Sunset twilight at Milford Sound, New Zealand

Goway’s Waltzing Matilda Ups the Ante on Australia and New Zealand Travel

Now is the time to start planning that once-in-a-lifetime trip Downunder. Many Australia and New Zealand vacation packages take in the big, well known sights. But finding a combined Australia and New Zealand travel itinerary that does justice to both countries is harder than you might think.

Most Australia and New Zealand tours split the two into separate trips, and it’s easy to understand why. Distances between Australia’s most popular stops can be vast, while New Zealand’s highlights can take some time to reach with few alternative routes, particularly on the mountainous South Island.

On a carefully curated itinerary that goes beyond most escorted tours, Australia and New Zealand still make a fantastic pairing, partly because visiting both in one trip gives you the best appreciation of the countries’ differences, and similarities. Both are famous for their laid back lifestyle and warm hospitality toward visitors, so the serious Globetrotter will find plenty to appreciate in both.

Goway’s fully escorted Holidays of a Lifetime all carry our “Promise of Something Special,” in addition to the leadership of an experienced tour director, dining experiences unique to their destination, a fun theme highlighting some of that destination’s best surprises, small groups to ensure nobody feels like ‘just another seat on the bus,’ top notch accommodation in properties considered first class or better, and much more. Suffice to say, Goway’s Waltzing Matilda Holiday of a Lifetime goes a step beyond most group tours to Australia and New Zealand. The fact that it combines these two amazing countries is just the beginning…

Suggested Itinerary:
20-Day Waltzing Matilda: Holiday of a Lifetime

Beautiful city of Auckland in autumn, New Zealand
Arrive in the beautiful city of Auckland, New Zealand

A Waltzing Matilda Holiday of a Lifetime in New Zealand

A Warm Kiwi Welcome in Rotorua

The New Zealanders have a tradition of hospitality called manaakitanga that mandates respect, generosity, and kindness between visitor and host. It far predates white settlement in the country, but the principle remains a part of the nation’s ethos today. Rotorua is one of New Zealand’s most popular destinations, known for its bubbling mud pits and spouting geysirs – a reminder of a delicate relationship with the earth. It’s also a great place to learn about Kiwi culture, including the Maori at the Te Puia Arts and Culture Centre, located in the town’s geothermal valley. Just as important to modern day New Zealand is its farming culture. Visit the Agrodome to see the workings of the Kiwi sheep farm come to life in an entertaining show. If you want to experience local farm life and hospitality first hand, the Waltzing Matilda offers the chance to upgrade to an overnight stay at a local farm.

Champagne Pool, Waiotapu, Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand
Champagne Pool in Wai-O-Tapu, Rotorua

Wine and Wilderness in Queenstown

If New Zealand has an adventure capital to get your blood pumping amid raw natural beauty, it has to be Queenstown. In addition to visiting the Fjordlands’ star attraction, Milford Sound, you can choose from a wide variety of activities. Whether you’re zipping through canyons on the Shotover Jetboat, bungie jumping in the land that invented the sport, or cruising on Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown inspires awe and adrenaline in equal measure. One of the tastiest, if more sedate adventures you can have is a guided walking tour of the Queenstown Wine Trail, which includes visiting an underground wine cave. Even if you don’t choose this option, dinner at the Skyline Gondola Restaurant lets you experience delicious Kiwi cuisine with views out to the Remarkable Mountains. On the Waltzing Matilda, any of these Queenstown highlights can be organized by your tour director.

Suggested Itinerary:
20-Day Waltzing Matilda: Holiday of a Lifetime

Dining at the Skyline Restaurant in Queenstown, New Zealand
Gorgeous views from Skyline Gondola Restaurant in Queenstown

Christchurch – On the Mend and On the Move

Before flying to that other great land Downunder, enjoy the scenic drive to Christchurch, where a city tour shows you another key aspect of Kiwi culture, the country’s resilience and creativity. Devastated by earthquakes in the early 2010s, Christchurch has been rebuilding with renewed zeal ever since. The result will be a new city landscape that combines classic Christchurch landmarks with a downtown core packed with architectural, culinary, and cultural innovations.

Christchurch, New Zealand

A Waltzing Matilda Holiday of a Lifetime in Australia

Magnificent Melbourne – Australia’s Cultural Capital

No Australian city has better preserved its architectural past, or is more devoted to its culture than Melbourne. From magnificent theatres to restaurants serving every cuisine you might imagine, to swanky wine bars and hidden gin joints, Melbourne’s downtown is an urban explorer’s dream. Fashion and street art are also huge parts of the city’s identity, with new discoveries waiting down each new laneway. A flat white over brunch in a laneway is a Melbourne CBD tradition. Of course, an even older tradition takes place each evening at dusk on nearby Phillip Island, as hundreds of little penguins return from the open waters of the Southern Ocean and waddle up to their burrows.

City of Melbourne and Yarra River during sunset, Australia
City of Melbourne with Yarra River during sunset, Australia

Adelaide – Australia’s Tastiest Capital City

Besides having the world’s biggest cabaret festival and one of its biggest fringe festivals, South Australia’s capital city of Adelaide sits surrounded by some of the country’s most celebrated wine regions, including the Barossa Valley, the Adelaide Hills, and McLaren Vale. A private tour through the wineries is without doubt the best way to explore them. Adelaide is also located on the doorstep of what may be Australia’s greatest wildlife treasure trove, Kangaroo Island, famous for its seals and sea lions, Australian native animals, and unique rock formations. Adelaide also marks the southern end of Australia’s most iconic rail journey, the Ghan. An optional upgrade to the Waltzing Matilda, this luxurious train journey is the ultimate way to head into the Outback.

