The adventure begins in the cultural heartland of Melbourne, and continues in Adelaide, where you'll find unique wildlife. Next, you'll head into the Red Centre to see Uluru before transferring to Kakadu National Park in Darwin. You'll then venture east to Cairns to visit the Great Barrier Reef, and end in Sydney. From here, you'll fly over to New Zealand, where you will do adventure sports in Queenstown, hike Mount Cook, and explore Christchurch.

Highlights

  • Learn about Aboriginal history & culture at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
  • Explore the incredible underwater diversity of the Great Barrier Reef
  • See wild kangaroos, koalas, and more in Kangaroo Island
  • Cruise through the still waters of the astonishing Milford Sound Fiord
  • Hike in Mount Cook National Park, home to the tallest mountain in Australasia

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Melbourne Melbourne
Day 2 Melbourne City Tour Melbourne
Day 3 Melbourne Free Day & Evening Tour Melbourne
Day 4 Travel to Adelaide Adelaide
Day 5 Day Trip to Kangaroo Island Adelaide
Day 6 Transfer to the Red Center Uluru
Day 7 Uluru Sunrise & Free Day Uluru
Day 8 Transfer to Darwin Darwin
Day 9 Kakadu National Park Darwin
Day 10 Fly to Cairns Cairns
Day 11 Great Barrier Reef Day Trip Cairns
Day 12 Cairns Free Day Cairns
Day 13 Transfer to Sydney Sydney
Day 14 Sydney City Tour Sydney
Day 15 Sydney Free Day Sydney
Day 16 Depart From Sydney to Queenstown Queenstown
Day 17 Day Trip to Milford Sound Queenstown
Day 18 Queenstown Free Day Queenstown
Day 19 Day Trip to Queenstown Surroundings Queenstown
Day 20 Transfer to Mount Cook National Park Mount Cook Village
Day 21 Hooker Valley Guided Walk Mount Cook Village
Day 22 Transfer to Christchurch Christchurch
Day 23 Depart Home  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Melbourne

Melbourne by night
Melbourne by night

Welcome to Australia! Upon arrival in Melbourne, a representative will be waiting to take you to your accommodation and answer any questions you may have. 

After checking in, you'll have the rest of the day at your leisure. Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia, so expect funky street art and bohemian coffee shops tucked along random streets. 

In the evening, try Melbourne's multicultural local fare, and check out the city's bar and pub scene.

Day 2: Melbourne City Tour

Flinders Street Station
Flinders Street Station

Spend the day on a Grand Melbourne Tour, which takes you through the city's most important landmarks.

See Flinders Street Station, Federation Square, Queen Victoria Markets, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and more. You'll also get to know quirky cafés, independent designer shops, and neighborhoods filled with street art. Your guide will fill you in on interesting stories and legends pertaining to Melbourne.

After the tour, you'll enjoy dinner at your leisure.

Day 3: Melbourne Free Day & Evening Tour

Aerial view of Melbourne
Aerial view of Melbourne

Enjoy a free morning and afternoon exploring more of Melbourne. We recommend going to the Immigration Museum, which tracks the history of immigration in this multicultural city. You can also spend time at the UNESCO-recognized Carlton Gardens and their Royal Exhibition Building.

Alternatively, consider heading out to the surrounding Yarra Valley and doing a wine tasting tour, or having fun fruit picking at a local farm. 

In the evening, you will join a Liquid Crafts Walk. This tour will share the innovations being made by local distillers, mixologists, and brewers. Experience some of Melbourne's lesser-known neighborhoods as you test your cocktail-making skills, try food matches, and sample regional wine.

Day 4: Travel to Adelaide

Adelaide skyline
Adelaide skyline

This morning, you'll board a flight to Adelaide, South Australia’s cosmopolitan coastal capital. Upon arrival, a representative will take you to your accommodation.

You'll have the afternoon to explore Adelaide on your own. You can go to River Torrens, home to renowned museums, such as the Art Gallery of South Australia, which boasts expansive collections that include notable indigenous artworks. We also recommend heading to the South Australian Museum, which is devoted to natural history.

