Australia, city and reef. Sunny, sexy and sophisticated, Sydney is the shining star of the southern hemisphere. The white-sailed Sydney Opera House over the waters of Sydney Cove, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are the pride and joy, but there's far more on offer. Discover the harbour, the city's historic enclaves, restaurants and cafes, beaches, museums and art galleries. One thing’s for certain - you’ll run out of time before you run out of things to see and do in Sydney. Cairns is in the center of the tropical north and is the perfect location for exploring the region.
New Zealand’s awesome landscapes, lush forests, amazing wildlife and pleasant climate make it a haven for many outdoor activities, and a great place to unwind. The great advantage of New Zealand is that all of its diverse physical, cultural, and artistic landscapes are so close to each other! Hit the open road and explore the southern Alps, the west coast of the south island before arring in Queenstown. Queenstown offers over 200 attractions from bungy jumping to arts trails and a compact town centre whilst Milford and Doubtful Sounds in Fiordland National Park are a day trip distance. Fly to the north island and continue the self drive adventure from Napier to Rotorua, where you can soak in the healing waters of the geothermal hot springs, indulge in a selection of therapeutic spa and health-massage therapies, or a rejuvenating dip in a mud bath. Rotorua boasts a strong relationship between Maori and European cultures. Finally arrive in Auckland, don't think of it 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.
- Round-trip International Economy airfare from Los Angeles
- Add-on airfares available from other cities
- Domestic Australia & New Zealand flights
- 3 nights at the 5 Star Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney in a Deluxe Darling Harbour View Room
- 3 nights Cairns - Shangri-La
- 8 days car rental in New Zealand
- Private car transfers Sydney, Christchurch & Auckland
- 1 night Christchurch
- 1 night Fox Glacier
- 3 nights Queenstown
- 2 nights Rotorua
- 2 nights Auckland
- ** Sightseeing options and packages are available **
Day 1 - Depart
Ask about our options with Premium Economy and Business class airfare.
Day 2 - Cross
Day 3 - Arrive
Blessed with a temperate climate, Sydney is Australia’s favorite city with the world’s most beautiful harbor. On arrival you will be met by your private chauffeur who will assist with your private transfer to the Shangri La Sydney. You will spend three nights at this superbly situated hotel.
ACCOMMODATION - Shangri La, Sydney- A luxury stay in the heart of The Rocks awaits you at Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney. Within a 20-minute stroll, you'll find popular places like Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House, and Circular Quay. Highlights at this romantic hotel include a full-service spa, a restaurant, and an indoor swimming pool.
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
Day 6 -
Fly Sydney - Cairns
Cairns is the colorful capital of Tropical North Queensland and the major gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. The city is a gateway to an amazing selection of touring options encompassing the Reef, the Outback and the Rainforest. You will stay for 3 nights at the Shangri-La Cairns.
ACCOMMODATION - Shangri-La, Cairns - The hotel is magnificently positioned within the cosmopolitan Pier complex, overlooking the Marlin Marina and the Coral Sea. It is a fresh modern hotel with appealing decor, offering all the creature comforts that well travelled guests anticipate. The spectacular waterfront location is renowned as Cairns’ premier dining precinct, hosting some of Cairns’ most acclaimed restaurants and bars.
& 8 - Cairns
Explore Tropical North Queensland at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites (additional cost applies) :
- Kuranda, Scenic Rail, Skyrail &
Transfer to the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park where you will be greeted by an indigenous guide who will escort you through the park to discover this ancient culture through theatres, stage shows and demonstrations. At 12noon board the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway and glide above the rainforest canopy to Kuranda with stops along the way at Red Peak Station and Barron Falls Station. On arrival there is free time to explore the Village in the Rainforest, and its many attractions, including the Heritage Markets which operates daily, the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary or Kuranda Koala Gardens (own expense). Enjoy lunch at one of the many cafes (own expense). At 3.30pm board the Kuranda Scenic Railway to Cairns, and enjoy spectacular views as the train travels through 15 hand cut tunnels and past spectacular waterfalls. Stop at Barron Gorge to view the falls before arriving at Freshwater Station.
- Half Day Barron River White Water
For an action packed afternoon of fun and adventure, raft your way through the World Heritage Listed rainforest of the stunning Barron Gorge! After being collected from your accommodation, travel to our put-in spot where you will meet your Guide and fellow paddlers and receive a safety briefing before hitting the water. The rapids on the Barron River are grade 2 - 3 which means they're ideal for first timers or anyone wanting a couple of hours of fun. Experience is not necessary, just a sense of adventure!
- Ocean Free Sail to Green Island
Sail to an exclusive mooring on Pinnacle Reef, just 1km offshore from Green Island. This Marine Park Reserve is protected from fishing and has an abundant range of marine life. Enjoy a swim, snorkel, scuba dive (additional cost) or just relax. Transfers to Green Island are available throughout the day, to explore the walking tracks and rainforest - the amount of time spent between the island and the boat is your choice.
