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Australia Explorer

12 days

Never more than 16 guests OR Travel Privately

Overall Rating
based on 14 Reviews

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Our Distinctive A+R Style

+ Savor the farm-to-table cuisine and fine wines of the Green Olive family farm, situated on 27 picturesque acres on the Mornington Peninsula near Melbourne.
+ Hop aboard the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for an exciting 4.5 mile adventure over the pristine rainforests that extend for more than 300 miles along the tropical coast of North Queensland.
+ Embark on an unforgettable excursion to Michaelmas Cay and explore the colorful undersea realm of the Great Barrier Reef with our complimentary snorkeling equipment.
+ Experience the many moods of Ayers Rock… Enjoy a sunset toast and uninterrupted sunset views over Uluru and a second visit to watch the sun rise over this amazing monolith.
+ Go behind-the-scenes at the Sydney Opera House to areas that are normally off-limits to visitors; you might peek into the stars’ dressing rooms, stand on-stage or even take up the conductor’s baton in the orchestra pit!
+ Fully escorted with 11 nights in our luxury hotels; 17 meals with wine at dinner; comprehensive sightseeing; all transfers; all 3 internal flights; and all gratuities except your Trip Leader.

Visit 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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Day
1

Welcome to Melbourne, Australia

Sofitel on Collins - Melbourne, Australia

On arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the sophisticated 5-star Sofitel on Collins. This evening, you’re invited to gather with your fellow travelers for a welcome drink and some light hors d’oeuvres. Afterwards, you can dine on your own here at the Sofitel or at one of the many fine restaurants that are located within a few blocks of the Sofitel; of course, our in-the-know guide will be happy to offer assistance recommendations.

After breakfast, join our engaging Australian Trip Leader for a guided city tour. See important landmarks like the Victorian Arts Center and Captain Cook’s cottage - and delight in a stroll through the lovely Royal Botanic Gardens. At the Shrine of Remembrance, you can learn about Australia’s wartime history as you explore on your own. Then delight in the light-filled elegance of the Royal Arcade that opened in 1870, and stop by a local patisserie to sample their delicate French-style macarons. End your sightseeing in the charming coastal enclave of St. Kilda where you’ll have time on your own to stroll along its inviting beachside promenade. Back at your hotel, the rest of your afternoon is at leisure.

Tonight, a magical evening begins with a glass of Australian wine, beer or cider - and the breathtaking views from the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel. Then stroll along the harbor to Berth. Here in this casually elegant, waterfront setting, your wonderful 3-course meal offers a chance to sample their modern presentation of traditional fare including just-caught seafood, locally-sourced meats and farm-fresh produce, all accompanied by some fine Australian wine.  Meals B+D
 

Day
3

The Beautiful Mornington Peninsula

Sofitel on Collins - Melbourne, Australia

Today’s full-day excursion takes you outside the city to explore the dramatic coastal scenery, quiet fishing hamlets, picturesque farms, and award-winning vineyards of the Mornington Peninsula. Discover the friendly town of Mornington and then continue to Green Olive, a 27-acre family farm. After a tour of the property including its olive groves, vineyards and kitchen gardens, you’ll sit down to a delightful farm-to-table lunch featuring fresh produce, quality meats and fine wines – all produced on the property!
 
After lunch, we’ll take you up to Arthurs Seat; from the top of this 1,000-foot summit, you’ll have spectacular views of Port Phillip Bay and the Peninsula’s coastal towns and golden beaches. On a clear day, you can even see the Melbourne skyline in the distance! The return drive usually takes just over an hour, so back at the Sofitel on Collins in Melbourne, you’ll have time to refresh and relax for a bit before dining on your own tonight. Our in-the-know guide will be happy to make personal recommendations for dining and evening entertainment. Meals B+L
 

