23 Days/20 nights - Experience the best of Australia & New Zealand in this dynamic three week package. Experience the multicultural city of Melbourne, the Great Barrier Reef resort area of Port Douglas and cosmopolitan Sydney before departing Australia to explore New Zealand. Start your New Zealand adventure in Queenstown to take in the Glaciers, then continue your journey on the Tranz Alpine Express from Greymouth to Christchurch. Take in the thermal activity and Maori culture in Rotorua before spending your final two nights in the beautiful harbour city of Auckland.
- Qantas Airways flights from Los Angeles (domestic US flights can be added at an additional cost)
- Domestic Australia & New Zealand flights
- 3 nights Melbourne in 4* accommodation
- 3 nights Port Douglas in 4* accommodation
- 4 nights Sydney in 4* accommodation
- 3 nights Queenstown in 4* accommodation
- 5 days medium automatic car rental Queenstown - Greymouth (coach transportation is available if a self drive is not preferred)
- 2 nights Fox Glacier in 4* accommodation
- Tranz Alpine Express rail journey Greymouth - Christchurch
- 1 night Christchurch in 4* accommodation
- 2 nights Rotorua in 4* accommodation
- Full day tour Rotorua - Waitomo Caves - Auckland
- 2 nights Auckland in 4* accommodation
- Shuttle airport transfers in Melbourne, Port Douglas, Sydney, Christchurch, Rotorua & Auckland
- All taxes & fuel surcharges
Day 1 - Depart
Ask about our options with Premium Economy and Business class airfare.
Day 2 - Cross
Day 3 - Arrive
Capital of the state of Victoria, is attractively set on the shores of Port Philip Bay. Famous for its beautiful parks and gardens, mixed with fine Victorian architecture, elegant tree lined boulevards and modern skyscrapers. Explore the city by tram and absorb the atmosphere of Australia’s cultural capital in the many arts galleries and museums or take a cruise on the Yarra River. Visit the Victorian Arts Center and the National Gallery of Victoria. Also the sporting capital of Australia, Melbourne hosts major annual events such as the Australian Open Tennis, Australia Formula One Grand Prix, the AFL Grand Final and the Melbourne Cup. Dining out in Melbourne is a direct reflection of the city’s diverse ethnicity with an abundance of Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Malaysian restaurants. Don’t miss Lygon Street with its abundance of Italian restaurants.
Days 4 & 5 -
Explore Melbourne at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - some of our favorites (additional cost applies):
- Half Day Lanes & Arcades tour
Indulge with a casual walk through Melbourne's lanes and arcades in small groups to engage in the life of this city which many miss. Discover local designers and specialty retailers, tiny cafés and more. A little history and attention to amazing architecture will inspire locals and visitors alike. Lunch is included. Get orientated and return to those places you like best in the afternoon, at your leisure.
- Melbourne City Tour
Our city tour takes you through the wondrous sights of Melbourne. Learn about the city’s fascinating history with your expert guide. With your small group, take a stroll in the gardens, see some of the world famous attractions like Albert Park Lake (Formula 1), Federation Square and visit Eureka Skydeck 88.
- Phillip Island - Penguins, Koalas,
A fascinating afternoon/eveing tour to Phillip Island stopping enroute at the Koala Conservation Center. Each evening at dusk Little Penguins arrive in groups on the beach after a day of fishing. See them waddle their way into the dunes where their burrow nests are situated.
- Great Ocean Road
Known as the worlds most inspiring coastal drive, follow its winding trail through the lush Otway rainforests, to the breathtaking, windswept drama of the Shipwreck Coast. For much of the way the road clings to the coastline, twisting and turning, every bend revealing a sight more spectacular than the last.
- Yarra Valley Wine Experience
Learn how to swirl, sniff and slurp, then you’ll be ready to taste some of the Yarra's best wines, Yering Station’s award winning classic Australian wine, Rochford Wines with traditional wine making methods in their cellar door and French Champagne company Moet & Chandon's Australian production house -Domaine Chandon.
Image: Tourism Australia
Day 6 - Fly to
Cairns, transfer to Port Douglas
Days 7 & 8 - Port
- Silversonic Outer Barrier Reef
Silversonic is a 29 metre luxury catamaran custom designed for small groups of adventure minded people to revel in the thrill of diving and snorkelling. With over five hours to explore the delights of this underwater world, visit 3 different outer reef locations at Agincourt Reef on the very outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef.
