Cross mountains, rivers, and oceans on this 12-day journey through Australia and New Zealand. Start in Sydney, where you'll visit Shark Island and discover its grottoes, secluded beaches, and cliffs. Fly north to Palm Cove to scuba dive and explore the Great Barrier Reef, then hop over to New Zealand's adventure capital of Queenstown—where you'll go wine tasting in Central Otago, take an overnight cruise through Milford Sound, and explore narrow canyons by jet boat.


  • Discover astounding aquatic scenery as you scuba dive near the Great Barrier Reef
  • Go wine tasting in one of New Zealand's most famous wine-producing regions
  • Observe marine life in all of its forms while cruising through Milford Sound
  • Hold on tight as you ride a jet boat through canyons and whitewater rapids

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Sydney Sydney
Day 2 Free Morning to Explore & Sydney Harbour Discovery Lunch Cruise Sydney
Day 3 Day Trip to the Blue Mountains Sydney
Day 4 Transfer to Palm Cove Palm Cove
Day 5 Full-Day Outer Reef & Intro Dive Palm Cove
Day 6 Full-Day Mossman Gorge Adventure with River Drift Snorkeling Palm Cove
Day 7 Fly to Queenstown, New Zealand's Aventure Capital Queenstown
Day 8 Boutique Wine Tour, Walter Peak Farm & Gourmet Barbecue Dinner Queenstown
Days 9-10 Milford Sound Overnight Cruise Queenstown
Day 11 Jet Boat & 4WD Adventure in Queenstown Queenstown
Day 12 Depart Queenstown   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Sydney

Welcome to Sydney!
A view of Sydney Harbour at dusk

Welcome to Sydney! Upon arrival, you'll transfer to your hotel and take some time to relax before you discover the city. There's free time in the morning, so why not soak up the city's iconic harbor, outdoor lifestyle, and natural beauty? Learn to surf at Bondi Beach or swim in the calm waters of Coogee. Lose yourself in the cobblestone cul-de-sacs of The Rocks. Visit the markets, boutiques, cafés, and pubs of Paddington. As evening falls, dine on the city's famous multicultural fare before taking on its legendary nightlife. 

Day 2: Free Morning to Explore & Sydney Harbour Discovery Lunch Cruise

See behind the scenes at the Sydney Opera House

Discover more of Sydney this morning with a tour of the Sydney Opera House. Don't miss a stroll across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which offers spectacular city views. If you feel like exploring more on foot, head to Darling Harbour, the Botanical Gardens, or Woolloomooloo.

In the afternoon, take in the sights from the water with a three-hour afternoon cruise. You'll visit Shark Island National Park, where you can swim in its calm waters at your leisure. Don't miss the island's foreshore, where you'll find mysterious grottoes dating back to the early 1900s. Enjoy its many secluded beaches and spectacular sandstone cliffs. Learn about the history of Sydney Harbour and the marine life that inhabits its sandy beaches, grassy seabeds, and rocky shores.

Day 3: Day Trip to the Blue Mountains

The Three Sisters rock formations, in the Blue Mountains
The Three Sisters rock formations in the Blue Mountains

Spend today hiking in the Blue Mountains just west of Sydney, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site known for staggering cliffs, secluded lookouts, cascading waterfalls, and eucalyptus forest. The excursion starts at a working farm, where you'll encounter kangaroos, emus, wombats, and koalas. Then hike across stunning valleys and ridges as you approach Jamison Valley Lookout. Experience the majesty of the changing colors at the Three Sisters Lookout as the sun moves throughout the day.

Reach Govett's Leap, one of Australia's most famous lookouts, and marvel at the sweeping view across Grose Valley, Australia's Grand Canyon. Your final stop is 3,280 feet (1,000 m) above sea level at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. See hundreds of different plant species worldwide and discover the many birds, lizards, possums, and insects that call the park home.

Day 4: Fly to Palm Cove

Palm Cove
The idyllic tropical beaches of Palm Cove

It's time to fly north to the tropical coast of Queensland, where your driver will meet you at Cairns Airport 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.

Plan your trip to Australia
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Day 5: Full-Day Outer Reef & Intro Dive

An aquatic paradise
An aquatic paradise in 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 breathtaking 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 for you at Port Douglas Marina to take you back to Palm Cove.

Day 6: Full-Day Mossman Gorge Adventure with River Drift Snorkeling

The lush rainforests of Mossman Gorge

Immerse yourself in a rainforest experience like no other! After being collected from your accommodation, you'll transfer to Mossman Gorge to interact with the Kuku Yalanji people, First Nations inhabitants who live in complete harmony with their environment. Experience a traditional Kuku Yalanji smoking ceremony where you will be cleansed of evil spirits and have traditional rainforest body paint applied.

