Highlights of Australia & New Zealand itinerary
Deciding between a holiday to Australia and a holiday to New Zealand is a difficult choice. So why not just do both? At Distant Journeys, we’ve taken all of Australia’s highlights, and all the highlights of New Zealand, and put them together to create the Highlights of Australia and New Zealand tour.
You can look forward to seeing New Zealand’s sparkling lakes, gushing geysers and snow-capped mountains. Not to mention Australia’s spectacular outback, tropical Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, and cosmopolitan cities such as Sydney. And throughout each and every highlight, you’ll be guided by your experienced Distant Journeys Coach Captains and Tour Manager. This comes as standard on all of our Australia and New Zealand tours from the UK.
29-day Highlights of Australia and New Zealand, from only £5,495pp
Please note, the itinerary below refers to our 2019/2020 departures. Please click the departures tab for departure dates and itineraries for 2018/19.
Day 1: Depart UK
Depart from the UK airport most convenient for you with Qantas/Emirates, at no extra cost. Choose from London Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle or Glasgow.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 2: Singapore, 2 nights
Flights from London Heathrow may travel direct to Singapore. All UK regional ﬂights will travel via Dubai. Arrive into the wonderful city of Singapore and transfer to the four star Copthorne Kings Hotel, situated in an enviable position close to the banks of the Singapore River.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Alternative Stopover: Dubai or Bangkok
We have based days 2-4 of this itinerary on a stopover in Singapore. Should you prefer, you may choose to stop in Bangkok or Dubai for the same price. Your stopover includes transfers, daily breakfast and a city sightseeing tour. Flight timings will vary. Please speak with one of our personal travel experts for more details.
Day 3: Singapore
Known as ‘the crossroads of Asia’, Singapore is a city where east meets west; a cosmopolitan melting pot with an inspirational identity. This morning enjoy a tour of this wonderful city. Included is a stop at Merlion Park with impressive views of Marina Bay. See the historic Civic District, Thian Hock Keng Temple and the fabulous orchid gardens set within Singapore’s botanical gardens. Return to the hotel where the rest of our day is free to spend as we please.
Day 4: Depart Singapore
A day at leisure in Singapore until it’s time to leave for our evening ﬂight to Auckland. Perhaps explore the impressive Gardens by the Bay or enjoy high tea at Raﬄes.
Breakfast, in-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 5: Auckland, 2 nights
We change aircraft in Australia (Singapore Airlines passengers will ﬂy direct to Auckland). On arrival into Auckland we meet our local Coach Captain, who will be our driver and guide during our time in New Zealand. Transfer to the Adina Apartment Hotel, Auckland, where we spend our ﬁrst two nights in New Zealand.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included
Day 6: Auckland
This morning, we will take an orientation tour of the city. Known as the ‘City of Sails’, Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous city, with a beautiful waterside setting and a landscape dotted with volcanic hills. We drive along the beautiful coastline of the famous Waitemata Harbour. In the distance see Rangitoto Island, an extinct volcano, dominating the horizon. We continue to the stylish Viaduct Harbour, host to many America’s Cup celebrations. Your afternoon is free to enjoy as you please. Perhaps take a trip to the top of Sky Tower; the panoramic views from the tallest building in the southern hemisphere are truly breath-taking.
Day 7: Rotorua, 2 nights
Departing Auckland this morning we travel to the world-famous thermal region of Rotorua. The next two nights are spent at the four star Distinction Hotel Rotorua, superbly situated close to the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve. Later in the day we enjoy a welcome drink to become better acquainted with our fellow travelling companions.
Day 8: Rotorua
Sightseeing this morning takes us to Te Puia, home to the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, with its spurting geysers and boiling mud pools. Later we visit the Maori Arts and Crafts institute. In the early 1920’s traditional Maori art such as weaving and carving were in danger of extinction. Established in 1926 to protect and preserve this unique art form, today the institute provides a vital role in the teaching of these skills to the next generations. Your afternoon is at leisure to relax. For those that so wish, optional activities include a ﬂoat plane ﬂight over Mount Tarawera, or perhaps an afternoon enjoying the healing properties of the thermal pools at the Polynesian Spa may be more appealing? Rotorua is the heart of New Zealand’s rich Maori culture and this evening, at our hotel, we attend a concert featuring traditional song and dance, including the world famous war dance – The Haka. Also included is a Hangi buﬀet dinner, cooked using traditional Maori methods.
