On this multicountry highlights tour, you'll spend seven nights each discovering eastern Australia and New Zealand. You'll start in Palm Cove, an excellent base for diving the Great Barrier Reef and rainforest excursions, and then you'll head to energetic Sydney. After seeing its iconic sights, you're off to check out Auckland, Rotorua, and Queenstown. You'll peek inside Hobbit holes, admire the glow of Waitomo Caves, meet the kiwis of a hatchery, and cruise the fjord of Milford Sound / Piopiotahi.


  • Thrill to a dive or snorkeling venture at the UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef
  • Discover the iconic sights of buzzy Sydney
  • Make like a Hobbit as you wander the famous filming location, Hobbiton
  • Learn more about New Zealand's national bird, the kiwi

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Cairns, Transfer to Palm Cove & Explore Palm Cove
Day 2 Great Barrier Outer Reef & Intro Dive Palm Cove
Day 3 Day Trip to Mossman Gorge Palm Cove
Day 4 Kuranda by Rail & Skyrail Palm Cove
Day 5 Fly to Sydney, Explore Sydney
Day 6 Morning Panoramic Sydney Sights Tour, Sydney Opera House Tour Sydney
Day 7 Day Trip to Blue Mountains National Park Sydney
Day 8 Fly to Auckland (New Zealand), Explore Auckland
Day 9 Auckland Best of Both Worlds: Bush & Beach Auckland
Day 10 Transfer to Rotorua via Hobbiton & Waitomo Glowworm Caves Rotorua
Day 11 The National Kiwi Hatchery, Te Ra Guided Experience & Performance Rotorua
Day 12 Fly to Queenstown, Free Time Queenstown
Day 13 Full-Day Milford Sound / Piopiotahi Tour Queenstown
Day 14 Lake Wakatipu Cruise, Walter Peak Farm Visit & Gourmet Barbecue Lunch Queenstown
Day 15 Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Cairns, Transfer to Palm Cove & Explore

Palm Cove
You have a free day to explore Palm Cove after your arrival

Welcome to Australia! Your driver will pick you up from Cairns Airport and take you to your accommodation in Palm Cove.

Palm Cove, between the Daintree Rainforest and the Coral Sea, is known for its luxurious but laid-back vibe. You have time to spend at leisure, so consider relaxing at a local spa after your flight. Then dine on freshly-caught seafood at a beachfront restaurant, or eat take-away fish and chips under a pine tree, enjoying the views. Alternatively, visit Palm Cove's many boutiques and cafés, or take a walk along the jetty and watch locals fish for their catch of the day.

Day 2: Great Barrier Outer Reef & Intro Dive

An aquatic paradise
Enjoy exploring the wonders of this aquatic wilderness

Head out early today to Port Douglas Marina, where you'll board your vessel for a full-day excursion to the UNESCO-listed Great Barrier Reef. You'll visit the pristine outer edge of Agincourt ribbon reefs, where you can explore this aquatic wilderness. You'll be taken to one to three different diving sites, each offering a new experience.

After your introductory dive, it's back to dry land, where you can relax on the sundecks overlooking the Coral Sea before your return transfer to your Palm Cove hotel, where you have the evening free.

Day 3: Day Trip to Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge is at the southeast corner of Daintree National Park

You'll be taken for a unique rainforest experience today in Mossman Gorge at the southeast corner of Daintree National Park. First, you'll experience a traditional Kuku Yalanji smoking ceremony. The Kuku Yalanji people are the Indigenous inhabitants of the land, and during the ceremony, you'll be cleansed of bad spirits and may have some traditional rainforest body paint applied. Afterward, you'll go on an interpretive walk in the Daintree National Park to help you understand your surroundings and life in the rainforest.

After lunch, you'll head to the Mossman River for an exciting snorkeling tour as you search for the elusive platypus, turtles, and water dragons. Once you've finished the tour, you'll be transferred back to your Palm Cove hotel for a night at leisure. 

Day 4: Kuranda by Rail & Skyrail

Full Day Kuranda Rail & Skyrail
You'll travel in style, gliding over the rainforest canopy

Today, you'll visit Kuranda, a pretty village known as the "Village in the Rainforest." Your journey starts at Freshwater Station, where you'll board a train for a historical, scenic rail journey. While you travel, gaze out of the windows admiring the stunning views over Cairns' cane fields to Kuranda's tropical rainforest. Once you arrive, you'll have free time to explore.

