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Cruising Down Under 2020 (Westbound)

20 days with Tauck   Rating: Deluxe

Itinerary
Click for Dates and Prices Day 1 Welcome to Auckland
Tour begins 6:00 PM at Hilton Auckland. Transfer is included from Auckland Airport to Hilton Auckland, perched at the end of Princes Wharf with sweeping views of Hauraki Gulf and Rangatota Island. Your hotel is in the business district, only a five-minute walk from the city center. A welcome reception at the hotel is followed by dinner and a performance by Maori dancers. (D)

Day 2 Explore Auckland
Drive along the rugged coastline of beaches, inlets, and dramatic cliffs to Bastion Point Lookout, where Savage Memorial offers stunning views of Waitemata Harbor; the cliffside gardens and mauseoleum are named for Michael Joseph Savage, the nation's first Labor prime minister. The lookout is also called Takaporawhau, and the beautiful reserve around it is rich in history. An orientation tour of Auckland includes Mission Bay, West Haven Marina, Queen Street, the Sky Tower, the Auckland War Memorial, and the Auckland Maritime Museum, dedicated to New Zealand's sailing heritage, from the first Polynesian watercraft to present-day yachts. The rest of the day is free to explore the city on your own. Auckland typically makes the lists of the world's best cities, and your hotel is in easy reach of some of its outstanding features, including the scenic waterfront, shops, restaurants, galleries, the Sky Tower, the Harbor Bridge, and the casino. (B)

Day 3 Pleasures of Waiheke Island / Embark Le Laperouse
Sail by ferry to Waiheke Island, a picturesque haven of vineyards, wineries, and olive orchards. New Zealand, with its moderate climate and diverse terroirs, is famous for its distinctive wines, and today you'll learn why at a visit to a winery for a tour and tasting. Next, visit Rangihoua Olive Estate to see how its award-winning olive oils are produced. Following lunch at a renowned winery, return to Auckland and embark on Le Laperouse. Dinner tonight is onboard the ship. (B, L, D)

Day 4 Maori artisans and geysers at Rotorua
Sail to Tauranga, a city on the Bay of Plenty near Mount Maunganui, an extinct volcano. Maunganui (also called Mauao, or The Mount) may be cold, but geothermal activity still rages under the earth in nearby Rotorua, steaming up from cracks, fault-lines, geysers and hot springs. Rotorua is also where European settlement began in New Zealand. You have a choice of excursions: visit historic Elms Mission House, built for an Anglican missionary in 1847; in Rotorua Forest you'll also visit Whakarewarewa, an authentic Tamaki Maori village, where you'll be welcomed to their sacred grounds, see a traditional dance, and a demonstration of how the Maoris use steam from the ground and hot springs to cook their food. Or visit Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter, a kiwi hatchery and nursery, where the birds are raised and released into the wild; watch Maori artisans and carvers at work near Pohutu Geyser; then head to the Agrodome for a tour of a sheep farm that includes demonstrations of sheep shearing and dog herding. After lunch, return to the ship. This evening, attend the captain's welcome reception, followed by dinner, as you sail for White Island. (B, L, D)

Day 5 White Island... lava bombs and fumeroles
White Island is a live volcano 30 miles off the mainland. Most of it is underwater, so the rim of the crater is near the waterline (visit is weather-dependent). Land on the island by zodiac. Within the crater is a world of hissing and roaring vents, bubbling mud pits, lava bombs, and vivid colors. Also on the island is a lake of steaming acid, a sulphur-mining factory abandoned in 1914, and a breeding colony of Australasian gannets. Return to ship and spend the rest of the day at sea. (B, L, D)

Day 6 Napier and the wineries
Arrive in Napier, a coastal city on Hawke's Bay, North Island, where you have a choice of shore excursions. Napier was leveled by an earthquake in 1931 and completely rebuilt within two years, which accounts for its unparalleled wealth of Art Deco architecture. Take a ride around town on the Hawke's Bay Express, a modern road-train built in the style of a vintage steam locomotive from the Art-Deco era. Or bicycle along the Water Trail, a dedicated cycling path following the coast to Taradale, where you can see an historic Maori pa (fortress), enjoy refreshments, and get a transfer back to port. Or visit Horsford Downs, a private home in the country, where Hamish Prins will show you his gardens, orchards, and boutique winery, and entertain you with stories. The area around Hawke's Bay is home to 72 wineries. At Churchroad Winery you'll get a tour and tasting and insights into pairing wine with food. Or discover Mission Estates Wines, New Zealand's oldest winery, founded in 1838 by French missionaries. (B, L, D)

