Your trip starts in Sydney, Australia. where you have an exciting day out at the Blue Mountains. We kick off your adventure with an epic day-trip into the UNESCO World Heritage area of the Blue Mountains, where you’ll hike up to the Three Sisters and take a ride on the world’s steepest train – plus you get your first meeting of the cuddly Koala’s. You group joins you in Sydney for the beginning of a once in a lifetime adventure. We get to know each other with a cruise and BBQ on Sydney harbour on your first evening.
The insane adventure starts for real by heading up the east coast of Australia and a surf camp at Spot X where a great team of local surf instructors will introduce you to one of Australia’s national sports: Surfing! You’ll be able to learn how to surf like a pro – or sunbathe even better on our magnificent 2 days!
Heading north from Spot X we overnight in the ultra-hip, ‘slightly hippy Byron Bay full of everything from wicked vegan cafes to Michelin start restaurants before crossing from New South Wales to southern Queensland and a plethora of amazing experiences such 4WD driving on Rainbow Beach, sea kayaking with dolphins in Tin Can bay, shipwrecks, sharks & dingos on Fraser Island (the world’s largest sand island), we party hearty outdoors and inside at any number of bars, pubs & nightclubs in the Gold Coast, surf at Surfers Paradise, sun bake on sun-kissed white sand beaches on the Sunshine Coast, and explore Australia’s most liveable city, Brisbane.
From Airlie Beach we head out on our own yacht to sail in the incredible Whitsunday Islands – you will discover what a secluded paradise really looks like. Squeaky white sand oozes between your toes only to be washed off with a snorkel trip amongst colourful coral and passing sea turtles. Dolphins kiss the back of the moving boat and migrating whales make their presence known with a breach or water spout. BBQs on the beach, great Aussie wines, fresh seafood platters, and kangaroo steaks.
If this all sounds a bit boring then how about a skydive from 10,000 feet high above Mission Beach, sleeping in a swag in the outback or white water rafting down the famous Tully River.
There is a reason why the east coast of Australia is one of the most visited backpacking and gap-year travel destinations in the world. Sun, surf, and loads of adrenalin experiences. Your three week adventure finishes in the tropical northern port of Cairns gateway to the world’s largest reef – The Great Barrier Reef home to over 1500 species of fish! Cairns is a really culturally diverse city with tropical rainforests all around creeping into the open ocean. We drive north to Cape Tribulation through the thick canopy of the Daintree rainforest on a unique day safari, and spend two days onboard our private charter boat exploring the underwater world of the the Great Barrier Reef. An optional day trip the Atherton Tablelands takes us inland and well off the beaten track for a unique perspective of Australian country life.
We could say some cliché here about all good things coming to an end but in fact you are only a third into your crazy adventure and from Cairns we jump on a plane to “cross the ditch” as they say down under and head to Auckland, New Zealand.
It’s a five hour flight from Cairns to Auckland which is a little longer than just a hop across the ditch.
Like Bilbo headed off from Hobbiton on his big adventure your New Zealand journey sets out with an overnight trip to experience the winterless north and the Bay of Islands. Relax on the beach or check out where modern New Zealand started with the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, visit the picturesque town of Russell (which was known as the hell of the South Pacific during colonial explorer days), sea kayak into a playground of 140 island or jump on an exciting fast-boat to head out to the Hole in the Rock in the mouth of the Bay and hopefully see a few dolphins on the way.
Back in Auckland you join the rest of your group for an evening sunset cruise on the Auckland harbour, a few dock-side sundowners, and hopefully (but unlikely) an early night as tomorrow we are turning up the volume in the land of adrenalin activities, huge mountains, incredible scenery and hobbits (to be fair your more likely to see a few Orcs than Hobbits but who knows).
After an extra-ordinary day trip climbing the dormant volcano of Rangitoto Island and exploring the lava fields and crossing Auckland harbour we head south through the old gold mining town of Thames and onto the Coromandel Peninsula for hot pools on the beach and a spectacular ocean sunrise. With just enough time for a pint of mead (beer) in the actual Green Dragon pub from the Lord of the Rings to fortify us, before an assault on the nasal passages in Rotorua. geothermal steam rises from cracks in the road, bubbling pools of hot mud can be seen around the city, and the smell of sulphur pierces the air like your mums curried eggs.
Rotorua is rich in Maori heritage and we visit a traditional village and then spend a night with a Maori family on the shores of lake Aniwhenua. Learn about the different hakas, how to cook a hangi and traditional poi dances.
We are heading south in the direction of Wellington and then Cook Strait where we take a ferry through the picturesque Marlborough Sounds to hit the South Island. Before that however there a little matter of three rather large volcanoes in our way as we hike the most incredible Tongariro Alpine Crossing – traversing the three active volcanoes of Mt Ruapehu, Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe past emerald volcanic pools and over high alpine terrain with unbelievable views all the way to the ocean. Regarded as one of the best one day walks in the world for many this is the highlight of their trip to New Zealand.
Before crossing to the south island from New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, we spend a few days at a high country farm who are leading the way in sustainable farming and conservation. Their program to protect the Blue Duck is amazing. You can explore the farm by 4WD or horse back or jet boat and kayak the local Whanganui River.
