21 Day Australia, New Zealand & Cook Islands

From Urban Culture to Adventure Sports, Nature Wonders, and Relaxation – This Journey Offers It All
Great Barrier Reef Snorkel
Sydney Opera House
Watching the penguin `rafts' come ashore at Phillip Island
Milford Sound Haven Cruise
Queenstown bike Tour
Dancing Cook islands
Turtle cook islands

21 Day Australia, New Zealand & Cook Islands

Embark on a 3-week Southern Hemisphere journey: Dive into the Great Barrier Reef in Cairns, explore Sydney and Melbourne, discover New Zealand's South Island's natural beauty, and relax in Aitutaki's crystal-clear lagoons.

Duration: 21 Days

Starts: Cairns

Finishes: Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Drive Journey
  • Dedicated Travel Designer
  • Full In-Country Support
  • Specialist Guides on all selected experiences
  • Full Vehicle Selection
Your Experiences:
  1. Low Isles Cruise and Snorkel Great Barrier Reef
  2. Private Penguin Tour to Phillip Island
  3. Guided Opera House Tour
  4. Blue Mountains Deluxe Eco Tour
Your Locations:
  1. Cairns
  2. Sydney
  3. Melbourne
  4. Queenstown
  5. Te Anau
  6. Milford Sound
  7. Mount Cook National Park
  8. Christchurch
  9. Auckland
  10. Rarotonga
  11. Aitutaki

Day by day tour itinerary

Expand all
Welcome to Cairns

Unwind in luxury upon arrival

Welcome to Cairns! Close to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, Cairns is a haven for scuba diving, snorkelling, reef cruises and all types of fishing. Go on rainforest walks and observe native birds and wildlife.

Sun-seekers and locals alike flock to Cairns Esplanade’s swimming lagoon on the city’s foreshore. There are picnic areas, birdwatching viewpoints, free barbecues and fitness equipment along the boardwalk, perfect for unwinding after your flight.

Cairns waterfront
Sailing the Low Isles of the Great Barrier Reef

Explore the Great Barrier Reef

Explore the Great Barrier Reef’s Low Isles for a full day on a catamaran cruise from Port Douglas. Feel the tropical breeze on your face and admire the countless shades of blue of the crystal clear ocean, all while listening to the informative commentary of the boat’s marine biologist guide. Lounge on the beach, go snorkelling or go on a glass-bottom boat tour. You can travel light today as the day trip includes your lunch and snorkelling equipment.

Snorkel Great Barrier Reef
Cairns to Sydney

Fly onwards to Sydney, the oldest and grandest of Australia's big cities.

This morning you will be transferred to Cairns Airport to fly to Sydney “Harbour City” Australia, on arrival you will be transferred to your accommodation.

Blessed with a glorious natural harbour, golden beaches and a blissful climate, this incredible metropolis makes a stunning final destination on your Contrasts of Australia Tour.

Settle in with a stroll along Circular Quay. With the Harbour Bridge at one end and the Opera House at the other, is there any more iconic place to begin your Sydney visit?

Aerial view of Sydneys sparkling harbour
Sydney's Secrets

Today soar above Sydney for a birds eye view, followed by a private Opera House tour

Sydney Secrets For those wishing to treat themselves to the absolute highlights of Sydney’s famous coast and waterways the 30 minute ‘Sydney Secrets’ flight is a must! This flight encompasses Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches. Our pilots know this area like the back of their hand and will point out the famous beaches along the route, including Manly, Curl Curl, Avalon and the iconic Palm Beach.  Duration approximately 30 minutes.

In the afternoon take a private guided tour of the Sydney Opera House. The Sydney Opera House Tour has been reimagined and we’re excited to take you on a journey to uncover untold stories, anecdotes, and history – it has a story to tell, and now’s your chance to discover the magic beneath the sails.

Sydney Opera House
Blue Mountains Eco Tour

Discover isolated vantage points away from the crowds, lunch at the historic Hydro Majestic Boilerhouse

When you’re ready to leave the hustle and bustle of city life behind, just look to the Blue Mountains for a breath of fresh air and a breathtaking view. This day tour is just what the doctor ordered when you need to get away from it all. From waterfalls to wildlife, let us help you unwind for the day in the Blue Mountains.

Blue mountains at dawn
Today Fly to Melbourne

Today you will be transferred to Sydney Airport to fly to Melbourne, on arrival collect your rental vehicle and explore at your leisure

This compact, diverse metropolis is begging to be explored after settling into your comfortable accommodation. There are hidden charms around every corner, beautiful Botanic Gardens and chic city squares where you can soak up the atmosphere to your heart’s content.

