16434
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 (4.97)
Program No. 16434RJ
Length
31 days
Starts at
10,999
Flights start at
1,525
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31 days
30 nights
76 meals
28 B 25 L 23 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
In Transit to Program, Crossing International Dateline
In Flight

Activity note: A day is "lost" due to crossing the International Dateline.

DAY
3
Arrive Sydney, Transfer to Auckland, Check In
Auckland
D
Grand Mercure Auckland

Activity note: Upon your arrival in Auckland, you will be given a day-use backpack and an aluminium water bottle to use throughout your program. These items are yours to keep.

Afternoon: Kia ora! Welcome to Auckland. Auckland, the “City of Sails,” is New Zealand’s largest city and over one-third of all New Zealanders live in the greater Auckland area. It has a cosmopolitan population and the high proportion of indigenous Maori and other Polynesian peoples from the Pacific Islands have contributed distinctive elements to its cultural mix. This mix has been heightened by increased immigration from a number of Asian nations throughout the last decade or two. A third of the city’s population was born outside New Zealand. The city has a unique setting between two harbours on a narrow isthmus studded with numerous volcanic cones. To the east, the Waitemata Harbour provides New Zealand’s busiest Pacific port and a picturesque setting for the central business district and suburbs. Beyond this harbour lie the superb boating waters of the island-studded Hauraki Gulf. To the west, the broad shallows of the Manukau Harbour provide ideal habitat for large flocks of seabirds in the shadow of the rugged rainforest-covered Waitakere Ranges. Beyond these ranges the wild black-sand surf beaches of the west coast are a dramatic contrast to the gentle golden sand of the tree-fringed beaches of the east coast. Upon your arrival in Auckland your Group Leader and local Site Coordinator will meet you and transfer you to your hotel.

Dinner: At accommodation. We will have “Welcome to New Zealand” wine with dinner tonight.

Evening: At leisure. We have an early night tonight to rest up following our long flight.

DAY
4
Orientation & Introductions, Walk Through Central Auckland
Auckland
B,L,D
Grand Mercure Auckland

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles, paved surfaces, undulating terrain.

Breakfast: The breakfast buffet in the hotel's top-floor dining room has stunning views of Auckland Harbour and the central business district.

Morning: Orientation. The Group Leader and Site Coordinator will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. This program will be staffed with both a Group Leader and a local Site Coordinator at most study sites providing information and leading field trips. Some meals will be buffets, others will be plated and served; and some we will order in advance. Beverages typically included coffee, tea, water, with other beverages available for purchase depending on location. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, attending performances or other events on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader and local Site Coordinator will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. To conclude our Orientation session, we will have an introduction to Auckland.

Lunch: At the hotel.

Afternoon: This afternoon our Group Leader and local Site Coordinator will lead us on a walking field trip in central Auckland, introducing us to New Zealand's largest city. We will learn something of how Auckland interacts with its harbour for both business and pleasure and take a stroll through the grounds of the university. Those who wish to may choose to linger at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki, a recent winner of the World Building of the Year award at the World Architecture Festival, and return independently. We will return to our hotel in time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
NZ History, Yacht Excursion, Auckland War Memorial Museum
Auckland
B,L,D
Grand Mercure Auckland

Activity note: Walking up to 1.2 miles; flat, paved surfaces.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We begin today with a well-known local author and journalist who will provide an introduction to New Zealand history. We will then walk down to Viaduct Basin for a yacht cruise on Auckland's magnificent Waitemata Harbour giving us stunning views of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the city and the surrounding volcanic cones. Our Group Leader, Site Coordinator, and skipper(s) will point out the sights of particular significance and interest. As we sail through the channel, those who wish can have a turn at the wheel, helming the yacht, weather conditions permitting. At the conclusion of the cruise, we will board a motorcoach and transfer to Eden Garden, a 5.5 acre, award-winning garden, created in an abandoned quarry at the base of Mt Eden.

Lunch: At Eden Garden, we have pre-ordered plated lunches. We will have time to explore the delightful gardens briefly on our own prior to or after lunch.

Afternoon: Next, we will ride on our motorcoach to Auckland’s War Memorial Museum, with an orientation to the layout of the city en route. At the museum, a docent will introduce the permanent exhibitions showing patterns of Polynesian and European settlement. Following our time at the museum, we board our motorcoach and return to our hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is free.

Dinner: At the hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Auckland Geology, Beachside lunch, Explore the North Shore
Auckland
B,L
Grand Mercure Auckland

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles; undulating terrain, varied surfaces. The order of today’s activities may vary depending on tides.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: A local geologist and marine biologist will join us at the hotel for a lecture on the geology of Auckland and its varied coastlines. He will then lead us on a field trip to explore Auckland's northern coastline and give us an understanding of the varied nature of the city’s coastal environment. At North Head, a walk will give us a greater perspective of the Hauraki Gulf and the volcanic islands that litter it.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, we will have a buffet lunch looking out over picturesque Cheltenham Beach and across to the cone of Rangitoto, Auckland’s most recognisable volcano and an iconic natural landmark.