Day 7 All about Wellington
New Zealand's capital city is also the nation's cultural heart, nestled in a sheltered harbor ringed by mountains at the southern tip of North Island. The compact metropolis is an energetic hive of government and commerce, theatres, museums, galleries, restaurants, and cafe culture, whose Miramar suburb ("Wellywood") is famous for its film studios; the Lord of the Rings trilogy was made here, as well as other blockbuster films like King Kong and Avatar. Ride a cable car to Mt. Victoria lookout for a stunning, panoramic view of the city and its harbor, then you have a choice of city sightseeing. Visit the Wellington Botanical Gardens and the Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa Tangarewa), an interactive, innovative museum dedicated to the nation's art, science, and natural history, and the history and culture of its indigenous people. Or drive the rugged coast on a "seal safari" to find seal colonies and wildlife you may meet along the way, such as wild goats, horses, deer and ostrich. Or explore the local food scene on a Capital Tastes Tour, sampling artisan flavors and going behind the scenes of some of the city's eateries with a local guide. Or take a walking tour of Matui Island, the site of a Maori fortress, now home to rare birds, reptiles, and penguins. After lunch, enjoy free time on your own; downtown and the waterfront are a delight to explore, and the architecture spans the gamut from ultra-modern to Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco masterpieces. (B, L, D)

Day 8 Picton and the Marlborough Valley
Picton is a picturesque seaside town of cafes, restaurants, and galleries, where ferry service connects to the islands of Marlborough Sounds. Your choice of shore excursions today includes visits to Omaka Aviation Heritage Center, film director Sir Peter Jackson's personal collection of World War I aircraft and artifacts; Makana Confections, a boutique chocolate factory; Yealands Winery Estate on the Seaview Peninsula; and Barewood Farm, for a sheep-shearing and dog-herding demo, and a country-style lunch. Or travel to a wine estate in Marlborough Valley, a landscape of spectacular beauty and one of the premier wine regions in the world, followed by a visit to Upton Oaks, a Victorian home surrounded by a romantic, intimate "garden of national significance." Or go kayaking on Queen Charlotte Sound with an optional hike around the Queen Charlotte Track, a scenic trail of coastal views, historic landmarks, and varieties of bush and wildlife. Dinner tonight is aboard ship as you sail for Milford Sound. (B, L, D)

Day 9 A marvelous day at sea
Spend a day at sea as Le Laperouse sails from Picton up through the Marlborough Sounds, a network of submerged valleys, steep hills, and quiet bays, and down the western coastline of South Island, a showcase of seaside towns and national parks, swaths of pristine wilderness and Southern Alps, which run the entire length of the island. You can relax and enjoy the ship's amenities, which include a pool with panoramic view, a counter-current swimming system, a spa, a solarium, and outdoor bar and lounge. (B, L, D)

Day 10 Treasured sights on a day at sea in Milford Sound
Arrive in Milford Sound, a fjord of breathtaking cliffs, rain forests, black water and alpine mountains at the edge of Fjordland National Park. The Maoris call it Piopiotahi; Rudyard Kipling called it the Eighth Wonder of the World. Explorer James Hingston, who saw it in 1883, marveled at the shoreline mountains that tower thousands of feet and seem as if they "were just carved yesterday by the stupendous wedges of titanic masons." In fact, Maori legend says they were carved by a god with a keen-edged adze. Rain-fed waterfalls plunge from great heights; the more striking mountain formations go by names like Mitre Peak, the Lion, or the Elephant. The sound is a marine reserve habitat for fur seals, dolphins, and occasional whales, and a breeding ground for Fjordland Peguins. (B, L, D)