Here are some of our favourite things to do in Melbourne:

  • Lose yourself in cobbled laneways lined with tempting coffee shops, chic boutiques and cozy bars.
  • Admire the always-evolving street art covering every inch of Hosier Lane
  • Take a tram to St Kilda beach’s historic esplanade and drop into Acland St’s irresistible cake shops.
  • Make a sporting pilgrimage to the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground
  • Grab a bite to eat at Queen Victoria Market – it’s the largest market in the Southern Hemisphere
  • Choose from a dizzying array of restaurants & eateries — you’re in Australia’s foodie capital.
Melbourne Skyline
Phillip Island Day Trip

See the Penguin Parade and other natural treasures of Phillip Island on a full-day tour from Melbourne

Today drive approximately 2 hours for a day trip to Phillip Island and explore at your leisure Phillip Island, located 90 minutes’ drive from Melbourne, is famed for its natural attractions and abundant wildlife. Surrounded by some of the best surf and swimming beaches in Victoria, it is a great place to visit for a day trip or longer stay. Each night at sunset visitors from all over the world flock to Summerland Beach to observe the Little Penguins waddling up the sand.

Watching the penguin `rafts' come ashore at Phillip Island
Visit the Yarra Valley

Today head approximately 1 hour to explore Yarra Valley and the Dandenongs

One of the world’s premier wine growing regions, the Yarra Valley is situated less than an hour away from Melbourne. Despite its close proximity to the bustling city, however, the Yarra Valley is a whole world away, with breathtaking scenery, wineries, national parks and wildlife, and lots of adventure. Travel through rolling hills strung with vines, secluded natural valleys set against blue mountain backdrops and lush greenery and pastures, past towering trees and pristine rivers to verdant villages like Marysville and Warburton.

Private Yarra Valley Wine Tour
Fly to Queenstown New Zealand

Return your rental vehicle at Melbourne Airport prior to your flight to Queenstown

Queenstown – Adventure Capital  Queenstown, located on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the magnificent Southern Alps,  is New Zealand’s most celebrated destination. Offering a wealth of accommodation to suit all travellers,  there is huge diversity in the experiences to be enjoyed – from adrenaline activities such as bungee jumps  and sky diving, adventurous excursions like jet-boating and hiking through to superb golf, gourmet food  and wine tours or romantic hot air ballooning.

DAY 10
Bike the wineries

Cross 3 suspension bridges including the Kawarau Bridge - home of Bungy and the beginning of the Gibbston wine region.

This Half Day Self-Guided (but supported) Tour begins with a 1.15pm pick up and a scenic transfer to Morven Ferry Road. From here you bike 5kms along the scenic Miners Trail that crosses the Kawarau Suspension Bridge, the home of bungy and the beginning of the Gibbston Valley. Ride the Gibbston River Trail at your leisure and use our informative trail map with exclusive offers to visit as many of the 8+ wineries linked throughout this 9kms of easy riding trail. You will be picked up for your relaxing vehicle transfer back to Queenstown.

Queenstown bike Tour
DAY 11
Travel to Te Anau

Gateway to Fiordland

Set amongst a skyline of great mountains and beside the gorgeous Lake Te Anau, Te Anau is one of the great scenic towns of the South Island. It’s location in Fiordland puts Te Anau Township squarely on the doorstep to adventure – some of the most spectacular wilderness landscapes in New Zealand are accessed from here, including the incredible Milford Road, Doubtful Sound, Te Anau Glow Worm Caves and Milford Sound.

The name Te Anau translates in Maori to ‘Caves of Swirling Water’ and until a relatively recent discovery, the origin of the swirling waters remained lost in old Maori legend. The town is surrounded by beauty and brimming with great accommodation options, dining and unique.

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    2 nights at Fiordland Lodge

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    Approximate Distance: 170km

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    Total Driving Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

DAY 12
Milford Sound

From thundering waterfalls to sky-high mountains and lush rainforests, Milford has it all.

The perfect time to experience spectacular Milford Sound. From thundering waterfalls to sky-high mountains and lush rainforests, Milford has it all. Experience the spray of a waterfall as you cruise close to sheer rock faces. Informative, participative, and relaxed, this is the perfect way to experience Milford Sound to the fullest. Cruise in style on board the newly refurbished Milford Haven. More than a boat, the Haven is a cruising bar and restaurant. Enhance your cruise with something from our café-style menu and pair it perfectly with a fresh craft beer or local wine. The Milford Haven boasts a large rooftop deck with 360-degree views of the fiord. You can also choose to explore the fiord from the comfort of the cosy lounge, or there is a window seat for everyone in the café.

Milford Sound Haven Cruise
DAY 13
Mount Cook Village

Take the scenic route via the Lindis Pass to Mt Cook

Its Maori name, ‘Aoraki’ means ‘cloud piercer’ and at 12,016ft (3,755m) it towers above the surrounding snow-covered peaks in the park. A third of the park is covered in permanent ice and snow and the mighty Tasman Glacier is the longest glacier outside of the polar regions. This is the very heart and soul of a World Heritage and National Park wilderness playground. Ice, snow, hidden valleys, lakes and glaciers offer golden opportunities for discovery, relaxation and adventure.