Afternoon: Our field trip continues as we visit Lake Pupuke to understand how the volcanic lake and the stunning coast coexist so closely. We will return to our hotel in the late afternoon and have the remainder of the afternoon and evening to ourselves.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader and local Site Coordinator will be happy to offer suggestions. The Viaduct Basin, formerly the home of the America’s Cup, has a variety of cafés and restaurants a short walk from the hotel. The relatively new development of the Wynyard Quarter is a delightful stroll across the bridge beyond the Viaduct, while the Britomart precinct is located in the streets behind the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer tomorrow.

DAY
7
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Orientation to Rotorua
Rotorua
B,L,D
Copthorne Hotel Rotorua

Activity note: The drive from Auckland to the Waitomo Caves is about 120 miles (190 kilometres), approximately 2.5 hours. The drive from Waitomo Caves to Rotorua is about 90 miles (140 kilometres), approximately 2 hours. At Waitomo Caves, uneven terrain; getting into/out of boats. Photography is not permitted within the caves.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and depart for Waitomo, travelling through Waikato's rolling green countryside. On our picturesque journey, we will pass pristine farmland and dense forest.

Lunch: At a farm cafe close to Waitomo, we will have a pre-ordered barbecue lunch with buffet salad bar.

Afternoon: We will continue our ride to Waitomo for an expert-led field trip on foot in the internationally-recognised Waitomo glowworm caves. The glowworm (arachnocampa luminosa) is unique to New Zealand and thousands of these tiny creatures radiate their unmistakable luminescent light as expert guides provide informative commentary on the Caves' historical and geological significance. After our walk through the caves, where we will be amazed at the clear natural acoustics of the “cathedral cave,” we will enjoy a boat ride out of the cave, under thousands of magical glowworms, emerging into a stunning natural stream setting. Reboarding our motorcoach, we will transfer through to Rotorua where we will stay for the next two nights. Located on the shores of Lake Rotorua and nicknamed “Sulphur City,” Rotorua has been sustained by tourism since 1870. It is a thermal wonderland with the most energetic thermal activity in the country including hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud pools. It is also an important centre of Maori culture. In the early 19th century the colonial government attempted to develop it as a European-style spa town. The impressive Tudor-styled Bath House dating from that time is now the Rotorua Museum. The area also has fine trout fishing and scenic wildlife parks. Nearby Mount Tarawera erupted in 1886 resulting in major changes to the landscape and considerable loss of life. The beautiful lakes in the region are part of the legacy of this cataclysm. En route, we will have an introduction to Rotorua before checking in to our hotel.

Dinner: In the hotel restaurant, enjoy a dinner buffet.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
8
Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Maori Culture & Performance, Hangi
Rotorua
B,L,D
Copthorne Hotel Rotorua

Activity note: In the morning, walking up to 3 miles; gravel pathways, uneven, steep in parts. In the afternoon, walking up to 1.5 miles; paved surfaces, some steep sections.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Today we will learn about Rotorua’s geothermal background and Maori history and culture. We will travel first to Waimangu Volcanic Valley to learn more about volcanic and geothermal New Zealand. Waimangu Volcanic Valley is the only geothermal system in the world wholly created as the direct result of a volcanic eruption, the Tarawera Eruption of June 10, 1886. We will walk through this amazing volcanic landscape serenaded by the songs of the local native birdlife. At the end of our walk, we will have a cruise on Lake Rotomohana, surrounded by pristine bush and also formed as a result of the 1886 eruption. We will then return to Rotorua.

Lunch: At an historic and lovingly-restored hotel beside Rotorua's Government Gardens, we will have a pre-ordered, plated lunch.

Afternoon: Next, we will take our motorcoach to Te Puia, the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. Here we will view the Whakarewarewa thermal area, renowned for its boiling mudpools and the spectacular Pohutu geyser. We will also learn from local experts at the Institute about the role it plays in encouraging young Maori to train in the traditional Maori arts and crafts: carving wood and stone, weaving, traditional building techniques, and the like. After returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon is free.

Dinner: We will visit a Maori village where we experience a hangi, the traditional Maori method of cooking food in the ground.

Evening: Performance. Before, during and after dinner we experience a Maori cultural performance giving us an introduction to Maori culture and tradition. We will be spellbound by songs and dances demonstrated in a rich cultural performance, culminating with a powerful “Haka” or Maori war dance.

DAY
9
National Kiwi Trust, Fly to Christchurch, Local History
Christchurch
B,L,D
Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square Hotel

Activity note: The flight from Rotorua to Christchurch is a little less than 2 hours (depending on weather). Typically Air New Zealand uses ATR 72 aircraft on this route. Walking up to 1 mile at Riccarton Bush.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we check out of our hotel and transfer to the National Kiwi Trust at Rainbow Springs. Here we have a lecture introducing us to New Zealand's endangered national bird. We will learn of the vital role the National Kiwi Trust is playing in rearing young kiwi chicks until they are large enough to be released into the wild. After a tour of this wonderful facility we then board our motorcoach taking us to Rotorua airport.

Lunch: We will pick up a packed lunch at Rotorua airport.

