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Best Tours in the Pacific Islands and Oceania 2015

From Traveler Magazine's 2015 Tours of a Lifetime

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Mountain climbers in Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand

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Australia: Oz, Round Two

Been to Sydney, Uluru, and the Great Barrier Reef? This alternate down-under itinerary highlights the vast Kimberley region and Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, where you’ll fly over the Bungle Bungle Range and swim with whale sharks. EverGreen Escapes International: “The ‘Other’ Sydney, Rock, & Reef,” 18 days; from $12,750 including flights in Australia; www.evergreen

New Zealand: Sea to Sky

An action-packed program draws thrill seekers to New Zealand’s South Island. First stop: the fishing town of Kaikoura, to shake off jet lag (try a swim among fur seals). Then head out on a three-day hike of the Angelus Circuit, in Nelson Lakes National Park. Recuperate at Braemar Station, a high-country sheep ranch in the shadow of Aoraki/Mount Cook. Active Adventures New Zealand: “Ultimate South Island Adventure ‘Rimu,’” 14 days; $4,699;

Fiji: Polynesian Passage

Forget Bora Bora—here’s a chance to live out a Robinson Crusoe fantasy when you paddle the northernmost Yasawa islands, west of the Fiji Islands in the Pacific Ocean, spending two nights in a Fijian village and two on an uninhabited island. Southern Sea Ventures: “Fiji Sea Kayak Adventure,” 8 days; $1,752;

Fiji, Tonga, Niue, Cook Islands: Pacific Cruise

Board the National Geographic Orion, and you soon will find yourself touring a vanilla plantation on Tonga, spotting Fiji woodswallows and other endemic birds on the “Garden Island” of Taveuni, and snorkeling Beveridge Reef, a submerged atoll. National Geographic Expeditions: “Fiji to Cook Islands: Polynesian Discovery,” 14 days; from $10,870;

Australia: Family Fling

Explore Earth’s oldest landmass on a trip specially packaged for families; highlights include a visit to Australia’s largest butterfly sanctuary and a stargazing dinner. National Geographic Expeditions: “Australia Family Adventure,” 12 days; $7,990;

Worldwide: Deep Travel

Join National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Spencer Wells, head of the Genographic Project, on a private jet expedition to the lands of fabled ancient civilizations, from nomadic Mongolia to regal Sri Lanka. National Geographic Expeditions: “The Human Journey: Tracing Legendary Peoples & Sacred Places,” 24 days; $67,950, 2016 only;

Contributing editor Margaret Loftus has reported and written “Tours of a Lifetime” for the past nine years.

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