Breakfast and dinner included
Day 9: Christchurch, Overnight
After breakfast, we head to Auckland Airport in plenty of time for our ﬂight to Christchurch. Considered the most English of New Zealand’s cities, today in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, Christchurch is in the midst of an epic rebuild that has completely reconstructed the city centre. We view the key landmarks of the city centre, including the transitional ‘Cardboard Cathedral’ and the Botanic Gardens. We stay overnight at the Distinction Hotel Christchurch, ideally located in the heart of the city.
Day 10: Franz Josef, 2 nights
Today we embark on one of the most stunning drives in New Zealand. Travel through the Canterbury Plains, heading towards the imposing Southern Alps and across Arthur’s Pass. We make the spectacular descent down the western side of the Southern Alps, towards the rocky beaches of the untamed west coast. Our route takes us along striking wild scree-scarred terrain with forests of Crimson Rata and Kahikatea. Pass Lakes Ianthe and Mapourika before entering the Westland National Park. Our next two nights are at the Scenic Franz Josef Hotel.
Day 11: Franz Josef
The Westland National Park has some of the most spectacular scenery in New Zealand and this morning we drive to the Franz Josef Glacier terminal where we will have the opportunity to walk towards the glacier. Weather permitting, we may also take an optional scenic ﬂight (at an additional cost) over the awe-inspiring Alpine region. This afternoon is at your leisure to enjoy.
Day 12: Queenstown, 3 nights
Witness incredible scenery today as we travel through Mount Aspiring National Park, and across the Haast River Bridge on one of the most exciting scenic roads ever built. We journey along the shores of Lakes Hawea and Wanaka as we enter New Zealand’s Central Otago region. Later in the afternoon we arrive at the four star Millennium Hotel in the stunning alpine resort of Queenstown, which will be home for the next three nights.
Day 13: Queenstown Freedom Day
Our day is free to take advantage of the incredible variety of activities available in and around New Zealand’s most glamorous alpine resort. Maybe go horse riding or take a four wheel drive safari over old mining tracks. Thrill-seekers amongst us may wish to try the Shotover Jet – an exhilarating boat ride amongst the crags and boulders of the Shotover River canyon. Wine-lovers may wish to follow Queenstown’s wine trail – an enjoyable afternoon of wine tasting and sightseeing.
Day 14: Milford Sound Cruise
Today we travel to the magniﬁcent Fiordland National Park and to Milford Sound, which will undoubtedly prove to be one of your tour highlights. The scenic drive takes us through a variety of landscapes – farmland, native tussock grasslands, lush beech forests and impressive glacial valleys – before arriving at Milford Sound to begin our cruise. Only when out cruising on Milford Sound can the sheer scale of the dramatic scenery be fully appreciated: towering peaks rise all around and spectacular waterfalls cascade into the calm waters below. Our cruise takes in the impressive Mitre Peak and Bowen Falls. Remember to keep a look out for dolphins as well as seals and penguins.
Day 15: Melbourne, 3 nights
This morning we take a tour to visit the nearby historic mining town of Arrowtown. The heart of its history is Buckingham Street, a procession of small town heritage buildings that stretch into a tree-lined avenue of tiny miners’ cottages. Be sure to try a cream tea in one of the quaint tea rooms. It’s time now to leave New Zealand. We head for Queenstown Airport for our ﬂight to Melbourne, Australia. Upon arrival, we meet our Australian Tour Manager and make our way to the centrally located four star Clarion Suites for the next three nights.
Day 16: Melbourne
We take our ﬁrst look at Melbourne on a sightseeing tour. Sights include Captain Cook’s Cottage (optional entry at own expense), Victoria Markets, Federation Square, the MCG and Rod Laver Arena. We also head out of the city to see the waterside suburbs of St. Kilda and Port Melbourne. In the afternoon, why not take a trip to Phillip Island, home to the world’s largest colony of little penguins, to view the ‘Penguin Parade’?
