22
days

The National Geographic Australian & New Zealand Journey

National Geographic Journey’s support sustainable tourism and promote culture, heritage and conservation. By immersing yourself in this 22 day Australasian guided tour you will forge connections with the environment and the people through authentic life-changing experiences. Capture the sunrise at sacred Uluru/Ayers Rock, explore ancient rainforests, ice-age glaciers and be enthralled with the many Aboriginal and Maori myths, legends and cultural traditions that genealogically link the past with the present.

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Itinerary

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1
Sydney

G'Day - Welcome to Australia!

Feel free to arrive at any time into Sydney and check into your hotel.

There are no activities planned for the day so you are free to explore the city before a welcome meeting with your tour guide and your fellow travelling companions at 7.00pm.

Take some time and explore Sydney’s vibrant and lively inner-city, its heritage buildings, and shopping precincts or indulge in fabulous food and wine at the numerous restaurants, cafes and roof top bars.

Meals: Welcome Dinner

Accommodation: Larmont Sydney - 2 nights (or something similar)

2
Sydney Harbour Cruise

Today we explore the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour and some of the harbour’s iconic landmarks. Beginning with a walk to the Sydney Opera House - a UNESCO World Heritage Site described by UNESCO as a ‘great urban sculpture set in a remarkable waterscape’. Next we head towards The Rocks, the city’s harbourside quarter. The Rocks is one of the largest and ongoing archeology sites in Australia. Excavation in the mid-1990s revealed artifacts and buildings dating back to the first European settlers opening a window into Sydney’s colourful convict past.

This afternoon we board a private yacht to enjoy a leisurely sunset cruise and dinner on Sydney Harbour. Before dinner you can opt to swim, fish or kayak or just relax as we navigate the harbour. There are plenty of opportunities to take photographs of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, Fort Dennison and Shark Island before returning at sunset as the city prepares to light up for the night.  (Full commentary provided).  

Orientation Walk: Enjoy a brief walk with your CEO. He/she will give you some tips on finding things like supermarkets, main squares, and ATMs. 

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

3
Fly Port Douglas | Aboriginal Interpretive Walk

After flying to Cairns this morning we travel up the coastal road to Mossman Gorge on the southern side of Daintree National Park.

Mossman Gorge and Daintree Rainforest are part of the traditional homeland of the Kuku Yalanji people and regarded as a cradle of diversity. The tropical rainforest is home to more than five hundred different species of Australian native plants and over 430 bird species as well as 23 species of reptiles. Thought to be over 135 million years old the Daintree Rainforest was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in recognition of its evolutionary ecology.

After being welcomed with a traditional ‘Smoking’ ceremony, an ancient custom to cleanse and’ rest the spirits’, we will walk through the Daintree Rainforest into Mossman Gorge. Our Aboriginal guide will explain the lasting relationship of the Kuku Yalanji people with their natural environment including the forging of native fauna and flora for medicinal and culinary use, as well as the significance of sacred sites.

A demonstration of bush soap and ochre paint, traditionally used for body and cave painting, making follows. Before leaving our hosts will refresh us with bush tea, a tea flavoured with gum leaves, and unleavened bread (damper) cooked over an open fire. 

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Mantra PortSea, Port Douglas - 2 nights (or something similar)

4
A Day of Leisure in Port Douglas

Port Douglas is known as a sophisticated and glamorous beach resort. A visit to Four Mile Beach, a popular destination for kite surfing, is essential. You can relax on tropical palm fringed beaches with pristine golden sand or enjoy the many restaurants and cafes that offer alfresco dining.  

There are numerous tours that embark from Port Douglas, many combining the adventure experiences of the globally significant Great Barrier Reef and Cape Tribulation in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest. Recognised as having a unique biological diversity The Great Barrier Reef’s’ unparalleled natural beauty above and below the water provides some of the most magnificent scenery on earth.

Optional Activities:

Great Barrier Reef Diving or Snorkeling from Port Douglas

Cruise the Great Barrier Reef and dive the clear warm reef waters and experience the largest coral reef in the world on a scuba diving or snorkeling day trip.

The Great Barrier Reef teems with over 1500 species of tropical fish and is home 400 species of coral as well as whales, dolphins, porpoises and turtles. Make sure you bring an underwater camera!