- Kuranda, Rail, Skyrail & TjapukaiKuranda Scenic Rail to Kuranda, Barron River & Stoney Creek Falls, Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park which includes indigenous guide , entrance to all Theatres, the famous Tjapukai Dancers, boomerang/spear throwing & bush medicine.
- Daintree Rainforest & Cape
Travel north along the scenic coastal road, crossing the Daintree River for a morning tea stop at the Daintree Discovery Centre. Take a guided boardwalk through the rainforest before continuing to Cape Tribulation Beach where time is allowed for a beach walk or to relax in a tranquil setting. Enjoy a delicious lunch in a rainforest setting. A stop is then made at the Alexandra Lookout for panoramic views out to sea and the mouth of the Daintree river, followed by a cruise to observe the fauna and flora of this region.
- Mossman Gorge Dreamtime Walk
You are welcomed with a traditional 'smoking' ceremony that cleanses and wards off bad spirits. The walk then meanders through stunning rainforest and your experienced guide provides an enchanting narrative of the rainforest and their special relationship with this unique tropical environment. A stop at 'the beach' gives you the opportunity for a refreshing swim in this water hole, where your guide demonstrates traditions like making bush soaps and ochre painting. At the end of the tour enjoy traditional bush tea and damper.
- Wildlife Habitat
The award-winning Wildlife Habitat is Australia’s leading immersion exhibit - an open and interactive environment for guests and animals to mingle in a spacious and natural setting. Visitors wander along elevated boardwalks, observing up close a huge range of flora and fauna as birds fly and roam freely. The original Breakfast with the Birds has been a visitor must do for two decades. Guests are immersed within the Wetlands environment whilst enjoying the cacophony of sounds and colors of Wildlife as they wander freely amongst the guests and are treated to a fantastic tropical breakfast buffet.
- Daintree Rainforest Jungle Surf
Rainforest has more strata than any other terrestrial ecosystem, and can only be truly appreciated by getting up into the canopy. With its low-impact system of platforms and cables, Jungle Surfing offers unparalleled access to the heart of the Daintree from the bustling forest floor to the giants that tower above the canopy.
Image: Tourism Australia
Day 9 - Fly to
Say farewell to tropical North Queensland and fly nonstop to Sydney. Blessed with a temperate climate, Sydney is Australia’s favorite city with the world’s most beautiful harbor. The harbor provides a playground for jet boating, sailing, swimming, harbor scenic flights, dining, fishing, climbing the harbor bridge and sightseeing at the Opera House. Take a stroll through The Rocks, the site of the first European settlement. Don’t miss The Rocks markets held every Saturday & Sunday. Be entertained with great street theatre and music while you browse for Australian arts & crafts. Circular Quay is the gateway to the harbor and the starting point for most of Sydney’s harbor cruises and passenger ferries. Familiarize yourself with the harbor by taking one of the many cruises on offer or jump on a passenger ferry to Taronga Zoo or Manly beach. Sydney’s shopping is second to none with its endless selection of boutiques, markets and malls. Unique Australian specialty shops reside at The Rocks and Darling harbor’s Shopping Centre and a visit to the Queen Victoria Building in the city center is a must. Dining out at one of the many fabulous harbor side restaurants is a must. Fresh produce, great views, inspiring chefs and a multicultural flavor turn a meal into a gastronomic delight.
Days 10-12 -
Explore Sydney at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites (additional cost applies):
- Panoramic City Sights Tour
Commence your morning Panoramic Sydney Sights tour with a visit to the historic Rocks area, followed by magnificent views of the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Visit Sydney's trendy Oxford Street, then travel through elegant Paddington with its Victorian terrace houses before arriving at the Pacific Ocean. See the superb coast cliff walk around Tamarama and Bronte, then travel to famous Bondi Beach. See bronzed Aussie lifesavers and Sydney's best panoramic view at Dover Heights. Return to Sydney via Double Bay, Kings Cross and Mrs Macquaries Point for a final magical viewpoint over the harbour before returning to the city center.
