Discover Australia, New Zealand & Cook Islands Tour

A 15 day trip to Australia, Cook Islands & New Zealand 
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The sweet smell of papaya wafts in the breeze. The sails of the Sydney Opera House glisten in the sun. The islands that speckle Auckland’s surrounding sea are a collection of lush green in the blue water. Explore the southern hemisphere, around the Cook Islands, across to Sydney, Australia, and traversing Auckland, New Zealand.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
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Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Sydney, Auckland, Rarotonga

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: A Warm Welcome

Depart from your home and ready yourself for the serene and stunning beauty of the remote Cook Islands. Far from the hustle and boisterousness of the modern world, the islands are bursting with a thousand years of Polynesian culture and natural South Pacific scenery. A blend of craggy mountains, dense rainforest, and glistening white beaches, this assortment of islands is never less than enchanting. From the moment you ascend into the sky until the moment you land, the islands will be calling you to them and are ready to welcome you to a home you always wanted.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Beneath the Calm

Start your holiday with an orientated cultural circle island tour of the island.  Be enlightened with a qualified tour guide sharing with you the local history and culture of Rarotonga as you journey around the island in an air-conditioned sight-seeing coach.

On your first full day in Rarotonga you may wish to explore exceptional Muri Beach and lagoon. The sand is hot and soft beneath your toes. The shallow water is decorated with bright fish and colorful coral formations. Sit beneath the shade of an umbrella and listen to the gentle water lap against the sand. The coral rises partially above the water as the soft tide pulls the water in and out. The ocean is calm and warm on your skin. The tender scent of salt water fills the air. Four small islets sit close to the outlying reef. Looking back at Rarotonga you can see the outline of the worn volcanic peaks now veiled in lush foliage. And there is no better paradise.

What’s Included: tour, accommodation

Day 3: To the Isle’s Edges

Today is a free day for you to explore the Cook Islands.  We can help you plan whatever you want to do.  Explore the islands in all their splendor, from the rainforests of Rarotonga to the underwater world surrounding the coral.

What’s Included: accommodation

Day 4: Living Culture

With so much culture in and around Rarotonga there is never a shortage of life to experience on the islands. Today you have more free time to discover other sides to the Cook Islands.  You may enjoy a visit to Beachcomber Gallery; a visit is a good way to understand Cook Islands’ past and how it has shaped the locals present and encourages the future. Beachcomber Gallery also happens to be one of the best arts and crafts galleries on the island, showcasing great local jewelry, carvings, pearls, and paintings. The workshop behind the main building houses carvings of black-pearl jewelry and shells. The deep black jewelry glistens in the light, whether one single pearl or a collection of pearls strung together. The center is filled with eclectic art, from paintings filled with local children spilling from the meetinghouse to an inspired whale assembled by other ocean creatures within the whale’s outline. The scent of polished wood and fresh paint is never far away, and the gallery is more than just a place where art is exhibited, it is a representation of a people’s connection to their past and their future.

What’s Included: accommodation

Day 5: The Beat of the Islands

On your last day on the Cook Islands you will have heard the collection of traditional stories that encompass the islands. Marauding tribes, romantic liaisons, maritime adventures, and culture clashes are only some of the legends that adorn the islands’ cultural history, along with that of many of the surrounding island nations. However, the Cook Islands residents are the finest entertainers in the Pacific due to their skill and grace during the call of the drum. The beat of the drum pulses in the air. The drummers wear necklaces of teeth that wrap around their neck. Women wear puka shells and long grass skirts. Their hips sway to the rhythm. The men wear headbands of woven flowers. The legends of the islands are related through body movement and music. The drums continue to beat stories of love and desire. The dancers emote hurt and passion. The music pulsates into the night, the lanterns burn bright in the clear sky, and the dancers stomp their feet. It is easy to see that the traditions of storytelling on the Cook Islands are not just alive, but beating strong.

