Back by Popular Demand: New Zealand & Sydney 2015

Hello Imprint Travelers, First of all, we'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year for 2014.  We hope you have plans to travel this year. We're very excited to announce plans for another New Zealand & Sydney tour for January 2015.  After the experience of our first successful foray down under and with the feedback from our alumni travelers, we feel like our 2015 tour will be even better!  And the best news of all - despite rising costs across the board down under, and adding an extra day to the tour, we are able to offer the tour for the same cost as our 2012 tour*.  Check out all the details below and let us know if you are interested in joining us for this fantastic tour.

Dates:  Jan 11 to 26, 2015 Cost:  $6200* (based on RT airfare estimates) Single Supplement $800. 16 Days – begins/ends San Francisco

Mt Ngauruhoe in Tongariro National Park
Mt Ngauruhoe in Tongariro National Park

The biggest change from 2012 is the addition of a day for magnificent Tongariro National Park.  Tongariro was New Zealand’s first national park and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A sublime alpine venue, the park is dominated by three signature volcanic peaks:  Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro.  Mt Ngauruhoe, a perfectly symmetrical, conical, single-vent volcano will look familiar as it served as Mt Doom in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies.

Mt Ruapehu & Chateau Tongariro
Mt Ruapehu & Chateau Tongariro

We’ll take advantage of some of New Zealand’s best alpine hiking.  There are trails for every fitness level, all with amazing views.  We’ll stay within the park at venerable Chateau Tongariro to maximize our time.  We’ve also added a guided tour of the Auckland City Museum and an additional geothermal visit to the itinerary.  Maori HangiWe are repeating all the popular activities from 2012 including a Sky Tower dinner in Auckland, a homestay, Waitomo Glowworm Caves, a Maori Hangi (traditional feast and performance), the geothermal wonders of Rotorua, spectacular Milford Sound, wildlife viewing on the Otago Peninsula, a sunset dinner cruise of Sydney harbor, a Sydney Symphony Orchestra concert, and more! We're also pleased to announce that the option to extend your stay in Australia or New Zealand will again be available.  For a nominal fee (about $200pp) you can opt to extend your stay independently.

Rotorua geyserWe are ready to accept deposits:  $400 per person.  Simply fill out the Registration form and send it in with your check to hold your spot.  As always, your deposit is 100% refundable for any reason until 6 months prior to tour commencement. Read over the itinerary.  If you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact us.

Day 1 Depart San Francisco

7:00 PM flight departure – Air New Zealand

Auckland skyline

Day 2/3 Auckland

(we lose one day crossing Int’l Date Line) We’ll be picked up from Auckland’s airport and transferred to our centrally located hotel. After check in, we embark on a sightseeing tour of the city. Highlights include the Harbour Bridge, the charming neighborhood of Devonport, the harbor, Mt Eden for panoramic views, and a guided tour of the Auckland Museum. After a free afternoon we’ll gather for the ultimate Auckland dinner in the iconic Sky Tower, the southern hemisphere’s highest structure.

Day 4 Cambridge Farm Stay

Waitomo Glowworm CaveAfter breakfast we’ll drive south to Waitomo Glow Worm Caves. Then its on to Otorohanga, the self-proclaimed “Kiwiana” town. At the end of the afternoon we’ll divide up in groups of 4s and 6s to stay on family farms, a fantastic opportunity to connect with the locals.

Day 5   TongariroNational Park

This morning after breakfast with our host families we’ll take the scenic drive south to magnificent Tongariro, New Zealand’s first national park and a World Heritage Site. Mt Ngauruhoe, one of the park’s three signature volcanic peaks, was used as Mt Doom in the Lord of the Rings movies. We’ll organize an easy optional hike in this scenic wonderland or just kick back and enjoy the view. We’ll sleep right in the park in venerable Chateau Tongariro.

Champagne pool

Day 6 Rotorua

After a Tongariro sunrise we’ll continue our scenic driving past lovely Lake Taupo, stopping to view famous Huka Falls and one of the many thermal wonders en route to Rotorua. If time allows we’ll also visit the Volcanic Activity Center. After checking in to our hotel, we’ll retire to the Pig and Whistle Pub, a local institution, for happy hour.

Day 7   Rotorua

Today is our primary geothermal excursion, visiting one of the many options in or around Rotorua. After a free afternoon we’ll enjoy a Hangi, the traditional Maori feast and cultural show.

Day 8  Queenstown

The Remarkables - QueenstownAn AM flight takes us to the South Island and Queenstown in the heart of the Southern Alps. Weather permitting; we’ll take a late afternoon cable-car excursion to Bob’s Peak for spectacular sunset views of Lake Wakapitu and the Remarkables, Queenstown’s signature mountain chain. We’ll have dinner together.

