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Australia & New Zealand: Two Worlds of Wonder

Connections: Authentic travel at a great value

Itinerary

Day 1: ARRIVE IN MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Arrive in Melbourne, and gather tonight for a cocktail reception and welcome dinner.

Grand Hyatt   |   Meals: D
Day 2: MELBOURNE / FARMLIFE, FLORA & FAUNA

Explore Melbourne today, viewing St. Paul’s Cathedral and the postcard-worthy Royal Botanic Gardens. Then, travel to the Thomson family farm to learn about sheep-shearing, one of Australia’s most important industries. Get to know your hosts at the woolshed, meeting Fergie the farm dog and learning about life on the land in rural Australia while sipping a cup of piping hot tea. Continue to the stockyards to watch dogs herd a “mob” of sheep, and witness an expert shearing demonstration. Sit down to a lunch showcasing local produce and wine at a nearby organic farm, followed by a tour the property. Take in the native flora and fauna, while keeping watch for kangaroos. Return to Melbourne, where you enjoy dinner at leisure.

Grand Hyatt   |   Meals: B L

Day 3: THE OUTBACK / Uluru (Ayers Rock)

Fly via Alice Springs to Uluru for a night in the heart of the Outback. Gaze in wonder at fabled Uluru, its surface alive with the colors of the setting sun, to perhaps form your own Spiritual Connection. Enjoy sparkling wine and canapés, followed by an authentic Australian barbecue. Then let an expert lead you on a tour of southern stars.

Desert Gardens Hotel   |   Meals: B D
Day 4: THE OUTBACK / Aboriginal Legends

Take a guided walk around Uluru and hear some of the legends that feature the monolith. Meet your indigenous guide and learn how the traditional owners of the land survived in the arid Outback. Afterward, fly to Cairns and transfer to your hotel for dinner with your fellow guests.

Shangri-La Cairns   |   Meals: B D
Day 5: DAINTREE RAINFOREST / Tribal Paths

Head north toward Daintree Rainforest. Joined by a local indigenous guide, follow forest paths trod for centuries by the Kuku Yalanji people, who have generously granted us access to their tribal lands. Cruise Daintree River to sight wildlife with an expert guide, keeping a lookout for “salties” — Australia’s infamous saltwater crocodiles. Explore Daintree township, and then spend the afternoon at leisure.

Shangri-La Cairns   |   Meals: B L
Day 6: GREAT BARRIER REEF / The Spectacular Sea

Today, board an air-conditioned catamaran to Moore Reef via Fitzroy Island, and then transfer to a pontoon for a relaxing afternoon cruise of the Great Barrier Reef that includes a seafood buffet lunch, a marine life touch tank and opportunities to snorkel, swim and enjoy presentations by reef naturalists at an underwater theater.

Shangri-La Cairns   |   Meals: B L
Day 7: SYDNEY / The True Blue City

Bid farewell to the Coral Sea and the tropics as you take off for Sydney late this morning, arriving in the afternoon. Check into your hotel, which is within walking distance of shopping, parks and museums. Tonight, enjoy dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney   |   Meals: B D
Day 8: SYDNEY / The Harbourside

One of Australia’s iconic sights takes center stage today when you visit the Sydney Opera House on a personally guided tour. Go behind the scenes at a venue the UNESCO World Heritage Committee has called “one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity.”

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney   |   Meals: B L
Day 9: SYDNEY / Sydney at Leisure

Spend today exploring on your own. Then board a cruiser on Sydney Harbour to view some of this great city’s landmarks, including Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and Luna Park, enjoying dinner on board.

Four Seasons Hotel Sydney   |   Meals: B D
Day 10: ARRIVE IN NEW ZEALAND / Majestic Queenstown

Fly to Queenstown, New Zealand, and transfer to your hotel. This evening, rendezvous with fellow guests for dinner at your hotel.

Crowne Plaza Queenstown   |   Meals: B D
Day 11: MILFORD SOUND / New Zealand’s Scenic Wonders

Marvel at clear alpine lakes, lupine-fringed meadows and pristine waterfalls on an exhilarating day trip. After tea at Te Anau, drive through snow-covered peaks and verdant rainforest to embark on a lunch cruise of awe-inspiring Milford Sound. Set in a glacier-carved fjord, it boasts deep blue waters, cascading waterfalls and rare wildlife.

Crowne Plaza Queenstown   |   Meals: B L
Day 12: QUEENS TOWN / Fine Wines & Gold Mines

Enjoy a wine cave tour at Gibbston Valley Winery, renowned for its Pinot Noirs. Visit the Kawarau Bridge made famous by bungy jumpers, and then explore the historic Arrowtown gold-mining settlement. Ride the Skyline Gondola to Bob’s Peak for vistas of Lake Wakatipu.

Crowne Plaza Queenstown   |   Meals: B
Day 13: ROTORUA / The Cultural Heartland

Fly to Rotorua, where you stroll Government Gardens and visit Rainbow Springs. Tour the national carving and weaving schools, and then view bubbling mud pools and steaming geysers. Experience an authentic Maori welcome ceremony and kapa haka (performing arts) concert and savor a traditional Maori Hangi feast, for a memorable New Zealand Culinary Connection.

Meet New Zealand’s endangered national emblem at Kiwi Encounter, an organization supported by A&K Philanthropy.

Novotel Lakeside Rotorua   |   Meals: B D
Day 14: HOBBITON & AUCKLAND / Journey to Middle Earth

Journey to Matamata to experience the real Middle Earth on a tour of the Hobbiton movie set, and learn how the Hobbit holes, Green Dragon Inn and other structures in The Shire were created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. Enjoy lunch and then continue to your hotel in Auckland.

Crowne Plaza Auckland   |   Meals: B L
Day 15: AUCKLAND / America’s Cup Experience

View a world-renowned collection of Polynesian artifacts, including a sleek, 82-foot-long Maori war canoe. Later, join the crew of an actual America’s Cup yacht for an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime. Take the helm, man the grinders or simply sit back and enjoy the action, as you ply the waters of beautiful Waitemata Harbour. Later, dine on regional cuisine.

Crowne Plaza Auckland   |   Meals: B D
Day 16: DEPART AUCKLAND

After breakfast, transfer to the airport and depart.

Meals: B
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