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Australia & New Zealand: From Ayers Rock to the Great Barrier Reef & Beyond - 2021

Melbourne • Ayers Rock • Cairns • Great Barrier Reef • Sydney • Queenstown • Auckland
  • $443
  • 22
  • 23
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Nadi, Fiji

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Simply think of Australia and New Zealand and your mind will likely conjure up these iconic scenes: the vast Outback, with Uluru at its heart; the kaleidoscopic coral kingdom of the Great Barrier Reef; the pearlescent “sails” of the Sydney Opera House; and the velvet mountains rising from sapphire waters, at Milford Sound. Venture with us on this epic journey, and you’ll see all of this — and much, much more.

Get set to delve into the natural and cultural landscape of this region: this small-group adventure features 23 included features and Cultural Discoveries, as well as 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll explore rainforests, fjords, and deserts, and discover how the indigenous peoples — from the Maori of New Zealand to the Pitjantjatjara of central Australia — live in harmony with the land. What’s more, jump into the crystal-clear waters of the outer Great Barrier Reef as we spend a full-day swimming, snorkeling, and learning from a marine biologist about this unique ecosystem.

These experiences dovetail with your visits to the vibrant cities of Melbourne, Sydney, and Auckland, where world-famous architecture and exquisite cuisine await. Through our panoramic tours and in your free time, discover coffee- and mural-filled laneways, picture-perfect scenes of the Sydney Opera House, and top-notch wine.

Want to enjoy your adventure Down Under to the fullest? You can add an optional post-trip extension to Nadi, Fiji. Solo travelers also benefit from Zero or reduced Single Supplements on every departure! Or, catch the continent’s remarkable wildlife with optional tours to the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, in Kuranda, or to Featherdale Wildlife Park (and the magnificent Blue Mountains). With so many unforgettable moments, you’ll understand why Australia and New Zealand are so loved by travelers around the world.

Click here to get a glimpse of the wildlife you may encounter on this adventure and tips on how to capture the perfect photos for a lifetime of memories.

New reduced price — save up to $1,000 per couple on select departures, limited time only!

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 the International Date Line

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 its pastiche of cultural influences — from Greek and Lebanese to Chinese and Italian — blended with the Australian spirit. The result is a vibrant, cosmopolitan, fun-loving city, and a true pleasure to explore. After time on your own this afternoon, join your group for an orientation tour, followed by a Welcome Briefing and Dinner at your hotel.

Included meals:


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 the Parliament House and the Anzac 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 Feature:

  • Melbourne city tour

Included meals:

Breakfast  & lunch

DAY 5:

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

We fly to Australia’s “Red Center” today and check in to our hotel. You'll enjoy the day at leisure before we venture to witness the UNESCO-listed star of the show: Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock. 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 Feature:
  • Uluru sunset viewing, with wine

Included meals:

Breakfast & dinner

DAY 6:

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

Your day begins at Talinguru Nyakunytjaku — the best area to watch the sun rise over the desert expanse. As the light spreads across the massive, 1,100-foot rock that is Uluru, 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. You’ll have lunch at the hotel before enjoying the rest of your day at leisure.

Included Features:

  • Uluru sunrise viewing
  • Guided Uluru base walk

Included meals:

Breakfast  & lunch

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:


DAY 8:

A Dreamtime tour and exploration of Mossman Gorge

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. 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. 