Day 11 Fjords... colors and mist on a day at sea
Sail into Dusky Sound, a fjord that was once a popular whaling and seal-hunting ground, and humpback whales still frequent the waters, along with bottlenose dolphins and seals. The sound is one of New Zealand's most inspiring natural settings, and visitors are typically moved by its beauty and solitude. Dense forests line the shores and the steep-sided cliffs may pour with hundreds of waterfalls in the rainy season, and the islands are havens for seabirds as well as kakapos, petrels, and prions. Discover Doubtful Sound, Fjordland's deepest fjord, that wanders for 24 miles inland, lined with intensely green forests and mountains shrouded in mist, which Charles Lyttleton described as "an awesome place, with its granite precipices, hanging valleys, its earthquake faults, and its thundering cascades." Tonight enjoy the captain's farewell reception followed by dinner as you sail for Dunedin on South Island's east coast. (B, L, D)

Day 12 Experience Scottish Dunedin and on to Queenstown
Dock in Dunedin (du-NEE-din) on the Otago Peninsula. The city bears the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, while Otago takes its name from the Maori village, Otakou, which preceded it. Dunedin was settled by Scottish missionaries in 1848 and later made its fortune during the Otago Gold Rush of the 1860s. Disembark ship and take your choice of sightseeing options. On a guided tour of rugged Otago Peninsula, explore its natural wonders including volcanic rock formations and habitats of royal albatross, sea lions, and yellow-eyed penguins. Or enjoy a guided walking tour of Dunedin, with its well-preserved Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Or tour Larnach Castle, built by a Victorian merchant-baron in Gothic Revival style, with exquisite gardens and stunning seaviews. After lunch, drive to Queenstown and check into your hotel on the scenic shores of Lake Wakitipu. (B, L, D)

Day 13 Jetboat... gondola... Arrowtown... Queenstown and more
Start the day with an adrenalin rush on a Thunder Jetboat ride through a river gorge, taking hairpin turns and skimming the water at speeds up to 95 mph (spray jackets and life jackets provided). Or, if you wish, ride a gondola high above Queenstown to take in the panoramic views of the city, the lake, and surrounding mountains. This afternoon you can relax at the hotel, enjoy the spa, go hiking, or explore Queenstown, which calls itself the Adventure Capital of the World (the birthplace of bungee jumping). Or perhaps spend the afternoon in Arrowtown, a historic gold-mining town on the Arrow River which retains much of its original character and charm. Note: sightseeing excursions may occur on Day 14 as well as Day 13. (B)

Day 14 Fly to Melbourne, Australia
Fly from Queenstown, New Zealand, to Melbourne, Australia; you'll be crossing a time zone and adjusting your clocks when you arrive. Check into your elegant hotel in the heart of the city, and enjoy a taste of Melbourne this evening at one of a selection of local restaurants. (B, D)

Day 15 Discover the heart of Melbourne
Take a walking tour of Melbourne this morning and a motorcoach tour of its major landmarks, including Fitzroy Gardens, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Parliament House, and Olympic Drive. This afternoon, spend free time in Melbourne on your own. The city is famous for its food culture, museums, galleries, and bohemian style, and its inner city is distinctly European, with some narrow streets reminiscent of Paris. (B)

Day 16 Cairns and crocodiles
This morning, fly to Cairns, a city surrounded by rainforests, where your first stop is Hartley's Wildlife Park, an award-winning, innovative ecopark of specially designed habitats that makes you feel like you're in the wild with crocodiles, lizards, cassowaries, and other native wildlife; your visit includes a boat cruise on the lagoon with a naturalist guide. Next, drive to Barron Falls, a magnificent tiered waterfall in Barron Falls National Park, where you'll ride an open-air gondola on a four-mile trip through the treetops of a rainforest; soak in the sounds of the forest and dazzling birds-eye views of the Tropical North Queensland region. Arrive at Cairns and check into your luxury hotel on Trinity Inlet. Join us this evening for a private dinner and show at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park, a museum and theatre dedicated to the history and culture of the "Rainforest People." (B, L, D)

Day 17 A great day at the Great Barrier Reef
Cruise to the Great Barrier Reef, with a biology presentation and a snorkeling demonstration en route. The coral reef is one of the world's great natural wonders, considered the largest living thing on the planet; more than 1,400 miles long, it is longer than the Great Wall of China and visible from outer space; an ecosystem that is home to countless species of fish and marine life. On arrival at the Marine World Outer Reef you can snokel or view the amazing sights through a glass-bottom vessel, or relax aboard an anchored pontoon platform. Options available at additional cost include scuba diving, helmet diving, SEABOB (an underwater jet snorkeling machine), marine biologist-guided snorkel tours, and scenic helicopter rides. Return to your hotel in Cairns where the evening is free. The city is a cosmopolitan tourist destination that caters to all tastes, and there are many restaurants in walking distance of the hotel. (B, L)

