Australia, New Zealand
Christchurch, Canterbury, Hokitika, Fox Glacier, Franz Josef Glacier, Tai Poutini National Park, Queenstown, Fiordland, Milford Sound, Arrowtown, Nelson, Abel Tasman...
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Australia and New Zealand have always wooed the intrepid, two vast countries seemingly defined by space and adventure. By combining a unique range of activities, this exhilarating tour ensures you are completely submerged in the natural wonder of the countries. Adrenaline is always complemented by tranquility, with gentle evenings amidst rural charms, and exclusive excursions that continually offer an inspiring angle.
Christchurch – Resting in a Remarkable City
Decimated by an earthquake yet rebuilt with enthusiasm and ingenuity, Christchurch symbolizes the unique beauty of New Zealand. You might expect a downtrodden city, one still struggling with the fault line of fire it sits upon. But you'll find it to be buoyant and energetic, the locals finding creative solutions to rebuilding the streets. There's a remarkable ode to togetherness, one that makes for an intriguing introduction to the country. You'll be greeted at the airport and transferred to a central luxury hotel, where the rest of the day is free to relax. Explore the atmosphere of the city, and get ready for the outdoor adventure that's to come.
Fox Glacier – Through the Patchwork of Pastures and Mountains
An eclectic mix of landscapes provides the starting point as you begin the tour of the South Island. Views of the Southern Alps twinkle in the distance, looming larger as you cut west and occasionally glimpse the golden sand of a deserted beach. Travel past wide stretches of vineyards and then along a remote coastline. Now you see the high Southern Alps and peaks of Mount Cook that spill down into the Tasman Sea, forming a primeval landscape of glaciers, sub-tropical rainforest, lakes, and beaches engulfed by roaring winds.
Traveling along SH6, you head directly through Tai Poutini National Park to your accommodation near Fox Glacier. From here, you walk out to the face of Fox Glacier, then strap on the crampons for a short walk over the ice. A white wilderness tumbles into the green of the rainforest, creating an iconic panorama as the sun begins to fade from the sky. While today is a relatively long day of driving, you travel along what is probably New Zealand's most beautiful road before the intimate experiences with Mother Nature.
Queenstown – Walking Over a Glacier to Ice Caves
Franz Josef Glacier is even more spectacular than its neighbor, a steep terminal face making it inaccessible. You first must fly, a short helicopter ride touching down on the glacier for a two-hour hike between staggering icefalls. With ice axes and crampons, you journey through the ice tunnels, immersing yourself in a world of shimmering white and impossibly-carved formations. A remote feel accompanies the journey, keeping you firmly within the spell of a glacier that starts to stretch out beyond the horizon. Standing amongst the ethereal ice formations is one of the country's most iconic experiences, blending a sense of thrill with the spectacle of rare unseen landscapes. Return to the village for lunch before the afternoon takes you through the mountains, past Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, and to the self-proclaimed adrenaline capital of the world – Queenstown.
Queenstown – The World's First Ever Bungee Jump
Queenstown's bold claim is well justified. This is where A. J. Hackett pioneered the first-ever bungee and his legendary jump from Kawarau Bridge provide the dose of exhilaration for the day. 3, 2, 1... close your eyes and fall through the air. If that sounds a little too extreme, then a series of bungee swings are possible, and there's the slightly less daunting bungee above the town. But while Queenstown quickly raises the heart, it also effortlessly brings you back to the ground. Tucked between the Remarkables Mountain Range and framed by alpine Lake Wakatipu, the town's panoramas always imbue a scent of serenity. A lakeshore path offers pristine reflections of snowy peaks before you take the gondola above the city, arriving at the summit for the unmissable views over a town amidst the mountains. There are also the options of coming back down on a tandem parasailing flight, but after the bungee jump, you'll probably want to stick to the tranquil tones and descend in the gondola. The evening is at your leisure and Queenstown is a real hub for fine dining.
Queenstown – Jet Boat Riding in the World's Adrenalin Capital
Queenstown and the far south is New Zealand at its most naturally primitive and dramatic, the landscapes virtually uninhabited as they cascade into the South Pacific. This is a land untamed; rugged peaks, white wonderlands, mountain passes that become impassable for half the year. A series of alpine rivers cut through this landscape and is a unique way of exploring. Today you travel by jet boat, accelerating through the canyons and turning 360 degrees along remote stretches of water. This is another of Queenstown's inventions and was even visited by Queen Elizabeth II, although she didn't brave the drama of hurtling along the turquoise rivers at breakneck speeds. You spend a third night in Queenstown, another chance to counteract the adrenaline with the luxury of a spa hotel and the gastronomic treats of the town's restaurants.
