SYDNEY, GREAT BARRIER REEF, CAIRNS, MELBOURNE, QUEENSTOWN, MILFORD SOUND, AUCKLAND, AND DUNEDIN
Switch hemispheres and experience all the thrills of a “down under” adventure. You’ll immerse yourself in contemporary cities and indigenous cultures, natural wonders and feats of modern architecture. Our escorted tour first whisks you off to New Zealand, where you’ll hit the urban gems of Auckland and Dunedin with stops along the way for waterfront towns and an overnight stay on a working farm in the Fairlie. From there, you’ll fly across the Tasman Sea to Australia. Here, you’ll explore the gardens and history of Melbourne, traverse the Great Barrier Reef—one of the seven natural wonders of the world—and see the famed sites of Sydney, including its iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
For COVID-19 updates, please scroll down to our Before You Depart section.
Did you know that you can make this tour private? Find out about pricing and options for groups of 10 or more travelers.
- 2 nights in Auckland
- 3 nights in Queenstown
- 2 nights in Dunedin
- 1 night in Fairlie
- 2 nights in Melbourne
- 3 nights in Cairns
- 3 nights in Sydney
- Round-trip international airfare from Los Angeles
- Airfare taxes, fees & fuel surcharges
- All intra-South Pacific flights, ground transportation and transfers
- Accommodations at deluxe and superior first-class hotels
- One night accommodation on a New Zealand Farm with dinner (D)
- Full buffet American breakfast daily (B)
- A welcome dinner in Auckland (D)
- A farewell dinner in Sydney (D)
- Sightseeing tours including admission fees as indicated in itinerary
- English-speaking local guides
Click the Day by Day itinerary above (or swipe on mobile devices) to see the experiences that await on each day of your tour.
Day 1: Depart from the U.S.
Your fascinating “Down Under” adventure begins today as you board your flight on the award-winning Qantas Airways. Airfare from the U.S. is included.
Day 2: En route
Cross the International Dateline and “lose” one day along the way. Don’t worry—you’ll “regain” it when you fly from Australia back to the U.S. at the end of your journey!
Day 3: Arrive in Auckland (New Zealand)
Touch down in the lively harbor city of Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island. You’ll be greeted at the airport and escorted to your upscale city-center hotel where you’ll join your tour director for a welcome drink and a brief orientation walk.
Crowne Plaza Hotel or similar
Day 4: Auckland
Discover this coastal gem’s maritime heritage and indigenous people. Join your guide for a drive via Parnell Village to Mission Bay, a seaside suburb boasting a picturesque waterfront. Then journey to Bastion Point for spectacular views of the harbor—one of two that helped earn Auckland its “City of Sails” moniker. You’ll also visit the Auckland Museum, where you can learn about the native culture of the Maori—Eastern Polynesians that arrived in New Zealand over 1,000 years ago and still account for 14% of the population. One of the day’s highlights? You get to take in a traditional Maori performance. Then spend the afternoon at leisure, pursuing your interests. When evening falls, we invite you to join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner.
| Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5: Auckland/Queenstown
Time to go island-hopping—flying to South Island’s Queenstown, New Zealand’s lakeside resort destination surrounded by the Southern Alps. In the afternoon, you’ll accompany your tour director on a stroll through this charming town from your postcard-worthy hotel nestled near the shore of picturesque Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s third-largest lake.
Millennium Hotel Queenstown or similar | Breakfast
Day 6: Milford Sound Excursion
Today’s outing takes you to one of the most scenic spots in the world. First, you’ll take a drive along Lake Wakatipu to witness more of its dramatic lightning bolt shape. Then you’ll voyage through dense forests and past shimmering Lake Te Anau—New Zealand’s largest southern glacial lake. Watch out your window for Fiordland National Park and the Homer Tunnel—a 1.2 km passageway through solid rock that was built over 19 years. When you arrive at Milford Sound, it’s all aboard for an unforgettable cruise through towering fjords and alongside majestic waterfalls. After filling your camera’s memory card, you’ll return to Queenstown in the early evening.
Day 7: Queenstown
Experience a day on the town your own way—and at your own pace. Looking for something to do that’s a little farther afield? You could always visit the famous Walter Peak Sheep Station located on the opposite bank of Lake Wakatipu. Here, you can join a farmyard tour, catch a sheep shearing demo, help feed the farm’s wooly residents and watch professional sheep dogs hard at work.