Day
4

Onward to Cairns, the Queensland Rainforest + Palm Cove

Peppers Beach Club - Cairns, Australia

Check out after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your included flight to Cairns. On arrival, your adventures in North Queensland begin in Kuranda, a mountain village surrounded by the vast expanse of pristine rainforests that extend for more than 300 miles along the tropical coast of North Queensland. Next up is the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, a 4.5-mile adventure that takes gliding just a few yards above the treetops before descending through the lush canopy layers and deep into the heart of the forest at Skyrail’s two rainforest mid-stations for the ultimate tropical rainforest experience. At the conclusion of your 1.5-hour cableway adventure, our motorcoach will take you to Palm Cove, a charming beach community just north of Cairns, where you’ll enjoy a 3-night stay at Peppers Beach Club & Spa; A+R guests will stay in spacious 1-bedroom accommodations with a private balcony overlooking the unique lagoon-style swimming pool or lush tropical gardens. The restaurants, boutiques and galleries of Palm Cove are just a short stroll away along the town’s shaded beachfront esplanade.   Meals B

Day
5

After breakfast, you’ll be escorted to the Cairns Marina to embark your full-day cruise adventure to Michaelmas Cay on the Great Barrier Reef. Situated nearly 25 miles off the coast and close to the pristine outer reef systems, Michaelmas is the largest of the uninhabited coral cays in the Cairns region. It’s home to 35 unique species of sea birds and its gently sloping beach offers comfortable entry into the sheltered waters that surround the cay. With complimentary snorkeling equipment, you’ll discover a colorful undersea realm teeming with colorful marine life – including sea turtles, hundreds of species of tropical reef fish, mollusks, and other invertebrates. The reef surrounding Michaelmas Cay is particularly renowned for its abundance of giant clams! Throughout the day, our engaging and knowledgeable marine biologists are on hand to answer questions and enrich your exploration. In addition to snorkeling, the reef lagoon offers excellent swimming and you can always take some time to explore the flora and fauna of the Cay. You can also join an available guided snorkeling tour - or stay dry as you explore the reef world from a semi-submersible vessel! A smorgasbord luncheon and roundtrip transfers between our resort and the Cairns marina complete this unforgettable Great Barrier Reef adventure.  Meals B+L

Day
6

This entire day is yours to enjoy the amenities and beachfront setting of our tropical resort. You can also wander into Pam Cove to shop, dine, explore and just enjoy its inviting ambience. Throughout the morning, our in-the-know guide will be in the hotel lobby to answer questions, suggest activities and provide assistance.  Meals B
 

Day
7

Fly to Ayers Rock + Discover Kata Tjutu

Sails in the Desert - Ayers Rock, Australia

After an early breakfast and check-out, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight into the Outback. On arrival in Ayers Rock, you’ll begin your exploration of these captivating landscapes as our knowledgeable Trip Leader offers insight into the flora, fauna and unique geology of the region. Arriving in Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, a guided walk in Walpa Gorge promises spectacular views of the 36 towering red-rock domes that comprise Kata Tjuta (The Olgas). You’ll learn about the importance of Kata Tjuta as a sacred Aboriginal ceremonial site and gaze in wonder upon the scale of the rock walls that surround you.

After checking in to our stylish 5-star resort, you’ll have time this afternoon to relax. If you wish, you might be able to catch the hotel’s resident storyteller as they share deeper, personal insight into Aboriginal history and culture. As the sun dips towards the horizon, we’ll take you to a prime vantage point to witness the sun set over Uluru (Ayers Rock). Enjoy a glass of sparkling wine and experience the shifting moods of Uluru as darkness begins to fall.  Meals B

Day
8

Sunrise at Uluru + Sounds of Silence Dinner + Field of Light

Sails in the Desert - Ayers Rock, Australia

Arise early this morning for a delightful picnic breakfast in an al fresco setting that offers dramatic views of Uluru at sunrise – its vast presence seeming to emerge from the desert landscape as the day brightens. Enjoy a morning walk to a nearby waterhole as our guide shares the Creation stories of the region’s indigenous inhabitants and points out the native flora. View Aboriginal rock paintings and then stop by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Center to learn more. Back at Sails in the Desert, you can take a dip in the pool, relax on your private balcony or patio, or join one of the activities offered by the resort.
 
