The Nat Geo AUS and NZ Itinerary


G’Day - Welcome to Australia

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 6.00 pm. 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 rooftop bars.

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

Sydney Harbour
Perfectly positioned in the heart of Sydney CBD, Vibe Hotel Sydney is surrounded by the city’s premier attractions, including George Street precinct, Hyde Park, Chinatown, and Darling Harbour. All rooms at Hotel Vibe are air-conditioned, and come with satellite TV. Tea and coffee making facilities are provided. The en suite bathroom includes a bathtub, shower, and hairdryer.
Vibe Sydney


The Rocks Aboriginal Dreaming and Welcome Tour

Enjoy a traditional Aboriginal welcome and a walkabout around The Rocks area and Sydney Harbour to learn the history of the Aboriginal people’s saltwater heritage and their spiritual connection to the area. In the afternoon, board a private vessel and enjoy a relaxing sunset cruise with a barbecue dinner. While navigating the bays and coves, sit back and enjoy views of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House.

Sydney Harbour Sunset Dinner Cruise 

Board a private yacht and enjoy a three-hour cruise navigating the bays and coves of Sydney Harbour. Relax and enjoy the iconic scenery as our crew share stories of Sydney and its famed harbour. Enjoy a casual Aussie BBQ as the sun sets over the famed Harbour Bridge and Opera House and watch the city lights come alive across the water.

Meals: Breakfast and Dinner

Aboriginal Tour of the Rocks


Fly Port Douglas / Aboriginal Interpretative 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)

Aboriginal Tour

located just 100 metres from the beach and within a 15 minute walk of Port Douglas' village centre, the Mantra PortSea is perfect whether you're looking for fun, adventure or lazy days in the sun. The self contained apartments. These rooms are tastefully designed and capture the cool sea breezes and natural light, reflecting the laid back lifestyle of tropical North Queensland.


A Day of Leisure

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

Reef Snorkel - Great Barrier


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 - 3 nights (or something similar)


The Pacific Hotel Cairns boasts a magnificent location, personalised service and award winning hospitality.  The hotel is ideally situated on the picturesque Esplanade overlooking Trinity Harbour and the Reef Fleet Terminal and just a short walk to the night markets, convention centre and the Esplanade Lagoon.



Cairns is the adventure capital of Queensland, and the day is yours with free time to explore. Opt to go snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, soar above the rainforest on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, or explore this stunning coastal city.

Sun-seekers and locals alike flock to the Esplanade's swimming lagoon on the city’s foreshore. There are picnic areas, birdwatching viewpoints, free barbecues, and fitness equipment along the boardwalk, perfect for unwinding.

Meals: Breakfast



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.

Enjoy a glass of sparkling wine while watching the sunset over Uluru. Marvel at the changing colours over the desert and keep reminding yourself that yes, you really are there.

Meals: Breakfast

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

Uluru at Sunsett

For the quintessential Australian outback experience we stay in the Pioneer Outback Hotel. Less than 15 kilometers (9 Miles) from Ayers Rock (Uluru). The Outback offers comfortable air-conditioned rooms and includes a garden with a barbecue area and an outdoor swimming pool. The Bough Restaurant serves a traditional Australian breakfast each morning, featuring Australian cuisine and regional dishes.



Try to awake early to watch the landscape transform again as the sun rises over the silhouette of Uluru/ Ayers Rock. Later, take a walk in Kata Tjuta National Park and view the beautiful red-domed rock formations.  The afternoon is at your leisure.

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. 

Kata Tjuta National Park Kata Tjuta / Mount Olga
Take a walk in Kata Tjuta National Park to explore the beautiful, red, domed rocks that comprise the site. While Uluru is the most famous landmark in the park, we explore a bit further afield to enjoy this stunning landscape.

*Between November and March, there is extreme heat with temperatures averaging between 43-46°C (109-115°F) in the middle of Australia, especially around Uluru and Kings Canyon. This can lead to heat exhaustion and potentially become very dangerous. Be sure to drink plenty of water and replenish electrolytes by drinking sports drinks, coconut water or water mixed with electrolyte powder packets.

*The Mala Walk at Uluru is not permitted if temperatures exceed 40°C (104°F). During these hot months, we try to offer all walks early in the day to avoid the midday sun. Our CEOs will monitor the weather conditions to gauge the safety of any included walks and may need to call off a given day's walk due to extreme heat. 

Meals: Breakfast

Uluru Ayers Rock


Fly to 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 a 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

Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne - 2 nights (or something similar)

The colourful beach houses on Brighton Beach in Melbourne.
Centrally located in the heart of the CBD, this 4.5-star heritage-listed hotel has been restored to retain the feel and style of its 1913 origins while providing guests with modern technology and facilities. Distinguished by elegance, historic significance and traditional luxury, Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne offers 340 elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites. Each includes individually controlled air conditioning, cable TV, an en suite bathroom and a private electronic safe.
Hotel Melbourne


Free Day Melbourne

Crowned "The World's Most Liveable City" for seven years in a row, friendly Melbourne is the perfect place to begin your Australian self-drive adventure.