Day 9 Queenstown

Happy Imprint travelers on Mildford Sound

Milford Sound is our destination today! A spectacular drive through the dramatic Southern Alps brings us to Milford. Stops at picturesque Te Anau, Mirror Lakes, and Chasm Walk break up the drive and the real reward is Milford itself, New Zealand’s spectacular natural gem. Dozens of waterfalls, jagged mountain peaks, and bountiful wildlife make the sailing excursion of this amazing fjord a tour highlight.

Day 10  Queenstown

Imprint group on jetboat

Today is a vacation from our vacation. Queenstown is New Zealand’s adventure capital so adrenaline junkies can try jet boating, canyoning, white water rafting, bungee jumping, paragliding, fishing, biking, hiking, and more.  For the rest consider a peaceful Lake Wakatipu cruise on the stately Ernsclaw steamship or a visit to the Kiwi Birdlife Park for a glimpse of the cute but rare birds.

Day 11 Dunedin

Otago wine tasting

A leisurely start and scenic drive brings us to the wine country of the lower Otago region. We’ll visit Shakey Bridge winery where we’ll have a wine tasting, vineyard and warehouse tour (including barrel tastings), topped off with a BBQ feast. In the afternoon we’ll continue to Dunedin via the Taieri Gorge vintage railroad or the scenic coastal road including the unique Moeraki boulders. We’ll enjoy dinner together in Dunedin.

Day 12 Dunedin

Royal Albatross CenterAfter a free morning to explore charming, Scottish-feeling Dunedin, we’ll take an excursion to the Otago Peninsula for some amazing wildlife viewing. We’ll visit the Royal Albatross Center where we view the majestic gliders with their 10-foot wingspans from a perfectly constructed blind. The Yellow-Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve has created a sprawling system of covered trenches and viewing blinds that allow up close and personal views of these delightful though shy creatures. We’re also likely to see fur seals today.

Sydney Opera House

Day 13 Sydney

An AM flight whisks us to Sydney Australia. Upon arrival we’ll enjoy a city sightseeing tour that includes the harbor, the Harbour Bridge, the Rocks neighborhood, the Observatory, the Opera House, Darling Point, and the Domain (Sydney’s “central park”).

Day 14 Sydney

Imprint group at Domain concert

Today begins with a walking tour of The Rocks historic neighborhood. We’ll continue our day with a climb of one of the Harbour Bridge towers for breathtaking views of the harbor and downtown skyline. At the end or our day we’ll gather for Happy Hour with some locals and then enjoy a Sydney institution, the “Concert in the Domain”.  The Sydney Symphony Orchestra performs in the great public park, an annual picnic and party all Sydney enjoys.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Day 15 Sydney

You’ll have a free day to explore the rest of the city’s attractions. Take a ferry to picturesque Manly, visit one of the city’s many interesting museums, the Aquarium, the lovely Chinese gardens, or Darling Harbour. We’ll gather together at the end of the day for a classic farewell, a sunset dinner cruise. After, we’ll toast our many adventures “down under” at a hosted Happy Hour.

Day 16 Fly home (or extend on your own)

Due to our re-crossing the International Date Line, we depart Sydney and arrive back in San Francisco on the same day.

[Itinerary specifics subject to change]

What’s Included: All flights:  SFO-Auckland, Rotorua-Queenstown, Dunedin-Sydney, Sydney-SFO; airport transfers during tour; deluxe coach transportation for all land excursions and transfers Accommodation:  13 nights (+1 overnight flight).  All breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 6 dinners Full-time services of tour director and local driver/guides; All tips including drivers, guides, tour director, and group meals All entrances: Auckland City Museum, Tongariro NP, Huka Falls, Maori hangi, 2 Thermal Area visits, Waitomo Glow-worm caves, Royal Albatross Center, and Penguin Conservation Reserve All excursions:  Auckland City sightseeing, Tongariro Hiking, Bob’s Peak, Milford Sound, Otago Peninsula, Sydney City tour, Sydney Harbor dinner cruise, Vineyard tour and wine tasting, and more

Important exceptions: Tour members are responsible for the cost of visitor visas for Australia ($25+/-; we will make all the arrangements).  Tour members are responsible for the cost of drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Terms and Conditions for important details regarding everything listed above.

* The tour fare of $6200 is an estimate until we can lock in our flight costs (Feb 2014).  Land costs for the tour are set at $3900. Tour includes all airfares. 2012 flight fares were $1700 + fuel charges and taxes ($490).  We anticipate flight costs to be about $2300 total.  Even after flight fares are locked in (Feb 2014) fuel charges and taxes are subject to change up until time of departure.