Australia is a country and continent surrounded by the Indian and Pacific oceans. Its major cities – Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide – are coastal. Its capital, Canberra, is inland. The country is known for its Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, a vast interior desert wilderness called the Outback, and unique animal species like kangaroos and duck-billed platypuses.
New Zealand is a country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean consisting of 2 main islands, both marked by volcanoes and glaciation. Capital Wellington, on the North Island, is home to Te Papa Tongarewa, the expansive national museum. Wellington’s dramatic Mt. Victoria, along with the South Island’s Fiordland and Southern Lakes, stood in for mythical Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” films.
Fiji, a country in the South Pacific, is an archipelago of more than 300 islands. It’s famed for rugged landscapes, palm-lined beaches and coral reefs with clear lagoons. Its major islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, contain most of the population. Viti Levu is home to the capital, Suva, a port city with British colonial architecture. The Fiji Museum, in the Victorian-era Thurston Gardens, has ethnographic exhibits.
3 Hours Before Flight Time
Welcome to Australia! Hotel rooms are available for immediate check-in. Please schedule flights to arrive by 3 pm in order to attend this evening’s welcome briefing and dinner. This is a good time to meet your fellow travelers, get your questions answered, and prepare for your adventure. (D)
Start your day with a city sightseeing tour, including such landmarks as the SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a guided tour of its interior and theaters. See Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair in the city’s BOTANIC GARDENS and enjoy sweeping views of the harbor, Opera House, and Harbour Bridge. Enjoy a walk around the Rocks, the site of the first European settlement in Australia, now home to shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Later, visit TARONGA ZOO with its 4,000 animals including Australia natives such as kangaroo, wallaby, little penguins, and the Tasmanian devil. Enjoy a special [LF] ANIMAL ENCOUNTER which provides a unique opportunity to get close to some of Taronga Zoo’s most amazing residents. (B)
Today is at leisure. You may wish to spend some time in Darling Harbour with its many shops and restaurants or shop for a favorite souvenir. This evening, a special New Year’s Eve celebration awaits. First, take to the water on a harbor [LF] CRUISE complete with canapés and a 4-course dinner followed by music and dancing. At the stroke of midnight, be treated to a champagne toast and some of the most amazing fireworks you’ll ever see. Here is your chance to ring in the New Year amongst the world-famous Sydney fireworks. It will be a night to remember! (B,D)
Today, you can relax from your New Year’s Eve celebration. Perhaps venture to the nearby beaches of Manly or Bondi, explore the cobblestone streets of the Rocks, or stroll through one of the city’s many gardens. Your Tour Director will have suggestions for additional activities. (B)
Fly to Cairns, “Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.” Upon arrival, be whisked away on the RAINFOREST SKYRAIL which travels over Australia’s pristine tropical rainforest and offers incredible views of the valley below. Be sure to have your camera ready for incredible photo opportunities. Return via the KURANDA SCENIC RAILWAY. The famous railway winds its way through the millions-of-years-old rainforest, passing spectacular waterfalls and into the Barron Gorge. Check in to your Cairns hotel for a 3-night stay. (B)
Today, prepare for the experience of a lifetime when you board a catamaran and CRUISE to the Outer Great Barrier Reef, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Explore this underwater world that is a dazzling kaleidoscope of color and brilliance. During your time here, you may choose to SNORKEL, take a semi-submersible WATERCRAFT TOUR, and attend a presentation by a marine biologist. (B,L,D)
A full day at leisure in this tropical paradise. You may wish to visit nearby Cape Tribulation or Mossman Gorge, spend some time at the Cairns Lagoon, enjoy a stroll along the Esplanade, or shop for a bargain at the popular Cairns Night Market. Your Tour Director will have suggestions for additional sightseeing, shopping, and dining. (B)
Fly this morning to Australia’s “Red Center.” Enjoy a TOUR around the base of the rock, learning of its significance to the Anangu Aboriginal people. Visit KATA TJUTA (the Olgas), a geological splendor of some 36 brilliant domes. Later, enjoy an amazing sunset and a celebratory DRINK as you watch the colors change on sacred Uluru. (B)
Today, fly to Alice Springs located in Australia’s Outback. Sightseeing includes a visit to the SCHOOL OF THE AIR to learn how the school was started, how classes are broadcasted, and the difference it makes to children in remote regions of Australia. Also, visit the OLD TELEGRAPH STATION, the birthplace of Alice Springs, and discover the importance this early settlement has with connecting Australia to the rest of the world. Tonight, a unique [LF] OUTBACK BARBECUE featuring music, stargazing, a boomerang demonstration, and typical campfire fare. Relax underneath a chandelier of stars and enjoy this awe-inspiring Outback experience. (B,D)
Today, fly to Melbourne, Australia’s cultural capital with Victorian-era architecture, extensive restaurants and shopping, arcades and lanes, and beautiful parks and gardens. (B)