Next, you'll explore the Daintree National Park during a 1.5-hour interpretive walk, giving you a deeper understanding of this breathtaking rainforest. After lunch, travel to the Mossman River for a one-of-a-kind River Drift snorkeling tour. Search for turtles, water dragons, and the elusive platypus before returning to Palm Cove in the afternoon.

Day 7: Fly to Queenstown, New Zealand's Adventure Capital

Evening view of The Remarkables
An evening view over Queenstown and the Remarkables

It's time to head to New Zealand! Catch a flight to Queenstown, located on the South Island and set between the edge of Lake Wakatipu and the base of the Southern Alps. Upon arrival, you'll transfer from the airport to your hotel, where the rest of the day is free to explore on your own. Originally born out of the Gold Rush during the 1860s, Queenstown is now the capital for adrenaline and outdoor activities like bungee jumping, sky diving, and river rafting. 

Although renowned for adventure sports, it's also a great starting point for exploring the area's vineyards and historic mining towns. Start with a visit to the Skyline Complex and ride a gondola for panoramic views of Coronet Peak and the Remarkables mountain range. You could arrange a guided hike through Fiordland National Park or take a scenic drive to the surrounding mountains for stunning vistas and breathtaking photo opportunities.

Day 8: Boutique Wine Tour, Walter Peak Farm & Gourmet Barbecue Dinner

Vineyards in Cromwell
Vineyards in Cromwell

Start today with a wine-tasting journey through Central Otago's scenic and diverse wine sub-regions; Gibbston, Bannockburn, and Cromwell. You'll enjoy tastings at three boutique vineyards, followed by a platter-style lunch at a wine country restaurant. Savor the finest local produce with a glass of the valley's signature pinot noir wine. Stroll through the charming historical settlement of Old Cromwell and learn about this wine region's early pioneering history and development through fun facts and anecdotes from your knowledgeable guide.

Next, you'll take a cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station and enjoy spectacular views of Cecil and Walter Peaks and the lake's western shores. Once you arrive at Walter Peak, it's time for dinner! While you relax before a roaring open fire and soak in the stunning lakeside views, the chefs will prepare a gourmet barbecue on the grill—including a selection of succulent local meats and seafood. After the meal, you'll tour a local farm for a glimpse of life in the New Zealand high country, including a sheep shearing demonstration. The night-time cruise back home is a delight, with a sing-a-long lead by the ship's pianist.

Days 9-10: Milford Sound Overnight Cruise

Milford Sound
The tranquil waters of Milford Sound

Set out from Queenstown today by luxury bus and travel along the spectacular alpine route of Milford Road through impressive, awe-inspiring scenery. Once in Milford, you'll board the Milford Mariner and cruise the sound out to the Tasman Sea. A "sound" is a flooded river valley, but this is a flooded glacial valley with sheer-sided walls that plunge thousands of feet underwater. As you look out for wildlife such as seals, penguins, and dolphins, you'll learn about the history and environment of the cove. Go for a kayak ride or hop on a tender craft to explore the natural scenery up close.

The boat will anchor at Harrison Cove overnight, where you'll stay in private ensuite cabins. Enjoy a sumptuous three-course buffet dinner in the dining saloon, followed by an informative presentation about this exceptional region. Once you've had breakfast the following morning, there will be time for further cruising and exploring before returning to the Milford Wharf and transferring back to Queenstown in the afternoon.

Day 11: Jet Boat & 4WD Adventure in Queenstown

Brave whitewater rapids on the Shotover Jet boat

Today you'll enjoy the ultimate jet boat experience with a trip on the Shotover Jet. Take a breathtaking ride through dramatic, narrow canyons and hold on tight for exhilarating 360-degree spins. After the jet boat ride, climb aboard a 4WD vehicle for an off-road adventure. Explore the abandoned gold mining area of the Arrow River and film locations used in "Lord of the Rings." Travel the rugged terrain and experience proper off-roading as you follow the pioneer trails led by your expert guide.

Day 12: Depart Queenstown

Say goodbye to the mountains
Say goodbye to the mountains
It's time to say goodbye to Aotearoa and the "Land of the Long White Cloud." After a leisurely breakfast, take the shuttle to the airport to board your connecting flight to your next destination. Safe travels!

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Map of  Explore Australia & New Zealand: Sydney, Palm Cove & Queenstown - 12 Days
Map of Explore Australia & New Zealand: Sydney, Palm Cove & Queenstown - 12 Days