Afternoon: We leave the North Island as we fly to Christchurch situated on the east coast of the South Island. Christchurch is set close to the sea on a broad plain between the towering Southern Alps and the large extinct volcanic crater that forms Banks Peninsula. It is the largest city in the South Island and the centre of farming, industrial and cultural activities for the province of Canterbury. Because of its excellent transportation facilities, bountiful water supply and abundant hydro-electric power, Christchurch is one of the most important industrial centres in New Zealand and New Zealand’s second-largest city. We will be met at the airport by our local Site Coordinator. We will then board our motorcoach and, en route to our hotel, have a field trip orienting us to the city and explaining the effects of earthquake on a vibrant, modern, first-world city. As well as seeing the effects of the series of earthquakes that occurred between September 2010 and May 2012, we will learn of the innovative, often community-led projects helping to rejuvenate this city the locals are so passionate about. We will then transfer to Riccarton House, arguably Christchurch's most significant early homestead. Here we have a guided walk through Riccarton Bush - a unique native lowland podocarp forest close to the centre of New Zealand's "Garden City". We will also have a lecture on the early-settler family responsible for the existence of both Riccarton House and Riccarton Bush. Through this we will gain an insight into the early settlement of the province of Canterbury.

Dinner: At Riccarton House, we will have a pre-ordered, plated, 2-course dinner.

Evening: After dinner our Te Puna Ora story-teller — playing two characters — will introduce us to the experience of early immigrants to Canterbury. We will then transfer back to our hotel on our motorcoach.

DAY
10
Banks Peninsula, Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise, City Walk
Christchurch
B,L,D
Novotel Christchurch Cathedral Square Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a boat. The drive from the centre of Christchurch over Hilltop to Akaroa is about 50 miles (80 kilometres), approximately 1.5 hours each way.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will head to the delightful Banks Peninsula township of Akaroa, an historic French and British settlement nestled in the heart of an ancient volcano. Some of the town's French character is shown by its French street names. En route, we will learn from our Site Coordinator about historical patterns of settlement of the local Maori, French, and other European settler populations. Upon arriving in Akaroa, we will board a boat for a harbour cruise on which we will see sea caves, volcanic formations, high cliffs and myriad nesting sites. Keep an eye out for the delightful Hector's Dolphin, the world's rarest and smallest dolphin, as well as blue penguins, fur seals, and abundant bird life.

Lunch: We return to land and are given free time to explore Akaroa on foot, just as the Christchurch visitors do on their day trips. We will get our own lunch at leisure as we explore.

Afternoon: We will regroup at the Akaroa Museum and view a video to learn about life in this small community. We will then board our motorcoach and drive back over Hilltop to Christchurch. Before dinner our local Site Coordinator will lead a walking tour of the centre of Christchurch for those participants interested in learning more about what makes this city tick as it continues its regrowth.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have pre-ordered, plated meals.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
11
International Antarctic Centre, Fly & Motorcoach to Te Anau
Te Anau
B,L,D
Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau

Activity note: The flight from Christchurch to Invercargill is about 1.5 hours. Typically Air New Zealand uses ATR 72 aircraft on this route. The drive from Invercargill to Te Anau is about 125 miles (200 kilometres), approximately 3 hours.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will transfer to the International Antarctic Centre. Here, we will get as close as possible to experiencing Antarctica without actually going there. We will have a lecture on Christchurch's involvement with Antarctica as the nearest mainland base for US, NZ, and Italian Antarctic research. We will explore the Centre and have an opportunity to get up close to little blue penguins. We will then transfer to the airport for our flight to Invercargill.

Lunch: We will have a packed lunch from the International Antarctic Centre at Christchurch airport.

Afternoon: Upon our arrival in Invercargill, a local expert and broadcaster will present a lecture introducing us to New Zealand's southernmost province, Southland. We will learn about its importance to New Zealand's agricultural backbone. We will then drive to the serenely beautiful hamlet of Te Anau, located on Lake Te Anau, the second largest lake in New Zealand and the largest in the South Island. En route, we will have an introduction to the Southern portion of our program. Te Anau is a small country centre providing community support to the widely-dispersed fishing and farming communities of sparsely-populated Fiordland. It is situated at the edge of the World Heritage-Listed Fiordland National Park and renowned for its alpine scenery and outdoor lifestyle. Checking in to our hotel, we will have some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a buffet dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
12
Milford Sound Cruise, Gondola to Dinner Above Queenstown
Queenstown
B,L,D
Copthorne Hotel & Apartments Queenstown Lakeview

Activity note: The drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound is about 75 miles (120 kilometres) a little over 2 hours. The drive from Milford Sound to Queenstown is about 180 miles (290 kilometres), and will take about 4 hours. Stops en route. Walking up to 2 miles.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, and drive around the side of Lake Te Anau, across some of the scenic splendour of Te Wahipounamu — South West New Zealand, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed landscape. We will drive through the Homer Tunnel, New Zealand's highest, where we may well encounter a cheeky kea (New Zealand mountain parrot) or two as we wait for our turn to proceed. At Milford Sound, we will board a cruise vessel and glide through the Sound, one of Fiordland's most picturesque fiords, where mountains stand tall right out of the sea and rainforest clings to sheer rock faces. Our skipper will interpret the stunning scenery we are cruising through. Keep an eye out for the resident pods of dolphins as we sail out towards the Tasman Sea.

