Down Under Experience

Picturing yourself in Australia is bound to conjure images of vast, dramatic, rugged landscapes, friendly people, unusual animals and exotic, once-in-a-lifetime experiences -- the likes of which you can’t experience anywhere else on the planet. While the continent is indeed large, so much can be accessed in a matter of days along its beautiful eastern seaboard in 3 distinct regions: Sydney, the Gold Coast, and the Great Barrier Reef.

Most likely you will arrive in Sydney and don your walking shoes to explore this most beautiful of urban landscapes. The harbor is the heart of the city graced with two architectural icons: the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor Bridge. Set sail on a harbor cruise, relax, and let the soft Pacific breezes tousle your hair.

The Gold Coast offers some of the world’s best beaches, boutique hotels, and bustling marinas where sidewalk cafes will tempt you with aromas of the day’s specialty. A mere 30 miles west are rainforests, bushwalks, and sparkling waterfalls.

Cairns is the gateway to the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef with its extraordinary blue waters and stunning marine life. Flippers and a face mask are all you will need to enter this underwater kaleidoscope of colorful coral varieties and brilliant fish.


Discover New Zealand

New Zealand consists of two main islands, the North Island and the South Island that together, are roughly the size of Colorado with a population of 4 million. The indigenous Maori represent about 15 percent of the population. If you think you’ll love the scenery, wait until you meet the people! New Zealanders, or Kiwis, as they call themselves, are among the friendliest people on earth.

Imagine a culture that draws you to the very heart of the Maori people. Where you’ll witness a deep connection to their ancestry. Where you will experience a Powhiri, or Maori welcome, and you’ll be intrigued to know more about this powerful culture. Where the wine is internationally acclaimed and the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is rated throughout the world as the definitive benchmark style.

Where you can tee off to your hearts content with average green fee prices at under $50USD and some of the most celebrated golfers have designed courses upon clifftops and oceans.
And then there’s the water. Whether you prefer to shoot class 4 rapids, or to kayak slowly across a tranquil bay accompanied by a pod of dolphins, New Zealand has the right place to dip your paddle.
Wait until you sit down for dinner! With the abundance of organic produce, export quality meat and the freshest of seafood available from local suppliers, even a simple meal is a culinary epiphany.


Destination Spotlight: Cook Islands

The Cook Islands consists of 15 islands scattered over some 772 square miles of the Pacific Ocean.

It was during the Great Polynesian Migration (which began about 1500BC), that our ancestors first arrived on these islands. Their giant double-hulled canoes - ‘Vaka’s’ - guided by the stars and the power of ancient Polynesian navigation, arrived here approximately 800AD. It is said that Chief Toi arrived in the Cook Islands during the original migration. Toi presided over the creation of a grand road, built of coral, laird through the inland swamps. This all-weather road is still in existence despite being almost 1000 years old. Now tar sealed, it lies inland and is called the Ara Metua.

The first Europeans were the Spanish explorers Alvaro de Mendana, who sighted Pukapuka in 1595 and Pedro Fernandez de Quiros who sighted Rakahanga in 1606.

There was no further European contact until over 160 years later in 1773 when Captain James Cook, for whom the island group was eventually named, sighted Manuae atoll which he named Hervey Island. On a later voyage, he also discovered Palmerston, Takutea, Mangaia and Atiu in 1777.

The Cook Islands become a favorite stop for whalers in the 1850s, the British flag was raised in 1888 at which time Aitutaki and Rarotonga were included in the boundaries of New Zealand.

Today, an international airport in Rarotonga handles daily connections from several destinations including the US.

Did You Know?

Australia’s animals are a major attraction to visitors. Just count them! There are 378 mammal species including the dingo and Tasmanian Devil; 140 species of marsupials including kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, and wombats; 300 species of lizards including the spectacular Frilled Lizard and Bearded Dragon; 828 bird species including kookaburras, emus, parrots, and cockatoos and 4000 fish species. Larger marine species include the migratory gentle whale shark, humpback, southern and orca whales, plus numerous dolphin and shark varieties.

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Featured Vacations:

Sydney and Cairns Escape

8-Night Air & Land Inclusive Vacation
From $23991 (Per person based on double occupancy)

Package Inclusions:

  • Round-trip International Economy airfare on Virgin Australia from Los Angeles to Sydney & Cairns
  • Four nights accommodation Sydney, choice of hotel grade
  • Four nights accommodation Cairns, choice of hotel grade
  • Applicable fuel surcharge
  • US/foreign taxes & fees including Sept 11 Security Fee

Click here for more details, terms & conditions.

Sydney, Red Centre and Great Barrier Reef Escape

10-Night Air & Land Inclusive Vacation
From $31892 (Per person based on double occupancy)

Package Inclusions:

  • Round-trip airfare on Virgin Australia to Sydney, Uluru (Ayers Rock) & Cairns
  • Four nights accommodation Sydney, choice of hotel grade
  • Two nights accommodation Uluru (Ayers Rock), choice of hotel grade
  • Four nights accommodation Cairns, choice of hotel grade
  • Applicable fuel surcharge
  • US/foreign taxes & fees including Sept 11 Security Fee

Click here for more details, terms & conditions.

Sydney, Adelaide & Cairns Escape

12-Night Air & Land Inclusive Vacation
From $31593 (Per person based on double occupancy)

Package Inclusions:

  • Round-trip airfare on Virgin Australia from Los Angeles to Sydney, Adelaide & Cairns
  • Four nights’ accommodation Sydney, choice of hotel grade
  • Four nights’ accommodation Adelaide, choice of hotel grade
  • Four nights’ accommodation Cairns, choice of hotel grade
  • Full-day Kangaroo Island Highlights Tour
  • Applicable fuel surcharge
  • US/foreign taxes & fees including Sept 11 Security Fee

Click here for more details, terms & conditions.

Save on Small Ship Cruising
When You Book by Sep 30, 2013

12-Night Auckland to Queenstown Cruise
From $79814 (Land only cruise vacation; Normally from $938; Per person based on double occupancy)

Departs Auckland December 30, 2013 - or -
Departs Queenstown February 14, 2014

Package Inclusions:

  • 12 nights accommodation in selected room grade
  • All meals, morning and afternoon teas
  • 24 hour tea/coffee and soda fountain soft drinks
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Cocktails
  • Use of onboard facilities
  • Access to islands, marine and national parks
  • Guided tours on Xplorer expedition vessel and Zodiacs
  • Touring as described in the itinerary
  • Services of expedition staff and lecturers including briefings
  • Port taxes and government charges imposed by government authorities
  • One way scheduled coach transfer between Queenstown and Milford Sound or vice versa

Does not include:

  • Pre and post flights, transfers and hotels
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal items such as communications and bar charges
  • Optional shore excursions in selected locations.

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Cook Island Style - Crown Beach Resort & Spa

5-Night Air & Land Inclusive Vacation
From $23495 (Per person based on double occupancy)

Package Inclusions:

  • Round-trip airfare from Los Angeles to Rarotonga
  • Five nights Crown Beach Resort & Spa, Courtyard Pool Suite including a NZ$250 food and beverage, spa and WiFi credit, daily triple happy hour (buy 1 get 1 free) and nightly turndown with flowers and romantic candles
  • Tropical Breakfast Daily
  • Round-trip airport/hotel transfers
  • Captain Tamas Lagoon Cruise
  • Applicable airline fuel surcharges
  • US/foreign taxes and fees including September 11 Security Fee

Click here for more details, terms & conditions.