Day 17: Melbourne Freedom Day
Our ﬁrst Freedom Day in Australia, so we may relax or explore as we please. We have the opportunity to enjoy an optional tour along one of the world’s most spectacular coastal drives, the internationally renowned Great Ocean Road. The full day optional tour begins in Torquay (home to the surﬁng paradise of Bells Beach) and meanders along the dramatic southwest coastline of Victoria to the impressive Twelve Apostles. Alternatively, take the Puﬃng Billy steam train through the Blue Dandenong Ranges. This evening there is the option to enjoy dinner on an historic tramcar.
Day 18: Cairns, 4 nights
This morning we return to the airport in time for our ﬂight to Cairns where the afternoon is free to become acquainted with tropical Queensland. Centrally located in the heart of Cairns, our hotel for the next four nights is the four star DoubleTree by Hilton.
Day 19: Great Barrier Reef
A holiday to Australia would not be complete without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef. Its vibrantly coloured marine life and beautiful coral make this World Heritage site a must see for all visitors. During our full day Great Barrier Reef excursion, we board our high-speed catamaran and journey out to the Marine World platform located on the Outer Reef. Snorkel in the sheltered coral lagoon, or if you prefer to stay dry, view the reef from the semi-submersible reef viewer, glassbottomed boat, or underwater observatory. With ﬁve hours at the reef there is plenty of time to do it all. For the more adventurous, there are a number of activities available at an additional cost, including scuba diving (no experience necessary), joining the marine biologist on a guided snorkel safari, or soaring above the reef on a spectacular scenic helicopter ﬂight.
Breakfast and lunch included
Day 20: Cairns Freedom Day
Although today has been left free you may wish to take an optional trip to Kuranda. Our tour begins with traditional Tjapukai aboriginal culture including authentic music, dance and storytelling by the Tjapukai people. We ascend to Kuranda by the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, a beautiful experience gliding over the rainforest canopy. ‘The village in the rainforest’ Kuranda awaits. It’s a lovely place to while away a few hours visiting the markets, butterﬂy sanctuary or the Koala Gardens. Travel back to Cairns along one of the most unique rail journeys in Australia, the Kuranda Scenic Railway. See how the track clings to the rockface along a narrow coastal strip. During our journey we encounter no fewer than 40 bridges and 15 tunnels as we make our way back to Cairns.
Day 21: Cairns Freedom Day
Another Freedom Day to enjoy in tropical northern Queensland. Surrounded by rainforest and mountains, Cairns boasts over 200 walking tracks; there are also numerous interesting museums and art galleries to explore. If you prefer to venture further aﬁeld, a day trip to the nearby World Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest, the oldest rainforest in the world, is a fascinating experience. The tour gives a wonderful insight into the rainforest’s unique ﬂora and fauna, including a walk with an aboriginal guide and a cruise spotting saltwater crocodiles. Enjoy your day!
Day 22: Alice Springs, 2 nights
This morning we make our way back to Cairns Airport in time for our ﬂight to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory and Australia’s Red Centre. Upon arrival, enjoy a sightseeing tour of the outback’s largest town. Alice Springs was originally established in the 1870’s as a staging post for the overland telegraph line between Darwin and Adelaide. During our sightseeing tour we relive a bygone era at the Old Telegraph Station historic reserve, which faithfully recreates the settlement’s earliest years. Also included is the remarkable Royal Flying Doctor Service and the School of the Air. These unique institutions provide real insight into life in the vast Australian outback. Later in the afternoon we arrive at our hotel, the four star DoubleTree by Hilton.
Breakfast and in-ﬂight drinks included
Day 23: Alice Springs Freedom Day
Our day is free to relax in the outback town of ‘Alice’. You may wish to take an optional hot air balloon ride over the ﬁery red earth. Alternatively a visit to the Western MacDonnell Ranges is an excellent opportunity to get a real picture of life in the outback. The full day excursion takes us through the wondrous and picturesque scenery of Simpson’s Gap and the towering granite walls of Standley Chasm.
