Begin your Australia and New Zealand tour discovering the style and spirit of Melbourne, your launch pad to an epic adventure through Australia and New Zealand (flights to arrive prior to 12pm). On arrival, you’ll be transferred to your hotel on the Yarra River before celebrating the beginning of your journey at a Welcome Reception at The General Assembly. Located on the Yarra River, this restaurant is known for its modern pub fare such as buttermilk fried chicken burger, Hopkins River Scotch fillet, and beer and miso lamb ribs. Dive in and raise your glass to the adventure. Cheers!
There’s so much to see both in and out of the city and you’ll get a jump on it this morning, joining your Travel Director for an exploration of Melbourne’s famous hidden laneways. Discover the city's eclectic arcades, café society, and vivid street art Melbourne is famous for. See something you like? The rest of your day is free in town or to take an Optional Experience to Phillip Island to see the famous Penguin Parade watching the little guys emerge from the sea and waddle their way home to their beach burrows. If you’d prefer to stay in town and soak up city life, explore the galleries and museums such as the Centre for the Moving Image, poke around the Queen Victoria Market where vendors have been selling fresh goods since 1878, or experience some of Melbourne's celebrated eateries and sample the area’s world-class wines.
From city life to sunshine state of mind, today you’ll fly to laid-back Cairns. Get right into the action and meet your Local Specialist for a private wildlife journey at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures. Your boat cruise will take you through the woodlands and rainforest that provide sanctuary to koalas, tropical birds and, of course, crocodiles. See what critters are out today as your local guide shares their in-depth knowledge of the wildlife that call the sanctuary home. Continue your exploration of wildlife and wild places taking part in a Rainforest Restoration project to protect the natural wonder of Notophyll Vine Forest. Join in and plant a tree knowing that your visit is part of a larger scale effort to restore the rainforest since the land was cleared and overgrazed. Your contribution to the revitalization of this rare dry rainforest will help to bring back its native plants and birds. After a big day, enjoy an evening dining in one of the many restaurants in the nearby Cairns Marina. Or, pop into the Cairns Night Markets, choosing your favourite dinner option from over 70 local vendors.
On a bucket-list, day-long excursion, immerse yourself in Australia’s famous Great Barrier Reef boarding a high-speed catamaran for this underwater wonderland and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The choice is yours on how to explore: view the iridescent coral formations and colourful marine-life from your semi-submersible craft or get your feet wet and have an up-close encounter snorkelling with a rainbow of fish and coral (equipment provided). Whichever you chose, you’ll enjoy a full day of wildlife, insights from your local guide, and a tropical lunch as you bask in the glorious Australian sunshine. You’ll return to Cairns after a day of sun and fun with a greater appreciation for this beautiful and fragile part of the world.
Spend the day soaking up the sun discovering Cairns on your own terms. Relax in town or at the hotel pool or consider joining an Optional Experience such as the Scenic Rail journey to Kuranda to explore the remote and fascinating 'village in the rainforest'. All aboard as your day begins taking a historic train through the rainforest rich with gorges and waterfalls to Kuranda. The views alone are worth the trip, but you’ll also have time to explore this village’s unique shops and markets or experience more of this World Heritage rainforest taking to the trails or visiting a wildlife sanctuary. The adventure’s not over yet as your return trip has you soaring above the forest canopy on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Tonight, join your travel mates for a Regional Dinner at Ochre Restaurant for views of the inlet and mountains as you enjoy Australian cuisine featuring the best local produce and maybe a cocktail highlighting their largest selection of Australian spirits in the region.
Say farewell to Cairns and fly to Sydney this morning for the next leg of your Australia and New Zealand tour. You’ll have some time to settle in your hotel in lively Darling Harbour before experiencing the beauty of the city aboard a Harbour Cruise. As the sun sets, you’ll sail past Circular Quay, Shark Island, magnificent homes, beaches, and parkland and the iconic white sails of the Opera House. Whether you take it all in from one of the many spacious decks or inside the expansive windows, every view is a good one. During your cruise, sit back and enjoy a Regional Dinner against the backdrop of the city’s beloved Harbour Bridge. Both an icon and opportunity for adventure, on your tour you also have the option to climb the bridge!