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    2 nights at The Hermitage

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    Approximate Distance: 420km

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    Total Driving Time: 5 hours

Travel through Mackenzie country to NZ's Aoraki Mount Cook "Cloud Piercer"
DAY 14
Tasman Glacier by Helicopter

Take the premier flight over the Mt Cook National Park and its vast glaciers and snowfields

Explore the expansive Mt Cook National Park and its vast glaciers and snowfields, where you can witness the ancient waters of the Tasman Glacier lake and embark on a thrilling flight along the length of New Zealand’s longest glacier, the Tasman Glacier. Enjoy a snow landing experience, standing amongst the mountains and taking in the breathtaking panoramic view of Aoraki/Mount Cook, the highest peak in New Zealand. Continuing your adventure, cross over to the West Coast to witness the formidable Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, before concluding your journey with uninterrupted views of the summit ridge of Aoraki/Mt Cook.

Mt Cook Helicopter flight over the Tasman Glacier
DAY 15
Travel to Christchurch and on to Auckland

Auckland is the departure port for French Polynesia

The scenic drive between Mt Cook and Christchurch is a breathtaking journey that takes you through some of the most picturesque landscapes in New Zealand. Starting from the foot of Aoraki/Mt Cook, you’ll wind your way through rugged mountain ranges and sweeping valleys as you make your way towards the East Coast, reaching the endlessly fertile Canterbury Plains, enroute to the Garden City.

This afternoon take a flight to Auckland in preparation for your flight tomorrow to the Cook Islands.

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    1 night at The Hotel Britomart

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    Approximate Distance: 330km

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    Total Driving Time: 4 hours 30 mins

Aucklands Waterfront
DAY 16
Auckland to Aitutaki via Rarotonga

Fly this afternoon to the Cook Islands

There are no direct flights from Auckland to Aitutaki, so you will need to fly first to Rarotonga. Flight time: 5 hours 30 minutes. The flight time from Rarotonga to Aitutaki is approximately 45 minutes. The resort is about 4 kilometres from the small Aitutaki Airport and they offer complimentary airport transfers. Pacific Resort Aitutaki is located about 2 kilometres from the (very) small town of Arutanga.

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    5 nights at

Aitutaki Lagoon
DAY 17-20
Aitutaki Paradise

Relax and explore from luxurious Pacific Resort

The Pacific Resort Aitutaki offers many other activities and amenities, so be sure to customize your stay to your personal preferences and interests. You can select from so many relaxing or active days – the choice is yours:

During a 5-night stay at the Pacific Resort Aitutaki, you can enjoy a range of activities and experiences. Here are some recommendations:

  • Aitutaki Lagoon Cruise: Embark on a memorable lagoon cruise to explore the breathtaking Aitutaki Lagoon. Marvel at the crystal-clear turquoise waters, visit secluded motus (islets), and snorkel among colorful coral reefs.
  • One Foot Island: Take a trip to One Foot Island, a picturesque islet known for its pristine beaches and stunning views. Get your passport stamped at the local post office and relax in the paradise-like surroundings.
  • Snorkeling and Diving: Discover the vibrant marine life of Aitutaki by snorkeling or diving. Explore the coral gardens, encounter tropical fish, and perhaps even spot sea turtles or rays.
  • Spa and Wellness: Indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments at the resort’s spa facilities. Pamper yourself with massages, facials, and other relaxing therapies, allowing you to unwind and revitalize.
  • Cultural Experiences: Immerse yourself in the rich Polynesian culture of Aitutaki. Engage in traditional activities such as pareu (sarong) tying, coconut husking demonstrations, or ukulele lessons.
  • Sunset Cruises: Experience the magic of Aitutaki’s sunsets with a romantic sunset cruise. Sail along the lagoon as the sky transforms into a colorful masterpiece, creating a truly unforgettable moment.
  • Island Exploration: Rent a bicycle or scooter and venture around the island of Aitutaki. Visit local villages, interact with friendly locals, and soak up the laid-back island atmosphere.
  • Fine Dining: Delight in delectable cuisine at the resort’s restaurants, which offer a blend of international flavors and traditional Polynesian dishes. Enjoy romantic dinners by the beach or savor gourmet meals under the starry sky.
Aerial shot of Pacific Resort Aitutaki
DAY 21
Farewell from Aitutaki

Return to Rarotonga for your onward journey

Your South Pacific journey comes to an end today.  This trip has offered a diverse range of experiences, from city culture to adventure sports to natural wonders and relaxation. Of course we tailor all of our trips to the individual and look forward to assisting with your Absolute South Pacific adventure.


Ready to find out more? Talk to one of our friendly travel designers about his tour. We guarantee you it will be the experience of a lifetime!


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    21 Day Australia, New Zealand & Cook Islands

    From Urban Culture to Adventure Sports, Nature Wonders, and Relaxation – This Journey Offers It All

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