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The Wonders of Australia & New Zealand
Brisbane ... Hamilton Island ... Great Barrier Reef ... Queenstown ... Sydney ... Auckland ... Rotorua
Day One - Welcome to Brisbane - Kick off your wondrous travels through Australia and New Zealand in sunny Brisbane. You’re off to a celebratory start as you meet your Tour Manager Director and fellow travel companions and head to a palate- pleasing Be My Guest experience at City Winery, Brisbane’s first urban winery. You’ll Connect With Locals as your Group Sommelier or Winemaker shows you which styles of wines work with different types of food as well as the inner workings of this micro-winery. Put your newfound knowledge into practice over a tasty wine and food masterclass featuring six dishes paired with their artisan, small-batch, handmade wines from Shiraz and Grenache to Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. It’s the perfect introduction to Brisbane’s modern, vibrant, and generous spirit.
Day Two - Explore Brisbane and Beyond - This morning you’ll head to Australia Zoo’s Wildlife Hospital. Australia's wildlife is uniquely its own and much-loved by the world. Go behind the scenes to see how the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital is giving injured wildlife a second chance. Over a twelve-month period, between 6,000 and 8,000 animals are brought to the hospital for lifesaving treatment. Returning to the city, you’ll dive into culture on an indigenous walking tour of Brisbane. As the captivating sounds of the Didgeridoo ring out, you’ll uncover the fascinating history, art and rich cultural heritage of Meeanjin (Brisbane City) with an Aboriginal Local Specialist, whose ancestors inhabited the shores of the Brisbane River for over 40,000 years.
Day Three - Hamilton Island on the Coral Sea - You’re off to paradise today in the very heart of Queensland’s Whitsundays, Hamilton Island. Drop right into relaxation mode and live the island life on ‘Hamo’ – as it’s known by locals - marveling at its long white beaches and teal water brimming with marine life including Harlequin Sweetlips, Six Banded Parrot Fish, and even Green Turtles. Book your spot on a sun lounger at the pool, head out for a walk on one of the island’s many hiking trails, or grab a golf buggy to explore this car-free coastal wonderland at your own pace (driver’s licence still required). It’s pure relaxation as the sea eagles, kites, ospreys, and Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos fly overhead. This evening, enjoy sunset cocktails at One Tree Hill. Perched on a hilltop, this lookout has some of the best views over the Whitsundays and is the perfect spot to end your day. Grab dinner at your hotel before heading to bed, tomorrow is a bucket-list day of epic proportions.
Day Four - Cruise on the Great Barrier Reef - Continue your exploration of the Whitsundays’ island archipelago heading through its tropical gateway to the iconic Great Barrier Reef. You’ll sail across the impossibly blue waters of the World Heritage-listed marine park to explore the hidden corners and colorful depths of the reef. Make a stop at Whitsundays’ floating pontoon, the perfect platform to experience the amazing marine life and more than 1,400 species of coral of the Whitsundays. Swim or snorkel (equipment provided), before indulging in a lunch, while a world of Angelfish, Damselfish, and Parrotfish swim peacefully below. Or join an Optional Experience and get a bird’s eye view taking a scenic flight from the pontoon and soaring above the Great Barrier Reef, including the famous Heart Reef, a stunning composition of coral perfectly formed in the shape of a heart. However you choose to explore one of the seven natural wonders of the world, it’s a full day of breathtaking scenery and sensory experiences.
Day Five - Hamilton Island is All Yours - Hamilton Island is yours today to indulge in complete relaxation or continue adventuring through the natural beauty of the island. Enjoy a coffee at the marina, lace up your hiking boots, and head up Passage Peak for flagship views across the archipelago. Water lovers will want to don their swimming togs for a dip in the warm waters off Catseye Beach or go in search of Coral Cove, one of the island’s most secluded stretches of beach. Island life truly does not get better than this. You could also take it up a notch joining an Optional Experience on a catamaran cruise to Whitehaven–the most beautiful beach in the Whitsundays, all of Australia, and (voted by many) the world. Why so stunning? Its unspoiled sand is 98 percent pure white silica, showing off a brilliant color and a blindingly bright backdrop for the bay’s swathes of turquoise water. Whitehaven is protected by the Whitsunday Islands National Park, and thus has also been voted the world’s top eco-friendly and Queensland’s cleanest beach.
