Sun, Jan 21: Board overnight flight to Cairns, Australia.
Mon, Jan 22: Cross the International Date Line.
Tue, Jan 23: Cairns, Queensland, Australia. Arrive in Sydney and fly to Cairns. Check into the Novotel Oasis Cairns for a three-night stay.
Wed, Jan 24: Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Spend a full day on the Great Barrier Reef. Take a fast, stable catamaran to a stunning coral reef location. Access the reef from an all-weather activity platform. Lunch is served, and changing rooms and showers are available. Snorkel in the sheltered coral lagoon, scuba dive or see the reef from a semi-submersible or glass-bottom boat. (Meals: Breakfast, Lunch)
Thu, Jan 25: Kuranda, Queensland. Travel in comfort on the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway as it meanders through the ancient rainforest and on to Kuranda, the famous “Village in the Rainforest.” Learn about the history of this engineering triumph while taking in the breathtaking scenery. In Kuranda you’ll have time to explore the village and browse through the markets. Board the Skyrail for a 90-minute ride as it spans an ancient tropical rainforest. At the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park immerse yourself in the Aboriginal culture performances with authentic music, dance, storytelling and interactive activities. (B,D)
Fri, Jan 26: Uluru, Northern Territory. Depart by air for Uluru (Ayers Rock) and transfer to the Desert Gardens Hotel at Ayers Rock Resort for two nights. Create your own Maruku dot painting with an aboriginal artist. In the afternoon, travel through the desert to The Olgas (“Kata Tjuta”), 36 massive red rock domes. Enjoy a guided walk before traveling to Uluru’s sunset viewing area to witness the striking color changes as the sun sets. Enjoy a complimentary glass of wine before returning to the resort. (B)
Sat, Jan 27: Uluru. Rise early to watch as the gradual rising sun changes the colors of Uluru. Return to the resort for breakfast then travel back to Uluru to tour the rock’s base. The 2,800-foot rock seems to change continually as the light moves across it. Take an informative guided walk into Mutitjulu waterhole and view Aboriginal rock paintings, and learn about flora, fauna and Aboriginal history. Stop at the Cultural Centre before returning to the resort. Enjoy amenities at the resort or spend the rest of your day at leisure. In the evening, experience a second sunset over Uluru as you enjoy a Sounds of Silence Dinner in the desert. Feast on authentic Australian delicacies complimented by Australian wines. A stargazer guide takes you on a tour of the spectacular nighttime sky. Return to the resort. (B,D)
Sun, Jan 28: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Check out of the resort and transfer to the airport to catch your flight to Sydney. Check into the Radisson Blu in Sydney for three nights. (B)
Mon, Jan 29: Sydney. This morning a sightseeing tour of Sydney includes stopping for spectacular views of the Sydney Opera House. See other highlights of the city and terrific views of the Pacific Ocean at Watson’s Bay. Arrive at famous Bondi Beach for a brief stop before returning to Sydney via Paddington to view its restored 19th-century Colonial Terraces. Proceed to Circular Quay for your lunch cruise aboard the mv Sydney 2000. Enjoy stunning harbor views with comprehensive commentary and a delicious seafood buffet lunch. Afterward, see the Opera House on a private guided tour. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant tonight. (B,L,D)
Tue, Jan 30: Sydney. After breakfast depart for a 40-minute drive to Featherdale Wildlife Park, one of the largest collections of Australian animals in the world. Wander through the leafy walkways to observe koalas, wombats, kookaburras, parrots and kangaroos. You can even hand feed kangaroos, wallabies and emus. Return to Sydney and spend the rest of the day and evening on your own. (B)
Wed, Jan 31: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Depart by air for Melbourne, known as Australia’s cultural capital. It has been recognized as a UNESCO City of Literature. Upon arrival, transfer to the Vibe Savoy Hotel Melbourne for two nights. The rest of the day is on your own. (B)
Thu, Feb 1: Melbourne. Enjoy a city sightseeing tour, discovering Melbourne’s past and present. Stop at Cooks’ Cottage, the North Yorkshire home of the world famous British explorer, Captain James Cook’s, parents. It was built in 1755, and was moved, brick by brick, from England to Melbourne in 1934. The rest of the day is at leisure. Dinner is on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant with a sightseeing tour. Glide through the streets of Melbourne on the 1948 tram and enjoy a five-course meal featuring local produce and a fully stocked bar. (B,D)
Fri, Feb 2: Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand. Fly to Queenstown, New Zealand and check into the Scenic Suites Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. The rest of the day is at leisure. (B)
Sat, Feb 3: Queenstown. In the morning, enjoy a highlights tour. Start with a ride on the Skyline Gondola and travel to the top to Bob’s Peak for breathtaking views. Then drive through the wine-growing region around the Kawarau River and visit the Bungy Jump at the Kawarau Bridge and the historic former gold-mining town of Arrowtown. Return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure or choose an optional excursion: take an optional tour by 4WD vehicles to visit the historic Chinese Settlers Village and the film location for the Ford of Bruinen in the Lord of the Rings movies. Travel to the former gold-mining settlement of Macetown and try panning for gold. Or choose an optional whitewater jet boat ride on the Shotover River. Early in the evening cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the steamer TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station. The captain will provide commentary as you sail. Upon arrival at Walter Peak High Country Farm, walk through the beautiful gardens to enjoy a buffet dinner and wine at the Colonel’s Homestead. Watch a brief farm show with sheep and sheepdogs or just relax in the bar before returning to Queenstown late evening. (B, D)
