FROM THE OUTBACK TO THE GLACIERS
Cairns to Christchurch
Explore the diverse wonders of the lands Down Under. An adventure that includes a “Dreamtime tour” in the rugged Outback introduces you to the Aboriginal life and culture of Alice Springs and Ayers Rock. Delve into the colourful world of the Great Barrier Reef. Meet Australia’s famous wildlife up close. Explore the snow-capped peaks, vistas, gorges and waterfalls of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Cap off your adventure making new friends when dining with a family in their home.
Cairns | Great Barrier Reef | Melbourne | Alice Springs | Ayers Rock | Sydney | Sydney Opera House | Christchurch | Franz Josef Glacier Region | Queenstown | Milford Sound | Mt. Cook National Park
• meet the young Aboriginal group, Drum Atweme
• explore Kata Tjuta and the base of Ayers Rock (Uluru)
• guided tour of the Sydney Opera House
• dinner cruise on Sydney Harbour
• visit Hartley’s Croc Farm for a chance to get up-close and personal with crocodiles
• cruise Milford Sound
• experience the Franz Josef Glacier and the majestic Mt. Cook region
• 19 nights accommodation in twin-share hotels
• 19 breakfasts, one lunch, nine dinners
• internal flights
• trip leader throughout
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Days 1 - 2: Depart from Home
Cross the International Dateline (skipping a day ahead) for an adventure discovering the treasures of Australia and New Zealand, including their unparalleled beauty and captivating culture.
Day 3: Cairns, Australia - Tour Begins
Your tour opens in Cairns, the tropical gateway to one of the world’s most spectacular natural attractions – the Great Barrier Reef (UNESCO World Heritage site). Established as a marine park in 1975, the reef is a haven for thousands of species of sea life, as well as turtles and birds.
Day 4: Cairns
The morning is yours to explore the town at your own pace or simply relax and soak up the tropical atmosphere. Perhaps you will take an optional tour on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for an unforgettable experience that takes you above the rainforest canopy for a bird’s-eye view of unspoiled natural beauty. This afternoon, visit Hartley’s Croc Farm for a chance to get up-close with crocodiles in their natural habitat. Boardwalks take you on a path of adventure through rainforests and woodlands to see animals such as wild birds, reptiles and wallabies. You may meet some of the local koalas and chat with a wildlife naturalist to learn more about these cuddly creatures.
Day 5: Great Barrier Reef
Board a catamaran and sail to the Low Isles to explore the fascinating underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef. Choose how you want to spend your day in paradise by making your time on the reef as educational or as laid back as you like. Perhaps you will relax and independently explore the pristine shores of this tiny sand island located on the outer reef. Or maybe you are a bit more adventurous and will go snorkeling, revealing a wealth of vibrant sea life. You also have the opportunity to meet with a marine biologist during an informative presentation. Or you may opt to join an expert for a beach and heritage trail walk along the island.
Day 6: Cairns - Melbourne
Fly to the beautiful Victorian city of Melbourne. Set around the shores of Port Phillip Bay and the Yarra River, the city exudes a lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Day 7: Melbourne
Set out on a city tour and see Fitzroy Gardens, valued for their historic and horticultural significance, and the bustling “laneways” of Melbourne. Later you may participate in an optional tour to Phillip Island, a renowned nature reserve and home of the world’s largest colony of Little Penguins; protected and studied by rangers, hundreds of them waddle out of the sea and cross the beach to their burrows in the dunes; at the interpretation centre, you have a chance to learn about the lives of the Little Penguins and their significance to the area.
Day 8: Melbourne - Alice Springs
It’s on to the vast landscapes and tranquility of the Outback. Your flight takes you to Alice Springs, the perfect place to begin exploring this unique land. Tonight, continue your cultural immersion with a memorable bush dinner set against the backdrop of this unique desert environment.
Day 9: Alice Springs
Access the history and culture of the Walpiri Aboriginal people during a "Dreamtime Tour.” A specialist guide shares Aboriginal creation stories and explains everyday life. This afternoon, discover a more modern side to Outback living when you visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service, a lifeline to thousands across the vast terrain of Central Australia. Later, tour the Old Telegraph Station and Anzac Hill with its excellent views of Alice Springs and the surrounding area.
Day 10: Alice Springs - Uluru
Traverse the “Red Centre” as you drive to Uluru (the Aboriginal name for Ayers Rock) in the heart of the Australian Outback. This huge monolith and the sandstone domes known as Kata Tjuta were created through the process of upheaval and erosion. Tour the base of "the Rock," learning about its geology and significance to Aboriginal culture. Prepare for a truly majestic sunset as you witness the changing colours of Uluru accompanied by a champagne toast.