Enjoy a relaxing morning before exploring the local side of Sydney. In Newtown you’ll be greeting with vibrant and interesting street art before making your way to Marrickville, recently named the 10th “coolest” and most liveable neighbourhood in the world. Foodie travellers will delight when we Connect With Locals at our next stop for a Be My Guest lunch at Dear Delicious Café. Greg the owner will show you around his sustainable garden and tell you all about how he’s brought urban farming to the community. Make your visit complete as you sit down to lunch featuring his fresh, local produce including beets, kale, and aromatic mushrooms. Your foodie tour continues at Batch Brewery where you’ll meet the founder Andrew and join a masterclass learning how his team creates inspired limited release batches like Mole Poblano Choco Chilli Stout using sustainable practices. Try one of their specialties like Pash the Magic Dragon or Tasman Tango South Pacific Ale. After a full day feasting and touring, the evening is yours to explore a bit more of the city. Take a stroll around the harbour or find a spot by the Opera House and perhaps raise a glass as you watch the sunset over the bridge.
Indulge in your last day in Sydney visiting Wendy’s Secret Garden at Lavender Bay, a peaceful hideaway overlooking Sydney Harbour with a special history, a MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience. You’ll be welcomed by a local volunteer who’ll share the story of how the garden was transformed from unused railway land at the foot of the founder’s home into a whimsical, tucked away retreat. Wind your way through the garden’s nooks and crannies where shrubs, herbs, and towering trees line meandering paths keeping an eye out for the parrots, gulls, kookaburras and wagtails who call the garden home. Find a quiet spot for and savour its beauty knowing your visit provides a contribution to the ongoing maintenance by volunteer gardeners of this enchanting garden. On your last night in town, enjoy one last walk around the harbour before sitting down to a Regional Dinner on the waterfront Portside Sydney Opera House beneath the sails of the Opera House showcasing views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and city skyline. After so many incredible experiences in Australia, get excited for the next leg of your journey in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s adventure capital beckons as you fly to Queenstown this afternoon for the next leg of your journey. After arriving head straight out, with your perfect introduction to the region starting in gorgeous, quaint Arrowtown, a riverside town that boomed during the gold mining era of the mid-1800s. You’ll feel like the clocks been turned back as you stroll among the pioneer-constructed cottages, churches, as well as the boutique shops, art galleries, and cafes. Be sure to have a look at the Chinese Settlement at the edge of the Arrow River made of restored shelters and buildings originally constructed in 1868. After this afternoon of “time travel,” head back to Queenstown to get your bearings around town, including your first views of stunning Lake Wakatipu which frames the town. Reminiscent of alpine village, you’ll love the mountain-town vibe of this adventure hub. Lucky for you the evening is free to explore the many walkable bars and restaurants before resting up in the cosy and contemporary central Millennium Hotel.
An insider's look at New Zealand rural life awaits as you Connect With Locals, and your host, Southern Girl Laura. Born and raised here in Central Otago, Laura will share her story of hunting, fishing, horse riding, and growing up on a family farm in the deep south of New Zealand at this immersive experience. Hear how after working in the corporate world, Laura traded her stilettos for gumboots and returned to her country roots. Now it’s your turn to have some fun as you have a go at sheep mustering, whip cracking, and the chance to feed and pet the sheep, horses, and goats. With Laura’s warm welcome and love of the land, know that you’ve experienced ‘the Real New Zealand.’ From land to water, sit back on a scenic cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw before arriving at Walter Peak High Country Farm for a gourmet barbecue Regional Dinner, piled high with ribs and salad. After dinner at this historic homestead, learn how it all comes together over a shearing demonstration, watching the sheep dogs in action, and even trying your hand at wool spinning before cruising back to your Queenstown hotel.