Other possibilities include visiting the Botanical Gardens, shopping at Rundell Mall, and catching a sunset at Port Noarlunga Jetty.

Day 5: Day Trip to Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island

Depart Adelaide and travel by motorcoach and ferry to Kangaroo Island, or "KI," as the locals know it. As Australia's third largest island, this destination is a safe heaven for many native species.

There are many exciting activities that you can do on the island:

  • Visit Seal Bay with a local park ranger to view a colony of rare Australian sea lions.
  • Explore Flinders Chase National Park, a sanctuary for Australian animals, including kangaroos, wallabies, and koalas.
  • Walk on the Remarkable Rocks with stunning views of the sea.
  • Stroll to Admirals Arch stone formation to visit a colony of New Zealand fur seals.

Return to Adelaide late at night, and relax after a full day of adventure.

Day 6: Transfer to the Red Center

Sunset over Uluru
Sunset over Uluru

This morning, you'll leave Adelaide behind as you fly to Australia's Red Center.

In the afternoon, you'll do a tour of the Olgas (Kata Tjuta), a collection of 36 red rock formations. Then, you'll head to the mighty Uluru (Ayers Rock). This massive monolith is sacred to Australian Aborigines, and is one of the country's most iconic landmarks. 

Enjoy a glass of champagne while watching the sun set over the rock.

Day 7: Uluru Sunrise & Free Day

Wildflowers in Uluru
Wildflowers in Uluru

Awake in The Outback and enjoy the morning in the Red Centre. Head to the nearby sunrise viewing area in Uluru to greet the first light of day as it travels across the desert plains. Take in the incredible view of the morning sun slowly changing the color of Uluru.

Then, transfer back to the resort to enjoy the rest of the day exploring the region at your own pace. You can do hikes to see Aboriginal rock art, trek through Walpa Gorge, bike through the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, or learn about the Anangu people at the Cultural Centre.

Day 8: Transfer to Darwin

Sunset by the beach in Darwin
Sunset by the beach in Darwin

Enjoy one last morning in this magical land before taking a flight to Darwin.  

On arrival to this laid-back and welcoming town, a representative will transfer you to your accommodation. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy the unique atmosphere of the Northern Territory capital. 

We recommend going to Bicentennial Park or the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. In the evening, head to the waterfront area for a nice stroll and a gorgeous sunset.

Day 9: Kakadu National Park

Kakadu Lookout
Kakadu Lookout

Depart early in the morning for a drive on Stuart Highway, one of the longest roads in the country. Revel in the expansive views as you make your way to Kakadu National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Site covers more than 11,800mi (19,000km) and boasts a variety of landscapes like coastal areas, forests, open woodlands, lowland hills, and flood plains. As you discover the land of Kakadu, you will also be amazed by the diversity of animals both on land and in the water.

You will also witness history in the form of rock art at the Nourlangie Rock Art Site, created by Aborigines 50,000 years ago. This site has been a shelter for the indigenous community for thousands of years. Throughout the ages, the rock was used as a place for Aboriginals to illustrate their culture. Your guide will lead you around the area, giving you in-depth information about the different rock art paintings.

After lunch, join a local guide on the Yellow Water Billabong to look for saltwater crocodiles. Have your camera ready in case you spot a croc or two. The chances are high, as there are more than a thousand crocodiles living in these waters.

Next on the tour is a trip to the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre. Here, you will be able to visit with the Bininj People, who are local to the area, as they welcome and introduce you to their lives in Kakadu National Park.

In the late afternoon, you'll head back to Darwin for a free evening.

Day 10: Fly to Cairns

Panoramic view of Cairns
Panoramic view of Cairns

Enjoy the morning at leisure before catching a flight to Cairns

After checking-in, you can take the day to rest or to explore this tropical haven. Head to the beach and lounge around, or walk around the Cairns Night Markets, buying souvenirs and enjoying local dishes.

Day 11: Great Barrier Reef Day Trip

Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef
Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef

Board a high-speed catamaran for a full-day cruise to the incredible Great Barrier Reef.  One of Australia’s most remarkable natural gifts, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the entire world!