Day 11: Uluru - Sydney
This morning, tour Kata Tjuta before saying farewell to the quiet of the rugged Outback. Fly to Sydney, an energetic metropolis. Upon arrival in Sydney, enjoy dinner in the bustling Darling Harbour restaurant area.
Day 12: Sydney
See where the original English colonists first settled in 1788 during a city tour of Sydney. Highlights of your tour include Kings Cross, the Harbour Bridge, Chinatown, the Rocks, Circular Quay, the Botanic Gardens and the fashionable suburb of Darlinghurst. Discover one of the world’s most fascinating architectural sights as you take a guided tour of the Sydney Opera House, poised majestically on Sydney Harbour. Then you’re in for a unique experience as you learn firsthand about opals during a special presentation at the National Opal Collection. Later this evening, you may choose to take in an optional dinner and performance at the famous Opera House.
Day 13: Sydney
Deepen your exploration of Sydney’s many wonders with a day at leisure. Tonight, say your farewell to Australia by chatting with new friends and taking in the sights during a delightful dinner cruise of Sydney Harbour. Marvel at the scenic vistas the harbor has to offer including Sydney’s magnificent skyline and iconic attractions: the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
Day 14: Sydney - Christchurch, New Zealand
Leave Australia behind and fly to the historic city of Christchurch, New Zealand. Devastated by an earthquake in early 2011, see firsthand how the “Garden City” is recreating itself during a sightseeing tour that highlights the city’s magnificent gardens and elegant park district.
Day 15: Christchurch - Franz Josef Glacier
Take in marvelous snowcapped peaks, rugged mountains, and beautiful river gorges as you cross the Southern Alps. You may choose to take the TranzAlpine train (optional) for a truly inspiring train ride through this glorious scenery. Arrive in the Franz Josef Glacier Region, which offers travellers a rare opportunity to experience a living glacial landscape in a temperate environment.
Day 16: Franz Josef - Queenstown
Before departing Franz Josef, if the dynamic New Zealand weather cooperates, you may opt to see this beautiful glacier region from a bird’s-eye view during a flightseeing tour. En route to Queenstown, watch as the amazing landscape unfolds before your eyes as you pass through the rainforest, bordered by the Southern Alps and the twisting coastline. Cross jade green glacial rivers, view thundering waterfalls and enjoy dramatic changes in scenery. After crossing the Haast Pass, arrive in Queenstown, one of New Zealand’s prettiest towns. Enjoy dinner overlooking Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkable Mountains.
Day 17: Queenstown - Milford Sound - Queenstown
Journey to Milford Sound. Soak in the rugged grandeur of the Hollyford Valley. You’ll travel through ancient beech forest via the Homer Tunnel. During a cruise of the breathtakingly beautiful Milford Sound, you’ll see why this fjord is one of the most visited sights on the South Island. With rock faces that rise nearly 4,000 feet on either side, the scenery will take your breath away. Following the cruise, you return to Queenstown. You may choose to return via a short optional flight (weather permitting) for spectacular views of New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
Day 18: Queenstown
Enhance your free day with a variety of optional activities. Shop in the charming village centre or enjoy an optional and exhilarating jet boat ride on the Shotover River. Perhaps you will join the optional "Gold Seeker – Metal and Movie Discovery" tour which takes you through the majestic Remarkable Mountains and the breathtaking Queenstown countryside showcasing many of the locales where The Lord of the Rings movies were filmed. Or…just relax!
Day 19: Queenstown - Mt. Cook
Set off for the beautiful 19th-century gold rush settlement of Arrowtown, a boomtown during the 1860s gold fever. Next, sample the freshness of the Central Otago region with a stop at a local fruit stand. Follow the Kawarau River and cross Lindis Pass before arriving in New Zealand’s most famous national park, Mt. Cook. Savor some free time in this Alpine paradise. You may choose to take a nature walk, enjoy an optional glacier flightseeing tour (weather permitting) or simply meditate on the beauty of the Southern Alps.
Day 20: Mt. Cook - Christchurch
As you return to Christchurch this morning, pay a visit to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve. A leader in conservation of New Zealand species, Willowbank offers the chance to view New Zealand’s “Big 5” up close and personal.
Day 21: Christchurch - Tour Ends
Your tour comes to a close, leaving you with many pleasant memories of a wonderful vacation.
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