Day 8: Queenstown/Arrowtown/Dunedin
After breakfast, you’ll say goodbye to Queenstown to travel to nearby Arrowtown. This former gold rush village blends history and nature in perfect harmony. Take time to admire the well-preserved buildings and walk through the leafy streets while you learn about Arrowtown’s rich past. As you proceed on your journey, countryside vistas unfold on your way to Kawarau Gorge (hint: watch for bungee jumpers). Then you’ll arrive at the top of the Otago Peninsula at Dunedin, a vibrant town with an impressive architectural heritage and wealth of diverse attractions, where you’ll check-in to your hotel room.
Scenic Hotel Southern Cross or similar | Breakfast
Day 9: Dunedin
This morning, you’ll set out on an orientation tour of the city. In its center, Dunedin is truly a city of Spires with towers, gables and turrets plus solid, gracious stone buildings, all earning Dunedin the title of the most Victorian City of New Zealand. You’ll also enjoy a guided visit to Olveston House, a 35-room mansion built between 1904 and 1906 for David Theomin as an “English country house in the city.” In 1966, the last surviving member of the Theomin family gifted the home to the city so visitors could explore this life-sized time capsule, still filled with art, antiques and furniture from around the world. The balance of the day is at leisure to experience at your own pace or join an optional tour.
Day 10: Dunedin/Mt. Cook Region/Fairlie
After breakfast, depart Dunedin and drive to the spectacular Mount Cook region, known as the gateway to the imposing Southern Alps. From there, we’ll proceed to Fairlie, a thriving farming region in the heart of the sheep grazing pastures of the Canterbury Plains—where more than 80% of New Zealand’s grains and crops are grown. Here you’ll enjoy the ultimate local experience, spending the evening on a working farm where your hosts invite you for a delicious home-cooked dinner and conversation. This is certain to be one of the highlights of your trip!
Farm Stay | Breakfast, Dinner
Day 11: Depart New Zealand for Melbourne (Australia)
Following a hearty breakfast with your host family on the farm, you’ll proceed to the airport and board a flight across the Tasman Sea to Melbourne, Australia. As Victoria’s stately capital, Melbourne is renowned for its vibrant culture, spacious parks and beautiful gardens. Relax on the airport transfer to your hotel, ideally located in the heart of this capital city.
Clarion Suites Gateway or similar | Breakfast
Day 12: Melbourne
On an included morning tour, you’ll visit the 150-year-old Fitzroy Gardens that showcase a fine collection of fountains, statues and memorials—as well as Captain Cook’s circa-1755 family home. You’ll also see the City Square, the Victorian Art Center and the old Parliament House. The balance of the day is dedicated to independent exploration. We recommend the optional excursion to Phillip Island to watch the fairy penguin parade.
Day 13: Melbourne/Cairns
Today, you’ll board a northbound flight to tropical Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef—one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Here you’ll check into your hotel, where we encourage you to relax and enjoy the swimming pool—you’re in paradise after all!
Pacific Hotel Cairns or similar | Breakfast
Day 14: Great Barrier Reef Excursion
Your journey begins the moment you board a high-speed catamaran for Green Island, an unspoiled 6,000-year-old coral cay located in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. With its unique reef and rainforest environment, this 37-acre island provides a superior tropical experience. In fact, Green Island is the only coral cay on the Great Barrier Reef with a rainforest growing on it! This is home to 126 native plant species, colorful bird life and over 1,500 different species of tropical fish. Enjoy a self-guided Eco Island walk, take a ride in a glass-bottom boat to view the magnificent coral of the inner reef, or relax on the white coral sand beaches. There are many other optional activities offered on the island to enjoy as well. After your Great Barrier Reef adventure, you’ll return to Cairns in the afternoon.
Day 15: Cairns
Spend the day at your leisure right here in tropical Cairns. Or you may choose to take an optional tour aboard a scenic skyrail to the aboriginal village of Kuranda, where you can immerse yourself in the culture or get up close with the local wildlife.
Day 16: Cairns/Sydney
Today, you’ll depart tropical Cairns for Australia’s oldest and most iconic city. Settle into your elegant hotel, ideally located in the city center near the scenic Sydney Harbour, the renowned Opera House that attracts over 8.2 million visitors annually and the enchanting Botanical Gardens. Later, join your tour director for an orientation walk to put your finger on the beating pulse of the city.
Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour or similar | Breakfast
Day 17: Sydney
See the many sides of Sydney on a guided tour that hits the architectural highlights, including the Harbour Bridge and celebrated Opera House, as well as the city’s natural treasures, such as the Botanical Gardens, historic Rocks area and Bondi Beach—one of the world’s most popular shorelines and a haven for surfers. After the tour, you’re on your own to see your favorite sights in greater depth or set your own course.
Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour or similar | Breakfast
Day 18: Sydney
Because there’s just so much to see and do in Sydney, we’re giving you the full day to explore on your own. One suggestion is an optional tour to the Australian Wildlife Park, where you can hand-feed a kangaroo and cuddle a friendly koala! Music and architectural lovers may want to consider an optional behind-the-scenes tour of the Sydney Opera House. Or you can simply stroll along the waterfront towards the Rocks area to get in touch with nature. This evening, enjoy a festive farewell dinner in the heart of Sydney with your group.
| Breakfast, Dinner
Day 19: Sydney/USA
Today, bid farewell to “Down Under” and board your return flight. Cross the International Dateline and regain the day “lost” in the beginning of the trip. Your magical Australia tour packages end as you arrive Los Angeles the same day.
We are working diligently to secure future tour dates and pricing for this itinerary. Please fill out the "Request a Future Date" form linked below and we will notify you once dates are available.
Optional Tours Customize your trip with these optional tours.
Enhance your trip with our recommended optional tours. Indicated optional tours are available to pre-book when you reserve your trip and can be added to your reservation up to final payment. This is the best option to guarantee your spot on your preferred optional tour! Optional tours require a minimum number of participants. Optional tours are non-refundable unless they do not operate.
Some optional tours can be purchased in-destination and may cost extra. The payment methods and currency information to purchase tours in-destination will be provided on final documentation.
Queenstown by Night with Skyline Dinner Tour
- From approx. $68 Per Person, dinner included
You’ll travel by gondola (cable car) to the top of Bob’s Peak, overlooking Queenstown. Here, you’ll indulge in a lavish buffet dinner at the Skyline Restaurant while savoring the wonderful views of the town, the lake and the surrounding mountains.
Walter Peak Farm Tour and Cruise
- From approx. $64 Per Person
Board the vintage steamship TSS Earnslaw for an afternoon cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Farm, where you’ll enjoy afternoon tea, stroll around the beautiful lakeside gardens, and see farm animals and work demonstrations before steaming back to Queenstown later in the afternoon.
Cruise on TSS Earnslaw and Dinner
- From approx. $96 Per Person, dinner included
All aboard the vintage TSS Earnslaw steamship for a voyage back in time across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Farm. After docking, proceed to one of the elegant dining rooms at the Colonel’s Homestead Restaurant overlooking the picturesque Beach Bay. You’ll be treated to a feast of authentic New Zealand country cooking before sailing back to Queenstown later in the evening.
Skippers Canyon Four-Wheel Drive Safari
- From approx. $145 Per Person, refreshments included
Visitors to the Queenstown area never fail to be amazed by the unusual landscape of Skippers Canyon. Following the Shotover River valley, the Skippers Road was hacked by hand through solid rock, and clings to sheer cliff sides with breathtaking drops to the river gorge below. You’ll take every hairpin turn along this route and across the spectacular Skippers suspension bridge built in 1900, to the old township of Skippers. This tour delivers magnificent mountain scenery, rugged canyons, gold panning to gain a taste of New Zealand’s pioneer mining history and the excitement of commanding a four-wheel vehicle in a safe environment.
Tour of Otago Peninsula, Larnach Castle & Wildlife Cruise
- From approx. $105 Per Person
Embark on a guided afternoon excursion to the scenic Otago Peninsula. From Dunedin, you’ll take the spectacular “High Road,” offering amazing views of both the Pacific Ocean and Otago Harbor. When you arrive at Larnach Castle, you’ll travel back in time on a guided tour of New Zealand’s only castle, built in 1871. Learn the scandalous and tragic history of the Castle and why William Larnach took his own life. See the magnificent carved ceilings, antiques and craftsmanship. You’ll have an opportunity to take photos of the Castle and gardens before continuing to Wellers Rock, where you’ll embark on a one-hour wildlife cruise. Witness the diversity and abundance of wildlife on spectacular Taiaroa Head, the world’s only mainland nesting place for the northern Royal Albatross. The region is also home to fur seals, dolphins, sea lions, an array of rarely seen ocean birds and marine mammals in their natural environment. Following the cruise, you’ll return to your Dunedin hotel late in the afternoon.