You could go shopping in Kuranda's famous Heritage Markets, which are full of colorful and interesting arts and crafts. Alternatively, see one of Australia's most extensive collections of free-flying birds at Birdworld, admire more than 1,500 tropical butterflies at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary, or coo over swamp wallabies, wombats, kangaroos, koalas, and more at Kuranda Koala Gardens. When it's time to leave, board the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, where you'll travel in style, gliding over the rainforest canopy. You'll stop twice en route to explore boardwalks and the CSIRO Interpretive Centre

Day 5: Fly to Sydney, Explore

Get out and explore Sydney and its iconic attractions

It's time to leave Palm Cove today to travel to the buzzy city of Sydney. You'll be picked up by a private driver first thing and taken to the airport to catch your flight. Upon arrival, another driver will be waiting to transfer you to your new hotel in Sydney.

Sydney is an incredibly popular city in Australia and is often mistaken as its capital (which is Canberra). You have free time today to get out and explore those iconic attractions. An excellent introduction is to start in its harbor, enjoying a drink at a waterfront bar and admiring the stunning city views. Or head to the famous Bondi Beach, where you could take a surf lesson, go swimming in the tranquil waters of Coogee, or get lost in the cobblestone laneways of The Rocks. If you have the energy after dinner, enjoy some of the city's legendary nightlife.

Day 6: Morning Panoramic Sydney Sights Tour, Sydney Opera House Tour

Bondi Beach
On your tour, you'll visit the famous Bondi Beach

Explore Australia's largest city, Sydney, this morning on a tour. Start in the historic The Rocks area to hear about convicts, then enjoy fantastic views of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Next, it's on to the city's shopping heart, the Queen Victoria Building, and the trendy Oxford Street district, before traveling through Paddington to reach coastal Tamarama and Bronte for a cliff walk. Continue to the famous Bondi Beach and admire the view from Dover Heights. Then it's back to central Sydney via Double Bay, Kings Cross, and Mrs Macquarie's Point for one last knockout view.

After lunch, you'll look around the world-famous UNESCO-listed Sydney Opera House. Construction of this expressionist marvel began in 1959 and was completed in 1973. On your tour, you'll go inside the multi-venue performing arts space to learn about what goes on behind the scenes. You'll discover more about its history and design and step into the main public spaces. During the tour, your knowledgeable guide will use high-tech audiovisual tools to tell its story with some images projected onto the building itself.

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

Day 7: Day Trip to Blue Mountains National Park

The Three Sisters , Blue Mountains
At Eaglehawk Lookout, enjoy a view of the famous Three Sisters

It's an early start today for an adventure in the Blue Mountains National Park, New South Wales's 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 famous 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 amazing 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 to Sydney before returning to your hotel down the Bells Line of Road.

Day 8: Fly to Auckland (New Zealand), Explore

Auckland's skyline
Auckland is known as the "City of Sails"

You'll travel to Auckland in New Zealand's North Island today. Meet your private driver at your hotel first thing and transfer to the airport to fly to New Zealand's largest city, known as the "City of Sails," due to the amounts of sailboats that surround the coastal city. You'll be picked up from the airport on arrival and taken to your hotel.

You've got the remainder of the day to explore Auckland's happening center, wandering along its chic waterfront promenades. Auckland and the surrounding area are home to 26 regional parks with diverse landscapes, from tropical rainforests to rugged coastlines and golden beaches. If you have time, you could head out of the city for a hike, a tour at a nearby vineyard, to soak in thermal springs, or to visit a black-sand surf beach.

Day 9: Auckland Best of Both Worlds: Bush & Beach

Mount Vic
Look down over Auckland City from the summit of Mount Victoria

Today you'll discover some of the best sights in and around Auckland. You'll start on Queen Street, walking through Auckland's central business district, past the University of Auckland, and through the inner city park known as the Domain. Before heading over the bridge to Auckland's North Shore, you'll continue through the trendy suburb of Ponsonby, with its historic buildings and numerous cafés and restaurants. Here you can wander on one of the beautiful white-sand beaches, have a waterside coffee, then climb to the summit of Mount Victoria to look down on Auckland City and historic Devonport.