Lunch: Aboard the vessel, we will have packed lunches.

Afternoon: Disembarking the cruise vessel, we will board our motorcoach and continue to Queenstown. We will travel back through the Homer Tunnel, down the Hollyford Valley past Lake Te Anau, across verdant farmland, and between mountain ranges along Lake Wakatipu. Queenstown is situated on the shores of the lake, nestled among the majestic Southern Alps. Its setting is stunning with the surrounding mountain ranges, the Remarkables and the Eyre Mountains, forming a breathtaking backdrop. It has more to offer than just magnificent landscape, however; the town strives to be the “adventure capital of the world”. We will check in to our hotel upon arrival, then transfer to board the gondola that will take us to the top of Bob's Peak. We will have time to take in the spectacular views before dinner.

Dinner: Buffet dinner at the restaurant atop Bob’s Peak overlooking Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables.

Evening: After taking in the stunning views over dinner, we will hop a gondola back down the hill and board our motorcoach back to our hotel.

DAY
13
Lake Wakatipu Steamer Cruise to Walter Peak Sheep Station
Queenstown
B,L,D
Copthorne Hotel & Apartments Queenstown Lakeview

Activity note: Getting on/off a boat.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Today we will cruise across Lake Wakatipu on board the historic steamer TSS Earnslaw. This iconic 1912 twin-screw steamship recently celebrated its 100th birthday. It is much loved by locals and visitors alike as “the lady of the lake.” We will then visit Walter Peak High Country Farm for an expert-led exploration and insights into the training and usage of farmers' working dogs, the backbone of New Zealand sheep farming. It is hard not to be amazed watching farmer and dog working together in complete unison. Unless the pesky sheep have other ideas…

Lunch: At Walter Peak homestead, we will have a buffet barbecue lunch.

Afternoon: Our field trip at the farm continues. Then, reboarding the Earnslaw, we will cruise back across the lake and return to the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore Queenstown independently.

Dinner: In the hotel restaurant looking out over the lake, we’ll have pre-ordered plated meals.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check out and transfer tomorrow.

DAY
14
Arrowtown, Fly to Wellington, Sights, NZ Political System
Wellington
B,L,D
Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Activity note: The drive from Queenstown to Arrowtown takes less than 1/2 hour. The flight from Queenstown to Wellington is a little less than 2 hours. Typically Air New Zealand uses ATR 72 aircraft on this route. Occasionally Airbus A320 aircraft are used. Walking up to 2 miles in Wellington; paved surfaces, predominantly downhill.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Checking out of the hotel, we will board our motorcoach and head to the historic little former gold-mining settlement of Arrowtown at the head of the Arrow Valley just outside Queenstown. We will have time for personal independent exploration. You might like to check out the museum or the Chinese village. Depending on how you wish to spend your time there, you are likely to walk at least a mile in Arrowtown.

Lunch: You may get lunch in Arrowtown as you explore or at Queenstown airport before you board your flight.

Afternoon: We will fly to Wellington, located at the southern extremity of the North Island, and the capital of New Zealand since 1865. Its magnificent amphitheatre-like harbour, hemmed in by rugged hills, was formed by the flooding of the crater of a very large and long-extinct volcano. It provides a picturesque setting for the city’s distinctive wooden houses (many visitors have been known to draw parallels with San Francisco) set precariously on the steep hills. In addition to its role as the seat of government Wellington is a major seaport, rail and ferry centre and a commercial and manufacturing hub. Its compact city centre is immensely walkable and is full of life and interest. It has a vigorous cultural and artistic scene and is the home of many national cultural institutions. Thanks partly to the fact that it is the home town of Sir Peter Jackson (“Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy), Wellington is the focal point of New Zealand's thriving film industry. Upon our arrival in Wellington we have an orientation via motorcoach and walking with our local Site Coordinator. We will then head to our hotel and check in, dropping our bags and regathering for a lecture by a local expert on New Zealand’s political system and politics.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a buffet dinner. Our lecturer will join us, affording an opportunity to ask any further questions you may have.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
NZ Parliament & Supreme Court, Free Time
Wellington
B,L
Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles, on our feet most of the morning.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will board our motorcoach and ride to New Zealand’s parliament buildings — including the aptly-named Beehive — for an expert-led exploration. We will then walk across Lambton Quay to New Zealand’s Supreme Court where their resident expert will explain how the highest court in the land operates. You may be surprised at differences between the Supreme Court of NZ and the US.

Lunch: At a restaurant close to Parliament and the Supreme Court, we will have pre-ordered plated lunches.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. The Group Leader and local Site Coordinator will be happy to offer suggestions. Put on your walking shoes and get amongst it!

