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Australia/New Zealand

An Odyssey Down Under: Australia and New Zealand

Alongside experts, discover natural wonder, native culture and cosmopolitan cities as you learn what makes Australia and New Zealand so connected and yet both so unique.
Rating (4.98)
Program No. 16434RJ
31 days
Starts at
Flights start at
Australia/New Zealand

An Odyssey Down Under: Australia and New Zealand

Alongside experts, discover natural wonder, native culture and cosmopolitan cities as you learn what makes Australia and New Zealand so connected and yet both so unique.
31 days
Starts at
Flights start at
Program No. 16434 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
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DATES & starting prices
Sep 9 - Oct 9, 2021
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Sep 23 - Oct 23, 2021
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Oct 7 - Nov 6, 2021
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Oct 21 - Nov 20, 2021
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Nov 18 - Dec 18, 2021
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DATES & starting prices
Sep 9 - Oct 9, 2021
Starting at
Sep 23 - Oct 23, 2021
Starting at
Oct 7 - Nov 6, 2021
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Oct 21 - Nov 20, 2021
Starting at
Nov 18 - Dec 18, 2021
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At a Glance

Geographically isolated, rich in indigenous heritage and home to diverse and fragile ecosystems, Australia and New Zealand have much in common. Yet, separated from one another by more than 1,200 miles of open sea, they each bear distinctions that run deeper than can be perceived from afar. Find out for yourself what these island nations share and what makes each unique on this in-depth odyssey of discovery.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to three miles at a time over varied terrain. Standing at least three hours daily; climbing stairs, getting on/off buses, carrying own luggage. Elevations up to 3,100 feet.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Local experts reveal the story of New Zealand’s settlement by Maori and Europeans.
  • Witness the eruptions of spectacular geysers in the Rotorua geothermal region and experience the magnificent Piopiotahi Milford Sound.
  • Examine a delicate natural wonder — the Great Barrier Reef — and learn about efforts to protect it.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Michael Deaker
Michael Deaker has lived most of his life in southern New Zealand, and is a member of the Otago Regional Council. He has a master’s degree in geography and a diploma in teaching, and has served as a high school principal, a teachers’ college lecturer and an inspector of secondary schools. He was a manager in the New Zealand Ministry of Education and became the Director of Communications for the Ministry before becoming an independent consultant. Michael has also been a journalist in print and broadcast media for over 40 years.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Brian Clarke
Brian Clarke View biography
Sydney native Brian Clarke set off from a young age to explore Australia. He found work as a diver, fisherman, and yachtsman on the Great Barrier Reef before eventually working as one of the last professional crocodile hunters. His travels have taken him to the remarkable wildernesses of Australia, Sri Lanka, India, Southeast Asia and Central America. He’s been running his own educational travel business for the past 17 years and has been living in a remote cabin in Kuranda for the past 40 years.
Profile Image of Richard De Gille
Richard De Gille View biography
Richard De Gille has recently retired after practising as a lawyer for the past 30 years. For the last 20 years, he was a partner of a large suburban legal practice in outer Melbourne. He holds degrees from Monash University in economics and politics, education and law. In his spare time he enjoys cycling, bushwalking, gardening and reading.
Profile Image of Len Wilson
Len Wilson View biography
Len Wilson is a passionate world traveler who has been to more than 70 countries. He once worked his way from New Zealand to Philadelphia aboard a German container ship. He has taught history and social science in New Zealand secondary schools for almost 30 years, and has traveled with delegations of educators to China, South Korea and North Korea. Len holds a bachelor’s degree in History and International Politics, and believes that travel is the greatest educator.
Profile Image of Margaret Copland
Margaret Copland View biography
Margaret Copland is a graduate of the University of Canterbury and the Christchurch College of Education. As a historian, she has enjoyed researching the stories of the early Canterbury immigrants, which she will share with us in her capacity as the Te Puna Ora storyteller. Margaret is an experienced history teacher and she has been a heritage storyteller and local historian for 20 years. Her original stories have been researched and developed to create 13 characters who bring New Zealand history to life.
