Day 1 ARRIVE IN MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA.
G’day—welcome to Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city. 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 at your hotel
Day 2 MELBOURNE.
Today’s sightseeing tour includes landmarks such as Parliament House and the Shrine of Remembrance, a tribute to Australia’s war heroes. Visit beautiful FITZROY GARDENS, then drive past the lush Royal Botanic Gardens. You’ll discover the city’s differing architectural influences as you see the Victorian Arts Centre and other buildings of significance. Enjoy a truly unique lunch experience on board the historic [LF] COLONIAL TRAMCAR RESTAURANT as it winds its way through the streets of Melbourne. Tonight’s optional excursion to see the world-famous Penguin Parade on Phillip Island is highly recommended. (B,L)
Day 3 MELBOURNE.
Enjoy a full day at leisure to explore this multicultural and cosmopolitan city. Dine at a local restaurant and immerse yourself in Melbourne’s passionate food and wine scene or walk along Chapel and Brunswick Streets, famous for great shopping. Take a trip out of town to sample award-winning wines in the Yarra Valley or drive along the spectacular Great Ocean Road to see the “Twelve Apostles.” (B)
Day 4 MELBOURNE–HOBART.
Fly to Hobart, Tasmania, home of the famed Tasmanian devil. Enjoy a guided [LF] WALKING TOUR of Hobart’s historic waterfront district, followed by dinner at a local restaurant. (B,D)
Day 5 HOBART. EXCURSION TO PORT ARTHUR.
Today’s tour of the scenic Tasman Peninsula features the blowhole, the Devil’s Kitchen, and the Tasman Arch coastal formations. Visit PORT ARTHUR, which began housing convicts in the 1830s. A guided tour of the penal settlement shows you the ruins of the 4-story penitentiary and the model prison—grim reminders of Australia’s days as a penal colony. Also, stop at the TASMANIAN DEVIL CONSERVATION PARK to see the famous Tasmanian devil, the world’s largest carnivorous marsupial. (B,L)
Day 6 HOBART–ADELAIDE.
Today, fly to Adelaide (via Melbourne). Upon arrival, take a brief orientation tour along the wide, tree-lined streets and well-manicured gardens. The remainder of the day is at your leisure. (B)
Day 7 ADELAIDE. EXCURSION TO KANGAROO ISLAND.
Early this morning, depart Adelaide and travel by motorcoach and ferry to [LF] KANGAROO ISLAND, one of the world’s last unspoiled habitats. Visit SEAL BAY with a national park ranger to see a colony of rare Australian sea lions. Explore FLINDERS CHASE NATIONAL PARK, a sanctuary for native Australian animals, including kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas. Stop here for a walk on REMARKABLE ROCKS, with stunning views of the sea. You will also take a boardwalk down a rugged cliff face to ADMIRALS ARCH, a unique rock formation and home to a colony of New Zealand fur seals, which can be seen resting on the rocks and playing in the waves. Return to Adelaide late this evening. (B,L)
Day 8 ADELAIDE–ULURU (AYERS ROCK).
Fly this morning from Adelaide to the “Center of Australia.” This evening, visit Ayers Rock, a UNESCO World Heritage Site—known also by its Aboriginal name: Uluru. This massive sandstone monolith is one of the world’s most mysterious and religious sites. Enjoy a DRINK as you watch the sunset and the changing colors as they fall across the landscape. Later, enjoy a truly unique Aussie experience—an [LF] OUTBACK BARBECUE featuring a meal of typical campfire fare and awe-inspiring Outback ambiance. (B,D)
Day 9 ULURU (AYERS ROCK).
For an unforgettable experience, you may choose to rise early for an optional camel ride to watch the sunrise at Uluru. Today, enjoy a TOUR around the base of Uluru, learning of its significance to the Anangu Aboriginal people. Time to relax at your resort before the afternoon takes us to a popular lookout to enjoy views of the magnificent KATA TJUTA (the Olgas), a geological splendor of views of some 36 brilliant domes. Evening is at leisure
Day 10 ULURU (AYERS ROCK)–ALICE SPRINGS–GHAN TRAIN.
Today, travel through the heart of the Outback, keeping a lookout for red kangaroos, dingoes, camels, and feral horses, known as “brumbies.” Arrive in Alice Springs and board the historic GHAN TRAIN, a highlight of your vacation. Taking its name from the intrepid Afghan cameleers, the Ghan has become a symbol of nationhood and pioneering spirit. (B,D)
Plan to pack an overnight bag with necessities for the train portion of this tour, including medications, eyeglasses, and other important items. Your other baggage will be checked and you will not be able to access it until arrival in Darwin
Day 11 GHAN TRAIN–KATHERINE–DARWIN.
This morning, the train stops in Katherine and there is time to visit nearby [LF] KATHERINE GORGE. Located in Nitmiluk National Park, this is home to incredible scenery, Aboriginal history, and home to unique birds and animals. Choose between an included scenic CRUISE in the gorge, a CRUISE that features Indigenous rock art dating back 40,000 years or a visit to a working Outback CATTLE STATION to learn about the history and inner workings of the cattle industry. Arrive this evening in Darwin, capital of the Northern Territory. (B,L)
Off train activities are subject to change and will be advised by the Tour Director while on tour
Day 12 DARWIN–KAKADU NATIONAL PARK.
