In Australia, you’ll find unique wildlife, cosmopolitan cities like Sydney and Melbourne, and gorgeous beaches. New Zealand offers small-town charm amidst a backdrop of stunning lakes, waterfalls, and snow-capped mountains. Both countries offer incredible hospitality, fascinating ancient cultures, world-class food and wine, and bucket list golf courses.
Paris may be the city of love, but Auckland is the city of many lovers, according to its Māori name, Tāmaki Makaurau. Those lovers so desired this place that they fought over it for centuries.
It’s hard to imagine a more geographically blessed city. Its two harbours frame a narrow isthmus punctuated by volcanic cones and surrounded by fertile farmland. From any of its numerous vantage points you’ll be surprised how close the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean come to kissing and forming a new island.
Whether it’s the ruggedly beautiful west-coast surf beaches, or the glistening Hauraki Gulf with its myriad islands, the water's never far away. And within an hour’s drive from the city's high-rise heart, there are dense tracts of rainforest, thermal springs, wineries and wildlife reserves. No wonder Auckland is regularly rated one of the world's top cities for quality of life and liveability.
Day Trip: Waitomo Caves & Hobbiton
Embark on an exciting day trip from Auckland to discover the glowworm caves at Waitomo and the world-famous Hobbiton Movie Set. Escape the city and journey south through lush green farmland en route to Matamata, a small rural town where you'll find the Hobbiton Movie Set. Upon arrival in Matamata, you'll be whisked away on a Hobbiton tour; accompanied by an expert guide, stroll through the rolling hills and into Middle-earth to see hobbit-holes, Bilbo Baggins' house and The Shire before tucking into lunch outside the Green Dragon Inn. For fans of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie trilogies, this has to be one of the best places to visit outside Auckland. After lunch, hop on your coach and travel west to get your fill of nature's wonders at the glowworm caves in Waitomo. Enjoy a 45-minute guided tour winding through underground caverns by foot and learning about how stalactites and stalagmites formed before hopping on a boat for the last part of your tour. Glide down an underground river to arrive in the Glowworm Grotto where you can marvel at the thousands of twinkling glowworms overhead. Your luxury coach tour concludes as you board your vehicle for the return trip to Auckland.
Today Christchurch is in the midst of an epic rebuild that has completely reconstructed the city centre, where over 80% of buildings needed to be demolished after the quake. Scaffolding and road cones will be part of Christchurch's landscape for a while yet, but don't be deterred; exciting new buildings are opening at an astonishing pace, and most sights are open for business.
Curious travellers will revel in this chaotic, crazy and colourful mix, full of surprises and inspiring in ways you can't even imagine. And despite all the hard work and heartache, the locals will be only too pleased to see you.
Christchurch to Queenstown:
Embark on a one-way sightseeing tour from Christchurch to Queenstown; soak up expansive views across the Canterbury Plains, discover the natural beauty of the New Zealand Southern Alps and experience the splendour of New Zealand's largest mountain - Aoraki Mt Cook before arriving in the adventure capital of New Zealand! Leave the city behind as you depart Christchurch on your luxury, air-conditioned coach and listen as your knowledgeable driver keeps you informed with entertaining commentary. Passing through the Canterbury Plains, soak up expansive views of rolling vineyards, glacial lakes and natural thermal pools for which the area is renowned as you make your way to the untouched waters of Lake Tekapo. Stop briefly to admire views across the lake to the New Zealand Southern Alps and the famed Church of the Good Shepherd. Enjoy lunch in Mount Cook Village (own expense) with New Zealand's highest mountain as your backdrop; take a stroll, inhale the crisp alpine air and marvel at Aoraki Mt Cook as it rises to an elevation of 3,724m. If you're feeling adventurous, you might like to opt for a scenic flight to experience the dramatic alpine scenery from above. After an awe-inspiring break beneath Mt Cook, board your coach for the onward journey. Climb the Lindis Pass, one of the highest roads in New Zealand, and pass into the Cromwell region where the undulating tussock-covered terrain gives way to fertile farmland and fruit orchards. Upon arrival in Queenstown, your guide will drop you off at your hotel and you are free to begin exploring the adventure capital of New Zealand!