Profile Image of Brian Kirkham
Brian Kirkham View biography
Brian Kirkham is an Australian transplant by way of England. He spent 32 years in sales and marketing for an Australian airline and, when he retired early in 1995, held a position with the Sydney Olympic Organizing Committee in the lead-up to the 2000 Summer Olympics. Brian has since volunteered with Australia’s Olympic Youth Camp, the Rugby World Cup, Wheelchair Sports Australia and the Sydney Marathon. He relishes introducing visitors to the Land Down Under.
Profile Image of Rayleen Brown
Rayleen Brown View biography
Rayleen Brown is an Aboriginal who worked as a project officer to help Aboriginals secure their traditional land. She now owns and operates a successful catering business that’s been specializing in traditional bush products and foods for the past 10 years. In addition, Rayleen is a member of the national Bush Foods Council, an educator for schools across Central Australia and a mentor with the local Desert Leadership Program. She continues to be a strong advocate for the Aboriginal people to this day.
Profile Image of Alison Broad
Alison Broad View biography
Alison Broad lives in Southland and has a Master’s degree from the University of Otago, where she studied Rural Community Learning. She has since been involved in community projects and capacity building and is currently a member of the Southland Conservation Board, trustee of a community-led development organization and an executive member of a community education group. Alison has also served as New Zealand’s National Commissioner for Education for UNESCO and was responsible for many wilderness-based domestic programs offered by the Southland Institute of Technology.
Profile Image of Peter Ackroyd
Peter Ackroyd View biography
Peter Ackroyd graduated from the University of Canterbury with a master’s degree in engineering geology. Over the course of his professional career, Peter has done geological assessments for land use investigations, managed a range of natural resource usage projects and helped shape policy and resource management for commercial fishing. Peter and his wife Cathrine have three adult children and, as per New Zealand tradition, one lives overseas.
Profile Image of Hamish Campbell
Hamish Campbell View biography
Hamish Campbell earned a Ph.D. in paleontology from Cambridge University, and went on to serve as a senior scientist at the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences and a geologist at the National Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Hamish channeled his expertise to write several popular books on New Zealand geology, and his passion for New Zealand, geology and learning have made him an exceptional long-time instructor for Road Scholar.
Profile Image of David O'Brien
David O'Brien View biography
Originally from the island state of Tasmania, Dave O’Brien has lived in North Queensland for more than 30 years. Working as a biologist almost his entire career, Dave has been involved in reptile research, aquaculture, government organizations, private enterprise and owning his own business. Outside of work, Dave’s interests include birding, photography and long-distance running. He has been married since 1986 and has two adult children, presently living in Melbourne, Australia and Alberta, Canada.
Profile Image of Martin Ludgate
Martin Ludgate View biography
Martin Ludgate was a lecturer at Charles Darwin University in Alice Springs, where he lectured and managed the educational travel program. Now semi-retired (although still doing some lecturing and leading educational excursions), Martin has a keen interest in local history and culture as well as the landscapes, flora and fauna of the Northern Territory. “The great pleasure of enabling Road Scholar participants to bring alive their desire to experience a sense of Outback Australia, which they have heard so much about, makes my involvement so rewarding,” Martin says.
Profile Image of Robbie Selwyn
Robbie Selwyn View biography
A native of Wellington, Robbie Selwyn graduated with a commerce degree from Victoria University, and worked for ExxonMobil in financial, corporate planning and marketing roles. His career allowed him the wonderful opportunity to live and work in various locations around the world, fueling his interest in travel and international culture. An active golfer, Robbie is married and has two children and five grandchildren.
Profile Image of Ruth Pullin
Ruth Pullin View biography
Dr. Ruth Pullin wrote her Ph.D. thesis on the Australian colonial artist Eugene von Guérard and was guest curator of a major exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2011, "Eugene von Guérard: Nature Revealed." She is the principal author and commissioning editor of the book of the same title. She derives great joy in discussing with Road Scholar participants Australians’ relationship to the land as a key way in which Australian artists have established a sense of our cultural identity.
Profile Image of Sue Grebenschikoff
Sue Grebenschikoff View biography
Sue Grebenschikoff is an instructor and site coordinator in Cairns. Originally from Sydney, Sue moved to Cairns 20 years ago after she fell in love with the tropical region. Sue has a bachelor’s degree in commerce with a concentration in marketing, is a keen gardener, and loves to travel and meet people. She has worked in various capacities for many years on award-winning wilderness adventure programs around tropical North Queensland.
