. Each deck operates as a separate restaurant, complete with independent Cruise Director, galley, cocktail bar, dance floor, entertainment facilities and first class service. Panoramic viewing windows on every deck present the harbour like a picture postcard, whilst each deck has a covered outdoor area, plus the 360- degree open Star Deck. The Sky and Club Decks have raised center plinths and feature baby grand pianos. Please note that during Australia’s winter season the MV Sydney 2000 vessel will be replaced with the John Cadman III or Captain Cook III. (not small group)
Day 21: Sydney – Tour Ends.
Your memorable exploration of the South Pacific ends today as you depart for home. You will be transferred to the airport in time to board your flight. You can choose to extend your vacation with a trip to Adelaide/Kangaroo Island OR Darwin/Kakadu National Park OR Perth/Broome among other destinations. You will arrive back in the USA the on Day 21, the same day you left Australia. (B)