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Hosted By: Mike Miller
Former WISN 12 Anchor
Discover the best highlights of the Land Down Under on this spectacular 20-day tour. In Australia, look forward to three nights in beautiful Sydney, three nights in stylish Melbourne, and three nights in Australia’s tropical Cairns. Discover world-famous attractions including the Sydney Opera House, Great Barrier Reef, and Kuranda Scenic Railway. In New Zealand, spend three nights on the North Island and four nights on the South Island. Explore a variety of natural wonders within Milford Sound, witness the spectacular Huka Falls, tour the Hobbiton™ Movie Set, and attend a Māori Cultural performance!
October 23rd, 2023 - November 11th, 2023
Price Per Person
Final Payment Date: 08/09/2023
Day 1 : Depart the USA
Following our included flight to Los Angeles International Airport, we meet our Tour Director and board an Air New Zealand flight bound for New Zealand. Enjoy attentive service and included, tasty meals en route to to Auckland.
Day 2 : New Zealand Bound
When we cross the International Date Line, we lose a calendar day.
Day 3 : Auckland
This morning we arrive in Auckland, the largest Polynesian city in the Southern Hemisphere. After clearing customs we enjoy a guided city tour including America’s Cup Village, lively Queen Street and the Harbor Bridge. We visit SEA LIFE Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium to view the world’s largest sub-Antarctic penguin colony display and the magical Seahorse Kingdom, then take an underwater journey to discover a diverse collection of aquatic life up close. We then take a pleasant countryside drive to the riverside city of Hamilton, one of the country’s fastest growing cities.
Day 4 : Hobbiton™ & Lake Taupo
We travel to Alexander Sheep & Cattle Farm in Matamata, a working sheep farm and home to Hobbiton™, The Shire™ from Middle-earth™. Our visit includes a drive through the picturesque 1,250-acre farm with spectacular views across the Kaimai Ranges and a guided tour of the Hobbiton™ Movie Set from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. The set has been completely rebuilt and remains as it was seen in these films. During our tour we see Hobbit Holes™, The Green Dragon Inn™, the mill, the double-arched bridge, and other structures and gardens built for this beloved imaginary world. For lunch, we enjoy a traditional New Zealand pasture-to-plate meal at The Red Barn, a 500-acre working dairy farm. Later, we arrive in the town of Taupo that sits at the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake. Taupo is the home to award-winning attractions, activities, and breathtaking lake and mountain views. Our lodging features spacious rooms overlooking the thermally heated pool.
Day 5 : Orakei Korako & Māori Performance
We begin with a visit to Orakei Korako Thermal Park, where we walk through Hidden Valley to see silica terraces, boiling pools, geysers, and a geothermal cave. After lunch at leisure in Taupo’s town center, we enjoy a Huka Falls River Cruise on the Waikato River and witness impressive Huka Falls, New Zealand’s most visited natural wonder. Tonight, we enjoy an authentic Māori hangi feast, a customary cooking method that prepares food in an underground pit oven, followed by a powerful cultural performance of song and dance.
Day 6 : Gateway to Fiordland
This morning we fly to South Island to Queenstown and motorcoach through the sheep-filled farming land to Te Anau, the “Gateway to Fiordland” and closest town to Milford Sound. This town is nestled on the shores of beautiful Lake Te Anau, with a spectacular backdrop of Mt. Luxmore and the Murchison Mountains. The serene deep water of the largest lake on the island is bordered on its western shore by virgin forest.
Day 7 : Milford Sound Cruise
Today we travel deep into Fiordland National Park where the beech forests reach the road’s edge and snowcapped peaks tower above. We journey through beautiful Eglinton Valley to Homer Tunnel before descending through the spectacular Cleddau Canyon to reach Milford Sound. Our cruise takes us past Mitre Peak, rising over 5,500 feet, as well as the phenomenal Stirling and Bowen Falls. Cascading at more than 500 feet, these falls flow from valleys formed by receding glaciers. Watch for sea lions and a variety of birds. We return to Te Anau and continue our journey crossing pasturelands to the Millennium Hotel Queenstown. Queenstown sits on the rippling shores of the South Island’s Lake Wakatipu, set against the dramatic 7,000-foot Remarkables mountain range.
Day 8 : Queenstown
Enjoy a private homemade breakfast featuring local produce at the Kiwi & Birdlife Park. After breakfast, we have the rare opportunity to meet New Zealand’s most iconic bird , the kiwi, in specially designed nocturnal houses that allow us to view the kiwi during the day. Later, we visit the historic and picturesque “gold rush” settlement of Arrowtown, then see the Kawarau River suspension bridge, home of the first commercial bungee jumping site in the world. The remainder of the day is free to enjoy New Zealand’s adventure capital with jet boating, golf, picturesque walks, and abundant restaurants and shops in one of the most scenic settings in the world.
Day 9 : Southern Alps
This morning we travel across the fruitlands of Central Otago, famous for the production of summer fruit - apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums. We travel over Lindis Pass and through the tussock-covered plains of Mackenzie Country towards Mount Cook National Park. The park has some of the most spectacular peaks in the Southern Alps. We drive along Lake Pukaki to Lake Tekapo, nestled among snowy peaks. The glacial blue waters of this lake are one of the most photographed sights in New Zealand. We stop to view the Church of the Good Shepherd and view the iconic bronze statue of a sheep dog. Then we cross the picturesque farmland of the Canterbury Plains en route to our overnight accommodations.
Day 10 : Australia
Today we bid farewell to New Zealand and fly to Sydney, Australia’s most vibrant city. On arrival we transfer to our comfortable accommodations.
