Encounter incredible wonders down under on a journey across New Zealand to the wildlife-rich rain forests, reefs, and islands of Australia. Glide across the glassy waters of Milford Sound; snorkel Great Barrier Reef’s intricate maze of coral; and encounter rare kiwis, koalas, and kangaroos on isolated isles. Explore vibrant cities from Queenstown to Sydney, and see how the Maori and Aboriginal cultures are deeply connected to thewild landscapes of Australia and New Zealand.
Encounter the unusual wildlife of
Kangaroo Island, known as Australia’s
Galápagos, during a stay at Southern
Ocean Lodge, a National Geographic
Unique Lodge of the World.
Meet with Dr. Adam Barnett, a National
Geographic grantee who will discuss
his latest research on sharks; then spot
Australia’s diverse marine life while
snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef.
Take a private tour of the bucolic Shire
film set used in The Lord of the Rings
Spend time with Maori elders on a
reservation in Murupara, and enjoy music
and storytelling over a traditional hangi
Itinerary - 18 Days
Day 1 — Auckland, New Zealand
Arrive in Auckland and settle into our downtown hotel. Enjoy a welcome dinner on the waterfront this evening.
Stamford Plaza Auckland (D)
Day 2 — Tiritiri Matangi Island
Board a ferry to Tiritiri Matangi Island, home to one of New Zealand's most important wildlife sanctuaries. Learn about conservation efforts here while seeking out endangered bird and reptile species, including the flightless takahe and the tuatara. Savor a picnic lunch in this picturesque setting before returning to the mainland. This afternoon, enjoy free time to discover Auckland, known as the "city of sails" for the many sailboats that teem in its harbor.
Stamford Plaza Auckland (B,L)
Day 3 — Waitomo Caves / Rotorua
Travel to Waitomo and descend into an otherworldly cave system illuminated by the turquoise light of thousands of tiny glowworms. Then drive across the bucolic Waikato countryside and stop at a farm for a traditional barbecue lunch. Continue to Matamata, which served as the “Shire” filming site in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. Take a private tour of the set, then continue to the city of Rotorua.
Princes Gate Boutique Hotel (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Rotorua
Delve into Maori culture on a visit to the Ngati Manawa tribal lands. Take part in a mini whakatau welcome ritual, and join members of the tribe for morning tea and a tour of the meeting house. Examine ancient Maori cave art found on the reservation; then enjoy a cultural performance of traditional songs, stories, and legends, followed by a geothermal hang lunch, cooked in naturally hot steam vents. This afternoon, try your hand at Maori weaving and take a guided walk through the native forests of Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park, a biodiversity hotspot.
Princes Gate Boutique Hotel (B,L)
Day 5 — Rotorua/Te Anau
Visit the Orakei Korako Geothermal Park and Cave for a private walking tour of its gushing geysers, steaming hot springs, and silica terraces. Descend into volcanic Ruatapu Cave, which plunges to depths of more than 100 feet and harbors the crystalline Waiwhakaata, or “Pool of Mirrors.” Continue to the Rotorua airport for a flight to Queenstown, and transfer to our lakefront hotel in Te Anau, the gateway to Fiordland National Park.
Distinction Te Anau Hotel (B,L)
Day 6 — Milford Sound
Journey into Fiordland National Park for a wilderness cruise through magnificent Milford Sound. As we navigate these pristine waters, take in the majesty of the fjords and their surrounding cliffs, blanketed in lush forest and sprinkled with waterfalls. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and fur seals! This evening, savor South Island specialties during a three-course dinner back at our hotel.
Distinction Te Anau Hotel (B,L,D)
Days 7, 8, & 9 — Queenstown/Mount Aspiring National Park
Set out on a drive through the Alpine landscapes of southern New Zealand, stopping along the way for a behind-the-scenes tour of a working sheep farm. Arrive on the shores of stunning Lake Wakatipu and board a private boat bound for Queenstown, where we’ll settle into our hotel overlooking the water. On an excursion into Mount Aspiring National Park, learn about the region’s geology as we hike and ride a jet boat through glacial river valleys. Take an interpretive nature walk along Lake Wakatipu to learn about local medicinal plants.
Hotel St Moritz Queenstown (Day 7: B,L; Days 8 & 9: B,L,D)
Days 10 & 11 — Sydney, Australia
Fly to Sydney, where we begin our exploration of Australia. Set out on a walking tour of the historic Rocks district—a cobbled neighborhood of zestful restaurants, galleries, and shops. Embark on a sunset dinner cruise, savoring a sumptuous multi-course meal and unparalleled views of Sydney Harbour glimmering under the night sky. The following day, visit the Royal Botanic Garden, and take a behind-the-scenes tour of the iconic Sydney Opera House. Set out on an optional excursion to climb the Harbour Bridge.
InterContinental Sydney (B,D; B)
Days 12, 13, & 14 — Port Douglas/Cairns
Journey to Kangaroo Island, located off the continent’s southern coast and known as “Australia’s Galapagos.” During your stay, choose from a variety of naturalist-led activities designed to immerse you in the diverse plant and animal life of the island. Walk amid the hundreds of playful pups, cows, and bulls that live along Seal Bay; explore rugged coastal cliffs with unique caves and rock formations; or traverse the island’s rolling hills and eucalyptus forests in search of koalas, platypuses, spiny anteaters, kangaroos, and a dazzling array of birds. Fly to Adelaide for an evening at leisure.
TBD/Stamford Plaza Adelaide (Day 12: B,D; Day 13: B,L,D; Day 14: B,L)
Days 15 & 16 — Cairns/Port Douglas/Great Barrier Reef
Fly to Cairns. En route to our beach lodge in Port Douglas, stop at James Cook University to meet with National Geographic grantee Dr. Adam Barnett, a renowned shark researcher. Hear about his studies on deep-sea sharks such as the sevengill. Enjoy an evening at leisure before our full-day adventure on the world's largest reef system. Embark on a cruise by motorized catamaran to the outer reef and spend the day discovering some of the 2,000 species that inhabit the Great Barrier Reef. Observe the reef from a viewing platform, take a ride in a glass-bottom boat, or go on a private snorkeling tour in this incredible marine ecosystem. Scuba diving is also available for certified divers, at an additional cost.
Thala Beach Lodge (B; B,L)
Day 17 — Daintree Rainforest
Begin the day with a cruise on the Daintree River, in search of crocodiles at the convergence of salt and fresh water. Then set off with an indigenous guide on a Ngadiku
Geographer David Scott
Silverberg (Ph.D. MIT,
postdoc Harvard) has traveled
extensively in Australia,
studying the biodiversity of
this island continent. He has
also worked throughout New
Zealand researching the geologic development
of its Southern Alps, and conducting fieldwork
with the New Zealand Department of
Conservation on its South Island Kiwi restoration
project. He has joined numerous expeditions for
travelers to both countries. David has served as
executive director for Research at EarthWatch
Institute and helped launch AmeriCorps’
environmental programs. He is a fellow of the
Explorers Club, the Royal Africa Society, the
Royal Geographical Society, the Australian Royal
Geographic and the Royal Asia Society.
David will join the following departures:
Nov 04 - 21, 2018 Jan 13 - 30, 2019 Feb 17 - Mar 06, 2019
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room,
add $5,300. Airfare to Auckland and return from Cairns,
and within Australia and New Zealand, is not included in
the expedition cost. The group flights within Australia and
New Zealand are $1,485 per person (subject to change).
Travelers should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives, or easy hikes, with options for more physical activities such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling and biking.
Click here for a description of all activity levels.