Stunning landscapes abound on this two-week odyssey through Australia and New Zealand. Bask on the beaches of Palm Cove, dive into the Great Barrier Reef, scale the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and set off into the bush to discover the rugged beauty of the Blue Mountains. Then it's off to Auckland for an adventure through the North and South Islands—cruising through glowworm caves, meeting the iconic kiwi bird, joining a traditional Maori feast, and ending in the adventure capital of Queenstown.


  • Take a full-day diving expedition into the Great Barrier Reef
  • Travel through the Queensland rainforest for river snorkeling in Mossman Gorge 
  • Tour the historic neighborhoods and iconic landmarks of Sydney
  • Explore the geothermal wonders and Maori culture of Rotorua
  • Cruise along Milford Sound / Piopiotahi to see waterfalls and penguins

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cairns (Australia), Transfer to Palm Cove  Palm Cove
Day 2 Full-Day Great Barrier Reef Tour & Intro Dive Palm Cove
Day 3 Full-Day Mossman Gorge Adventure with River Drift Snorkeling Palm Cove
Day 4 Fly to Sydney, Optional Activities  Sydney
Day 5 Sydney City Tour, Opera House Tour & Bridge Climb Sydney
Day 6 Day Trip to the Blue Mountains National Park Sydney
Day 7 Fly to Auckland (New Zealand), Explore Auckland
Day 8 Auckland Bush & Beach Tour Auckland
Day 9 Transfer to Rotorua via Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Rotorua
Day 10 Visit the National Kiwi Hatchery, Te Ra Guided Experience & Performance Rotorua
Day 11 Fly to Queenstown, Explore Queenstown 
Day 12 Full-Day Trip to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi  Queenstown 
Day 13 Lake Wakatipu Cruise, Walter Peak Farm Visit & Gourmet Barbecue Lunch Queenstown 
Day 14 Depart Queenstown  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairns (Australia), Transfer to Palm Cove 

Palm Cove
You can head straight to the beach upon arrival in Palm Cove

Welcome to Australia! Arrive at the airport in Cairns, where your driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel in Palm Cove. Located just north of Cairns, this small town sits between the Daintree Rainforest and the sparkling waters of the Coral Sea and is known for its luxurious but laid-back vibe. Among its centuries-old melaleuca tree-fronted esplanades, you can do as little or as much as you like.

The day is free, so unwind with a luxury treatment at a local spa after your flight. You could dine on freshly caught seafood at a beachfront restaurant or eat take-away fish and chips under a pine tree. Enjoy mesmerizing views of the coral coast, visit the many boutiques and cafés, or walk along the jetty and watch locals fish for their catch of the day.

Day 2: Full-Day Great Barrier Reef Tour & Intro Dive

An aquatic paradise
Explore an aquatic paradise with a full-day excursion to the Great Barrier Reef

Today you'll head out early to Port Douglas Marina, where you'll board a high-speed catamaran for a full-day excursion to the UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef. This coral reef is the world's largest and is home to over 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays. There are hundreds of tropical islands dotted throughout, as well as sun-soaked golden beaches. 

Visit the pristine outer edge at Agincourt ribbon reefs, and enjoy over five hours of exploring the wonders of this aquatic wilderness. Discover up to three different diving sites, each offering a new experience. After your introductory dive, relax on the expansive sundecks overlooking the Coral Sea. Afterward, a bus will be waiting at Port Douglas Marina to take you back to Palm Cove.

Day 3: Full-Day Mossman Gorge Adventure with River Drift Snorkeling

Mossman Gorge
Learn about Queensland's ancient Wet Tropics rainforest and Aboriginal culture with a visit to Mossman Gorge

Immerse yourself in a rainforest experience like no other! After being collected from your accommodation, your driver will take you 45 minutes up the coast to Mossman Gorge, where an Indigenous ecotourism center serves as the gateway to one of Daintree National Park's most beautiful areas. On today's excursion, you'll be welcomed by the Kuku Yalanji people, the region's traditional owners who live in complete harmony with their environment. Start with a smoking ceremony to cleanse visitors of evil spirits, then have traditional body paint applied as you prepare to enter the rainforest.