Day Trip: Milford Sound Cruise
The beautiful setting of Milford Sound is waiting to be discovered on this comprehensive tour. Explore for yourself on this scenic coach ride and fjord cruise. With glacial features, wild flora and fauna, and picturesque backdrops, this full-day tour offers all the allure this region has to offer.
Leave Queenstown at a convenient departure time, and head around the scenic shores of Lake Wakatipu. At Te Anau, the dramatic landscapes of Fiordland National Park begin to take over. Sit back in your air-conditioned coach, and gaze out at the ever-changing scenery. With a front-facing camera on the coach, you won’t miss out on any of the views.
Regular breaks for short nature strolls and photo opportunities of memorable vistas allow you to get up close to the countryside that you might otherwise have missed. Board your boat and head out onto the pristine waters, with sheers cliffs rising from the shores, surrounded by glacier-capped peaks. As you are immersed in natural beauty, you may begin to feel the true magnitude of this magnificent natural environment.
Day Tour: Bike the Wineries
Bike your way through the fertile Gibbston Valley to discover its renowned wineries at your own pace. Soak up the sights of rolling vineyards as you ride around to the estates of your choice, and taste for yourself why the region is celebrated for varieties like pinot noir and sauvignon blanc.
Get picked up from central Queenstown and be driven to your starting point by the Kawarau River and Bungy jumping bridge, where the verdant Gibbston Valley begins. Before your driver drops you off, pick up a detailed trail map that also features special winery deals.
Enjoy the afternoon pedalling out onto easy trails, admiring the sprawling vineyards all around you and stopping in at as many of the wineries on your route as you like. Immerse yourself in the local vino scene as you taste the varieties that have made New Zealand famous for its wines. Visit the Gibbston Cheesery or a craft beer brewery. Later in the afternoon, your driver returns to pick you up from your tasting extravaganza and take you back to Queenstown.
Sydney is the first stop on many Australian itineraries, and for good reason. It's an inviting blend of the exhilarating and easygoing. You can find excitement in the city, but drive just a few kilometres and you'll hit the golden sand of famous beaches like Bondi and Manly. Plus, with endless nature at its doorstep, Sydney is the starting point for day trips serving up fresh air, unique flavours and locals who know a thing or two about living life to the fullest.
Day Trip: Blue Mountains
Embark on a journey into the majestic Blue Mountains, whose name comes from the ethereal blue haze that covers the surrounding wilderness. During this Fully Inclusive full-day experience we begin with a convenient pickup from most hotels in Sydney CBD - Central Business District before stopping at Echo Point for a view of the Three Sisters. We will spend 20 minutes at Echo point to view the Three Sisters with the option to purchase a small snack, coffee or tea.
Marvel at incredible views of the plunging Jamison Valley with the Three Sisters rock formation rising majestically above it. A professional guide shows you incredible viewpoints throughout the area from which you can capture unforgettable photos.
We will visit various lookouts of the Jamison Valley and Megalong Valley, hidden locations away from the large groups. These hidden location shows the true beauty of Australia with the millions of Eucalypt trees and golden Sandstone Escarpments.
We drive down the mountain to take a break for lunch and dine on your choice from 6 tasty options, complemented by a refreshing glass of Soft drink, tea or coffee.
Your journey continues to Featherdale Wildlife Park, one of Sydney's most popular wildlife experiences. Here, get up close and personal with native Australian animals, taking advantage of opportunities to cuddle koalas and feed wallabies.
Your journey ends with a relaxing ferry ride down the Parramatta River. The gentle current carries you from the Inner West into Sydney Harbour where you disembark at Circular Quay where the tour concludes 4.30-5.00pm (depending on traffic and ferry conditions).