This evening you’ll gather for an unforgettable experience – starting with canapés and sparkling wine on a viewing platform overlooking Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. As the sun casts its waning glow over the Outback and the dominating presence of Uluru, the evocative strains of the didgeridoo will summon you to dinner. Featuring locally-sourced ingredients, you’ll savor a wide variety of dishes inspired by the region’s early settlers, enhanced by a free-flowing selection of Australian wines and beer. As the darkness deepen after dinner, settle back and stare up into the star-filled sky as our resident expert helps you to locate the Southern Cross, the signs of the Zodiac, and other constellations of the Southern Sky.
 
After an introduction to the artist and his work, you’ll be invited to experience the Field of Light - an evocative, mesmerizing open-air work by Bruce Munro, the British-born artist celebrated for his vast site-specific installations. Covering an area the size of seven football fields, this is Munro’s largest work to date. Immerse yourself in this fantasy garden with 50,000 spindles of light that seem to breathe and sway in the sweet desert air.  Meals B+D

You’ll be escorted to the airport today for your included flight to Sydney. On arrival, we’ll take you to our deluxe hotel, ideally located close to the waterfront in the heart of this vibrant city. Meals B

Arise early this morning for our insiders-access tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House, a stunning architectural landmark with a dramatic harbor-front setting. Taking you behind the scenes, you may have the opportunity to stand on the Concert Hall stage, take up the conductor’s baton in the Opera Theater orchestra pit, or even peek inside the stars’ dressing rooms. The Green Room is usually the private domain of performers and crew, but this is where we’ve arranged for you to enjoy a hearty breakfast – a highpoint of our backstage tour!
 
[Please Note: The Opera House is very much a working center for the performing arts; as such, the specifics of our exclusive behind-the-scenes tour and breakfast will be determined by rehearsal and performance schedules on the day of our visit.]
 
From the Opera House, you’ll continue your guided tour with some of the city’s other well-known landmarks, including the Harbour Bridge and Botanic Gardens. From Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, you’ll have a breathtaking view of the Bridge and Opera House. A guided walk through the historic Rocks district is enlivened by colorful tales of the convicts, sailors and rogues who were among the city’s earliest settlers! See the Parliament House and St. Mary’s Cathedral and drive through some of Sydney’s most vibrant districts including Kings Cross and Paddington. Strolling along Bondi Beach, you’ll see surfers and world-famous Aussie lifeguards! Then take in the view from Sydney Heads, situated at the mouth of the harbor, before enjoying lunch and a glass of wine at the charming Watson Bay Hotel. After lunch, a private water taxi is a delightful way to make the return journey to Circular Quay where a short stroll brings you back to our hotel. Meals B+L

This day is yours to enjoy as you wish! Take advantage of our hotel’s heart-of-it-all location to explore more of this friendly city at your own pace. This evening, make your way down to the Circular Quay Wharf to embark our Captains Dinner Cruise on one of the world’s most beautiful harbors. Our comfortable motor yacht offers panoramic picture windows and an open Top Deck so you can take in the views as you enjoy a selection of complimentary Australian wines, beers and juices. As you make your way past iconic landmarks like the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, a 3-course dinner will be served in the air-conditioned dining room. After this delightful experience, you’ll step off our ship and stroll back to your hotel. Meals B+D

Day
12

Depart Sydney

After breakfast, you’ll be escorted to the airport for your onward journey. 
Meals B

Extend Your Trip

Spectacular New Zealand

9-day Post-Tour Extension from $5,999

Enhance your Down Under adventure with our fully-guided journey across New Zealand’s magnificent South Island. With our expert native guide, you’ll taste award-winning wines, savor fine farm-to-table cuisine and discover breathtaking landscapes. We even include an overnight cruise through Milford Sound!

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Day
1

Welcome to Queenstown

Upon arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the 5-star St. Moritz Hotel. This evening, join your guide and fellow guests for a welcome drink and dinner at the hotel. Meals D
 

Day
2

Discover Middle Earth

This morning’s excursion to Glenorchy finds you on the northern end of Lake Wakatipu in a region of towering mountain ranges and old beech forests. Setting out in comfortable and maneuverable 4WD vehicles with skilled professional drivers, you’ll have ample time to take in these magnificent landscapes, including several sites that were featured in the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
 
Back in town, the Skyline Gondola will take you to the top of Bob's Peak, nearly 1,500 feet above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu. This is the steepest cable car ascent in the Southern Hemisphere and offers breathtaking views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Walter and Cecil Peaks and, of course, Queenstown. After lunch on the Peak, a thrilling jetboat ride through the picturesque canyons of the Shotover River promises an unforgettable afternoon adventure.  Meals B+L

Day
3

In + Around Queenstown

After breakfast, you’ll spend this day exploring Queenstown and its surrounding countryside. At the Kiwi Bird Park, you’ll have a chance to observe and learn about some of New Zealand’s indigenous wildlife including the Brown Kiwi, Tuatara Lizard, and the colorfully plumed Rainbow Lorikeet.
 
Next up is historic Arrowtown. Founded in the heady days of the Gold Rush, this charming leafy town is nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. Take some time to stroll along Buckingham Street with its heritage buildings and old miners’ cottages – many of them now home to inviting galleries, shops and cafes.  

Later this afternoon, you’ll board the TSS Earnslaw, a turn-of-the-century steamer, for a cruise across beautiful Lake Wakatipu. Step off at a working high-country homestead where you’ll see highly trained sheep dogs in action and enjoy a delightful lakeside dinner with fine New Zealand wine. Meals B+D

Day
4

Cruise through Milford Sound

This morning’s drive begins along the shores of Lake Wakatipu and takes you through the amazing Homer Tunnel that opened in 1953. Continue through the spectacular glacier-carved Eglington Valley into Fiordland National Park to embark your overnight cruise aboard the comfortable Milford Mariner.
 
As you journey the full length of Milford Sound, our ship’s expert naturalists are on hand to explain the history and geology of the region and to answer your questions. You’ll have plenty of time to take in the fjord’s pristine waterfalls, rainforests and soaring mountain peaks - and with sharp eyes, you might observe seals and possibly even dolphins and penguins. Anchoring in a sheltered cover, you’ll be able to join our naturalist guides to explore in the Mariner’s tender or by kayak.

Featuring two levels of open decks and comfortable public spaces with panoramic picture windows, the Mariner is designed to surround you with the beauty and sounds of nature! You’re encouraged to take advantage of these inviting public areas as staterooms are small and simply furnished; there is a rectangular porthole so you won’t miss a bit of the scenery even when you spend time in your cabin. Tonight after a delicious carvery buffet, you can relax in the company of your fellow passengers or hit the deck to observe the constellations of the Southern Sky.
Meals B+D

Day
5

Te Anau to Clyde

After breakfast onboard the Mariner, we’ll step off ship and travel to the Punanga Manu o Te Anau Bird Sanctuary. Set on the shores of Lake Te Anau, this is a terrific place to observe an abundant variety of indigenous birds that are otherwise difficult to see in their native wilderness habitats. In addition to colorful forest parrots, warblers,  paradise shelducks, fantails and bellbirds, the star of the sanctuary is the rare, flightless Takahe - once thought to be extinct here on the South Island. We’ll tour the Sanctuary and learn about their captive breeding and rehabilitation programs that aim to reintroduce healthy birds into the wilderness. 

After lunch in Te Anau, our afternoon sightseeing takes us into spectacular Kawarau Valley, home to the famous Bungy Bridge where two daring adventurers launched the worldwide bungee jumping craze in 1988. The day’s journey ends at Oliver’s Hotel, set on an authentic 19th-century homestead in historic Clyde.  Meals B+L

Day
6

Exploring Central Otago

With fruit orchards, waterways and rolling hills, Central Otago is one of New Zealand’s loveliest and most bountiful agricultural areas. After breakfast, you’ll begin your exploration at a lively farmers market in Cromwell, a charming and historic town founded during the Gold Rush days of the 1800’s. At one of the area’s local orchards, you’ll have a chance to sample some of the region’s bounty. Then enjoy a guided tour, wine tasting and lunch at a nearby vineyard estate.
 
In the mid 1800’s, this region also witnessed New Zealand’s first major gold rush and fortune seekers and adventurers poured into the region to dig for gold. This afternoon’s tour at the Goldfields Mining Center immerses you in this colorful chapter of the island’s history. You can follow paths along the Kawarau Gorge to the mine shafts that were excavated more than a century ago and see the land laid bare by ground sluicing. Gold nuggets can still be found in the soil and you might even try our luck as you try your hand at gold panning! Enjoy a congenial dinner and another tranquil night in Clyde.  Meals B+L+D

Day
7

Onward to Mt. Cook

Departing Clyde this morning, our first stop of the day will be the Maori Point Vineyard. Against a lovely mountain backdrop, we’ll enjoy a guided tour of the estate as we learn about the viticulture traditions of Central Otago, one of New Zealand’s premier wine-producing areas. Paired with local products including dried fruits, nuts, pâté, artisanal cheese and freshly baked bread, we’ll sample four of their award-winning wines including Pinot Noir and a desert wine to finish.

Then we’ll continue through the Lindis Pass at an altitude of 3,800 feet and make our way through the Mackenzie Basin – a land of powder blue lakes and wide-open grasslands set against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

Arriving in the beautiful Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park, you’ll check in to the comfortable Hermitage Hotel in time for an available Mt. cook flightseeing adventure, and the thrill of seeing New Zealand's highest peak from the air. Tonight after dinner, the absence of ambient light makes the Aoraki MacKenzie International Dark Sky Reserve one of the best places to view the Southern Constellations.  Meals B+D

Day
8

Canterbury Plains to the Garden City

After breakfast, you'll have some free time to enjoy the delightful setting of our hotel. A pleasant stroll on the landscaped grounds or through the surrounding alpine meadows would offer a chance to take in the fresh mountain air and marvelous views of the soaring terrain. Later, you’ll depart the National Park to journey over the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch.
 
With its lovely parks and handsome Gothic buildings, there's a delightful, very English ambience to Christchurch. In contrast, the Cardboard Cathedral designed by Shigeru Ban in 2011 is a marvel of 21st-century architectural design and ingenuity, constructed of paper tubes, re-purposed shipping containers and a lightweight outer skin. Upon arrival, you'll set out to see the town's architectural landmarks and the Botanic Gardens - founded in 1863 with the planting of a single English oak tree. From this humble beginning, the garden has grown to encompass mature trees, expansive lawns and 10 different gardens set within a loop of the gently flowing Avon River.

This evening, we’ll take you to one of our favorite restaurants here in Christchurch for a Farewell Dinner featuring fresh locally-sourced fare. Enjoy a glass of New Zealand wine and raise a toast to your traveling companions and new friendships. Then retreat to our luxury boutique hotel on the Avon River for your final night.  Meals B+D

Day
9

Depart Christchurch

Transfer to the airport for your homeward flight. Or continue your adventure with our 12-day Small Group Journey to Australia. Meals B

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More Personal Space
+ Our Extra Care
 

  • Proper physical distancing with two seats to yourself on our large, luxury touring coaches
  • High-touch surfaces on coaches and private vehicles sanitized frequently throughout the day
  • Whisper Headsets when there are 5 or more guests
  • Dine at small, properly distanced tables, avoiding crowded large-capacity restaurants
  • Guides and staff will wear face masks when in close proximity to guests
  • Face coverings and sanitizer always available complimentary for our guests
>> Click Here to read all that we are doing so you can travel with More Space + Extra Care

Add On New Zealand  

Enhance this tour with
our 9-day Small Group
Journey to New Zealand’s
magnificent South Island.
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