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Australia & New Zealand Itinerary

Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Itinerary

Days 1 & 2: Depart U.S. for Cairns, Australia

Day 3: Arrive Cairns This afternoon we arrive in Cairns, gateway to Australia’s Far North and the Great Barrier Reef. We transfer to our hotel where tonight we enjoy a briefing and dinner. D

Day 4: Cairns/Kuranda We take an orientation tour of Cairns then board an historic railway to the mountain village of Kuranda. After time to explore here, we descend via the gondolas of Skyrail. We return to our hotel, with the rest of the day at leisure. B

Day 5: Great Barrier Reef This morning we board a boat for a day-long excursion to the Great Barrier Reef, at 1,200 miles long the world’s largest living organism and richest marine resource. We pull up at Michaelmas Cay where we can swim, snorkel, or view the reef from a semi-submersible vessel. B,L

Day 6: Cairns/Alice Springs We take an early morning flight to remote Alice Springs, where upon arrival we venture to Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm for a picnic lunch amid the sheer rock walls. Then we visit the Alice Springs School of the Air, which provides schooling to widely scattered Outback children. B,L

Day 7: Alice Springs This morning we embark on an Aboriginal “dreamtime” tour, where we meet Walpiri tribespeople and learn about their ancient culture. After this First Australians experience, we encounter the acclaimed Royal Flying Doctor Service then visit the Anzac Hill Monument to Australian and New Zealand soldiers. Tonight, we enjoy a traditional Outback Bushman’s Dinner around a campfire. B,D

Day 8: Alice Springs/Ayers Rock We reach our Ayers Rock hotel early afternoon. After lunch on our own, we visit Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is the traditional land of the Anangu Aboriginal peoples and home to the Olgas rock formations and Uluru (Ayers Rock). We watch the sun set over this fabled sandstone monolith that rises to a height of 1,114 feet. B,D

Day 9: Ayers Rock/Sydney This morning we visit the base of Uluru and the interesting museum here. Mid-day we fly to Sydney, arriving late afternoon. B,D

Day 10: Sydney Today’s tour features The Rocks historic neighborhood, Darling Harbour and Mrs. Macquarie’s Point, Rose and Watson’s bays, and popular Bondi Beach. Then we board a catamaran for a lunch cruise around Sydney Harbour. B,L

Day 11: Sydney This morning we tour Featherdale Wildlife Park, where wombats, dingos, and koalas reside. Then the afternoon is at leisure; tonight we enjoy dinner together at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 12: Sydney/Christchurch, New Zealand After a late morning tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House, this afternoon is free for independent exploration. This evening we board a flight to Christchurch, New Zealand’s “Garden City.” B

Day 13: Christchurch/Mount Cook National Park This morning’s orientation tour features the Botanic Gardens and Cathedral Square, the beating heart of Christchurch and site of Christchurch Cathedral. Then we board our motorcoach for the journey south to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, in the Southern Alps. En route, we stop in the town of Geraldine for lunch and to see sheep dogs and a sheep shearer in action at a local farm. We continue on to Mount Cook, arriving late afternoon. B,L,D

Day 14: Mount Cook This morning’s tour of alpine Mount Cook Village includes a visit to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center, where we see a 3D planetarium movie about the region. We also visit the Hillary Gallery, comemorating Sir Edmund’s achievements, including the first ascent of Mount Cook’s difficult South Ridge in 1948 (at 12,316 feet, Mount Cook is New Zealand’s tallest mountain). After time in the village for lunch on our own, this afternoon is at leisure to relax amid the breathtaking scenery, hike, or take an optional scenic flight (weather permitting). B,D

Day 15: Mount Cook/Queenstown We depart this morning for Queenstown, stopping en route in historic Arrowtown for lunch on our own followed by a visit to Kawarau Bridge Bungy, the world’s first bungy jump operation open to the public. Mid-afternoon we reach Queenstown, New Zealand’s “adventure capital.” We dine tonight at our hotel. B,D

Day 16: Milford Sound Our day-long excursion to Milford Sound includes a nature cruise through the breathtaking fjords. We have lunch on board then later have the opportunity to return to Queenstown on an optional scenic flight (weather permitting). B,L

Day 17: Queenstown Today is at leisure to enjoy New Zealand’s adventure capital as we wish. B

Day 18: Queenstown/Rotorua We depart today for the Maori center of Rotorua, with its geysers, bubbling mud pools, and hot thermal springs. Upon arrival, we take a panoramic tour of this city on the shores of Lake Rotorua. This evening we visit Te Puia Thermal Reserve and Cultural Centre for a traditional hangi dinner and Maori performance. B,D

Day 19: Rotorua This morning we visit Rainbow Springs Nature Park, a popular showcase of native flora, fauna, and birdlife, and where we also tour the National Kiwi Trust, which rehabilitates injured kiwis, the national bird. B

Day 20: Rotorua/Auckland En route to Auckland, we stop this morning at Ruakuri Caves to see the unique glowworms that illuminate the underground grottoes and caves. We reach Auckland late this afternoon; we’re on our own for dinner tonight. B

Day 21: Auckland Our half-day tour of this city set atop 48 volcanic hills features glittering Auckland Harbour and the America’s Cup Village. We also visit the War Memorial Museum, with its prized Maori and Pacific Islander collections. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner at our hotel. B,D

Day 22: Depart for U.S. Very early this morning we depart for the airport for the flight to Los Angeles (via Sydney) and our return flights home. B

Please note: This trip involves full days of sightseeing and significant amounts of walking on stairs and uneven surfaces. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to its fullest.

B = Breakfast included, L = Lunch included and D = Dinner included.

Accommodations

DayCityHotelRating
1–2Depart U.S.
3–5CairnsPullman Reef Hotel CasinoDeluxe
6–7Alice SpringsDoubleTree by HiltonSuperior First Class
8Ayers RockVoyages Sales in the DesertSuperior First Class
9–11SydneySir StamfordDeluxe
12ChristchurchRydges Latimer ChristchurchSuperior First Class
13–14Mt. CookThe Hermitage HotelFirst Class
15–17QueenstownHotel St. MoritzFirst Class
18–19RotoruaRegent of RotoruaFirst Class
20–21AucklandGrand Millennium AucklandSuperior First Class
22Depart Auckland
Ratings are based on the Hotel & Travel Index, the travel industry standard reference.