- Go flightseeing over the spectacular landscapes of Milford Sound and the Kimberley, and take thrilling boat rides on the Shotover River and through a horizontal waterfall.
- Meet with indigenous people to learn about their ancient cultures at the Turama Retreat in Rotorua and on a private tour of sacred Uluru.
- Encounter koalas, kangaroos, emus, and more with local wildlife experts, and see Tasmanian devils on a visit to the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in Tasmania.
- Explore the oldest section of the ancient Daintree Rainforest, and spend a day on the Great Barrier Reef, snorkeling amid colorful marine life or observing it from a glass-bottom boat.
The island countries of Australia and New Zealand are graced by superlatives: the oldest rainforest on Earth, the largest barrier reef, world-renowned wine regions, a host of species that evolved here alone, and ancient indigenous cultures that are deeply entwined with it all. There is perhaps no better way to take in the scope of these two countries than exploring them by private jet. Experience their glorious diversity on an expedition that encompasses stunning landscapes from New Zealand’s Southern Alps to Tasmania, sacred sites from the bubbling landscapes of Rotorua to Uluru, and great cities from Queenstown to Sydney.
Arrive in Queenstown on individual flights and transfer to our hotel overlooking Lake Wakatipu. Meet fellow travelers, experts, and staff before kicking off our adventure with an exhilarating jet boat ride on the Shotover River, which winds through dramatic canyons. Gather for a welcome reception at dinner in the evening. The next day, soar up into the mountains in a charter helicopter, taking in sweeping views of the dramatic scenery surrounding Queenstown. Land at Moonlight Lodge, set high among rugged slopes covered with tussock grass and beech trees, and sit down to a lovely farm-style lunch. Take the long route on the way back, flying over the spectacular Milford Sound and alighting amid the mountaintops for a panoramic view of Lake Wakatipu. On our final day in Queenstown, choose from two excursions. Meet a park zoologist at the Kiwi Birdlife Park to learn about wildlife conservation efforts and witness a kiwi feeding. Or head into the Central Otago region for lunch and a wine-tasting tour at some of the area's finest wineries. Meet up in the evening for dinner at Rātā, a modern eatery surrounded by an urban forest of native trees.
Our first flight by private jet brings us to Rotorua, a city built partially upon geothermal land on the North Island. This bubbling expanse of mud pools, geysers, and hot springs is considered sacred by the indigenous Maori people, who have adapted their beliefs and lifestyles to the unpredictable earth. Immerse yourself in this ancient culture and learn about their ancestral connection to nature during an exclusive lunch at the Turama Retreat. Continue by private jet on a short flight to Napier and settle into our delightful lodge, a working sheep and cattle farm on the North Island’s eastern coast that is considered one of New Zealand’s top accommodations. Join a shepherd for a tour of the farm the next morning, and watch a demonstration of the farm dogs mustering the sheep. Then choose from a variety of activities, including visiting the Cape Sanctuary to spot rare native birds and reptiles, including the tuatara—an endemic lizard-like creature that coexisted with the dinosaurs.
Fly to Auckland to clear customs and immigration and continue across the Tasman Sea to Sydney. Upon arrival, transfer to our waterfront hotel. The next morning, head for the historic Rocks district on a guided walking tour. Trace early colonial history as you stroll past old pubs and cottages where Australia’s colorful first European settlers built their lives. End the tour at the legendary Sydney Opera House and explore this masterpiece of architecture and engineering with a private guide. Half of the group will do these tours in reverse order. Then set sail on a luxury cruise on Sydney Harbour, hearing the history of this famous waterway as you glide past iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, and sail into beautiful bays and coves.
