Odysseys Unlimited Australia and New Zealand

3/15/17
Day 1—Depart the U.S. for Cairns, Australia.

3/16/17
Day 2—In Transit.

3/17/17
DAY 3—Arrive Cairns

We connect with our flights in Sydney or Brisbane, and this afternoon we arrive in Cairns, gateway to Australia’s Far North and the Great Barrier Reef. We transfer to our hotel where tonight we enjoy a briefing and welcome dinner.
Accommodations: Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
Meals: Dinner

3/18/17
DAY 4—Cairns/Kuranda

After an orientation tour of Cairns we board an historic century-old railway for the thrilling 1ó-hour journey through 15 tunnels and dense tropical rainforest, over 40 bridges, past spectacular waterfalls, and over steep ravines to the picturesque mountain village of Kuranda. After time to wander through Kuranda’s shops and markets showcasing Aboriginal handicrafts, we descend via the gondolas of Skyrail, at 4.7 miles one of the world’s longest gondola cableways. Gliding just feet above the rainforest canopy, we enjoy spectacular 360-degree views. Following this unique adventure you have time for lunch on your own before we return to our hotel. We have the remainder of the afternoon at leisure for further independent exploration of Cairns, discovered by famed Englishman Captain James Cook and established during an 1870s gold rush. Stroll the waterfront Esplanade with its popular boardwalk and lagoon.
Dinner tonight is on your own.
Accommodations: Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
Meals: Breakfast

3/19/17
DAY 5—Great Barrier Reef

This morning we board a boat for a day-long excursion to the Great Barrier Reef, a Natural World Heritage Area that runs along the coast of Queensland for more than 1,250 miles – making it the longest living reef in the world. The Great Barrier Reef is a true wonder of nature, with many species of fish and coral, some at depths of just 10 to 15 feet below the surface. We sail to Michaelmas Cay, where we can swim, snorkel, and view the reef from an air-conditioned, semi-submersible vessel. The Cay is a protected seabird sanctuary playing host to migratory seabirds; it ranks as one of the most important nesting sites in the Southern Hemisphere. Please remember that the Great Barrier Reef is a delicate living organism, protected by law. Visitors are asked to avoid touching the coral; not to pick up or touch any reef creatures (for your protection as well as the reef’s); and to keep the water clean. Lunch today is aboard ship; dinner tonight is on your own. Please note: Weather conditions may affect your marine life-viewing experience. On rare occasions, strong winds or severe weather may prevent your visit to the Great Barrier Reef.
Accommodations: Pullman Reef Hotel Casino
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

3/20/17
DAY 6—Cairns/Alice Springs

We enjoy a morning flight to Alice Springs, capital of Australia’s Outback, situated in the country’s center. Upon arrival we visit several highlights of “The Alice,” including the ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps) Hill Monument to soldiers who fought in both World Wars; the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which covers an area greater than the size of Western Europe; and School of the Air, which provides schooling to widely scattered Outback children. Tonight we enjoy a traditional “bush” dinner, relaxing under the stars as an entertainer performs Aussie ballads and points out constellations of the southern sky.
Accommodations: DoubleTree by Hilton
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

3/21/17
DAY 7—Alice Springs

This morning we embark on an Aboriginal “dreamtime” tour, where we learn about this ancient culture in a natural bush setting and meet Walpiri tribes people. Then we explore the Outback, including Simpsons Gap, a prominent waterhole and Aboriginal spiritual site; and Standley Chasm, a natural gap in the sandstone slopes that rise 242 feet on either side. Here at the landmark honoring the first schoolteacher in Alice Springs, we enjoy a picnic together and see the sheer rock walls aglow in reflected sunlight. As we’ll walk on a dirt trail for about 20 minutes to reach the chasm, you’ll want to be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes. We return to our hotel late this afternoon, where the remainder of the day and evening is at leisure. Dinner tonight is on your own.
Accommodations: DoubleTree by Hilton
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

3/22/17
DAY 8—Alice Springs/Ayers Rock (Uluru)

We depart this morning by motorcoach for Ayers Rock (known as Uluru in the local Aboriginal dialect), reaching our hotel early this afternoon. After time to relax and have lunch on our own, we set out for Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is the traditional land of the Anangu Aboriginal peoples. The park also is home to the unusual Olgas rock formations, where we take a walking tour, and Uluru (Ayers Rock). Late today we watch the sun set over this fabled sandstone monolith that rises to a height of 1,114 feet above the flat plain. We return to our hotel where we dine tonight.
Accommodations: Sails in the Desert
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