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like, allowing you to sample the many fine restaurants, cafes and bars Wellington has to offer.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
16
Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary, Cable Car, Te Papa NZ Museum
Wellington
B,L,D
Copthorne Hotel Wellington Oriental Bay

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles; paved surfaces, uphill and downhill.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Our next field trip is to Zealandia, a sanctuary of native forest and lakes, a motorcoach ride of 10 minutes from the city centre. Here we will learn about some of New Zealand’s unique and fascinating birdlife. Expert volunteers will introduce these wonderful birds and explain the challenges of conserving rare and vulnerable species in New Zealand. We will learn the story of how local residents lobbied and volunteered to get this valley sanctuary set aside as a reserve and have it fully enclosed by predator-proof fencing. At the conclusion of our field trip, en route to our hotel, we will transfer to the Wellington Cable Car. From the top of the cable car, we gain an excellent view of Wellington Harbour and its hilly backdrop. As the locals like to say, "You can't beat Wellington on a good day!"

Lunch: Hotel buffet.

Afternoon: We will take the short walk across the road to Te Papa Tongarewa: National Museum of New Zealand where the docents will introduce the key displays of this magnificent facility. We will then have time to explore the museum on our own and return to our accommodation independently at leisure.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will enjoy a farewell to New Zealand buffet dinner. Share your favourite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.

Evening: At leisure. Time to do that final packing and prepare for your last day in New Zealand tomorrow.

DAY
17
Wellington's Wild Coastline, Fly to Sydney, Australia
Sydney
B,L,D
Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour

Activity note: Field trip combines viewing from motorcoach with short walks. The flight from Wellington to Sydney takes approximately 3 hours 45 minutes. Qantas typically uses Boeing 737-800 aircraft on this route.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will load our bags on to our motorcoach. We will then be joined by an eminent local scientist who will lead our field trip exploring Wellington's fascinating coastline. We will learn how tectonic forces have shaped the rugged environment surrounding the New Zealand capital.

Lunch: At a sheltered scenic spot along the south coast, we will have a boxed lunch.

Afternoon: We coach to Wellington International Airport and check in for our international flight to Sydney. Upon our arrival, we will be met by the local Site Coordinator and transferred to our hotel in Sydney's Darling Harbour precinct. Sydney’s stunning natural harbour forms the centrepiece of a dynamic city that has grown dramatically since its beginnings as a prison colony. Situated in the temperate area of Australia, Sydney is surrounded by National Parks and has a beautiful range of flora and fauna. It is Australia’s largest city with nearly 5 million citizens thriving in a multi-cultural society in a congenial climate. Sydney is dominated by Sydney Harbour, of which Port Jackson is only a small part. The city covers a large area, twice the size of London with half the population, and has large parks and sparkling sandy Pacific Ocean beaches, such as the well-known and very popular Bondi and Manly.

Dinner: We will have “Welcome to Australia” wine with our hotel buffet dinner tonight.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
18
Sydney's Colonial History, Cruise on Sydney Harbour
Sydney
B,L,D
Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour

Activity note: Walking approximately 3 miles; predominantly flat surfaces, some stairs and cobbled laneways. Getting on/off a harbour cruise vessel.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we have an overview of our program in Sydney. We will take a short ride to the harbour. Beginning at the base of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, led by our Site Coordinator, we will have a walking exploration of The Rocks area giving us insights into Sydney’s colonial past. The Rocks was the area of Sydney first settled by the British and it has a fascinating history and wonderful sandstone buildings.

Lunch: In an historic building in The Rocks, we will have pre-ordered, plated meals.

Afternoon: After lunch we walk to Circular Quay where we board a vessel for a cruise on magnificent Sydney Harbour. On our cruise we take in the stunning scenery and learn how the modern Sydney Harbour has evolved. We then return to our hotel and have some free time before dinner.

Dinner: We will take a short walk along the western fringe of Darling Harbour to a restaurant in the Darling Harbour precinct and have pre-ordered plated meals.

Evening: At leisure. We will walk back to our hotel. You may wish to stay longer and explore some more of the vibrant Darling Harbour precinct as you wend your way back to the hotel on your own.

DAY
19
Australian History, Sydney's Coast, Bondi, Free Time
Sydney
B,L
Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour

Activity note: Walking approximately 1 mile on a series of short walks from our motorcoach.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will be joined by a local professor who will lecture on the history and settlement of Australia. We then board our coach to visit Sydney's sought-after eastern suburbs and South Head to see the narrow entrance to the harbour. Our exploration concludes in the renowned beach-side suburb of Bondi.

Lunch: At a typical, local Australian club in Bondi, we will have pre-ordered plated meals.

Afternoon: Free Time. Those who wish can stay and explore Bondi and the coastal suburbs, making your own way back to town via the easily negotiated public transport system. The motorcoach will return to the city centre and do a drop-off there en route to our hotel. Enjoy more of this wonderful city on your own.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. Sample what Sydney's restaurant scene has to offer.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
20
Taronga Zoo, Sydney Opera House, Performance
Sydney
B,L,D
Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour

Activity note: On our feet most of the morning, walking approximately 3 miles at zoo; undulating, paved surfaces. Walking approximately 2 miles afternoon and evening, undulating paved surfaces and stairs. Please note that this program was put together well before the Sydney Opera House performance schedule was released. Details of the performance we are attending will be in your final information packet mailed one month prior to the program commencing.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will take our motorcoach across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Taronga Zoo, located on the north shore, with delightful views across the harbour to the city. Here we will begin our study of Australian fauna. As well as meeting kangaroos, koalas and wallabies — and hoping for a glimpse of the rather more elusive wombat, echidna, and platypus — we will have a lecture from one of the keepers introducing some of Australia’s more dangerous inhabitants: spiders and snakes.