After a busy morning, enjoy a short break before traveling around 18.6 miles (30 km) from downtown Auckland to the city's largest regional park, the Waitakere Ranges. Head to the Arataki Centre perched high on its ridge and admire the panoramic view from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean. See and learn about the traditional Māori carvings before walking on easy bush tracks in the lush rainforest among giant tree ferns, and admire New Zealand's famous kauri trees. Finally, explore the wild west coast, strolling on beautiful black-sand beaches.

Day 10: Transfer to Rotorua via Hobbiton & Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Hobbiton door
A Hobbit hole in Hobbiton

You'll love today's itinerary if you're a fan of the "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" movies. You'll be picked up first thing to visit the famous filming location, Hobbiton, where there are still Hobbit holes to peek into. Once you've had a tour, you'll travel to the Waitomo Glowworm Caves to wander among its underground stalactites, stalagmites, and glowworms.

Your day ends with a transfer to Rotorua—known for bubbling mud pools, shooting geysers, and natural hot springs, as well as showcasing Māori culture. Upon arriving at your hotel after a long day, take the evening to relax.

Day 11: Visit the National Kiwi Hatchery, Te Ra Guided Experience & Performance

Today, learn more about New Zealand's national bird, the kiwi

Your first visit is to the National Kiwi Hatchery. In the wild, only five percent of kiwi chicks reach six months of age due to introduced predators such as stoats. However, if they are removed from the wild at this vulnerable age and released back at a stoat-proof weight, they have an improved survival rate. You'll see incubation and hatching technology, learn about the kiwi recovery program, and join the expert husbandry team where kiwis are cared for until they are ready for the outdoor enclosures and will view them in a more natural environment behind glass. You can learn more through audiovisual material too.

If there's time before the evening's activities, consider visiting Hell's Gate to explore Rotorua's geothermal activity. Follow a self-guided interactive walk before sinking into the mud and sulfur waters to experience the healing properties the Māori have been using for more than 800 years. 

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 national bird, you can also visit the Kiwi Conservation Centre. In Pikirangi Village and Rotowhio Marae, you'll gain insight into how the Māori people lived before European settlement. Then look around the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute. Finally, enjoy a cultural performance including a pōhiri (traditional welcome), waiata (song), mōteatea (traditional chant), poi, and haka dances.

Day 12: Fly to Queenstown, Explore

Welcome to Queenstown!
Queenstown is on the beautiful shores of Lake Wakatipu

Today, you'll travel to Queenstown on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in the Southern Alps. Head to the airport by taxi in the morning to catch your short flight. A driver will pick you up upon your arrival and take you to your Queenstown hotel, where you'll have the afternoon at leisure to explore.

Known as the adventure capital of the world, you can enjoy high-adrenaline activities in Queenstown that include skydiving, bungee jumping, jet-boating, and ziplining to start. There are also hiking trails, mountain-biking routes, and a downhill luge track. You could also use it as a base to visit Central Otago's vineyards and historic gold-mining towns. Appreciate the area's majesty today and get a feel for the town from the Skyline Gondola high above. At the top, there's s restaurant and bar with panoramic views of Queenstown, out to Coronet Peak, and the Remarkables mountain range. 

Day 13: Full-Day Milford Sound / Piopiotahi Tour

Full Day Milford Sound Van/Cruise/Van (Shared small group tour)
Enjoy a nature cruise in Milford Sound / Piopiotahi

Today, an experienced guide will take you to the natural wonder 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 drive 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 help you visit lesser-known spots. After your cruise, you'll be driven back to Queenstown.

Day 14: Lake Wakatipu Cruise, Walter Peak Farm Visit & Gourmet Barbecue Lunch

Lake Whakatipu
Cruise across Lake Wakatipu aboard Lady of the Lake steamship

You'll board the TSS Earnslaw historic vintage steamship known as "The Lady of the Lake" this morning to cruise across Lake Wakatipu. There will be a stop at the 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 15: Depart 

You'll leave Queenstown today
It's the last day of your trip today. You'll be picked up from your hotel to travel to Queenstown Airport, where you'll board a flight to your onward destination. Until next time!

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Map of Highlights of Australia & New Zealand: Palm Cove, Sydney, Auckland & Queenstown - 15 Days
Map of Highlights of Australia & New Zealand: Palm Cove, Sydney, Auckland & Queenstown - 15 Days