3/23/17
DAY 9—Ayers Rock (Uluru)/Sydney

This morning we tour the base of fabled Uluru before visiting the Aboriginal Cultural Center here. Midday we fly to Sydney, arriving late afternoon. We transfer to our hotel, where we enjoy dinner together tonight.
Accommodations: Sir Stamford at Circular Quay
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

3/24/17
DAY 10—Sydney

Today we tour Sydney, capital of New South Wales and Australia’s oldest English-inhabited city. First we stop at Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair for great views of the harbor then we drive through Darling Harbour, the city’s commercial center. Next we head to the exclusive suburbs of Double, Rose, and Watson’s bays for more stunning views, this time of the Tasman Sea. We continue on to famed Bondi Beach then return to the city center where we board a catamaran for a sail around Sydney Harbour, enjoying a buffet lunch along with commentary about this magnificent natural waterway. After disembarking we return to our hotel mid-afternoon and have the opportunity to attend a presentation on opals, if we wish (Australia produces some 97% of the world’s opals). Dinner tonight is on your own in this most cosmopolitan of cities, and Sydney has a wonderful selection of restaurants featuring cuisine of all types, from seafood to steak houses; Italian to Indian – and virtually every ethnicity in between.
Accommodations: Sir Stamford at Circular Quay
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

3/25/17
DAY 11—Sydney

This morning we visit Featherdale Wildlife Park, where our guide will take us through the grounds –home to koalas along with kangaroo, dingo, wallaby, and a variety of native birds. From here we head out for a drive along Sydney’s Northern Beaches, a string of 18 stunning playgrounds surrounded by a national park. We stop in the fashionable beachfront suburb of Manly for some free time and lunch on your own before returning to Sydney. After returning to our hotel mid-afternoon the remainder of the day is at leisure. Dinner tonight is on your own.
Accommodations: Sir Stamford at Circular Quay
Meals: Breakfast

3/26/17
DAY 12—Sydney

Today is free for independent exploration of Sydney and lunch on your own. You may wish to visit the Taronga Zoo, accessible by boat from the Circular Quay; tour the Sydney Aquarium, one of the world’s best; climb the Harbour Bridge, a popular activity; or stroll along Macquarie Street, one of Sydney’s most elegant thoroughfares. Tonight we enjoy dinner together in the popular Rocks district at the Waterfront Restaurant, with excellent seafood and a beautiful harbor setting.
Accommodations: Sir Stamford at Circular Quay
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

3/27/17
DAY 13—Sydney/Christchurch, New Zealand

After checking out of our hotel, we embark on a late morning excursion: a tour of Sydney’s iconic Opera House, the country’s premier performing arts venue and home to Opera Australia, Sydney Theater Company, and Sydney Symphony Orchestra, among other groups. Following our tour we have free time for lunch and to further explore Sydney as we wish. This evening we board a flight to English-accented Christchurch, New Zealand’s “Garden City” and the largest city on New Zealand’s South Island; upon arrival very late this evening we transfer to our hotel.
Accommodations: Rydges Christchurch
Meals: Breakfast

3/28/17
DAY 14—Christchurch/Mount Cook National Park

Today’s full day begins with Christchurch – “more English than England” – boasting its own River Avon (with punters) and scores of parks and gardens. Our stops include the Botanic Gardens and “Re:START Mall,” the vibrant city area that rose from the rubble of the 2011 earthquake. Then we board our motorcoach for the journey south to Mount Cook, stopping en route to watch a sheep-shearing demonstration and to see the amazing sheep dogs in action. This evening we reach stunning Mount Cook National Park in the Southern Alps, New Zealand’s great alpine preserve of turquoise lakes and snow-topped mountains (and a UNESCO World Heritage park). Habitat for many species of flowering plants and birds, the park boasts 19 peaks reaching over 9,842 feet and glaciers comprise some 40 percent of its area. We dine together tonight at our hotel.
Accommodations: The Hermitage Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

3/29/17
DAY 15—Mount Cook

This morning’s tour of Mount Cook Village includes a visit to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, which showcases the region and its people, and where we see a 3D planetarium movie about the region. Both educational and entertaining, the center also comprises the Hillary Gallery commemorating Sir Edmund’s achievements, including the first ascent of Mount Cook’s difficult South face – where he trained for his monumental summiting of Mount Everest. At 12,316 feet, Mount Cook (Aoraki in native Maori) stands as New Zealand’s highest peak. After time for lunch on your own, we return to our hotel in the heart of the national park where the afternoon is at leisure for independent exploration in this breathtaking swath of nature; optional activities include hiking and scenic flights (approximately $500NZD at time of printing). Dinner is at our hotel tonight.
Accommodations: The Hermitage Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