This compact, diverse metropolis is begging to be explored after settling into your comfortable accommodation. There are hidden charms around every corner, beautiful Botanic Gardens and chic city squares where you can soak up the atmosphere to your heart's content.

Here are some of our favourite things to do in Melbourne:

•    Lose yourself in cobbled laneways lined with tempting coffee shops, chic boutiques and cozy bars.
•    Admire the always-evolving street art covering every inch of Hosier Lane
•    Take a tram to St Kilda beach's historic esplanade and drop into Acland St's irresistible cake shops.
•    Make a sporting pilgrimage to the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground
•    Grab a bite to eat at Queen Victoria Market - it's the largest market in the Southern Hemisphere
•    Choose from a dizzying array of restaurants & eateries — you're in Australia's foodie capital.

Fun Facts about Melbourne

•    Melbourne has more restaurants & cafes per head than any other city worldwide!
•    Melbourne's famous tramway system is the largest outside of Europe.
•    Five of Oz's tallest buildings are found in Melbourne - the tallest is the Eureka Tower at 297 metres (975 ft).

Meals: Breakfast

melbourne street art


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: Breakfast and Lunch



Fly to Auckland

‘Haere Mai’ … Welcome to New Zealand!

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 if you have time:

Explore Waiheke Island    Island Kayaking Adventure    America’s Cup Sailing
Auckland's Sky TowerRelax on the BeachRangitoto Island Cruise & Walk
West Coast Wine TourWhale and Dolphin SafariMuriwai Surf Beach

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Citylife  Auckland - 2 nights (or something similar)

Auckland City
Offering spacious accommodation in the heart of Auckland CBD (CentralBusiness District), CityLife Auckland features a fitness centre, an indoor heated pool, a restaurant and a bar. Guests enjoy 2GB of free WiFi. All accommodation includes a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a minibar and an en suite bathroom with bathrobes and luxury toiletries. Some rooms have an iPod docking station and cooking and laundry facilities
City Life Auckland


Aucklands Waiheke Island

Enjoy a morning orientation walk before catching a ferry to Waiheke Island. Visit two local wineries to learn more about New Zealand's burgeoning wine industry and the history of wine production in the country while sampling some of the local blends, of course.

Waiheke Island Wineries 

Catch the ferry to picturesque Waiheke Island to learn about New Zealand’s highly celebrated wine industry in its founding region. Tour a boutique vineyard and learn from our host about the process of making the syrahs, merlots, and chardonnays that the region is so well-known for. Enjoy a taste of the vineyard’s estate-grown olive and avocado oils. After, continue to one of Waiheke’s original wineries for a tour and tasting – while learning about the evolution of wine production in New Zealand. Return to Auckland this evening via a scenic ferry ride.

Meals: Breakfast 

Waiheke Island


Rotorua - Caves & the Pacific Rim of Fire

Heading towards Rotorua we stop at Waitomo Caves where we will take a boat ride through the caves and see thousands of flickering glowworms lighting up the walls.
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)

Maori Culture Rotorua
This 4.5 star deluxe property is perfectly situated next to mystical Lake Rotorua and is just a brief stroll from the City centre, close to many restaurants and bars. The hotel offers world class residential style accommodation that is suitable for those travelling on business and for leisure. Restaurant Nikau offers a good range of evening menu choices, from the Restaurant's famous Nikau Burger to fine dining options, while the Brassiere Poolside Restaurant is the perfect place to start your day with an alfresco style breakfast beside the geothermal heated pool.
Millenium Hotel Rotorua


Rotorua at Leisure & Evening Maori Cultural Experience

Rotorua at leisure
Whatever you want to do is your choice. Relax in the Polynesian Spa,  ride the amphibious Rotorua Duck or take a scenic flight out over Lake Rotorua for a bird’s eye view of the region. You may even want to stop at the top of Mt Tarawera, the site of the largest eruption in New Zealand’s living memory! 

Some alternate excursions available:

See Geysers & Boiling Mud    Polynesian Hot Springs  Whirinaki Forest Walk
Thermally Active GolfBiking the Mighty ForestsFlight to Volcanic Island
Museum of Art & HistoryEvening Cultural Experience   White Water Rafting

Maori Cultural Experience Rotorua
This evening we visit the Tamaki Tribal Village for an evening of culture. You will experience a traditionally prepared Maori Hangi (feast) followed by a cultural performance featuring Maori songs, chants, and dance including the famous haka - lots of fun! 