- Hop On, Hop Off Harbour Cruise
Commence your Hop On Hop Off cruise from Darling Harbour and enjoy a fun and easy way to explore Sydney including commentary from your Captain. Sit back and relax as your vessel cruises around Sydney Harbour and stops at harbourside attractions including Darling Harbour, Fort Denison, Garden Island (including admission to the Naval Heritage Museum), Shark Island, Taronga Zoo, Watsons Bay, Luna Park, Circular Quay and Manly, where you are able to hop on and off over a 24 hour period. Alternatively stay on board the vessel for an enjoyable 90 minute round trip journey.
- Blue Mountains Day Tour
Visit Scenic World and dare yourself to ride the steepest Railway in the world with spectacular views of the Three Sisters and the Valley. Go through the quaint village of Leura showing the beautiful stores, houses and gardens along the way to Reids Plateau. A picturesque view of the Jamison Valley, taking in the rear view of the Three Sisters away from the crowds. Return to Sydney by way of Featherdale Wildlife Park, with a chance to cuddle up to a koala or feed the baby wallabies. Your trip to Sydney is not complete without a cruise on Parramatta River to Sydney Harbour Circular Quay.
- Boutique Harbour Lunch Cruise
Depart Circular Quay to commence a scenic lunch cruise. Your personal host will share the rich history of Sydney Harbour and its foreshore as you take in the sights of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House and the bays and coves of Sydney Harbour. Enjoy the company of a small group aboard a 52 foot yacht with swimming, kayaking and fishing, or sit back and relax on the expansive sunbed and do nothing at all. Included is a three course barbecue lunch with local beers and regional wines.
- Taronga Zoo
This small group tour led by an expert guide offers an excellent introduction to Australia's wildlife and brings you close to the animals. There are plenty of photographic opportunities with kangaroos, wallabies, birds, wombats, echidnas and reptiles. Another fantastic offering from Taronga Zoo is Roar & Snore – Sydney’s ultimate sleepover. Nestled on the cliff top edge of Sydney’s stunning harbour, Taronga Roar and Snore’s is the only opportunity to camp overnight with views of Sydney Harbour and the city on one side and lions, leopards and meerkats on the other.
- Hunter Valley Wine Tour
Relax and enjoy fabulous food and wine in Australia's oldest wine growing region. Located just two hours north of Sydney, the Hunter Valley combines world renowned wines, gourmet produce and stunning countryside. The flexible itinerary gives you access to a range of boutique wineries and the opportunity to meet the wine makers. Take a behind-the-scenes tour at one of the wineries, then enjoy a gourmet lunch at one of the Hunter's best restaurants.
Image: Tourism Australia
Days 13 - Fly to
Fly Sydney - Queenstown. Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown’s stunning scenery is inspiring and revitalizing. With such a huge range of activities in Queenstown, no two days will ever be the same. Collect your medium automatic rental car and drive the short distance to the accommodation.
Days 14 & 15 -
Explore Queenstown at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites (additional cost applies):
- Milford Fly Cruise Fly/Dart River Safaris
Join your Milford Sound Scenic Flights crew at Queenstown Airport, Sir Henly Wigley Dr, Frankton, to commence a full day Milford Fly Cruise Fly/Dart River Safaris Combo tour. Fly from Queenstown to magnificent Milford to enjoy a launch cruise travelling the full length of Milford Sound. Return by scenic flight landing at Glenorchy to join Dart River Safaris to journey into the untouched wilderness of a World Heritage Area before coaching back to Queenstown. Tour concludes approximately 10 hours after commencement, at Queenstown Airport.
- Milford Sound Nature Cruise
An on board nature guide with specialist knowledge of the region's history, flora and fauna provides detailed interpretation in English with a roving microphone. There is plenty of time available to explore points of interest and view the spectacular alpine scenery including waterfalls, rainforest and the towering peaks; and keep a lookout for wildlife including seals, dolphins and penguins when in season. Coach or flight transfers available.
- Appellation Central Wine Tours
Appellation Central offers guided tours showcasing Central Otago's fine wine and cuisine. These tours venture into the heartland of Central Otago visiting vineyards in Gibbston, Bannockburn and Cromwell. Small groups and custom fit minibuses ensure a relaxed and interactive day out from Queenstown and a great way to experience Central Otago.
- Nomad Safari - Skippers Canyon
A half-day heritage tour that follows the rugged and once treacherous Skippers Road. Hacked by hand into the sheer cliff sides of the Shotover River Valley. Navigate this awe-inspiring canyon and visit many historic sites such as the Skippers Suspension Bridge, township of Skippers, and the restored school house - gain a real insight into the local heritage through photos and histories of life in this tough environment.