Sun, Feb 4: Milford Sound Cruise. Transfer to Milford Sound via the Fiordland National Park, with stops en route. The scenic cruise on Milford Sound journeys the full length of the sound out to the Tasman Sea, with stops at various points and offering excellent viewing of dramatic waterfalls, rainforest, mountains and wildlife. A buffet lunch is included on board. Return to Queenstown. (B,L)
Mon, Feb 5: Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand. Fly to New Zealand’s North Island and arrive in Rotorua, the center of an extensive thermal region, with geysers, bubbling mud pools and steaming, sulphurous lakes. Take a brief highlights tour on the way to your hotel, the Millennium Rotorua Hotel. Drive along the Rotorua lakefront, through the city center and the beautiful Government Gardens. Visit Rainbow Springs with a guided tour. Many of New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna are featured here. Visit the Kiwi Encounter to view the country’s national icon, the flightless kiwi bird. Check into your hotel. Later in the afternoon transfer to Te Puia and the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve & Maori Arts & Crafts Centre. Your Maori guide with escort you to the Maori Pa village site and the institute, where young Maoris are taught the intricacies of traditional carving. Visit the geothermal reserve and view the boiling mud pools and geysers. The evening is filled with a traditional Powhir (welcome) and Wero (challenge). Enjoy a concert of Maori performance of songs and dances followed by an authentic Maori hangi (buffet dinner) with food prepared in a stone-lined fire pit. Return to your hotel for one night. (B,D)
Tue, Feb 6: Waitomo Caves & Auckland. Visit Waitomo Caves, an impressive underground series of caves that includes the Cathedral and the Tomo, a deep limestone shaft. Then take a boat trip through the spectacular Glowworm Grotto. The roof sparkles with the lights of glowworm larvae that reflect off the water. Lunch is a New Zealand-style barbecue at Roselands Farm and Garden Restaurant. Drive to Auckland, the world’s biggest Polynesian city, with 190 different ethnicities. The city has a lively arts and culture scene, a wide range of food and craft markets, vineyards and outstanding restaurants. Spend two nights at the centrally located Crowne Plaza Auckland Hotel. (B,L)
Wed, Feb 7: Auckland. In the morning discover Auckland on a sightseeing tour. Visit the Sky Tower for extensive views of the city and surroundings. The tower is the tallest manmade structure in New Zealand and offers incredible views in every direction. Drive along the waterfront of Tamaki Drive to Orakel and Mission Bay and the inner city suburb of Parnell and the gardens of the Auckland Domain. Explore the Auckland War Memorial Museum on a guided tour. Transfer to the Viaduct Harbor for a harbor cruise on a Pride of Auckland sailing yacht. The coffee cruise sails under the Auckland Harbour Bridge and around the beautiful harbor. You’ll have an opportunity to try your hand at steering and trimming the sails, or just sit back, relax and enjoy the views of the harbor and city. Return to the hotel with the balance of the afternoon on your own. A Farewell Dinner is at the Harbourside Restaurant on the Auckland Waterfront. Return to the hotel for your final night in New Zealand. (B,D)
Thu, Feb 8: Early morning departure from Auckland. Return home the same day. (B)
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort, Cairns, Australia
Beautiful tropical surroundings make this a true resort-style treat. This multi-award-winning resort is located near the popular Cairns Esplanade. Highlights: contemporary guestrooms with private terraces or balconies • restaurant • bar • 24-hour room service • complimentary Wi-Fi access in lobby and public areas • fitness center • large lagoon-style pool with sandy beach and swim-up bar • day spa.
Desert Gardens Hotel at Ayers Rock Resort, Ayers Rock, Australia.
An incredible place to discover aboriginal culture. Highlights: spacious guestrooms with private balconies or courtyard areas • in-room coffee/tea makers • restaurant • bar • room service • complimentary Wi-Fi access• outdoor pool • tennis court • native gardens.
Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney, Sydney, Australia.
Breathtaking heritage elements merge with contemporary features. This boutique-style hotel features large windows and high ceilings for a spacious atmosphere. Walk to major city attractions such as Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Royal Botanical Gardens Highlights: spacious, contemporary guestrooms • bathrobes provided during stay • in-room coffee and tea maker • complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access • two restaurants • bar • 24-hour room service • fitness center • steam room • indoor pool • spa.
Vibe Savoy Hotel, Melbourne, Australia.
Located in the heart of Melbourne’s city business district . Highlights: spacious guestrooms • in-room coffee/tea makers • high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi access (fees apply) • restaurant • bar/lounge • room service • fitness center.
Scenic Suites Queenstown, New Zealand.
Take in the picturesque beauty of Queenstown from this luxurious hotel located blocks from Lake Wakatipu’s shore. Highlights: comfortable guestrooms with balconies or patios • in-room coffee and tea makers • restaurant • bar • 24-hour room service • complimentary Wi-Fi Internet access • spa.
Millennium Rotorua Hotel, Rotorua, New Zealand.
Located next to mystical Lake Rotorua and just a brief stroll from the city center this modern hotel has a striking contemporary style. Highlights: • well-appointed, spacious guestrooms with A/C • in-room coffee/tea makers • high-speed Internet and Wi-Fi access (fees apply) • two restaurants • bar/lounge • 24-hour room service • fitness center • heated indoor pool • children’s and toddlers’ pools • spa • sauna.
Crowne Plaza Auckland Hotel, Auckland, New Zealand.
Located in the heart of the city, steps from the Sky Tower and near the Queen Street Shopping District. The hotel offers a balance of superior comfort, personal service and contemporary accommodations. Highlights: convenience refrigerators • in-room coffee maker • 24-hour fitness center • bar/lounge • 24-hour room service • WiFi Internet access.