Cairns (pronounced ‘cans’) has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a boggy swamp and rollicking goldfields port. As the number-one base for Far North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, today Cairns heaves under the weight of an ever-growing number of resorts, tour agencies, souvenir shops, backpacker bars and reef boats. The city centre is more boardshorts than briefcases, and you'll find yourself throwing away all notions of speed and schedules here, thanks to heady humidity and a hearty hospitality. There's no beach in town, but spend time at the Esplanade lagoon or the Pier marina and you'll understand why many travellers fall for Cairns.
Day Trip: Kuranda Scenic Tour
Choo-choo through one of the world’s most scenic train routes during this incredible full-day adventure across Aussie landscapes. Admire the sights from the Kuranda Scenic Rail, shop for local crafts at Kuranda Village, and board the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for views of Australia’s Tropical Rainforests. The journey begins with a hotel pickup and escort to the Kuranda Scenic Rail. World-renowned for its gorgeous route, this historic train charters you past cascading waterfalls and verdant rainforests. Arrive at Kuranda, the “Village in the Rainforest,” centered within the heart of the World Heritage site, and spend some time shopping or snacking around. After touring the quaint town’s streets, glide above the canopy of a UNESCO-listed rainforest on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Enjoy sweeping views of the valley, the snaking bends of the Barron River and the wild rapids of Barron Falls. Along the way, stop off at 2 stations to fill your camera with postcard-perfect shots of the area's natural beauty. At Barron Falls Station get up-close views of the surging falls as they tumble more than 860 feet (265 m) down Barron Gorge. At Red Peak Station enjoy a ranger-guided tour into the forest before ending your day at the cableway's bottom, where you can board a comfortable shuttle back to your hotel.
Day Trip: Outer Great Barrier Reef Cruise & Diving
The wonders of the Outer Great Barrier Reef unfold before you as you explore its waters on this aquatic adventure. Take a cruise out into the sapphire ocean, then go on a snorkeling or scuba diving excursion to discover the marine wonderland that is the reef itself. Depart from Cairns in a comfortable modern cruise, heading out into the coastal waters of the Outer Great Barrier Reef to your destinations of the day. The reefs you visit are selected daily to ensure the most beautiful experience possible. Upon reaching your reef du jour, gather your snorkeling or scuba gear and slide into the waters to begin your aquatic adventure with a guide. As you submerge yourself in the calm, crystal-clear waters of the Outer Great Barrier Reef, take a look around you to find one of the richest ecosystems on the planet. Twisting and vibrant, incredible coral formations reach toward you from the sea floor, schools of rainbow-hued fish flitting between the colorful sculptures. Move slowly through the water, getting intimate looks at an abundance of marine life including sea turtles, manta rays, and even sharks. You can explore to your heart's content at 2 unique locations, relaxing on the boat's deck in between each one and refueling with a scrumptious barbecue lunch. On the way back to shore, enjoy live music performances and end your tour on a cheerful note.
3 Day Uluru Tour:
Explore the extraordinary landscape of the Outback as a 3-day tour takes you to some of the most incredible sites in central Australia.
Day 1: Alice Springs – Uluru (Ayers Rock) Base Tour & Sunset
Travelling south you’ll stop to visit a camel farm and view Atila (Mt. Conner), before arriving at Ayers Rock Resort. This afternoon join your Driver Guide for a tour around the base of Uluru. Explore Mutitjulu Waterhole and see ancient rock art then visit the Uluru – Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre. Late afternoon witness the striking colour changes of Uluru at sunset while enjoying nibbles and sparkling wine.
Day 2: Uluru Sunrise – Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) – Kings Canyon
Watch the sunrise set Uluru alight, while enjoying a warming cup of tea or coffee. Then travel to the domes of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). On the way enjoy panoramic views on the south side of Kata Tjuta before arriving at the base of Walpa Gorge. Spend time exploring the gorge and the unusual conglomerate rock formations. This afternoon travel to Kings Canyon.
