Australia and New Zealand
Join Zvi Lapian for the most comprehensive Kosher tour of Australia and New Zealand that has ever been offered, and experience the wonders of this amazing continent.
Our Honored Guest: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
A comprehensive three-week tour of both Australia and New Zealand. Participants can choose to join part or all of the tour – just Australia, or Sydney and New Zealand, or just New Zealand.
We will start our tour in Melbourne, meeting the local wildlife and spending Shabbat with the Jewish community. We will fly to Cairns to see the spectacular landscapes of Queensland, the Rain Forest, and the Great Barrier Reef. Next stop is the great city of Sydney, staying at the deluxe Sheraton Park Hotel and exploring the city, the harbor, and the Featherdale Wildlife Park.
The second leg of our tour will commence in Wellington, New Zealand, where we will be joined by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. Our New Zealand tour will include Auckland and surroundings, the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves; a visit to the Hobbiton Movie set of the Lord of the Rings; Rotorua, famous for its geothermal activity and where aspects of the Maori traditions can still be experienced; flight to Wellington, the Capital of New Zealand; sailing to the South Island through the Cook Straits on the Interislander ferry to Picton, and on to Christchurch where we will board the Tranz Alpine Train crossing the spectacular Southern Alps – a journey of 224 kilometers that takes 4 and a half hours; a 3-night stay including Shabbat at the magnificent Te Waonui Forest Retreat in Franz Josef, where we will experience walks on the famous glacier and the surrounding, exciting valley; finally on to Queenstown, quietly becoming one of the most popular and beautiful resorts in the world, and our base for exploring Milford Sound.
For the full itinerary click on Tour Plan above.
Included5 Star AccommodationAirport TransfersFully KosherPersonal Guide
Day 1: Tuesday November 26, 2019 - Melbourne, Australia
Welcome to Australia! After clearing Customs and Immigration we go directly to our accommodation where we settle in and relax after our flight but don’t get too comfortable as we have an amazing evening ahead of us. We make our way to Phillip Island to visit the Nobbies Centre. Overlooking the waters of Bass Strait, the showcases Australian fur seals and the unique marine life in our southern oceans. Our evening is spent watching the Penguin Parade, part of the Phillip Island Nature Park. The area is a reserve designed to protect and promote awareness of the Little Penguin. At sunset, the penguins cross Summerland Beach to return to their sand-dune burrows. To see them come out of the surf in small groups and waddle up the beach is a unique and fascinating spectacle. We have a local Ranger address our group to get an in depth insight into their idiosyncrasies. This unique “parade” can be experienced from environmentally friendly observation boardwalks and viewing stands but we will go underground to get the best viewing advantage. It will be quite late by the time we return to Melbourne, but what a great first day!
Accommodation: Kimberley Gardens Hotel, Melbourne
Day 2: Wednesday November 27, 2019 - Melbourne, Australia
After our late evening and a big travel day yesterday we start our day with breakfast at the hotel, after which we meet in the foyer for our city sights tour beginning at 10am. Our local guide will be at the hotel to join us on an adventure in the city he/she loves. Within the parks and gardens around the city centre are many gracious buildings such as Government House, the Old Treasury Building and the Exhibition Building, built for the Great Exhibition of 1880. Melbourne also has many beautiful gardens within easy reach of the city. We take a drive past the MCG (the famous Melbourne Cricket Ground) and Rod Laver Arena (where the Australian Open Tennis is played each year), the parklands and the War Memorial, the stately old buildings in town and the odd-looking Federation Square. We will
make our way up to the Eureka Skydeck for amazing views over the city and Port Phillip Bay, giving us a great orientation of the Melbourne landscape. After lunch, we will travel through the eastern suburbs to The Dandenong Ranges . We take a ride through the lush mountainside from Belgrave on the historic “Puffing Billy” steam train. Disembarking at Emerald, our coach will be waiting for us to transfer us back to our hotel, before sunset, in time for Shabbat.
Day 3: Thursday November 28, 2019 - Cairns, Queensland
Our flight today takes us from Melbourne to Cairns airport in Queensland’s tropical north. A wonderful day awaits us as we board the Kuranda Scenic Rail for a spectacular journey with stunning views. Pass massive Barron Falls, Stoney Creek and cross steep ravines to the unique rainforest village of Kuranda. We’ll have time to explore this pretty village before boarding the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway which will take us skimming over the pristine rainforest canopy and back down to the coastal plain. Stretching 7.5 kilometres, Skyrail is the world’s longest gondola cableway. The views are spectacular. We stop off during our descent to visit a rainforest interpretative centre and for a short walk along a boardwalk through the rainforest. After an interesting day we are transferred to our hotel in Port Douglas which is just over an hours’ drive north of Cairns.