Fly south to the beautiful island state of Tasmania, once the site of Australia’s most notorious penal settlement. Today the island is known for its dramatic landscapes—from glaciated mountains to rainforests and stunning beaches—as well as its thriving cultural scene. Touch down in the port city of Hobart, situated on the Derwent River. The city’s deep-water port led to rapid growth during the 1800s, when Hobart became a center for whaling and sealing. After lunch, visit the Cascades Female Factory to hear real-life accounts of Australia’s female convicts from the 1800s. Then stroll amid the charming cottages and gardens of Battery Point, one of Hobart’s oldest areas. The next day, encounter Tasmanian devils at the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and learn about recent conservation successes that have brought the largest carnivorous marsupials back from the brink of extinction. After lunch, sample whiskies and other spirits at Sullivans Cove Distillery, makers of superior, small-batch single malt whiskies. This evening, visit the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona). Situated on the grounds of a historic vineyard, the museum features subterranean galleries built into the side of a cliff. Enjoy a private opening of the museum and a self-guided tour, followed by dinner in the Nolan Gallery. Choose from several excursions the following day. Step back to another era on a guided tour of the haunting ruins of Port Arthur, a 19th-century penal settlement set on a stunning peninsula. Sample local cheese and charcuterie, cool-climate wines, and pastries on a foodie tour of Hobart’s own producers. Or trace the colorful history of Australia’s second-oldest city on a walking tour of Hobart.
Arrive in Adelaide, South Australia’s cultural hub. Encounter Australia’s most iconic creatures on a behind-the-scenes tour of Cleland Wildlife Park, home to kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, emus, and more. In the evening, indulge your palate with an unforgettable food and wine experience at the Penfolds Magill Estate, where wines have been crafted since 1844. Then head into the Barossa Valley, one of Australia's best known wine regions. Soak up the rare mix of Australian and German heritage as you sample excellent vintages at renowned wineries, including the Seppeltsfield Centennial Cellar.
Fly to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, home to Uluru, Australia’s sacred monolith. Encounter this mass of red sandstone, which measures nearly six miles in circumference and rises 1,142 feet. Hear the creation story of the people who have lived here for tens of thousands of years, and witness the mystical beauty of the rock and its gorges. Enjoy a tea at the base of Uluru before a visit to the cultural center to learn more about the indigenous Anangu people. Later, continue by private jet to Broome, a city on the Indian Ocean that is known for its gorgeous beaches. Settle into a beach resort on celebrated Cable Beach. The next day, travel by seaplane into the heart of the Kimberley for a fast boat adventure through Horizontal Falls. Enjoy flightseeing on the way back to Broome before time to relax at the beach.
Fly to Winton to see the world’s largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils on a guided tour of the laboratory and collection room of the impressive Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum. Our next flight brings us to the coastal city of Cairns, the gateway to two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. We will split into two groups and visit the sites in reverse order. Venture into the Copper Creek Wilderness, part of the oldest-surviving rainforest in the world, which dates back some 180 million years to when Australia was part of Gondwana. Trace the history of the Daintree Rainforest on a guided walk that highlights the forest’s primitive fauna and flora and goes deep into the enchanting Fan Palm Cathedral. Spend a day on Great Barrier Reef’s Mackay Coral Cay. Explore by glass-bottom boat or snorkel with marine biologists to discover spectacular coral gardens and an abundance of marine life including parrot fish, butterfly fish, green turtles, and gardens of giant clams. Gather in the evening for a talk on indigenous culture by an Aboriginal guide.
Land in Melbourne, one of the world’s great cosmopolitan cities, which blossomed in the 1850s when gold was discovered nearby. In the afternoon, head for Phillip Island, just off the coast, and venture along treetop boardwalks with a park ranger to view wildlife up close at the Koala Conservation Reserve. Then witness the famous Penguin Parade, when little penguins waddle from surf to dunes at dusk after a day of fishing. Alternatively, tour the Old Melbourne Gaol, where some of Australia’s most notorious outlaws met their end, and learn about the site’s role during the Gold Rush and World War II. Enjoy a private dinner at the City Watch House. On our final day, stroll through the arcades and lanes of the city with a guide, admiring art deco and Victorian buildings, and visiting the studios of artists and craftspeople. Then cruise the Yarra River for a different perspective on this lovely city, seeing some of its contemporary neighborhoods and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Step ashore for a sculpture walk on Herring Island. Celebrate our adventure down under at a farewell reception and dinner. Transfer to the airport for individual flights home the next day.