Meals: Breakfast

5
Behind the Scenes: James Cook research aquarium - Cairns

Travelling back to the tropical city of Cairns we take an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the James Cook University Research Aquarium. Founded by marine biologist and National Geographic grant recipient Dr. Jamie Seymour, the Aquarium is, dedicated to helping vulnerable and endangered species through education and conservation. An exclusive tour of the research facility (not normally open to the public) has been arranged. 

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Pacific Hotel Cairns - 2 nights (or something similar)

6
Janbanbarra Jirrbal Rainforest People

Today we travel to Tully for a cultural experience with the Janbanbarra Jirrbal Rainforest people. The Jirrbal people possess an intimate knowledge of the land passed down through the centuries by oral tradition. Immerse yourself in their beliefs, culture, language and hunter gathering lifestyle by partaking in a traditional lunch that includes foraged ‘ bush tucker’ -  leaves and berries, fresh water Barramundi and sweet potatoes (a Queensland delicacy).

After lunch there is an opportunity to learn about the importance of traditional indigenous art, the stories and myths attached to rock and sand painting, and wood carving, before creating your own original art work.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

7
Sacred Uluru | Ayers Rock - The Red Centre

Flying into Uluru/ Ayers Rock - believed by The Anangu people to be formed by ancestral beings during the creation period ‘Dreamtime’ – we arrive to witness the incredible ever changing colours of the outback as the sun sets over the ‘Rock’ in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Pioneer Outback Hotel - 2 nights (or something similar)

8
Behold Uluru

Try to awake early to watch the landscape transform again as the sun rises over the silhouette of Uluru/ Ayers Rock.

Uluru Mala Walk

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Area for its outstanding natural and cultural landscapes.

You will be guided by a ranger along the base of the ‘Rock’ stopping to learn about the spiritual and cultural meanings of the landscape and rock formations, as well as, the ongoing conservation projects being undertaken to reintroduce the Mala (Rufus- Hare Wallaby) into the park. (Subject to weather conditions – maybe cancelled due to extreme heat)

Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre Visit

The foundation of the Anangu culture and daily life is based on Tjukurpa (chook-orr- pa). Tjukurpa is the basis of all knowledge including the peoples’ connection with the land from their ancestral beings. Find out which indigenous plants are used as food (bush tucker) or medicines as well as the traditional methods of hunting and gathering.

Meals: Breakfast

9
Alice Springs

Before departing to Alice Springs for the night take the opportunity to enjoy another Uluru/ Ayers Rock sunrise and a walk in the stunning landscape of the Kata Tjuta National Park.

Surrounded by the MacDonnell Ranges, Alice Springs or the ‘Alice’ is a quintessential outback town. The discovery of alluvial gold in the late 19th century and its role as a staging camp in WW11 turned Alice Springs into a booming service town. Today Alice Springs is a leading participant in the Australian Government’s Solar City program.

There are plenty of outback activities in Alice Springs including outback hiking, bird watching, camel treks as well as fabulous galleries featuring ‘dot painting’ by local artists.  

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Aurora Alice Springs - 2 nights (or something similar)

10
Melbourne

Victoria's capital, Melbourne, sits on the Yarra River and around the shores of Port Phillip Bay. It has been ranked as one of the world’s most liveable cities and is an UNESCO City of Literature.as well as being one of the most vibrant  and cosmopolitan cities in Australia. Once one of the richest cities in the world the central city is a mix of modern, Victorian and Edwardian architecture reflecting Melbourne’s early gold rush days and its ‘Boom and Bust’ era at the turn of the 20th century. Melbourne is a multicultural city with stunning gardens, spacious parks, galleries, museums and superb cafes and restaurants.   

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Oaks On Collins  - 2 nights (or something similar)

11
Melbourne Foodie Walk

With its multicultural population Melbourne has a reputation of being a ‘foodie heaven’. Australian chefs borrow from all cuisines to produce cutting edge and innovative contemporary cuisine. We explore the laneways and arcades of Melbourne city with a culinary storyteller for a three-course progressive lunch - savour French style sweet treats, authentic Chinese dumplings, superb coffee and a glass of sparkling wine  By understanding the food culture you will understand the diversity and history of the local people.