Good morning, Queenstown! You have a final day in New Zealand's adventure capital and the choice is yours on how to spend it. Nature lovers can take advantage of an Optional Experience on a cruise of breathtaking Milford Sound. Experiencing this world heritage listed national park and majestic fiord carved by glacial ice will bring you up close to sheer cliffs, white-capped peaks, and waterfalls. Each turn of the boat will have you “oohing” and “aahing” at this dramatic landscape but be sure to keep an eye out for dolphins, penguins, and seals. If you’d prefer to stay on dry land sample flavours of this world-renowned wine region, join an Optional Experience touring three premium boutique vineyards in the Otago region. You’ll enjoy vineyard and barrel hall tours complete with early history and, of course, tastings of the area’s famous Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc paired with a platter lunch.
Today you’ll say farewell to Queenstown as you fly north to Auckland, the 'City of Sails'. You’ll easily see how the city got its nickname soaring in over the islands and boats in the harbour. In fact, one in four New Zealanders owns a boat! Auckland is also known for being built on 53 dormant volcanoes each rich with Maori history for you to uncover. And if you’re seeking a cosmopolitan vibe, Auckland will not disappoint. The city’s melting pot of cultures means there are a variety of restaurants, from the glamorous to the local hot spots, for you to sample both international and New Zealand fare. This evening is free and this is your chance to explore the city, so why not dine in the heart of the city Federal Street, a hotspot for food lovers right on your doorstep?
Begin your dive into the rich culture and natural beauty of Rotorua journeying through King Country, the centre of the New Zealand Wars in the 1860s, to the starry wonderland of Waitomo’s Ruakuri Caves. Your underground exploration begins joining a Local Specialist to descend a spiral staircase past curving limestone formations and crystal tapestries as you listen to the distant waterfalls. In the cave, you’re enveloped in a galaxy of twinkling green and blue glowworms lighting up the walls - a dazzling and unforgettable experience you’ll carry with you outside of this magical cave. This evening you'll Dive Into Culture at the Mitai Maori Village for a Regional Dinner and cultural performance. You’ll be welcomed with a heart-pounding wero (challenge) during the moving Powhiri ceremony. Watch Maori warriors in traditional dress paddle an ancient ‘whaka’ canoe, hear the songs of the Pacific and Maori, and be amazed at the incredible, fiery Haka war dance. Capping it all off over a Regional Dinner feast of meat and vegetables cooked in a Hangi Pit, you’ll love learning about Maori customs and history in this enriching cultural experience.
It may be the last day on tour, but there’s still so much more to see. Begin the last day visiting Rainbow Springs Nature Park for a tour of the National Kiwi Hatchery Aotearoa with a Local Specialist. You’ll love this MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience, learning all about New Zealand’s national bird and the work being done by this leader in kiwi husbandry to save the iconic creature. See kiwi eggs being incubated, the hatching process, and newly hatched kiwi chicks as you get an insider’s look at this fascinating bird. Next up is the Living Maori Village Whakarewarewa where you’ll gain an even deeper insight into the lives of the Māori and the special bond they share with this ancient land. You’ll learn about the Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people who lived on top of a volcanic crater since 1886. Explore the trails winding through geothermal fields past steaming lakes and watch the Kapa Haka group in a moving experience of traditional songs and dances. Later, join your Travel Director for a Farewell Dinner at Terrace Kitchen on the lakefront, an airy, sunlit, greenery-filled restaurant with a focus on seasonal ingredients. Pop up to their special tonic bar to grab a drink and toast to your adventures.
Your Australia and New Zealand tour concludes this morning after breakfast. Savour one hearty breakfast in this beautiful place and say farewell to your newfound friends before your transfer from Rotorua to Auckland Airport for your onward flight (flights to depart after 2pm).