Phillip Island and Fairy Penguins Express
- From approx. $120 Per Person
Depart your hotel this afternoon and travel to Phillip Island, which boasts the world’s largest reserve of fairy penguins. Every evening at sunset, these fairy penguins come home from a long day of fishing at sea to their burrows in the sand dunes. It is a nightly ritual that will enthrall you as you observe this waddling “parade” of 13-inch-tall flightless birds from an elevated boardwalk. After this adorable penguin procession, you’ll return to the hotel in the late evening.
Michaelmas Cay (Great Barrier Reef) Upgrade
- From approx. $99 Per Person, lunch and tea included
Your smarTours program includes a cruise to Green Island on the inner Great Barrier Reef. This optional tour allows you to upgrade to sail aboard a 32-meter luxury catamaran to picturesque Michaelmas Cay for snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef and an experience you’ll never forget. Michaelmas Cay is an isolated sand island surrounded by magical coral gardens pulsating with marine life. There is also plenty to do while staying dry! Explore the Cay and discover the bird life (it’s a sanctuary for over 20,000 seabirds), hop into the semi-submersible and tour the underwater world with a Marine Biologist or just relax on the beach or decks of the catamaran. A delicious hot and cold buffet lunch, morning and afternoon tea, and snorkeling equipment included.
Full-Day Kuranda Village and Scenic SkyRail Excursion
- From approx. $140 Per Person, lunch and tea included
Begin this fascinating day filled with authentic Australian experiences with a scenic drive to Rainforest Station Nature Park, where you’ll learn about the flora and fauna of the rainforest on a guided ride aboard an original amphibious army duck. You’ll also immerse yourself in the Aboriginal culture as you attend a vibrant performance of native Pamagirri Dancers and join a Dreamtime walk for insights into this unique culture. You’ll have the opportunity to try your hand at boomerang and spear throwing. Travel to the nearby quaint village of Kuranda, famous for its elaborate craft markets, where you’ll have some free time to browse and buy on your own. In the afternoon, you’ll depart Kuranda for a thrilling ride aboard the SkyRail, the world’s longest cable car. Marvel at the scene as you travel across the rainforest canopy, stopping at an interpretive center for a visit and a short stroll before reaching the final station, where you’ll board the coach and travel back to your hotel.
Harbor Story Cruise
- From approx. $40 Per Person
Depart from Circular Quay on a leisurely cruise through the magnificent Sydney Harbor. You’ll gain a new from-the-water perspective of the Opera House, the city’s skyline and the Harbour Bridge, all while listening to interesting commentary and enjoying complimentary coffee. This cruise is available in the morning (10am, except on Sunday) or afternoon (2:15pm). Please note that transfers to and from pier are not included.
Rocks Guided Walking Tour
- From approx. $25 Per Person
This guided walking tour brings the history of Sydney’s convict settlement to life with entertaining stories of Rascals, Rats and Restoration. Your expert Rocks guide will lead you through the fascinating area and show you some of the earliest buildings, including homes of the “well-to-do” and the quaint cottages of the working class. You’ll also see historic pubs, once frequented by locals and sailors alike. Guided walks start at 10:30am, 1:30pm and 2:30pm from a central point in the Rocks area and last about 1.5 hours. Please note that transfers from and to your hotel are not included.
Australian Wildlife Park
- From approx. $70 Per Person
Depart Sydney this morning via the scenic Harbour Bridge and head west of the city to Featherdale Wildlife Park. Here, you’ll enjoy an up-close look at some of Australia’s one-of-a-kind native animals including koalas, kangaroos, wallaby and emu. Do not miss opportunities to hand-feed kangaroos and have your photo taken with a koala. You’ll also come face-to-face with an amazing range of birds and many species of reptiles. On the way back to the city, drive through Sydney’s Olympic Park before returning to your hotel around lunchtime. (This tour requires a minimum of 15 participants to operate.)
Sunset Dinner Cruise
- From approx. $75 Per Person, dinner included
Enjoy dinner with a view. You’ll depart King Street Wharf at 5pm to set sail on the magnificent harbor. A 3-course Contemporary Australian a la carte dinner (with set entree) will be complemented by local sparkling and still wine, beer and soft drinks. After dining and enjoying the harbor panoramas, you’ll return to King Street Wharf at 6:30pm. Please note that transfers to and from pier are not included.
