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Australia & New Zealand: From Ayers Rock to the Great Barrier Reef & Beyond - 2019

Melbourne • Ayers Rock • Cairns • Great Barrier Reef • Sydney • Queenstown • Auckland
  • EXPERIENCE THE AWE-INSPIRING BEAUTY OF AYERS ROCK — NOW INCLUDED IN 2019!
  • ENJOY A FULL-DAY EXCURSION TO THE LESS-VISITED OUTER GREAT BARRIER REEF
  • TAKE A TOUR OF SYDNEY’S STUNNING OPERA HOUSE
  • TAKE IN THE SCENIC SPLENDOR OF THE PRISTINE MILFORD SOUND
  • GIBBSTON VALLEY WINERY
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  • $399
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  • 20
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  • 16
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The underwater magic of the Great Barrier Reef, the iconic “sails” of the Sydney Opera House, the vibrant energy of Melbourne, the postcard-perfect Milford Sound, Aboriginal legends and Maori myths: immerse yourself in the lands down under on this Australia and New Zealand land tour adventure and understand what makes this part of the world so unforgettable. 

Join this fun, 20-day land tour adventure with Vantage travel and enjoy 16 guided tours and 7 Cultural Discoveries plus explore two of the world's most notable UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Great Barrier Reef and the Sydney Opera House.  Experience the unique personalities of sophisticated Sydney, multifaceted Melbourne and alluring Auckland, as well as the snowcapped heights and adventurous spirit of Queenstown, the Elysian beauty of Milford Sound, the fascinating cultures of the Aboriginal and Maori peoples, and so much more.


If you're traveling solo, Vantage Travel offers free and reduced-price Single Supplements, as well as Adventure Leaders so that you feel comfortable every step of the way. Join this extraordinary Australia and New Zealand land tour in 2019 and enjoy the best value in deluxe small group travel!

Melbourne to Auckland

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DAY 1:

Depart home for Melbourne, Australia.

Board your overnight trans-Pacific flight to Australia.

Please note: Arrive to your destination or home rested and refreshed! Convenient gateway city stopover options mean you can break up longer flights easily — just ask our Flight Experts for assistance.

DAY 2:

Cross International Dateline

Your journey will take you across the International Date Line today. Your excitement builds as you begin imagining the adventure to come.

DAY 3:

Arrive in Melbourne, one of Australia’s most beloved cities

Arrive in Melbourne, regularly called one of the world’s most livable cities. What makes it such a great place to be? Perhaps it’s pastiche of cultural influences — from Greek and Lebanese to Chinese and Italian — blended with the thoroughly Australian spirit. The result is a city that is vibrant, cosmopolitan, fun-loving, and a true pleasure to explore. After time on your own this afternoon, join your group for a Welcome Briefing and Dinner at your hotel.

Included Meals:

Dinner

DAY 4:

Get to know Melbourne on a tour of its highlights

Embark on a city tour of Melbourne, including a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens. We take a stroll amidst the beautiful blooms and majestic arbors of this splendid site, before continuing our tour at Parliament House and the ANZAC War Memorial, which honors those who sacrificed their lives at the Battle of Gallipoli during World War I. You’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and have the afternoon at leisure. Dinner is on your own this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 5:

Venture from Melbourne to Ayers Rock, the heart of Australia’s “Red Center”

We fly to Australia’s “Red Center” today and check in to our hotel. Later, we venture to witness the star of the show: Ayers Rock, traditionally known as Uluru. Enjoy a glass of sparkling wine as the sun paints the sky and this red sandstone behemoth in dazzling colors. Return for dinner at the hotel this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 6:

Fall under the spell of this striking red monolith known as Uluru

Your day begins in the shadow of awe-inspiring Uluru again, as you watch the sun rise over the desert expanse before you. As the light spreads across this massive, 1,100-foot rock, the ever-changing colors will enchant you. You can then embark on a base walk to see some of the many sacred Aboriginal sites along the way, including ancient rock art. Your group will have lunch at a local restaurant before enjoying the afternoon at leisure. Dinner will be included back at the hotel.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 7:

Venture to Cairns, the Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef

Enjoy a morning at leisure before making your way to the airport for your flight to Cairns. The sunny heart of Australia’s Queensland province, the city is best known as the jumping off point for exploring one of the world’s most impressive natural wonders: the Great Barrier Reef.