You will then have free time to further explore the city or discover the many wineries in the surrounding district. Tomorrow we fly to Auckland, ‘City of the Sails’, to begin our National Geographic Journey of New Zealand. 

Meals: Dinner and Breakfast

12
Auckland

Tēnā koe - Greetings

Welcome to Auckland ‘The City of Sails’. On arrival in Auckland today you will be met by your New Zealand tour representative and transferred to your accommodation for this evening. You may have time to explore New Zealand’s largest city before joining your travel companions early evening for a pre-dinner drink and a preview of your National Geographic Journey of New Zealand itinerary.

Some Activities and Sightseeing Options Available are:

Explore Waiheke Island Island Kayaking Adventure America’s Cup Sailing
Auckland's Sky Tower Relax on the Beach Rangitoto Island Cruise & Walk
West Coast Wine Tour Whale and Dolphin Safari Muriwai Surf Beach

 

Meals: Dinner

Accommodation: Pullmans Hotel Auckland - 2 nights (or something similar)

13
OCEAN PELAGICS - WHALES AND DOLPHINS

Ocean Pelagics

The Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park, covering 1.2 million hectares, is one of the world’s most diverse maritime parks consisting of five marine reserves and more than 50 islands. Aboard a purpose built research and wildlife viewing vessel we explore the beautiful Hauraki Gulf and learn about current research and conservation projects to protect the dolphins, whales and sea birds of the region and preserve the historic, traditional, cultural, and spiritual relationships of the Hauraki Gulf with the tangata whenua (people of the land).

Meals: Breakfast 

14
RAGLAN (LITTLE HAWAII) FOR SOME BOHEMIAN TRANQUILITY

Raglan is a small seaside sustainably minded town known for its bohemian lifestyle, premier surfing spots and its black sand beaches.

En route we stop at an aquaculture research facility focused on restoring lowland wetlands through the development of sustainable eel fishing. After a tour of the eco-facility we enjoy an organically produced lunch before arriving in Raglan for a harbour boat cruise.

Raglan Whaingaroa Harbour is best seen from the water. Renowned for its stunning scenic views of ancient limestone rock formations, pancake rocks and limestone caves we cruise the harbour and learn about its history, culture and unique environment. Watch out for whales and giant stingray. 

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Raglan Sunset Motel  - 1 night (or something similar)

15
Rotorua - The Pacific Rim of Fire

Heading towards Rotorua we stop at Bridal Veil Falls - Wairēinga (Water of the Underworld). Overseen by the Department of Conversation a viewing platform at the top of the falls and steps down to the plunge pool provide a stunning view of the cascading falls and the surrounding native forest.

Since the late nineteenth century the city of Rotorua has been known as spa town, a place where the internationally rich and famous came to ‘take the cure’, in the many mineral laden natural hot springs, thermal mud pools, and steamy erupting geothermal geysers. Take the opportunity to soak and relax in one of the many hot pools fed by natural springs.

This evening we will be welcomed to Tamaki Village with a Powhiri, a traditional ceremonial welcome. Here you will gain an insight into Maori culture and the history of Rotorua through myths, legends, waiata (songs) and traditional dance. It is customary for Maori to share food as a means of welcoming and you will be invited to partake in a traditional meal of meats, seafood and root vegetables, cooked in a ‘hangi’, or earth pit oven.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua  - 1 night (or something similar)

16
Rotorua - Christchurch

This morning, before flying to Christchurch, we visit Whakarewarewa Geothermal Village. We will be guided through the geothermal wonderland, a gift from the Goddesses of Fire, by a local guide and view the renowned mud pools, some reaching temperatures of over 90°C, the Pohutu Geyser known to erupt up to 20 times a day, and steaming geothermal pools.

Lunch is a modern twist on traditional Maori food. Succulent Hangi cooked meats; vegetables and gravy are encased in golden puff pastry and served alongside a green salad with sweetcorn on the cob steamed in one of the geothermal cooking pools.  

Arriving Christchurch you will have time for a brief walk in the city centre where you will be able to see the extensive and eco-innovative rebuilding work being carried out to reclaim the city after the devastating earthquake of 2011.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Accommodation:  Chateau on the Park​  - 1 night (or something similar)

17
TRANZ ALPINE RAIL JOURNEY | GLACIER COUNTRY

Travelling by train still remains one of travels most exciting experiences. This morning we board The TranzAlpine train that journeys between Christchurch and Greymouth. We leave Christchurch crossing the Canterbury Plains before following the Waimakariri River and traversing the spectacular Southern Alps before finally descending through native beech forest into Greymouth. From Greymouth we transfer to a coach and continue down the west coast to the township of Franz Josef.