Next, you'll explore more of Daintree National Park during a 1.5-hour interpretive walk, giving you a deeper understanding of this ancient rainforest and the Aboriginal stories that surround it. After lunch, travel to the Mossman River for a one-of-a-kind snorkeling tour, where you'll float in the crystalline waters and spot turtles, water dragons, and, if you're very lucky, platypus. At the end of the day, you'll return to Palm Cove.

Day 4: Fly to Sydney, Optional Activities 

Welcome to Sydney
Settle into city life in bustling Sydney

Get ready for the big city as your driver collects you from the hotel lobby and drops you off at the airport for the three-hour flight to Sydney. Often mistaken as Australia's capital (that would be Canberra), this city feels like the country's central metropolis. This is due to its famous sights, historic neighborhoods, world-class culinary and nightlife scenes, prime waterfront location, and pristine beaches. After a transfer to your hotel, you'll have the remainder of the day to explore the city on your own.

You could spend the afternoon visiting Sydney's iconic harbor and drinking at a waterfront bar amid city views. If you're feeling adventurous, take a surf lesson at Bondi Beach, or, for a calmer pastime, swim in Coogee's tranquil waters. Travel to historic neighborhoods and lose yourself in the cobblestone laneways of The Rocks, or browse the markets, boutiques, cafés, and pubs of upscale Paddington, whose distinctive terrace houses date to the Victorian era. And when the sun goes down, dine on the city's renowned multicultural fare before taking on its legendary nightlife.
Plan your trip to Australia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Sydney City Tour, Opera House Tour & Bridge Climb

Take a walk through colorful Oxford Street in Sydney's Paddington neighborhood

This morning's four-hour guided walking tour delivers the highlights of Australia's largest city and takes you to some lesser-known gems. Enjoy magnificent views of the harbor as you visit charming neighborhoods, including strolling through trendy Oxford Street. Arrive at the coast to enjoy a superb cliff walk around the beachside suburbs of Tamarama and Bronte, then return to the city via scenic waterfront areas such as Double Bay and the sandstone rock outcroppings of Lady Macquarie's Chair.

After lunch, you'll see inside the world's most recognizable sails with a backstage tour of the Sydney Opera House. Learn how this architectural feat came into existence against impossible odds to become one of the world's most famous performing arts centers. Your guide will take you on a memorable journey, engrossing you in a story to rival any opera plot with its dramatic twists and turns.

As evening falls, prepare to see Sydney turn from day to night atop the famous "coathanger"—the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Strap on a harness and let a BridgeClimb leader take you 439 feet (134 m) above sea level for an adrenaline-pumping journey that provides excellent 360-degree views of the city. After your descent, head to Circular Quay and Darling Harbour to take your pick of some of the city's best restaurants.

Day 6: Day Trip to the Blue Mountains National Park

The Three Sisters , Blue Mountains
See the iconic Three Sisters rock formation from Eaglehawk Lookout

It's an early start as your guide takes you on an adventure into the wilds of Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales' most visited national park. On your way, stop at Calmsley Hill, a working farm where you'll find koalas, wombats, emus, and kangaroos. Enjoy tea here and some free time to explore before continuing the journey with stops en route at a viewpoint over the Jamison Valley.

At Eaglehawk Lookout, appreciate a view of the Three Sisters without the crowds, then relax over lunch with another stunning view at Blackheath. This will set you up for an afternoon visiting a selection of fantastic lookouts. A highlight will be Govetts Leap, one of the most famous vistas in Australia with a waterfall where you can gaze down the valley to the Grose Wilderness. Your last stop is the beautiful Blue Mountains Botanic Garden for a cold drink and sweeping views of Sydney before returning to your hotel down the Bells Line of Road.

