National Geographic Iconic Australia & New Zealand Itinerary

Stunning ancient Australian rock art.


‘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, CityLife Auckland features a fitness centre, an indoor heated pool, a restaurant and a bar. All rooms includes a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a minibar and an en suite bathroom with bathrobes and luxury toiletries. Some rooms have cooking and laundry facilities
City Life Auckland


Waiheke Island

Take an orientation walk in Auckland, one of the most multicultural cities in the Southern Hemisphere. We’ll then catch a ferry to beautiful Waiheke Island, a haven of world-class vineyards and idyllic beaches. Visit two wineries to learn about New Zealand's burgeoning wine industry and the history of viticulture in the country while sampling some of the local blends.

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. 

Meals: Breakfast 
Accommodation: Millennium Hotel Rotorua  - 2 night s(or something similar)

This 4 star property is perfectly situated next to 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. Restaurant Nikau offers a good range of evening menu choices, 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 - Whirinaki Forest

On a full-day excursion, head to the Maori-owned Kohutapu Lodge, our base for exploring New Zealand's indigenous culture. See ancient rock carvings and learn about their spiritual significance to the Maori people, both past and present. Watch as a hangi lunch is prepared the traditional way--buried in an underground pit—and enjoy the resulting feast with your Maori hosts. After lunch, take a walk through the 800-year-old podocarp trees in Whirinaki Rainforest, learning the history of the forest and spotting endemic birds and medicinal plants. Return to Rotorua for an optional evening meal or a well-deserved soak in the hot springs.

Include Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


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.

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


Franz Josef 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.

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 



Fly to Melbourne

Fly from Queenstown to Melbourne, Australia, and enjoy free time in the city.

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 - 3 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


Melbourne Foodie Walk

Embark on a food tour of Melbourne with a local author and culinary storyteller. Home to many thriving immigrant communities, Melbourne has long been considered one of Australia’s gastronomic hubs. On this foodie walk through the city’s famed laneways, we’ll experience a range of flavors and cuisines over lunch at three popular venues. Start with an Asian entree with wine; move on to an Italian restaurant for a main dish accompanied with more wine, and finish off the tour with a gelato dessert at our third stop. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch



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 to Sacred Uluru

Catch a flight to Uluru, in the heart of the Australian outback. Visit the Cultural Centre of the Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park—a UNESCO World Heritage site—and learn about the beliefs and customs of the Anangu, the area’s traditional Indigenous owners. Cap off the day with a glass of sparkling wine as you witness a crimson sunset over this fabled monolith.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Desert Gardens Hotel - 2 nights (or something similar)

Uluru at Sunsett
Desert Gardens Hotel offers air-conditioned rooms, some with a private balcony or views of Ayers Rock (Uluru). Guests can unwind in the outdoor pool, or at the restaurant and bar. Spa facilities, shops, tour information, and cafes are conveniently located within a short walking distance from the property or via a free shuttle bus. Set amongst native gardens, each room at Desert Gardens Hotel includes a minibar and tea and coffee making facilities. There is a TV with movies-on-demand in every room.
Desert Gardens Hotel - Uluru



TAwaken at dawn to witness the sunrise over Uluru and see the famous Field of Light installation. Then delve into a full-day exploration of the ancient, red-hued landscapes of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. After breakfast, make your way to Kata Tjuta, Uluru’s neighboring natural wonder for a morning of exploration. Later set out on a guided walk around the base of the monolith, gaining insight into its sacred significance to the Anangu.

Meals: Breakfast

Uluru Ayers Rock


Uluru to Sydney

Enjoy free time on our final morning in the Red Centre. Then pack up and head off to the airport for an afternoon flight to Sydney. Check in to our hotel and opt to join our CEO for a dinner out on the town in one of Sydney's famous neighbourhoods.

Accommodation: Vibe Sydney - 3 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


Sydney Harbour & Opera House

Take it slow with a leisurely morning, or get up early and join your CEO for a walk around the Rocks area, a waterfront neighborhood that marks the spot of the first European settlement in Australia. It also holds a spiritual significance for the area’s indigenous people. Around midmorning, circle back and meet for a private tour of the Sydney 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


Sydney Free Time

Enjoy a day at leisure to explore the best of Sydney. Walk the Rocks and stop by Maybe Sammy for a drink, which happens to be one of the best bars in Sydney. Take the ferry to Manly Beach or walk the Bondi Coastal walk and snap some photos. Or, spend a full day exploring the Blue Mountains on an optional excursion.

Meals:  Breakfast

Optional Blue Mountains trip


Sydney to Port Douglas

Fly to Cairns today and travel up the scenic coastal road to Daintree Rainforest, the world’s oldest tropical rainforest and part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Embark on an interpretive walk with an indigenous guide at the lush Mossman Gorge, learning about the traditional ways of life of the region’s Kuku Yalanji people. Continue to the resort town of Port Douglas, our home for the next three nights.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodations: Mantra PortSea - 3 nights

(or similar)


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.


Great Barrier Reef

Explore the Great Barrier Reef on a full-day catamaran tour to the Outer Reef. Immerse yourself in the largest coral reef system in the world, which teems with 1500 species of tropical fish, as well as whales, dolphins and porpoises. Hop into the warm waters off Australia's east coast and experience this marine wonderland for yourself. Lunch will be served onboard. Back in Port Douglas the evening is yours to do as you please.

Meals: Breakfast

Reef Snorkel - Great Barrier


Port Douglas

Enjoy a free morning in charming Port Douglas. Stroll the town’s boutique-lined streets and idyllic beaches or head to the Sunday markets to browse the stalls. Later in the day, join your fellow travelers for an exclusive cultural experience at Cooya Beach. Meet Indigenous guides for a welcome ceremony, and get acquainted with members of the Kuku Yalanji people. Our CEO will organize an optional farewell dinner to toast your adventures down under.

Meals: Breakfast 

Aboriginal Tour


Homeward Bound

After one last breakfast in Port Douglas, transfer back to Cairns where our tour ends at the airport mid-morning. Alternatively, extend your stay in Port Douglas.

Meals: Breakfast 



  • Accommodation: Hotel (22 nts).
  • Meals: 22 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
  • Transport: Private vehicle, plane, train, boat.
  • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Waiheke Island Wineries, Waiheke Island
  • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: A day at Kohutapu, Rotorua
  • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Melbourne Foodie Walk, Melbourne
  • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Private Tour of the Sydney Opera House, Sydney
  • Your Journeys Highlight Moment: Exclusive Indigenous experience at Cooya Beach, Port Douglas
  • Trip to Waiheke Island Wineries
  • Visit glowworm caves
  • Queenstown gondola ride
  • Wilderness day cruise (winter) or overnight cruise (summer) in Fiordland National Park
  • Melbourne Foodie Experience
  • Sunrise interpretive walk at Uluru
  • Sydney Harbour dinner cruise
  • Indigenous Peoples Interpretive Walk in the Daintree Forest
  • Great Barrier Reef Excursion
  • Exclusive Indigenous experience at Cooya Beach


  • 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

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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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