This morning’s sightseeing includes landmarks such as Federation Square, the Melbourne Museum, and beautiful FITZROY GARDENS. See Parliament House and the Shrine of Remembrance, a tribute to Australia’s war heroes. Discover Victorian terraced homes in East Melbourne, and see the bustling streets of Chinatown and the Queen Victoria Market. Next, enjoy a unique lunch experience aboard the historic COLONIAL TRAMCAR RESTAURANT as it winds its way through the streets of Melbourne. With the remainder of the day at leisure, why not venture to Phillip Island to witness the world-famous Penguin Parade? (B,L)
Enjoy a full day at leisure to explore more of this vibrant city on your own. Spend time at the Old Melbourne Gaol, once home to legendary outlaw, Ned Kelly; sit at a café and enjoy a coffee; wander along the scenic Yarra River; or take an optional excursion to see the incredible Great Ocean Road. Your Tour Director will have suggestions for additional sightseeing, shopping, and dining. (B)
This morning, bid farewell to Australia as you board your flight to Auckland. This evening, join us atop [LF] Auckland’s SKY TOWER, where the dining room rotates once every hour, providing a unique experience with amazing 360-degree panoramas of the city and harbor below. (B,D)
Start your day with a sightseeing tour of Auckland, the “City of Sails.” See bustling Queen Street, the city’s oldest park, Auckland Domain, and the historic Parnell Village. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. You can explore on you own or participate in a selection of optional activities. In the evening, why not enjoy a glass of New Zealand’s famous wine while dining at one of Auckland’s world-class restaurants? (B)
Depart Auckland and travel through the green pastoral region of Waikato to the famous WAITOMO GLOWWORM CAVES. Experience a guided tour through the limestone chambers and take a silent boat trip through Glowworm Grotto as you glide quietly beneath the lights of thousands of glowworms. In the afternoon, continue over the Mamaku Ranges to Rotorua. Enjoy a traditional HANGI DINNER, cooked beneath the ground with hot stones. Dinner is followed by an authentic [LF] MAORI CULTURAL PERFORMANCE of singing, dancing, and storytelling. (B,D)
This morning, visit RAINBOW SPRINGS to view native bush and wildlife, including a visit behind the scenes at the [LF] KIWI ENCOUNTER to see each stage a kiwi chick goes through before being released in the national parks. Your visit here helps support the National Kiwi Trust. Then, visit the AGRODOME to learn more about one of the country’s major industries—sheep! Continue to TE PUIA, Rotorua’s most prominent thermal area with New Zealand’s largest geyser and boiling mud pools. The afternoon and evening are at your leisure. You may wish to board a floatplane for flightseeing of this beautiful area, join a New Zealand family for dinner in their home, or indulge yourself in the relaxing hot springs or massage therapies at the Polynesian Spa. (B)
Fly to Christchurch, the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island; then travel south to magnificent MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK. Weather permitting, you may wish to join a stargazing program this evening. The Mount Cook region offers some of the darkest skies in the world—perfect for viewing the southern night sky. (B,D)
SPECIAL FEATURE: Spend the evening at the historic Hermitage Hotel, located at the base of Mount Cook. Enjoy splendid views, fresh mountain air, and all the modern amenities of this first-class property.
Start the day with a visit to the SIR EDMUND HILLARY ALPINE CENTER for unique insight into the history and culture of this region. Then, time to explore on your own. You may wish to enjoy a scenic walk or perhaps an optional scenic flight that lands on nearby Tasman Glacier. Continue to Queenstown, the “Adventure Capital of the World.” (B)
Today, travel to FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Board your ship and CRUISE through MILFORD SOUND and witness some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery. See sheer cliffs, massive waterfalls cascading into the sea, glaciers, and rainforest. Keep a lookout for fur seals, dolphins, and other wildlife. It will be a day you won’t soon forget! (B,L)
A full day at leisure for your own Queenstown discoveries. Consider a trip on the Skyline Gondola, the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere, where you’ll enjoy amazing views of the area and Lake Wakatipu below. Other options include a visit to a local vineyard to sample some of the prize vintages or a thrilling jet boat ride on the Dart River. This evening, CRUISE across Lake Wakatipu aboard the vintage TSS Earnslaw steamship to Walter Peak High Country Farm. Enjoy a FARM DEMONSTRATION that provides a glimpse of life on the farm followed by a festive farewell dinner hosted by your Tour Director. The perfect ending to your South Pacific vacation. (B,D)
Today, depart Queenstown and fly to Fiji for three nights in this tropical paradise. The remainder of the day is at leisure. (B)
This morning, enjoy a sightseeing tour of the island. Visit the GARDEN OF THE SLEEPING GIANT to see a private collection of stunning tropical orchids and visit VISEISEI VILLAGE, where the Fijian people first landed centuries ago. Stop at the VUDA LOOKOUT, a tropical fruit farm perched on a cliff, where you’ll sample fruit and juice from the orchard. Visit a local market and explore the stalls selling fresh produce at NAMAKA MARKET; then stop at the Southern Hemisphere’s largest Hindu temple, SRI SIVA SUBRAMANIYA. The remainder of the day is at your leisure.
A full day at your leisure. You may wish to take a day trip to South Sea Island, relax by the pool, get pampered at a spa, or enjoy a sunset dinner cruise. Your Local Host® can give you suggestions for things to do to make the most of your time. (B)
Your tour ends with breakfast this morning. (B)