What’s Included: accommodation

Day 6: On to Down Under

Today you will depart the stunning natural beauty of the Cook Islands and continue over the Pacific to Sydney, Australia. The still water of the islands’ beaches, your toes sinking into the sand, the warm and inviting water wrapping around your ankles will always be only a memory away. Your adventure continues in the cosmopolitan city of Sydney and its scenic surroundings. Thoughts of the Blue Mountains and Bondi Beach urge you forward, along with an opportunity to see the most famous sails in the world, the Sydney Opera House. As the plane descends over the city you can see the white sails shimmering in the sunlight and welcoming you to Australia.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 7: The Harbour City

Today is yours to discover Sydney.  The city is famous for beaches, beautiful weather, friendly people, fabulous food, and, of course, the Opera House. However, Sydney is so much more than just the Opera House and the beaches. The sun glistens off of the water. The Harbour Bridge arches in the sky and frames the Opera House. The Rocks Center is bustling with life; laughter pours from the restaurants, and boutique shops pop with color from clothing to paintings, while Darling Harbour’s vitality encompasses it all. Situated along the water’s edge and still a part of the city’s energetic downtown, Darling Harbour bustles with activities and is an exciting area filled with an assortment of fresco dining options. The variety of restaurants and cafés offers menus that will make your mouth water. From fresh seafood and Malaysian cuisine, to modern Australian fare, every restaurant is unique, and every taste is an experience. The sun sets behind the skyline, the lights of Darling Harbour begin to sparkle in the dusk, and you know that Sydney is about to come alive.

What’s Included: accommodation

Day 8: Sails in Effect

The sails have waited long enough to be explored. On the far end of the harbor you can see them rising into the air, the sun gleaming off of the bright white. The Opera House sits majestically on the Harbour, surrounded on three sides by water. The water quavers beneath the brick esplanade that decorates the Opera House’s private quay. The interior is layered like a gilded oyster, undulating and open over the stage making the acoustics resonate. The scent of freshly polished wood lingers around the seats. You can practically hear the echo of past performances dancing around the walls. It is no wonder the Sydney Opera House is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, and you are standing at its center.

What’s Included: tour, accommodation

Day 9: The Harbor’s Surroundings

Today is a leisure day for you to further explore the city. Consider making your way out of the city’s vibrant hustle and bustle to the incredible Blue Mountains. We offer a variety of different tours so there is bound to be one to suit your travel style.  The dissected plateau keeps its figure projecting from the surrounding plains that make up much of New South Whales and the Jamison Valley. The lush rolling mountains are interposed with the smooth rock formations of the Three Sisters. The coloration and character of the protruding rock changes throughout the day, and even throughout the seasons, as the moving light mixes the hardened clay with the magnificent colors of the shifting sun. The air is filled with the scent of dry wood, hardened earth, and gum leaves. At night the landmark is floodlit giving spectacular, vibrant life against the black background of the night sky.

What’s Included: accommodation

Day 10: A Different Kind of Beach

Today is your last day to explore the treasures of Sydney.  You may want to be the first to greet the sun on Australia’s eastern shores on the famous Bondi Beach, one of Australia's most famous beaches and among the world's most well-known. Bondi, and its locals, are not just beautiful but have even been showcased on television shows such as Bondi Rescue, a reality TV version of Baywatch. Take a walk around the neighborhood as the sun begins to lift over the horizon, the light glistening off of the water. The soft crash of waves on the shore stretches along the beach. The sand begins to glow in the morning light and the streets come alive with locals jogging in the cool sunrise. The warm afternoon brings sunbathers and surfers to the sandy shore. You can hear the sand crunch beneath your feet as you make your way to the water. The ocean is cool and inviting in the hot sun. The smell of salt and sand drift along the shoreline as surfers cut along the pipelines and sunbathers bronze along the sand. The night settles over Bondi Beach and you have found another reason to call this spectacular city home. 

What’s Included: accommodation

Day 11: The Harbour City to the City of Sails

Today you will wave goodbye to the sails of Sydney Harbour, the Opera House almost waving in the breeze. You begin your New Zealand vacation as you pass over the Tasman Sea to the City of Sails: Auckland, New Zealand. Sky Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere, stands high above the skyscrapers helping to define the city’s skyline. Auckland is an amalgam of culture, boasting the largest Polynesian population outside of the islands, and creating a sensational food community. The breeze blows through the streets bringing the sweet scent of the harbors with it. Laughter echoes along Queens Street pouring out of the eclectic cafes and shops. Voices of the famous and loved All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team, can be heard reciting the haka, the traditional Maori war chant, before every game.