Day 11 : Sydney Sights & Opera House
This morning we explore Sydney with an expert local guide to the famous Harbor Bridge, the longest single span bridge in the world, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Hyde Park, bustling Kings Cross, and popular Bondi Beach. We tour the famous Sydney Opera House, considered by many to be one of the wonders of the modern world. During our luncheon at Sydney Tower, we see panoramic views of the harbor and city. Later there’s time to visit the attractions of Darling Harbor, Sydney’s favorite destination for leisure and entertainment, with numerous restaurants, cafes, museums, parks, theaters, and specialty shops.
Day 12 : Harbor Cruise & The Rocks
We enjoy Sydney’s sparkling waterfront during a delightful harbor cruise. Gain a glimpse of the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge, sail past pristine parks, golden beaches, and charming harborside neighborhoods. Later we visit The Rocks, a significantly historic and affluent area in Sydney with its restored houses and buildings, spectacular views across the harbor, shops, and cobbled streets and pathways.
Day 13 : Tropical Cairns
Today we fly to tropical Cairns in Far North Queensland. Our hotel is adjacent to the waterfront and esplanade. This stunning five-star hotel features three restaurants and bars, glass swimming pools, and the Eléme Day Spa and Wellness Center.
Day 14 : Kuranda Scenic Train & Skyrail
Enjoy one of the most spectacular rail excursions in the world on the Kuranda Scenic Railway. As we ascend, our journey provides unsurpassed views of wondrous World Heritage rainforest, steep ravines, and picturesque waterfalls within Barron Gorge National Park. Later, we visit the award-winning Kuranda Koala Gardens and have an opportunity to hold a koala and hand-feed tamed kangaroos and wallabies. After lunch at Frogs Restaurant, we visit Birdworld Kuranda, home to over 60 different native species that roam the unique rainforest exhibit. There’s time to visit the Kuranda Heritage Markets before we descend the MacAlister Range on 4.7-mile Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. While gliding in your gondola, enjoy spectacular views of the rain forest, the Coral Sea, and the lush Cairns Highlands.
Day 15 : Great Barrier Reef & Scenic Helicopter Ride
Today we experience one of the highlights of our tour, a visit to the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest living organism and one of Australia’s greatest national treasures, stretching more than 1,200 miles along the coast. We view vividly colored tropical fish and coral from the reef viewer, underwater observatory, and glass-bottom boat. Learn about the fish and marine life that inhabit this underwater world. Enjoy breathtaking sights of the Great Barrier Reef on an included scenic helicopter flight. Swim, snorkel, or just relax in this beautiful marine setting.
Day 16 : Melbourne
We fly to the charming Victorian capital of Melbourne, renowned for its lovely parks and gardens. The remainder of the day is free to wander along Southbank’s waterfront and Crowne Casino precinct or Melbourne’s famous hidden laneways and pedestrian arcades.
Day 17 : Penguin Parade & Wildlife Park
This morning we travel to Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery to watch chocolatiers create over 150 different types of chocolate and indulge in a few samples. Later, we visit Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary, home to over 200 species of Australian birds, mammals, and reptiles in a natural setting. Next we go to Phillip Island, a sanctuary for seals and birds. Our day concludes with perhaps our most unique wildlife encounter as we witness the world-famous penguin parade. As the sun sets over this beautiful landscape we’ll get an up-close view of the Little Blue Penguins, the world’s smallest penguins, as they return home to one of the largest penguin colonies in Australia.
Day 18 : Melbourne Star & Mitre Tavern
Today our guided city tour of Melbourne includes Fitzroy Gardens, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Queen Victoria Market, and a view of the impressive Parliament House. During the city tour, we visit the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne which houses over 8,500 species of plants from around the world.
Day 19 : Los Angeles
We bid farewell to Australia. Cross the International Date Line and regain a day arriving early in the afternoon.
Day 20 : Arrive Home
Mike has been a popular TV newsman in Milwaukee for more than three decades. He is the only person ever to anchor at all three of the “Big Three” local stations. Mike retired in 2010 from ABC network affiliate WISN-TV, after seven years of anchoring and reporting. Previously, he worked at Milwaukee’s CBS station for 12 years and the NBC station for 13 years. Mike was inducted into the Milwaukee Media Hall of Fame in October 2011 and was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Emmy Award. Only 15 people in Milwaukee TV have won both of these prestigious awards.
He married his 7th grade sweetheart, Mary Anne, and they have three grown children and six grandchildren. Mike spends much of his free time as the lead singer for a rock & roll band. He and Mary Anne also enjoy camping, swimming, golf, tennis, hiking, skiing and hunting for antiques.
Join them and WISN 12 viewers on this exciting vacation!
Tour days tend to be shorter in length, at a relaxed pace, and include lots of unscheduled time for leisure. Expect standing and walking for extended periods of time on flat surfaces, mostly low altitudes, and consistent temperatures.
Tour days usually move at a leisurely pace. Some days’ scheduled activities last longer than others. Expect standing and walking for long periods of time on occasionally uneven terrain. You may experience changes in altitude or temperature.
Tour days tend to be long, move at a consistent pace, and may include long travel days. Expect standing and walking for long periods of time on uneven surfaces. Some destinations may have changes in altitude and/or temperature.
Tour days tend to be long, move at a brisk pace, and may include lengthy travel days. Expect long periods of walking and standing on uneven surfaces. Scheduled activities may require physical effort or have distinct changes in altitude or temperature.
Tour days tend to be long, move at a vigorous pace, and may include lengthy travel days. Expect long periods of walking and standing on rough surfaces. Scheduled activities may require physical effort or have distinct changes in altitude or temperature.