Maori NZ


Rotorua - Christchurch

Enjoy free time this morning in Rotorua before catching a flight to Christchurch. This afternoon, meet with a local expert and explore lesser-known paths around Christchurch on a unique walking tour of the city.

Walking Tour of Christchurch 

Meet with a local expert and explore lesser-known paths around Christchurch. Learn how the people of Christchurch are transforming the community of Christchurch after the devastating earthquake in 2011.

Meals: Breakfast

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


The Chateau on the Park is a resort style hotel nestled amongst 5 acres of beautifully maintained gardens, the hotel offers tranquility and seclusion that you would normally expect to find miles from a city. The Chateau offers quality rooms with a view and the complex has all the facilities you would expect from a hotel of this standard, conveniently located to fully experience all the city has to offer.

 Chateau on the Park - Christchurch


TranzAlpine Train Journey

Travelling by train still remains one of travels most exciting experiences. This morning we board Tranz Alpine 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)

Rainforest Retreat is centrally located in the heart of Franz Josef Village , Secluded yet handy to every local activity. Nestled in six acres of idyllic native bush at the foot of precipitous mountains the Rainforest Retreat is a inviting place to stay. Each unit was built exclusively to embrace its beautiful, secluded, natural environment providing guests with choices of either forest floor or mid canopy bush views.
Rainforest Retreat


Explore Franz Josef

Today is a free day to explore the region around Franz Josef. You are in the heart of the Westland 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 

Franz Josef Glacier


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 passes 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: Peppers Beacon Hotel - 1 night (or something similar)

Lake Matheson

With splendid lake and mountain views, this is one of Queenstown's best hotels situated in the "capital of activities". Luxurious facilities such as a spa pool, sauna, massage service and gym will make sure every minute is well spent. An outside BBQ is available to be used for a nice group meal. The hotel includes its own breakfast area and is minutes away from many good restaurants.

Peppers Beacon


Fiordland National Park and 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: This tour will go to either Doubtful Sound or Milford Sound (The itinerary for this day varies in the winter: 18 May – 20 September)

Meals: Breakfast and dinner

Accommodation: Fiordland Navigator Doubtful Sound (or similar) - 1 night

Doubtful Sound Cruise

The Fiordland Navigator is a purpose built vessel designed and perfectly suited to cruising and staying overnight in the remote Doubtful Sound. The Navigator has spacious viewing decks, dining saloon, licensed bar and observation lounge and also carries kayaks and a tender craft onboard - at your disposal. As well as having comfortable accommodation.

Fiordland Overnight Experience


Fiordland National Park - Queenstown

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

** This tour will leave from either Doubtful Sound or Milford Sound

Meals: Breakfast 

Accommodation: Peppers Beacon Hotel  - 1 night (or something similar)

Two seals popping out of the water to catch some fresh air.

With splendid lake and mountain views, this is one of Queenstown's best hotels situated in the "capital of activities". Luxurious facilities such as a spa pool, sauna, massage service and gym will make sure every minute is well spent. An outside BBQ is available to be used for a nice group meal. The hotel includes its own breakfast area and is minutes away from many good restaurants.

Peppers Beacon


Queenstown at Leisure

You may decide to sign up for some activities today 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 Day WalkHighest Bungy JumpExplore Arrowtown

Wine Tasting Central Otago      

Biking Skippers Canyon      Round at Millbrook Golf Resort
Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise  Dart River Jetboat Safari      

Gibbston Valley Wine Trail

Meals: Breakfast 



Homeward Bound

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before departing from Queenstown Airport to connect with your flight home.

Meals: Breakfast 

Haere rā and Bon Voyage!

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.


Included Highlights

  • Sydney Harbour cruise and an orientation walk
  • Aboriginal walk through the Daintree Rainforest
  • James Cook University Aquarium visit
  • Sunrise interpretive walk at Uluru
  • Melbourne orientation walk
  • Melbourne foodie walk and a three-course meal with a culinary expert
  • Raglan Harbour cruise
  • Visit glow worm caves
  • Meet a Maori elder and enjoy a cultural show and meal
  • Orientation walk in Christchurch
  • Scenic TranzAlpine train
  • Queenstown Gondola ride
  • Wilderness day cruise (winter) or overnight cruise (summer) in Fiordland National Park


  • Internal flights
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities
  • Comfortable Accommodation
  • Small-Group - Max 16, Avg 12
  • Mini-Bus, Plane, Train, Boat, Walking
  • Modern Mini Coach and Guide
  • Chief Experience Officer (CEO)
Nat Geo Au NZ
Nat Geo

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What Michelle says about this tour: This excellent National Geographic itinerary over 22 days gets you up close and fully immersed in Aussie and Kiwi heritage, culture and scenery. The quality excursions - whether visiting Uluru or exploring Southern glaciers focus on authentically sustainable practices. You'll thoroughly enjoy this small group luxury guided tour.
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