Accommodation: Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort Port Douglas
Day 4: Friday November 29, 2019 -
We have some fun this morning when we visit the Wildlife Habitat to indulge ourselves in the ultimate bird interaction with a cacophony of sounds and colours of wildlife as they wander freely among us. Our tour takes us through the lush tranquil environment of the rainforest and the wetlands where an array of wading birds can be viewed foraging for fish in waterways that wind between the boardwalks and beside pathways. We now set off for the Daintree Rainforest to the north of us. We head to the tiny village of Mossman where we visit the Mossman Gorge Centre. From here, we take a shuttle to view the beautiful Mossman Gorge. The gorge forms the southern sector of the World Heritage listed Daintree Rainforest, the last remnant of the oldest surviving rainforest in the world. The area has one of the most ancient ecosystems on earth where more than 18,000 known plant species exists, some trees being more than 2,500 years old. Our lunch venue is close to the Daintree River before our river cruise – keep your eyes open for crocs! We now head back to Macrossan Street in Port Douglas where we can explore the shops, search for souvenirs, or just relax in a local café and watch the world go by.
Day 5: Shabbat November 30, 2019 - Cairns
We will enjoy an enjoyable Shabbat together at the
Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort Port Douglas
Day 6: Sunday December 1, 2019 -
Set like a jewel in a Great Barrier Reef lagoon, Low Isles is an idyllic, unspoilt coral island that appeals to everyone. A first for the Great Barrier Reef with the significance of this being the first location that has received a dual listing for both Indigenous history and Australian cultural heritage. The wide, sandy beach and clear, calm lagoon waters are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. We are limited to protect the reef’s ecology, we’ll experience this island heaven with a select few. So relax! The whole of this beautiful palm- fringed island beach is ours to explore and enjoy. Included today is the return cruise from Port Douglas, a reef presentation by marine biologist, all snorkeling equipment provided with qualified snorkeling safety officers on hand, glass bottom boat coral viewing and a guided beach walk with a marine biologist. OR perhaps some of us just might want to relax beneath a thatched umbrella on the beach! We’ll return to our hotel after a fantastic day and tick off the Great Barrier Reef from our list of “must do” destinations! Disembarking at around 4pm ends an iconic day.
Day 7: Monday December 2, 2019 - Flight to Sydney
This morning we transfer to the airport to connect with our direct flight to Sydney. On our arrival, we make our way straight to the Harbour for a cocktail cruise on Sydney Harbour, possibly one of the most exciting and beautiful harbours in the world. We then arrive at our hotel to check in for dinner. What a way to start the final part of our tour!
Accommodation: Sheraton on the Park, Sydney
Day 8: Tuesday December 3, 2019 - Sydney
Sydney is the biggest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia – one of the most vibrant and exciting cities on earth. Host of the Year 2000 Olympics, Sydney is a magnet for the best the world has to offer. Its harbour, its beaches and a warm sunny climate combine to create a relaxed outdoor lifestyle. This morning we embark on a sightseeing tour taking in the harbour and surrounding beaches which make for some of the most picturesque scenery in Australia. We take a drive through the historic area known as “The Rocks”. We also visit Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, which was carved out of the sandstone by convicts for Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s wife in order for her to watch the activity on the harbour and await the arrival of ships from England. This vantage point provides us with wonderful views of the Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and is an iconic photo opportunity. From here, we make our way through the exclusive suburbs of Double Bay and Vaucluse to the Gap on the southern side of the Sydney Harbour Heads. Onto famous Bondi Beach where we have time to take a stroll along the promenade with some time to purchase lunch. Returning to town, we make our way to the Sydney Opera House; where we meet our guide for a tour with a difference. 60 years ago Jorn Utzon designed what is now considered one of the greatest buildings of all time. It is also the youngest building ever to be world heritage listed. This will be a fascinating tour.
Day 9: Wednesday December 4, 2019 - Sydney, Blue Mountains
Our tour today is to the Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney. Traveling through the western suburbs of Sydney, past the former Sydney 2000 Olympic site we make our first stop at Featherdale Wildlife Park . This is where we will see Australia’s unique wildlife in a natural bush setting. We get the opportunity here to feed a kangaroo, wallaby or emu.