Lunch: At Taronga Park Zoo, we will have a buffet barbecue lunch.

Afternoon: Next, we will take a ferry back across Sydney Harbour to Circular Quay. We will walk around the Quay to the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage listed Sydney Opera House, where we will have an expert-led exploration of this truly wonderful, iconic building, a masterpiece of late modern architecture. Exactly which areas of the Opera House we see will depend upon what performances and rehearsals are taking place at the time. There are five main performance spaces at the Sydney Opera House — the Concert Hall, the Dame Joan Sutherland Theatre (formerly the Opera Theatre), the Drama Theatre, the Playhouse and the Studio — and the availability of these spaces open to visits changes from day to day. We will then return to our hotel and have some time to freshen up and relax before an early dinner.

Dinner: We will have an early buffet dinner at our hotel allowing us to get to tonight's performance at the Opera House in plenty of time.

Evening: Performance. We will attend a performance in the Sydney Opera House, one of the world's great pieces of architectural design. We will return to the hotel via motorcoach. Prepare for check out and departure in the morning.

DAY
21
Fly to Melbourne, Shrine of Remembrance, Skydeck
Melbourne
B,L,D
The Swanston Hotel Melbourne, Grand Mercure

Activity note: Field trip combines viewing from motorcoach with short walks. The flight from Sydney to Melbourne takes about 1 hour 35 minutes. Qantas typically uses a mix of Boeing 737, Boeing 767 and Airbus A330 aircraft on this route.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: This morning we check out of our Sydney hotel and coach to Sydney Domestic Airport for our flight to Melbourne. Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, is the capital of Victoria, a state in the south-eastern corner of Australia. During the gold era Melbourne possessed great wealth and many of the city’s fine buildings were built during this period of prosperity. Its magnificent streetscapes and extensive parks and gardens provide an ideal setting for its many elegant buildings. In the past Melbourne was a larger business centre and city than Sydney and today the two cities continue a friendly rivalry. Both are cosmopolitan and multi-cultural and Melbourne has many strong ethnic communities from three major periods of migration including: Chinese and German (after the gold rushes), Italian, Greek, southern European (post-World War II) and, more recently, Asian. Melbourne is reputed to have the largest Greek population of any city outside Athens. We will be met by our local Site Coordinator and transferred into the city.

Lunch: At a café set in the Royal Botanic Gardens, lunch will consist of shared platters.

Afternoon: Next, we will visit the Shrine of Remembrance, a National War Memorial of great significance to Melburnians. We will then head up to the Eureka Skydeck 88 on the 88th floor of the Eureka Tower, where we will gain an understanding of the city’s layout. During our field trip, our Site Coordinator will give us an overview, introducing us to Melbourne and the State of Victoria. We transfer to our hotel and check in.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will have a pre-ordered, plated, two-course meal.

Evening: At leisure. For those who wish, this evening there is the opportunity to watch a video educating us on aspects of Australia's unique environment.

DAY
22
Contemporary Australia, Queen Victoria Market, Penguins
Melbourne
B,L,D
The Swanston Hotel Melbourne, Grand Mercure

Activity note: Walking approximately 2 miles; flat, paved surfaces. The drive to Phillip Island is about 90 miles (140 kilometres), approximately 2.5 hours each way. Depending on the time of sunset in different seasons, dinner today may be after our penguin viewing.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will be joined by a local attorney who will give a lecture on contemporary Australia, touching on areas of interest such as health, education, and the political system. With our local Site Coordinator we will then walk from our hotel through some of Melbourne's famously funky laneways before hopping aboard Melbourne’s iconic tram system for the short trip to visit the city’s well-known and quirky Queen Victoria Market. Here we have time to explore on our own and soak up the vibrant, cosmopolitan atmosphere. The Vic Market, also know as the Queen Vic, has been a highlight of Melbourne for more than a century. This historic landmark is spread over two city blocks.

Lunch: Sample the fare you fancy at Queen Victoria Markets.

Afternoon: We will have some time to explore on our own before returning independently to the hotel. We will then board our motorcoach bound for Phillip Island. En route, we will pause at a local wildlife conservatory with another opportunity to see some of Australia’s most recognisable residents: kangaroos, koalas, and maybe a wombat or two.

Dinner: At a small-town bistro in San Remo near Phillip Island, we will have pre-ordered plated meals.

Evening: We will move on to Phillip Island Nature Park in time for the Penguin Parade. Here we can watch the gorgeous little penguins come ashore at dusk after their day out fishing. After viewing these wonderful creatures we will board our coach and return to our hotel and bed.