After time at leisure this morning, depart your hotel for KAKADU NATIONAL PARK. Stop at WINDOW ON THE WETLANDS VISITOR CENTRE and BOWALI VISITOR CENTRE to see interactive displays on Kakadu habitats and fauna. Dinner tonight is at your hotel
Day 13 KAKADU NATIONAL PARK.
Explore parts of nearly 7,300 square miles of unspoiled waterways with a rich heritage of Aboriginal culture. [LF] CRUISE the wetlands, where you may see crocodiles, and walk ancient trails to see Aboriginal rock petroglyphs at NOURLANGIE ROCK. An optional light-aircraft flight over the park should not be missed. (B,L)
During the wet season (December through April), it can be difficult to see crocodiles in the wild
Day 14 KAKADU NATIONAL PARK–DARWIN–CAIRNS.
Return to Darwin for sightseeing. See the elegant colonial architecture of the city’s historic buildings that survived Cyclone Tracy in 1974. Visit the splendid BOTANIC GARDENS and beautiful East Point, an area rich in WWII memorabilia. Also visit the ART GALLERY to view fine collections of Aboriginal art. This evening, fly to Cairns, “Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef,” one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. (B)
Day 15 CAIRNS. EXCURSION TO THE OUTER GREAT BARRIER REEF.
Today, prepare for the experience of a lifetime when you board a catamaran and CRUISE to the Outer Great Barrier Reef. Explore this underwater world that is a dazzling kaleidoscope of color and brilliance. Choose to SNORKEL, take a GLASS BOTTOM BOAT TOUR, view the reef from an underwater observatory, watch a fish feeding, and enjoy a marine touch tank
Day 16 CAIRNS.
A full day at leisure in this tropical paradise. For a truly amazing experience, consider our optional trip to Kuranda via the old scenic rail route. See magnificent scenery from the comfort of a restored, historic mountain train. For the return journey, you may choose to take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway—or maybe spend the day in the magical Daintree Rainforest, thought to be the planet’s oldest surviving tropical rainforest. (B)
Day 17 CAIRNS–SYDNEY.
This morning, enjoy a special visit to KOALA GARDENS for your chance to see koalas doing what they do best—eating, sleeping, and looking adorabe. There’s also the chance to meet Australia’s other native animals. Before your visit ends, you’ll have your picture taken with a koala—the perfect souvenir! Afterward, fly to Sydney, the largest city in Australia. (B)
Day 18 SYDNEY.
Explore one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Visit the SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a guided tour of its interior and theaters. Travel to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair in the city’s BOTANIC GARDENS for a great photo opportunity and sweeping views of the harbor, Opera House, and Harbour Bridge. Visit world-famous BONDI BEACH with time to explore on your own. Afterward, a CRUISE on Sydney Harbour highlights some of the city’s best views
Day 19 SYDNEY.
Enjoy a full day at leisure. Perhaps join our optional excursions to the Blue Mountains or to the Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s leading wine-growing regions. You can even climb to the top of Sydney’s Harbour Bridge! Your Tour Director will help you make the most of this exciting city. Tonight, enjoy a special dinner at a WATERFRONT RESTAURANT with fantastic views of Sydney Harbour. (B,D)
Day 20 SYDNEY–CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND–MOUNT COOK.
Fly to Christchurch, the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, then travel south to magnificent MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK, named after New Zealand’s highest peak. Weather permitting, you may wish to join in 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
Day 21 MOUNT COOK–QUEENSTOWN.
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 the nearby Tasman Glacier. Continue to Queenstown, the “Adventure Capital of the World.” (B)
Day 22 QUEENSTOWN. EXCURSION TO MILFORD SOUND.
Today, travel into FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK through Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound. Boasting some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world, this region of New Zealand has been honored as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. CRUISE on the fiord, with sheer rock walls rising thousands of feet from the water’s great depths. (B,L)
Day 23 QUEENSTOWN.
A full day at leisure for your own discoveries. Consider an optional visit to a local vineyard and sample some of the prize vintages, or maybe a thrilling jet-boat ride on the Kawarau and Dart Rivers. Your Tour Director will have suggestions to help you plan your day to explore, shop, and enjoy optional activities. This evening, take the scenic GONDOLA RIDE to the top of Bob’s Peak for amazing views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. See spectacular views and be treated to a fabulous dinner. (B,D)
Day 24 QUEENSTOWN–ROTORUA.
Fly north to Rotorua. This evening, enjoy a traditional [LF] HANGI DINNER, followed by an authentic MAORI CULTURAL PERFORMANCE. (B,D)
Day 25 ROTORUA.
This morning, start with a visit to the AGRODOME to learn more about one of the country’s major industries—sheep! Continue on to RAINBOW SPRINGS to view native bush and wildlife, including a walk through the kiwi bird enclosure. Last stop is TE PUIA, Rotorua’s most prominent thermal area with New Zealand’s largest geyser, boiling mud pools, and silica terraces. 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, sumptuous spa treatments, and massage therapies at the Polynesian Spa. (B)
Day 26 ROTORUA–WAITOMO–AUCKLAND.
Leave Rotorua and cross the Mamaku Ranges to the famous WAITOMO GLOWWORM CAVES. Experience a guided tour through the limestone chambers and passages of the cavern. Take a silent boat trip through Glowworm Grotto as you glide quietly beneath the lights of thousands of glowworms suspended from the cave ceiling. Continue on to Auckland. This evening, your Tour Director hosts a farewell dinner atop Auckland’s SKY TOWER. Enjoy fine dining with spectacular views. (B,D)
Day 27 AUCKLAND.
Your tour ends with breakfast this morning.