- Queenstown Rafting Triple Challenge - Shotover
Jet,Helicopter & WhiteWater Rafting
The Ultimate Adventure. Begin with the shotover jet, speed through rocky canyons and experience the Hamilton 360 spins. Climb aboard a helicopter for a spectacular flight into Skippers Canyon. Land at Deep Creek and meet your rafting guide, peaceful waters at first before hearing the roar of the"mother" section.
- Zipline Ecotour
Commence an ecotour on Queenstown's original zipline course and the perfect starter to your adventure experience. Comprised of four ziplines, starting and finishing at the top of the Skyline gondola, the tour is designed to start low and slow and gradually build your confidence as it gets progressively longer, higher and faster. All ages love the interaction this guided aerial tour has to offer.
Image: Tourism New Zealand
Day 16 - Queenstown -
Depart Queenstown and self drive to Franz Josef Glacier.
Fox Glacier to Franz
The Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers are unique relics of the last ice age. Mighty rivers of solid white, tumbling down ice-hewn rock valleys, they are classically beautiful in the glacial sense. Nowhere else in the world have glaciers advanced so close to the sea at this latitude. While in the area, you can choose from a wide range of adventure activities.
Day 17 - Franz
- Heli Hike
Combine an awesome scenic helicopter flight over the glacier with a unique guided walk amongst the ice caves, pinnacles and seracs of this pristine, alpine environment. You'll see the extraordinary colours of the ice-flow from above and then up close, on an unforgettable guided walk.
- Glacier Valley Walk
At the terminal face of Fox Glacier is a cave where the Fox River emerges from the ice and where ice collapses are often heard and seen. Although you will not walk on the glacier, your guide will show you ice that has travelled 13 kilometers from the base of the Southern Alps all the way to the river valley floor and may take you closer to the ice than the unguided public.
Image: New Zealand
Day 18 - Fox Glacier - Greymouth - Christchurch
Franz Josef to
The road from the glaciers is rural, but with a wild streak. The farmland is trying to turn back into forest, and the beauty of the rivers is raw and primeval. Hokitika was first settled in 1860, after the discovery of gold on the west coast. It still has the feel of a frontier town, and there are some lovely old buildings to admire. Greenstone (NZ jade) is the town's treasure these days, watch it being carved. You might also want to investigate the museum and do the historical walk.
Arrive Greymouth no later than 1pm, return rental vehicle and report for the Tranz Alpine train departure at 145pm. Departing through lush beech rain forest, your train then climbs into the Southern Alps, before descending into the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. From your carriage you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland. All carriages include both one way seating and tabled group seating allowing you to experience the amazing views while enjoying the company of other passengers on-board. An open air viewing carriage allows you to get even closer to the stunning scenery and provides many opportunities to photograph your favourite spots. There’s a lot to look forward to! Our train journey sets off from Christchurch - New Zealand's largest city on the South Island. The trip is 223.8 kilometres long and takes just four and a half hours. There are 16 tunnels, and 5 viaducts, the highest being the Staircase standing at 73 metres.
On arrival into Christchurch transfer to your hotel.
Day 19 - Fly
Christchurch to Rotorua
Day 20 -
- Discover Rotorua
Experience Te Puia, a place of Maori culture and a thermal wonderland of impressive geysers and boiling mud pools. Explore Rainbow Springs Nature Park, which showcases native flora and fauna as well as the New Zealand Kiwi. Then see NZ's agricultural industry in action with a sheep shearing display and sheep dog trials at the Agrodome.
- Te Puia Steambox Lunch
Visitors can choose what they want to have cooked for their lunch before heading out on a special guided tour. As they participate in an interactive session, learning how to weave a flower, and tour the carving and weaving schools, their food is placed in a Nga Wha (steam vent) Puapua, which is located in the geothermal area that is the backdrop to the famous Pohutu Geyser. Heading down into the geothermal valley to the mud pools and hot springs, the tour concludes when, after watching their lunch being lifted from the Nga Wha, guests sit and enjoy a steam box picnic lunch on the geyser terrace.
Zorbit - you are safely harnessed inside the Zorb® before being sent rolling head over heels down the straight track. Like an astronaut in training you will have a sense of weightlessness and G-force as you make your way down hill. In the Zydro (Hydro) ride we add water (warm in winter, cool in summer) into the Zorb® so you can slip, slide, or spin (no tumbling) inside as the Zorb® hurtles down the hill.