Featherdale has one of Australia’s largest private collections of native animals and birds. Leaving the park we continue westward over the Nepean River and climb up to almost 1,000m above sea level into the Blue Mountains, famous for its eucalyptus forests and spectacular sandstone cliffs. We stop in the village of Leura to have our packed lunch, then take the Cliff Drive to Echo Point which is a great photo opportunity of The Three Sisters, an ancient rock formation. This afternoon we visit Scenic World where take a ride on the Scenic Railway, the world’s steepest incline railway. We descend 415m down the escarpment at a gradient of 52 degrees and travel through the tunnel and ancient rainforest. When we disembark, we take the 300m rainforest boardwalk to connect with the Flyway platform. The Scenic Flyway is the steepest aerial cable car in Australia. It will take us on a 545 metre ride up through the World Heritage Listed rainforest of the Jamison Valley. Our final adventure is to join the Scenic Skyway to take the journey 270m above ancient ravines and dazzling waterfalls. This ride boasts a world first, state of the art Electro-Scenic Glass Floor. At the flip of a switch breathtaking views are revealed through the cabin floor directly below. The 360 degree birdseye view takes in the Three Sisters, Katoomba Falls, Mount Solitary and the never ending expanse of the Jamison Valley. We now make our way back to our Sydney hotel.
Day 10: Thursday December 5, 2019 - Transfer to New Zealand
Farewell Australia. Transfer to Sydney International Airport to continue our travels arriving in the beautiful country of New Zealand.
Kia Ora! Welcome to New Zealand. On arrival in Wellington you will be met by your local guide and coach driver and transferred to your Wellington hotel. Wedged between bush-clad hills and a splendid natural harbour, Wellington enjoys an incomparable setting of ever-changing moods. On a clear day, the harbour sparkles but the arrival of southern storms can bring amazingly dramatic seas and winds. A vibrant city with a buzzing art, music, theatre and restaurant scene, designer and boutique shopping, Wellington is also home to the New Zealand Parliament and the national museum, Te Papa.
Accommodation: Sofitel Hotel, Wellington
Day 11: Friday December 6, 2019 - Wellington, New Zealand
Depart on a full-day sightseeing tour of Wellington. Highlights include a drive along pretty Oriental Bay to Mt Victoria for the 360-degree panoramic views of the city, Wellington Harbour and the surrounding hills. Also stop to see the magnificent Parliament Buildings and the iconic ‘Beehive’ , the Executive Wing of the New Zealand Government. See Lambton Quay in the heart of Wellington’s shopping and business district and Old St Paul’s Church which is one of New Zealand’s finest examples of colonial Gothic architecture. Visit Zealandia and the Karori Sanctuary. With over 225 hectares of regenerating native forest and 40 species of birds, Zealandia is a unique, world-first eco-attraction, providing an excellent opportunity to experience New Zealand’s natural environment just minutes from the capital city. Enjoy a guided tour of Te Papa, New Zealand’s National Museum which offers visitors a unique and authentic experience of New Zealand’s treasures and stories. After your guided tour, there is time to explore Te Papa independently to learn about the shaping of its land, the spirit of its diverse peoples, its unique wildlife, landscapes and its distinctive popular culture.
Day 12: Shabbat December 7, 2019 - Wellington, New Zealand
Day 13: Sunday December 8, 2019 - Christchurch, New Zealand
This morning we will transfer to the Wellington Airport and fly to Christchurch. On arrival you will be met by your South Island coach driver. Christchurch has emerged revitalized following the earthquake that devastated much of the city in February 2011. The destruction of several landmark historic buildings has led to the development of new city plans, a bold public art programme and innovative use of space. This afternoon board your coach for a sightseeing tour of Christchurch. Highlights include the Botanic Gardens, Cardboard Cathedral, Art Deco New Regent Street, Christchurch Art Gallery and Hagley Park.
Accommodation: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Christchurch
Day 14: Monday December 9, 2019 - Christchurch & Franz Josef Glacier
From Christchurch traverse the Southern Alps aboard the famous Trans-Alpine Railway to Arthurs Pass. From your carriage you’ll see the fields of the Canterbury Plains and farmland, followed by the spectacular gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. Your train then climbs into the Southern Alps. Once we have crossed into the Southern Alps we are met at the Village of Arthurs Pass by our coach for us to continue our journey to the West Coast – or the Coast as locals call it, stopping in Hokitika where a visit is made to the Greenstone and Glass Blowing factories. Further south we tour the Westland National Park, the home of Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers.
