By: Derek Miller, Travel Consultant
I recently went on the Contrasts of Australia and New Zealand with Trafalgar. After arriving early and spending a full day on our own, day one of the tour finally began. The first part of the day we were free to explore on our own. For dinner, we ate on a tram restaurant which is a small train. The entire meal and experience was excellent. Both the food and service were outstanding.
The second day was an early day, but by the end of the day, we had visited St Patrick’s Cathedral, the beautiful botanical gardens, and a few other sites.
Going to the crocodile farm was a better time than I had anticipated. We were able to see crocs in their natural habitat, koala bears, kangaroos and wallabies.
The night life this Saturday night was buzzing. After a leisurely walk, I headed to the casino, where a local band was playing. The club was packed and the band was outstanding. Needless to say, I capped of my evening listening to the band and people watching.
After arriving in Sydney, we ended up going to a sunset dinner cruise. The dinner and the view were great. One of the many pleasures was going through the Daintree Rainforest. Once we finished watching an informative video, we headed to a prearranged dinner, where the fish was pretty good, but I thought the kangaroo steak was absolutely horrible.
The next day, we went on a city tour, visited the famous Sydney Opera House, and went to the Rondi Surfer Club. The Sydney Opera House was spectacular. They have 2 large stages and 3 small stages, so several shows can be seen at the same time.
The next day we were off to the Great Barrier Reef. It`s about a 45 minute boat ride from the hotel. Once we arrived the fun began. I had the pleasure of participating in a few different activities. After attending a brief safety course, I went scubadooing, which is a form of extremely safe scuba diving. Once I was finished scubadooing, I took a little time to do some snorkeling.
Finally, it was time to sit down for the buffet prepared for lunch on the ship. When lunch was over, my tour director came up to me and told me it was almost time for my helicopter ride over the Great Barrier Reef. I must say, the helicopter ride was absolutely fantastic. Oh my!!
Wow! I couldn’t believe my time in Australia was about to come to an end. The view at the Blue Mountains was absolutely amazing. One formation of rocks is known as “the three sisters.” Once that visit was over, we went to lunch, were we had preordered our food. After lunch, we went for a visit to the zoo. Later on that evening, we had a wonderful farewell dinner. All of the food was excellent!
If you ever get the chance, you must climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This was absolutely exhilarating. The view from the top of the bridge is unmatched.
Upon arriving in New Zealand, we went on a city tour and a small cruise around the harbour. The next day, when we arrived in Rotorua, we went to a huge farm, were we had lunch prepared by the family that owns the farm.
The highlight of the day was later that evening, when we went to the Tamaki Maori tribe’s village. I volunteered to be the chief for my group, which meant I had to take part in a challenge from a Maori Warrior during a Powhiri; a ceremonial welcome. Once completed, the Maori tribe put on and unforgettable show for the group. I have to say, it was a blast. Once that was over, we were served dinner that was completely cooked underground and covered with dirt, similar to a Hawaiian’s do their luau. The meal was outstanding.
The view from the train ride to Franz Josef Glacier was amazing. We had wonderful views of snow covered mountains, hill sides, country animals, grand gorges, lakes and more. Every single person on the entire train was sure to take plenty of photos. This train ride is a must do.
After the train ride, we went for a short walk to see the famous Franz Josef Glacier. This was my first time ever seeing a glacier and I was not disappointed. The night was capped off with another short walk to see some glow worms in the forest. Wow!
Cruising the fjords of Milford Sound via on the Tasman Sea was beyond words. That’s how great of a time it was. While on the cruise, I was able to see a group of dolphins swimming by, seals, waterfalls and the most beautiful views of the fjords and mountains. For many of the guests, this was the highlight of the entire tour.
The final day in Queenstown was a free day, and I had lunch at the famous Ferburger. Let me tell you, it definitely lived up to its reputation… excellent food and great service. Once lunch was over, I did the luge but now that I look back, I wish I would have done the zip line. Either way, Contrasts of Australia and New Zealand with Trafalgar was absolutely fantastic.
By: Derek Miller
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