Your guide will escort you through the ten acre site of where the Lord of the Rings movie set used to be. Your guide will explain all about what was needed to create the Hobbiton set and tell stories about what went on during filming. Check out the Hobbit holes from the film set. After viewing the Bag End, you can pet and feed the hand reared sheep and hand bottle feed lambs.
Image: New Zealand
Day 21 - Rotorua to
Auckland via Waitomo Caves
At 7:45am, join your luxury coach to commence a full day tour from Rotorua to Auckland via Waitomo. Leave Rotorua in the morning and travel through lush farmland, including the intriguing Fitzgerald Glade where the roadside trees arch overhead to form a tunnel of natural greenery. Upon arrival in the small town of Waitomo enjoy a guided tour through the world famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves with their amazing stalactites, stalagmites and other limestone formations. Finish this segment of the tour with a silent boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto - a subterranean cavern lit up by the lights of thousands of tiny glowworms. At the conclusion of the Glowworm Cave tour, take a break at the magnificent Waitomo Caves Visitor Complex. After a stop for lunch, the tour continues on through the beautiful King Country and Waikato regions before arriving in Auckland.
Image: New Zealand
Day 22 -
Before saying farewell to New Zealand, enjoy two days in Auckland - explore or relax. Don't think of Auckland as a city, even though it's New Zealand's largest. Think of it as half urban, half marine - a cosmopolitan experience wrapped up in a fascinating water world and surrounded by over 50 islands.
Explore Auckland at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites (additional cost applies):
- Auckland City Revealed (Half Day)
NZ's largest and busiest city is set on 48 dormant volcanic cones and lies between two harbours: the sparkling Waitemata and the brooding Manukau. The tour begins with a drive up Queen Street, past Auckland University and through Auckland Domain to Ponsonby. Head over the harbour bridge to the North Shore and enjoy a stroll on Narrow Neck Beach in historic Devonport. Re-board the coach for a trip up to the summit of Mt Victoria for stunning panoramic views over Auckland City, then travel back over the harbour bridge to Westhaven Marina. Finish with a visit to Auckland Fish Market before continuing on to the Viaduct Harbour.
- Bush and Beach - Coast and Rainforest
Visit Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, with panoramic views from the sweeping decks extending from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Next, your guides walk you through Auckland’s coastal rainforest to the West Coast Beach with soft black sand, enjoy a kiwi style picnic lunch before moving onto untouched original rainforest with mature 1000 year old Kauri trees, where 70 percent of the world’s native plants are found nowhere else in the world.
- Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise
Board your Explore Group vessel at Viaduct Harbour, Auckland to commence an Auckland Harbour Dinner Cruise. Dine on the Waitemata Harbour, an experience not to be missed in Auckland. Enjoy great sailing and as the sun sets watch the night lights of the cityscape come alive. Sail where the wind takes while enjoying Auckland's city highlights; including sailing under the Harbour Bridge and other well-known landmarks along the harbours edge. The crew's local knowledge will give you the best harbour sailing experience Auckland has to offer. Cruise concludes at approximately 2.5 hours after commencement, back at Viaduct Harbour Auckland.
- Waiheke Island - Wine Tour
All day tour of three vineyards with pickup from and return to Auckland ferry or Waiheke Island accommodation . This tour includes commentated scenic tour of the Island with time to stop for photographs. One vineyard may be replaced with an olive oil visit and tasting
Image: New Zealand
Day 23 - Depart for US
* Starting from pricing is valid for departures until 31 March 2019 for purchase by 31 December 2018. Prices are per person based on double occupancy departures from Los Angeles. Add-on fares are available from other cities. Certain black out dates apply on the accommodation and tour value add offers - check with your Aspire consultant. Seats are limited and may not be available on every flight. Hotels are subject to availability. All prices reflect a discount for purchases made by cash/wire transfer/check, please see terms and conditions for credit card payments. There are no discounts for payment made by credit cards. Cancellation penalties and other restrictions apply.
A passport with extended validity past your travel dates and an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is required to enter Australia; Aspire Down Under can issue your ETA for a processing fee of $25 per person. A copy of the picture page of your passport and payment for your ETA is required at the time of booking.