Accommodation: Rainforest Retreat Deluxe Rooms, Franz Josef
Day 15: Tuesday December 10, 2019 - Franz Josef Glacier
This morning join a 30 minute helicopter flight and fly over two of New Zealand’s most famous glaciers and land at the head of either the Franz Josef or Fox Glacier – view the incredible natural phenomenon of the glaciers as they creep slowly down the carved valleys from their origin in the mountains high above you (operates weather permitting). The magnificent White Heron (Kotuku) nests on the banks of the Waitangi Roto Nature Reserve, the only nesting site in New Zealand for this rare icon. Take a a gentle 20 minute scenic cruise by jet boat into the Waitangiroto Nature Reserve (the only way to access this area is by boat). In the reserve we disembark from the boat for a short walk through ancient Kahikatea Rainforest to the purpose-built viewing hide to observe the White Heron in their natural nesting environment. The Royal Spoonbill and the Little Shag also share this special area and all can easily be seen from the hide. On your return to Franz Josef the Glacier Hot Pools, we invite you to leave your day-to-day worries behind as you submerge yourself in deliciously warm water, nestled in lush rainforest, lulled by the sound of gently cascading water.
Day 16: Wednesday December 11, 2019 - Franz Josef Glacier
Traveling towards the southern end of the South Island’s West Coast Road, there is a strong sense of entering a primeval land, and a feeling of total isolation. Arriving at Haast, you are surrounded by a landscape of rainforest, wetlands, sand dunes and surf-pounded shingle beaches. This wilderness forms part of the South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, so designated because South Westland and Fiordland have some of the most dramatic forest and mountain scenery and natural resources in the world. From the Westland National Park we travel through the Haast River valleys and over the Haast Pass to Makaroa and onto the upper reaches of Lake Wanaka. Travelling past Lake Hawea we reach the popular Lake Wanaka, the starting point of the mighty Clutha River. This afternoon we travel via Cromwell following the Kawerau Gorge Road into Queenstown.
Accommodation: Sofitel Hotel, Queenstown
Day 17: Thursday December 12, 2019 - Milford Sound
Leaving Queenstown, we will skirt the shores of Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s third largest lake. Travelling via Te Anau to reach the beautiful Eglinton Valley, climbing to Homer Tunnel before descending through the spectacular Cleddau Canyon to reach Milford Sound, where we enjoy a cruise of the Sound. The Sound fjord is dominated by the grandeur of Mitre Peak and the Bowen Falls. From Milford Sound we will retrace our steps to Queenstown, arriving back late evening.
Day 18: Friday December 13, 2019 - Queenstown
Travel out to Glenorchy for a jetboat ride up the braided channels of the Dart River in a wild and picturesque landscape, amidst the towering peaks, glaciers and ancient forests of spectacular Mt. Aspiring National Park (1½ hours). Learn about the flora and fauna, history, and geology of this World Heritage Area from experienced guides. Enjoy a short walk (30 minutes) through the primitive native beech forest as well as a back country road drive (45 minutes) across the opposite side of the valley through Paradise where some of the locations that were used for the ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie trilogy can been seen.
This afternoon, enjoy a sightseeing tour of Queenstown. Highlights include a
visit to historic Arrowtown, a quaint village set on the banks of the Arrow River which was once a rip-roaring gold rush town. Time here to sample some of the cafés, galleries and boutiques or you may wish to take a walk to the historic Arrowtown Chinese Settlement. This partially restored and well interpreted settlement is a mute reminder and tribute to the contribution made by the Chinese gold miners and business people to the region’s gold mining, cultural and business history. Also see the Edith Cavall Bridge spanning the narrow canyon of the rugged Shotover River; pretty Lake Hayes and travel out to the Kawarau Bridge to see the dare-devils bungy jumping from the original AJ Hackett site. Finish your tour with a gondola ride. Sit back and ride the scenic aerial gondola to Bob’s Peak rising 450m/1500ft high above Queenstown. From here the panoramic views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountain ranges including The Remarkables are breathtakingly spectacular.
Day 19: Shabbat December 14, 2019 - Queenstown
Day 20: Sunday December 15, 2019 - Rotorua
This morning we will transfer to Queenstown Airport for your flight to Rotorua. Set on the shores of Lake Rotorua, this popular tourist town has the most energetic thermal activity in the country with bubbling mud pools, gushing geysers, beautiful coloured hot springs and terrace formations created by mineral water. Travel out to the Redwood Forest for an easy walk through the breath-taking Californian Redwoods, which were planted in 1901.
Visit Te Puia in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley. While in the valley, see the boiling mud pools, steaming silica terraces, hot springs and geysers, including the famous Pohutu Geyser, which can erupt up to 30 metres high. We will visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute where young Maori learn the traditional carving and weaving skills of their ancestors.