3/30/17
DAY 16—Mount Cook/Queenstown

This morning we continue on to Queenstown, stopping along the way in historic Arrowtown after a visit to the famed Kawarau Bridge Bungy, the world’s first bungy operation open to the public. Late afternoon we reach Queenstown, New Zealand’s “adventure capital” blessed with a supremely scenic location nestled between the jagged Remarkables mountains and glacial Lake Wakatipu. Lunch is on your own today. Tonight we enjoy dinner together at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel St. Moritz Queenstown
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

3/31/17
DAY 17—Milford Sound

Early today we leave Queenstown by motorcoach as we embark on a full-day excursion through stunning alpine scenery to Fjordland National Park and Milford Sound, described by Rudyard Kipling as the “eighth wonder of the world.” It is, quite simply, glorious. Formed by giant glaciers that receded long ago, glassine Milford Sound boasts vertical cliffs that rise thousands of feet from the sea. Milford Sound is also massive: it measures 10 miles long and 1ó miles wide at its broadest point. We admire this spectacle of nature on a 2ó-hour nature cruise past cascading waterfalls, rainforest, sheer rock walls, and such landmarks as 5,560-foot Mitre Peak, which dominates the pristine waterway. We enjoy lunch on board then later have the opportunity to return to Queenstown on an optional scenic flight (weather permitting and at additional cost). Those not wishing to take the scenic flight (approximately $375NZD at time of printing) will return to Queenstown by motorcoach later this evening. Dinner tonight is on your own in Queenstown. Please note that while this will be a long day – Milford Sound is a four- to five-hour coach ride each way from Queenstown – the beauty of the scenery both along the way and at Milford Sound itself make it well worth the journey.
Accommodations: Hotel St. Moritz Queenstown
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

4/1/17
DAY 18—Queenstown

Today is free to enjoy Queenstown as you wish. From bungy-jumping, river rafting, and kayaking to wineries, art galleries, and arts trails, activities abound (at additional expense). Your tour director will be happy to help you plan your time; lunch and dinner are on your own.
Accommodations: Hotel St. Moritz Queenstown
Meals: Breakfast

4/2/17
DAY 19—Queenstown/Rotorua

We depart today for the flight to Rotorua (via Christchurch or Wellington) spiritual home of New Zealand’s native Maori people and also home to dramatic geysers, bubbling mud pools, and thermal hot springs. After reaching Rotorua, late this afternoon we visit the Te Puia Thermal Reserve and Maori Cultural Center for a traditional hangi dinner and performance. A time-honored Maori cooking technique, hangi involves covering food in an earthen pit filled with hot rocks, allowing it to steam and cook in its own juices.
Accommodations: Regent of Rotorua
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

4/3/17
DAY 20—Rotorua

This morning we embark on a tour featuring the government gardens and the acclaimed Rotorua Museum of Art & History. Located in the historic Bath House, the museum showcases the region’s cultural and geological heritage. You have the afternoon free for lunch on your own and independent exploration. You’ll find a host of activities available, from bathing in the thermal hot springs to zip-lining over a native forest. Dinner tonight is on your own; our hotel is centrally located and dining options abound.
Accommodations: Regent of Rotorua
Meals: Breakfast

4/4/17
DAY 21—Rotorua/Auckland

Our full-day journey to Auckland begins with a stop this morning at Ruakuri Caves, where we enjoy a guided subterranean experience of elaborate limestone formations, hidden waterfalls, underground rivers, sacred Maori sites, and unique glowworms that illuminate the caves. Our tour begins with a spiral descent from ground level via an incredible drum entrance and walkway then continues through the underground grotto for one mile. Following our tour, we resume the journey to Auckland, arriving late afternoon in the “City of Sails,” New Zealand’s largest city. We’re on our own for dinner tonight in this multicultural city known especially for its world-class Pacific Rim cuisine and wines.
Accommodations: Stamford Plaza
Meals: Breakfast

4/5/17
DAY 22—Auckland

Our half-day panoramic tour of this city set atop 48 volcanic hills features Auckland Harbour. Built in 1959, the harbor’s iconic bridge spans three quarters of a mile and stands 15 stories above the water. “Clip-on” lanes doubled the bridge’s capacity in 1969 and currently an average of 165,000 commuters cross it (or bungy jump from it) daily. We also visit the Auckland Museum, founded in 1852 and moved to the location constructed on this site in 1929 as New Zealand’s first museum, with its prized Maori and Pacific Islander collections. Tonight we celebrate our journey at a farewell dinner at our hotel.
Accommodations: Stamford Plaza
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner

4/6/17
DAY 23—Depart for U.S.

Very early this morning we transfer to the Auckland airport for the flight to Los Angeles (via Sydney), where we connect with our return flights home.
Meals: Breakfast