Profile Image of Michael Deaker
Michael Deaker View biography
Michael Deaker has lived most of his life in southern New Zealand, and is a member of the Otago Regional Council. He has a master’s degree in geography and a diploma in teaching, and has served as a high school principal, a teachers’ college lecturer and an inspector of secondary schools. He was a manager in the New Zealand Ministry of Education and became the Director of Communications for the Ministry before becoming an independent consultant. Michael has also been a journalist in print and broadcast media for over 40 years.
Profile Image of Tim Marwick
Tim Marwick View biography
Raised and educated in the Wellington area, Tim Marwick worked 20 years for the New Zealand Immigration Service, including stints at diplomatic missions in Fiji, Germany and Hong Kong. Eager to share his love of New Zealand and its history, he became an excursion expert for the New Zealand Parliament — leading explorations of the city of Wellington, to “Lord of the Rings” film locations and on wine-tastings to Martinborough in the Wairarapa. Tim is passionate about reading, walking, theater and bridge.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Penguin History of New Zealand
by Michael King
This bestselling book is arguably the definitive contemporary reference to the history of New Zealand. New Zealand was the last country in the world to be discovered and settled by humankind. It was also the first to introduce full democracy. Between those events, and in the century that followed the franchise, the movements and conflicts of human history have been played out more intensively and more rapidly in New Zealand than anywhere else on Earth. The Penguin History of New Zealand tells that story in all its colour and drama. The narrative that emerges is an inclusive one about men and women, Maori and Pakeha. It shows that British motives in colonising New Zealand were essentially humane; and that Maori, far from being passive victims of a 'fatal impact', coped heroically with colonisation and survived by selectively accepting and adapting what Western technology and culture had to offer.
Fairness and Freedom, A History of Two Open Societies, New Zealand and the United States
by David Hackett Fischer
Fischer compares the political similarities of two societies, the United States and New Zealand, why they have taken different forms, and asks the question: is it possible to be both fair and free? An expansion of Fischer's previous work on liberty and freedom, and the first book to be published on the history of fairness.
The Luminaries
by Eleanor Catton
It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky. The Luminaries, an extraordinary work of fiction, was the Man Booker prize winner in 2013.
The Turning, New Stories
by Tim Winton
These 17 overlapping stories, steeped in everyday life on western Australia, follow the fates of a handful of characters in a small coastal town outside Perth. Winton, short-listed twice so far for the Booker Prize, has published a string of memorable novels, children's books and stories, all richly set in the working class milieu of the sparsely populated coastal desert.
Whale Rider
by Witi Ihimaera
A magical, mythical novella about a young Maori girl and her relationship with a whale, that ultimately saves her village. Based loosely on Ihimaera’s youth in a Maori village.
by Katherine Mansfield
This collection includes three marvelous, long pieces which together constitute the beginnings of an unfinished novel based on Mansfield's childhood in Wellington, New Zealand in the 1890s.
Dirt Music, A Novel
by Tim Winton
Among Australia's finest writers, Tim Winton fashions powerful and elegant tales set within the arid outback of Western Australia. An alcoholic mother and a down-on-his luck poacher are the protagonists of this recent novel, where landscape and nature play just as much a role as the characters themselves.
Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance
by Lloyd Jones
From rural New Zealand at the end of World War I to the present day, two separate love stories resonate across three generations, as two very different couples are brought together by their obsession with the seductive power of the tango. By the author of the critically acclaimed Mr. Pip, this earlier novel was first published in New Zealand in 2002.
A Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand
by Julian Fitter
Comprehensive and compact, this Princeton Pocket Guide by longtime resident Julian Fitter and Don Merton at New Zealand's Department of Conservation features 600 color photographs. With range maps, descriptions and excellent introductory chapters on conservation efforts and key national parks for bird watching
True History of the Kelly Gang
by Peter Carey
A powerful, daring novel, steeped in the colonial history of late 19th-century Australia. Outlaw, folk hero, thief and patriot, the Irish immigrant Ned Kelly and his clan figure large in the Australian mindset. Carey's Booker Prize-winning novel (his second after "Oscar & Lucinda") takes the form of a series of rough, captivating letters by the barely literate gang leader to his young daughter. Kelly was hanged in Melbourne in 1880, where his mother was also imprisoned.
