Visit six of the most beautiful places on the planet: French Polynesia, New Zealand, Tasmania, mainland Australia, Borneo and Vanuatu. Whatever your passion—searching for exotic wildlife, immersing yourself in local culture or simply taking in the magnificent views—indulge it as you travel through the sparkling seas and lush rainforests of the South Pacific.Itinerary
March 16 - Kona Hawaii
Depart your hometown independently on a commercial flight to the beguiling Hawaiian Islands. Meet your fellow travelers, lecturers and expedition leaders this evening at a welcome dinner at your beachfront resort. The Fairmont Orchid, HawaiiMarch 17 -18 - Moorea, French Polynesia
Begin your voyage across the Pacific en route to the quintessential South Seas idyll. Upon arrival in Papeete, head directly to the ferry dock for your high-speed catamaran journey across the Sea of the Moon to the enchanted island of Moorea. Some say that this heart-shaped, lush, volcanic isle was the inspiration for the mythical land of Bali Hai. We say it’s a great spot to find a bit of your own tropical inspiration.
From your beachside resort, embark on an exciting journey by four-by-four vehicle to see panoramic views from atop Belvedere Outlook. Or choose a boat excursion and swim with gentle rays in the azure waters and savor a picnic lunch on a pristine tropical beach. Be sure to save some time to indulge in the decadent coconut ice cream at your resort. InterContinental Moorea Resort & Spa, MooreaMarch 19 - Cross the International Date Line
Soar high above the cerulean tropical waters, crossing the international date line en route to New Zealand where you’ll arrive the following afternoon.March 20 - Auckland, New Zealand
Spend a night in New Zealand’s cosmopolitan "City of Sails." Experience a rousing Māori kapa haka
performance before savoring a private dinner. Tomorrow, split into two groups for the next four nights. Each group will do the same things, just in reverse order. Sofitel Auckland Viaduct HarborMarch 21-22 - Taupo, North Island, New Zealand
Fly via charter aircraft to the shores of the great Lake of Taupo, formed thousands of years ago by a volcanic eruption. Today, the area is home to steaming craters, geysers and boiling mud pools. Upon arrival, visit a nearby farm for a demonstration of traditional sheep shearing—an important skill in New Zealand where there are an estimated seven sheep for every person!
The next morning, accompanied by an expert Māori guide, we’ll discover more about the history and culture of the native people on a trip to a local Māori settlement in the area. Continue on to visit bubbling craters, mud pools and steam vents, and the interesting plant life that has adapted to thrive in the hot, steamy conditions.
After lunch back at the lodge, the afternoon is yours to relax or engage in one of several optional activities at your leisure. In the evening, sample some local wines before relishing a gourmet dinner on the banks of the Waikato River. Huka Lodge, TaupoMarch 23-24 - Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand
Head south to the adventure capital of Queenstown on the stunning South Island. From your base at the lovely Millbrook Resort, spend two days in some of the most beautiful natural grandeur of the southern hemisphere. Enjoy a thrilling speedboat adventure through the canyons of the Shotover River.
After traveling through New Zealand in 1891, Rudyard Kipling said, "If you said the Garden of Eden was somewhere in the middle of it, I could believe it." He was particularly enamored of the glacial fjord of Milford Sound. Get a bird’s-eye view of its awesome beauty from the comfort of your chartered helicopter. The dark waters of the Sound unwind below you, as the jagged peaks scrape the low-hanging clouds and waterfalls drape the forested cliff walls with lacy torrents. Enjoy a choice of experiences: a behind-the-scenes tour of Valli wine with the winemaker; a scenic gondola ride and learning about the national symbol, the Kiwi, and other endemic wildlife at a nature preserve; or simply unwind at the resort. Millbrook Resort, QueenstownMarch 25-26 - Hobart, Tasmania
At the end of the last Ice Age, sea levels rose, separating Tasmania from mainland Australia. Until Europeans arrived in the mid-17th century, the land and its people were left alone to develop in isolation. Today, with grand mountain peaks, wild river valleys, fertile farmlands and some of the friendliest people in the world, the island of Tasmania still feels like a world apart.
We will visit the MONA, the Museum of Old and New Art, Australia’s largest privately funded museum built by David Walsh. Buoyed by Walsh’s colorful history—he made his fortune as a professional gambler—it features much of his private collection and has become one of the most buzzed-about destinations in Tasmania. Then customize your time here based on your interests. Explore historic Port Arthur with a local historian who will help you trace the route of the 19th-century convict settlers and accompany you on a Carnarvon Bay cruise and a guided tour of the Isle of the Dead. Hike through Mount Field National Park’s towering fern and eucalyptus forests on your way to magnificent Russell Falls. Hop a ferry to Bruny Island to visit a conservation area and stroll along the scenic coastline of Adventure Bay. Or indulge in rich local cheese, wine, baked goods and charcuterie on a private culinary walking tour of Hobart. Henry Jones Art Hotel, HobartMarch 27-30 - Adelaide and the Barossa Valley, Australia
Upon arrival in Adelaide, we will split into two smaller groups for the next four nights. Each group will do the same things, just in reverse order.