We start our south island journey in the Abel Tasman national Park with a hike along the coastal track dotted with secluded sandy beaches perfect for a cooling dip in the sea – either grab a water taxi or sea kayak back past the headlands at the end of this amazing day walk.
Our route takes us down the west coast of the South Island where black sand beaches are squeezed between the high mountains of the Southern Alps and the Southern ocean. The ocean pounds the beaches and rock headlands creating massive blowhole and unusual rock formations. Rainforest fill every available space before glaciers and alpine moonscapes take over. The West Coasters (locals) are a unique breed and we share a jug with them at their local pubs. At Franz Josef we hike to the headwall of the glacier and visually see the effect of climate change on causing this massive ice-pack to retreat.
Finally we arrive in the adventure playground of the rich and famous – Queenstown. home to amazing wine, extravagant shopping, heady nightlife, and enough adrenaline activities to blow your mind and budget. Between wine tours, gin tasting, skydiving, bungy jumping, canyon swings, jet boating and mountain biking we manage to fit in a day trip to breath-taking Milford Sound in the Fiordland National Park. Sea lions, penguins and dolphins are plentiful in the deep black water that is disrupted with crash from waterfalls cascading from the black thousand foot cliffs that frame the fjord. Rudyard Kipling described Milford as the eight wonder of the world.
Sadly leaving Queenstown (that is not what the bank manager said) we head north up the centre of the south island and past the three massive glacier lakes of Ohau, Pukaki, and Tekapo. Flanked to the west by the alps if the weather is good amazing insta photos can be taken of snow covered Mount Cook/Aoraki – New Zealand highest mountain. Aoraki in the Maori language means sky piercer. The night sky around Lake Tekapo is a UNESCO World Heritage site and we take a night tour to learn about the Milky Way, southern cross and big dipper. UNESCO protected? The sky? Yes, no one is allowed to do any development that could create light pollution – the darkness is protected, being light up only by the trillions of stars.
As we head north we explore the city of Christchurch that has undergone a complete rebuild after it was almost flattened by an earthquake in 2011. Today is a unique of what modern cities of the future might develop into. In Kaikoura (literally in Maori meaning food of the sea) the is the opportunity to swim with dolphins or seals or take a whale watching trip year round. A deep warm current runs along the ocean floor into Kaikoura providing endless supplies of food for Blue whales, big packhorse crayfish, orca and seals.
Finally after crossing back to the north island in Wellington again we make our way back toward Auckland stopping at the hippy cool surf town of Raglan. If you have not learned to surf or after Australia are addicted to surfing this is one of the best places in New Zealand boasts the longest left hand surf break in the world. Keep your eyes open for any number of international musicians or actors who have hidden holiday homes here.
And then all of a sudden three weeks in new Zealand is done. Oh my god it happened so fast! I can’t remember was I supposed to look up at the mountains or down at the coast, did we have one shot in Queenstown or was that one hundred, how stunningly beautiful was Milford Sound, and how lovely are the Maori people of New Zealand. And just like that it is time to board a flight north to Fiji.
We start our South Pacific adventure landing in Nadi. Refreshingly this is one place in the world that wi-fi is not everywhere so we give you a 1.5 Gb sim card for your time – just so you can keep those Insta photos heading back to the family. But truly, there is no need to be online, we are in tropical paradise.
The first half of your adventure starts in the Mamanuca Islands where you explore the mainland of Viti Levu and then the famous Beachcomber Island. We will stay a few nights on the mainland at Smugglers Cove before you transfer by ferry from Port Denerau to Beachcomber.
One option is to grab a cocktail, a book and a hammock and just switch off from the world. OR you can go zip lining across the tropical rainforest treetops, try a mud bath at the thermal springs with the locals, visit the enchanting “garden of the sleeping giant”, taste Kava in a traditional ceremony, learn how to make a traditional Lovo dinner and how to weave baskets, party on the beach, snorkel amongst the coloured corals, swim with the sharks and even visit some movie locations from the film Cast Away with Tom Hanks. Just saying – wasn’t this supposed to be a sleepy island time part of the trip.
In your second week we head in to the Yasawa chain of islands and either Barefoot Manta or Kuata Islands depending on the time of the year. To most this is quintessential Fiji – lush tropical islands fringed by golden palm tree lined beaches, fine white sand and colourful soft coral reefs.
If groundhog day was filmed in paradise thankfully this would be it. Island Life means late starts and sunset beach parties, snorkelling, diving and swimming. There is endless sea kayaking and stand up paddle boarding around the lagoons, coastal caves to explore, and either a sunrise or sunset hike to the summit of Waya Lailai is an absolute must regardless of how loud that deck chair is calling. Take a guided snorkelling trip to the outer reef to see spectacular underwater life, a trip to swim with reef sharks, or get an introductory course to scuba diving in the pool.
And then just like that we have a cocktail in our hand again and are getting a massage from a trained local masseuse.
But seriously, you have made it this far – an incredible journey across three of the coolest destinations in the world, three completely different countries, completely different people, completely different pace of life, your memories are not going anywhere fast, your friends list is exploding (did we really agree to meet on a U.Trip in Costa Rica next year?!?!?), and your heart craves more travel. We loved travelling with you!