Accommodation: Distinction Rotorua Hotel
Day 21: Monday December 16, 2019: Rotorua
Today visit the thermal area of Waiotapu, one of the world’s most colourful thermal areas. See the Artist’s Palette where different minerals form areas on the pool surface, view the tiny bubbles surfacing in the Champagne Pool and walk down alongside the silica terrace to see the Bridal Veil Falls as well as other thermal activity. The Lady Knox Geyser also plays at 10:15am daily (with a little help from her friends). Then take a walk through the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. As you walk downhill through the youngest eco-systems in the world, you will view a range of geothermal activity, native plants and bird
-life.See Echo Crater and Frying Pan Lake, the world’s largest hot water spring, as well as the mysterious and dramatic Inferno Crater and its beautiful blue hot lake and enjoy the serenity of New Zealand native bush.
When you reach Lake Rotomahana, join a boat trip (45 mins) to see the Steaming Cliffs, fumaroles, lake edge geysers, unusual thermal plants as well as the site of the Pink and White Terraces that were destroyed in the Mt. Tarawera eruption. End your day enjoying the unique experience of bathing in the world-famous hot springs at the Polynesian Spa, set in a beautiful garden setting on the edge of Lake Rotorua.
Day 22, Tuesday December 17, 2019 - Hobbiton & Waitomo
Leave Rotorua and travel across the bush-clad Mamaku Ranges and across picturesque farmlands to the Matamata region – home to Hobbiton. Experience the real Middle Earth with a visit to the Hobbiton movie set, the bucolic setting for The Shire that featured in the Peter Jackson directed films, “Lord of the Rings“.
Your tour starts with a drive by coach and guide travelling through the picturesque 1,250 acre sheep farm with spectacular views across to the Kaimai Ranges. Your guide will escort you walking through the ten acre
site recounting fascinating details of how the Hobbiton set was created. The Hobbit holes, Green Dragon Inn, Mill and other structures created for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films can be viewed, and you will see how this beautiful piece of Waikato farmland was transformed into The Shire from Middle Earth. Upon completion of your tour, enjoy a complimentary beverage in the Green Dragon Inn then return to The Shires Rest.
Travel across the picturesque countryside to Waitomo. Join a guided tour of the famous Waitomo Caves to discover an ancient underground labyrinth of limestone caves and grottos. See the fascinating limestone formations of stalagmites, stalactites and columns that have formed over thousands
of years then enjoy a silent boat ride on an underground river into the s
tarry wonderland of the magnificent Glow-worm Grotto. From Waitomo continue north through the rural townships of Otorohanga and Te Awamutu, then the city of Hamilton following the Waikato River and over the Bombay Hills to Auckland.
Accommodation: Grand Millennium Hotel, Auckland
Day 23, Wednesday December 18, 2019: Auckland
Auckland is a vibrant cosmopolitan city with a busy nightlife, bush-clad mountain ranges and diverse neighbourhoods to explore. The Waitemata Harbour is a mecca for sailors, and the popularity of sailing on the harbour has led to the affectionate term, ‘City of Sails’.
This morning we will enjoy a sightseeing coach tour of Auckland city. Travel through the city centre, along Karangahape Road with its chequered past and eclectic vibe, past fashionable Ponsonby and over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, enjoying views of the Hauraki Gulf and city skyline. Visit the Viaduct Harbour and Auckland’s famous Queen Street before continuing to the Auckland Domain. The Domain is the city’s oldest park and, at 75 hectares, one of its largest. Developed around an extinct volcano, it features tropical gardens, duck ponds and public art.
Visit the Auckland War Memorial Museum, built as a memorial to New Zealand’s war dead, who sacrificed their lives in WWI, WWII and other conflicts. The Maori and Pacific Islands Court at the Museum gives an excellent introduction to the people of the Pacific and New Zealand and the remarkable flora, fauna and geography of the area.
Then travel along the scenic waterfront route of Tamaki Drive to Michael Joseph Savage Memorial Park, above Mission Bay. This afternoon you can either take the helm, exert energy on the grinders or simply sit back and enjoy the action, as you sail the beautiful Waitemata Harbour on an actual America’s Cup yacht! Usually the domain of billionaires and elite professional yachties, these America’s Cup yachts offer the unique opportunity for everyone to participate sailing on these grand-prix racing machines. No experience necessary!
Day 24: Thursday December 19, 2019 - Fly home
Haere rā from New Zealand!
Today you are transferred to Auckland International Airport
for your departing flight.