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Rainforest Retreat  - 2 nights (or something similar)

18
Explore Franz Josef Glacier

Today is a free day to explore the region around Franz Josef. You are in the heart of the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, considered to be the most diverse and beautiful areas in New Zealand and the home of the Kea, a protected native parrot that thrives in the chilly environment and is infamous for its inquisitive and often destructive behaviour!

Simply relax in the Glacier Hot Pools or if you are feeling adventurous take a Glacier Heli Hike and land on the glacier with an experienced guide to explore the towering peaks and ice formations.

Excursions available in and around the Franz Josef area:

Kayak Okarito Lagoon    Glacier Hot Pools    Glacier Scenic Flight
Horseback Riding   Walk to Glacier Face Glacier Heli-hike

 

Meals: Breakfast 

19
Wild West Coast to Queenstown

Today is a travelling day. We travel south along the rugged West Coast this morning stopping at Lake Matheson to view the stunning snowcapped peaks of the Southern Alps reflected in the lake’s dark waters. We then continue through the Haast Pass, one of only three pass through the Southern Alps, to Queenstown ’The Adventure Capital’ of New Zealand.

Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu the scenery surrounding Queenstown is incomparable. On arrival we will take a Gondola Ride above the town to take in the magnificent panoramic views of Queenstown, the Remarkables and the surrounding district.

You can opt to enjoy an outstanding dinner showcasing locally produced and iconic New Zealand dishes at Queenstown’s Skyline Restaurant located at the top of the Gondola ride.  

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Copthorne Lakeside Resort  - 1 night (or something similar)

20
Doubtful Sound Overnight Wildlife Cruise

From Queenstown we drive the scenic route to the lakeside town of Manapouri in Fiordland National Park a World Heritage Area.

From Manapouri we embark on an amazing cruise through the moody and mysterious Doubtful Sound. Onboard the Fiordland Navigator experienced nature guides will provide commentary on the wildlife sightings ensuring you don’t miss any of the highlights. Watch out for bottlenose dolphins, fur seals, and the Fiordland yellow eyebrow crested penguin.  After anchoring for the evening you will have the opportunity to explore the shoreline by kayak or tender boat.

Dinner will be prepared by an onboard chef and served in the dining saloon. Before retiring to your private cabin (with ensuite bathroom) take time to gaze at the stars and listen to the sound of ‘silence’. 

*Please Note: The itinerary for this day varies in the winter: 18 May – 20 Sept.

Doubtful Sound / Te Anau

In the evening head to the picturesque township of Te Anau  located on the shores of the South Island’s largest lake of the same name.

Take in a screening of the award-winning documentary ‘Ata Whenua – Shadowland’ at the Fiordland cinema before enjoying dinner in one of the local award winning restaurants.

Meals: Breakfast Dinner

Accommodation: Fiordland Navigator Doubtful Sound  - 1 night

21
Penguins, Seals & Dolphins

After a hearty breakfast we spend the morning cruising Doubtful Sound back to Deep Cove and Manapouri before returning to Queenstown.

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Copthorne Lakeside Resort  - 1 night (or something similar)

22
Queenstown at Leisure | Homeward Bound

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before departing from Queenstown Airport to connect with your flight home. You may have time for an activity or may just want to relax in one of the many waterfront cafes and reflect on your fabulous National Geographic Journey of New Zealand.

Recommended excursions in and around Queenstown:

Routeburn Track Guided Day Walk Explore Historic Arrowtown Highest Bungy Jump
Wine Tasting Tour Central Otago Biking Skippers Canyon Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
TSS Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise Dart River Jetboat Safari Gibbston Valley Wine Trail
 

Meals: Breakfast 

Haere rā (goodbye) we hope you enjoyed our National Geographic Australian & New Zealand Journey and our promise to make your travels through New Zealand as hassle-free and hospitable as possible. We hope you leave with a huge smile on your face when recalling your time in New Zealand.

Have a great homeward journey and we hope to see you again soon.
 

 Note

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