The reef contains an abundance of marine life, and is home to more than 3,000 individual reef systems and coral cays. Hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with beautiful golden beaches surround the reef.

Enjoy morning tea and a lunch buffet aboard the catamaran. Following the reef tour and snorkeling, return to your hotel in the late afternoon and spend the evening at your leisure.

Day 12: Cairns Free Day

The view from a lookout in Kuranda
The view from a lookout in Kuranda

Take advantage of this free day to explore all the fun activities Cairns has to offer.

Head to a local wildlife exhibit like the Koala Gardens, where you can see native animals such as koalas, wombats, and kangaroos. Next, stroll through Cairns Aquarium, a landmark rich with tropical North Queensland species. 

In the afternoon, ride the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. This 4.66-mile scenic ride goes up to Kuranda, which passes over Barron Gorge National Park for incredible views.

Day 13: Transfer to Sydney

Sydney skyline
Sydney skyline

After a morning of exploring on your own, you'll take a flight to exciting Sydney. A representative will be waiting to transfer you to your accommodation. 

You'll get to spend your first day as you wish. We recommend heading to the iconic Darling Harbour, where you can get views of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and other Sydney landmarks.

Once the sun sets, you can also enjoy the city's pulsing nightlife.

Day 14: Sydney City Tour

Bondi Beach is famous worldwide
Bondi Beach is famous worldwide

In the morning, embark on a local sightseeing tour. You'll visit many notable destinations around Sydney, like The Rocks and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, where you will get scenic views of the harbor. Continue past Kings Cross and Double Bay, through to Watson’s Bay and the world-famous Bondi Beach, where you will have free time to discover the area. Play in the sand, swim in the sea, and partake in one of the city's most popular local activities.

At night, take advantage of Sydney's diverse cuisine, or hit a pub to make local friends.

Day 15: Sydney Free Day

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge

Enjoy a free day to explore Sydney. Consider making your way down to the BridgeClimb to reach the summit of the Sydney Harbour Bridge—440 feet above sea level—for an uninterrupted panorama of the city and its surroundings. After completing your BridgeClimb, stop by the visitor center, located at the base, to learn more about the history, preservation, and celebration of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

Following the BridgeClimb excursion, plan to visit one of Sydney's most famous landmarks: the Sydney Opera House. Enter beneath the iconic sails to discover what makes the venue so awe-inspiring. Uncover the stories, history, and magic of the structure in an informative guided tour.

During the evening, head out to town to celebrate your last night in Australia.

Day 16: Depart From Sydney to Queenstown

Queenstown is located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu
Queenstown is located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu

It is time to bid farewell to Sydney and catch your international flight to beautiful New Zealand.

You will land in the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown. On arrival, you'll take a shuttle to your accommodation, where a local host will greet you and introduce you to the legendary Kiwi hospitality.

With your host or on your own, you'll have the rest of the day to get to know this exciting city. Your first stop should be the shores of Lake Wakatipu, whose backdrop is adorned by the accurately-named The Remarkables

If you're keen on adventure sports, start on the right foot by jumping off a bridge. Bungee jumping was invented in New Zealand, and the first bungee jumping company in the world is located in Queenstown, so there will never be a better place to try it! For something thrilling but more low-key, try mountain biking, ziplining, or jetboating.

Day 17: Day Trip to Milford Sound

Majestic Milford Sound
Majestic Milford Sound

Rise early for an exciting day at one of New Zealand's most incredible natural wonders: Milford Sound. On the way, the coach will stop at Te Anau, gateway to the Fiorland National Park. Admire the amazing views while resting your legs.

Once at Milford Sound, you'll board a boat and cruise through the fiords, passing by towering waterfalls, and looking out for dolphins, seals, and penguins.

You can also opt for an upgraded experience by seeing this natural landmark from a helicopter—the sights are almost unbelievable!

Return to Queenstown in the evening.

Day 18: Queenstown Free Day

Scenic Shotover River in Queenstown
Scenic Shotover River in Queenstown

With a free day in Queenstown, you'll be able to get enough adrenaline to last you for a lifetime!

Daredevils can go canyoning, race down the mountains on the Luge Trak, or skydive over one of the prettiest cities in the world. 

