Depart home for Melbourne, Australia
Board your overnight trans-Pacific flight to Australia.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 this evening join a sunset dinner cruise.
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.
A day at leisure
After breakfast at our hotel, the day is yours at leisure to enjoy the seaside setting of Cairns. We gather for dinner at our hotel this evening.
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.
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.
A day at leisure in Sydney
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Dinner back in Queenstown is on your own.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Depart for home
Transfer to the Auckland airport and begin your journey home.
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.