Itinerary & Activities
Finally, the first day of your Australia and New Zealand Adventure is here! Your trip of a lifetime begins in beautiful Auckland, New Zealand, nicknamed the City of Sails. We will check in to the Auckland Pullman hotel, located near the bustling waterfront. We will experience the thrill of jet boating on Waitemata Harbour, taking in the city's iconic landmarks while experiencing the thrill of on-water maneuvers such as 360-degree spins, fishtails, and power brakes. Ascend to the top of the Auckland Sky Tower, the city's most famous landmark. Get ready for unparalleled views of up to 50 miles in every direction. We'll make new friends and start bonding with fun introductions and ice-breakers at our group orientation.
We check into the relaxing Paihia Scenic Hotel near the beautiful Bay of Islands. Our first introduction to the culture of the Maori, New Zealand's indigenous people, begins at the traditional carved wood Waitangi wharenui (meeting house). Follow in the footsteps of Maori chiefs and British delegates and learn how this became the birthplace of modern New Zealand. Kayak among the mangrove trees and up the serene Waitangi River to Haruru Falls, which translates to "Thundering Noise" in the local Maori language. We drive north to Cape Reinga, where craggy windswept headlands tumble into the sea at New Zealand's northern-most tip. According to Maori legend, this is where souls depart the earth on their way back to their original homeland of Hawaiki. Grab a board for our sand-boarding lessons as we plummet down massive dunes on a body board and then enjoy a frolic on the sweeping 90 Mile Beach. Next up we hop aboard our catamaran for our relaxing cruise through the Bay of Islands. We'll weave throughout the 144 tiny islets that dot this most scenic bay on our way to the Hole in the Rock, a cave thought of as good luck by Maori warriors. The Bay of Islands also happens to be a favorite playground of bottlenose dolphins. If we are lucky we will get to watch the dolphins frolicking in the bay!
Travel along Lake Taupo, New Zealand's largest lake, and experience a mosaic of beautiful environments from sub-tropical rainforests to bubbling hot springs. We'll start with a hike around Lake Rotopounamu, a crater lake that stands in the shadow of Mt. Ruapehu, one of the world's most active volcanoes. Visit Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, New Zealand's most colorful natural volcanic environment. We'll see world-famous champagne pools, geysers, bubbling mud, and huge volcanic craters. A short walk brings us to Huka Falls, one of the country's most spectacular waterfalls. We'll stay at the Taupo Hilton during our time in the area, enjoying all this beautiful resort has to offer.
We will visit "bubbling" Rotorua, a town synonymous with thermal activity and Maori culture. Explore Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, where geysers dazzle you with their grand sprays of steam. Marvel at Prince of Whales Feather Geyser, The Blue Pool, and a host of gurgling mud pools. Next we will experience the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour and see some of the actual locations where the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies were filmed! Our guide explains how the set was created and tells the tales of what went on during the shooting of these epic films. Next, an evening at Tamaki Maori Cultural Show gives us an authentic Maori cultural experience. Experience the ancient ceremony of powhiri as we are welcomed into the pre-European Maori village. Our group will be entertained by a powerful cultural performance, including action songs, poi, stick games, and the world famous Haka, the Maori War Dance. Afterwards enjoy a traditional Hangi, an underground-cooked Maori feast! No visit to Rotorua is complete without the thrills of Zorbing, one of New Zealand's most popular activities!
Get ready to go Down Under as we board our flight to the Gold Coast, world-renowned for having the most popular beaches in Australia! We'll stay at Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise, located right in the middle of the action. Spend time soaking up the sun and relaxing on the coast's beautiful white-sand beaches. Get your feet wet in the clear azure waters as you learn to catch waves during our Professional Surf Lessons. Next we'll enjoy Movie World Theme Park, one of the country's largest parks with rides, shows, and games for all ages. Get ready for the Batwing Spaceshot, plunge down the thrilling flume in Wild West Falls, and put on your seatbelt as you rocket through Arkham Asylum at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour! Experience the 4D film Journey to the Center of the Earth and get ready for exciting action on the set of Hollywood Stunt Driver. We'll take in the Australian Outback Spectacular's "Spirit of the Horse," a unique evening dinner show filled with outback music, drama, and action – a perfect taste of Aussie outback culture.
