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
Finishes: Rarotonga, Cook Islands
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.
2 nights at Shangri-La The Marina Cairns
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.
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?
3 nights at Sir Stamford Circular Quay
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.
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.
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:
3 nights at QT Melbourne
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.
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.
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.
2 nights at
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.
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.
2 nights at
Approximate Distance: 170km
Total Driving Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
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.
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.
2 nights at
Approximate Distance: 420km
Total Driving Time: 5 hours
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.
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.
1 night at
Approximate Distance: 330km
Total Driving Time: 4 hours 30 mins
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.
5 nights at
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:
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!ENQUIRE
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From Urban Culture to Adventure Sports, Nature Wonders, and Relaxation – This Journey Offers It All
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Situated on Cairns’ Marlin Marina, this hotel provides luxury and convenience. With exquisite rooms and suites, restaurants and bars, set amongst lush tropical gardens, with on-site pool and luxury facilities.
This luxury hotel features an outdoor heated pool and sundeck that overlooks Sydney Harbour and Circular Quay. The award-winning restaurant and bar offer views of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Situated in Sydney CBD (Central Business District), Sir Stamford Circular Quay is a short 5-minute stroll from the world-famous Sydney Opera House. Each room features an executive work desk with broadband internet access, plus a marble bathroom with double vanity, bathrobe, and slippers. Some rooms have an intimate Juliet balcony with stunning views.
Perfectly groomed and immaculately accessorised, QT Melbourne glows within the high-end fashion district of Australia’s most creatively charged city. With a distinctly creative edge through its 188 rooms and exciting dining and bar experiences, QT Melbourne is for guests and locals alike. Indulge in high-end sophistication through carefully curated modern art, high-spec designer tech, and all of the quirk and tongue-in-cheek pleasure you have come to expect when immersing yourself in QT life.
Make it a day to remember on the Great Barrier Reef with this reef and island cruise to Low Isles. Explore the protected Coral Cay, with white sandy beaches and coconut palms, surrounded by magnificent coral gardens and the Coral Sea. Sailaway ensures your enjoyment with a small number of guests, excellent service and personal attention from their helpful and friendly crew. You moor in the sheltered blue lagoon where you can decide whether you just want to relax on the island, join the guided snorkel tour, take a trip on the glass bottom boat or laze on deck before an exhilarating sail back to port.
Phillip Island is brimming with memorable wildlife experiences, but its headline act is the nightly penguin parade. Each night at dusk, thousands of little penguins—the largest colony in Australia of the world’s smallest penguin breed—can be seen along the shores of Summerland Beach, waddling back to their beachside burrows after a day at sea.
Take a guided tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House. See inside the world’s most recognisable sails and experience this miracle of architecture and engineering. A work of art that came into existence against impossible odds, only to become one of the busiest performing arts centres in the world.
Working with new, rich audio-visual components where images are projected onto the fabric of the building, the guides will take you on an emotional journey, engrossing you in a story to rival any opera plot with its dramatic twists and turns. You’ll visit at least one of their venues where live performances happen every day. Some 1,500 performances, from opera to circus, rock and cabaret, are staged each year to audiences of around 1.5 million.
Your journey to the Blue Mountains takes you through picturesque villages and past spectacular views and waterfalls. Stop for morning tea at Calmsley Hill, a working farm which is also home to kangaroos, emus, wombats and koalas. Continue on to a scenic lookout point where you will learn all about the unique trees of the Australian forest, and find out the cause of the blue haze which gives the region its name.
Eat lunch at the Hydro Majestic Hotel with magnificent valley views before you, then spend the afternoon visiting a selection of stunning Blue Mountains lookouts. The view from Govett’s Leap is one of the most famous in Australia: the magnificent waterfall drops a whopping 180m | 590 ft to the base of the cliff.
The last stop is the delightful Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens where you admire the sweeping views and enjoy a glass of sparkling wine or orange juice before travelling back to your hotel.
Cairns is situated in the Northern end of Tropical Queensland. The city is framed by the spectacular twin backdrops of rainforest mountain ranges and the sparkling Coral Sea. The World Heritage-listed Wet Tropical Rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef and the Outback are all within easy reach. Cairns is both an adventure and a nature lover’s paradise. From white-water rafting to bungee jumping and skydiving, you’ll find the perfect activity to suit your penchant for thrills and with hundreds of tours visiting the Great Barrier Reef each year, you’re sure to find one, or a couple, to try out.
A city of iconic attractions and brilliant beaches, Sydney is a destination you’ll never forget. Sydney is home to must-visit icons like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, but this Harbour City is constantly evolving. New rooftop bars, theatre shows and designer shops pop up at every turn, and the urban excitement is perfectly balanced by afternoons spent lying on the sand. With diverse destinations at its doorstep, Sydney is the perfect base for day trips and weekends away.
Melbourne is the second biggest and the most cosmopolitan of the Australian cities. Melbourne is Australia’s mecca for all things trendy and tasty. The city offers up exquisite dining, exhilarating sport and abundant opportunities to experience art. Take a river cruise on the Yarra from Southbank and the Docklands and Williamstown and return via St Kilda. Ride the free City Circle Tram and enjoy easy access to many of the city’s attractions and highlights. See the city glide past while you dine in the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. Discover Australia’s shopping capital’s secrets at Southgate, South Yarra, fashionable Collins Street, Melbourne’s historical grand arcades or Queen Victoria Market.
Rarotonga, the vibrant hub of the Cook Islands, is a true island paradise. With no traffic lights, fast food chains, or tall buildings, this unspoiled gem is a haven of warmth, frangipani scents, and endless adventure. Whether climbing its volcanic peak or swimming in its turquoise waters, Rarotonga promises a holiday experience like no other.
Visitors can quickly immerse themselves in the island’s beauty, whether it’s kayaking on the crystal-clear lagoon, sipping on a refreshing cocktail, or lounging poolside at their luxurious resort. With easy access around the island, guests are free to enjoy the Rarotonga at their own pace, discovering restaurants and marine reserves with ease – each day relaxing or exploring – you choose.
Aitutaki, a little paradise with the world’s most beautiful lagoon, is only a 50-minute flight from Rarotonga. The 15 motus sprinkled across the turquoise lagoon offer a secluded and romantic retreat for honeymooners. With its compelling allure, Aitutaki is the second most visited island in the Cook Islands.
Here, visitors can enjoy leisurely days working on their tan, relaxing with a massage, or exploring the island by cycle or motor-scooter. It’s the perfect place to revel in each other’s company and the breathtaking scenery, creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime.