Splendors of Australia and New Zealand

Explore Australia and New Zealand's stunningly diverse landscapes and wildlife—from the Great Barrier Reef and Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens to renowned Milford Sound.

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 Koala  Fish and coral found along the Great Barrier Reef  A joey in Australia Credit: Kirt Kempter  Wines of New Zealand. Credit: Tourism New Zealand, Chris McLennan  Traditional Maori greeting, or <i>Hongi</i>. Credit: Tourism New Zealand, Chris Sisarich  Young Maori woman with traditional Moko tattoos. Credit: Tourism New Zealand, James Heremaia  Maori Haka performance. Credit: Tourism New Zealand, James Heremaia  Rotorua's Te Puia. Credit: Tourism New Zealand, Eric Lindberg  The Po Hutu Geyser in Rotorua  Traditional Maori carving  Australia's Great Barrier Reef  Looking out over Queenstown Credit: Tourism New Zealand, Chris Sisarich  Panoramic view of Sydney  Sydney Opera House at dusk  The dramatic Milford Sound with Mitre Peak in the center. Credit: Tourism New Zealand, Rob Suisted  Sydney Opera House with the sun setting behind it  Sydney Opera House at night  Traditional Maori meeting house  Panoramic view of Queenstown

Tour Details



Smithsonian Journeys tours always have unique interesting itineraries and always have a very interesting like-minded set of other traveling companions. The lecture information always help better understand the countries and geology better. 

Previous Journeys Traveler

This was the very best trip I have ever taken. I will travel with Smithsonian Journeys again and again! Thank you so much. 

Previous Journeys Traveler

This was the only tour we found that went to every place we wanted to visit in Australia and New Zealand (including the outback!). 

Richard S.


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Venture “Down Under” for an exploration of some of the world’s most stunningly diverse landscapes—from colorful coral reefs and lush forests to stark deserts and dramatic fjords. In Australia’s unique northern ecosystems, travel through the rain forest canopy of Kuranda on the world’s longest gondola cableway, and visit the Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage site. In the storied Outback, savor a traditional “bush” dinner and Aboriginal “Dreamtime” tour and watch the sun set over Ayers Rock at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Fly to magnificent Sydney, where highlights include the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Koala Sanctuary, and the iconic Opera House.

A nine-day journey through New Zealand showcases Mt. Cook and magnificent Fjordlands National Park, both World Heritage sites, and a cruise across the renowned Milford Sound. Observe famed geothermal features on the North Island and visit the Maori cultural center in Rotorua, where you’ll enjoy a traditional hangi dinner and Maori performance. Conclude your spectacular journey with a two-night stay in Auckland, the “City of Sails.”


Days 1 - 2 — U.S. and Cairns, Australia

Fly to Australia, losing a day as you cross the International Date Line.

Days 3 - 5 — Cairns, Kuranda, and the Great Barrier Reef

Arrive in Cairns and enjoy a special welcome dinner. The next day, take a thrilling journey aboard the historic Kuranda Railway and travel through the rain forest canopy on the world’s longest gondola cableway. Devote a day to the Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest living organism. Learn more about the Reef's riches and delicate resources from a marine biologist; swim, snorkel, or view the reef from a glass-bottomed boat; and enjoy a guided eco-walk. (2B,1L,1D)

Days 6 - 8 — Alice Springs and Ayers Rock

Fly to Alice Springs, the capital of the Outback. At Anzac Hill, enjoy a panoramic view and see the monument to the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought in both World Wars. Visit the Royal Flying Doctors Service, the first comprehensive aerial medical organization in the world, then tour the School of the Air, which provides education to the widely scattered Outback children. Relax around a campfire, enjoy musical entertainment, and look for the Southern Cross and other constellations at a traditional “bush” dinner. Spend the next day exploring more rugged terrain as you visit the camp of the Walpiri Aboriginal people and learn about their ancient culture on a “Dreamtime” tour. Explore Simpsons Gap, an Aboriginal spiritual site, and Standley Chasm. The next morning, depart by coach for Ayers Rock. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is a World Heritage site and home to the Anangu Aboriginal peoples. Take a walking tour of the Olgas rock formations and watch the sun set over Uluru (Ayers Rock), the fabled sandstone monolith that rises 1,114 feet above the flat plain. (3B,1L,2D)

Day 9 — Ayers Rock and Sydney

This morning explore the base of Uluru before visiting the archaeological museum there. Fly to Sydney, arriving late in the afternoon, and take a brief orientation tour of The Rocks, the city’s oldest preserved colonial district, located near your hotel. (B, D)

Days 10-12 — Sydney

Experience Sydney for three fascinating days. Highlights include a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens and a luncheon cruise around Sydney Harbour. You’ll also spend time at the Koala Sanctuary Park, featuring ten acres of rain forest, eucalyptus, and garden habitat where koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, and dingoes roam freely. Plus, experience Sydney’s Northern Beaches, a string of 18 stunning oceanfront areas surrounded by a national park. Enjoy time for individual pursuits in Sydney today. This evening dine in the popular “Rocks” area at the Waterfront Restaurant, known for its outstanding seafood and beautiful harbor views. (3B,1L,1D)

Day 13 — Sydney and Christchurch, New Zealand

After a late morning tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House, this afternoon is free for independent exploration. This evening board a flight to Christchurch, New Zealand’s “Garden City.” (B)

Day 14 — Christchurch and Mt. Cook National Park

This morning’s orientation tour features the acclaimed Botanic Gardens and “Re:START Mall,” the vibrant civic area that rose from the rubble of the 2011 earthquake. Then board a motorcoach for the journey south to Mt. Cook National Park, stopping en route at a farm to watch a sheep-shearing demonstration and to see the amazing sheep dogs in action. Upon reaching Mt. Cook in the Southern Alps, we have time at leisure to relax, hike, or take an optional scenic flight (weather permitting). We dine together tonight at our hotel. (B,D)

Day 15 — Mount Cook

This morning’s tour of alpine Mount Cook Village and environs includes a visit to the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Center. Also visit the Hillary Gallery, commemorating Sir Edmund’s achievements, including the first ascent of Mount Cook’s difficult South face. After time in the village for lunch on your own, this afternoon is at leisure to enjoy Aoraki Mount Cook as you wish. (B,D)

Day 16 — Mount Cook and Queenstown

Travel through New Zealand’s lush fruit-growing region to Queenstown, stopping in the former gold mining town of Arrowtown. Enjoy a wine tasting and savory lunch before continuing to the famed Kawarau Bridge where in 1988 AJ Hackett invented Bungee jumping. Mid-afternoon reach the “adventure capital” of Queenstown. (B,L,D)

Day 17 — Milford Sound

The day-long excursion to Milford Sound includes a nature cruise through the breathtaking fjords. Have lunch on board then later have the opportunity to return to Queenstown on an optional scenic flight (weather permitting). (B,L)

Days 18-19 — Queenstown and Rotorua

Enjoy a day to explore Queenstown independently. Depart the next morning for Rotorua, with its geysers, bubbling mud pools, hot thermal springs, and a center of Maori culture. This afternoon’s tour includes the new Rotorua Museum, among other highlights. (2B)

Day 20 — Rotorua

This morning and early afternoon are at leisure; late afternoon visit Te Puia Thermal Reserve and Maori Cultural Center for a traditional hangi dinner and performance. (B,D)

Days 21-22 — Rotorua and Auckland

On your way to Auckland stop at Ruakuri Caves to see the unique glowworms illuminate underground grottoes. Late this afternoon arrive in the “City of Sails,” in a beautiful natural setting atop 48 volcanic hills. Take a half-day city tour featuring the War Memorial Museum, Auckland Harbour, and the America’s Cup Village. Tonight celebrate your adventure at a farewell dinner. (2B,D)

Day 23 — Depart for the U.S.

Early this morning transfer to the airport for the flight to Los Angeles (via Sydney) where you connect with the return flights home. (B)