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Surrounded by the city’s shopping, theaters and restaurants.
128 Albert Street, Auckland, 1010, New ZealandWebsite
Millennium Hotel Queenstown
Located in the heart of the action with scenic city and mountain views.
32 Frankton Road, Queenstown, 9300, New ZealandWebsite
Scenic Hotel Southern Cross
The city’s largest and most established hotel, complete with on-property casino.
118 High Street, Dunedin, 9016, New Zealand
Clarion Suites Gateway
120 apartment-style suites on the banks of the Yarra River in the heart of the city.
1 William Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000, Australia
Pacific Hotel Cairns
43 The Esplanade Cairns 4870 QLD AustraliaWebsite
Vibe Hotel Sydney Darling Harbour
319 – 325 Sussex Street
Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
Departing the U.S.: For the safety of everyone in the group, smarTours has implemented COVID-19 travel requirements which apply to all tours regardless of destination. To learn more, click here.
Please note destination entry requirements are changing rapidly. smarTours will communicate entry requirements in your Tour Documents 10-14 days prior to departure. For up-to-date information, please click the links below.
- Entry requirements
- State Department Travel Advisory Updates (Australia, New Zealand)
- Center for Disease Control Updates & Information (Australia, New Zealand)
Your flights from the U.S. and back are on Qantas Airways. We recommend that you check-in three-and-a-half hours before departure. Please make sure to allow sufficient time for clearing immigration and customs if you are planning a connecting flight. We recommend at least three-and-a-half hours. Please keep in mind that flight schedules are always subject to change.
|2022: Jan. 4, Feb. 15, Mar. 15||TBA||TBA|
ADVANCE SEAT ASSIGNMENT
Qantas Airways does not assign seats in advance. Seat assignments can only be arranged at the airport upon check-in, and smarTours® is not involved with assigning seats. If you have a preferred seating choice, please make sure you check-in for your flight as early as possible.
PASSPORT AND VISA INFORMATION
Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the travel date. U.S. citizens require a visa to Australia and New Zealand.
Australia: U.S. passport holders require an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority/visa) to enter Australia. This visa can be secured online before the trip by logging into the official website at https://www.eta.homeaffairs.gov.au/ETAS3/etas. Please follow the procedures as listed on the official website to secure the ETA/Visa and pay online any applicable fees.
New Zealand: U.S. citizens may travel to New Zealand without a visa if they get an NZeTA (New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority) waiver before they travel. For more information and to apply for an NZeTA waiver, please visit https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/about-visa/nzeta.
Non-U.S. citizens should check with the respective consulates as to the most current visa requirements to all their travel destinations. Please remember that it is your responsibility to obtain the necessary travel documents before the trip.
TICKETS AND FINAL DOCUMENTS
Your airline tickets, along with final instructions and some additional travel tips, will be sent to you 7–10 days before the scheduled departure of your tour.
Immunizations are not currently required. However, you may wish to consult your personal physician or local public health authorities as to their suggestions.
Weather conditions will vary widely in the areas covered on this tour. Generally speaking, seasons “down under” are the reverse of our seasons. (When it’s summer in the U.S., it’s winter “down under.”) Cairns enjoys tropical weather with hot temperatures during their summer (Dec-Feb). Sydney’s weather is mild with highs varying from the 60s in their winter to the 80s during their summer. The South Island of New Zealand will be mild during their summer (60s and low 70s) and cool in their winter (high in the 40s). It’s always a good idea to dress in layers.
NON-INCLUDED MEALS AND SIGHTSEEING
The hotels used on this tour have several dining choices, from casual cafes to specialty restaurants. Average cost for dinner (excluding drinks) is about $20–$25 per person. Your hotel will accept credit cards for your non-included meals. Optional sightseeing tours and evening activities will be offered.
CREDIT CARDS AND LOCAL CURRENCY
Hotels and some stores accept major credit cards. However, for “street shopping” you will need local currency or U.S. Dollars. Your hotels will be able to exchange cash to local currency. It is recommended that you bring along cash in small denominations.
Each passenger may bring one piece of checked-in luggage (suitcase) max. 44 pounds, and one carry-on not exceeding 18”x10”x8”. We recommend that you do not overpack and that you take a variety of casual separates with climate and comfort in mind.