Day Six - Sydney, City on the Harbour - Bid farewell to island life before you make your way to the big city. An easy start to the day gives you some more time to enjoy Hamilton Island. Savor a leisurely breakfast, sneak in one last swim, and soak up the views before boarding your flight to Sydney. Welcomed into this exciting city, check into your hotel in iconic Darling Harbour and get acquainted with its ideal location. Browse nearby Harbourside’s boutique shopping centre with rooftop bars or relax before your first night in town. This evening enjoy your perfect introduction to Sydney, catch the sunset from Darling Harbour, watching the city light up as you enjoy a Regional Dinner at Nick’s waterside restaurant showcasing the flavors of the Adriatic coast including fresh locally caught seafood, rotisserie meats, and pasta specialities.
Day Seven - Must-See Sights of Sydney - It’s the ultimate in Sydney sightseeing today as you join a Behind the Scenes Sydney Opera House Tour with a Local Specialist. Walk up the steps and under the ‘sails’ of this iconic building delving into the heart and history as you take in the Drama Theatre, Playhouse, and spectacular Concert Hall before pausing on the lower concourse to watch the world go by. For a change of scene from city to sand, head to Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach with time to wander along the strip, pop in the surf shops, grab a bite to eat at one of Bondi’s sidewalk cafés, or dip your toes into the warm Pacific Ocean. Active souls can follow the boardwalk as it twists and turns above sandstone cliffs past Australia’s oldest lighthouse for dramatic views across the ocean. This afternoon, get involved locally at Our Big Kitchen, a community organization encouraging individuals to help provide meals for those in need. This evening is free for you to explore Sydney’s vibrant CBD, Darling Harbour, and Circular Quay.
Day Eight - Time to Relax in Sydney - Get your final fix of Sydney with a full day to explore. Soak up incredible city views jumping on a ferry trip to Manly Beach, another of Sydney’s other famous beaches, grabbing lunch or an ice cream and going for a stroll along the water. See stunning local blooms at Sydney’s centrally located yet tucked away Royal Botanic Garden. Or, venture out of town on an Optional Experience to the spectacular Blue Mountains, whose eucalypt haze you’ll see looming in the distance, for fresh mountain air and stunning natural scenery. Get your adrenaline racing with a thrilling walk up and over Sydney Harbour Bridge with an expert guide and team of fellow adventurers. With so much to see and do, you’ll want to make the most of every minute of your last day in town. This evening you’ll join your Travel Director and fellow travel companions for a Farewell Dinner cruise around Sydney Harbour. Have your camera handy as you sail past the Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, Shark Island, magnificent homes, beaches, and parkland - the perfect farewell to your week in Australia before jetting to New Zealand.
Day Nine - Queenstown, Adventure Playground - It's time to say Hoo Roo Australia and Kia Ora New Zealand as you fly to Queenstown’s adventure capital. Jump right into your New Zealand travels travelling to the historic gold mining heritage of Arrowtown. Learn the town’s history when in 1862 thousands flocked to Arrowtown to strike it rich in gold mining. Stroll through town admiring the dozens of buildings from the gold rush era and more recently restored historic cottages, churches, and new boutiques and shops. Don’t miss the Chinese Settlement at the edge of the Arrow River made of restored shelters and buildings originally constructed in 1868. After this step back in time, journey back to Queenstown to take in its alpine, mountain town vibe where the evening is free for you to enjoy one of its many lakefront restaurants and bars. Why not try some of the famous New Zealand lamb with a Pinot Noir from the local Otago wine region?