Included Meals:

Breakfast

DAY 8:

Dreamtime tour, exploration of Mossman Gorge, and sunset cruise in Cairns

After breakfast, we head to Daintree National Park, home to the Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people. This lush rainforest supports mind-boggling biodiversity, with an extraordinary array of bird species. Cultural Discovery: We explore its incredible beauty by foot during a guided “Dreamtime” walk with a local Aborigine, visiting important cultural sites and learning about the special relationship between the Kuku Yalanji people and this unique tropical environment. Then, savor an included lunch — and take in the stunning scenery — at the Silky Oaks eco-lodge in the heart of the rainforest. Cultural Discovery: This afternoon, an American expatriate tells us why he chooses to live in Australia. We return to our hotel and have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure until it's time to leave for our sunset dinner cruise!

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 9:

The Great Barrier Reef: Up close and personal with a Natural Wonder of the World

Unforgettable Moment: Today we embark a wave-piercing catamaran for a 90-minute cruise to the Outer Great Barrier Reef, a less frequently visited stretch of this 1,500-mile-long living organism. Upon arrival at our observatory, we have the chance to swim, snorkel, or watch the colorful fish and coral from the underwater viewing platform. Lunch is included during your cruise. Cultural Discovery: During our visit, we meet a marine biologist who will share his expertise about the fragile state of the Great Barrier Reef during a fascinating onboard lecture. After a full and rewarding day, we return to the mainland.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 10:

A day at leisure, or opt to soar in a balloon and visit captivating Kuranda

Early risers may join an optional balloon ride for splendid views of the sunrise. After breakfast at our hotel, the day is yours at leisure to enjoy the seaside setting of Cairns. Alternately, you may join an optional full-day tour to Kuranda. We journey there by train, then visit a Butterfly Sanctuary and board a skyrail gondola for fantastic views of tropical surroundings and fertile valleys. We gather for dinner at our hotel this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner
Optional Tour: Cairns Hot Air Balloon Ride,

Cairns Hot Air Balloon Ride

  • Approximate Cost: $280 AUD per person
  • Approximate Time: 4 hours
  • Location: Cairns, Australia
  • When: Early morning tour
There is nothing like seeing this region from above. On this exhilarating optional tour, you’ll soar over the brilliant green of the Atherton Tablelands, a lush area that offers a completely different experience from any other you’ll have in Australia. Start your day off with serenity, as you float over mountains, rainforests, and rolling rural landscapes of this part of the country.

Please note: This tour must be booked while on tour.

Kuranda Tour

Kuranda Tour

  • Approximate Cost: $275 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 8 hours
  • Location: Cairns, Australia
  • When: Full-day tour, including lunch

Experience the contrast of the region's oldest and most picturesque railway and the technology of the world’s longest and most beautiful cableway in one day. Your day begins at the Freshwater Railway Station. Once aboard the train, sit back and enjoy the spectacular views as you journey to top of the mountain range through 15 hand-cut tunnels and past spectacular waterfalls. Once you arrive in Kuranda, you will be transferred to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, which is the largest butterfly flight aviary and exhibit in Australia — a quality wildlife park in the heart of Kuranda Village. This is home to over 1,500 magnificent tropical butterflies that are hand-reared on the premises. From here you will enjoy an included lunch before having some free time to do your own exploring. At the scheduled time, board Skyrail for the world's most beautiful rainforest experience. Glide across the rainforest canopy and take advantage of the two stops en route to enjoy a walk through the rainforest or visit the CSIRO Interpretive Centre. Your journey ends at Caravonica Lakes where your coach is waiting to take you back to the hotel.