Day 18 Fly to Sydney and do some exploring
Fly to Sydney, where sightseeing with a local guide includes The Rocks (a historic neighborhood of open-air markets and the city's oldest pubs), the Botanical Gardens, the Central Business District, Hyde Park, St. Mary's Cathedral, and the neighborhoods of Darling Point and Rose Bay. Check into your hotel in the heart of the city; your evening is free to experience Sydney as you please. (B, L)

Day 19 Sydney Opera House and more
Walk to the iconic Sydney Opera House for a tour with a local guide. Projecting into Sydney Harbor, the operahouse is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an architectural masterpiece of interlocking shells (or sails) surrounded by terraces and pedestrian concourses. Inside are a concert hall, several theatres, a multipurpose hall, and a recording studio, as well as cafes, restaurants, and bars. This afternoon enjoy free time on your own, then join us for a private cruise on Sydney Harbor that includes a farewell reception and dinner. (B, D)

Day 20 Journey Home
Tour ends Sydney, Australia. Fly home anytime; transfers are included from the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney or the InterContinental Sydney to Sydney International Airport. (B)
Map
All This Included
Aboriginal legend has it that Australia was created in Dreamtime. Maori gods are credited with making New Zealand into a two-island paradise of stunning natural beauty. So it is only fitting that Tauck's 20-day cruise adventure in these lands "down under" includes a South Pacific dream voyage aboard one of Ponant's newest limited-capacity yachts, Le Lapérouse. Blending two-night hotel stays on land in Sydney, Cairns, Melbourne and Auckland with 9 nights aboard Le Lapérouse as you cruise to New Zealand's natural gems, this enchanted trip includes Tauck's all-included shore excursion, signature sightseeing, and exclusive cultural experiences - like a private event at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park for Tauck guests only, an excursion to the Great Barrier Reef, private wine tastings and many more - to ensure a g'day, every day!
  • All gratuities to Tauck Director, ship staff and local guides
  • Tauck's private shore excursions and distinctive inclusions valued at $3,380
  • 9-night cruise aboard the yacht Le Laperouse
  • Choice of all-included shore excursions most days
  • Visits to wineries in New Zealand with tastings and food pairing
  • Visit to Whakarewarewa Maori village in Rotorua
  • A four-wheel-drive "seal safari" in Wellington
  • A food tour in Wellington with behind the scenes visits to eateries
  • Visit to the state-of-the-art Museum of New Zealand in Wellington
  • Kayaking on Queen Charlotte Sound / Cycling Queen Charlotte Trail
  • Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef
  • Treetop gondola ride in a rainforest at Barron Falls
  • Thunder Jetboat ride through a river gorge in Queenstown
  • Visit to Hartley's Wildlife Park and crocodile farm, Cairns
  • Private cruise and dinner on Sydney Harbor
  • Visit to Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter
  • Lunch at Larnach Castle in Dunedin
  • Dinner and show at Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park
  • Aboard ship alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available throughout the day, including house wines and spirits; premium spirits and wines are available at extra cost
  • Airport transfers upon arrival and departure as noted
  • 46 meals on land and sea (19 breakfasts, 13 lunches & 14 dinners), all gratuities to Tauck Director, local guides & ship staff, applicable fuel surcharges, service charges, porterage and taxes
Highlights
  • 9-night cruise aboard Le Lapérouse
  • 2-night hotel stays in Melbourne, Cairns, Sydney and Auckland
  • Snorkeling at Great Barrier Reef
  • Rainforest gondola in Cairns
  • Private event at Tjapukai
Accommodations
Auckland: Hilton Auckland
Cruising: Cabin onboard Le Lapérouse
Queenstown: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Melbourne: Sofitel Melbourne on Collins or Park Hyatt Melbourne
Cairns: Hilton Cairns or Shangri-La Hotel, The Marina, Cairns
Sydney: Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney or InterContinental Sydney
Notes
  • Internal airfare ($1,650) is not included in the price.
  • Cabin upgrades are available. 
  • Tour has optional activites which may incur additional costs.
  • Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
For Tauck terms and conditions, please click here.

* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.