Nestled between the rugged Mount Lofty Ranges and the shining waters of the Gulf St. Vincent, Adelaide has enchanted visitors since it was founded in 1836. Get acquainted with the capital of South Australia on a leisurely walking tour. Your local guides regale you with tales of the city’s history and life in Adelaide today.
Transfer to the Barossa Valley, Australia’s most prestigious winemaking region and our home for two nights. Sample renowned vintages at local wineries and enjoy a dine-around for lunch. Take in a cooking demonstration by an Australian celebrity chef. Then visit a small German town full of local art and craft treasures, or relax at your vineyard estate. This evening, gather for a traditional Australian barbecue alfresco at a winery. The Louise or Kingsford Homestead, Barossa ValleyMarch 29-30 - Kangaroo Island, Australia
Fly over the Investigator Strait on your way to Australia’s Galápagos, the magnificent natural refuge of Kangaroo Island. Just 90 miles long, KI (as the locals call it) is home to playful sea lions basking on the volcanic rocks, koalas munching in the eucalyptus trees, and kangaroos and wallabies grazing on the plains. Upon arrival, check in to the Southern Ocean Lodge and embark on a naturalist-guided walk along the rocky cliffs. Or choose to just relax and enjoy the amenities of this stunning lodge, including the blissful spa. Sip a cocktail as the sun sets over the waters before dining on local, organic cuisine at the lodge’s restaurant.
After breakfast, embark on a half-day exploration of KI. Search for koalas and kangaroos among the scrublands of Flinders Chase National Park; see the ancient granite Remarkable Rocks, sculpted by wind and sea over millennia; and visit a teeming fur seal colony near the striking Cape du Couedic Lighthouse. Enjoy a gourmet Australian bush barbecue followed by a visit to the beach colony of Australian sea lions. This evening, celebrate your time in paradise with a cocktail party and festive dinner at the lodge. Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo IslandMarch 31 - Uluru (Ayers Rock), Australia
Aboriginal songlines crisscross the Red Center of Australia, spinning the tales and myths of the continent’s first people, and winding around majestic Uluru, a sacred monolith. After being welcomed in traditional style by aboriginal dancers, experience Uluru and learn about ancient stories from your local guide. If you’d rather stay at the resort, you can try your hand at playing traditional instruments or throwing a boomerang. In the evening, venture into the Outback for an unforgettable dinner under the stars. Listen to the haunting sounds of the didgeridoo as the sun sets over Uluru, indulge in a sumptuous al fresco dinner and join a resident astronomer for some of the finest stargazing in the world.
If you want to experience Uluru at sunrise, wake early and take a short walk around the base of the rock as the rising sun gilds its massive face and the sound of birdsong fills the air. Alternatively, pay a dawn visit to the 36 massive sandstone domes of Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and the eroded wonderland of Walpa Gorge. Sails in the Desert HotelApril 1–2 - Kota Kinabalu, Borneo, Malaysia
Formerly the British Crown colony of North Borneo, Sabah has a fascinating and rich history. Here, you have a choice of two exciting adventures. Visit the Rasa Ria Nature Reserve and Orangutan Rehabilitation Center to see orangutans "in the wild" that were rescued or orphaned and are now being conditioned to return to their natural surroundings. Or take an excursion on the North Borneo Railway, a beautifully restored antique steam train, for a scenic cultural expedition. The train travels along the only stretch of railway line in Borneo dating back to 1896, passing through mangrove forests and rice fields, and stopping at a Buddhist Chinese temple, a colorful local market and several other sites. We enjoy a fine lunch onboard served in traditional tiffin tins before returning to Kota Kinabalu. Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & SpaApril 3-5 - Port Vila and Pentecost Island, Vanuatu
Soar across the South Pacific and land late in the evening in the remote volcanic archipelago of Vanuatu. After breakfast the next morning, board your private catamaran for a full-day excursion to Hat Island, home to craggy lava tunnels and some of the best snorkeling in the islands. Alternatively, spend half a day exploring Port Vila, including a visit to a local school and a tour of the exotic fruit market.
Prepare for adventure on Pentecost Island. After a brief charter flight, you’ll be garlanded with leis and led up a small hill by locals decked out in their most festive garb. Take a seat on the viewing platform, sip from a fresh coconut and watch the exciting and dangerous Nagol land-diving ceremony, which celebrates the yam harvest. In this precursor to bungee jumping, young men of the village tie lianas (vines) around their legs and leap headfirst from a wooden platform nearly 100 feet high, brushing the ground with their shoulders as they plummet to the earth. Back in Port Vila, freshen up before an unforgettable farewell dinner on the beach. Warwick Le Lagon, Port VilaApril 5-6 - International Date Line, Honolulu, Hawaii, Home
On April 6, we cross the international date line again to arrive in Honolulu on April 5. Spend the night at a resort within walking distance of Waikiki Beach before departing the next day on your independent flight home. The Modern Honolulu