Sunset over Barossa Valley vineyards, South Australia, Australia
Sunset over Barossa Valley vineyards

Alice Springs Brings Outback Culture to Life

By air or by rail, your ultimate Outback destination is Alice Springs, a former telegraph station turned unofficial “capital” of Australia’s Red Centre. The same desert geography that gives the region its unique beauty means life out here runs a little differently. Learn about the experiences of the first white settlers, and how the Aboriginal people before them thrived in this harsh landscape. Known as the world’s largest classroom, Australia’s School of the Air plays an integral part in Outback culture, uniting and educating children from the Red Centre’s far flung cattle stations, Indigenous communities, and roadhouses since 1951. You’ll also learn about Outback medicine in the Red Centre at the Royal Flying Doctors Service, whose doctors have been servicing remote communities by air since 1939. On the Waltzing Matilda, your day in “the Alice” ends with a bush barbecue and Outback entertainment under the stars, later explored with a local astronomer.

Aerial view of the town of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
Aerial view of the town of Alice Springs, Australia

A Night at Field of Light at Uluru

We can’t talk about the culture of the Outback without acknowledging the immense distances between its settlements. Even Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a 5-hour drive from Alice Springs. It’s well worth the trip, however, to explore not just Australia’s rugged beauty, but its ancient Aboriginal heritage. A tour around the base with a knowledgeable guide is the ultimate way to explore “the rock” as well as Kata Tjuta, its sister formation, said to be the eggs of the legendary Rainbow Serpent. Still, nothing brings the remoteness of Australia’s most famous rock into perspective like a Night at Field of Light. Dine on uniquely Australian dishes as you look out over the rock and the fabulous light installation, which transforms the Outback into a star field. Afterwards, round out the Outback adventure with another night of stargazing.

Suggested Itinerary:
20-Day Waltzing Matilda: Holiday of a Lifetime

Uluru/Ayers Rock at Sunset

The Indigenous Cultures of Cairns

With the Great Barrier Reef on one side and the Daintree Rainforest on the other, Cairns is a prime destination for anyone looking to escape into nature. Yet like the Outback, it possesses a cultural heritage dating back thousands of years. It’s the traditional home of the Tjapukai people, and Tjapukai by Night is a journey into the region’s Indigenous past, present, and future, with a didgeridoo blessing ceremony, award-winning cultural performances, and a scrumptious multi-course dinner. A trip to the nearby town of Kuranda – via the Kuranda Scenic Railway, of course – unveils even more. The town tells much of the region’s story at Rainforestation, a themed collection of natural and cultural highlights where you can take a guided Dreamtime walk through the rainforest, learn how to throw a boomerang, and take an amphibious army duck ride along the forest’s waterways.

Dance Group from Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park, Queensland, Australia
Dance group from Tjapukai Aboriginal Culture Park, Australia

Sydney – Beauty and Heritage in Australia’s Oldest City

Combining intoxicating beauty with a ravenous cultural appetite, Sydney is a city that leaves its mark on visitors of any interest. Perfect year-round weather and a colourful colonial heritage have shaped a city that’s as comfortable on the beach as it is at the opera. Even as a visitor, you can put that into practice, taking a dip at Bondi Beach and a tour of Sydney Opera House in the same day. As Australia’s oldest city, Sydney’s colourful history as a convict settlement is still in evidence in the Rocks district and on Fort Denison, a former prison island that’s now one of Sydney Harbour’s most famous features. That harbour has always been a crucial part of the city’s culture, and one of its favourite places to play. A sunset dinner cruise lets you experience Sydney in all its glistening beauty, turning the last night of your 20-day New Zealand and Australia vacation into a magical memory.

Suggested Itinerary:
20-Day Waltzing Matilda: Holiday of a Lifetime

Aerial view of Sydney Harbour, NSW, Australia
Aerial view of Sydney Harbour

Renowned for their beautiful, untamed landscapes and unique wildlife, New Zealand and Australia have plenty to offer even the most discerning culture vulture. Upgrade the adventure to the Waltzing Matilda, and you’ll soon discover why it’s one of Goway’s best loved Holidays of a Lifetime. Departure dates are already available for this year and next. In 2020, departures are on September 10, October 15, and November 12, while in 2021, departures are on January 21, February 18, and March 18. The Waltzing Matilda is also available as the individual New Zealand and Australian portions as Best of New Zealand and Best of Australia, respectively.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on March 24, 2020 to reflect the most current information.

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Christian Baines
Christian Baines

Globetrotting Contributing Editor -
Christian’s first globetrotting adventure saw him get lost exploring the streets of Saigon. Following his nose to Asia’s best coffee, two lifelong addictions were born. A freelance writer and novelist, Christian’s travels have since taken him around his native Australia, Asia, Europe, and much of North America. His favourite trips have been through Japan, Spain, and Brazil, though with a love of off-beat, artsy cities, he’ll seize any opportunity to return to Paris, New York, or Berlin.

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