DAY 11:

Travel to Sydney, one of the world’s most iconic cities

After breakfast, we have the morning at leisure. After lunch on your own, we fly to Sydney, Australia’s free-wheeling and cosmopolitan capital of New South Wales. Upon arrival, we transfer to our deluxe hotel near the harbor and the soaring "sails" of the Sydney Opera House. You'll have lunch on your own and a free afternoon to explore your new neighborhood before meeting back at the hotel for dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 12:

Discover Sydney’s many charms, including the legendary Opera House

Get acquainted with beautiful Sydney on our morning excursion. We begin at the peninsula of Mrs. Macquarie’s Point, where a chair carved for the first governor’s wife overlooks the harbor. Continue to the mid-19th-century Garrison Church, Dawes Point and The Rocks district, Market City, and Chinatown. Along Darling Harbor, we visit the Maritime Museum and suburban Pyrmont. We later stop at the world-famous Sydney Opera House, where we have a guided tour of the breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site. After, we trace the southern shores of Sydney Harbor and head out to Bondi Beach. The rest of the afternoon is free, with lunch on your own dinner at a local restaurant in bustling Circular Quay.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 13:

A day at leisure in Sydney or an optional tour to the famed Blue Mountains

Explore Sydney on your own today, perhaps returning to some of the sights we saw yesterday, visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens, or having a picnic on the green parklands of The Domain. You might instead join an optional tour to the legendary Blue Mountains and Featherdale Park to view local animals and see the preserved land from a scenic railway and skyway.

Included Meals:

Breakfast
Optional Tour: Featherdale Wildlife Tour

Featherdale Wildlife Tour

  • Approximate Cost: $199 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 9 hours
  • Location: Sydney, Australia
  • When: Full-day tour, including lunch

Experience some of the very best of Sydney and Australia! This exclusive, full-day tour showcases some of Australia’s highlights such as the country’s unique and beautiful wildlife, and the scenic Blue Mountains. Your day begins with a drive to Featherdale Wildlife Park, where you’ll meet cuddly koalas, spry kangaroos, and other Australian wildlife. Then, en route to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, you’ll enjoy an included lunch before winding your way through the countryside to the Blue Mountains, where you can take in the magnificent valley views aboard a scenic railway and skyway (cable car). This tour is sure to leave you with many fond memories of Australia.


DAY 14:

Gemstones, a cruise on Sydney Harbor, and exploring The Rocks

Cultural Discovery: This morning we learn about opal, Australia’s national gemstone, at the Altmann & Cherny Opal House. Next, we enjoy a coffee cruise on Sydney Harbor, giving you the opportunity to view the gorgeous homes and, of course, the Opera House along the harbor inlets. Cultural Discovery: Following the cruise, our Adventure Leader guides a walk of The Rocks and Sydney Harbor area, pointing out some little-known sites and sharing local stories and lore. This evening, we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant with magnificent harbor views.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 15:

Fly to the Adventure Capital of the World: Queenstown

Following breakfast this morning, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Queenstown. This city, nicknamed the "Adventure Capital of the World," is set along picturesque Lake Wakatipu and against the backdrop of the aptly named Remarkables mountain range and is one of the South Island's most impressive cities. Your evening is at leisure, and dinner is included at the hotel this evening.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 16:

What a day: Views from Bob’s Peak, Arrowtown, and a winery tour

The South Island is starkly different its northern neighbor, and we’ll experience its unique brand of beauty today. Unforgettable Moment: We’ll set off on a half-day tour that will take us soaring over the city on a gondola to Bob’s Peak, where we’ll be rewarded with remarkable views of Queenstown, below. The mountain draws adventure lovers to its zip-line, bungee jumping, and hiking and biking trails, so – along with breathtaking vistas – we get a true sense of the Kiwi love of the outdoors here. We’ll also visit the former mining hub of Arrowtown, preserved as the heart of the 19th-century Otago Gold Rush. Cultural Discovery: New Zealand is renowned for its wines, so you’ll also get the chance to visit a local wine producer: the Gibbston Valley Winery, home of New Zealand’s largest wine cave and today's lunch spot.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 17:

Experience the idyllic beauty of Milford Sound

Unforgettable Moment: Today we visit one of the world’s great natural wonders, so magnificent that it single-handedly attracts many visitors to New Zealand. We set out on a full-day excursion to spectacular Milford Sound, the Southern Hemisphere’s longest fjord. Our long transfer to the far reaches of Fiordland National Park is rewarded with a luncheon cruise through astonishing vistas of rocky peaks, glassy waters and silvery waterfalls cascading from great heights into the sound. Afterwards, you may choose to take an optional flight back to Queenstown on a spectacular aerial tour. Dinner back in Queenstown is on your own.

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch
Optional Tour: Return flight tour to Queenstown

Return flight tour to Queenstown

  • Approximate Cost: $420 NZD per person
  • Approximate Time: 5 hours
  • Location: Milford Sound to Queenstown, NZ
  • When: Afternoon tour
In addition to being a fast and convenient way to get to the “City of Adventure,” this flight offers you a chance to see one of the world’s most beautiful countries from above. Join us as we explore some of the South Island from the skies, soaring over the Southern Alps and Lake Wakatipu as you make your way to Queenstown.

Please note: This tour must be booked while on tour.

DAY 18:

Free time in the mountain-fringed town of Queenstown

Today is free for you explore more of Queenstown at your leisure. Perhaps you’ll join in the adventurous spirit of the locals and arrange a mountain biking or bungee-jumping expedition. If a walk in the woods is more your speed, then you might hit some nearby trails to go tramping, the local term for hiking. Cultural Discovery: This evening, we’re welcomed by some warm locals as we visit their family for a home-cooked meal.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 19:

Fly to Auckland, the “City of Sails”

We’ll arrive in Auckland on New Zealand's North Island today. Check into your hotel upon arrival and gather later for dinner at the hotel with your fellow travelers.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 20:

Explore Auckland on a panoramic tour

We begin our Auckland explorations with a panoramic excursion that takes in the best of the city. At Bastion Point, overlooking the blue waters of Waitemata Harbor, we pay a visit to the site of the Maori protests of the 1970s. We continue to the Auckland Museum, a beautiful neoclassical building and one of the nation’s most important historical and natural history repositories. Cultural Discovery: During our visit, we glimpse a bit of Maori tradition and costume as we attend a lively Maori concert. This afternoon and evening, take the opportunity to see Auckland’s landmarks at your own pace and seek out a spot for dinner. Your Adventure Leader will have plenty of recommendations!

Included Meals:

Breakfast  & Lunch

DAY 21:

Explore Auckland on your own or head to Waiheke Island

Explore Auckland at leisure today or join a Waiheke Island Tour. It’s easy to see how the cultural capital, flanked by two magnificent harbors, earned the nickname “City of Sails.” About 135,000 yachts and launches are registered here. Perhaps you’ll check out the America’s Cup yachts, formal gardens, and statues in Albert Park. Or browse the shops along Queen Street, the city’s trendy commercial district. Tonight, gather with your fellow travelers for the group's Farewell Dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 22:

Depart for home

Transfer to the Auckland airport and begin your journey home.

Please note: Arrive to your destination or home rested and refreshed! Convenient gateway city stopover options mean you can break up longer flights easily — just ask our Flight Experts for assistance.

Included Meals:

Breakfast

Post-Trip Extension

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Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Adventure Leader or regional expert.

Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary. That hotel ratings are based on the Hotel and a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.

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