DAY
23
National Gallery of Victoria, Australian Art, Free Time
Melbourne
B
The Swanston Hotel Melbourne, Grand Mercure

Activity note: Walking approximately 2 miles on flat surfaces.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will walk the short distance to the National Gallery of Victoria (there is a tram available for those who prefer) for an introduction to Australian art. A local art historian will give us a lecture on Australian art. We will then have an expert-led exploration of the Aboriginal art exhibition.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most in this cosmopolitan city. The Group Leader and local Site Coordinator will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader and Site Coordinator will be happy to offer suggestions for Melbourne's renowned restaurant scene.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer tomorrow.

DAY
24
Fly to Alice Springs, School of the Air, BBQ, Southern Stars
Alice Springs
B,L,D
Mercure Alice Springs Resort

Activity note: The flight from Melbourne to Alice Springs is approximately 2 hours. Qantas typically uses Boeing 737 aircraft on this route. Walking approximately 1.5 miles; paved surfaces.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of our hotel and transfer to Melbourne Domestic Airport for our flight to Alice Springs, gateway to the Red Centre. Alice Springs is located almost exactly at the geographic centre of Australia and has been a home for Aborigines for 30,000 years. Many of the physical features of the land have great cultural significance. Originally established in 1888 as Stuart, the town developed through the need for an overland telegraph line to assist Australia with its communications to the world. Today, “The Alice” is a pleasurable, modern town and is a major access point for the many tourist attractions of central Australia. On arrival we are met by our Red Centre Site Coordinator and have an overview of Alice Springs and the Red Centre on the way to our hotel.

Lunch: At the hotel, we will have a platter lunch before we check in to our rooms.

Afternoon: Our field trip this afternoon is to the School of the Air. In Australia’s vast territories, most people live near the coast. Those in the Outback — remote, rural, sparsely populated interior regions — often suffered from a lack of educational opportunities. The School of the Air was established in 1951 as a radio network for two-way teaching and learning broadcasts. New technology and the Internet have since made things much easier. We will visit the School of the Air Visitor Centre to gain an understanding of the techniques employed to provide education across the isolated and remote expanse of the Outback. We will then return to our hotel for a lecture with our local Site Coordinator introducing the culture, art, and heritage of the Aborigines of the Red Centre.

Dinner: At the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, we will have a BBQ dinner. As we dine a local musician will entertain us with ballads and yarns of the Australian bush. From the official Australian government website: “The bush has an iconic status in Australian life…especially as expressed in Australian literature, painting, popular music, films and foods. The bush was something that was uniquely Australian and very different to the European landscapes familiar to many new immigrants…revered as a source of national ideals.”

Evening: A local astronomer will introduce the stars of the southern sky. We can look for the Southern Cross and other southern constellations in the clear air of Australia's Red Centre.

DAY
25
Desert Wildlife, Flying Doctors, Aboriginal Bush Tucker
Alice Springs
B,L,D
Mercure Alice Springs Resort

Activity note: On our feet most of the morning, walking approximately 2.5 miles; well-cared-for dirt surfaces. In the afternoon, walking approximately 1 mile; fairly even surfaces, some sand.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will visit Alice Springs Desert Park where our local Site Coordinator will help us gain an understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Australian desert and the life that exists there.

Lunch: At Alice Springs Desert Park, we will have a buffet lunch.

Afternoon: Next, we will we travel to Simpson’s Gap in the Western MacDonnell Ranges and view the permanent waterhole in its stunning location under the towering cliffs of the Simpson Range. Returning to Alice Springs, we will visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and learn how aircraft and technology are used to deliver medical services in the huge distances of central Australia. Founded in 1928, the RFDS is now one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world, providing primary health care and 24-hour emergency service to people over an area of nearly 3 million square miles (7.3 million square kilometres).

Dinner: At a local restaurant, an indigenous caterer and businesswoman will introduce native Aboriginal bush foods, their traditional use and how they are being incorporated into contemporary cuisine. We will have dinner at the restaurant where our taste buds will discover for themselves just how contemporary Australian cuisine is utilising traditional Aboriginal flavourings.

Evening: Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the evening is at leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
26
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Sunset at Ayers Rock
Uluru (Ayers Rock)
B,L,D
Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge

Activity note: The drive from Alice Springs to Uluru is about 310 miles (500 kilometres), approximately 6.5 hours. Walking approximately 2 miles in a series of short walks; flat surfaces.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel and board our motorcoach for the journey to Uluru with an excursion to a camel farm en route. We will also pause for morning tea at a typical Outback roadhouse. Rising from the arid heartland of Australia are the haunting geological marvels of Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). They lie within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which is owned by the local Aborigines. Uluru is a red sandstone monolith, the world’s second largest at 5.5 miles around, with smooth slopes rising to 1,098 feet. For thousands of years this rock has been the focus for religious, cultural, territorial and economic inter-relations among the Aboriginal peoples of the Western Desert. Caves around the base of the rock were used by Aboriginal people for shelter and were decorated with their paintings. Kata Tjuta is a collection of smaller, more rounded rocks that are very captivating. The tallest rock, Mt Olga, is nearly 656 feet higher than Uluru.