- Half Day Horse Riding
Right after your safety lesson your tour will commence through bushland surrounding Blazing Saddles. Wander through the Native Australian rainforest and surrounding trail where you will see spectacular lookouts over Palm Cove, islands and beaches.
Image: Tourism Australia
Day 9 - Fly Cairns to
Christchurch is New Zealand south island's largest city, a vibrant, cosmopolitan place heralded as the 'garden city'. The Avon River winds through the centre of Christchurch and trams clatter across the stone and ironwork bridges. Its Gothic revival cathedral, grey-stone 19th century buildings, tree-lined avenues and extensive leafy parks have preserved the grace and charm of an earlier era. Transfer from airport to accommodation. You will stay one night at the Orari Bed & Breakfast.
ACCOMMODATION - Orari Bed & Breakfast, Christchurch - Luxury boutique B & B accommodation ideally located opposite the Art Gallery and only 5 mins walk to the central city. Featuring 10 beautifully appointed suites, this lovely old heritage house has recently been totally restored and refurbished to its former elegance retaining its original kauri framework, and is now complete with all the modern comforts of home. The rooms are luxurious and spacious and guests have the use of the elegant private lounge and dining room as well as their own private entrance.
Day 10 - Self drive -
Christchurch - Fox Glacier
Collect Rental car and begin self drive.
The route known as Arthur's Pass was first used by Maori tribes crossing to the west coast to find pounamu (jade). Today it's a sophisticated mountain pass, memorable for its scenery as well as its breathtaking civil engineering.The settlement of Arthur's Pass is a base for climbing, hiking, hunting and skiing adventures in the adjacent national park. There's a good choice of short walks.
Arthurs Pass to
The misty mountains of the Southern Alps gradually give way to the classic west coast river and forest scenery, rushing water, impressive bridges and tiny towns. Greymouth has a long gold mining history. It's the largest town on the west coast and is known for its awesome seascapes.
The road between Greymouth and Hokitika provides great views of the wild west coast. Detour to the beach and breathe the salt spray air. Driftwood is the ornamentation of choice for west coast beaches – every shape, size and colour.
Hokitika to Franz
The road to 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. A visit to the White Heron colony near Whataroa is a rare experience. First explored in 1865, the Franz Josef Glacier has been moving forward at a rate of about 1 metre a day since 1985. Previously it was in retreat.
Franz Josef to Fox
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.
ACCOMMODATION - Te Weheka, Fox Glacier - Located within walking distance of the impressive Fox Glacier, Te Weheka Boutique Hotel offers modern, spacious rooms with a balcony, overlooking the lush countryside and are luxuriously furnished. The large bathrooms are supplied with fluffy towels, bathrobes and bathroom amenities.
Day 11 - Fox Glacier -
This morning relax, self explore or consider adding one of our tour options:
- Flying Fox Helihike
The fly-in, fly-out helihike combines the excitement of walking on the Fox Glacier with the thrill of helicopter flights. By flying in you are able to access and explore a part of the glacier where its forces work hardest and often create spectacular ice caves and arches. Equipped with leather boots and other equipment, you board the helicopter for your first flight over the pinnacles of the lower icefall. Here, the ice is in constant motion. Take in views of the dramatic upper icefall and Victoria Falls, which is the melt river of the hidden Victoria glacier, before landing. Your landing site on the ice is a remote and exceptionally beautiful part of the glacier. At this stage, your guide outfits you with crampons, specially designed for these ice conditions and you follow the ice steps cut by your guide as you explore the amazing formations and ice caves which are only seen here
- Fox Trail Terminal Face Walk
This is an informative and leisurely trip to the dynamic face of the glacier. It is here that the Fox River emerges from the ice and where ice collapses are often heard and seen. This trip is for people with limited time or for those who would find the walks onto the glacier too strenuous. Although you will not walk on the glacier your guide will take you to the final resting place of the ice that has travelled 12 kilometres from the base of the Southern Alps, all the way to the river valley floor.
Image: Fox Glacier Guides
Fox Glacier to
Just north of Haast is Lake Moeraki, a peaceful forest lake with good fishing – a 40 minute walk takes you to the penguin colony at Monro Beach. Next is pretty Lake Paringa, where you can enjoy a delicious meal of salmon at the salmon farm.
The settlement of Haast was once a construction camp for the Ministry of Works (the government department responsible for road and bridge building). It’s a town with a touch of the wild west .Lake Hawea is the first scenic highlight of your journey, followed closely by the northern end of Lake Wanaka. The famous ‘bra fence’ is impossible to miss – it started as a joke, but it’s become a local legend. At the wilderness town of Makarora you can fuel up and refresh before you take on the dramatic twists and turns of the Haast Pass. Enjoy waterfalls and river scenery as you arrive in rainforest country.