Day 7: Fly to Auckland (New Zealand), Explore 

Auckland's skyline
Arrive in the City of Sails on New Zealand's North Island

Bid farewell to Australia as you head to the airport this morning to catch a three-hour flight to Auckland on New Zealand's North Island. After a transfer to your hotel, check in and relax before heading out to explore the country's largest city. With two bustling harbors and more than 500,000 sailboats and yachts, it's easy to see why Auckland is nicknamed the "City of Sails." For supreme views, scale the 1,075-foot (328 m) Sky Tower with its dizzying observation deck, or make your way to Mount Eden, one of the city's 48 volcanic cones.

Don't miss a relaxing stroll around Waitematā Harbour, a starting point for sailing, cruising, and whale watching excursions. Keep a close lookout for the orcas and bottlenose dolphins that regularly visit the waters close to the city. Or head to Auckland Fish Market, offering seafood lunch options like steamed mussels and fresh oysters. 

Day 8: Auckland Bush & Beach Tour

Auckland Best of Both World:  Bush and Beach  - Full day
You'll find plenty of beautiful beaches not far from Auckland

Today you'll explore the best of the city's highlights on a full-day tour. Travel up Queen Street, through Auckland's central business district, past Auckland University, and through the inner city park known as the Domain. Continue to the Ponsonby neighborhood, with its historic buildings, before crossing the Harbour Bridge to Auckland's North Shore. Stroll on a beautiful beach before heading to Mount Victoria for panoramic views of the city.

This afternoon, travel 18.6 miles (30 km) from downtown Auckland to the city's largest regional park, the Waitakere Ranges. The Arataki Centre is perched high on the ridge with panoramic views from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Admire the magnificent traditional Māori carvings before walking through the lush rainforest with giant tree ferns and New Zealand's famous kauri trees. Finally, experience the power of the wild and rugged western coast—feel black sand beneath your feet as you walk along some of the most awe-inspiring beaches in the world.

Day 9: Transfer to Rotorua via Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves

Drop in at Hobbiton for some fun in Middle-earth on the way south to Rotorua

Leave Auckland today and get on the road as your driver takes you south to Rotorua with some fun detours in between. After about two hours, reach your first stop at Waitomo, home to a famous set of glowworm caves. Here you'll take a 45-minute guided tour through impressive underground caverns while learning about stalactites, stalagmites, and other limestone structures and how they were formed throughout millions of years. The event includes a boat ride through the Glowworm Grotto for a silent glide along an underground river while gazing at twinkling glowworms overhead.

Next, it's time to get back on the road for another hour to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set for "The Lord of The Rings" and "The Hobbit" movies. Take a guided tour here and learn how this working farm was transformed into the Shire from Middle-earth. Your guide will show you several specific film locations and fill you in on some secrets from production. Following the tour, you'll continue another hour to reach your hotel in Rotorua, where you'll stay for two nights. Brace yourself for the smell of sulfur!

Rotorua is known for bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers, and natural hot springs, as well as showcasing Māori culture. Use the rest of your afternoon to explore this geothermal area. Rotorua also has several prominent Māori tribes, and traditional villages welcome visitors. Alternatively, head up the Rotorua Gondola for soaring lake views, luge tracks, a zipline, and more. 

Day 10: Visit the National Kiwi Hatchery, Te Ra Guided Experience & Performance

The National Kiwi Hatchery- Premium Hatchery Tour
See the colorful Champagne Pool at Hell's Gate in Rotorua

Start this morning with a visit to the National Kiwi Hatchery to learn about New Zealand's national bird. In the wild, only five percent of kiwi chicks reach six months of age due to predators such as stoats. However, if they are removed from the wild at this vulnerable age and released back at a heavier weight, they have an improved survival rate. You'll see incubation and hatching technology as you learn about the Kiwi Recovery Program. Join the husbandry team where kiwis are cared for until they're ready for the outdoor enclosures and finally view them in a more natural environment behind glass. 

Your next stop is Te Puia, where you'll walk through the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley with a Māori guide, stopping to look at bubbling mud pools, mineral springs, and shooting geysers. To learn more about New Zealand's famous flightless bird, you can also visit the Kiwi Conservation Centre. In Pikirangi Village and Rotowhio Marae, you'll learn how the Māori people lived before European settlement.