This afternoon, you’ll enjoy lunch at the Mossman Bowls Club and try your hand at lawn bowling, one of Australia’s most popular sports. After, return to your hotel and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Included Features:
  • Guided Kuku Yalanji “Dreamtime” walk
  • Tour of Mossman Gorge, with lunch at a forest lodge
Cultural Discovery:
  • Try lawn bowling

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 9:

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

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 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 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 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, where dinner is at your leisure.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day Great Barrier Reef excursion, with included lunch
Cultural Discovery:
  • Presentation about the Great Barrier Reef by a marine biologist

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: $279 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. Then 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 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 charms

Get acquainted with beautiful Sydney on our morning excursion. We begin at the Altmann + Cherny showroom to learn about opal, Australia’s national gemstone, before heading to the world-famous Sydney Opera House for a guided tour of this breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site. Next, a tour of the city’s highlights takes you to 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, Darling Harbor, and Chinatown. You’ll also visit Bondi Beach and see for yourself why this stretch of sand and surf ranks among the most spectacular beaches in the world. The rest of the afternoon is free, with lunch on your own. This evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant in bustling Circular Quay.

Included Feature:
  • Panoramic tour of Sydney
Cultural Discovery:
  • Opal demonstration

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:

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:

Cruise Sydney Harbor and explore The Rocks

This morning will be an invigorating one, as you enjoy a sightseeing cruise on Sydney Harbor! This is your opportunity to view the gorgeous homes and capture fabulous shots of the Opera House and Harbor Bridge. Following the cruise, our Adventure Leader guides a walk of The Rocks and the Sydney Harbor area, pointing out some little-known sites and sharing local stories and lore. You’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, then have the rest of the day to explore the city on your own. Dinner is at your leisure this evening.

Included Feature:
  • Sydney Harbor cruise
Cultural Discovery:
  • Orientation walk of The Rocks and Sydney Harbor

Included meals:

Breakfast  & lunch

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 mountain range aptly named the Remarkables, besides being one of the South Island’s most impressive cities. Your evening is at leisure, with dinner included at the hotel.

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 than its northern neighbor, and we’ll experience its unique brand of beauty today. 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. 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. We’ll also visit the former mining hub of Arrowtown, preserved as the heart of the 19th-century Otago Gold Rush. New Zealand is renowned for its wines, and you’ll 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 Features:

  • Half-day tour with gondola ride to Bob’s Peak
  • Visit Arrowtown
  • Wine tour and lunch at Gibbston Valley Winery
Cultural Discovery:
  • Taste New Zealand wine at Gibbston Valley Winery

Included meals:

Breakfast  & lunch

DAY 17:

Experience the idyllic beauty of Milford Sound

Today, we visit one of the world’s greatest natural wonders. 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. Afterward, 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 Feature:

  • Full-day excursion to Milford Sound

Included meals:

Breakfast  & lunch

DAY 18:

Free time in the mountain-fringed town of Queenstown

Today is free for you to 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. This evening, we’re welcomed by locals as we visit their family for a home-hosted meal.

Cultural Discovery:

  • Home-hosted meal with a local family

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, then 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 War Memorial Museum, a beautiful neoclassical building, and one of the nation’s most important historical and natural history repositories. During our visit, we glimpse a bit of Maori tradition and custom 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 lunch at your leisure. Your Adventure Leader will have plenty of recommendations! Dinner will be at a local restaurant.

Included Feature:

  • Panoramic tour of Auckland & museum visit
Cultural Discovery:
  • Attend a Maori concert at the Auckland War Memorial Museum

Included meals:

Breakfast & dinner

DAY 21:

Head to Waiheke Island to visit a winery and an olive oil estate

Join a Waiheke Island tour today. We’ll explore this island just a short ferry ride from Auckland, delving into the local culture, built around art, food, and wine. We’ll savor a delicious lunch as well as a wine tasting and tour at Stonyridge Vineyard, one of the island’s oldest and most well-respected winemakers. From there, we venture to Rangihoua (meaning “Day of the Renewal” in Maori), home of award-winning olive oils that we’ll get to sample. We then hop on the ferry back to Auckland.

It’s easy to see how this 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 Feature:

  • Full-day tour of Waiheke Island

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:


Post-Trip Extension

Nadi, Fiji

FROM: $1799 PER PERSON | 4 DAYS | $450 PER DAY

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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Australia & New Zealand: From Ayers Rock to the Great Barrier Reef & Beyond - 2021

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