The shortest route to Wanaka is over the Crown Range Road. It’s a challenging drive, but the views are amazing and you’ll probably encounter friendly keas (mountain parrots). More conservative drivers can take the route that runs beside the Shotover River, Lake Dunstan and the Clutha River. The vineyards of the Gibbston area and bungy jumpers at the Kawarau River Bridge are interesting distractions along the way.
Arrive Queenstown. Queenstown offers over 200 attractions from bungy jumping to arts trails and a compact town centre whilst Milford and Doubtful Sounds in Fiordland National Park are a day trip distance. Stay 3 nights at the Rees Hotel.
ACCOMMODATION - The Rees Hotel and Luxury Apartments Queenstown is the new gateway to the True South. Savor the rich heritage, vibrant culture and diverse attractions of New Zealand’s glorious Queenstown and Southern Lakes District. The absolute lakefront Hotel and Apartments offer a rare blend of luxury Queenstown accommodation, 21st century infrastructure, unique service features with articulate and passionate staff. A fresh expression of the tradition of hospitality established nearly 150 years ago by Queenstown’s pioneering explorer, first settler, farmer, ferryman, builder – and first hotelier William Gilbert Rees.
Days 12 & 13 -
Explore Queenstown at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites:
- 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 14 - Fly Queenstown
Collect Rental car Napier and self drive across the North island via Taupo to Rotorua.
The major entertainment on the road from Napier to Taupo is the fantastic scenery. There’s a bit of everything - rugged hills, beautiful valleys, gentle plains and huge vistas. At Tarawera you can walk to the hot springs, which are above the Waipunga River. You might also want to stop at the Waiarua Falls lookout, to view the twin waterfalls.
The road to Rotorua will keep you entertained with its unusual, volcanic geography. You’ll also drive through large tracts of plantation pine forest. Take a side road to a geothermal park, where you’ll discover geysers, silica terraces and craters of boiling mud. Towards the end of your journey you’ll encounter the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station. Other diversions include Huka Falls and a world-acclaimed golf course.
ACCOMMODATION - The Black Swan Boutique Lakeside Boutique Hotel - Stay two nights at The Black Swan Boutique Lakeside Boutique Hotel. This lodge is beautifully appointed and offers luxury accommodation. Punctuated with old and new varieties of roses, the mature gardens include a swimming pool with sun-lit terraces where guests can choose to unwind and relax. Alternatively, the private jetty enables professional fishing guides to collect guests interested in fishing for rainbow and brown trout, or traditional Maori concerts can be arranged in the gardens. Here, one can catch a trophy sized trout, relax in a natural hot thermal pool, enjoying a glass of fine New Zealand wine, whilst your catch is roasting in the thermal sands of this untouched native wonderland.
Day 15 -
Explore Rotorua at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites:
- 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: Tourism New Zealand
Days 16 -
Rotorua - Auckland
Self Drive north to Auckland.
Rotorua to Waitomo
Your journey to Rotorua will take you through a mixture of farmland, lakeland and forest. You’ll know you’ve arrived in the city of Rotorua when you see (and smell!) the geothermal steam plumes of Whakarewarewa. Rotorua sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire, so there’s evidence of volcanic activity everywhere you look. Explore the geothermal areas and discover the unique culture of New Zealand’s Maori people
Waitomo Caves to
The Waitomo Caves region is famous for its subterranean splendour. Beneath the surface of this ancient limestone region is a series of vast cave systems decorated with stalactites, stalagmites and glow-worms. Some caves open to the public, and are easy to walk through, others require specialised caving equipment.
The Waikato River will accompany you for much of your journey through the green countryside. Places of interest along the way include the wine growing area of Te Kauwhata and the coal mining town ofHuntly. Before you get toHamilton, you’ll notice side roads leading to Waingaro Hot Springs and Raglan, a surf resort on the west coast.
ACCOMMODATION - Hotel De Brett, Auckland - The property is located centrally, in Auckland's fashion precinct of High St. It is a short walk from the restaurants and bars of Viaduct Harbour, the Sky Tower, and the Ferry Building. It is surrounded by art galleries, theatres and the Auckland Art Gallery and is within easy reach of the Auckland Museum and the shopping and restaurants of Parnell and Ponsonby. This iconic building has been stylishly reinterpreted into a 25-room boutique hotel. The famous House Bar has been meticulously restored as Auckland’s premier meeting place. A private drawing room has been created for exclusive use by hotel guests - while a glass roofed atrium and courtyard form the central focal point for guests, diners and locals to mingle.
Day 17 -
Return rental vehicle downtown. Explore Auckland at your leisure or consider adding one of our tour options - Some of our favorites:
- 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: Tourism New Zealand
Day 18 - Depart
Auckland for US
Transfer to airport and nonstop flight from Auckland to Los Angeles.
Note: Peak Season December, January, February pricing - Availability very restricted, package pricing may be higher Dec-Feb period, depending on availability
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.