SOUTH PACIFIC HIGHLIGHTS

15 DAYS/12 NIGHTS

Description

Explore the land "Down Under" on this once-in-a-lifetime South Pacific Highlights program to Australia and New Zealand. Delve into enchanting Australia from the rugged Outback to cosmopolitan Sydney and beyond! Explore the deep blue sea on a cruise adventure to the Great Barrier Reef, enjoy the magnificent beauty of Sydney and its world-famous Opera House, and learn about Australia's rich history while exploring aboriginal villages. Majestic cities, fascinating cultures, stunning scenery, outdoor adventures into caves and coral atolls will open your eyes to the true beauty of Australia and New Zealand. Join us on this amazing journey!

Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 Depart USA
Exhilaratingly diverse, intriguing, welcoming, and full of adventure, Australia & New Zealand await with near endless opportunities for discovery and fun! The sixth largest country in the world, this land “Down Under” presents a dazzling range of landscapes and seascapes to enjoy – from renowned beaches and reefs to rainforests, deserts, and a rugged interior terrain known as the Outback. Your fascinating Aussie experience begins today as you board your flight bound for Australia. As you travel from the USA to Australia, you will cross the International Date Line, an imaginary line running from the North Pole to the South Pole that denotes the place where a new day begins. Crossing the line from the east to the west adds a day while crossing it from west to the east subtracts a day. You’ll “regain” a day when flying from New Zealand back to the USA at the conclusion of your Down Under escapade!

Day 3 Arrive Cairns, Australia
Upon arrival in Cairns you will be met at the airport and embark on a sightseeing tour en-route to your hotel. Cairns is the major center in Tropical North Queensland. This area is a well-known and traveled gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. Along the fringes of this city you will find abundant rainforests, yet to the North and South, the vast ocean teeming with marine life and sandy white beaches awaits to be explored. In this mesmerizing area, you can delve into aboriginal cultural, cuddle an Australian Koala, or have an underwater adventure in the Great Barrier Reef. Tonight, enjoy your included dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)

Day 4 Cairns - Great Barrier Reef Catamaran Cruise
After breakfast today, the Great Barrier Reef beckons with moments to relish amazing experiences on your full-day cruise experience to breathtaking Michaelmas Cay. The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s most impressive coral reef system boasting amazing white sand cays, an expansive array of fish and diverse marine life that can be found within its depths, and hundreds of lush tropical islands. An exclusive beach island welcomes you at Michaelmas Cay. This Cay is a protected seabird sanctuary that hosts more than 20,000 migratory seabirds and is one of the most important nesting sites in the Southern Hemisphere. Your sailing experience on a large Australian catamaran will offer you a variety of ways to explore the Great Barrier Reef. You can snorkel and dive from the beach rather than from a pontoon into deep waters. Featuring a large environmentally friendly sailing catamaran that glides along at low speeds, you are assured maximum comfort at sea. The vessel offers a spacious wide open foredeck perfect for sunbathing as well as comfortable lounge seating. Included in this excursion are morning and afternoon refreshments, as well as a delicious hot and cold buffet freshly prepared onboard including delectable seafood selections. Return to Cairns in the late afternoon. (B,L)

Day 5 Cairns
Today after breakfast enjoy a day at leisure and relax at your hotel or take an optional tour - “Village in the Rainforest” – Kuranda. On this tour you will have the opportunity to explore a rainforest environment and learn about Tropical North Queensland's history. During a relaxing journey by train, take-in the breathtaking scenery as you venture through the rainforest. On your way to Kuranda, you will enjoy the rare opportunities to stop in Barron Gorge and along Stoney Creek Bridge to photograph the unique settings. Take some time to delve into Kuranda on your own where you can have lunch at a local restaurant or enjoy some shopping at the area’s heritage markets. The Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is your next stop on this exciting day trip. Visit Rainforestation Nature Park where you can partake in the wildlife encounter with koalas. Next, enjoy the Pamagiri Aboriginal Dance Show held in the Rainforest Amphitheater, and learn how to throw a Boomerang. Leaving Kuranda, we enjoy a spectacular Skyrail experience. Spanning over 10 miles over pristine rainforest, this cable car journey allows you to explore the wonders of ancient tropical rainforest and learn about one of the most botanically fascinating and diverse areas on earth. Gliding just meters above the rainforest canopy, the Skyrail journey immerses you in an intimate rainforest experience where you’ll see, hear, smell and become part of the tropical rainforest environment. We will also visit the Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park to interact with Australia’s 40,000-year-old aboriginal culture. (B)