Day Ten - Farm Life with Host Laura - Get a feel for real New Zealand farm life with what awaits today. Begin the day meeting your host, Southern Girl Laura. Born and raised on a sheep and deer farm in the deep south of New Zealand, you'll Connect With Locals as passionate Laura shares her story of her life growing up in the country before you have the chance to try your hand at sheep mustering, whip cracking, and the chance to feed and pet the sheep, horses, and goats. After this fun insight into the real New Zealand, you’ll leave feeling more like a local than a visitor and ready for a scenic afternoon. The next part of our farming adventure, it’s all aboard the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw heading across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak High Country Farm for a gourmet barbecue Regional Dinner, piled high with ribs and salad. After dinner at this historic homestead, learn about life on the farm with a shearing demonstration, watching the sheep dogs in action, and even trying your hand at wool spinning before the scenic cruise back to your Queenstown hotel.
Day Eleven - Queenstown Yours to Enjoy - Say ‘good morning’ to Queenstown with a full day of ways to play in this adventure capital. How about an Optional Experience of a thrilling, adrenalin-rush jet boat ride down the Shotover River or an excursion through Skipper's Canyon? If you’re looking for another type of adventure, consider an Optional Experience through the rainforest of World Heritage Fiordland National Park for an unforgettable cruise on heritage listed national park Milford Sound past sheer cliffs, white-capped peaks, and waterfalls. This stunning landscape - shared by dolphins, penguins, and seals - showcases the beauty of New Zealand. Or tempt your taste buds on a wine tour of the Otago region renowned for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. You’ll visit and tour three premium boutique vineyards and enjoy a wine paired platter lunch. How ever you explore, there’s plenty of adventure to be had and shared with your travel mates after a full day.
Day Twelve - Auckland, New Zealand's Largest City - With fond memories of your time in Queenstown and its surrounds, it's a change of scene today departing Queenstown and flying north to Auckland, the ‘City of Sails.’ As you fly in over the harbor, admire the city’s namesake sailboats and get excited for Auckland’s rich Maori history paired with its cosmopolitan vibe. Settle into your hotel in the heart of the city’s Federal Street - a hotspot for food lovers offering plenty of options. The evening is yours to enjoy in Federal Street or to head downtown for waterfront dining. You could even choose to dine in the towering Skytower for rotating, 360-degree views across the city.
Day Thirteen - Cultural Capital Rotorua - Get ready for an immersive, culture-filled day as we make our way to New Zealand’s cultural capital, Rotorua. You’ll begin journeying through King Country, the center of the New Zealand Wars in the 1860s, en route to the Ruakuri Caves in Waitomo. Join a Local Specialist as you descend a staircase past curving limestone walls to a cavernous, starry wonderland. Inside the cave you’ll be delighted by a glittering galaxy of twinkling green and blue glowworms. Take a selfie with the sparkling glowworms or stand back in awe of their splendour. From one amazing experience to another, this evening you'll Dive Into Culture at the Mitai Maori Village for an eye-opening performance and Regional Dinner. Watch your Māori hosts heart-pounding wero (challenge) during the Powhiri ceremonial welcome, hear the songs of the Pacific and Maori, be impressed by their incredible, fiery Haka war dance, and learn their history before feasting on succulent meats and vegetables cooked in the underground Hangi pit. It’s an insightful and fun evening that will surely leave you with a newfound understanding and love for New Zealand.
Day Fourteen - Nature and Culture in Rotorua - It’s you’re final full day on your tour and it’s a big one. Begin in Rainbow Springs Nature Park to learn everything about the New Zealand’s national bird, the kiwi. Watch kiwi eggs being incubated, the hatching process, and newly hatched kiwi chicks. Your Local Specialist will tell you all about their kiwi bird breeding program, 'Operation Nest Egg' and how your visit contributes to it. After a morning learning about the kiwi, you’re off to the Living Maori Village Whakarewarewa for more insights into the Māori people. Soak in this beautiful land of geothermal fields and steaming lakes that the Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people have been living on since 1886. Take the trails and gain an appreciation of the Maori’s connection to this land. Then enjoy the Kapa Haka group’s performance of traditional songs and dances. You’ll cap off your day joining your Tour Manager for a Farewell Dinner.
Day Fifteen - Farewell Auckland - Savor your last morning of your epic Australia and New Zealand tour over a final delicious breakfast with your travel mates. Then bid farewell as you are transferred from Rotorua to the Auckland Airport for your return flight home.