Lunch: At Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park Cultural Centre, we will have a buffet lunch.

Afternoon: We will explore Uluru by motorcoach and on foot. This sacred Aboriginal site is truly awe-inspiring. Our Northern Territory Site Coordinator will explain something of the significance of the Rock to the local Aborigines. We will then transfer to our hotel and check in, leaving our large bags locked on the coach for the night. In the late afternoon we will take in a sunset viewing of Uluru, watching the amazing colours of the Rock as the sun sets.

Dinner: In the hotel, we will have pre-ordered plated meals.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
27
Kata Tjuta, Fly to Cairns, Great Barrier Reef Introduction
Cairns
B,L,D
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Activity note: Walking approximately 2 miles, 1 hour; gently climbing surface. The flight from Uluru to Cairns is approximately 2.5 hours. Qantas typically utilises Boeing 717 aircraft on this route.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We check out of the hotel and travel out to Kata Tjuta, the spectacular formation of 36 rounded domes. Kata Tjuta means "many heads" in a local language. Here we will walk up Walpa Gorge, affording wonderful views across the Outback.

Lunch: Returning to the hotel, we will have pre-ordered plated meals.

Afternoon: Next, we will transfer to Ayers Rock Airport for our flight to Cairns. Cairns, on the east coast of Australia, is the most northerly city in the state of Queensland. It is always green and lush with abundant tropical plants and flowers. It is also one of Australia’s fastest-growing cities and, in addition to its role as a regional centre for dairy, timber and sugar production, it is an important tourist destination. Cairns is uniquely situated between two UNESCO World Heritage listed areas: the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest.

Dinner: On board our flight.

Evening: Upon our arrival, we will be met by our Cairns Site Coordinator and transfer to our hotel, with an introduction to Cairns and our program en route. After check in, we will be joined by a local marine biologist for a lecture on the Great Barrier Reef. He will give us insights into what we might see tomorrow on our cruise out to this World Heritage listed icon.

DAY
28
Great Barrier Reef Cruise & Snorkel
Cairns
B,L
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off a large catamaran and on/off a small tender shuttling between the boat and the cay. Walking on a sandy cay, snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. Snorkels, masks, flippers provided.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Sure to be one of the highlights of our program, we will have a full day cruise on the Great Barrier Reef where we can view the World Heritage listed coral reefs. We will be able to snorkel among the spectacular coral reef and/or view the reef from a semi-submersible vessel. As UNESCO notes, “The Great Barrier Reef is a site of remarkable variety and beauty on the north-east coast of Australia. It contains the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc.”

Lunch: Aboard our cruise vessel, we will have a buffet lunch.

Afternoon: Our cruise continues this afternoon. We return to Cairns in the late afternoon.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Esplanade's wide range of restaurants is only a block or two from our hotel.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
29
The Rainforest, Kuranda, Skyrail, Coastal Aboriginal Culture
Cairns
B,L,D
Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Activity note: Getting on/off gondolas; walking approximately 2 miles; flat surfaces, some stairs at cable car.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will have a lecture by a local expert introducing the second of Cairns’ World Heritage listed features, the Wet Tropical Rainforests of North Queensland. We will gain an understanding of the abundance of life in the tropical rainforest. We will then transfer to the village of Kuranda, a mountain retreat surrounded by rainforest, with some time for self directed exploration before lunch.

Lunch: At a local restaurant in Kuranda, we will have pre-ordered plated meals.

Afternoon: Next, we will walk to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to take the stunning cableway journey sweeping above the canopy of the World Heritage-listed rainforest. At the Rainforest Interpretive Station, our lecturer will lead a walk on a circular track of boardwalk as we learn more about this special environment. We will then take the short walk to Tjapukai Aboriginal Park to learn about the lifestyle of the northern coastal Aborigines. Here we will have an opportunity to see if we can make our boomerangs come back. We reboard our motorcoach and transfer the short distance back to our hotel.

Dinner: In our hotel, we will have our farewell dinner. We will have "farewell to Australia" wine with dinner.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
30
Free Time, Fly to Sydney
Sydney
B,D
Mercure Hotel Sydney Airport

Activity note: The flight from Cairns to Sydney is approximately 3 hours. Qantas typically uses Qantas 737 aircraft on this route.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Free Time. Take this opportunity to see and do more of what interests you most, whether exploring Cairns or final packing. We come together at the hotel and transfer to the airport for our afternoon flight to Sydney.

Lunch: On your own, although we will get a light meal on board our flight.

Afternoon: We fly to Sydney this afternoon. Upon our arrival in Sydney, we transfer in our motorcoach to our Sydney Airport hotel in the safe hands of our Group Leader.

Dinner: We have dinner tonight in our Sydney Airport hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for hotel check out and departure in the morning.

DAY
31
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Activity Notes: Hotel check out is by 10:00 a.m. See your program’s travel details regarding transfers. If you are an independent traveller (POP status), please see the information “For participants NOT taking the group transfer”.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: We will check out of our hotel and transfer to Sydney Airport. This concludes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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