Day 6 Cairns/Sydney
This morning we head to the airport to depart Cairns and head to Sydney. Welcome to spectacular Sydney, Australia’s first and most vibrant city. From its relaxed coastal ambiance with vast outdoor lifestyle activities to its sophisticated arts scene, shopping, and exceptional food & wine, Sydney awaits you with excitement for all. On arrival, transfer by private coach to your hotel. Settle into your hotel, ideally located in the city-center near Sydney’s many must-see attractions, such as Sydney Harbour, Darling Harbour, Centrepoint Tower, The Rocks, and the renowned Opera House. (B)

Day 7 Sydney - City Tour - The Sydney Opera House
Today, start your day with a hearty full breakfast at your hotel. Then embark on a rousing half day tour of Sydney with a professional and insightful guide. Visit Sydney’s famed Chinatown. Take-in the Royal Botanic Gardens, situated on the edge of Sydney Harbor along Farm Cove, where you can enjoy an outstanding collection of plants from Australia and across the globe. Tour the city’s fashionable Eastern Suburbs. Venture along to Sydney Harbour National Park and discover breathtaking views from “the Gap” – ocean cliffs facing the Tasman Sea and Sydney Harbor. Experience the area’s iconic Bondi Beach. Along the way, we will visit an establishment to learn about Australian Opals. After lunch (on your own) tour the world’s most captivating architectural sights, the Sydney Opera House, poised grandly on the Sydney harbor. When the Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007, it was hailed as “one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of mankind”. Now it’s your time to step inside this iconic landmark and discover the stories behind Danish architect Jorn Utzon’s remarkable achievement. (B)

Day 8 Sydney
After enjoying breakfast, outdoor recreation calls with the opportunity to enjoy an optional day trip to the Featherdale Wildlife Park and the Blue Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage site. At the Featherdale Wildlife Park, you will have the opportunity to hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies. From Echo Point, take in the awe-inspiring vistas of the Megalong Valley and view the Three Sisters formations overlooking Jamison Valley that change color as the light shifts throughout the day. This afternoon, Aboriginal culture comes to life at the Waradah Aboriginal Centre. As you return to Sydney, drive along the world-renowned Sydney Harbour Bridge and past the site of the 2000 Olympics. You may also choose to explore Sydney at your leisure today as an alternate option. (B)

Day 9 Sydney/Auckland, New Zealand - City Tour
Power up with a full breakfast at your hotel then head to the airport for your flight to Auckland, New Zealand. Upon arrival in Auckland, you will be greeted at the airport by your private driver and coach. Enjoy a panoramic city tour of Auckland on the way to your hotel. See the scenic waterfront area and the Auckland Tower. (B)

Day 10 Auckland - City Tour/Rotorua
Rise and shine with a delicious breakfast at your hotel then we will depart for an orientation tour of Auckland. Afterwards, visit the Auckland Museum which houses the world’s largest collection of Maori and Polynesian artifacts, including the ornately carved Hotunui meetinghouse (1878) and the huge waka (war canoe), Te Toki-a- Tapiri (1836). The museum also features a Natural History Gallery which depicts how New Zealand's spectacular flora and fauna came to be. Continue to Rotorua on the shores of Lake Rotorua and check-in to your hotel. (B)

Day 11 Rotorua - Rainbow Springs Nature Park - Maori Hangi
Feast on breakfast at your Rotorua hotel before our day’s adventures begin. First, we depart for Rainbow Springs Nature Park to see live kiwi foraging, feed large rainbow trout. Enjoy a walking journey through the native New Zealand bush where we’ll see the local flora and fauna. Today we will also explore the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve and Maori Village set amidst a landscape of erupting geothermal activity, hot thermal springs & bubbling mud pools. Enjoy the natural wonders here and touch the warming waters to feel their healing energy. This evening, at your hotel experience true New Zealand culture during a special Maori Hangi Feast Dinner featuring a traditional meal & entertainment – Cultural Discovery Series. (B,D)