If there's time before the evening's activities, consider visiting Hell's Gate to explore more of Rotorua's geothermal activity. Follow a self-guided interactive walk before sinking into the mud and sulfur waters to experience the healing properties. Later this evening, enjoy a traditional dinner at Mitai Māori Village, home to the Te Arawa tribe, who were the original inhabitants of the Rotorua Lakes region. As you dine, enjoy cultural performances, including a pōhiri (traditional welcome), waiata (song), mōteatea (traditional chant), poi, and haka dances.

Day 11: Fly to Queenstown, Explore

Welcome to Queenstown!
Fly into the adventure capital of Queenstown on New Zealand's South Island

Today you'll bid farewell to Rotorua and catch a two-hour flight to Queenstown on the South Island. Located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in the Southern Alps, this ruggedly beautiful region offers hair-raising thrills, vineyards, and historic gold-mining towns. After transferring to your hotel and getting settled in, spend the rest of the afternoon exploring this scenic, walkable town.

Start at Kiwi Park Queenstown, a 5-acre (2 ha) wildlife center dedicated to saving endangered species. Then, ride the Skyline Gondola over 1,400 feet (450 m) to Bob's Peak for panoramic views of The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, and Lake Wakatipu. Enjoy a dining experience at the top or ride the downhill luge track to town, where there are more dining options.

Day 12: Full-Day Trip to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi 

Full Day Milford Sound Van/Cruise/Van (Shared small group tour)
Spend the day cruising along Milford Sound / Piopiotahi and spotting wildlife like seals, penguins, and dolphins

Rise early and meet your guide to discover the natural wonders of Milford Sound / Piopiotahi. The journey there on Milford Road is inspiring. From Queenstown, it follows the shore of Lake Wakatipu, passing through Southland farmland to Te Anau. Then, you'll continue through the remote Fiordland National Park, where you can admire glacier-carved valleys, blue lakes, and native bush as you cross the Southern Alps.

Once you've arrived in Milford Sound / Piopiotahi, you'll head out on a two-hour small boat nature cruise on the fjord, where you'll see waterfalls, fur seals, penguins, and, if you're in luck, dolphins. A specialist nature guide will provide commentary and lead you to visit lesser-known spots. After your cruise, you'll be driven back to Queenstown.

Day 13: Lake Wakatipu Cruise, Walter Peak Farm Visit & Gourmet Barbecue Lunch

Walter Peak Farm and Gourmet Barbecue Lunch
Cruise across Lake Wakatipu to reach the historic Walter Peak High Country Farm

Celebrate the penultimate day of your trip with a memorable cruise on the TSS Earnslaw, a historic vintage steamship known as "The Lady of the Lake." You'll cruise across sparkling Lake Wakatipu and make a stop at Walter Peak High Country Farm, where you'll be treated to a lakeside gourmet barbecue, soaking up the alpine scenery and atmosphere of the former colonel's homestead.

After you've eaten, wander around its beautiful gardens, and watch sheepdogs at work during a farm demonstration. Upon returning to your hotel, make the most of your last night with a lakeside drink or enjoy Queenstown's nightlife.

Day 14: Depart Queenstown

Conclusion of your Trip
Farewell, Queenstown!

Your grand Australia and New Zealand adventure concludes today. When the time comes, your driver will take you to the airport to catch your departing flight. Make sure to grab a window seat if you can to catch a final view of Queenstown as you depart. Safe travels!

More Great Australia Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Australia? Check out these other Australia itineraries, explore more ways to spend two weeks in Australia and New Zealand, or discover the best time to visit Australia.


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Map of Australia & New Zealand Panorama: Palm Cove, Sydney, Auckland, Rotorua & Queenstown - 14 Days
Map of Australia & New Zealand Panorama: Palm Cove, Sydney, Auckland, Rotorua & Queenstown - 14 Days