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)
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
FLY PORT DOUGLAS / ABORIGINAL INTERPRETITIVE 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.
Accommodation: Mantra PortSea, Port Douglas - 2 nights (or something similar)
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.
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!
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.
Accommodation: Pacific Hotel Cairns - 3 nights (or something similar)
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.
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.
Accommodation: Pioneer Outback Hotel - 2 nights (or something similar)
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.
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.
Accommodation: Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne - 2 nights (or something similar)
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).
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 Tower||Relax on the Beach||Rangitoto Island Cruise & Walk|
|West Coast Wine Tour||Whale and Dolphin Safari||Muriwai Surf Beach|
Accommodation: Citylife Auckland - 2 nights (or something similar)
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.
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)
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 Golf||Biking the Mighty Forests||Flight to Volcanic Island|
|Museum of Art & History||Evening 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!
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.
Accommodation: Chateau on the Park - 1 night (or something similar)
TRANZALPINE RAIL 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.
Accommodation: Rainforest Retreat - 2 nights (or something similar)
EXPLORE FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER
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:
|Glacier Hot Pools||Glacier Scenic Flight|
|Walk to Glacier Face||Glacier Heli-hike|
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.
Accommodation: Peppers Beacon Hotel - 1 night (or something similar)
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: 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 - 1 night
DOUBTFUL SOUND**- 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
Accommodation: Peppers Beacon Hotel - 1 night (or something similar)
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 Day Walk||Highest Bungy Jump||Explore Arrowtown|
|Biking Skippers Canyon||Round at Millbrook Golf Resort|
|Earnslaw Steamboat Cruise||Dart River Jetboat Safari|
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.
You may also be interested in the 11 Day National Geographic New Zealand Journey...
- 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)