Day 12 Rotorua - Queenstown
This morning we transfer to Rotorua’s airport for your departure flight to Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world. Queenstown’s stunning scenery, huge range of activities and renowned warm welcome cement its reputation as New Zealand’s favorite visitor destination. Surrounded by majestic mountains and set on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, the natural beauty and the unique energy of the region create the perfect backdrop for your extension of adventure, exploration or relaxation. Rest well this evening for upcoming adventures! (B)

Day 13 Queenstown - City Tour
After breakfast you will have a half-day tour of this magnificent town on the South Island of New Zealand set along the edge of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the Southern Alps. Check out Bungy Bridge for death-defying jumps, Arrowtown and the Shotover Jet, a high-speed jet boat tour that performs stunts like 360-degree pirouettes in the water. You will also have time to explore the city at your leisure – Queenstown is best known for its spectacular mountain-view scenery. Maybe enjoy a gondola ride to the top of Bob’s Peak for awe-inspiring vistas over the country or just take a ride through the curving roads and become one with this beautiful country. (B)

Day 14 Queenstown
Enjoy a delicious breakfast at your hotel and then join us for an optional full-day tour of Milford Sound or stay and explore Queenstown further at your leisure. If you join us for the optional tour, we will travel through the lush and beautiful countryside, through the famous Fiordland National Park to Milford Sound. Admire the awe-inspiring sights of Milford Sound on a scenic cruise! As you marvel at one of the world’s most incredible natural miracles, see dolphins and seals against a backdrop of gushing waterfalls and a lush green rainforest. A fun picnic lunch is included on this day tour. Tonight, enjoy a final dinner with your fellow travelers on this South Pacific travel adventure. (B,D)

Day 15 Queenstown/Auckland to USA
This morning, enjoy breakfast before heading to Queenstown airport for flight to Auckland and onwards to the USA. On your homeward flight you cross the International Date Line heading east to west, giving you back a day and a lifetime of cherished memories from your amazing vacation Down Under. (B)

Includes

  • ROUND TRIP AIR TRANSPORTATION - Air transportation from Los Angeles and all intra-Australia and New Zealand flights
  • FIRST-CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS - Hotel accommodations for 12 nights
  • SUPERB CUISINE - 17 included meals consisting of 13 buffet breakfasts, 1 lunch and 3 dinners including welcome dinner, Maori Hangi dinner and show, and farewell dinner
  • SIGHTSEEING TOUR PROGRAM - Sightseeing, including local guide and all entrance fees as follows: Sydney city tour, Sydney Opera House tour, Catamaran Cruise to the Great Barrier Reef, city tour of Auckland including a guided tour of the Auckland Museum, visit to the Maori village and Rainbow Springs Nature Park in Rotorua, city tour of Queenstown including Bungy Bridge and Arrowtown. Optional tours available
  • CULTURAL DISCOVERY SERIES - Our program encompasses cultural connections, in-depth learning on the local economy and social systems, and interaction with locals such as a visit to an aboriginal Maori village including welcome ceremony, dinner and a powerful display of songs and dances
  • PROFESSIONAL TOUR DIRECTOR - Assistance of a professional Tour Director upon arrival in Cairns
  • DELUXE MOTORCOACHES - Touring by private deluxe air-conditioned motorcoach
  • BAGGAGE HANDLING AND TRANSFERS - Baggage handling for one piece of checked luggage outside of the airport

Notes

DESTINATION HIGHLIGHTS
 
  • Visit the Southern Hemisphere
  • Cross the Equator and International Date Line
  • Experience the culture and traditions of Australia and New Zealand
  • Explore Australia’s natural history at the Great Barrier Reef 
  • Visit the iconic Bondi Beach in Sydney
  • Enjoy the breathtaking views from ocean’s cliffs facing the magnificent Sydney harbor
  • Tour the Sydney Opera House, a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Learn about Australia’s rich history as you explore aboriginal Maori village
  • Rainbow Springs Nature Park in Rotorua
  • Inspiring natural treasures of Milford Sound
  • Spectacular mountain-view scenery in Queenstown
  • Bungy Bridge and Arrowtown