Day 24: Uluru (Ayers Rock), Overnight
Leaving Alice, we head west through amazing outback landscapes as we journey along the scenic Lasseter and Stuart Highways and make our way to Uluru. Rising from the ﬂat surrounding scrubland, Uluru is a site of deep cultural signiﬁcance to the Aboriginal communities of the Northern Territory. It is the icon of Australia’s outback, and is also the world’s largest monolith. This afternoon we take a gentle stroll around certain areas of the rock to learn more about its historical and cultural importance. Later, we have the opportunity to witness the changing colours with a glass of sparkling wine, as the sun begins to set. It’s truly a photographer’s delight. Overnight at the four star Desert Gardens Hotel.
Day 25: Sydney, 3 nights
For early risers, a dawn visit to the rock has been arranged. Seeing Uluru at sunrise, from a diﬀerent vantage point and in a diﬀerent light, oﬀers a totally new perspective on the ever changing colours and character of the rock. We return to the hotel in time for breakfast. Afterwards, we visit the impressive series of rounded sandstone domes known as the Olgas. Later this morning we must say a fond farewell to the Red Centre as we board our Jetstar ﬂight to Sydney. Upon arrival we head to the four star North Sydney Harbourview Hotel, overlooking Sydney’s magniﬁcent harbour. Sydney is a city that takes full advantage of its natural setting – its sparkling harbour is host to the world famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and the spectacular Sydney Opera House. Sydney’s suburbs are blessed with lush native bushland and pristine sandy beaches. Add to this the excellent restaurants and cafés, endless shopping opportunities and a vibrant culture and it’s so very easy to understand why Sydney is one of the world’s favourite cities.
Day 26: Sydney
This morning’s sightseeing tour begins with a drive through some of Sydney’s most fashionable inner-city suburbs enroute to Bondi Beach. Travel by Double Bay and Rushcutters Bay as we make our way back to the city centre. Travel via Hyde Park and Parliament House to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair in the Royal Botanical Gardens, where we stop for the classic photo opportunity of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. We complete our tour in the best possible way – enjoying a luncheon cruise around Sydney’s beautiful harbour. The views of the opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the many dream homes nestled along the edge of the water are truly amazing. The afternoon has been left free to spend as we please.
Breakfast and lunch included
Day 27: Sydney Freedom Day
Today has been left free, but for those that so desire, we shall be taking an optional trip to the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains are a perfect example of native Australian bushland, with gum trees, majestic peaks and deep gorges stretching as far as the eye can see. Experience the panoramas from a series of lookouts, including Echo Point – the prime position to view the Three Sisters rock formation. The excursion also visits Wentworth Falls and the pretty village of Leura, famous for their annual garden festivals and playing host to many of the region’s local artists.
Day 28: Depart Sydney
The morning is yours until it’s time to depart for the airport, this afternoon. Our ﬂights to our chosen UK airports operate via Dubai where there will be a change of aircraft.
Breakfast, in-ﬂight meals and drinks included
SPECIAL OFFER, SAVE UP TO £632 PER COUPLE
If you would like to stopover on your way home, we have an amazing offer on a selection of stopovers for you to choose from: Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok or Dubai.
The price is only £29 per person if sharing a twin or double and £58 for single occupancy.
Included are return airport transfers and two nights accommodation in a four or five star hotel with full daily breakfast. See the departure dates and prices for full details, but remember, to take advantage of this special offer, you must book by 30th November 2018. This offer is only available on tours departing after the 1st August 2019.
Should you prefer a relaxing stay on your way home, then as part of our special offer, you may choose Bali for a three night stay at the reduced price of £199 per person in a twin or double and £398 for single occupancy. Again this offer only applies for our Highlights of Australia and New Zealand tours departing after 1st August 2019.
Day 29: Arrive UK
We arrive into our chosen airport (London Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle or Glasgow) bringing to an end our incredible adventure.
In-ﬂight meals and drinks included