A short flight takes us to Cairns, gateway to the Tropical North and home of the most stunning scenery in Australia. We'll check into the Doubletree Hotel, perfectly situated on the Cairns waterfront. Get ready for an incredible White-Water Rafting Adventure on the Barron River, known for its stunning scenery and exciting rapids. Get ready to paddle through Cheese Churn, Rooster Tail, and Hells Gate! Enjoy an evening performance at Tjapukai, the award-winning Aboriginal Cultural Park. A perfect introduction to the 40,000 year-old Aboriginal culture, this interactive experience showcases Aboriginal rituals, dance, and traditional foods. We'll visit the Port Douglas Wildlife Habitat, a refuge for Australian animals such as crocodiles, kangaroos, koalas, and countless exotic birds. Covering 8 acres, this wildlife immersion exhibit is made up of open and interactive environments, allowing for guests and kangaroos to mingle in a natural setting! We'll end our stay in Cairns as we head to the beach for music, games, and dinner at our Beach BBQ and Bonfire.
We'll cross into classic Outback Country, where dingoes and kangaroos roam free. We will be welcomed as guests at a traditional working cattle station and homestead, open only for our group. We will stay in dorm-style cabins as we learn about the challenges and rewards of living in the outback. Channel your inner Indiana Jones by learning how to crack a whip and the proper technique for throwing a boomerang (and yes, it really does come back to you!). We'll really appreciate a simpler way of life as we spend the evening star-gazing, listening to tales of life on the range, and enjoying a classic Australian BBQ. Next, we enter Wooroonooran National Park, part of the UNESCO Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, and visit Josephine Falls. Take an easy walk through the jungle and emerge at the falls, where Josephine Creek plunges down a gorgeous set of cascades. Enjoy a dip in a fun swimming hole and slide down a natural water slide on a smooth sloping rock face.
Next we head into Daintree National Park, the oldest continuously growing rainforest on earth. We'll stay at the Ferntree Rainforest Eco-Lodge, offering us a superb location in the jungle. Get ready to fly across the rainforest canopy and get a bird's eye view of the world as we go Jungle Surfing, an exhilarating zip line ride among the treetops. We'll go for a relaxing swim in a nearby swimming hole and search for nocturnal wildlife on a night hike with our naturalist guide. A highlight of our stay in the jungle is our Aboriginal-Guided Rainforest Walk. We will meet members of the Kuku Yalanji, one of the only tribal rainforest groups that still have their own culture and language. We will learn to see the rainforest through indigenous eye as we wander jungle paths and discover how the Aboriginal people have survived in such a challenging environment.
Get ready to experience the breathtaking beauty of the planet's largest coral reef and one of the 7 natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef. We'll take a ferry ride to pristine Fitzroy Island, where we will snorkel right from shore and explore the 1,800 species of fish and 450 species of coral at the reef. Marvel at luminescent parrot fish, the chocolate-dipped damsel, and the Picasso triggerfish. We will also visit a Turtle Rehabilitation Center, where sick and injured sea turtles are nursed back to health before returning back to the ocean. Next we will travel by catamaran to Michaelmas Cay, where we will work with a marine naturalist and learn about the human and natural impacts on the reef. As a special bonus, we will help with species identification, data collection, and coral predator eradication.
We catch our flight to Sydney and settle in to the Novotel Sydney, located steps from famous Darling Harbour. Take in a performance at one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, the Sydney Opera House. We'll weave among historic buildings and narrow laneways in the historic Rocks District, home to Australia's first settlement. Enjoy lunch at the historic Rocks Market as you stroll through one of the city's first neighborhoods. Visit the Royal Botanic Garden, considered one of the world's great gardens and situated right on the harbor. We'll hop aboard a ferry for our cruise through Sydney Harbour, arriving at famous Manly Beach. Enjoy lunch on the Corso, filled with surf shops, cafes, galleries, and street entertainment. No visit to this incredible city would be complete without experiencing the Sydney Harbour Bridge Night Climb. We'll climb to the bridge's summit, 440 feet above Sydney Harbour, for incomparable views of the city as it sparkles at night. When you reach the top you will have a sense of achievement that you will remember forever – you've conquered an Australian icon recognized the world over!