Fiordland – Serene Cruising Through the Legend of Milford Sound
The Fiordlands are vastly unexplored and unchartered, offering an almost mythical expanse of narrow fjords, shining glaciers, and stark mountains that rise vertically and continue rising. You're quickly surrounded by whitened peaks, traveling past the Mirror Lakes and Hollyford Valley towards the 3,500-ft sheer rock faces of Milford Sound. As mist veils a narrow canyon, you cruise onto the fiord (it was mistakenly called a sound by the first Europeans to see it), sailing along the narrowest of Fiordland's waterways and gazing high to the dramatic rock faces. 1200-ft waterfalls tumble down the cliffs; seals bask on exposed rocks, and the waters spill out into the Tasman Sea. New Zealand's landscape is filled with striking and unique, and it was Milford Sound that was chosen as the country's entrance in the seven wonders of the world contest. Rather than return to shore, you'll spend the night on the boat, a luxurious experience that surrounds you with rugged pinnacles and the lost cacophony of seal calls.
Lake Ohau – Suspension Bridges Amidst New Zealand's Wilderness
Milford Sound is shrouded in early-morning mist, a suspended layer that blocks the views but enhances the mystique. It's almost silent at this time, but the soft rippling of water alerts you to a dolphin pod swimming past. Enjoy breakfast on the boat before the captain takes his time sailing back to port, taking you back along the majestic cliffs of the fjord. Today's destination is Lake Ohau and, as always, you travel in a private vehicle with your guide. En route is Arrowtown and the Pinot Noir vineyards of Central Otago. Cross the Arrowtown river by wandering across five suspension bridges, gazing down at the zigzagging waterway beneath. Then calm it all down with an afternoon of wine tasting and relaxing along the shores of Lake Ohau. So much of New Zealand is remote and untouched. This quiet glacial lake ensures you continue to be enveloped by nature, a feeling complemented by wonderful views from the balcony of your lodge room.
Nelson – Admiring the Iconic Lakes of the South Island
Travel north, beneath the shadow of Mt. Cook and along the exquisite shores of Lake Pukaki. Today's journey connects the paradigms of the South Island, emerging from the dramatic mountains to cross a patchwork of softly rolling fields and the country's sheep farming heartland. It's a relatively long day of travel, a chance to sit back and watch the landscapes roll by the window. You pass a series of lakes and admire the mountain peaks as they descend to the vineyards and the bohemian town of Nelson. Boutique hotels are the town's specialty, providing a quaint base for the next three nights.
Nelson – Whale and Dolphin Watching Tour
Humpback and sperm whales grace the waters of the Tasman, gentle giants that rise to the surface before disappearing into the abyss. Dolphin pods hang around for longer, their fins emerging in unison as they follow boats across the water. Fur seals join the marine abundance, flopping off the rocks and then quickly returning to base whenever an orca swims past. A full-day luxury whale watching tour offers an intimate opportunity to get close to all these marine giants, as the waters are swarming with acrobatic antics and no shortage of charm. Lunch is served on board, usually fresh crayfish with a view over the marine wonders. Nelson is a relaxed town, so even though you're now within an urban landscape, the tranquility of the country dominates the streets.
Nelson – Hiking Through the Wonders of Abel Tasman National Park
Wander through a labyrinthine forest, crossing over volcanic rock formations, and cliff faces that hang above the ocean. Abel Tasman National Park offers sublime hiking trails that come with a destination. There are no roads here, so to access the golden beaches, you must walk through the thick green canopy. When the trees rescind, the waters come in all manner of tropical colors, blurring definitions of blue and green as they await your arrival. Wandering onto the beach, you find absolute solitude, the sand completely hidden by its rugged backdrop. After an afternoon beneath the sun, returning to Nelson isn't that arduous. It's an hour's walk to one of the park's popular beaches where a boat cruise takes you back towards the town and a final night amongst Nelson's funky streets.
Wellington – Panoramas of Vineyards and Across the Cook Straight to Wellington
To many visitors, mainland Marlborough often appears like a dream. There's doesn't seem to be a spec of the landscape that isn't devoted to vineyard cultivation. Thousands of rows of grapes fill the panorama of New Zealand's largest wine-growing region, including the majority of the country's most internationally-recognized names. Enjoy lunch at a boutique winery before a tasting session at two other vineyards, each competing for the mantle of the world's premier Sauvignon Blanc. A narrow strip of water separates the country's two main islands, and you complete your New Zealand journey by crossing Marlborough Sounds and slicing through the Cook Strait to the capital city of Wellington. The Windy City is among the world's most gentle capitals. Despite the line of modern buildings along the harbor, the atmosphere is more of a country village than a bustling hub, making for a final night of repose after the outdoor adventure.
Sydney – Kayaking Under and Then Walking Across Sydney Harbour Bridge
Fly into Sydney and a postcard image greets you from the plane window; Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House dominating the lush Parramatta River. It's hard to find a more iconic image anywhere on the planet and today's exclusive tour offers two distinctive vistas. After being greeted at the airport and checking into your central five-star hotel, you paddle out along the Parramatta, taking a kayak beneath the phenomenal arched frame of Sydney Harbour Bridge. There's a tranquility to the journey, one that juxtaposes the glimmering white opera sails and the city skyscrapers that tower above. After the river view, you enjoy the ultimate aerial view. Slowly you step along the famous curve, climbing along the top of the bridge to vistas that spill out all the way to the ocean. Like the kayaking, there's an exhilaration to the Sydney Harbour Bridge climb, but there's always a calming view that keeps the heart rate down. For the next two nights, you're in the heart of the city, and there're many fine dining options within walking distance of the hotel.