Outdoorsy types can enjoy hiking up Queenstown Hill or Ben Lomond—both of which offer breathtaking views. If you want something more relaxed, consider joining a winery tour of the surrounding vineyards, or take a sunset cruise on Lake Wakatipu.

Day 19: Day Trip to Queenstown Surroundings

Reflection Tree at Lake Wanaka
Reflection Tree at Lake Wanaka

This day tour will take you to some of the best destinations that surround Queenstown:

Arrowtown
This site was swarmed firstly by European gold prospectors in the 1860's, then by 5000 Chinese immigrants who were invited to try their luck amongst the leftovers. You'll walk around the tiny restored cottages of the settlement, and wander down the main street of this exquisite little town. You'll feel like you've walked onto a movie set!

Wanaka
Historically used by the Maori people as a pathway to greenstone sites, and later by goldminers needing accommodation close to Cardrona Claims, Wanaka is a special place. Today, it has branded itself as a lifestyle reserve, rich in family adventures, eco-tours, recreational trails, and ski fields. It is surrounded by huge mountains and massive glaciers. You'll get to visit the famous Reflection Tree; a lone tree that grows within Lake Wanaka.

The Crown Range
As you head back towards Queenstown, you will drive through the Crown Range. As New Zealand's highest sealed road, this range is usually covered in snow in winter and boasts some incredible viewing platforms. Don't worry! You'll definitely have the chance to step out, soak up the views, and take amazing pictures. 

Cardrona 
Your last stop of the day will be this 1863 hotel, built to service gold prospectors. It is one of New Zealand's oldest pubs, and possibly the most well-known. Pop in for a beer or soft drink in this historic landmark.

Day 20: Transfer to Mount Cook National Park

Scenic road to Mount Cook
Scenic road to Mount Cook

Set off from Queenstown in a luxury coach, enjoying the commentary from your local driver guide as you travel north. Pass through the historic gold mining district of the rugged Kawarau River Gorge and the famous fruit-growing region of Cromwell. Skirting the shores of Lake Dunstan, your tour will cross the Lindis Pass into Omarama.

Continue through the rugged high country landscape of the Mackenzie Basin to arrive at Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, home to Australasia's highest mountain. Standing at 12,218ft (3,724m), Mount Cook is also one of New Zealand's most famous outdoor destinations.

As an optional extra, you can sit down to a delicious lunch at the Hermitage Hotel in Mount Cook Village, where you can enjoy stunning uninterrupted views of Mount Cook and the other high peaks that make up the Southern Alps. 

Spend the rest of the day exploring the area on your own.

Day 21: Hooker Valley Guided Walk

The mighty Hooker River
The mighty Hooker River

Spend the morning resting or exploring Mount Cook Village.

In the afternoon, you'll join a guided half-day walk through Hooker Valley.  This 4-mile return trek provides breathtaking views of some of New Zealand's highest and most enthralling peaks. You'll visit the poignant Alpine Memorial, which commemorates the explorers who lost their lives in the area.

You will also cross a swing bridge over the turbulent Hooker River. The reward will be unsurpassed vistas of Mount Cook's south face and the surrounding glaciers and mountains.

Day 22: Transfer to Christchurch

Cathedral Square in Christchurch
Cathedral Square in Christchurch

Today, you will depart from the Alpine Region and head towards Christchurch, the third-largest city in New Zealand.  

Once you're checked-in and rested, you are free to explore the city on your own. You can row a boat at the Botanic Gardens, visit the beautiful Cardboard Cathedral, or learn about the coldest continent at the International Arctic Centre. You could also have a picnic at Hagley Park, or listen to the sound of the waves at Sumner Beach.

Day 23: Depart Home

Heritage Trams in Christchurch
Heritage Trams in Christchurch

This epic journey has come to an end, and it is time to head back home. 

We hope you enjoyed the adventure!

Map

Map of Ultimate Australia & New Zealand: Melbourne, Uluru, Queenstown, Mount Cook, & More -23 Days
Map of Ultimate Australia & New Zealand: Melbourne, Uluru, Queenstown, Mount Cook, & More -23 Days