The ANZAC Girls: The Extraordinary Story of Our World War I Nurses
by Peter Rees
The harrowing, dramatic and profoundly moving story of the Australian and New Zealand nurses who served in the Great War. Profoundly moving, Anzac Girls is a story of extraordinary courage and humanity shown by a group of women whose contribution to the Anzac legend has barely been recognised in our history. Peter Rees has changed that understanding forever.
Bradt Australian Wildlife
by Stella Martin
A guide not just to kangaroo and koala, this compact, illustrated survey, featuring 250 color photographs, takes in habitats, parks and conservation, marsupials, birds and bats.
by Bruce Chatwin
Rory Stewart provides the introduction to this 25th anniversary edition of Bruce Chatwin's celebrated travelogue, which is as much about its gifted author - and the meaning of travel - as about the Aboriginal people and their ways of life. Chatwin transforms a journey through the Outback into an exhilarating, semi-fictional meditation on our place in the world.
Zealandia: The Valley That Changed A Nation
by Jim Lynch
In 1990 James Lynch QSM conceived the idea of urban conservation through a plan to `Bring the Birds back to Wellington'. Two years later he came up with the daring concept of community conservation. His visionary 1992 proposal for the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary (now Zealandia) imagined a predator-fenced, community-driven eco-sanctuary, populated with endangered species and located 2 km from the Wellington CBD. 30 years later Zealandia is a resounding success and Wellington has been transformed into an international showcase of urban conservation. Inspired by Zealandia, eco-sanctuaries proliferated around the nation. This is Jim's account of how Zealandia became a reality and changed a city and a nation. An uplifting account of daring innovation, and of the determination of an ever-expanding community that built a jewel that will be treasured by generations yet to be born.
Purakau: Maori Myths retold by Maori Writers
by Witi Ihimaera & Whiti Hereaka (editors)
A lively retelling of Purakau - Maori Myths - by contemporary Maori Writers.
A Commonwealth of Thieves, The Improbable Birth of Australia
by Thomas Keneally
With drama and flair, novelist Keneally illuminates the birth of New South Wales in 1788, richly evoking the social conditions in London, the miserable sea voyage and the desperate conditions of the new colony. His tale revolves around Arthur Phillip, the ambitious (and bland) captain in the Royal Navy who would become the first governor of New South Wales. You may be familiar with Keneally as the author of the acclaimed work (made into an equally-renowned film) "Schindler's List".
In A Sunburned Country
by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson revels in Australia's eccentric characters, dangerous flora and fauna, and other oddities. As has become his custom, he effortlessly imparts much fact-filled history in this wildly funny book. Included at the end is a short bibliography. This book is published as "Down Under" in Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain.
Dark Emu : Aboriginal Australia and the birth of agriculture
by Bruce Pascoe
History has portrayed Australia's First Peoples, the Aboriginals, as hunter-gatherers who lived on an empty, uncultivated land. History is wrong. Using compelling evidence from the records and diaries of early Australian explorers and colonists, Bruce Pascoe reveals that Aboriginal systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia's past is required - for the benefit of us all. Dark Emu, a bestseller in Australia, won both the Book of the Year Award and the Indigenous Writer's Prize in the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards.
Aboriginal Art
by Wally Caruana
This well illustrated survey of Aboriginal art, ancient and modern, focuses on the spiritual and geographic sources of art and ritual traditions in Australia. It covers the range of art from all parts of the continent, including a chapter on the Wandjina rock art of the Kimberley region. The concise text is augmented by 187 well produced black-and-white and color illustrations.
Chasing Kangaroo
by Tim Flannery
An ode to the kangaroo in all their splendid diversity and oddity. Revisiting his early love of kangaroo fossils, Flannery weaves engaging tales of his adventures on the trails of marsupials past and present with his travels and encounters with eccentric scientists and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Bone People
by Keri Hulme
Set in modern-day South Island, this lyrical novel brings together three troubled individuals who represent New Zealand’s varied Maori and European traditions. Winner of the 1985 Booker Prize.

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