Day 3: Kings Canyon – Farewell from Alice Springs
Join a guided climb to the rim of Kings Canyon for marvellous views of Watarrka National Park (for those with a good level of fitness). An easier walk along the boulder-strewn canyon creek bed is also available. This afternoon travel on to Alice Springs, where your short break concludes.
Equal parts dynamic, cosmopolitan, sports-mad and arty, Melbourne simultaneously exudes style and keeps its best spots hidden, inviting discovery by food and culture lovers. Melbourne is often dubbed the most 'European' of Australian cities – indeed the eastern, designer section of Collins St was crowned the 'Paris End' in the 1950s. There's also a mini New York vibe here, thanks to the city's well-ordered grid and scattering of art-deco high-rises. But Melbourne is uniquely Melbourne, too. Much of that is due to the 230-plus laneways that penetrate into the heart of city blocks, which are recognised for world-class street art, restaurants and bars. Spend a year here – or a lifetime – and there will still be another route to take; another gem to uncover.
Day Trip: Ocean Road & 12 Apostles
Miles of rugged beaches, wave-carved rock formations, and dense rainforest await on this full-day adventure along Australia's most famous scenic highway. Cruise along the Great Ocean Road to see icons like the 12 Apostles, stroll beneath towering trees to spot koalas and lorikeets, and linger over lunch in seaside Apollo Bay. Head out of Melbourne and hit the road—the Great Ocean Road, that is. This 151-mile (243-km) highway winds its way along the southeastern coast of Victoria and is the world's largest war memorial. Your first stop en route is at Surf Beach, where you can enjoy morning tea while watching surfers catch waves before continuing on to Memorial Arch. Venture into the woods to look for koalas perched in the treetops, colorful parrots and lorikeets, and the gum tree-loving kookaburra. In Apollo Bay, relax over lunch as you soak in the atmosphere of this waterfront locale, and then work off your meal with a guided bushwalk through the towering trees that line the Maits Rest boardwalk in the Otway Ranges, a cool and ancient temperate rainforest. Make your way to the striking 12 Apostles, limestone stacks rising up from the waves, and Loch Ard Gorge, where you can take a walk while listening to the tale of Australia's most notorious shipwreck. Your final stop is at the arch nicknamed London Bridge or the cliffs known as the Gibson Steps, where you can feel the breeze off the sea before heading back to Melbourne.
Day Trip: Phillip Island Penguins, Kangaroos and Koala Tour
Cuddly koalas, tiny penguins, and kangaroos—this is your chance to meet some of the Southern Hemisphere's most exotic, strange, and downright adorable animals. Interact with wallabies and dingoes at an animal park, and then head to the beach for the impossibly cute Penguin Parade on Phillip Island. Coastal cliffs greet you as you cross the bridge onto rugged Phillip Island, home to swooping seabirds and Australia's largest colony of fur seals. Your first stop is at the Maru Koala & Animal Park, where a plethora of native Aussie creatures await. Get up close to long-legged emus, pet a hopping kangaroo, feed a eucalyptus-munching koala, and watch Tasmanian devils scurry through the grass. Leave the koalas behind and ride along the island's southwest coast toward the Phillip Island Nature Park. In the distance, the rocky outcrops of the aptly named Nobbies are visible beyond the headlands. As the sun begins to set, find a spot at Summerland Beach for the grand finale to your time on the island—the Penguin Parade. When the sun sinks down, a mass of tiny little penguins emerge from fishing in the sea to waddle toward the safety of their burrows on the sandy shore. Just 13 inches (33 cm) tall, these pocket-sized, blue-plumed birds are the world's smallest penguins, and 70,000 of them call Phillip Island home. Once the penguins are in for the night and the ritual comes to a close, grab a bite to eat in the beachfront town of Cowes before your return trip to the mainland.