Itinerary and Accommodations
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. Midday 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 Paradise Valley Springs, a popular showcase of native flora, fauna, and birdlife. Then we 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. This afternoon we transfer to the Auckland airport for our flight to the U.S., where we connect with our return flights home. B
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.
Pullman Reef Hotel Casino, Cairns / Days 3-5 / Deluxe
Located in the heart of Cairns overlooking Trinity Bay, the 128-room Pullman Reef Hotel Casino offers three restaurants, a café, and three bars; Internet access; laundry and dry cleaning services; health club with hot tub, spa, and massage; unheated rooftop swimming pool; jogging track; casino; and gift shop. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.
DoubleTree by Hilton (formerly Crowne Plaza), Alice Springs / Days 6-7 / Superior First Class
Adjacent to the Alice Springs Golf Course and a 10-minute walk to “Alice’s” major sights, the 236-room DoubleTree by Hilton offers two restaurants and a bar, gym, tennis courts, sauna and whirlpool, outdoor pool, internet access, and laundry and dry cleaning services. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, TV, and phone. Please note that while the DoubleTree by Hilton is one of the best in Alice Springs, it may not meet the standards of the other hotels on your tour.
Voyages Sails in the Desert Hotel, Ayers Rock / Day 8 / Superior First Class
Part of the Voyages Ayers Rock Resort complex, the 228-room Sails in the Desert celebrates Aboriginal heritage and culture through its décor and the on-site Mulgara Gallery of native art and crafts. Hotel amenities include several restaurants and bars, an outdoor pool, spacious grounds, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, and laundry and dry cleaning services, while the greater resort complex offers a host of amenities, from three additional swimming pools and two tennis courts to a shopping complex, hair salon, and visitors’ center. A free shuttle bus operates continuously around the property. Spacious air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, coffee- and tea-making facilities, private balcony or verandah, minibar, TV, and phone.
Sofitel Sydney Wentworth , Sydney / Days 9-11 / Deluxe
Well-located in the central business and shopping districts of Sydney, the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth is only minutes from famous Sydney attractions like the Opera House, Circular Quay, The Rocks, and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Amenities of the hotel include a restaurant, bar, café, fitness center, laundry and dry-cleaning services (for a fee), and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, minibar, in-room safe, TV, and phone.
Rydges Latimer Christchurch, Christchurch / Day 12 / Superior First Class
Completely rebuilt, the Rydges Latimer Christchurch reopened in 2013. The 138-room hotel’s amenities include a restaurant and a bar/lounge, fitness center, and sauna. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, in-room safe, coffee- and tea-making facilities, mini-bar, ironing facilities, TV, and phone.
The Hermitage Hotel, Mt. Cook / Days 13-14 / First Class
Located inside Mt. Cook National Park, The Hermitage Hotel offers a range of options for enjoying the park, from hiking to flightseeing. The recently refurbished (2011) 162-room hotel, which is part of the Aoraki Mount Cook Village of several hotels, has two restaurants, café, and lounge; Internet access; gift shop featuring native Maori crafts; and laundry facilities. Guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, coffee- and tea-making facilities, TV, and phone.
Hotel St. Moritz, Queenstown / Days 15-17 / First Class
Nestled on a hillside overlooking Queenstown’s breathtaking lake and mountains, the alpine-lodge style 134-room Hotel St. Moritz is located just a few minutes’ walk from prime dining and shopping areas. Hotel amenities include a restaurant and bar, Internet access, laundry and dry cleaning facilities, fitness center, sauna, and spa. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, coffee- and tea-making facilities, mini-bar, ironing facilities, TV, and phone.
Regent of Rotorua, Rotorua / Days 18-19 / First Class
The newly refurbished Regent of Rotorua is a boutique-style accommodation located in the center of Rotorua, close to the city’s restaurants and pedestrian shopping street. Hotel amenities include a restaurant and bar, mini fitness center and spa, heated outdoor pool, indoor thermal mineral pool, and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access. Each of the 35 air-conditioned guest rooms have mini-bar, in-room safe, coffee- and tea-making facilities, microwave, TV, phone, and luxury linens and robes.
Grand Millennium Auckland, Auckland / Days 20-21, Extension / Superior First Class
The Grand Millennium Auckland sits in the heart of Auckland’s central business district, just a few blocks from Waitemata Harbour and a few minutes’ walk to the High Street shopping district and SkyCity casino. The bright, contemporary hotel features a soaring, light-filled lobby area, two restaurants and a bar; fitness center with indoor pool, steam room, and gym; complimentary Wi-Fi internet access; and laundry and dry cleaning services (for a fee). Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, coffee- and tea-making facilities, minibar, TV, and phone.
Ratings are based on the Hotel & Travel Index, the travel industry standard reference.