Sydney – Mountain Biking Through the World Heritage Blue Mountains
Layers of soft blue rise above the eucalyptus of the Blue Mountains, a soft tone to contrast the rustic red of the peaks. Sometimes you're in the forest, riding beneath the overhanging branches and smelling the tropical fragrances. At other times, you're above the trees, peddling along the top of canyons to sublime lookout points. Like many of the itinerary's activities, today's mountain biking runs at your pace and to your energy levels. There're countless trails through this World Heritage Site, each a blend of eucalyptus immersion and precipitous mountain pinnacles. Return to Sydney by mid-afternoon before an evening performance at the Sydney Opera House, the famous halls coming alive with an orchestral chorus.
Cairns – A Helicopter Tour Above Australia's Mystical Landscapes
Fly north, and rove along the coast to the great extremes of the Australian landscape. Picture the land Down Under and there's usually a few images that might spring to mind: empty red desert, blue ocean views, thick tropical forests, and vast uninterrupted cattle land. Northeastern Australia blurs all these landscapes, the scorched rock giving way to rolling green hills, then merging into the ancient rainforest that tumbles into the ocean. A 90-minute helicopter tour provides the scenic views, enabling you to easily explore the complete patchwork of the country's landscapes. Gaze one way and the green awning gives way to endless miles of red rock. But look the other and the Great Barrier Reef exudes an air of exoticism and mystique. After the domestic flight from Sydney, you'll head off on the helicopter tour. You'll land just in time for lunch and a free afternoon in the quiet coastal town.
Cairns – Snorkeling or Diving the Great Barrier Reef
After two weeks of excursions, there's a final treat, the last celebration of the region's remarkable natural promise. A catamaran cruises out to the colors of the Great Barrier Reef, taking two hours to reach an undisturbed landscape of the macro and the tropical. Heading beneath the water, there's an immediate impression of radiance, hundreds of hues swirling across the tapestry of corals. Get closer and the tiny creatures always impress, like nudibranch formed from a seemingly infinite palate. But broaden the focus and some of the ocean's larger life floats around, notably sea turtles and rare meter-long fish. The mostly calm waters make this an ideal place for snorkelers, while anyone with a dive qualification can head much deeper beneath the surface.
Cairns – Departure
Today, you depart Australia, getting transferred to the airport after breakfast for the connecting flight to Auckland, and then your cross-continental journey home.
- Travel across the inspiring landscapes of New Zealand and Australia, exploring each of them in a unique and compelling way
- Wander across the ice of Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier, discovering hidden white caves and staggering ice formations
- Test your nerves with the world's first bungee jump and a thrilling jet boat ride in the world's adrenaline capital, Queenstown
- Serenely discover the lakes of the South Island, a tranquil counterpoint to some of the outdoor adventure
- Cruise across Milford Sound, then cruise into the Pacific on a whale and dolphin watching tour
- Hike along the alpine trails of Abel Tasman National Park and mountain bike through the World Heritage Blue Mountains
- Kayak under iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and then climb along the archway of this world-famous landmark
- Blend the adrenaline with the two countries' calmer charms, such as wine tasting in Nelson and a trip to the Opera House
- Helicopter around the northeastern tip of Australia, admiring the collection of thick rainforest, tropical reef, and deserted beaches
- Scuba dive or snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and intimately explore a destination of legend
The landscapes of New Zealand and Australia dance with primitive delight. Canyons rise vertically. towering over canopies of green eucalyptus. Snowy peaks reflect in remote rivers; glaciers stretch out to ice caves before tumbling into the ocean, and mysterious marine worlds are alive with exotic macro life and huge pods of dolphins. These two countries are famed for their untouched realms and exploring it all requires you to do things a little differently. You go far from the road, making journeys that uncover the sublime untouched bounty of Oceana.
Every day offers a different activity, many of which are exclusive opportunities. Walk across glaciers, mountain bike through World Heritage forests, kayak beneath Sydney Harbour Bridge, and take suspension bridges across remote New Zealand valleys. There's the adrenaline-pumping challenge of jet boat riding and bungee jumping, along with the calming tranquility of boat cruises and wine tasting. Take a scenic tour by helicopter, snorkel into the depths of the Great Barrier Reef, and tailor hikes across vast national parks. Over the next two weeks, you cover almost all the thrilling activities from the two countries that are famed for their adventure.
The first portion of the itinerary is spent in New Zealand, weaving a path across the South Island, connecting everywhere from lost lakes to snow-capped peaks, icy expanses to a patchwork of green pastures. You'll see all the iconic stops – such as Milford Sound, Fox Glacier, and Abel Tasman National Park – while always finding another way to explore, like a whale watching safari out of Nelson. Then, you fly to Sydney, where the adrenaline keeps coming, even when you're in the heart of the city. Cairns offers the inspiring final stop, a chance to explore Australia's wilderness both above and below the water. While most days offer outdoor adventure, the speed and length of the activities are usually dictated by you. There's often a range of options, so the day's excursion can be tailored to your day-by-day energy levels.
$3,995 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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