Settle into the city of Auckland with the comforts of The Blue Breeze Inn, a modern Chinese restaurant with what they call, “an island breeze.” The shrimp dumplings are juicy and flavorful. The restaurant boasts that its food is filled with regional Chinese flavors but is created from New Zealand’s lush island surroundings. After dinner you can stay a while because the Blue Breeze Inn is also Auckland’s premier Tiki Bar. If coffee is your taste of choice than try the Mr. Lava Lava. Made with Mount Gay Eclipse rum, the sweetness of the rum is combined with the rich bitterness of coffee beans and chocolate, topped off with a shot of espresso. Whether it’s the city’s skyline or the sails from the harbors that line the shores, Auckland has welcomed you in.

What’s Included: transfer, accommodation

Day 12: Sail the Islands

Navigate the surrounding sea of Auckland with a visit to Waiheke Island. The ferry will take you along the shores of the island where the vibrant flora stretches from the water’s shore and over the rolling hills. The island emanates an aroma that is a mixture of ripening grapes, soft soils, and the breeze that wanders in from the sea. The temperate climate, subtle breeze, and drifting sun give the vineyards of the island unique and luscious flavors. On arrival, you will be met by an experienced guide who will give you a taste of the views, culture and history that make up the diverse island of Waiheke.

What’s Included: transfer, tour, accommodation

Day 13: Soaking in Your Surroundings

Auckland’s surroundings are as breathtaking in their landscape as the city itself. Waterfalls, streams, and pools, silver tree ferns and kauri sit at the base of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. The crashing water can be heard through the trails and onto one of the most popular surf beaches in the region, Piha Beach. On this day of leisure you may wish to explore the vast expanse of volcanic black sand is framed by craggy terrain. The water is a cool blue and swallows the black sand leaving behind a swirl of colorfully reflective water. The sand is solid beneath your toes. The water is cold on your skin as the trees dip in the ocean breeze. Watch the waves crash along the shore and splash against the rocky terrain. Not only is it a surfer’s paradise but Piha Beach is a magnificent place to sit and watch the natural wonders of the world just beyond the city.

Another option you may want to try is sailing an authentic America’s Cup yacht. Hoist the mainsail and water lifts into the air splashing around you. Work hard on the grinders, or stand at the helm and help steer the yacht along the coast. Whether visiting Connells Bay Sculpture Park to see the exceptional sculptures that stand along the hills and overlook the bay, meandering along the footpaths to stroll through the ferns, or flying through the sea around Waitemata Harbour, Waiheke Island and Auckland are filled with life, luxury, and welcomed comfort.

What’s Included: accommodation

Day 14: Immersed in Culture

Auckland, like the Cook Islands, and Sydney, is more than its natural beauty, but has also been shaped by its eclectic history, from European settlers to the Maori indigenous tribes. Today is a day of leisure and you may wish to have the incredible experience of Te Hana, a once underprivileged community that was transformed into a Maori cultural epicenter. Te Hana Te Ao Marama showcases an amazing variety of Maori cultural attractions including performances and guided tours through the 17th Century Maori Village. The Maori performers wear decorative dress that drapes across their legs and dangle below the knee. Traditional pelts wrap around their shoulders, as the traditional tā moko, the detailed geometric shapes similar to a tattoo, decorates the performers’ faces. Drums pulse through the building. The Maori stomp their feet. The sound resonates in your bones and reverberates like an earthquake. The performers bulge out their eyes, stick out their tongues, and pound their chests. This is the famous haka that the Maori are known for, and once heard will never be forgotten.

What’s Included: accommodation

Day 15: From one Home to Another

Your spectacular holiday comes to an end today as you make your way to the Auckland airport and head for home. However, your time in the Cook Islands, Sydney, and Auckland has shown you that there is more to home than where you hang your hat. The warm clear water of Rarotonoga, the sweeping sails of the Sydney Opera House, and the black sands of Piha Beach are enough to remind you that you can find luxury anywhere, but on this holiday you discovered new culture, quirky wildlife and a laid back lifestyle unique to the South Pacific.

What’s Included: transfer 

To add on to this trip, or customize it further, read the reviews of New Zealand trips on Zicasso.

Price

Starting Price 

$3,745
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.